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Trump signs executive order stopping family separation policy

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- President Donald Trump signed an executive order June 20 that halts his administration's family separation policy for families who have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally. The executive order seeks to work around a 1997 consent decree that bars the federal government from keeping children in immigration detention -- even if they are with their parents -- for more than 20 days. The executive order instructs the attorney general to seek federal court permission to modify the consent decree. The crisis was spawned when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a "zero tolerance" policy for border crossers. Under the policy, adults would be charged with a felony rather than a misdemeanor for crossing the border. Under federal statute, those charged with felonies cannot have their children detained with them. The government earlier in June said 1,995 minors had been separated from 1,940 adults who had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, although some minors had crossed without their parents or adult kin. The policy and its upshot stirred some of the most hostile reaction yet of any Trump initiative. Hours before the executive order was signed, Pope Francis said he stood with the U.S. bishops, who had condemned the family separation policy, which has led to children being held in government shelters while their parents are sent to federal prisons. Mexico's bishops likewise decried the policy. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was heckled June 19 while she dined at a Mexican restaurant in the Washington area. Every living former first lady and the current first lady, Melania Trump -- herself an immigrant from Slovenia -- expressed their sorrow, or a stronger emotion, at the sight of children being separated from their parents. "My wife feels strongly about it. I feel strongly about it. I think anybody with a heart would feel strongly about it," Trump said during the June 20 signing ceremony in the Oval Office, with Nielsen and Vice President Mike Pence flanking him. "I don't like the sight or the feeling of families being separated," Trump added. "This will solve that problem and at the same time we are keeping a very strong border." Even so, the executive order is not necessarily a panacea. It allows the Department of Homeland Security to detain families together "under present resource constraints." The "temporary detention policy" also is only in effect "to the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations." Pence criticized those who make a "false choice" between being "a nation of laws" and showing compassion. "We expect the House to act this week. We expect them to do their job," Nielsen said. The House is considering two immigration bills, although neither dealt in particular with the family separation policy. "You will have a lot of happy people," Trump said as he signed the executive order. "What we have done today is we are keeping families together."

June 21, 2018 – Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious

The Lord’s Prayer Matthew 6:7-15 Jesus contrasts the disciples’ prayer with that of pagans who tend to babble relentlessly, hoping to be heard by one deity or another. God already knows what we need, so it is far better to trust that the Father hears and answers when we pray. The centerpiece of Jesus’ teaching about prayer is the Our Father. Prayer: Sometimes I do not have the words, or I am so tired of asking. In those times I am greatly comforted by your deep and abiding love for me. Like a loving parent you will always give me what I need.

Abuse allegation against Cardinal McCarrick found credible

UPDATED WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, said June 20 he will no longer exercise any public ministry "in obedience" to the Vatican after an allegation he abused a teenager 47 years ago was found credible. Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, New Jersey, where Cardinal McCarrick served as its first bishop, said in a statement the same day that he had been advised that "Cardinal McCarrick himself has disputed this allegation and is appealing this matter through the canonical process." "While shocked by the report, and while maintaining my innocence," Cardinal McCarrick said in his statement, "I considered it essential that the charges be reported to the police, thoroughly investigated by an independent agency and given to the Review Board of the Archdiocese of New York. I fully cooperated in the process." Cardinal McCarrick said that "some months ago" he was informed of the allegation by New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan. "My sadness was deepened when I was informed that the allegations had been determined credible and substantiated," Cardinal McCarrick said. Cardinal Dolan, in a June 20 statement, said it was "the first such report of a violation" against Cardinal McCarrick "of which the archdiocese was aware." In separate statements, Bishop Checchio and Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey -- where Cardinal McCarrick served in-between his appointments to Metuchen and Washington -- said this was their first notice that Cardinal McCarrick had been accused of sexual abuse of a minor. "In the past, there have been allegations that he engaged in sexual behavior with adults," Cardinal Tobin said. "This archdiocese and the Diocese of Metuchen received three allegations of sexual misconduct with adults decades ago; two of these allegations resulted in settlements." Cardinal McCarrick, who turns 88 July 7, was ordained a priest of the New York Archdiocese May 31, 1958. He was ordained auxiliary bishop of New York May 24, 1977, six years after the incident of abuse is believed to have occurred. He was appointed the first bishop of Metuchen in 1981 and was named archbishop of Newark in 1986. He was installed as archbishop of Washington in 2001. He was made a cardinal Feb. 21, 2001, and retired as head of the Washington Archdiocese May 16, 2006. Cardinal Dolan said the alleged abuse occurred during the time Cardinal McCarrick served as an archdiocesan priest in New York. He added the allegation was turned over to law enforcement officials, and was then thoroughly investigated by an independent forensic agency, as per the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" first approved by the U.S. bishops in 2002. "The Holy See was alerted as well, and encouraged us to continue the process," he added. "Again according to our public protocol, the results of the investigation were then given to the Archdiocesan Review Board, a seasoned group of professionals including jurists, law enforcement experts, parents, psychologists, a priest, and a religious sister." The Archdiocese of New York "renews its apology to all victims abused by priests," Cardinal Dolan said. "We also thank the victim for courage in coming forward and participating in our independent reconciliation and compensation program, as we hope this can bring a sense of resolution and fairness." The Archdiocese of Washington said in a June 20 statement that "the Holy See ... has exclusive authority in the oversight of a cardinal" and referred the matter to the New York Archdiocese. It added the instruction for Cardinal McCarrick to refrain from exercising public ministry came "at the direction of our Holy Father, Pope Francis," and was delivered by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state. Cardinal Tobin said he recognized the "range of emotions" felt by Newark-area Catholics upon hearing the news. "I am thinking particularly of those who have experienced the trauma of sexual abuse by clergy -- ...

Pope supports U.S. bishops' criticism of 'immoral' immigration policy

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis said he stands with the U.S. bishops who recently condemned the Trump administration's policy on immigration that has led to children being held in government shelters while their parents are sent federal prisons. "I am on the side of the bishops' conference," Pope Francis said in an interview with the Reuters news agency, published online June 20. "Let it be clear that in these things, I respect (the position of) the bishops' conference." On the first day of their June 13-14 spring assembly in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, read a statement on behalf of the bishops denouncing the government's zero-tolerance policy. "Families are the foundational element of our society, and they must be able to stay together. While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety. Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral," the statement said. The political rise of populist movements in both the United States and in Europe has led to a severe crackdown on men, women and children trying to escape war, violence, poverty and persecution. In Italy, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini banned the NGO rescue ship Aquarius, with more than 600 migrants aboard, to dock and has vowed to stop any foreign boats carrying rescued migrants into the country. Pope Francis said the current wave of populist rhetoric against migrants was "creating psychosis" and that people seeking a better life should not be rejected. Europe, he added, is facing a "great demographic winter" and, without immigration, the continent "will become empty." "Some governments are working on it, and people have to be settled in the best possible way, but creating psychosis is not the cure," he said. "Populism does not resolve things. What resolves things is acceptance, study, prudence."

Pew report says young adults worldwide less religious than older adults

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A study by the Pew Research Center found that young adults worldwide are generally less religious than older adults by a variety of measures. The study, which drew upon previous surveys by Pew, concluded that this was true regardless of the predominant religion in the country, its level of economic development, or its level of religiosity. It defined young people as those under 40 years of age and older people as those 40 or older. The study noted projections indicate countries whose populations are growing fastest are very religious, while countries projected to have shrinking or stagnant population levels tend to be less religious. In addition to determining the differences between the rates of religious observance of younger and older people, the study, published in mid-June, attempted to identify possible causes for those differences. As life expectancy, the average amount of schooling, income equality, and gross domestic product increase, the study found that religious observance decreases, with very few exceptions. For example, of the 102 countries included in the report, the United States was the only one with an above-average GDP per capita and an above-average rate of daily prayer. "Religious commitment is lower in places where life is easier. And in places where life is steadily becoming easier, the theory goes, younger adults generally are less religious than their parents' and grandparents' generations," the report says. The correlation between religious commitment and the ease of life also seems to run in the other direction. In many of the countries in which young adults are more religious than older adults -- such as Ghana, Liberia, Chad and Georgia -- civil wars, violence, or other forms of unrest occurred while young people were coming of age. In 41 of the 106 countries surveyed, young people were less likely to have a religious affiliation than older people. Most of these countries were in the Americas or Europe, but South Korea, Australia and Japan had some of the world's largest gaps between the percentages of young and older people who are religiously affiliated. The majority of age gaps in affiliation are in countries that have generally Christian populations. The study also found that in North America and much of Latin America and Europe, young adults were less likely than older adults to say that religion was very important in their lives. About half the countries in the Middle East, where almost all adults have a religious affiliation, had a similar gap. In the average country surveyed, 57 percent of older people said religion was very important in their lives, while 51 percent of young people said the same. Young adults are also less likely than older adults to attend weekly religious services. The study found that this was almost universally true in the Americas and in over half of the surveyed countries in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Poland, a historically Catholic country, had the largest gap of any country surveyed: 26 percent of young people attend religious services weekly, while 55 percent of older people do. The report theorizes that this difference is due to the Catholic Church's association with "nationalism, Polish identity, and resistance to the Soviet Union during Poland's communist period," which the older generation, unlike the younger generation, would remember. The study found that "the generational divide in religious commitment is most apparent when examining daily prayer. Not only is it the measure with the highest number of countries with an age gap, but it is also the measure by which the average country has the biggest gap globally." The gap exists in 71 of the 105 countries surveyed, including all 19 countries surveyed in Latin America, 27 of 35 European countries, the United States, Canada, and a number of countries in other regions. The difference in rates of daily prayer was especially wide in the United States -- 18 percentage points-- ...

June 20, 2018 – Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Teaching about Almsgiving/Prayer/Fasting Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 Jesus instructs the disciples about works of piety. The point of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving is not to be seen and admired by others. These religious practices are a means of emptying oneself and offering praise to God and God alone. Prayer: I pray for the grace to do good things not out of guilt or for my own benefit but for my neighbor and you.

Trump supporters pleased with progress

The June 12 summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was unusual, not least of all for its bringing together the heads of two countries who have remained officially at war even since the cease-fire in the Korean War in 1953. The meeting also came on the heels of extended confrontation, between Trump’s often-tweeted jabs at the dictator and the country’s persistent weapons and missile tests, which spiked tensions globally for much of the last two years. Archbishop Alfred Zuereb, nuncio to Korea and Mongolia, told Vatican News that the summit was “truly historic,” one that marked “an important page at the beginning of a long and arduous road.” While Trump remains a divisive and confrontational figure, his support among members of his own party stands at 87 percent (per a June Gallup poll). With numbers like that, it’s worth noting the role Catholics play in his political fortunes. The road to Trump Two years ago, Peter Wolfgang vowed that he would quit the Republican Party if Donald Trump became the GOP’s presidential nominee. A lot has happened since then. Trump won the 2016 presidential election, and for the most part Wolfgang has liked what he has seen in the first 18 months of the Trump administration. “Two years later, I’m on board the Trump train,” said Wolfgang, a longtime pro-life activist and faithful Catholic who serves as executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut. Wolfgang’s evolution marks one example of how Catholics have wrestled to come to terms with Trump, an unconventional figure who has turned the political establishment upside down and challenged conventional wisdom at home and abroad, the latter a source of consternation to longtime allies. Polls indicate Trump won about 52 percent of the Catholic vote in 2016, so whatever reservations Catholic voters may have had about him, most clearly saw Trump as a better alternative than Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee who championed abortion rights and proposed to repeal the Hyde amendment and its restriction on using taxpayer money for elective abortions. Wolfgang and other Catholics who are conservative in their politics said they voted for Trump because of concerns that Clinton would aggressively push a socially liberal agenda, one that in eight years under President Barack Obama’s administration saw various challenges to religious freedom and conscience rights, the legalization of same-sex marriage and the rise of gender ideology. “It got really ugly, really fast. It showed Christians that a lot of their organizations and institutions that they built up over the last 20 to 30 years could all get crushed in a moment,” said Joshua Mercer, the political director of Catholic Vote. Cultural lifeline Mercer told Our Sunday Visitor that the 2016 election marked a point where Christian voters “pulled the alarm” after eight years of a relentless political Left that sought to punish dissenters from same-sex marriage and compel religious nonprofits to provide abortifacient contraceptives. “We all saw the rapid changes that happened in the marriage laws,” Mercer said. “It was just a bulldozer, and people asked, ‘What’s the next shoe to drop? It could be our necks.’” Having observed Trump’s conservative judicial nominees and his administration’s policies that have prioritized religious freedom in public health policy and pro-life values in foreign policy, Wolfgang came around on the brash and controversial New Yorker. “In some way, Trump’s flamboyant temperament is actually a plus,” Wolfgang told OSV. “He’s willing to shake things up in Washington in a way that I don’t think any of the other 16 Republicans who ran for president would have been able to do.” Mercer noted to OSV that Catholic Vote, a politically conservative nonprofit, never endorsed Trump during the 2016 campaign. “We knew what we were getting with Donald Trump,” Mercer said. “We had our issues with him.” Trump ran as a pro-life candidate who would ...

Mentorship program cultivates Catholic men

Fraternus — an apostolate that provides boys with crucial adult male mentorship to help them grow into mature, virtuous Catholic men — is celebrating its 10th anniversary. While it bears similarities to the personal mentorship boys receive through Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters programs, it differs in that the boy is mentored through the brotherhood of a parish Fraternus chapter. Activities are not geared to “amuse,” but rather to create an environment in which “boys find themselves becoming men, experiencing a robust vision of Christianity,” explained Jason Craig, Fraternus’ vice president of program. “When boys choose to stay boys, they don’t come back,” he said. “But when they want to grow up and become men, with more expected of them, they do.” Need for fatherhood Craig heads the small administrative staff that oversees Fraternus chapters active in 30 parishes nationwide. He is also a former youth minister who earned a master’s in theology and evangelization from the Augustine Institute and authored the training and curriculum used in the chapters. He joined with board chairman Justin Biance to found the organization after recognizing the crisis of fatherlessness in communities nationwide and the desperate need boys have for adult male mentors. Craig said, “Boys need mentors to become men. We who founded Fraternus saw the indisputable need for mentoring and how few there were in the Catholic world.” Many of society’s problems are linked to the crisis of fatherlessness, he said, such as fatherless boys joining violent street gangs in the inner cities. Craig is preparing to release a book on the topic through Our Sunday Visitor, with the working title “Rites of Passage: Why Boys Grow Up and Some Men Don’t.” Craig continued, “When a woman has a baby, she is not going to forget that baby. But fatherhood and manhood must be chosen. Someone must show a boy how to take on these roles, which is why mentoring is so important for men. Women don’t run away from their children. But if men aren’t challenged, many of them will.” Creating community The program begins at a parish when seven men agree to start the brotherhood and secure the pastor’s approval. A “sage” — an experienced volunteer — guides the group. While there is a fee to participate in the program, often the costs are paid for by parishes. Participants receive knighthood when they reach high school. Running from fall to spring, the group meets for weekly “Frat Nights” during which the men pray together, study a topic and watch a movie clip. Once the group has been established, boys 11 and older are invited to join. The group unites to grow in virtue as well as embrace a challenge, such as making regular visits to the Blessed Sacrament. The goal is to have the boys develop and retain good habits, such as regular Mass attendance or praying the rosary. Participants receive titles, Craig said, as “recognized ranks in advancement.” For boys, these include ranger, warrior, disciple and senior brother, culminating in knighthood and the reception of a sword when a boy reaches high school. Adult parish leaders are commanders; their assistants are captains. Other components of the program include an annual Summer Ranch excursion, typically at an east Tennessee ranch, during which participants can enjoy a vibrant Catholic spirituality along with outdoor activities such as whitewater rafting and horseback riding. The program also gives adult Catholic men an opportunity to serve as mentors. Craig explained, “Fraternus wakes up men to the problem of fatherlessness and teaches them the art of becoming a mentor.” The curriculum is designed, Craig said, “for implementation for the average, busy dad,” with the national staff providing “whatever support they need to become a better mentor.” While Fraternus is not a vocations program, a side effect has been that many young men, after maturing in their faith, have entered the seminary. Nashville, Tennessee, for example, which has ...

June 19, 2018 – Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Love of Enemies Matthew 5:43-48 This final antithesis might be considered the most challenging. This is the standard set by God. It is human nature to love those who love you. God does not limit his love. He loves those who do good and those who do bad in the same way, and so must the disciples. Prayer: Your ways do not always make me comfortable. They challenge me. That’s the point. I am not always going to be comfortable. Help me to accept that challenge, knowing that with you all things are possible.

Family separations spark episcopal response

For years, advocates of immigration reform decried the lack of action on immigration in the United States. In recent months, that stagnation has given way to a deluge of changes, nearly all of them aimed at cutting the number of immigrants, whether they are here legally or not. Headlines pile upon headlines: a new “zero-tolerance policy” that calls for parents who cross the border before petitioning for asylum to be separated from their children and prosecuted; workplace immigrations raids sweeping up hundreds of workers — many of them parents of U.S.-citizen children — for deportation; the end of temporary protected status for immigrants from Honduras, joining those from Haiti, El Salvador and other countries; Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ June 11 decision that people fleeing domestic and gang violence generally will no longer qualify for asylum; news on June 13 that the U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Service is digitizing and examining the fingerprints of people naturalized more than two decades to root out those who may not have disclosed prior deportations and strip them of their citizenship.At the same time, President Donald Trump’s administration has slashed the number of refugees admitted to the United States and is working to further limit legal immigration. The moves — especially the separation of young children from their parents and the rolling back of asylum protections — have drawn stinging condemnation from Catholic bishops in the United States and even rebukes from leaders of other religious denominations. Bishops respond Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), opened the bishops’ spring general meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on June 13, with a statement excoriating those decisions, and casting them as life issues, not political questions. On the narrowing of the rules for asylum, Cardinal DiNardo said, “Unless overturned, the decision will erode the capacity of asylum to save lives, particularly in cases that involve asylum seekers who are persecuted by private actors. We urge courts and policy makers to respect and enhance, not erode, the potential of our asylum system to preserve and protect the right to life.” On the separation of families at the border, the statement said, “Our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma. Families are the foundational element of our society and they must be able to stay together. While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety. Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral.” In the discussion that followed, many bishops called for an increase in prayerful protests, and Tucson, Arizona, Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger raised the idea of imposing “canonical penalties” on Catholics who participate in implementing the policies. Bishop John E. Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky, spoke of the need to provide pastoral support to Catholics who are conflicted conscientiously about such work. Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, proposed that the bishops send a delegation to visit detention centers housing children at the border. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston, a close collaborator of Pope Francis, offered his own statement, decrying the implementation of a deliberately cruel policy to try to stop people whose lives are in danger from seeking safety in the United States. “The intent of this policy is clear: to discourage those seeking asylum by severing the most sacred human bond of parent and child,” Cardinal O’Malley wrote. “Children are now being used as a deterrent against immigrants who are appealing to us for asylum in order to protect themselves and their families. As disturbing as this fact is, the narrative of this development makes clear the misguided moral ...