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Bishops address abuse scandal with U.S. pilgrims at World Youth Day

IMAGE: CNS photo/Chaz Muth

By Rhina Guidos

PANAMA CITY (CNS) -- As Pope Francis was arriving in Panama Jan. 23, bishops from the United States wasted no time addressing the sex abuse scandal back home during a popular event aimed at American and other English-speaking World Youth Day pilgrims.

"It's not easy being Christian, it's not easy being Catholic ... especially today when things in the church are difficult," said Bishop Edward J. Burns of Dallas, addressing the sex abuse scandal in a room of hundreds of U.S. young adults attending the FIAT Festival for U.S. pilgrims at Panama's Figali Convention Center. The event was sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Knights of Columbus and FOCUS.

"How often do we hear our friends say to us: I'm done, I'm bowing out. I will have no more of this, " Bishop Burns said. "My friends, I want you to tell your friends that you'd never separate yourself from Jesus because of Judas. You'd never do that!"

Many in the room applauded.

"Yes, you look at the church today," he continued, "and there have been some who have betrayed us, some even in church leadership."

But he told the pilgrims to "stay strong, stayed focused, stay steady."

The message was well received by those in the room, including Kennedy Horter, 16, of Indiana.

"I don't let people come between me and God," said Horter, wrapped in a U.S. flag.

She said she was not going to judge priests and other good people in the church by the actions of men who likely were never priests "spiritually."

Like other pilgrims, she did not seem to be bothered by the open conversation, which was mixed in with accounts by other young people who spoke of overcoming difficulties, of lives of prayer, and challenges in life. But the situation in the U.S. church seemed to weigh on the minds of many, and the bishops stressed that, in this situation and in other moments of difficulty, Christ must be the anchor.

Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, also addressed the scandal while speaking to the pilgrims; he spoke to them about choices. He said there's one choice in life, most important above all others.

"There can be only one person who sits at the center of your life -- and mine," he said. "That person is Jesus, and anyone and anything that takes his place is not a choice worth making today. I ask you, don't be afraid to choose Jesus. Don't be afraid to choose light!"

Sister Lucia Richardson of the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration said she was glad the bishops had addressed the "elephant in the room" and discussed "this ugly reality," one that she hears concerns about from young Catholics who speak with her.

Bishop Caggiano said he was deeply sorry for the times the church has "failed you, and anyone in the church has failed you. I am deeply sorry," he said.

"I ask you in this time of shadows and darkness to join with me and all others who wish to move forward and allow our church to be healed and transformed and purified," he said.

But members of the church are facing choices, he said.

"It seems to me, in the time in which we live in the church, it is a time of spiritual twilight," he said. "For there are shadows, there are sins in our midst."

The sin and crime and abuse of young people has deeply destroyed many lives and broken trust with the leadership of the church, he said.

Brian Florin, 24, a seminarian at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, told Catholic News Service it was important to be open and to talk about the scandal, even at World Youth Day, because it's a point of pain for those in the church in the U.S.

Bishop Caggiano said this is the time when many are considering choices, and he continually referred to the image of dark and light during the day.

"What do we want? The dawn or the dusk? Do we want the dawn where you and I seek holiness of life lived in ordinary ways and bring the light of Christ to whomever we meet? Or will we sit back and say 'the darkness is here and I surrender to it,'" he said. "What is it that you or I will choose? I can say to you, as my family in Christ, I stand before you, with every ounce of energy and grace God has given me, and say that I will choose the dawn and I ask you, are you ready to choose the dawn?"

Bishop Burns reminded pilgrims that the church had lived with scandal from the beginning, including the betrayal of Jesus, but reminded them of Peter and Jesus.

"We're going to survive this. Our Lord promised 'on this rock I will build my church.' Step up and continue to have the strength," he said to great applause.

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Update: On flight to Panama, pope confirms November trip to Japan

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

PANAMA CITY (CNS) -- Pilgrims lined the streets of Panama City to welcome Pope Francis to World Youth Day and his first papal visit to Central America.

Pope Francis was greeted by dancers and was accompanied on the tarmac by Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela and first lady Lorena Castillo Jan. 23. There were no speeches; because of the 13-hour flight from Rome, the official welcoming ceremonies by government officials and World Youth Day participants were scheduled for Jan. 24.

Panama City Archbishop Jose Ulloa Mendieta accompanied the pope through the streets of the capital to the apostolic nunciature, waving to pilgrims from a popemobile built in Panama with the help of young Panamanians.

The highlight of the visit was to be the vigil and closing Mass of World Youth Day, but Pope Francis also was scheduled to celebrate a penitential liturgy Jan. 25 with young inmates at Las Garzas de Pacora Juvenile Detention Center in Pacora. He also will visit Casa Hogar el Buen Samaritano (Good Samaritan Home), a center dedicated to helping people with HIV-AIDS.

During the flight from Rome to Panama, Pope Francis was asked by a Japanese journalist if he will be visiting the country.

"I will go to Japan in November. Get ready!" Pope Francis replied.

He also told another journalist aboard the flight that while there are no immediate plans to travel to Iraq, he hopes to visit one day.

"I want to go, I told them that I wanted to go, but they were the ones who told me, 'Not right now, it isn't safe,'" the pope said. "But I do want to go and I am following the situation closely."

The pope, who is visiting Panama Jan. 23-27 for World Youth Day, thanked the journalists for their work in covering the event and led them in a moment of silence and prayer for Alexei Bukalov, a journalist for the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS, who died in December.

His voice trembling with emotion, Pope Francis remembered Bukalov as "a man of great humanism," whom "I cared for very much."

"He was a man capable of synthesizing reports in the style of Dostoyevsky. I am sure that we will all miss him," the pope said.

As is his custom, Pope Francis greeted each of the 70 journalists on the plane, smiling and exchanging words with each one, accepting letters and posing for photographs.

An Italian journalist told Pope Francis of a recent visit he made to Tijuana, Mexico, where he witnessed the plight of the caravan of migrants making their way to the U.S. border, only to find a wall that "reaches all the way to the ocean."

A wall that goes to the ocean "is madness," the pope said. "It is fear that makes us crazy."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

 

 

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Pope Francis Arrives in Panama for World Youth Days

Welcomes by President Juan Carlos Varela and Wife, ‎Lorena Castillo

The post Pope Francis Arrives in Panama for World Youth Days appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Marginalized take center stage at World Youth Day 2019

IMAGE: CNS photo/Chaz Muth

By Rhina Guidos

PANAMA CITY (CNS) -- One thing is clear about World Youth Day 2019: This one is not focused on convening great masses of people, or the most influential or the loudest. Instead of highlighting the problems faced by youth in the world's richest or most populous countries, one of its first events focused on the plight of populations most of the world rarely sees or comes across: the indigenous.

Edigibali Lopez, 24, and Enith Sanchez, 23, members of two different indigenous communities in Panama, spoke from experience about the loss of ancestral lands, the negative impact of climate change on their communities and the discrimination indigenous people face, including at the hands of those who share the same Catholic faith. The women shared the stage at the Atlapa Convention Center Jan. 22 to talk about indigenous youth just before the official start of World Youth Day, taking place Jan. 22-27 in Panama City.

"One of the important aspects of being at World Youth Day is to get others to acknowledge our reality, to learn about our culture and to not listen to the prejudices they have of us as indigenous people, this idea that we don't worship the same God," Sanchez, a member of the Ngabe community native to western Panama, told Catholic News Service.

That was one of the topics young indigenous people spoke about prior to the official start of World Youth Day in an event tailored for populations like theirs, the World Indigenous Youth Gathering, which took place Jan. 17 to 21 in Soloy, Panama in Sanchez' indigenous Ngabe-Bugle community. Organizers said more than 400 indigenous youth from Panama, Guatemala, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia and Honduras attended, making it the first time such an event has taken place at World Youth Day.

At the meeting, those like Lopez shared how climate change has altered the faith and communal living of their people. With climate change, the islands of the Guna Yala region in northeast Panama, where her community lives, disappear as rising tides result in loss of the ancestral lands of the Guna people, she said.

"Each time the tide rises, and each time it rains, we experience flooding of the island, and we have to (physically) move to other territories," Lopez said. "We suffer because this is our land, the land of our ancestors."

Each move brings loss of habitat and natural resources that the Guna use in their lives of faith, in blessings, in daily and weekly worship, and community rituals, she said. But it's not just a physical problem for their communities.

"As indigenous people, we are focused on the care of our planet, our common home," Lopez said. "Because it affects all people, not just the indigenous, but it affects the entire world."

Communities such as the Guna and the Ngabe may be the ones feeling it first, but ultimately climate change and its negative impact will reach others, and that's a concern for them, too, the women said.

"We're focused on the care of all these resources that surround us to conserve (not just resources) but our people," Lopez said.

As indigenous communities are forced to migrate from their native lands, some end up in cities or towns, where the way they dress, or speak, or practice their faith is not welcome, Lopez said.

"Our hands are tied, and we have to start living in a different way," and that affects the young indigenous people who no longer live listening to their native language or learning about their culture from elders, who normally surround them in a traditional community setting, she said. "The children migrate to the city, the capital, and those cultural teachings from our ancestors are lost."

In non-indigenous communities, the indigenous are looked down on because of the different languages they speak, the different way they dress, Sanchez said, so some of the youth begin changing who they are -- physically and otherwise. The dispersion of their community due to climate change affects the practices that make them unique. When one person lives in one town and the other in a city or another place, the sense of community vital to keeping customs and practices alive is lost, Sanchez said.

"There is no way to come together as a people," she said.

And that affects their lives of faith.

"We, as a people, we have our faith and our way of doing things and sharing, but when we move from one place to another that's far removed, we become disconnected," Lopez said. "We're not putting into practice what is ours. This is what happens when we totally become disconnected from our people, and we're forced to face the problem of how do we make our faith grow as indigenous people?"

Lopez and Sanchez said they appreciate Pope Francis' focus on their populations, on the challenges they face and his encouragement of young indigenous men and women like themselves. The church, too, through priests such as U.S. Vincentian Father Joseph Fitzgerald, who helped organize the gathering for indigenous youth, provide spiritual support that keeps in mind the cultural realities and other conditions they face, they said.

In a video message, Pope Francis sent the gathering Jan. 18, he told them to "take charge of your culture, take charge of your roots. But don't just leave it at that."

Using those roots, he said, "grow and flower."

Panamanian Archbishop Jose Ulloa Mendieta, in his homily at the opening Mass for World Youth Day, acknowledged the marginalization faced by the indigenous and other groups, including young people who come from African ancestry.

"World Youth Day in this region would not be possible without making their situation visible because they represent a significant number of the population of these continents, these youth who live in situations of exclusion and discrimination, that can be found on the margins and in poverty," he said.

The church's acknowledgment, support and accompaniment has been important in how she feels about her culture and her roots, Sanchez said.

"I'm very proud of who I am," she said. "An indigenous woman."

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Swiss Guard replaces metal helmets with 3D-printed plastic headgear

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While the Swiss Guard's halberds and uniforms have remained largely unchanged over the centuries, its ceremonial helmets are now a product of 21st-century technology.

The four-pound, hand-forged metal helmet has been replaced with new lightweight headgear. Still crafted in the "morion" style of the Renaissance and topped with a fluffy red or white ostrich feather, it is now made using a 3D printer and tough, weather-resistant ASA thermoplastic -- the same material often used for automotive exterior parts.

The Swiss Guards used the new helmets during a special ceremony Jan. 22 at the Vatican commemorating the 513th anniversary of their foundation. Pope Julius II requested a contingent of Swiss soldiers to protect the pope and his palace in 1505 and the first Swiss soldiers arrived at the gates of Rome Jan. 22, 1506.

The Swiss Guard -- made up of 110 soldiers -- is the smallest and oldest military corps in the world. The men guard all entrances into Vatican City State as well as keep watch over the pope and his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

They also provide security and ceremonial services during liturgical events and visits of heads of state and other dignitaries to the Vatican. A behind-the-scenes look at their ceremonial and honor duties was featured in a new video Jan. 22 as part of an ongoing series about the life and work of the guard. The series can be found on their YouTube channel "Guardia Svizzera Pontificia GSP."

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

UAE: Pope and Imam of al Azhar to be at Conference

Conference Organized by Council of Muslim Elders

The post UAE: Pope and Imam of al Azhar to be at Conference appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Pakistan: Nearly 200 Cases of Christians on Blasphemy Charges

'The blasphemy law destroys the lives of those who have been accused, even if they avoid being executed.'

The post Pakistan: Nearly 200 Cases of Christians on Blasphemy Charges appeared first on ZENIT - English.

‘Palliative Care Is a Human Right,’ says Pontifical Academy for Life

Monsignor Paglia’s Address at a Conference in Qatar

The post ‘Palliative Care Is a Human Right,’ says Pontifical Academy for Life appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Swiss Guards: New Black Helmets

Inaugurated on the 513th Anniversary of the Corps’ Foundation

The post Swiss Guards: New Black Helmets appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Alessandro Gisotti: Papal Trip to Japan Under Study; Iraq, Not in the Cards Until Conditions Change

Vatican Spokesman Issues Statement on Speculated Upcoming Trips

The post Alessandro Gisotti: Papal Trip to Japan Under Study; Iraq, Not in the Cards Until Conditions Change appeared first on ZENIT - English.