Ongoing violence in the Middle East must stop, Jordanian priest says
The spokesman for the Catholic Church in Amman, Jordan has decried the continuous bloodshed in the Middle East, expressing his fear that refugees will develop an attitude of hatred and revenge.
“The main point I think is to stop the bloodshed, and then I think we will start to talk about the re-construction of Syria, the re-construction of Iraq, but we have to stop the bloodshed,” Father Rif’at Bader told CNA June 16.
“It’s really a shame on the Middle East and on the world to allow such” violence to continue, he said.
Present in Sarajevo, Bosnia for a June 16-17 conference addressing the theme “The Temptation of Violence: Religions between War and Reconciliation,” Father Bader is the spokesman for the Catholic Church in Jordan as well as director of the country’s Catholic Center for Studies and Media. He also played a key role in organizing the visit of Pope Francis last month.
Speaking of the current situation in the Middle East, Father Bader explained that the bloodshed in Iraq and in Syria has led to an influx of refugees into Jordan.
“I don’t say that we are suffering because of them, but we are suffering with them and for them because the situation is not easy in Syria, it’s not easy in Iraq,” he said. There are 300,000 refugees in Amman, with more than 1.3 million Syrians who have fled to Somal, he said.
USCCB head: Synod on family is opportunity for teaching faith
A consultation regarding the upcoming synod on the family highlights the need for a better teaching of the faith, the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference said.
“Unsurprisingly, we still have much ground to cover in sharing the good news of marriage and the family with our Catholic faithful,” Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville said June 11 during the USCCB Spring Assembly in New Orleans.
The bishops voted to extend their Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty and to approve work on a limited revision of their quadrennial document, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” aimed at guiding Catholics in election decisions.
The bishops “do not intend to tell Catholics for whom or against whom to vote,” the document states. “Our purpose is to help Catholics form their consciences in accordance with God’s truth. We recognize that the responsibility to make choices in political life rests with each individual in light of a properly formed conscience, and that participation goes well beyond casting a vote in a particular election.”
Archbishop Kurtz, in discussing the upcoming synod, stressed the Church’s role in formation.
“We know there is a need for greater, effective teaching on key tenets of the faith, such as the indissolubility of marriage, the importance of sexual difference for marriage, the natural law, and the married couple’s call to be open to life,” the archbishop said, addressing his fellow bishops.
He presented a report on the upcoming Oct. 5-19 extraordinary synod of bishops — a meeting of bishops from around the world — which will address “pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.”He noted that “as with past synods,” the bishops had been asked to consult with the faithful about the topic.
Archbishop Kurtz gave a “very general view” of the consultation’s results, balancing a desire of the Holy See for confidentiality, as it was intended “solely for use in preparation for the extraordinary synod.”
“Pastoral care for the faithful who are separated and divorced continues to be a great need,” he said. “Many divorced and remarried persons seem to feel a sense of alienation from the Church.”
He said the faithful tended to indicate “a great desire to hear the Church's teaching on marriage,” adding that “many noted distractions caused by inaccurate portrayals” of that teaching. The consultation also revealed that families are feeling the pressure of “economic instability, being overly busy, and living in a culture often hostile to the faith and excessively focused on material gain,” and that parents often find it difficult to pass on the faith, “because they themselves have not been fully catechized or evangelized.”
The archbishop noted that while many Catholics “understand what the Church teaches” about same-sex unions, “there remains a great desire to go further and understand why.”
Marriage preparation programs “have become more intentionally evangelistic and catechetical,” he added, though there remains a need “for more remote and proximate formation,” as well as continuing formation for couples after their wedding.
The consultation also found that when couples are in crisis, they see their parish and priest as key “first responders,” and that families witnessing to other families about being a domestic church is a “great opportunity” for evangelization.
The archbishop’s final note was that there is a “vibrant existence of many small, faith-centered groups, such as those fostered by various ecclesial movements,” which are helping their members live out their vocation to marriage and family.
The bishops voted to permit the USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations to seek a renewed recognitio, or approval, from the Vatican for the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States. Vatican approval to the text would be for another five-year term.
Archbishop Cordileone rejects March for Marriage criticism
San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has rejected California politicians’ criticism of the March for Marriage, stressing his duty to teach “the truth about marriage” even when it may not be popular.
The June 19 March for Marriage in Washington, D.C., is “not anti-anyone or anti-anything,” Archbishop Cordileone said in a June 16 letter to political leaders, religious leaders, and leaders of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) activist groups.
“Rather, it is a pro-marriage march,” the archbishop continued. The march “affirms the great good of bringing the two halves of humanity together so that a man and a woman may bond with each other and with any children who come from their union.”
Archbishop Cordileone, who heads the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, said that if the event intended to “single out a group of individuals and target them for hatred, I most certainly would not be there.”
The archbishop’s letter comes in response to a June 10 letter signed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, several other leaders in the California and San Francisco governments, several dissenting Catholic groups, and several LGBT advocacy groups. Several non-Catholic clergy also signed the letter.
Their letter asked the Catholic archbishop to “reconsider his participation” in the march. They claimed that march organizers like the National Organization for Marriage and the Family Research Council are “some of the nation’s most virulently anti-LGBT organizations and leaders.”
Arizona community mourns, remembers slain priest
The 105-degree heat did not deter parishioners and friends of Father Kenneth Walker from packing St. Catherine Church in Phoenix to standing-room-only for his June 16 Requiem Mass.
The nearly two-hour liturgy, celebrated in the extraordinary form, began at 10 a.m., but priests, religious sisters and faithful began filling the pews nearly two hours beforehand to pray for the beloved priest.
Father Walker, 28, was shot and killed on June 11 during an attempted burglary at the Rectory of Mater Misericordiae Mission in Phoenix where he served as associate pastor. Father Joseph Terra, pastor of Mater Misericordiae, was critically wounded in the incident but was released from the hospital Monday morning and was in attendance at the Requiem Mass.
The homilist for the Mass, Father Eric Flood — a member of the priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter along with the deceased — said Father Walker was known as “a priest without guile.”
“He was very honest, courteous, kind, and I know even now he would not want me to extol him much more from the pulpit. He would say, ‘talk about why I am a priest,’” Father Flood said. Father Walker forgot himself and thought of others, he said.
—Catholic News Agency