Priest’s 100-mile bike ride raises COVID-19 aid for parish — and hope

Father Christoper Heanue, administrator and a parochial vicar of Holy Child Jesus Church in Richmond Hill, N.Y., poses for a photo with two biking companions, Paul Cerni, left, and Tom Chiafolo, July 20, 2020. (CNS photo/courtesy Diocese of Brooklyn)

By Ian Alvano 
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Father Christopher Heanue started his morning July 27 by celebrating Mass at 5 a.m. and then took off on a 100-mile bike ride.

It wasn’t just any ride. Father Heanue called his journey “100 Miles of Hope,” which was a fundraiser to help support his parish, Holy Child Jesus, in Richmond Hill, New York, in the Brooklyn Diocese. He is the administrator and a parochial vicar of the parish in the New York borough of Queens.

Holy Child Jesus has faced some challenging months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the food pantry and parish outreach programs in particular affected.

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Posted in U.S.

Weapons must be set aside for peace to flourish, pope says

A girl prays after releasing a paper lantern on the Motoyasu River facing the gutted Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, Japan, Aug 6, 2020, the 75th anniversary of the U.S. dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. (CNS photo/Yuriko Nakao, Reuters)

By Carol Glatz 
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — For peace to flourish, weapons of war must be set aside, especially nuclear weapons that can obliterate entire cities and countries, Pope Francis said on the 75th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima.

“May the prophetic voices” of the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki “continue to serve as a warning to us and for coming generations,” he said in a written message sent Aug. 6 to Hidehiko Yuzaki, governor of the Hiroshima prefecture, who led a peace memorial ceremony.

The pope’s message and others were published on the Hiroshima For Global Peace website:

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Posted in Vatican, World

Vatican says baptisms that used a modified formula are not valid

Pope Francis baptizes a baby as he celebrates Mass on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican Jan. 12, 2020. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

By Carol Glatz 
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Changing the words of the formula for baptism render the sacrament invalid, said the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Specifically, a baptism administered with the formula “We baptize you …” instead of “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” is not valid because it is the person of Christ through the minister who is acting, not the assembly, the congregation said.

The doctrinal congregation’s ruling was published Aug. 6 as a brief response to questions regarding the validity of baptisms using that modified formula.

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Posted in Vatican, World

Lebanon’s Catholic leaders seek help; here’s where you can donate

A volunteer gathers supplies in Beirut Aug. 5, 2020, to be distributed to people affected by the previous day’s explosions. Beirut Gov. Marwan Abboud said up to 300,000 people were homeless and that the blasts damaged nearly half the city. (CNS photo/Aziz Taher, Reuters)

Updated 8/6  4:30 p.m.

By Catholic News Service

BEIRUT (CNS) — As Lebanon’s Catholic leaders appealed for help for their country, international and U.S. organizations appealed for donations for Beirut, capital of a country already suffering from a severe economic downturn.

“The church, which has set up a relief network throughout Lebanese territory, now finds itself faced with a new great duty, which it is incapable of assuming on its own,” said Cardinal Bechara Rai, Maronite patriarch. He called for a U.N.-controlled fund to be set up to manage aid for the reconstruction of Beirut and other international assistance to aid the stricken country.

In Lebanon, Maronite Catholics are the largest Christian group. In the United States, two Maronite bishops noted that the explosions, which left more than 130 people dead and more than 300,000 homeless, “turned Beirut into an apocalyptic city. Hospitals, schools, houses, businesses, and much more (are) destroyed, leaving people feeling hopeless and helpless.”

“We ask for your support for our brothers and sisters at this difficult time and in response to this catastrophe,” said the statement, signed by Bishops Gregory Mansour of the Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn and A. Elias Zaidan of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles.

“We urge you to pray for Lebanon, and we ask for your support for our brothers and sisters at this difficult time and in response to this catastrophe. We appeal to all nations, all people of goodwill, to stand in solidarity with the Lebanese. We hope and pray Lebanon will regain stability and initiate a path of recovery toward peace and justice for all.”

In Beirut, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan appealed to all people of good will: “Here is Beirut, crying out for help!” He said all Syriac parishes would use everything at their disposal to help.

“We value all relief, aid and assistance provided to those affected, especially for Beirut residents and its suburbs,” he said, also appealing for prayers and referring to the victims as martyrs.

In a statement from the Melkite Catholic Patriarchate in Damascus, Patriarch Joseph Absi also referred to those who died as martyrs.

“The time now is not for the sharing of responsibilities nor for disputes, but for the tireless work to reduce the repercussions of the national catastrophe and to … reject differences and work together to avoid the worst,” he said.

Here are some Catholic agencies where you can donate to help the citizens of Lebanon:

Catholic Near East Welfare Association, a Vatican agency.

Caritas Internationalis, the umbrella organization for Catholic charitable agencies such as Catholic Relief Services, Development and Peace, CAFOD.

Aid to the Church in Need, a pontifical foundation.

Malteser International, relief agency of the Sovereign Order of Malta.

Jesuit Refugee Service.

Missio, Pontifical Mission Societies; in Spanish

AVSI, Catholic-based foundation

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Posted in World

Catholic leaders call for prayers, help after massive Beirut blasts

A man holds a damaged statue of Mary in his Beirut home Aug. 5, 2020, following explosions the previous day. Two massive explosions near the port of the Lebanese capital injured dozens of people and shattered windows in buildings blocks away. (CNS photo/Aziz Taher, Reuters)

By Dale Gavlak
Catholic News Service

AMMAN, Jordan (CNS) — Lebanese were reeling after a massive explosion at Beirut’s port destroyed homes, businesses and livelihoods across the capital, and Catholic leaders immediately took action and called for international support.

Aid groups say the blast Aug. 4 threatens to open a new humanitarian crisis in an impoverished nation that hosts hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and is already struggling to stay afloat amid an economic collapse and soaring rates of poverty and unemployment. The explosion destroyed numerous apartment buildings, potentially leaving many homeless at a time when Lebanese have lost their jobs and savings due to the currency crisis.

Lebanon’s top Catholic cleric, Cardinal Bechara Rai, Maronite patriarch, has called for a U.N.-controlled fund to be set up to manage aid for the reconstruction of Beirut and other international assistance to aid the stricken country.

“Hundreds of families are homeless. All this is happening and the state is in an economic and financial situation which makes it incapable of dealing with this human and urban catastrophe,” he told Vatican News. Continue reading

Posted in Vatican

Pope calls for prayers for Lebanon after deadly explosion in Beirut

Firefighters carry an injured man following explosions in Beirut Aug. 4, 2020. Two massive explosions near the port of the Lebanese capital injured dozens of people and shattered windows in buildings blocks away. (CNS photo/Mohamed Azakir, Reuters)

By Carol Glatz 
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — After a massive fire triggered a deadly explosion in Beirut, Pope Francis called for prayers and a united effort to help Lebanon overcome “this serious crisis.”

“Let us pray for the victims and their family members, and let us pray for Lebanon so that with the effort of everyone in society — political and religious — it may face this tragic and painful moment and, with the help of the international community, overcome the serious crisis it is experiencing,” the pope said Aug. 5 at the end of his general audience.

The morning after a devastating explosion rocked the city’s port area Aug. 4, at least 100 people were reported dead, more than 4,000 others were injured, and more than 100 people were missing. Rescue workers continued to search for survivors under the rubble.

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Posted in Vatican, World

Explosion in Beirut adds suffering to Lebanon’s dire situation

A man and woman run at the site of an explosion in Beirut Aug. 4, 2020. (CNS photo/Mohamed Azakir, Reuters)

By Dale Gavlak 
Catholic News Service

AMMAN, Jordan (CNS) — Hospitals in the Lebanese capital are overwhelmed with those suffering injuries from a massive explosion in Beirut’s port, causing widespread damage the city and rocking the tiny Mediterranean nation already devastated by the coronavirus and its worst financial crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.

“People won’t be able to rebuild their homes, businesses, livelihoods. There are reports of hospitals turning away patients because they don’t have the capacity,” said Aya Majzoub, Lebanon researcher with Human Rights Watch.

“Even before this blast, there have been shortages of medical equipment, protective gear. The health care capacity was already overstretched. I don’t know how hospitals are going to be able to handle these additional injuries,” she added. Initial reports say the explosion was caused by highly explosive materials seized from a ship stored at the port.

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Posted in World

Missing Mass: Social isolation keeps elders safe but lonely

Cecilia Bixcul, 65, prays with her granddaughters in early July at her home in San Pedro, Guatemala. Bixcul attended Mass twice a week before COVID-19 put an end to that practice. (CNS photo/Oscar Tuc,

By Bronwen Dachs 
Catholic News Service

In communities around the world, the social isolation that keeps elders safe from the coronavirus but precludes going to church is proving extremely difficult for many. In some remote areas, younger generations are helping their elders.

In the Philippines, near Quezon City, 55-year-old Melinda Garcia used to help her 100-year-old mother, Julita Santiago, who is blind in her left eye and uses a wheelchair, get to their nearby chapel every day. Now both women are required by local restriction orders to stay indoors.

“Even on days when there is no Mass, I would go to the chapel so that I will not feel bored at home,” Santiago said. “Now, I spend my days doing personal prayers and taking sight of the surroundings outside my front door.”

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Posted in World

Vatican workers who meet public tested for COVID-19 antibodies

A Swiss Guard wearing a protective face mask speaks with a woman at the business entrance to the Vatican in early May. (CNS photo/Remo Casilli, Reuters)

By Carol Glatz 
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Vatican employees and workers who have contact with the public are being tested for the antibodies for COVID-19, said the new director of the Vatican department of health and hygiene.

“For now, the study has had good results in that no one has been shown to be a carrier of the antibodies,” Andrea Arcangeli told the Vatican newspaper in an interview published Aug. 3.

People being tested included Vatican police, members of the Swiss Guard, staff at the Vatican Museums and in the Vatican’s warehouses and shops, said Arcangeli, a medical doctor who started his new position in August after serving the department since 1999. He was on the medical team offering emergency care for St. John Paul II in the few months before his death in 2005.

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Posted in Vatican

Bishops from Japan, U.S. call Catholics to work for nuclear disarmament

In this 2018 file photo, peace activists hold a Catholic prayer service of repentance near the White House for the use of nuclear weapons on Japan during World War II. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

By Dennis Sadowski 
Catholic News Service

CLEVELAND (CNS) — The path to true peace requires the world to abolish nuclear weapons, an American bishop and a Japanese archbishop said as the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings at the end of World War II approached.

Speaking during a 30-minute webinar Aug. 3, Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, Illinois, and Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami of Nagasaki, Japan, reiterated long-standing calls by the bishops’ conferences of both countries that the world must reverse the path toward a renewed arms race because of the threat it poses to God’s creation.

“As long as the idea that weapons are necessary for peacemaking persists, it will be difficult to even reduce the number of nuclear weapons, let alone to abolish nuclear weapons. It would be ideal if the U.S. and Japan could truly reconcile with each other and work together for the abolition of nuclear weapons,” Archbishop Takami said.

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Posted in U.S., World