In chilly Minnesota, archbishop has warm welcome for Super Bowl visitors

By Marie Wiering 
Catholic News Service

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) — Archbishop Bernard J. Hebda may be a Pittsburgh native, but like a true Minnesotan, he began a welcome video for Super Bowl visitors talking about the weather.

Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis, pictured in a 2016 photo, has a welcome video for Super Bowl LII visitors. Minneapolis will host the Super Bowl between the NFC champions, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the AFC champions, the New England Patriots, Feb. 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium. (CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit)

“The weather here can get a little chilly this time of year, but as a transplant myself, I can tell you firsthand, the people and hospitality here are warm and inviting,” the archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis said in a 76-second video taped in the Cathedral of St. Paul.

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Posted in U.S.

Dialogue dilemma: Vatican’s China overture sparks controversy

People pray during morning Mass Jan. 30 in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Beijing. (CNS photo/Roman Pilipey, EPA)

Backgrounder and analysis.

By Cindy Wooden 
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Vatican efforts to honor those who suffer and die for their faith while trying to negotiate with oppressive regimes to expand religious freedom have been fraught with criticism and real pain for more than 50 years.

For example, whether Vatican diplomatic efforts during the Cold War helped ensure the survival of the Catholic Church behind the Iron Curtain or amounted to appeasing evil is still a subject of scholarly debate.

But, unfortunately, the topic is not just a matter of history.

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Posted in Vatican, World

Trump immigration plan’s impact on family ‘deeply troubling,’ says bishop

Beneficiaries of the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program attend the “Keep Our Dream Alive” binational meeting in 2017. The Dreamers, as DACA recipients are known, gathered at a section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Sunland Park, N.M. (CNS photo/Jose Luis Gonzalez, Reuters)

By Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ migration committee said Jan. 30 that the Catholic bishops welcomed the Trump administration’s proposal to give “Dreamers” a path to citizenship, but at the same time, they are “deeply troubled” about the plan’s “impact on family unity.”

On Jan. 26, the White House released a proposal offering a path to citizenship for approximately 1.8 million of the so-called Dreamers and asking for a $25 billion investment in a border wall and other security measures. The plan also calls for an end to the diversity visa program, popularly known as the “visa lottery,” and also a program that grants visa preferences to relatives of U.S. citizens or residents.

The administration said its focus for immigration policy is to keep the “nuclear family” intact.

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Posted in U.S.

Vatican spokesman insists pope, aides are united on approach to China

Pope Francis greets Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, retired archbishop of Hong Kong, during his general audience at the Vatican Jan. 10. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

By Cindy Wooden 
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Catholics who have accused top members of the Roman Curia of making overtures to China’s communist government without the knowledge of Pope Francis are “fostering confusion and controversy,” said the director of the Vatican press office.

The rumors of division between the pope and his top aides made headlines in late January after Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, retired archbishop of Hong Kong, met personally with Pope Francis to discuss his opposition to encouraging two bishops to retire so they could be replaced by two bishops approved by the government, but whose status with the Vatican has been troubled.

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Posted in Vatican, World

Hispanic bishops’ visit gives them firsthand look at Holy Land reality

Bishop Felipe de Jesus Estevez of St. Augustine, Fla., holding cross, and Auxiliary Bishop Alberto Rojas of Chicago, right, watch a Palestinian worker make crosses made of olive wood Jan. 27 at the Holy Land Handicraft Cooperative Society in Beit Sahour, West Bank. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)

By Judith Sudilovsky
Catholic News Service

BEIT SAHOUR, West Bank (CNS) — Retired Bishop Placido Rodriguez of Lubbock, Texas, remembers the smell of woodworking and the feel of wood in his hands from when he was a child in his family furniture factory in Celaya, Mexico.

“Here they are working with olive wood; in Mexico we worked with cedar. We see the connection with our brothers here,” Bishop Rodriguez said as he walked through the small family-run Odeh Factory, which produces traditional olive wood statues and souvenirs to sell to pilgrims and tourists. “I see the effort that is needed, and the talent, (to do this work) as a way to support and feed their families. I can see this is the work of Christians. I don’t have to be told that, you can see it in their work.”

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Posted in U.S., World

From the archives: Trappist monk left letter anticipating violent death

By Catholic News Service

Trappist Father Christian-Marie de Cherge, one of seven monks slain by Islamic terrorists in Algeria in 1996, left a letter that anticipated he would be assassinated. He is pictured in an undated photo. (CNS photo/Abbaye Notre-Dame d’Aiguebelle)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Trappist Father Christian-Marie de Cherge, one of seven monks slain by Islamic terrorists in Algeria in 1996, left a letter that anticipated he would be assassinated.

Father de Cherge, prior of the Monastery of Notre Dame de l’Atlas, wrote the letter sometime between Dec. 1, 1993 and Jan. 1, 1994 — between which dates members of the Armed Islamic Group first visited the monastery. It was marked to be opened at his death.

The monk’s family sent the letter to France’s daily Catholic newspaper, La Croix, which published the text in full May 28, 1996.

In late January, Pope Francis formally recognized Father de Cherge and his companions as martyrs, clearing the way for their beatification. Here is the text of his letter. The last word was written in Arabic:

If it were ever to happen — and it could happen any day — that I should be the victim of the terrorism which seems to be engulfing all the foreigners now living in Algeria, I would like my community, my church, my family to remember that my life was given to God and to this country.

That they accept that the unique Master of all life will be no stranger to such a brutal departure.

That they pray for me: for how should I prove worthy of such an offering?

That they understand that such a death should be linked to so many others, equally violent, but which remain masked by the anonymity of indifference.

My life has no greater worth than that of another. Nor is it worth any less.

In all events, it no longer has the innocence of childhood.

I have lived long enough to recognize that I am caught up as accomplice in the evil which, alas, seems to prevail in the world, even in that evil which might strike me blindly.

At such a moment, I would like to have enough lucidity left to beg God’s pardon and that of my all my fellow human beings, while pardoning with all my heart anyone who might have hurt me.

Not that I would want to wish such a death.

It seems important to profess that.

In fact, I do not see how I could rejoice that this people that I love should be globally blamed for my murder.

It is far more costly to pay the price of what might be called “the grace of martyrdom” than to owe one’s life to an Algerian, whoever he may, especially if he professes to be acting in accord with what he believed in Islam.

I know full well the contempt in which Algerians generally are held.

I know, too, the caricature of Islam that is fostered by a certain Islamism.

It is all too easy to appease one’s conscience by simply identifying this religious tradition with the all-or-nothingness of the extremists.

For me, Islam and Algeria is something different, it is body and soul.

I have proclaimed it loud and clear, I believe, to everyone that knows me, that I have found here the guiding line of the Gospel that I learned at my mother’s knee, my first church, here in Algeria, and in the respect of Muslim believers.

My death would seem to justify those who dismiss me summarily as naive, as an idealist (saying): “Let him say how he sees things now!” But they ought to know that at last my pounding curiosity will be satisfied.

For then I shall be able, if it pleases God, to steep my gaze in that which the Father has, to contemplate with him his Islamic children as he sees them, illuminated by the glory of Christ, by the fruits of his passion, endowed with the gift of the Spirit, whose secret joy will be forever to establish communion and to restore likeness, through playing on differences.

This life lost, totally mine, and totally theirs, I give thanks to God, who seems to have wanted it to be utterly so, for this joy, through and despite everything.

Within this thank-you where, once and for all, all is said about my life, I include you, my friends of yesterday and of today, and you, my friends from here, along with my mother and my father, my sisters and my brothers and all who belong to them, (life) yielded a hundredfold as was promised!

And you, too, my last-minute friend, you who know not what you do.

Yes, for you, too, I wish this thank-you, and this “adieu,” which is of your planning.

May we be granted to meet each other again, happy thieves, in paradise, should it please God, the Father of both of us. Amen! Inshallah!

Posted in Vatican, World

DACA youth worry immigration deal for them will unleash fear for others

Supporters of comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for Dreamers, gather near the U.S. Capitol in Washington Dec. 6. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

By Rhina Guidos
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Young adults waiting to hear whether lawmakers will grant them the opportunity to stay in the country legally said they don’t want Congress to offer an immigration deal that will help them but in turn produce fear and mass deportation among their parents and neighbors who are in the country illegally.

“What good is it for me to have a pathway to citizenship if I can’t have my parents, my friends, my loved ones … not with me? For us, family is the core of everything. I can’t imagine being in the U.S. without them,” said Laura Peniche, of Colorado, who benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which in 2012 began offering temporary reprieve from deportation and some legal documentation to youth brought to the country illegally as children, as long as they met certain criteria.

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Posted in U.S., World