Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

New immigration rules will hurt the vulnerable, US bishops warn

Washington D.C., Feb 24, 2017 / 12:24 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Trump administration’s new border and immigration enforcement rules needlessly endanger the vulnerable, militarize the border and will cause many other problems, the U.S. bishops warned this week.

“They greatly expand the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border,” said Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration, who wrote the bishops’ Feb. 23 response.

On Feb. 20, the Department of Homeland Security issued two memoranda to implement President Donald Trump’s executive orders regarding immigration enforcement on the border and in the U.S. interior.

“Taken together, these memoranda constitute the establishment of a large-scale enforcement system that targets virtually all undocumented migrants as ‘priorities’ for deportation, thus prioritizing no one,” Bishop Vasquez said.

Important protections for the vulnerable, including unaccompanied children and asylum seekers, have been removed from federal policy, the bishop said.

The memoranda promote the use of local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law. This disregards “existing relationships of trust” between local law enforcement officials and immigrant communities, he said.

“The engagement of local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law can undermine public safety by making many who live in immigrant communities fearful of cooperating with local law enforcement in both reporting and investigating criminal matters.”

In addition, the rules aim to publicize crimes by undocumented immigrants, to erect new detention facilities, and to speed up deportations, the New York Times reports. Administration officials said that those brought to the U.S. as young children will not be targeted. However, parents living without documentation in the U.S. who smuggle their children into the country could face deportation or prosecution for smuggling or human trafficking.

Bishop Vasquez urged the Trump administration to reconsider its approach in the memoranda and in its executive orders.

“Together, these have placed already vulnerable immigrants among us in an even greater state of vulnerability,” he added.

He voiced the U.S. bishops’ commitment “to care for and respect the human dignity of all, regardless of their immigration status.”

“During this unsettling time, we will redouble our work to accompany and protect our immigrant brothers and sisters and recognize their contributions and inherent dignity as children of God,” he said.

 

Access to water is a basic human right, concerns 'the common good'

Vatican City, Feb 24, 2017 / 11:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A Vatican seminar on water held this week highlighted the complex challenges faced around the world in making the basic human right to water a reality for all people.

Reliable access to safe and clean water for everyone is an issue close to the heart of the Church, Cardinal Peter Turkson told CNA Feb. 23, because it has to do with the fundamental dignity possessed by every human person.

Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Turkson wasn’t a formal participant himself, but sat in on a few of the sessions. He said that “on the level of the Church” the point of departure for the issue of water access is “certainly dignity.”

“Because we affirm the dignity of people, we also affirm anything that is needed to make this dignity realized,” he said.

Hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Argentine organization Catedra del dialogo y la cultura encuentro, the workshop brought together scientists, scholars, business and non-profit leaders, clergy, and educators for an “interdisciplinary discussion.”

During the seminar, participants agreed that there is a fundamental human right to water, but differed on the exact approach to take to combat the issue. Overall, the major problem isn’t the resource, several noted, but its distribution.

Participants highlighted the issue's interconnectedness to other worldwide problems, such as poverty and gender equality. Difficult or limited access to water, especially clean water, contributes strongly to poverty and increased susceptibility to disease.

It also becomes an issue of gender equality in some countries, when women are forced to give up education because of the many hours a day they spend retrieving clean water for their families. In older cities, the problem is often a lack of infrastructure, which old roads and buildings make difficult to rectify.

Because each country and even each community has its own challenges regarding the distribution of safe water, many proposals at the seminar focused on working with people and organizations in the communities themselves to solve problems on as local a level as possible.

Fr. Peter Hughes, a priest of the missionary society of St. Columban, who has worked in inner-city slums in South America, said the seminar “has to do with the crisis of the world today, and the increasing possibility of conflict.”

“We're talking about something that is very much an issue, and a deep concern for the world, for the future, and particularly for the poor.”

This is why, Fr. Hughes said, he was quite pleased by the exchange in the morning session the first day, because it focused on the “relationship between theology and religion” as the basis for a discussion on the crisis of water.

“The right to water that's now in crisis, the basic human right, has to do with the common good. So therefore, the ethical question is absolutely central,” he emphasized.

“The ethical common good approach precludes any attempt to privatize water,” which would be, he said, “to the detriment of people” and their need for water to stay alive.

In his opinion, water is not just a social and ecological problem, but also an economic one.

“And now, as Pope Francis says, we have to understand that the economic crisis and the victims, which are the poor, is also very much linked to the ecological crisis. We can no longer speak of two separate crises,” he said.

“That is where we can better understand how water has become a mercantile object, subject to market forces, to the detriment of people and to the detriment of the environment.”

The seminar consisted of different panels as well as discussion time. The panels covered the issue from the perspectives of science, education, ecology, sustainable development, and policy, as well as the ethical and theological views of water.

A resource often taken for granted, Fr. Hughes pointed out that in many religious traditions, but especially the Jewish and Christian traditions, water as a symbol is synonymous with life itself.

From a theological perspective, “when we're talking about water, we're talking about life,” he said.

This is why the ethical responsibility humanity has toward water comes “from the heart of the Christian message.”

“We have been entrusted by the God of life,” he explained, “to care for water, which means to care for life, to care for people, to care for all of creation, not just for human beings, but human beings as part of creation.”

“The Church has a moral responsibility to care for water and to ensure that people have water,” he said, and “this particularly has to do with the Church’s responsibility to the poor.”

Pope Francis addressed participants in the seminar Feb. 24, reaffirming that water is indeed a basic human right.

“Our right to water is also a duty to water,” he said. “Our right to water gives rise to an inseparable duty. We are obliged to proclaim this essential human right and to defend it – as we have done – but we also need to work concretely to bring about political and juridical commitments in this regard.”

“The questions that you are discussing are not marginal, but basic and pressing,” he told participants. “Basic, because where there is water there is life, making it possible for societies to arise and advance. Pressing, because our common home needs to be protected.”

“God the Creator does not abandon us in our efforts to provide access to clean drinking water to each and to all,” he continued.

“With the ‘little’ we have, we will be helping to make our common home a more livable and fraternal place, where none are rejected or excluded, but all enjoy the goods needed to live and to grow in dignity.”

Gratitude is central, Pope Francis tells Spanish footballers

Vatican City, Feb 24, 2017 / 06:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Meeting with the members of the Spanish football team Villarreal CF on Thursday, Pope Francis stressed the importance of gratitude in the life of an athlete.

“One of the characteristics of the good sportsman is gratitude. If we think of our own life, we can call to memory the many people who have helped us, and without whom we would not be here,” the Pope said Feb. 23 in the Vatican's Clementine Hall. He spoke to the club's players, managers, and coaches

Villarreal is in Rome for a Europa League match against A.S. Roma. After their meeting with the Pope Villarreal won the match 1-0, but bowed out of the tournament nevertheless.

“Football, like other sports, is an image of life and society,” Francis reflected. “In the field, you need each other. Each player brings his professionalism and skill for the benefit of a common ideal, which is to play well in order to win. To achieve this affinity, much training is needed; but it is also important to invest time and effort in strengthening team spirit, to create that connection of movements: a simple look, a small gesture, or an expression communicate so many things on the field.”

This can be done “if you play in the spirit of fellowship, setting aside individualism or personal aspirations. If you play for the good of the group, then it is easier to win. Instead, when one thinks of himself and forgets others, in Argentina we say that he likes to ‘eat the ball’ by himself.”

Francis added that “On the other hand, when you play football you are at the same time educating and transmitting values. Many people, especially the young, admire and observe you. They want to be like you.”

“Through your professionalism, you are communicating a way of being to those who follow you, especially the new generations,” he said. “This is a responsibility, and should motivate you to give the best of yourselves, so as to exercise those values that in football must be palpable: companionship, personal commitment, the beauty of the game, team spirit.”

“We can recall those we played with as children, our first teammates, coaches, helpers, and even the supporters whose presence encouraged us in every game,” Pope Francis said. “This memory is good for us, so that we do not feel superior but instead become aware of being part of a large team that has been forming for some time.”

He said this “helps us grow as people, because our ‘game’ is not merely our own, but also that of others, who in some way form part of our lives. And this also strengthens the spirit of amateur sport, and must never be lost; it must be recovered every day, so that you can maintain this freshness, with this greatness of soul.”

The Pope encouraged the Villarreal members “to continue to play, giving the best of yourselves so that others can benefit from these pleasant moments, which make the day different. I join with you, I pray with you, and I raise my prayers to God, imploring the protection of Our Lady of Grace and the intercession of St. Pascual Baylón, patron of the city of Villarreal, so that you may be sustained in your lives and be instruments to bear God’s joy and peace to those who follow and support you.”

Being himself a football fan, Pope Francis said that “It helps me a lot to think about football because I like it, and it helps me. But when I do so, I usually think of the goalkeeper. Why? Because he has to catch the ball from wherever they kick it, and he does not know where it will come from. And life is like that. You have to take things from where they come, and how they come.”

“When I find myself facing situations I did not expect, which need to be resolved, that come from one place when I expected them from another, I think of the goalkeeper, and keep him in mind. Thank you.”

Vatican 'goes shopping' in Italy earthquake zones to help local economy

Vatican City, Feb 24, 2017 / 04:39 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a bid to help local economies in the zones ravaged by several major earthquakes in 2016 recover, the Vatican this week purchased produce from several small farmers in the area, using it to feed the poor and homeless in Rome.

A Feb. 24 communique from the Papal Almoner’s office said that “at the express wish” of the Pope, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the man in charge of managing the papal charities, visited the earthquake zones in Central Italy this week “to purchase from small farmers, in great difficulty due to the earthquake, food typical of the affected areas.”

The produce was then “immediately distributed” in different soup kitchens around Rome to be used in preparing the daily meals offered to homeless and persons in need.

According to the communique, Annona, the supermarket inside Vatican City, has already for some time been selling products “typical of the earthquake zones” as a way of “supporting and helping to restart the economy in that part of Central Italy still in difficulty.”

Krajewski traveled to several of the small towns in the area, filling large trucks with products from farmers whose stores or markets struggling to continue after the damages they endured after the earthquakes.

The first 6.2 magnitude quake hit in the early hours of Aug. 24, 2016, killing some 250 people throughout Central Italy and leveling buildings and houses in several small towns, leaving many without homes or livelihoods.

A few months later a second 6.6 quake hit near the same area in central Italy Oct. 30, causing extensive damage.

In the communique, the papal almoner said the decision to shop from small farmers is an act consistent “with the magisterium of Pope Francis, who in his meetings has often recalled that ‘when one doesn’t earn their bread, dignity is lost.’”

During his “shopping trips” Archbishop Krajewski was accompanied by the bishops of each of the cities he visited, including Bishop Domenico Pompili of Rieti; Bishop Giovanni D’Ercole F.D.P. of Ascoli Piceno; Bishop Francesco Giovanni Brugnaro of Camerino-San Severino Marche and Bishop Renato Boccardo of Spoleto-Norcia.

In each city the bishops identified groups of farmers or producers “whose stores were at risk of closing due to damages caused by the earthquake,” the communique read, explaining that the purchases were intended by the Pope to be a sign of help and encouragement “to continue in their activities.”

This doctor is 92 years-old – and she's delivered over 7,000 babies

Rome, Italy, Feb 24, 2017 / 03:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Obstetrician Maria Pollacci holds a very special record.

She's delivered 7,642 babies and after a 72-year career – despite now being 92 years-old – is still receiving newborns coming into the world in Padavena, a small town in northern Italy.

Dr. Pollacci considers her work to be “the most beautiful in the world,” and calls it a true “mission.”

“It's an occupation that you have to do with love, kindness and skill. When I'm in front of a little one, I'm not working. I'm loving,” she said. “To be an obstetrician you need love, passion and professionalism.”

Maria Pollacci still remembers her first day at work on Sept. 3, 1945, and the name of the child she delivered. He was named Francesco and today he is 72 years-old.

“I met him when he was 25. I was in Lama Mocogno, a town in the province of Modena, Italy, where I was born. There was a party and people were dancing,” she recalled.

“A handsome young man came up to me and said, 'May I have the honor of dancing with the person who delivered me?' Since then we see each other every year.”

“Also at my house, every once in awhile, boys and girls that were born into my hands come to see me. I am very moved when they tell me that I'm their second mother,” she said.

The Spanish daily ABC interviewed Dr. Pollacci when she was honored for her career at the famous San Remo Music Festival.

The last birth she assisted at was at the end of January in the town of Pedavena, in the province of Belluno, in northern Italy where she lives and works.