Bishop praises administration efforts on refugee admissions

WASHINGTON  |  The chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration Oct. 11 praised a plan by President Joe Biden to raise the refugee cap to 125,000 for fiscal year 2022. “The last few years have had a devastating impact on refugee resettlement, all while we witness the greatest forced migration crises in decades,” said Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville of Washington. He said the bishops “commend the (Biden) administration for seeking to reassert American leadership in this area, and we look forward to continued action in support of this goal. We also urge Congress to provide the resources necessary to not only rebuild the Refugee Admissions Program but sustain it for the next four decades and beyond,” he added. The USCCB migration chairman also noted that “the positive contributions of refugees to our society have been well documented,” whether they are “fleeing war, natural disaster or persecution.” First and foremost, however, we recognize them as vulnerable members of the same human family to which we ourselves belong,” Bishop Dorsonville said.

Chicago auxiliary bishop cheers at city’s marathon

CHICAGO  |  The Bank of Chicago Marathon is known for the thousands of people who line the route and cheer on the runners as they pass through the city’s 29 neighborhoods. This year’s race Oct. 10 was no different, especially with the addition of dozens of Franciscan women and men religious and laypeople awaiting runners at an intersection on the West Side. They waved balloons and signs with messages such as “May the course be with u! Team OLA” and “You fast like Jesus in the desert!” Among them was Auxiliary Bishop Robert J. Lombardo, a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal, who blessed runners as they passed by, said Sister Stephanie Baliga, a Franciscan Sister of the Eucharist of Chicago. The group cheered on members of Team OLA, which raises money to support the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels in West Humboldt Park and its outreach to the poor. The cheering section was organized by the Franciscans of the Eucharist of Chicago who minister at the mission. Sister Baliga, who is in charge of Team OLA, took her run to the treadmill last year when the Chicago Marathon was canceled. She raised over $190,000 for the mission and set a world record for the fastest time for a woman to run a marathon on a treadmill.

U.S. needs to lead way in helping world’s poorer nations recover from pandemic

WASHINGTON  |  As the fight against COVID-19 continues in the United States, the nation’s leaders also must not forget the ongoing struggle with the pandemic in poorer nations, particularly in Africa. That’s the message that leaders from interdenominational groups around the country are trying to get across to Congress. Among them is Sam Brownback, former U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. In an opinion piece for The Hill, a Washington-based online news outlet, and in other forums, he has recently called on Congress to lend its support for African nations to receive additional funding from the International Monetary Fund. The funds, Brownback said, would come at no cost to U.S. taxpayers and are desperately needed by nations so they can bolster vaccination efforts, purchase needed health care equipment, shore up struggling health care systems and bolster their economies. He noted the funds are especially critical because only about 3% of people in Africa have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and cases there continue to rise.

Cardinal lesson: ‘Live fullness of life now’

SOUTH BEND, Ind.  |  In a jubilant Mass Oct. 9 concluding the Black Catholic Theological Symposium, Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory of Washington called the congregation to remember the Gospel’s lesson to “live the fullness of life even now,” despite struggles including societal disparities that disadvantage some people. The liturgy at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana included many students in addition to the participants in the three-day symposium. Joyful music, much of it Gospel-style, punctuated the Mass. Cardinal Gregory put the Scripture readings in the context of lessons the world has learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it “has unmasked a few realities that many of us may have long suspected” such as huge disparities in opportunity that separate groups of people in the United States. “Race, age, culture and ethnic backgrounds often divide us and determine or impede our quality of life,” he said. “We know that there are vast and morally unacceptable differences that distinguish the life expectancies of peoples not only in countries other than our own,” he said, “but even within our own nation, men and women have different life expectancies and peoples of different cultures and regions differ considerably in their general health, educational opportunities and even length of life.”


Polish bishops call punishment for abuse cover-up lopsided

WARSAW, Poland  |  The president of the Polish bishops’ conference said that in meetings with a Vatican official, several church leaders criticized the Vatican’s handling of sex abuse cases, particularly “disproportionate punishments” inflicted on bishops accused of cover-ups in comparison with convicted abusers. Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, conference president, told Poland’s Catholic Information Agency, KAI, that Polish bishops met with Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, at the Vatican Oct. 12. He said the bishops were trying to be faithful to Pope Francis’ May 2019 motu proprio, “Vos Estis Lux Mundi,” revising and clarifying norms and procedures for holding bishops and religious superiors accountable for protecting abusers. “Our task is to work with the Holy Father in clearing up our church’s current situation, which has undermined trust among certain people,” Archbishop Gadecki told KAI after the meeting with Cardinal Ouellet. The meeting was part of the bishops’ “ad limina” visit to meet with Vatican officials every five years. “But critical remarks have been made about the Holy See’s treatment of bishops who’ve had punishments imposed for shortcomings, transgressions or acts of forgetfulness in dealing with clergy accused of pedophilia. Some (Polish bishops) highlighted the disproportionate, lasting penalties imposed on bishops after initial investigations, when pedophile criminals can leave prison after five years and begin a new life with a clean sheet.”

Journalists congratulated by bishops on Nobel Peace Prize honor

MANILA, Philippines  |  Bishops in Philippines and Russia congratulated journalists Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov for being awarded the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. Congratulating Ressa Oct. 10, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines highlighted the importance of media freedom in the Catholic faith, reported She was the first Filipino to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In Moscow, the secretary-general of the Russian bishops’ conference welcomed the award for Muratov, six of whose colleagues were murdered for investigative work, and said the honor highlighted the importance of “seeking out the truth” in his country. The Nobel Prize Committee announced Oct. 8 that Ressa and Muratov would share this year’s prize for their “efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.” Jesuit Father Stephan Lipke, Russian bishops’ spokesman, said the award “shows the Nobel jury cares about what Pope Francis never tires of emphasizing — that we are all responsible for our human coexistence.” He told Germany’s Catholic news agency, KNA, the pope “also said we urgently need people who courageously and sincerely seek the truth, to whom human dignity and justice are important. We want such people in our own society and church.” Archbishop Romulo Valles, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said in his message to Ressa: “This important recognition — the first for a Filipino — will hopefully strengthen our people’s conviction to build a nation where journalism is free, at the service of truth, goodness and justice.”

Vatican offers free e-book for family rosary

VATICAN CITY  |  The Vatican Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life and the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network have a gift for families for October, which is traditionally dedicated to the rosary. “Rosary for the Family,” a free e-book that can be used with the free Click to Prayer eRosary, features watercolor illustrations of the mysteries of the rosary, quotes from Pope Francis’ 2016 document, “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”), and questions meant to prompt sharing about faith in the family. “I invite you all to use this rosary so that we do not miss the opportunity to reinforce our love for Jesus and Mary, our heavenly mother,” wrote Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell, prefect of the dicastery. “The meditations are brief, taken from ‘Amoris Laetitia’ and are accompanied by short questions and images that can help you reflect in faith, even with children.” The 21-page e-book is available on Amazon Kindle and Google Play Books as well as online from in English, Spanish, Italian, French and Portuguese.

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