Vatican invites experts to promote safe, accessible water for everyone

A man carries containers filled with drinking water after taking it from a public tap at a roadside in Jammu, India, in 2016. (CNS/EPA)

A man carries containers filled with drinking water after taking it from a public tap at a roadside in Jammu, India, in 2016. (CNS/EPA)

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A special gathering of policy experts, government officials, religious leaders, scholars, and development and social justice advocates was looking at ways to guarantee water that is safe and more accessible to the world’s people.

More than 90 experts were invited from five continents to provide an interdisciplinary look at the role of public policies in water and sanitation management. The meeting, sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Argentine-based School of Dialogue and the Culture of Encounter, was held Feb. 23-24 and was to include a speech from Pope Francis and a final “Rome Declaration” drafted and signed by participants.

The opening sessions looked at the religious, moral and rational bases underlying a call for the universal right to safe and accessible drinking water. Continue reading

Posted in Vatican

Vatican offers support to local farmers in Italian earthquake zone

Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, an unidentified merchant, and Archbishop Francesco Giovanni Brugnaro of Camerino-San Severino Marche, Italy, visit an area of central Italy affected by earthquakes. (CNS/Vatican Press Office)

Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, an unidentified merchant, and Archbishop Francesco Giovanni Brugnaro of Camerino-San Severino Marche, Italy, visit an area of central Italy affected by earthquakes. (CNS/Vatican Press Office)

By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In an effort to help support the economy of the central Italian region devastated by several earthquakes in 2016, the Vatican has purchased food from local farmers and producers to feed the homeless.

Pope Francis instructed his almoner, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, to purchase large quantities of food from central Italy, known for its delectable selection of meats, cheeses and wine.

Working with bishops from the devastated areas, Archbishop Krajewski purchased products from “several groups of farmers and producers whose businesses were at risk of closing due to the damage caused by the earthquake,” the Vatican said in a statement released Feb. 23. Continue reading

Posted in Vatican

Trump administration announces wide-ranging immigration guidelines

A U.S. Border Patrol agent talks with a person suspected of crossing the Rio Grande River to enter the United States illegally in 2016 near McAllen, Texas. (CNS photo/Larry W. Smith, EPA)

A U.S. Border Patrol agent talks with a person suspected of crossing the Rio Grande River to enter the United States illegally in 2016 near McAllen, Texas. (CNS photo/Larry W. Smith, EPA)

By Rhina Guidos Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In two memos published Feb. 20, the Department of Homeland Security outlined guidelines that White House officials said would enhance enforcement of immigration laws inside the country as well as prevent further unauthorized immigration into the U.S.

In a Feb. 21 news briefing, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the guidelines include hiring more border agents, construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, and hiring more personnel to “repatriate illegal immigrants swiftly.”

Continue reading

Posted in U.S.

If the shoe fits: Papal remarks on immigration apply to U.S., too

A steel border fence separates Nogales, Ariz., from its sister city in the Mexican state of Sonora. (CNS file /Nancy Wiechec)

A steel border fence separates Nogales, Ariz., from its sister city in the Mexican state of Sonora. (CNS file /Nancy Wiechec)

(Backgrounder and analysis)

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — When Pope Francis affirms basic Christian principles, he is not singling out one person or nation, but he definitely is not excluding them either.

The ongoing global migration and refugee crisis is a case in point.

The United States is not the only country engaged in a heated political debate over immigration policy with often opposing voices focusing on: ensuring the country’s security; regulating numbers based on the resources available to resettle them; or living up to an ethical obligation — and often a legal one, according to international treaties — to shelter people fleeing violence and persecution and to welcome those seeking a more dignified life for themselves and their families. Continue reading

Posted in Vatican

#Ashtags: When posting Ash Wednesday photos, use your head

Women wear the mark of ashes last year at St. Helen Church in Glendale, Arizona. Ash Wednesday is March 1 this year. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

Women wear the mark of ashes last year at St. Helen Church in Glendale, Arizona. Ash Wednesday is March 1 this year. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

(Updated Feb. 23)

By Carol Zimmermann
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Ash Wednesday seems to offer contradictory messages. The Gospel reading for the day is about not doing public acts of piety but the very act of getting ashes — and walking around with them — is pretty public.

This becomes even less of a private moment when people post pictures of themselves online with their ashes following the #ashtag trend of recent years.

The online posting of one’s ashes, often marked in the form of a cross on the forehead, thrills some people and disappoints others. Some say it diminishes the significance and penitent symbol of the ashes with their somber reminder that humans are made from dust and one day will return to dust.

Others say that sharing the Ash Wednesday experience with the broader, virtual public makes it more communal and also is a way to evangelize. Those who aren’t on either side of the argument say it all comes down to why it’s done, if the ashes selfies are posted for personal attention or to highlight the day’s message. Continue reading

Posted in U.S.

Sanctuary advocated by grass-roots leaders to blunt deportation crackdown

The bollard steel border fence splits the U.S. from Mexico in this view west of central Nogales, Ariz., Feb. 19. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

The bollard steel border fence splits the U.S. from Mexico in this view west of central Nogales, Ariz., Feb. 19. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

By Dennis Sadowski
Catholic News Service

MODESTO, Calif. (CNS) — The push for sanctuary was on a lot of minds at the U.S. Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements.

Concerns about President Donald Trump’s intention to deport millions of unauthorized immigrants rose throughout the Feb. 16-19 gathering of more than 600 grass-roots and church leaders in California’s Central Valley.

Declaring sanctuary for people fearing forced removal and the breakup of family life was one way to resist government actions, activists and Catholic clergy said.

Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Deliman of Philadelphia, who also is pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in suburban Bensalem, received a standing ovation when he told the gathering Feb. 18 that “what would be disruptive would be if we would declare our parish a sanctuary church.” Continue reading

Posted in U.S.

Help stop war in Ukraine, aid children in need, says church leader

Archbishop Shevchuk (CNS file/Paul Haring)

Archbishop Shevchuk (CNS file/Paul Haring)

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) — The head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church called on the international community to “stop the aggressor” in Ukraine’s “forgotten conflict” and help the 1 million children in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

“I am appealing to the international community to defend Ukrainian children, victims of war, keeping in mind that in our country we are experiencing a humanitarian emergency in Europe that has not been experienced since the Second World War,” said Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Despite efforts the past three years, a “stable cease-fire” has never been achieved, “therefore, we ask international organizations to continue diplomatic approaches to stop the aggressor and end the war so that true peace can be reached,” he said in a written statement received by Catholic News Service Feb. 22. Continue reading

Posted in World