Pope issues sanctions against former West Virginia bishop

Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston, W.Va., is seen in this 2012 file photo. On July 19 the Vatican announced disciplinary measures for the bishop, who retired in 2018 amid allegations of sexual misconduct and financial improprieties. (CNS photo/Tim Bishop, Catholic Spirit)

By Rhina Guidos 
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston announced July 19 sanctions from the Vatican — including taking away the faculties of celebrating Mass — against a former West Virginia bishop who stepped down last year under a cloud of allegations of sexual and financial misconduct.

In a posting on its website, https://dwc.org, the diocese said that retired Bishop Michael J. Bransfield can no longer reside in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, nor participate “anywhere in any public celebration of the liturgy” and has an obligation to make amends for “some of the harm he caused.”

The brief statement said the disciplinary measures were made based on the findings of an investigation but did not release details.

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Posted in U.S., Vatican

Agencies ‘appalled’ by reports U.S. could end refugee admissions

A refugee from Afghanistan sits in her family’s tent at a makeshift camp in Samos, Greece, June 25, 2019. Catholic and other faith-based groups said July 19 they are “appalled” by reports officials in the Trump administration are considering “zeroing out” the number of refugees accepted by the United States. (CNS photo/Giorgos Moutafis, Reuters)


By Julie Asher 
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — News that officials in the Trump administration are considering “zeroing out” the number of refugees accepted by the United States brought an immediate outcry from the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ migration committee and leaders of Catholic and other faith-based agencies that resettle refugees.

They all implored the government to reject such a move.

“This recent report, if true, is disturbing and against the principles we have as a nation and a people, and has the potential to end the refugee resettlement program entirely. The world is in the midst of the greatest humanitarian displacement crisis in almost a century,” said Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas. “I strongly oppose any further reductions of the refugee resettlement program.”

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Posted in U.S., World

Sunday Scripture readings, July 21, 2019: So nice to see you!

The Catholic News Service column, “Speak to Me Lord,” offers reflections on the Sunday Scripture readings. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

July 21, Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle C
1) Gn 18:1-10
Psalm 15:2-5
2) Col 1:24-28
Gospel: Lk 10:38-42

By Kevin Perrotta
Catholic News Service

In our first reading, God appears to Abraham, but Abraham doesn’t know it’s God.

God takes the form of three travelers who pass by Abraham’s campsite during the blazing heat of midday, as Abraham sits in the shade of the huge tree under which his tent is pitched. That Abraham doesn’t know the travelers are God is crucial for understanding what happens next. Continue reading

Posted in "Speak to Me Lord", CNS columns

Dialogue with indigenous: Understanding that ‘we are simple stewards’

A boy carries the cross out of the sanctuary at the end of Catholic Mass in Lethem, Guyana. (CNS Photo/Paul Jeffrey)

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — By convening a special synod on the Amazon at the Vatican in October, Pope Francis will be giving greater exposure to the church’s deep concern for the people and the ecosystem on which they depend.

Like other synods with Pope Francis, the assembly is about listening and understanding the actual reality on the ground in order to find new paths for evangelization, meet people’s pastoral needs, be a voice for the voiceless and promote greater respect and protection for all life, according to its working document released last month.

But this working document triggered fears in a few that it was somehow a call to changing church doctrine and to heresy — an accusation made recently by German Cardinals Walter Brandmuller, retired president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, and Gerhard Muller, who served as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 2012 to 2017.

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Posted in Vatican, World

Faith is no trick up this magician’s sleeve

Magician Giancarlo Bernini, a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, has done shows for colleges, corporate events and Catholic parishes and church-sponsored gatherings. He was recently featured on the season premiere of “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” on the CW network. Bernini is pictured in an undated photo. (CNS photo/Benji Hickerson)

By Carol Zimmermann 
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — For Giancarlo Bernini, a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, things are not always as they appear and that’s a good thing because it is how he plans to make a living.

The magician, who has done shows for colleges, corporate events and Catholic parishes and church-sponsored gatherings, recently got some nationwide exposure for his trade when he was featured on the season premiere of “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” on the CW network.

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Posted in U.S.

Catholics put focus on immigrant children with rally, civil disobedience

Catholic leaders and advocates lay on the floor of the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington July 18, 2019, to protest the Trump administration’s handling of detained immigrant children. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

Updated July 19

By Carol Zimmermann 
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — A few hundred Catholic activists, including dozens of women religious, gathered outside at the foot of the U.S. Capitol July 18 urging politicians to stop its “inhumane treatment” of immigrant children at the border and reminding people of faith to take a stronger stand against current U.S. border policies.

The rally, on a sweltering Washington morning, included times of prayer, a few songs and several speeches. At one point, someone in the crowd started chanting, “Where are the bishops?” which was echoed by many participants, but later in the program, speakers read excerpts from messages that had been sent to the group from several U.S. bishops, thanking them for participating and urging them to continue to speak up about the border crisis.

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Posted in U.S., World

Synod emphasizes church’s mission to defend the vulnerable, cardinal says

Children jump from a rickety bridge into a river near Anapu, in Brazil’s northern Para state. This area was forest land until recent decades, when the expansion of the agrarian frontier led to the steady destruction of this part of the Amazon’s rain forest. (CNS Photo/Paul Jeffrey)

By Junno Arocho Esteves 
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The objective of the upcoming Synod of Bishops for the Amazon is to highlight the need for religious, political and social leaders to come together and defend the dignity of indigenous men, women and children and an ecosystem that is crucial to the environment, said Peruvian Cardinal Pedro Barreto Jimeno of Huancayo.

In an essay published July 18 by La Civilta Cattolica, the Jesuit journal, Cardinal Barreto said the synod as well as the church’s mission in the Amazon are “expressions of a significant accompaniment to the daily life of the peoples and communities who live there.”

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Posted in Vatican, World