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Pope Francis: To know Christ better, contemplate his 'holy face'

Vatican City, Jan 19, 2020 / 06:26 am (CNA).- Meditating on the Gospel and on Christ’s holy face is a good way to know Jesus better, especially as the Lamb of God who sacrificed himself for the sins of the world, Pope Francis said Sunday.

Reflecting on John the Baptist’s testimony in the Gospel of John is an invitation “to start afresh on our journey of faith: to start afresh from Jesus Christ, the Lamb full of mercy that the Father has given for us,” he said Jan. 19.

“We learn from the Baptist not to presume that we already know Jesus, that we already know everything about him,” he continued. “It is not so. Let’s stop on the Gospel, perhaps even contemplating an icon of Christ, a ‘holy face.’

The Holy Face of Manoppello, held in a church in an Italian village, is believed to be an image of the face of Christ, perhaps from the Veil of Veronica.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, celebrated Mass at the Shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello Jan. 19. At the conclusion of the Mass, the cardinal led a procession with the image.

The Mass and procession were to mark the feast of “Omnis Terra,” which recalls Pope Innocent III’s procession with the Holy Face in 1208, when the image was held at the Vatican.

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, the protectors of the Holy Face of Manoppello, were also present at the Mass and procession with Cardinal Koch.

At his Angelus address, Pope Francis said we contemplate Christ with the eyes but even more so with the heart. We “let ourselves be instructed by the Holy Spirit, who tells us inside: It is He! He is the Son of God made lamb, immolated for love,” he said.

“He alone suffered, atoned for sin, the sin of each of us, the sin of the world, and also my sins, all. He carried them all on himself and took them away from us, so that we could finally be free, no longer slaves to evil,” Francis stated. “Yes, we are still poor sinners, but not slaves, no, not slaves: children, children of God!”

The pope explained that the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time is a continuation of the feasts of Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord. It continues to speak about Jesus, who after his baptism was “consecrated by the Holy Spirit,” he said.

He urged Catholics to “be surprised again by God’s choice to be on our side, to be in solidarity with us sinners, and to save the world from evil by taking charge of it totally.”

After the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis reminded Catholics that 2020 has been designated the “Year of the Nurse and the Midwife” by the World Health Organization.

“Nurses are the most numerous health workers, and midwives are perhaps the most noble of the professions,” he said. “Let us pray for all of them, so that they can do their best at the valuable work.”

The pope also expressed his desire that a high-level summit in Berlin on the crisis in Libya “will be the start of a path towards the cessation of violence and a negotiated solution that will lead to peace and the much desired stability of the country.”

 

Minn. young adults accompany, pray for bishops on ad limina visit to Rome

Vatican City, Jan 18, 2020 / 04:35 pm (CNA).- Young adults from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis are accompanying their bishops on their ad limina visit to Rome this week, joining them at “the threshold of the apostles.”

The 25 young Catholics are in Rome Jan. 10-18, visiting the city as Archbishop Bernard Hebda and Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens make their “ad limina apostolorum” visit to the pope and Vatican with the other bishops of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

“It’s really been incredible, it’s been fun to pray for [the bishops] as they meet with the Holy Father, to hear about their experiences,” Maddie Schulte, 23, told CNA.

On Jan. 15, the young adults - ranging in age from 21 to 34 - had their own opportunity to greet Pope Francis after his weekly general audience.

Enzo Randazzo, who organized the pilgrimage, works in the archdiocese’s evangelization office. He said St. Paul and Minneapolis have been blessed with a vibrant young adult community and seen a lot of fruit come from that ministry.

“We are here representing the people [Archbishop Hebda] shepherds back home,” Randazzo, 30, said.

During an ad limina, which typically takes place every five years, diocesan bishops prepare a report on the state of their diocese, which is presented to Pope Francis and to various offices inside the Vatican.

The bishops also celebrate Mass at the tombs of the apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, and at the other two major papal basilicas. The young people have been present at each of these Masses.

“We really appreciate the fact that they are accompanying the bishops,” Archbishop Hebda told CNA. “They’ve really dedicated themselves to praying for Pope Francis and praying for us in the course of this ad limina. Just to have them at these ad limina liturgies is beautiful.”

“They’re young people with such hope, such joy, it’s a real pleasure to be with them,” he said.

Hebda and Cozzens have also joined the pilgrim group for dinners and on a daytrip to Assisi.

Twenty-two-year-old Mitchell Kohler said the bishops have taken the time to sit with them and listen to what they have to say.

“They’ve been very present throughout the pilgrimage. While they’ve had their own work to do, they’ve been having dinner with us, spending time with us, making sure to connect with us and show that as young adults from the archdiocese we are very valued,” he noted.

Schulte said the “succession of Peter” has come to life for her during this trip.

Fr. Tim Wratkowski, a newly ordained priest of the archdiocese and former student at the Pontifical North American College, has been present as chaplain.

Also taking part is Will Herrmann, 30, a convert who joined the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil in 2019.

He said that as a young adult, he sometimes feels lonely in his faith, so he has appreciated the bishops’ efforts to be present during the pilgrimage, as well as the chance to build community with other young adults passionate about their faith.

“This community aspect has been wonderful,” he said. “I hope that I can really serve [the bishops] when we get back to the archdiocese, whether that’s directly through anything they ask of me or indirectly through my parish and the work I do locally there.”

From a Lutheran background originally, Herrmann said coming to Rome and encountering the saints has felt “like meeting the family, meeting all the relatives.”
 
“Some I’ve heard of; some I’ve never met… Just really feeling like I belong the more I’m here.”

 

2020 Pope Francis trip to Indonesia, East Timor, and Papua New Guinea possible

Vatican City, Jan 17, 2020 / 05:00 pm (CNA).- A visit from Pope Francis to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and East Timor may happen in September, according to an Indonesian Muslim leader who met with the pope this week.

Sheikh Yahya Cholil Staquf leads the 50 million member Nahdlatul Ulama movement, which calls for a reformed “humanitarian Islam” and has developed a theological framework for Islam that rejects the concepts of caliphate, Sharia law, and “kafir” (infidels).

Staquf met with the pope this week, while in Rome for a meeting of the Abrahamic Faiths Initiative, which gathers Christians, Muslim and Jewish leaders to discuss the promotion of peace and fraternity. U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback attended the meetings.

Pope Francis met with the group Jan. 15.

After that meeting, Staquf told CNA that the pope said he plans to visit Indonesia, East Timor, and New Guinea in September.

The Vatican has not yet confirmed such a trip.

Indonesia is home to the largest population of Muslims in the world. The country’s 229 million Muslims make up more than 12% of the global Muslim population. Nearly all of Indonesia’s Muslims are Sunni.

There are 24 million Christians living in Indonesia, 7 million of them are Catholic. Pope St. Paul VI visited the country in 1970, and Pope St. John Paul II traveled there in 1989.

East Timor is a small country on the island of Timor. It gained independence from Indonesia in 1999, following decades of bloody conflict as the region vied for national sovereignty.

The country’s second president, Jose Manuel Ramos-Horta, shared the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize with East Timorese Bishop Ximenes Bolo, for their efforts to reach a peaceful and just end to fighting in the country. Bishop Belo is now a missionary in Mozambique.

More than 1 million people live in East Timor; more than 98% of them are Catholic. It is one of few majority Catholic countries in Southeast Asia. Pope St. John Paul II visited East Timor in 1989.

Papua New Guinea is a country of nearly nine million people on the eastern half of the island of New Guinea. The other side of island consists of two Indonesian provinces. Papua New Guinea is a nation of considerable cultural diversity, comprised of small traditional communities of various groups, some of which remain uncontacted by Westerners. 

Nearly all Papua New Guinea citizens are Christians, and 26 percent of the population is Catholic.

Pope St. John Paul II went to Papua New Guinea in 1984.

Pope Francis has long expressed interest in visiting Indonesia, and has also expressed interest in visiting Iraq in 2020.

 

'No misunderstanding': Cardinal Sarah meets with pope emeritus

Vatican City, Jan 17, 2020 / 03:00 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Robert Sarah has met with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to discuss the controversy following around their recently-published book "From the Depths of Our Hearts,” and insisted that there is no ill feeling between the two. 

The book, presented as a co-authored work by the two, is subtitled “Priesthood, Celibacy, and the Crisis of the Catholic Church.” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s contributions have been the subject of controversy since the book was announced on Sunday, and conflicting statements on the extent of the pope emeritus’s involvement in the project have been released over the last week.

Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, issued a series of statements via Twitter on Friday, saying that his meeting with the former pope went well.

“Because of the incessant, nauseating and deceptive controversies that have never stopped since the beginning of the week, concerning the book From the Depths of Our Hearts, I met Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI this evening,” said Sarah. 

The tweets were published in French and signed “-RS.”

“With Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, we have seen how there is no misunderstanding between us,” said Sarah. “I came out very happy, full of peace and courage from this beautiful interview.”

Sarah encouraged people to read and reflect on the book, and thanked his editor and his publisher, “for the thoroughness, probity, seriousness, and professionalism which they have shown,” and added “excellent reading to all!”

The book contains a chapter credited to Benedict, a chapter credited to Sarah, and an introduction and conclusion, which have been attributed to the two men jointly.

On Jan. 14, Benedict’s private secretary, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, said the former pontiff was not informed he would be presented as co-author of the book and had not seen its cover, adding that Benedict has asked for his name and photo to be removed from the cover.

Ganswein affirmed that Benedict had written the chapter attributed to him, and gave permission for it to appear in a book, but said that Benedict had not actually co-authored the introduction and conclusion attributed to him. Ganswein also communicated the request that Benedict’s name be removed as co-author of the book and he instead be listed as a contributor.

Despite the request from Ganswein, Ignatius Press--who will be publishing the English-languge edition in February--stated this week that it considers the book to have been co-authored by Benedict and Sarah.

The publisher told CNA that critics suggesting that the pope emeritus did not co-author the book, or authorize its publication, are wrong.

“Are these people really implying that Cardinal Sarah is involved in a conspiracy to distort the truth?” Father Joseph Fessio, SJ, editor-in-chief of Ignatius Press, asked Jan. 13.

“If Cardinal Sarah is telling [Ignatius Press] that the chapters from Pope Benedict are from Pope Benedict, we take his word for it,” Fessio said, adding that the publisher stands by its attribution of the book to both Sarah and Benedict.

The publisher’s statement followed a Jan 14. release from Sarah, who said that he had in October proposed a jointly authored book to Benedict, and that after the two corresponded over the matter, he sent on Nov. 19 “a complete manuscript to the pope emeritus containing, as we had mutually decided, the cover, a common introduction and conclusion, the chapter of Benedict XVI, and my own chapter.”

Gregorian University to ‘review’ bishop’s allegedly plagiarized dissertation

Vatican City, Jan 17, 2020 / 11:11 am (CNA).- The Pontifical Gregorian University said Friday it will review the doctoral dissertation of Scotland’s Bishop Stephen Robson, which is alleged to contain several acts of plagiarism.

The institution’s “academic authorities have decided to proceed to a careful review of the dissertation in question, in accordance with what is established in the University's Ethical Norms,” the university said in a Jan. 17 statement provided to CNA.

“The Pontifical Gregorian University considers plagiarism a very serious infringement of university ethics since the ‘attribution to itself of the intellectual property of the text or content of a work of others, in any part of it, is a lack of justice and truth,’” the statement added, quoting from the university’s plagiarism policy.

“A charge of plagiarism involving a doctoral dissertation necessarily implies special attention by the University,” the statement added.

The Gregorian’s announcement came days after Bishop Stephen Robson of Dunkeld told CNA that he never intentionally committed any act of plagiarism, but did not explain evidence that his 2003 dissertation contained verbatim, or nearly verbatim excerpts from published scholarship, without attribution.

“I can categorically state that there was absolutely never any intention to plagiarise any work,” Robson told CNA Jan. 14th.

Robson also told CNA that he would accept the judgment of his alma mater regarding his dissertation.

“I am happy for the Gregorian to nullify my text if they think fit,” the bishop said.

Robson completed his dissertation, “With the Spirit and Power of Elijah (Lk 1,17). The Prophetic-Reforming Spirituality of Bernard of Clairvaux as Evidenced Particularly in his Letters,” at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University in 2003.

The text was awarded the university’s 2004 Premio Bellarmino, the annual prize given to the best dissertation completed at the university.

A 2019 article in the scholarly journal Analecta Cisterciensia first alleged that Robson’s dissertation contained plagiarism. The article was written by the journal’s editor, Fr. Alkuin Schachenmayr, a Cistercian priest living in an Austrian monastery.

Schachenmayr wrote that “there seem to be dozens of passages in Robson’s dissertation which are apparently identical or remarkably similar to texts published by other scholars, yet the author does not attribute these sources.”

The article cited several passages in Robson’s dissertation that were identical or nearly identical to already published scholarship. Those passages give no indication of their source material.

Among the scholars from whom Robson apparently copied are Bruno Scott James, Jean Leclercq, Friedrich Kempf, and Robert Bartlett, according to Schachenmayr.

Some of those scholars were mentioned as sources in his dissertation, even while particular verbatim passages from them were reproduced without citation. In other cases, identical or nearly identical passages from published scholars who were never referenced as sources at all were included in the dissertation, Schachenmayr showed.

Regarding the prize given to Robson by the university, Schachenmayr wrote: “One must ask whether the jury responsible for awards of excellence at the Gregorian succeeded in identifying one of the institution’s best dissertations of 2003.”  

The Gregorian University told CNA it learned of the plagiarism charge against Robson Jan. 16, after the publication of a CNA article on the subject. It did not give indication of how long its planned review will take.

In addition to a doctorate in theology, Robson also earned a licentiate in canon law from the university.

The Pontifical Gregorian University, founded in 1551 by St. Ignatius of Loyola, is a Jesuit university, and offers degrees in theology, canon law, philosophy, Church history, among other subjects.

Robson was named a bishop in 2012 and was installed as Bishop of Dunkeld in 2014.

Hannah Brockhaus contributed to this report.

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops File Amicus Brief with U.S. Supreme Court Urging New Trial of Death Row Inmate Based on Evidence of Actual Innocence

WASHINGTON— On January 17, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FCCB) filed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court of the United States in support of James M. Dailey, an inmate on Florida’s death row, urging a new trial in his case due to persuasive evidence of actual innocence. The amicus brief explains the Catholic Church’s longstanding opposition to the death penalty. The Church teaches that capital punishment violates respect for life and human dignity. The injustice is especially acute in the instance of an innocent person sentenced to death. The amicus brief also argues that the execution of an innocent person violates the Constitution of the United States.  

The amicus brief reviews the facts of Mr. Dailey’s case and concludes that the evidence of his actual innocence is persuasive, but that he was not able to present it at a new trial for procedural reasons. The brief declares that there is no legal or procedural reason that could morally justify the execution of an innocent person.  

Both the USCCB and FCCB uphold the Church’s teaching on the dignity of life and on capital punishment in the amicus brief by stating, “The radical injustice of punishing an innocent man is particularly grievous in the case of a sentence of death, which is by its nature final and irreversible.” The brief recalls that “Pope Francis has also identified the convictions of innocent men and women as striking at the core of the death penalty’s claim to justice: ‘[t]he death penalty loses all legitimacy due to the defective selectivity of the criminal justice system and in the face of the possibility of judicial error. Human justice is imperfect, and the failure to recognize its fallibility can transform it into a source of injustice.’”  

The full text of the amicus brief is available here.  
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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, amicus curiae, U.S. Supreme Court, Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, FCCB, James M. Dailey, death penalty, capital punishment, human justice, Pope Francis.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

U.S. Bishops’ Migration Committee Chair Welcomes Court Injunction that Halts Implementation of Executive Order on Refugee Resettlement

WASHINGTON—A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction in HIAS Inc., et al v. Trump, halting implementation of Executive Order 13888 which had given state and local officials the power to veto initial resettlement of refugees into their jurisdictions. Unless it is overturned by the judge or a higher court, this injunction lasts until the end of the case. The injunction orders that the resettlement program’s operational rules be returned to how they were before the Executive Order was issued on September 26, 2019. In other words, while the federal immigration officials will diligently engage with state and local officials, as always, to assure local concerns are taken into account, the program will return to federal officials having the final responsibility of deciding where refugees will be resettled.

Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

“Jesus Christ, who was part of a refugee family, calls us to welcome the stranger, and our pro-life commitment requires us to protect refugees. Today’s ruling is a welcome step in our ongoing ministry to provide refugees, who are fleeing religious persecution, war, and other dangers, with safe haven here in the United States. We had previously expressed deep concerns about this Executive Order permitting state and county officials to turn away refugees from their communities. We feared the negative consequences for refugees and their families as this Executive Order would have created a confusing patchwork across America of some jurisdictions where refugees are welcomed, and others where they are not. Today’s injunction helps to maintain a uniform national policy of welcome to refugees and serves to maintain reunification of refugee families as a primary factor for initial resettlement.

“During the initial implementation of this Executive Order, I was moved to hear that it received robust bipartisan support from 42 governors and a myriad of local officials who consented to initial resettlement. Once more, we see the intention to act united as a nation in the effort to provide solidarity to those who need it most and are encouraged by the compassion that this nation has towards refugees. The Church looks forward to continue working with communities across America to welcome refugees as we uphold the dignity of all human life.”

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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, Committee on Migration, refugees, President Trump.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

National Prayer Vigil for Life In Nation’s Capital, January 23-24

WASHINGTON—The National Prayer Vigil for Life will be held from Thursday, January 23 to Friday, January 24, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Over 20,000 pilgrims from around the nation are expected to gather there and pray for an end to abortion before the annual March for Life on the National Mall. The Vigil marks the 47th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions legalizing abortion through nine months of pregnancy. Since those decisions, over 60 million abortions have been performed legally in the United States.

The principal celebrant and homilist at the opening Mass for the National Prayer Vigil for Life on January 23 will be Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, who is chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Many of the nation’s bishops and priests will concelebrate the Mass with Archbishop Naumann in the basilica’s Great Upper Church. The principal celebrant and homilist for the closing Mass for the National Prayer Vigil for Life on January 24 will be Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D. of the Military Services, USA, who is secretary for the USCCB. After the conclusion of the Mass on Friday, the participants make their way down to the national mall for the annual March for Life.

The schedule for the National Prayer Vigil for Life:

Thursday, January 23:
•  5:30 PM  Opening Mass in the Great Upper Church
•  8:00 PM  National Rosary for Life
•  9:30 PM  Byzantine Rite Night Prayer
•  11:00 PM ~  Holy Hours led by seminarians (through the night)

Friday, January 24:
•  ~ 6:00 AM  Eucharistic Adoration in the Crypt Church
•  6:30 AM  Morning Prayer and Benediction
•  7:30 AM  Closing Mass in the Great Upper Church

For those seeking the Sacrament of Reconciliation, confessions will be heard in the Our Lady of Hostyn Chapel of the Crypt Church over the course of nine hours before and after the opening Mass. See www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/january-roe-events/national-prayer-vigil-for-life-schedule.cfm for additional details.

“Even if you aren’t able to physically be present with us in DC, we invite everyone to join in our witness and pray for an end to abortion,” said Kat Talalas, assistant director for pro-life communications at the USCCB. “Thousands of Catholics across the country have already signed up for 9 Days for Life, the pro-life novena taking place January 21-29. We ask all of the faithful to unite in prayer to protect the rights of unborn children, to end the violence of abortion, and for greater respect for human life.”

The National Prayer Vigil for Life is co-sponsored by the USCCB’s Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and The Catholic University of America.

Media are invited to attend the opening Mass and interview pilgrims who have traveled to Washington from around the country for the fourteen-hour vigil. Advance registration is requested via the media request form on the basilica’s website. Video footage from the Mass may also be obtained by satellite feed, courtesy of the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN). For coordinates, please contact Jacquelyn Hayes, director of communications for the basilica, at 202-281-0615 or [email protected].

For more details on the overnight National Prayer Vigil for Life and other pro-life events in the Washington area, please visit www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/january-roe-events. To join -- and help spread the word about -- 9 Days for Life, visit www.9daysforlife.com.

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Keywords: National Prayer Vigil for Life, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, abortion, Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, U.S. Supreme Court, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, The Catholic University of America, cardinals, bishops, seminarians, Byzantine rite, rosary, adoration, benediction, 9 Days for Life, prayer, #VigilforLife, #9daysforlife, March for Life, #whywemarch, #marchforlife2020, #LifeEmpowers, #WalkingWithMoms, #WalkWithMoms, Project Rachel, post-abortion healing, hopeafterabortion.com.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

MEDIA ADVISORY: 9 Days for Life Unites Catholics Nationwide in Prayer for the Protection of Life

WASHINGTON—Catholics nationwide are preparing to pray 9 Days for Life, the annual pro-life novena beginning this year on January 21.

In the Catholic Church, a ‘novena’ consists of prayers or actions over nine successive days. The pro-life novena is an opportunity for recollection and reparation in observation of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade—the Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal throughout the United States.

The overarching intention of the novena is the end to abortion. Each daily intention highlights a related topic and is accompanied by a reflection, educational information, and suggested daily actions. The novena encompasses the annual Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children on January 22.

All are invited to sign up at www.9daysforlife.com. Participants can choose to receive the novena via email, text message, a printable version, or through a free "9 Days for Life" mobile app (with customizable reminders) in English or Spanish. Participants can share their pro-life witness and invite their social networks to pray on social media with the hashtag #9DaysforLife. A leader’s kit is available, and features the daily prayer intentions and reflections, among other resources.

Sponsored by the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, 9 Days for Life began in 2013 in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

For additional information and updates throughout the novena, please follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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Keywords: USCCB, Catholic, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Roe v. Wade, abortion, anniversary, Pro-Life, Archbishop Joseph Naumann, 9 Days for Life, People of Life, #9daysforlife, prayer, novena.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

U.S. Bishops’ President Calls for Building the “Beloved Community,” Inspired by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Example

WASHINGTON — Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement to mark the observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on January 20, 2020.

Archbishop Gomez’s full statement follows:

“As our nation prepares to commemorate the life and witness of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., we are grateful for his courageous stand in solidarity with all who suffer injustice and his witness of love and nonviolence in the struggle for social change. But we are once again painfully aware that we are still far off from his dream for America, the ‘beloved community’ for which he gave his life.

“We have come a long way in our country, but we have not come nearly far enough. Too many hearts and minds are clouded by racist presumptions of privilege and too many injustices in our society are still rooted in racism and discrimination. Too many young African American men are still being killed in our streets or spending their best years behind bars. Many minority neighborhoods in this country are still what they were in Rev. King’s time, what he called ‘lonely islands of poverty.’ Let us recommit ourselves to ensuring opportunity reaches every community.

“In recent years, we have seen disturbing outbreaks of racism and prejudice against other groups. There has been a rise of anti-Semitic attacks and also ugly displays of white nationalism, nativism, and violence targeting Hispanics and other immigrants. Such bigotry is not worthy of a great nation. As Catholics and as Americans, we must reject every form of racism and anti-Semitism.  

“Racism is a sin that denies the truth about God and his creation, and it is a scandal that disfigures the beauty of America’s founding vision. In our 2018 pastoral letter on racism, my brother bishops and I stated: ‘What is needed, and what we are calling for, is a genuine conversion of heart, a conversion that will compel change and the reform of our institutions and society.’  

“Let us honor the memory of Rev. King by returning to what he called ‘the best in the American dream and the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian heritage.’ Let us commit ourselves once more to building his ‘beloved community,’ an America where all men and women are treated as children of God, made in his image and endowed with dignity, equality, and rights that can never be denied, no matter the color of their skin, the language they speak, or the place they were born."

The U.S. Bishops’ 2018 pastoral letter on racism, “Open Wide Your Hearts: The Enduring Call of Love,” and other resources from the Ad Hoc Committee on Racism can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/racism/index.cfm.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop José Gomez, Martin Luther King, Jr., racism.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200