Panel: Policies to empower women must protect femininity, human dignity

A young woman leads her classmates at a primary school in Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 9, 2015. The empowerment of women was the focus of a March 19 panel discussion at the United Nations, with the speakers saying that women should not be required to divest themselves of femininity to achieve empowerment and gender equality. (CNS photo/Thomas Mukoya, Reuters)

By Beth Griffin 
Catholic News Service

UNITED NATIONS (CNS) — Women should not be required to divest themselves of femininity to achieve empowerment and gender equality, according to panelists at a March 19 event at the United Nations.

Women’s dignity and distinctiveness also must not be sacrificed to win social protections, public services and sustainable infrastructure, they said.

Speakers addressed “Protecting Femininity and Human Dignity in Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality Policies Today” at a side event to the 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women. The program was co-sponsored by the Vatican’s Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations.

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Places to visit to learn about the life and death of St. Oscar Romero

Iglesia de Roma, a small church in St. Oscar Romero’s hometown of Ciudad Barrios, El Salvador, is seen by pilgrims in this Jan. 30, 2019, photo. Iglesia de Roma, or Church of Rome, is where the first Salvadoran saint was baptized. (CNS photo/Rhina Guidos)

By Rhina Guidos 
Catholic News Service

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (CNS) — Even before St. Oscar Romero became a saint Oct. 14, his native country of El Salvador saw an increase in tourism attributed to pilgrims or those wanting to know more about his life and death.

Figures from El Salvador’s Ministry of Tourism say a “considerable number” of the 1.8 million tourists to the country who traveled there in 2013 went “exclusively to learn about the places where Oscar Arnulfo Romero lived.”

After his canonization, the Archdiocese of San Salvador published a list of towns and cities for those interested in learning more about El Salvador’s first saint. The list includes San Salvador, the country’s capital, where many tours about St. Romero begin and end.

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Sunday Scripture readings, March 24, 2019: What’s in a name?

COLUMN ART SPEAK TO ME LORD

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

March 24, Third Sunday of Lent

Cycle C
1) Ex 3:1-8, 13-15
Psalm 103:1-4, 6-8, 11
2) 1 Cor 10:1-6, 10-12
Gospel: Lk 13:1-9

By Jem Sullivan
Catholic News Service

One of the first gifts we receive on entering the world is a name. With a name, unique to each individual, we are welcomed into a family and the human community. A name, given at birth, conveys the identity and essence of a person and encapsulates the story and purpose of each person’s life. Continue reading

Posted in "Speak to Me Lord", CNS columns

To protect Earth, change lifestyles, say church, indigenous leaders

Patricia Gualinga, a member of the Kichwa indigenous community of Sarayaku, Ecuador, is seen during the Integral Ecology summit at Georgetown University in Washington March 20, 2019. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

By Rhina Guidos 
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Guatemalan Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini said he notices when he visits family in the U.S. that almost anywhere he goes, the lights seem to be on — even in the daytime, even if there’s enough natural light to illuminate a space.

To him, it signals a culture that he says has to change. Bishop Ramazzini and others who gathered at Georgetown University March 19-21 said the planet can no longer deal with the environmental disruptions such actions produce, leaving vulnerable populations reeling from their adverse consequences. And soon, they said, if nothing is done to curb those actions, no one will escape the consequences that result from such a culture of waste.

Bishop Ramazzini, along with other church leaders, members of indigenous communities, and environmental organizations related to the Catholic Church and other faith-based institutions, gathered in Washington in mid-March ahead of the October Synod of Bishops on the Amazon at the Vatican. Prelates and others at the synod will consider environmental situations in the Amazon and chart a plan of action.

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Posted in U.S., World

Polish cardinal, St. John Paul’s aide, defends pontiff’s record on abuse

Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz prays at the tomb of St. John Paul II in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican May 3, 2011. Cardinal Dziwisz issued a statement March 20 vigorously defending the pontiff from “hurtful and historically untrue” claims that he was “slack” in combating sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

By Jonathan Luxmoore 
Catholic News Service

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) — A close aide to St. John Paul II has vigorously defended the late pope’s handling of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and denied accusations that he ignored the problem during his 27-year pontificate.

“Emerging opinions that John Paul II was sluggish in guiding the church’s response to sexual abuse of minors by some clerics are prejudicial and contrary to historical facts — the pope was shocked and had no intention of tolerating the crime of pedophilia,” said Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who was the pontiff’s personal secretary for 39 years.

St. John Paul saw how local churches “dealt with emerging problems and gave help when necessary, often at his own initiative.”

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Posted in Vatican, World

Theologian supports declaring St. Romero ‘doctor of the church’

St. Oscar Romero is pictured in an undated photo greeting worshippers in San Salvador, El Salvador. (CNS photo/Octavio Duran)

By Rhina Guidos 
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — One of the founders of liberation theology in Latin America said he supports an effort to declare St. Oscar Romero a doctor of the Catholic Church.

During a March 18 livestream of an event celebrating the Salvadoran saint canonized in October, Dominican Father Gustavo Gutierrez, considered by many as the father of liberation theology, said he thought the idea of naming St. Romero a doctor of the church was an “excellent” proposition.

While some value a person’s writings or academic record, when it comes to declaring a saint a doctor of the church, “love toward another person is worth more than all of the theologies,” said Father Gutierrez, recalling something he’d read from another theologian. He was speaking via internet to those gathered for “Romero Days,” an event sponsored by the University of Notre Dame.

St. Romero’s feast day is March 24.

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Walking through the less-traveled roads of St. Romero’s past

Italian pilgrim Thierry Bonaventura takes a photo in front of a mural depicting the martyrdom of St. Oscar Romero Jan. 30, 2019, at St. Oscar Romero Church in Ciudad Barrios, El Salvador. The first Salvadoran saint was born in this eastern El Salvador city. (CNS photo/Rhina Guidos)

By Rhina Guidos 
Catholic News Service

EL MOZOTE, El Salvador (CNS) — I could see his slow and gentle steps seeking distance from the woman’s story near the tree. When friend Thierry Bonaventura told me he wanted to come with me to El Salvador, I warned him that my native country was a complicated place — one of great natural beauty, materially poor, with generous and spiritual people, but whose past and difficult present you can’t and shouldn’t ignore.

I could see during a Jan. 30 visit to El Mozote that he found himself deep in that complicated place. We made what I thought would be a quick stop en route to visit places in the life of El Salvador’s St. Oscar Romero when we ran into Serapia Chicas, a native of El Mozote, near a monument in the center of the village.

She told us how soldiers murdered almost a thousand of her fellow villagers in 1981, including hundreds of children, some whose remains were buried in a common grave close to where we were standing.

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Posted in World