Mexican shelters strain with arrival of asylum-seekers at U.S. border

Denia Garcia poses with her daughter Diana, 2, Feb. 6, 2019, at the Catholic-run Dignified Migrant shelter in Piedras Negras, Mexico. Garcia wants to apply for asylum in the United States, but faces a weeks-long wait. The Dignified Border shelter is also short on space to host asylum-seekers for long-term stays. (CNS photo/David Agren)

By David Agren 
Catholic News Service

PIEDRAS NEGRAS, Mexico (CNS) — Gangs in Honduras first threatened Denia Garcia’s husband six months ago, telling him to join with them or die. Her husband, a police officer, fled to the United States, arriving successfully.

In his absence, the gangs threatened Garcia, sending her on the migrant path with her children, ages 2 and 5.

Garcia, who recently arrived in this city across the U.S.-Mexico border from Eagle Pass, Texas, wants to apply for asylum in the United States, but it’s a slow process. U.S. officials process only a small fraction of the migrants seeking asylum on a daily basis, forcing them to stay in Mexico until their names are called from long waiting lists. Some asylum-seekers also now are being returned to Mexico — under a plan known as Remain in Mexico — as their claims are adjudicated.

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Posted in World

Pope to visit school for imams, Muslim preachers in Morocco in March

A man sits on his chair in a small village in the Toubkal region near Imlil, Morocco, Jan. 12, 2019. Pope Francis plans to visit Morocco March 30-31. (CNS photoYoussef Boudlal, Reuters)

By Cindy Wooden 
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis’ trip to Morocco March 30-31 will include a visit to a school training an international group of Muslim prayer leaders and preachers, including women.

He also will visit to a Caritas center assisting migrants, many of whom ended up in the North African country with hopes of eventually making it to Europe.

Returning to Rome from the United Arab Emirates Feb. 5, Pope Francis told journalists he had hoped to go to Marrakech, Morocco, in December for the signing of the U.N. Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, but protocol dictated that he make a full visit to the country and there was not time in December.

The trip in March will include a full slate of formal events, including a meeting with King Mohammed VI and a visit to the mausoleum of King Mohammed V, who negotiated the country’s independence from France and ruled until his death in 1961.

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Posted in Vatican, World

Indiana parish opens ‘Blessing Box’ as a gift to people in need

Hadly Nickell and Hays Nickell pose by the “Blessing Box” on the grounds of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Jeffersonville, Ind., which was set up Jan. 18, 2019. The pastor said parishioners are excited to help individuals and families in need through the stand-alone structure, filled with nonperishable food items and toiletries that anyone in need can access at any time of day. (CNS photo/courtesy Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish)

By John Shaughnessy 
Catholic News Service

INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) — Father Doug Marcotte believes “there’s no better way to change a community than one small act of kindness at a time.”

So the pastor of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Jeffersonville embraced a plan from one of the parishioners to help individuals and families in the community when they don’t have enough food for their next meal.

The parishioner’s idea involved making a “Blessing Box” — a small, stand-alone structure that would be filled with nonperishable food items and toiletries that anyone in need could access at any time of day. The plan also would include placing the “Blessing Box” in a discreet setting on the parish grounds so no one would feel uncomfortable taking items from it.

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Posted in U.S.

‘Cardinal virtue’ of justice must be protected, pope tells judges

Pope Francis accepts a book during a meeting with members of the Italian National Association of Judges at the Vatican Feb. 9. 2019. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Justice, along with prudence, fortitude and temperance, is a virtue that must be defended for the good of society, Pope Francis told a group of Italian judges.

A world without justice risks weakening the very fabric of society and can transform it into “a breeding ground for illegality,” the pope said Feb. 9 during a meeting with the Italian National Association of Judges.

“Without justice, all social life remains jammed, like a door that can no longer open or ends up screeching and creaking in a cumbersome movement,” he said.

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Posted in Vatican, World

Life has meaning when given with love to others, pope says in homily

Pope Francis embraces a female prisoner as he visits Cereso prison in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Feb. 17, 2016. Life has meaning and value “only in giving it in love, in truth, in giving it to others in daily life, in the family,” the pope said Feb. 8, 2019, at morning Mass in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

By Carol Glatz 
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A life lived selfishly, corruptly or filled with hate is a life that is useless, shrivels up and dies, Pope Francis said in a morning homily.

On the other hand, life has meaning and value “only in giving it in love, in truth, in giving it to others in daily life, in the family,” he said Feb. 8 at morning Mass in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

In his homily, the pope reflected on the four individuals in the day’s Gospel reading from St. Mark (6:14-29): King Herod; his brother’s wife, Herodias; her daughter, Salome; and St. John the Baptist.

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Posted in Vatican

Sunday Scripture readings, Feb. 10, 2019: By our own efforts?

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)

Feb. 10, Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle C
1) Is 6:1-2, 3-8
Psalm 138:1-5, 7-8
2) 1 Cor 15:1-11 or 1 Cor 15:3-8, 11
Gospel: Lk 5:1-11

By Jem Sullivan
Catholic News Service

In his book “Outliers: The Story of Success,” author Malcolm Gladwell offers intriguing explanations for why some people are more successful than others. Gladwell looks for general rules of success: Is it nature or nurture? Is it innate talent, genius, favorable opportunities or hard work that makes it possible for some to become more successful than others? Continue reading

Posted in "Speak to Me Lord", CNS columns

Witness, discipleship are key to missionary work, pope says

Pope Francis accepts a gift during an audience with members of the Missionaries of Africa and the Missionaries of Our Lady of Africa at the Vatican Feb. 8, 2019. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

By Cindy Wooden 
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Proclaiming the Gospel is not the same thing as proselytism and often means simply being a neighbor and friend to someone while living an authentically Christian life, Pope Francis said.

Mission “is that dynamic that leads you to be a neighbor to others to share the gift you have received: the encounter of love that changed your life and led you to consecrate your life to the Lord Jesus, good news for the life and salvation of the world,” the pope said Feb. 8.

Pope Francis spoke about mission and witness during a meeting with the Missionaries of Africa and the Missionaries of Our Lady of Africa, men’s and women’s religious orders founded 150 years ago by Cardinal Charles Lavigerie of Algiers, Algeria.

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Posted in Vatican