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Untitled 1"We are still waiting for news of our confreres in Jérémie. Until today (October 7, 2016) we have no news. And there is no way to contact or visit them" writes to Fides Fr. Kenol Chery, C.Ss.R., missionary and regional superior of the Redemptorists in Haiti.

"All religious congregations are in the same situation. We see the pictures taken by American soldiers that show the destruction, damage and desolation of the people. But the Haitian authorities cannot intervene. We can only pray and hope".

"Our two parishes of Saint Louis Conzague in Fonfrede (Les Cayes) and Saint Louis Roi de France Château (Les Cayes) are destroyed. The parish church in Chateau and the building that housed the nursery are completely destroyed", added the missionary.

There is not a definite toll of casualties and damage from the authorities after Hurricane Matthew in the Caribbean. In Haiti there are now more than 800 deaths, according to the agencies, but the toll becomes more and more dramatic as hours go by. Also Pope Francis has sent his condolences to the families of those who died because of Hurricane Matthew, and he expressed his closeness and affection to the injured and the victims of the catastrophe.


Untitled 1On the ballot for Nov. 8, 2016, in California was Proposition 62. This proposition would repeal the death penalty in our state and would make life in prison without parole the maximum punishment that could be imposed for crimes of murder.

My brother bishops and I in the California Catholic Conference are supporting this effort. It is time for us to end the death penalty – not only in California but throughout the United States and throughout the world.

The Catholic Church has always taught that legitimate governments have the right to impose the death penalty on those guilty of the most serious crimes. This teaching has been consistent for centuries – in the Scriptures, in the writings of the Church Fathers and in the teachings of the popes.


Every Person has a Dignity

But in recent years, there has been a growing consensus that the use of the death penalty can no longer be accepted. This consensus is reflected in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in the teachings of bishops’ conferences around the world and in the teachings of Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis.

On his final visit to our country in 1999, St. John Paul called the death penalty “cruel and unnecessary.” And it is true. The reason is that every life is sacred and every person has a dignity that comes from God. This is true for the innocent and it is true for the guilty. It is true even for those convicted of the most violent crimes.

Untitled 1Bishop William Hanna Shomali, Auxiliary Bishop of the Latin Patriarch of JerusalemRecently I emailed questions to the auxiliary bishop of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Bishop William Shomali, asking him to share his first-hand insights regarding the many injustices and violent environment in the land of the Prince of Peace. He graciously sent back a recorded audio response upon which this column is based.


Restrictions, Permits and Building, Oh My!

Bishop Shomali said one of the most pressing problems facing Palestinians is Israeli imposed restrictions on movement. For example, he said Palestinians living in Bethlehem or Ramallah need to obtain a permit to go just six miles to Jerusalem. And permits are only given during principle feasts.

He said the ongoing illegal building of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land in the Occupied Territories is an extremely serious roadblock to a peaceful solution.

To correct these and other injustices, Israel needs to participate in good-faith negotiations toward the two-state solution: the establishment of an independent viable Palestinian nation coexisting peacefully with a fully recognized state of Israel. He emphasized the two-state solution continues to be firmly supported by the Holy See.


Looking for Some Good Will

“Negotiations could be successful if there is good will. Some settlements can be given to Palestinians and Israelis can keep some of the settlements close to Israel. Other land exchange agreements can be reached as well,” said Bishop Shomali. “But unconditional U.S. support for Israel negatively affects the situation,” he said.

A two-state solution could be agreed upon by the U.N. Security Council, but the U.S. continues to block a U.N. binding resolution that would set a timetable for the establishment of the nation of Palestine, said Shomali.

Untitled 1A Fourth of July fireworks display at the Washington Monument (Photo: Ssgt. Lono Kollars)I remember it well. When I was sixteen years of age, my father took me to a government office and I suddenly received my Social Security Card. I asked my dad how long I needed to keep this and he, in a matter-of-fact way, said: “Oh, as long as you are alive!”

Wow! That was a shocker. I had to keep this for my entire life. Nothing I had ever done seemed to have such importance to my daily life as getting this card with my unique number on it. He seemed to be saying to me that every American gets one, so keep it. It’s important.

In this seemingly endless two-year process of preparation for this November’s Presidential Elections, we have been challenged, seduced, and even pressured into becoming interested or at least somewhat involved in our duty as Americans to vote, and to do it responsibly.

Yes, I have found this process sometimes interesting, at other times even excruciating, yet the truth is, I need to take voting quite seriously.


These United States – 325 million People Strong

I guess this opportunity to vote every few years should remind us that we are part of a very large group of humanity – nearly 325 million people strong – who have certain privileges as well as responsibilities. We need to refresh our memory about what makes us Americans.

It is not our color, race, religion, ethic background or our country of origin. It is our common belief in our “inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” that pushes us on in this endless process of continually growing stronger as a nation.

At the outset, this may sound quite Pollyannaish but it’s true and central to who we are, whether we are aware of this most of the time or not. Even with our recurring efforts to preserve or attain true respect for every American, we must not forget our important and unique place in this, our democracy.

Untitled 1Saintly USBs (Photo: Elaine Reyes)A novel initiative of a group of young entrepreneurs shows that devotion to the saints is lived not only in “sacred” places or through “holy” objects but can be expressed right in the middle of the workplace and with the use of ordinary office devices.

On the occasion of “All Saints’ Day”, Elaine Reyes, account manager at Gift Solutions Specialists Philippines, described in an interview with CBCP News how “pen drives”, a popular data storage device used with computers, could also foster the devotion to the saints.

“Through the pen drives with the images of of St. Josemaria and Blessed Alvaro we would like to convey to the people who use these devices the message of these two saints who proclaimed to the entire world the Gospel value of work done out of love,” she said.

Saintly pen drives

“An office mate of mine, who during the Papal visit to the Philippines in 2015 worked on a project of producing pen drives with the image of Pope Francis, thought of coming up with a similar product but, this time, adorned with the images of saints,” revealed Reyes.

Untitled 1St. Peter’s Square
(Photo: Alberto Luccaroni)
Recently Archbishop Rino Fisichella… presented the two main events preceding the conclusion of the Holy Year of Mercy: the Jubilee of Prisoners (Nov. 5-6) and the Jubilee of the Socially Excluded (Nov. 11-13).

During the Jubilee of Prisoners, it will be possible for the first time for many detainees from all over Italy and other countries to be present in St. Peter’s Basilica to take part in their own Jubilee with Pope Francis…

Pope Francis, after the promulgation of the Bull convoking the Jubilee, Misericordiae vultus, wrote a letter for the implementation of the Jubilee program in which he stated,

“My thoughts also turn to those incarcerated, whose freedom is limited. The Jubilee Year has always constituted an opportunity for great amnesty, which is intended to include the many people who, despite deserving punishment, have become conscious of the injustice they worked and sincerely wish to re-enter society and make their honest contribution to it. 

“May they all be touched in a tangible way by the mercy of the Father Who wants to be close to those who have the greatest need of his forgiveness. They may obtain the Indulgence in the chapels of the prisons. May the gesture of directing their thought and prayer to the Father each time they cross the threshold of their cell signify for them their passage through the Holy Door, because the mercy of God is able to transform hearts, and is also able to transform bars into an experience of freedom”.

I was simply amazed. It was early on a sunny weekday morning. While driving down the street near a pond, low and behold, I spotted a gaggle of about twenty geese processing across the middle of the road. As I took my place behind another car, I was fairly pleased with myself that I didn’t even have a temptation to hurry things along. It was such a beautiful pastoral scene.
Untitled-1Canadian Geese roaming for food
I was seriously impressed as the line of cars quickly built up on both sides of the road. But the people just waited without incident. It was just adorable to see the Canadian geese sauntering across the road, almost oblivious that we were all waiting. In fact a few geese just glanced our way as if to say, “we belong here.” It was refreshing to watch everyone spying the geese but doing nothing to upset or hurry them from completing their short journey to safety.

As we eventually were allowed to pass by, it occurred to me that apparently there is a patient streak in all of us. I almost cheered for us patient folk as we were allowed once more to go our merry way.


Taking the Time


I am impressed with adults who take the time to attend to the inquiries of small children. Personally I like to squat down and respond to them face to face. I think we adults owe that to our children. They are special indeed. We need to be lovingly patient with them.

New Delhi, India – Violence against Dalits – the "outcasts" or "untouchables" – in India have increased in recent years: say the official data of the National Crime Record Board (NCRB), illustrated in recent days in a public meeting in Delhi which was attended by more than 7000 Dalits from all over the country, promoted by the "Bharatiya Khet Mazdoor Union Federation" (BKMUF), a network that links different organizations of Indian Dalits.
Untitled-1Bp. Theodore Mascarenhas, Auxiliary Bishop of Ranchi, India
"It is a matter of concern to note: since the Bharatiya Janata Party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have been ruling, atrocities on Dalits have increased" says to Fides Jesuit A. Xavier John Bosco, director of the Jesuit Social Centre, based in Secunderabad (Andhra Pradesh), one of the speakers at the event in Delhi, attended by many Christian groups. "It is urgent to carry out a massive campaign across the country on the delicate question of the Dalits", asks Fr. Bosco.

Interviewed by Agenzia Fides, Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, General Secretary of the Indian Bishops' Conference, said: "The Church has always given attention to Dalits and tribals, the government has not given the Dalits the attention that the Church has given them, in the field of education, social welfare, development and promotion.


Fighting Against Discrimination


There is a special Commission of Bishops in charge of their social development and the fight against discrimination. Of course, one must counter a widespread mentality which discriminates against them. We also ask Christian Dalits, penalized by the Presidential Ordinance of 1950, to have the same rights enjoyed by non- Christian Dalits".

Quezon City, Philippines – With available media material on their founding father scant at best, the Jesuit Communications (JesCom) is coming up with its most “ambitious” project to date: a film on the life of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Untitled-1Poster for the new film on Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits
Seeing a renewed interest in the life of the saint and in his enduring legacy to the Church and the world – thanks to the first Jesuit Pope, Pope Francis – JesCom intends to reintroduce St. Ignatius to today’s moviegoers, especially the youth, who may draw inspiration from the touching story of how even the blackest of sinners can, through repentance, move the world “for the greater glory of God”.

“Certainly, the world, especially our youth deserves to rediscover the life of this saint and be inspired by his example. Thus, our dream of putting his story on the big screen slowly took shape,” said Jescom head, Fr. Emmanuel Alfonso, S.J.


The First Jesuit


Chris Lowney, author of the bestselling book, “Heroic Leadership,” writes that if one talks about successful global corporations, it is impossible to miss out on the Society of Jesus (S.J.) which has existed for centuries, serving the world through its network of schools, parishes and social centers. The secret of that enduring “Company”, he points out, is the spirit of its founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Pope Francis. . .met with the Italian National Council of the Order of Journalists, telling them that truth, professionalism and respect for human dignity were essential elements in their work.


The First Draft of History


Untitled-1Meeting with the assembled Italian journalists in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall on Thursday, Pope Francis told them that there were few professions that have “so much influence on society like that of journalism.” He noted that they are usually the ones who are there to record what he called, the "first draft of history”, “the building of the news agenda and introducing people to the interpretation of events.”

He also noted that the journalistic profession was one that was continually adapting to changes in the way people digest news through new forms of media.

In his discourse the Pope stressed three essential elements in the work of a journalist, that he said could serve to “improve the society in which we live”: To love the truth, to embody professionalism and to respect human dignity.


Bearing Witness to the Truth and Professionalism


He said that loving the truth meant not only stating it, but living it and bearing witness to it in their work, adding, even in journalism we must be able to discern between shades of grey surrounding the events that we are called to tell.”

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La Salette Missionaries, Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas

Our Community: The Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette are deeply rooted in the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette which occurred near the hamlet of La Salette in southeastern France on Sept. 19, 1846. The Missionaries were founded in 1852 by Bp. Philbert de Bruillard, Bishop of Grenoble, France, and presently serve in some 25 countries.

Our Province: The Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas, was founded in 2000AD and is one of several provinces in the congregation. The members of this Province serve mainly in the countries of Canada, the United States and the Region of Argentina/Bolivia.

Our Mission: Our La Salette ministry of reconciliation responds to the broad vision given by Mary at La Salette as well as in response to the needs of the Church. As reconcilers, we together with the laity take seriously Mary’s mandate: “You will make (Mary’s) message known to all (her) people.”

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