Religious groups made effort to drive their flocks to midterm voting

Franciscan Brother Sam Nasada, a member of his order’s Province of St. Barbara, is seen in mid-September in Douglas, Ariz., holding a sign inviting citizens to vote in the Nov. 6 midterms. (CNS photo/Octavio Duran)

By Rhina Guidos 
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Just before the polls opened on Election Day on the West Coast, the Franciscan friars of the Province of St. Barbara in California tweeted a photo of Brother Sam Nasada in a brown habit holding a sign, imploring others to vote, using a quote from Pope Francis: “Indifference is dangerous.”

Religious groups such as the Franciscans in California were not the only ones urging voters to the polls during this year’s Nov. 6 midterm elections.

Months before the election, the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas used social media to encourage Americans to register to vote and on Nov. 6 provided polling information for different states online while encouraging those casting ballots to “Vote with Mercy.”

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Posted in U.S.

Is China’s targeting of Catholics pushback from low-level party officials?

Chinese Catholics pray during Mass in late January inside the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Beijing. Although China and the Vatican signed a provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops in September, persecution of Chinese Catholics continues. (CNS photo/Roman Pilipey, EPA)


By Michael Sainsbury 
Catholic News Service

BANGKOK (CNS) — Although China and the Vatican signed a provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops in September, persecution of Chinese Catholics continues.

Some believe there is considerable pushback against the Vatican-China deal from inside China’s United Front Work Department, the Communist Party-controlled religious bureaucracy, especially at a more localized level.

“Many officials at a local level feel they need to change in their old ways to deal with religions. This means a more difficult job and less power,” said Francesco Sisci, a longtime Italian media correspondent in Beijing and now a senior researcher at Beijing’s Renmin University.

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Posted in Vatican, World

Sunday Scripture readings, Nov. 11, 2018: Dangerous behavior


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

Nov. 11, Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle B
1) 1 Kgs 17:10-16
 Psalm 146:7-10
2) Heb 9:24-28
Gospel: Mk 12:38-44

 By Kevin Perrotta
Catholic News Service

Longboarding. Slacklining. Free climbing. Kiteboarding. BASE jumping. Extreme sports are dangerous. That’s why they’re such a kick. Fear pumps adrenaline.

There’s a high that comes from riding the fear and breaking through ordinary limits. The observer senses the fear and admires the movement. The exhilaration, though, belongs to the athlete alone. Continue reading

Posted in "Speak to Me Lord", CNS columns

Archival find at Catholic U. leads to Kristallnacht remembrance

Germans pass by the broken shop window of a Jewish-owned business in Berlin that was destroyed in 1938 during Kristallnacht, or the “Night of Broken Glass.” That year, from Nov. 9 to Nov. 10, Nazis in Germany torched synagogues and vandalized Jewish homes and schools. (CNS photo/United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Md.)

By Mark Pattison 
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Jews worldwide will remember the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht.

In a direct German translation, it means “Crystal Night,” but it is more commonly thought of as “Night of Broken Glass,” as Nazis and their sympathizers rampaged through Nazi Germany — which by this time had absorbed Austria and the Sudetenland — the night of Nov. 9-10, 1938.

More than 7,000 Jewish-owned stores and businesses were damaged, more than 250 synagogues destroyed, more than 3,000 Jews arrested and sent to concentration camps, and nearly 100 more killed during the rampages, which shocked the world.

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Posted in U.S., World

Priest uses his mother’s sauce to help the needy, evangelize

Father Jim Sichko poses with a bottle of Miss Marie’s Spaghetti Sauce at the offices of the Diocese of Lexington, Ky., on Oct. 26. Father Jim used his mother’s tomato sauce recipe to create the product and is donating part of the proceeds of sauce sales to the Lexington Diocese and Southeast Texas Hospice. (CNS photo/Katie Rutter)

By Katie Rutter
Catholic News Service

LEXINGTON, Ky. (CNS) — When Father Jim Sichko recalls Tuesdays during his childhood in Orange, Texas, he can almost smell the aroma of his mother’s homemade tomato sauce wafting through their home.

Miss Marie’s Spaghetti Sauce is displayed at the high-end retailer L.V. Harkness & Co. in Lexington, Ky., Oct. 22. (CNS photo/Katie Rutter)

Marie Ceraso Sichko was a native of Italy who would make fresh sauce, bake delicious dishes and lay out her finest china for her weekly lunch guests each Tuesday.

“Through the front door would come stinky, smelly, garbage sanitation workers,” said Father Sichko, who currently serves in the Diocese of Lexington.

“They would come in and they would dine,” he told Catholic News Service in an interview. “She would serve them.”

Marie Sichko’s simple act of charity for the local sanitation workers has rippled out to touch thousands. Father Sichko decided to bottle her secret sauce recipe and, after his mother died unexpectedly last year, chose to donate the proceeds from sauce sales as a tribute to her memory.
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Posted in U.S., World | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Archbishop Gomez: ‘Pray hard’ for all affected by California shooting

A woman who fled the Borderline Bar and Grill is embraced by a first responder Nov. 8 after a gunman killed at least 13 people. The gunman, who opened fire without warning late Nov. 7, was found dead inside the establishment, authorities said. (CNS photo/Mike Nelson, EPA)

Updated Nov. 9.

By Catholic News Service

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (CNS) — Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez urged those attending a prayer vigil Nov. 8 to honor the memory of the victims killed in a shooting spree the evening before “by living our lives with greater intensity and purpose and with greater love for one another.”

“May our Lord in his mercy receive the souls of those who have died, and may he comfort those of us who have been spared,” he told the congregation at St. Paschal Baylon Catholic Church in Thousand Oaks. “We pray for peace in our communities and for peace in the hearts of all those who are troubled and disturbed.”

Late Nov. 7, a gunman opened fire at a country-music bar in Thousand Oaks, about 40 miles from the heart of Los Angeles.

Thirteen people, including the suspected gunman and a 29-year veteran of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, died in shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill on what was college night, with lessons on country two-step dancing.

The bar is popular with students at nearby California Lutheran University, and also attracts students from Pepperdine University in Malibu, Moorpark College in Moorpark and California State University-Channel Islands in Camarillo.

Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said Nov. 8 that the suspected gunman, Ian David Long, had legally purchased the weapon used in the shooting. It came less than two weeks after a gunman murdered 11 worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue, which was the largest mass murder in the United States since 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last Feb. 14.

According to the Associated Press, after Sgt. Ron Helus was shot multiple times and dragged outside the bar by his partner — he died early Nov. 8 at a nearby hospital — scores of police assembled outside and burst in later to find Long and 11 others dead. Eighteen others were injured.

Long, who had been wearing a black hood during the spree, was a former U.S. Marine machine gunner, and authorities said he may have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

At the vigil, Archbishop Gomez told the congregation he brought with him “the prayers of the whole family of God here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.”

“We are all so sad in the face of a violence that just makes no sense. We open our hearts to the families and friends of those who were killed, and we try as best we can to share their grief with them,” he continued.

“The hurt they are suffering, we can never really know. What they have lost, we cannot return to them. But we can walk with them. We can help them to find healing and hope. We can help them to discover the love of Jesus, even in this dark time.”

The 45-minute service drew more than 300. It was led by by St Paschal’s pastor, Father Michael Rocha, assisted by associate pastors Father Luis Estrada and Father Al Enriquez. Archbishop Gomez concelebrated.

In his homily, Father Rocha admitted he could not answer the question of why this all had happened, only that “people are going through their own tests and trials and sometimes they communicate their own problems in horrific ways.

“We stop and pause and reflect upon our own mortality and our relationship with God.” Also remember, he said, that “healing takes time … your grieving is among the most sacred and human things you’ll ever do. Honor it, and healing will take place.”

Thousand Oaks Mayor Andrew Fox stood at the lectern at the church and asked for three things: “I’m going to steal a bit from St. Paul, but I want to talk about faith, hope and love.”

Fox had already spent the morning and afternoon speaking to national and local media about the shock that affected his tight-knit community. Then he attended a civic center candlelight gathering of more than 1,800 in attendance that focused on the theme of “Thousand Oaks Strong.”

But as the long sorrowful procession turned into night, and a local wildfire had now come into play that also challenged the citizens’ levels of anxiety and anguish, Fox said he felt “at home here at St. Paschal with my Catholic brothers and sisters,” where he and his family are parishioners.

Fox, who attended the service with his wife, Letitia, said: “We are fortunate as Catholics because our faith is strong, and we actually believe Christ died for our sins, so we pray for that same faith for those families that lost loved ones, many of them at a very young age.”

Hope, he continued, is about “a better tomorrow. A better next week.” As for love, Fox said he was “reminded of Scripture just last week when Jesus was asked about the two greatest commandments. He said: ‘Love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.'”

In a statement issued the morning of Nov. 8 in reaction to news of the shooting, Archbishop Gomez asked people to “pray hard” for the victims and their families.

“Like many of you, I woke this morning to news of the horrible violence last night at the Borderline Grill in Thousand Oaks,” he said.

“Let us pray hard for all the families, for those who were murdered and those who were injured, and in a special way for the heroic officer, Sgt. Ron Helus, who lost his life defending people in the attack. May God grant perpetual light to those who have died and may he bring comfort to their loved ones and peace to our community.”

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a Nov. 8 statement asked all to pray “for the victims and their loved ones and all those impacted by this senseless violence.” He also called for the enactment of reasonable measures to end gun violence.

“We must bring this tragedy to the Lord in prayer,” said the cardinal. “This new incident of gun violence strikes just as the funerals are barely complete from the last mass shooting.

He added: More innocent lives are lost because of one individual and his ability to procure weapons and commit violence. The bishops continue to ask that public policies be supported that would enact reasonable gun measures to help curb this mad loss of life.”

“Only love can truly defeat evil,” Cardinal DiNardo said in his statement. “Love begets love, and peace begets peace, but anger, hatred and violence breed more of the same.”

– – –

Contributing to this story was Tom Hoffarth, who writes for Angelus News, the multimedia news service of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Copyright ©2018 Catholic News Service / U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Send questions about this site to

Posted in U.S.

People unwilling to be challenged by God’s mercy will grumble, pope says

Pope Francis gives the homily as he celebrates morning Mass in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, at the Vatican Nov. 8. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

By Carol Glatz 
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The sin of grumbling and complaining is often triggered by a desire to avoid being challenged or upset by seeing Christ’s unexpected mercy at work, Pope Francis said.

The way Christ gave witness was “something new for that era,” the pope said, because it was thought that being with sinners “made you impure, like touching a leper.”

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Posted in Vatican