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Pope condemns deadly terrorist attack in Somalia

By Junno Arocho Esteves VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis prayed for the victims of a terrorist attack in Mogadishu, Somalia, that left hundreds dead and countless wounded in one of the deadliest attacks in the country’s history. Before concluding his weekly general audience Oct. 18, the pope expressed his

Fatima celebration at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral

On Friday October 13, 2017 many of the faithful gathered at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the “Miracle of the Sun” that took place in Fatima Portugal on October 13, 1917. Archbishop Dennis Schnurr presided at the event which featured, prayer, rosary, and music.

Pope at General Audience: 'Jesus came to save us from death'

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday reminded Christians that Jesus came to heal us and to save us from death. He also prayed for the over 300 victims of a deadly bombing in Somalia's capital Mogadishu and condemned the terrorist attack that falls on an ravaged tortured nation. 

He was addressing the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Wednesday General Audience, during which he continued his catechesis on Christian Hope.

Noting that death is a reality that modern civilization “tends, more and more, to set aside” and not reflect upon, Pope Francis said that for believers death is actually “a door” and a call to live for something greater.  

For those “in doubt”, he added, it contains a glimmer of light that shines through a slightly open threshold.

For all of us, he continued, in the mystery of death is a grace and that light will shine for everyone.

Prepare for death

The pope invited those present to think of the moment of their death and imagine the time when Jesus will take us by hand and say: “come, rise and come with me”.

In that moment, he said, hope will end and it will become reality.

Often, he continued we find ourselves unprepared to face death, and yet for centuries past civilizations had the courage to face this inevitable reality. Older generations taught the younger to see that inescapable event as a call to live for something enduring, greater than themselves.  

Pointing out that our days, no matter how many they are, pass like a breath, Francis said “death lays bare our lives” forcing us to acknowledge that all those actions born from pride, anger and hatred” were useless and vain.

To the contrary, he said, it highlights how all the good things that we have sown have germinated and now “hold us by the hand”. 

Jesus will take us by the hand

Jesus, the Pope explained, is the one who ultimately helps us to confront the mystery of death. He shows us that it is natural to weep and to mourn the loss of a loved one, just as he wept at Lazarus’ death.  

But he did not only mourn, he also prayed to the Father and called Lazarus from the tomb pointing out that “Here is our Christian hope: Jesus has come to heal us, to save us from death”.

Recalling the gospel story of Jairus who turned to Jesus in faith asking him to save his sick daughter, and Jesus’s exhortation: “Do not fear, only believe”, the Pope urged Christians not to be afraid, but to keep the flame of faith burning.

Jesus, Francis said, puts us on this “ridge” of faith: every time death comes to tear us away from the fabric of live and our earthly ties, Jesus is there reminding us that He is the resurrection and the life.

We are all small and defenseless before the mystery of death, Pope Francis concluded, but if we keep the flame of faith alive in our hearts, Jesus will take us by the hand, just as he did with Jairus’ daughter when he said: "Talitha cum" which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise. To each of us, he concluded, he will say: “I say to you, arise.”   

(from Vatican Radio)

Wealthy donors working to limit 'inappropriate' religious freedom

Denver, Colo., Oct 18, 2017 / 02:51 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A network of wealthy donors is funding a series of well-organized lobbying campaigns to restrict legal protections for religious freedom, in order to advance access to abortion and LGBT causes.

Since 2013, a network of funders has earmarked at least $8.5 million in grants for projects intended to limit religious freedom provisions in federal, state, and local law, according to a CNA investigation of grant listings and tax forms.

Many of these funders are part of the Rights, Faith & Democracy Collaborative, a grantmaking fund launched by the Proteus Fund in March 2017. The collaborative opposes “the inappropriate use of religious exemptions to curtail reproductive health, rights and justice, discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community, and otherwise undermine fundamental rights and liberties essential to a healthy democracy,” the fund’s website says.

The new anti-religious freedom collaborative was created to oppose “ongoing and growing efforts in too many states to ‘legalize’ discrimination and restrict fundamental human and civil rights under the guise of protecting ‘religious liberty’,” according to the fund’s website.

The Rights, Faith & Democracy Collaborative has given grants to pro-abortion groups and LGBT advocacy groups at the state, federal and international levels; religious groups including Catholics for Choice; legal advocacy groups like the ACLU and Lambda Legal; and aligned academics, including those at Columbia Law School’s “Public Rights, Private Conscience Project.”

One donor, the Arcus Foundation, has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to John Podesta’s Center for American Progress initiatives. These grants seek to redefine religious liberty as “a core progressive American value that includes LGBT equality and women’s reproductive health and rights,” according to its latest grant listed at the Arcus Foundation website.

The collaborative’s network also spends millions on leadership development, donor development, anti-violence and anti-discrimination projects, and LGBT and pro-abortion rights advocacy.

The Rights, Faith & Democracy Collaborative says it will serve as “a vehicle for broader donor education and mobilization in order to achieve deeper funding alignment as well as enhanced donor collaboration.”

The collaborative aims to nurture strategies and organizations that foster collaboration between “the reproductive equity and LGBTQ movements, especially at the state and local level.” It aims to boost the influence of faith leaders and religious communities that it says will support “equal rights and opportunities for everyone while also protecting legitimate constitutionally protected religious liberty rights.” Its website also claims that “discriminatory practices fostered by overly broad religious exemptions” have a disproportionate impact on racial minorities.

The collaborative’s funding partners, listed on the Proteus Fund’s website, are the Alki Fund of the Rockefeller Family Fund, the Arcus Foundation, the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, the Gill Foundation, the Groundswell Fund, the Irving Harris Foundation, the Moriah Fund, the Overbrook Foundation, and anonymous donors.

The Proteus Fund appears to have had previous success. Its Civil Marriage Collaborative, closed in 2015, was a leader in the push for legal recognition of gay marriage. The fund’s “Hearts & Minds” report says that the consortium of foundations invested $153 million over 11 years in many states and at the national level in marriage-related advocacy.

CNA contacted the Proteus Fund for comment, but received no response by deadline.

Religious freedom laws: ‘not a blank check’

Richard Garnett, a professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School, disagreed with the fund’s claims that religious freedom legal accommodations and exemptions are illegitimate. He said this claim is “inconsistent with our history and with our longstanding commitment to religious liberty as our ‘first freedom.’

“Reasonable exemptions do not ‘undermine fundamental rights and liberties,’ they protect and promote them,” he told CNA.

“Unfortunately, there are powerful and well-funded interests who, with broad support in the academy and in media, have been working hard to associate our ‘first freedom’ with discrimination and prejudice,” Garnett said.

He reflected on the state of religious freedom advocacy.

“Proponents of religious freedom, broadly and generously understood, will need to work hard to remind our fellow citizens that religious liberty – which has to mean religious liberty for all, and not just for ‘people like us’ – is itself a fundamental human right, and a protection for democracy,” he said. “And, of course, to make religious freedom more appealing, it is important that religious-freedom proponents conduct their efforts in a civil, charitable, and inviting way.”

For Garnett, the fund’s rhetoric about discrimination concerns did not accurately represent the current state of the law.

“In fact, only a tiny number of religious-exemptions claims involve antidiscrimination laws and these claims almost always fail,” he said. “The claim that religious-liberty laws undermine important anti-discrimination protections in the marketplace, the workplace, or in public accommodations is false.  

“Instead, what these laws do is call for sensible accommodations for religious conscience, in cases where the accommodations will not undermine compelling public interests. These laws call for a balance, not a blank check.”

Religious freedom protections have become more controversial in recent decades. In 2012, the Obama administration attempted to mandate that all employers, including religious employers, cover sterilization and contraceptive drugs, including drugs that can cause abortions. The mandate burdened many Catholic dioceses and organizations, including EWTN Global Catholic Network, and was only changed by a recent Trump administration action.

There is also an ongoing push in some states to require insurance coverage of abortions, and some medical professionals and hospitals have faced pressure to cooperate in providing abortions.

Garnett thought abortion would be a prime focus of the Proteus funding network.

“My sense is that what efforts like the Proteus Fund are really aimed at is undermining the longstanding protections in American law for religious health care workers and institutions who cannot in conscience participate in abortions,” he said. “These protections are falsely labeled as ‘discriminatory’ when, in fact, they reflect the commonsense notion that it would be deeply unjust to require, as a condition of working as a healer, a pro-life medical professional to participate in a procedure she believes to be gravely wrong.”

Some Christian adoption agencies have been forced to close because placing children with same-sex couples violates their religious convictions. There is an ongoing debate over whether small businesses in the marriage industry must cater to same-sex ceremonies if they have religious objections to them.

Ryan T. Anderson, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation and co-author of “Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination,” reflected on the current situation.

“Anti-gay and anti-transgender bigotry exists and should be condemned,” he told CNA. “But support for marriage as the union of husband and wife isn’t anti-gay. Nor is the conviction that sex is a biological reality anti-transgender.

“Just as we’ve combatted sexism without treating pro-life medicine as sexist, any public policy necessary to help people who identify as LGBT meet their needs should be crafted so as to respect the consciences of reasonable people, acting on good-faith beliefs about marriage and gender identity,” said Anderson. “Not every disagreement is discrimination. And our law shouldn’t suppose otherwise.”

‘We’re going to punish the wicked’

The Proteus Fund’s collaborative brings together several organizations with experience in effective political advocacy.

One of its funding partners, the Colorado-based Gill Foundation, was launched by the politically savvy former businessman Tim Gill. He has pursued strategic LGBT advocacy through funding both non-profits and political campaigns.

“We’re going into the hardest states in the country… we’re going to punish the wicked,” Gill said in a June interview with Rolling Stone magazine about his LGBT activism.

In March 2015, Tim Sweeney, a former president and CEO of the Gill Foundation,  told leading business executives and others attending the Out & Equal Workplace Advocates executive forum in San Francisco about the need to ensure their fight against religious exemptions is finished quickly.

“We are at a crossroads where the choices we make will mean we will fight religious exemptions for two to three years or have a protracted twenty year struggle on our hands,” he said.

The New York-based Arcus Foundation, founded by billionaire heir Jon Stryker, has dedicated millions of dollars to opposing religious freedom protections and to funding LGBT advocacy within world religions, including dissenting Catholic groups like Catholics for Choice, New Ways Ministry and Dignity USA.

One board member of this foundation is Darren Walker, past vice-president of the Rockefeller Foundation and current president of the deeply influential Ford Foundation. The Ford Foundation has funded some projects against religious liberty protections, but is not listed as a direct member of the collaborative based at the Proteus Fund.

However, the Oakland, Calif.-based Groundswell Fund board of directors is chaired by Rocio L. Cordoba, a past program officer for the Ford Foundation’s Gender, Sexuality and Reproductive Justice Program. The Groundswell Fund claims to fund more reproductive justice organizations than any other foundation.

Another partner, the Rockefeller Family Fund, was launched in 1967 by members of the prominent American family, including then-New York governor and future vice-president Nelson Rockefeller. Its mission statement says it “initiates, cultivates, and funds strategic efforts to promote a sustainable, just, free, and participatory society.” The fund did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

The San Francisco-based Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund is a private family foundation with half a billion dollars in assets. Since 2014 it has earmarked at least $1.4 million in grants for projects related to religious exemptions, according to a CNA review of its grant listings.

The New York-based Overbrook Foundation, founded in 1948 by financier Frank Altschul and his wife Helen, has a gender rights program to fund those who oppose “overly broad religious exemptions.” Its website listed $220,000 in grants related to religious freedom: a $100,000 grant to the Proteus Fund’s collaborative, and two $60,000 grants to Lambda Legal.

The Chicago-based Irving Harris Foundation, created by the businessman and philanthropist, awards $10 to $15 million in grants annually, InsidePhilanthropy reports. The Washington, D.C.-based Moriah Fund dedicated over $10.6 million to program spending in fiscal year 2016. Neither grant maker's website listed grants related to religious freedom.

 

Correction Oct. 18, 2017, 12:40 pm ET: This article incorrectly identified the Alki Fund as being part of the Rockefeller Foundation. It is part of the Rockefeller Family Fund.

 

 

Elizabeth’s New Life Center announces a banquet with Senator Rick Santorum

Dayton, OH- Elizabeth’s New Life Center announces a fund raising banquet with Senator Rick Santorum on Thursday, October 19th. Lunch is at 11:30 a.m., and dinner at 6:15 p.m. Registration is at 11:00 a.m., and 5:30 p.m.. The banquet will be hosted at A Learning Place in Piqua, OH. Prior

St. Bernard celebrates 150 years

Growing parish celebrates in stone church built by parishioners Some 150 years ago, when St. Bernard Parish at Harrison Pike and Springdale Road was founded, the new parishioners looked across the pike to Taylor Creek where water cascaded over a stone creek bed. It took a lot of sweat and

Pope addresses “Religions for Peace”‎ delegation

(Vatican Radio)  “Religions, with their spiritual and moral resources, have a specific and ‎unique role to play in building ‎peace,” Pope Francis said on Wednesday.  “They cannot be neutral, much less ‎ambiguous, where peace is concerned,” he ‎told a delegation of 80 members of “Religions for Peace”, who met him in the Vatican. 

Religions for Peace is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition that advances common action among the world’s religious communities to transform violent conflict, advance human development, promote just and harmonious societies, and protect the earth.

Peace and justice

Noting that “peace is both a divine gift and a human achievement,” the Pope said “believers of all religions are called to implore peace and to intercede ‎for it.”  He stressed that “peacemaking and the pursuit ‎of justice go together,‎” and said that “all men and women of good will, particularly those in positions of ‎responsibility, are summoned to work for peace with their hearts, minds and ‎hands.” 

Violence in God’s name

Pope Francis once again denounced violence in the name of religion saying, “they gravely offend God, ‎who is peace and the source of peace, and has left in ‎human beings a reflection of his wisdom, power ‎and beauty.”

Care for creation

The Pontiff expressed appreciation for the efforts of Religions for Peace, saying “religions are ‎bound by their very nature to promote peace ‎through justice, fraternity, ‎disarmament and care for creation.‎”  He said there is a “need for a common and cooperative effort on the part of the ‎religions in promoting an ‎integral ecology.”  Religions, he noted have the “wherewithal to further a moral ‎covenant ‎that can promote respect for the dignity of the human person and care for ‎creation.”  The Pope expressed satisfaction that there are many examples of the power of interreligious cooperation around the world  that oppose violent ‎conflicts, advance sustainable development and ‎protect the earth.  

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope’s condolence for death of Philippine Cardinal Ricardo Vidal

Pope Francis has expressed his condolence for Philippine Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, who passed away in Cebu on Wednesday.  The 86-year old prelate who was Archbishop of Cebu for nearly 3 decades until his retirement in 2010, died of complications from pneumonia. 

Pope Francis sent a telegram to Archbishop Jose S. Palma of Cebu, expressing gratitude for Cardinal Vidal’s  “untiring and devoted service to the Church, and for his constant advocacy of dialogue and peace for all the people in the Philippines”.

Please find below the text of the Pope’s condolence telegram: 

The Most Reverend Jose S. Palma

Archbishop of Cebu

Deeply saddened to learn of the death of Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, I extend my sincere condolences to you, and to the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Archdiocese of Cebu.  Joining with you in expressing profound gratitude for the late Cardinal’s untiring and devoted service to the Church, and for his constant advocacy of dialogue and peace for all the people in the Philippines, I commend his soul to the infinite love and mercy of our heavenly Father.  As a pledge of consolation and hope in the Lord, to all who mourn his passing in the certain hope of the Resurrection, I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing

                                                                       FRANCISCUS PP.

Cardinal Ricardo J. Vidal, Archbishop emeritus of Cebu (Philippines), was born on 6 February 1931 in Mogpoc, Philippines. He did his studies at the minor seminary of the Most Holy Rosary (which later assumed the title of Our Lady of Carmel) and at the seminary of San Carlo.

He was ordained on 17 March 1956. The Bishop of Lucena entrusted him as spiritual director of the local seminary of Mount Carmel. He then became superior of the same institute and was dedicated to the formation of the young candidates to priesthood until 10 September 1971, when he was named Coadjutor Bishop of Malolos, Bulacan, and was elected to the titular church of Claterna. He received episcopal ordination on 30 November 1971. On 22 August 1973 he was named Archbishop of Lipa in Batangas.

On 13 April 1981 he was named Coadjutor with the right of succession to the Archbishop of Cebu, Cardinal Julio Rosales. He was named Archbishop on 24 August 1982.

He served as president of the Bishops’ Commission for Vocations within the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. He was also vice-president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference and then president from 1985 to 1987.

He was created and proclaimed Cardinal by John Paul II in the Consistory of 25 May 1985,with the Title of Ss. Pietro e Paolo in Via Ostiense (Sts. Peter and Paul in Via Ostiense, Rome).

In a message, Cebu archdiocese’s spokesman Msgr. Joseph Tan said the prelate died due to infection leading to septic shock at the city’s Perpetual Succour Hospital where he was hospitalized on Oct 11 when he became seriously ill. 

Requesting prayers for the prelate’s soul, Tan said the details of funeral rites will be made available as soon as possible.

A native of Mogpog, Marinduque, Vidal was ordained a priest in 1956 by Bishop and Servant of God Alfredo Maria Aranda Obviar.

Then Pope John Paul II appointed Vidal head of the Cebu archdiocese in 1982. He retired in 2011.

In a statement released shortly after Vidal’s death, CBCP president Archbishop Socrates Villegas stressed Vidal’s legacy will live on despite his passing.

“Cardinal Vidal cannot die. He who has always shared in the dying and rising of the Lord daily in his priestly life cannot die. He now joins the immortal ones who served the Lord faithfully here on earth. His wisdom and his humility, his love for priests and his devotion to the Virgin Mary must live on in us whom he has left behind,” he said. Archbishop Villegas also expressed hope in Cardinal Vidal’s intercession for the faithful. “Rest well Eminence. Pray for us in the Father’s House.”

Meanwhile Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo praised Card Vidal for being a “true servant-leader rather than a ‘prince.’”

“For me his legacy is his own outstanding character. Some of these are: Humility, low profile style; Simplicity and Approachability; Ability to listen even to opposing views; Prudence in political issues; Courage in presenting and defending the CBCP position leading to the 1986 People Power; Charity for those considered as ‘enemies,’” he said in a message to CBCPNews.

With the death of Card. Vidal, the number of cardinals worldwide now stands at 219, of whom 120 are ‎below the age of 80, hence are eligible to vote for a new pope.  Ninety-nine are non-voters.  ‎

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis deplores Mogadishu terror attack

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has condemned the terrorist attack that killed over 300 people, including children, in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

Speaking during the weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope said he wished to express his sorrow for the massacre that took place on Saturday.

“This terrorist act , he said, deserves to be most strongly deplored, also because it falls on a population that is already suffering deeply”.

Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:

The Pope said he is praying for the dead, for the wounded, for their families and for the whole people of Somalia.

“I implore the conversion of those who are violent and send my encouragement to those, who with enormous difficulties, are working for peace in that tortured land” he said.

On the ground in Mogadishu nearly 70 people are still missing  from Saturday's bomb blast that killed more than 300 people in one of the world's deadliest attacks in years

The death toll of 302 is expected to rise. 

Somalia’s government has blamed the attack on the al-Shabab extremist group, which has not commented.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope General Audience: English Summary

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday reminded Christians that Jesus came to heal us and to save us from death.

He was addressing the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly General Audience, during which he continued his catechesis on Christian Hope.

Please find below the English Summary of the Pope’s catechesis: 

Dear Brothers and Sisters: this morning I wish to reflect on Christian hope and the reality of death, a reality which our modern world so often leaves us unprepared to face.  Past civilizations had the courage to face death, and older generations taught the younger to see that inescapable event as a call to live for something enduring, greater than themselves.  For our days, no matter how many they are, pass like a breath.  It is Jesus, however, that ultimately helps us to confront this mystery.  He shows us that it is natural to mourn the loss of a loved one.  For he too wept at Lazarus’ death.  But he did not only mourn; he also prayed to the Father and called Lazarus from the tomb.  Here is our Christian hope: Jesus has come to heal us, to save us from death. He says: “I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn 11:25); if we believe in him, even if we die, we will live.  In the face of our sorrow, Jesus invites us to faith in him.  This is our hope: when we mourn, we know that Christ remains always close to us.  And one day, when we too face death, we will hear Jesus’s voice: “I say to you, arise” (Mk 5:41).   

(from Vatican Radio)