Homeland Security decision doesn’t surprise Catholics working at border

Migrants in the “Remain in Mexico” program line up at the Paso del Norte Mexico-U.S. border bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, April 21, 2020, to reschedule their United States immigration hearings during the coronavirus pandemic. (CNS photo/Jose Luis Gonzalez, Reuters)

By David Agren
Catholic News Service

MEXICO CITY (CNS) — The recent decision by the Department of Homeland Security to extend restrictions on nonessential crossings of the southern border due to the COVID-19 pandemic did not surprise Catholics who work with migrants in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.

They said the decision, which includes a freeze on asylum claims and the immediate expulsion of migrants, only deepened the difficulties migrants confront as they wait in dangerous Mexican border towns, where criminal groups often try to kidnap them.

“It’s taking advantage of the virus as a means to continue deterring (migrants) from coming,” Sister Norma Pimentel, a member of the Missionaries of Jesus and director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, said of U.S. border policy implemented with a March 20 emergency order.

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Posted in U.S., World

Sporting event shows values needed in pandemic aftermath, pope says

Pope Francis meets May 20, 2020, with professional and amateur athletes, Special Olympians, Paralympians and athletes who are refugees. The meeting in the library of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican took place the day the athletes were supposed to run together; instead they will sponsor an online auction in June to raise money for two hospitals in northern Italy that were at the center of caring for COVID-19 patients. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

By Junno Arocho Esteves 
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Sports can offer a unique witness of unity that can build a “bridge of peace” between men and women of different religions and cultures and promote solidarity, Pope Francis said.

In his first audience after restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus were eased, the pope met with a group of Olympians, Paralympians and Special Olympians who were to take part in an international meeting of athletes sponsored by the Vatican sports association.

Unable to take part in the race due to the pandemic, the athletes met with the pope May 20 in the library of the Apostolic Palace shortly after his weekly general audience.

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Posted in Vatican

Minnesota bishops not waiting for governor, resuming larger Masses May 26

Sunday Mass at St. Alphonsus in Brooklyn Center, Minn., is sparsely attended March 15, 2020, due to concerns about spreading the coronavirus. Minnesota bishops announced May 20 that they are moving forward with plans to reopen Mass, defying current state limitations requiring 10 or fewer people at faith-based gatherings. (CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit)

By Maria Wiering 
Catholic News Service

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) — Minnesota’s bishops are moving ahead with plans to resume Masses at one-third church capacity May 26, a plan that defies current state directives limiting faith-based gatherings to 10 or fewer people.

The bishops announced the plan in a May 20 letter to the faithful following a news conference where Gov. Tim Walz and other members of his administration outlined a plan for the reopening of restaurants, bars and salons.

With no definite timeline from the state for a wider reopening of places of worship, despite repeated requests from the bishops and several meetings with members of the Walz administration, the bishops said they are giving parishes statewide permission to begin celebrating public Mass.

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Posted in U.S.

Pope: Church’s preferential option for the poor is nonnegotiable

Spanish Missionary of Charity Sister Paul supports a patient at the House for the Dying in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in this 2009 file photo. (CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey)

By Junno Arocho Esteves 
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A missionary or church reality that is truly inspired by the Holy Spirit “manifests predilection for the poor and vulnerable as a sign and reflection of the Lord’s own preference for them,” Pope Francis told the pontifical mission societies.

In a message May 21, the pope said that those involved with the church’s missionary activity “should never justify their lack of concern for the poor with the excuse, widely used in particular ecclesiastical circles, of having to concentrate their energies on certain priorities for the mission.”

“For the church, a preference for the poor is not optional,” he said.

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Posted in Vatican, World

Death penalty opponents decry first execution carried out amid pandemic

Sister Helen Prejean, a Sister of St. Joseph of Medaille, is seen in Anaheim, Calif., in this 2016 file photo. (CNS photo/J.D. Long-Garcia)

By Carol Zimmermann 
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Catholic advocates against the death penalty spoke out against Missouri’s May 19 execution of a death-row inmate, Walter Barton, whose death by lethal injection was the first execution to happen during the pandemic.

So far, amid the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, eight executions have been rescheduled citing concerns over COVD-19 infections.

“Our nation has gone to great lengths to save lives and prevent unnecessary loss of life during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, executive director of Catholic Mobilizing Network, a group working to end the death penalty and promote restorative justice.

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Posted in U.S.

Team effort helped convince Indians, Bangladeshis to evacuate for cyclone

A masked woman in Kolkata, India, tries to protect her son from heavy rain as they rush to a safer place before Cyclone Amphan makes its landfall, May 20, 2020. (CNS photo/Rupak De Chowdhuri, Reuters)

By Bronwen Dachs 
Catholic News Service

Sheltering people from one of the strongest storms in more than a decade required convincing affected Indians and Bangladeshi that evacuation centers would have masks and other coronavirus protections in place, a Catholic Relief Services representative said.

Cyclone Amphan slammed into low-lying areas of India and Bangladesh May 20, with winds of up to 115 miles an hour and surging waters as high as 16 feet.

Nearly 3 million people have evacuated their homes and moved to emergency shelters in the two countries.

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Posted in World

PPP loans to parishes not as large, or as many, as some believe

President Donald Trump signs the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act at the White House in Washington April 24, 2020. (CNS photo/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters)

By Mark Pattison 
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Paycheck Protection Program loans to parishes did not meet the number of parishes, or the size of the loans, listed in some news reports, according to Patrick Markey, executive director of the Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference.

A Washington Post report said 13,000 U.S. parishes had received PPP loans. In truth, Markey said, “round one was (that) 9,000-10,000 applied, and about 6,000 had received funds. In the second round, about 5,000 applied, and of those, 3,000 said they had their applications received.”

He added, “Since it looks like about 3,000 in the first round didn’t make it — and 3,000 had their applications accepted immediately (in the second round) — I assume they were already in the pipeline.”

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Posted in U.S.