Let them serve: Hundreds outside court back Little Sisters

Washington D.C., Mar 23, 2016 / 04:56 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Hundreds of people – many of them women – joined religious sisters outside of the Supreme Court on Wednesday chanting “Let them Serve! Let them Serve!”  The protes… Read more

Divided Supreme Court hears Little Sisters’ case

Washington D.C., Mar 23, 2016 / 02:29 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious charities should be free to carry out their ministries without having to violate their religious beliefs, plaintiffs argued at the Supreme Court on Wednesday.  “This morning we heard the justices of the Supreme Court comment on the fact that members of many minority religions across the country have stood with the Little Sisters of the Poor, asking the government to do the very simple and right thing here, which is just if the government wants to provide these [contraceptive] services, the government is free to provide them,” stated Mark Rienzi, lead attorney for the Little Sisters of the Poor, at a press conference outside the Court after the oral arguments in Zubik v. Burwell.   The government has other ways to provide contraceptive coverage for employees than forcing religious non-profits to do so, he stressed. “And in every other court case where the government has come before this court and talked about its [health] exchanges, it has told the Court that they are wonderful, they are cheap, they are easy to use, they are affordable, they are great. And all the Little Sisters are asking today is that the government uses all its other programs to provide the services it wants.” The case Zubik v. Burwell is a combination of seven cases before the court against the “accommodation” offered to religious non-profits by the Obama administration regarding its federal contraception mandate. Plaintiffs include the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Archdiocese of Washington, Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh, and several Christian colleges.  Employers have to include contraception coverage in their employee health plans, according to the mandate. Only churches and their auxiliaries are exempt, thus forcing many religious charities and non-profits like the Little Sisters to provide the coverage they believe to be morally objectionable.  The administration’s “accommodation” is a process by which objecting parties send a form to the government notifying them of their objection. The government then instructs the party’s insurance company – or third-party authority for self-insured entities – to provide the coverage separately. This separates the charities from the objectionable process of providing contraception coverage, the government contends. Paul D. Clement, arguing for the Little Sisters and their fellow petitioners before the court on Wednesday, said this process still demands more than a simple opt-out. It forces the Little Sisters and other religious charities to fill out a form they know will ultimately facilitate access to birth control against their religious beliefs, he said. The government also enforces this measure with “massive penalties,” he added. The Little Sisters could pay up to $70 million a year in fines if the mandate goes into effect and they do not comply with accommodation.  However, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued during the hearing, “the insurer or the TPA is then not dealing with the employer at all.” The employer “could say, ‘I fill out the form. I do not authorize. I do not permit. It won’t make any difference’.” “It makes all the difference, Justice Ginsburg,” Clement countered. “If we don’t provide the form, then the coverage doesn’t flow.”  Justice Sonia Sotomayor responded that tension between laws and the religious beliefs of persons is inevitable, and that if all requests for religious exemption from laws were honored, government actions could not be enforceable.  “Because every believer that’s ever come before us, including the people in the military, are saying that ‘my soul will be damned in some way’,” she said of requests for religious exemptions from laws and actions like a military draft. If that burden will “always” be “substantial,” she added, and all religious exemptions are honored, “how will we ever have a government that functions?” Aside from a cloistered monk or hermit, Justice Stephen Breyer noted, a “religious person” living in society may “have to accept all kinds of things that are just terrible for him.” Quakers must pay taxes for a war they conscientiously object to, he said. Religious people against blasphemy might not like First Amendment protections of it.  Noel Francisco, also arguing for the plaintiffs, said that religious non-profits should get the same protections as churches, which are exempt from the mandate.  Justice Elena Kagan pressed him on expanding religious exemptions to charities and non-profits.  “I thought there was a very strong tradition in this country, which is that when it comes to religious exercises, churches are special,” she said. If these religious protections are expanded to include “all religious people,” she argued, “then the effect of that is that Congress just decides not to give an exemption at all.” Francisco also argued that because the health care law exempts many entities like small businesses from having to provide health insurance, and exempts the plans of large corporations from the mandate by “grandfathering” them in to the health care law’s regulations, the government may not be able to establish a “compelling interest” for contraception coverage since so many health plans don’t provide it.  Even if it does establish this interest, he continued, it has other means of facilitating access to contraception including through plans on the public exchanges that offer contraception coverage or through Title X family planning funding.  Another point of contention was the fact that, according to the IRS tax code, churches and their auxiliaries are exempt from the HHS mandate but religious non-profits, who must fill out a 990 form, are not.  The plaintiffs argued that there is no essential difference between these groups and both should receive exemptions because of their religious status. “The line they’ve drawn here is absurd,” Clement said of the administration exempting churches and their integrated auxiliaries but not religious non-profits.  There is no substantial difference between these groups, he added; the only difference is that one group, non-profits, fills out a 990 form. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, arguing for the administration, said the government has a compelling interest to require employer-based contraception coverage, and every alternative that has been proposed defeats Congress’ purpose of ensuring low-cost birth control access for all women without the hassle of co-pays or obtaining separate health plans for contraception.  Furthermore, he cited an Institute of Medicine report claiming that widespread contraception access was in the public good, lowering the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions.  Chief Justice John Roberts discussed whether the mandate posed a substantial burden on the plaintiffs by “hijacking” their own health plans. Clement had argued that the government was indeed hijacking the insurance plans, saying that “it’s a little rich for the government to say ‘this isn’t your plan, don’t worry about this’.” “In other words, the Petitioner has used the phrase ‘hijacking,’ and it seems to me that that’s an accurate description of what the government wants to do,” Roberts said. “They want to use the [insurance] mechanism that the Little Sisters and the other Petitioners have set up to provide services because they want the [contraception] coverage to be seamless.” The Little Sisters “do not object to the fact that the people who work for them will have these services provided,” he added. “They object to having them provided through the mechanism that they have set up because they think, you know, whether you or I or anybody else thinks, they think that that complicity is sinful.” “Can you explain why you don’t see this as a hijacking?” Justice Sotomayor asked Verrilli.  Verrilli argued that the government is “ensuring” that employees “get what the law entitles them to,” while “ensuring” that employers do “not have any legal obligation to pay for the coverage, to provide the coverage in any way.” The funding for the contraception coverage is done separately from the employer, he argued. The insurer is listing the coverage cost separately from the other employer-provided coverage.  However, Justice Alito noted, the sisters’ third-party insurance issuer would also not comply with the mandate if it is enforced.  And many religious groups, including some Muslims, Mormons, and Orthodox Jews and American Indians, have supported the Little Sisters saying the mandate and its so-called accommodation present an “unprecedented threat to religious liberty in this country.” “Ladies and gentleman, the fate of the Little Sisters is the fate of every American,” Kristina Arriaga, executive director of the Becket Fund, stated outside the court after Wednesday’s arguments. “They [the Little Sisters] serve the poor, they feed the hungry. We at Becket join millions of Americans who are asking the Court to let them serve,” she added. Read more

Pope Francis observes moment of silence for Belgium attack victims

Vatican City, Mar 23, 2016 / 07:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his general audience the day after terrorist attacks in Belgium claimed the lives of at least 30 people and injured 230 more, Pope Francis led pilgrims in a moment of silent prayer for the vict… Read more

Canada’s ‘commit life’ campaign fights suicide with message of hope

Edmonton, Canada, Mar 23, 2016 / 06:15 am (CNA).- A new campaign in Canada aims to reach those who are vulnerable to self-harm or suicide by telling the stories of people who have learned to live despite pain and suffering. “I need to fight to deal with the pain. But I know that my life has meaning,” said Lisa Daniels in a video from the Canada-based Every Life Matters campaign. The woman, from the city of St. Alberta in Alberta province, suffers from several painful conditions and injuries. Daniels challenged viewers to make and share a video with others to show how they “commit life.” She asked them to tag friends on social media to tell them how they personally have helped. This will help remind them that their lives matter, she said. “Maybe your encouragement will help someone ‘commit life,’ not suicide.” The Canadian government is preparing to legalize assisted suicide following a 2015 Supreme Court decision. Daniels recounted in her video how she and her husband had decided to adopt their daughter, Faith, after struggling with infertility. After the adoption, she then developed “horrible debilitating back pain,” diagnosed as arthritis of the spine and fibromyalgia. “I didn’t want to get out of bed, the pain was so, so bad,” she said. Daniels then got in a car accident and flipped her car. She woke up in the hospital in tremendous pain. Her left hand was paralyzed. “I am meant to be Faith’s mom. I am happy. I’m happy every day,” she said. “If I can find hope and meaning in my circumstances, surely others who are struggling to keep going can as well.” “Why don’t we reach out to them and show them how to commit life?” she asked. “#CommitLife means that you face adversity with hopefulness, joy and a healthy amount of optimism.” Daniels’ video is available through the Every Life Matters campaign, based at the website www.commitlife.com. The campaign’s producers include Brian Holdsworth, creative director at Holds Worth Design, which was hired to produce the campaign by the Archdiocese of Edmonton. “The campaign was launched as a direct response to Canada’s embrace of euthanasia and assisted suicide as a solution to suffering,” Holdsworth told CNA March 17. “The Supreme Court struck down laws that protected the vulnerable from this reality so now, we’re doing our best to promote a message that encourages hope, human dignity and value, and courage in the face of adversity.” The campaign has been active for about two months. Holdsworth said organizers are happy with its achievements so far, given its small budget. Holdsworth said the Archdiocese of Edmonton “wanted a way to respond to what was happening in our country and asked my company how to best approach the subject and this is what we proposed.” “We are hoping that other people who experience suffering can be encouraged by that kind of witness and make whatever decisions they can to find help and authentic hope,” he said. Organizers felt compelled to create the campaign “as an act of mercy towards those who are now at risk of being persuaded to end their lives,” he said. Canada’s culture has set a precedent that says suicide is “an acceptable solution.” Holdsworth encouraged people to make themselves available for someone who is “struggling to find hope.” “Visit them, invest in their lives, invest in your relationship with them. I think this is especially true for those who are isolated, sick, and elderly,” he said. “These groups are, surprisingly, not described very often when the media talks about suicide. We hear about stories of young people because it’s such a tragedy, but never the widow who died alone. The elderly are the most at risk and I believe that’s because so many of them are so tragically lonely.” The campaign refers people in a suicidal crisis or emotional distress to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, available in the U.S. and Canada. The hotline is available through the website suicidepreventionlifeline.org or by phone at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Read more

Empower women and you empower the world, Vatican tells UN

New York City, N.Y., Mar 23, 2016 / 03:06 am (CNA/EWTN News).- If diplomacy and policy-making are to be successful, all women – including those who are often left out of the conversation – must have a voice in the process, a Holy See representative told the United Nations. “Empowering women means creating the conditions necessary for them to flourish, in full acceptance of and in accordance with their natural genius as women, and in harmonious complementarity with the gifts of men,” Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, said March 18. “Empowering women and girls will greatly help the world community not to leave anyone behind, and their empowerment will empower us all,” he said. He gave his remarks during the deliberations of the 60th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women of the United Nations. This session’s focus was “Women’s Empowerment and the Link to Sustainable Development.” Archbishop Auza focused on the idea that “no one will be left behind” as found in the commitment of the Member States in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Women, he said, must be recognized for their “vital role … in preventive diplomacy, mediation, peacekeeping and peace-building processes, as well as their growing presence in policy-making bodies and advocacy groups.” However, elderly women, mothers, and pre-born girls, the archbishop said, are especially vulnerable to sex-based discrimination. Instead of being seen as critical policy priorities, elderly women’s needs are frequently overlooked leading these women to feel “unwanted and, in some cases, leaving them vulnerable to the pressures of assisted suicide.” “An exaggerated focus on economic productivity and the decline of family values are leaving elderly women even farther behind,” he said. Elderly women should be made to “feel welcome and productive in their own way” by making their wisdom available for the whole of society, Archbishop Auza said. In a similar way, he said, mothers face discrimination when their “essential contribution to the development of society through motherhood is not adequately acknowledged, appreciated, advanced and defended.” This prejudice, oftentimes by way of cultural and legal pressures, forces women to choose between a career and motherhood. On behalf of his delegation, Archbishop Auza said he wanted to thank “all women who have raised generations of responsible daughters and sons.” Girls in the womb also face discrimination, even before they have the chance to be born. Abortion and in-vitro fertilization have been used to “selectively eliminate girls, leading to unnatural sex-ratio-at-birth disparities” causing a deficit of more than 160 million girls compared to boys, he said. After addressing the concerns of these groups of women, Archbishop Auza emphasized the importance of ensuring access to education and healthcare for women and girls, which he called indispensable. He pointed out that the Catholic Church, “through its vast network of 250,000 schools, 23,500 clinics and hospitals, 16,000 homes for the elderly and those with special needs,” the majority of which are located in developing nations and areas of conflict, is the “largest education and health provider in the world.” Women’s healthcare must be provided “in accord with their feminine humanity and dignity,” he said, adding that it “would be contradictory to seek to empower women while suppressing their natural potentialities.” Women in need should not only be the beneficiaries of aid, but they should “above all … be empowered to become dignified agents of their own development and important drivers of sustainable development.” Read more

Faith in a world under siege – thoughts from Archbishop Chaput

Salt Lake City, Utah, Mar 23, 2016 / 12:34 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Despite the challenges facing the United States, Catholics and Mormons can work together – with St. Augustine as a model, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said Tuesday at Brigham Young U… Read more

Members of Congress speak up for Little Sisters before big day in court

Washington D.C., Mar 22, 2016 / 04:52 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Members of the United States Congress have voiced their support for the Little Sisters of the Poor before their case is argued before the Supreme Court on Wednesday. “We talk a lot about public service up here. Well, these are the people who live it,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) said of the sisters on the House Floor on Tuesday, noting that they serve the poor in 31 countries. “They are the definition of public service.” On Wednesday, oral arguments for Zubik v. Burwell will take place at the Supreme Court. The case is a bundle of seven cases against the HHS mandate, including as plaintiffs Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh, the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Archdiocese of Washington, and several Christian colleges. At issue is the administration’s mandate that employers provide contraceptive coverage in employee health plans, and the ensuing “accommodations” they offered religious non-profits to comply with the mandate. The Affordable Care Act in 2010 required that preventive services be covered in employer health plans. In its guidelines released in 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services stated that these services included sterilizations and contraceptives, including some drugs considered abortifacients. They crafted narrow religious exemptions for churches and their affiliates (such as parish groups and schools) using tax law. Religious non-profits who objected to having to provide the coverage, however, were not exempt from the mandate. The administration then offered an “accommodation” for these objecting non-profits. The non-profits would send a form to the government stating their objection, and the government would then notify their insurer, who would provide the coverage at a separate cost. Plaintiffs such as the Little Sisters, however, argue that they would still be cooperating with actions they believe are seriously immoral by facilitating the contraception coverage. Faced with steep fines for not complying with the mandate, and with no other option than violating their conscience, they took the case to court. Institutions that are not exempt from the mandate include the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, dioceses, Catholic universities, adoption agencies, hospitals, and charities such as the Little Sisters. Hundreds of plaintiffs have filed lawsuits against the federal government over the mandate. If the mandate goes into effect, the penalty for not providing the contraception and sterilization coverage could be up to $70 million a year for the Little Sisters. However, health plans of large corporations such as Visa and PepsiCo are exempt from the mandate as they were “grandfathered” into the law’s requirements. An estimated one in three Americans are exempt from the mandate’s requirements. Members of Congress held a press conference Tuesday afternoon supporting the Little Sisters in the name of religious freedom. “This is not a partisan issue. This cannot be a partisan issue. It is a fundamental right,” Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) said of the case and of the freedom of Americans to practice their religion in public. “The Supreme Court has the opportunity to stand up for this fundamental right of all human beings, a right that’s guaranteed to us here in the Constitution,” he added. “It seems fitting that the case should be heard by our nation’s highest court during Holy Week,” said Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.). She added that “neither religious belief nor practice ends at the threshold of a house of worship.” “For me, it brings to mind Pope Benedict’s words about how ‘Charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is part of the Church’s nature, an indispensable expression of her very being,’” she said, quoting Benedict XVI’s 2005 encyclical on Christian love, Deus caritas est. “The people who serve in these ministries have dedicated their lives to living out their religious convictions, and they, not the government, are the best guide for what violates those principles.” “I can tell you that there is precious little in this world that is more pure or worthwhile than their ministry,” Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) said of the Little Sisters. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) recalled a conversation he shared with Sister Loraine Marie Maguire, Mother Provincial of the Little Sisters of the Poor: “She said ‘I can’t sign a piece of paper that makes somebody else do what I cannot do myself. It’s my conscience, you know.’” Read more

‘Good Friday came early’ – Catholic bishops mourn Brussels attacks

Brussels, Belgium, Mar 22, 2016 / 02:06 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Holy Week terrorist attacks in Brussels on Tuesday led the city’s bishops to mourn and reflect on the deadly crimes in light of Jesus Christ’s Passion. “Good Friday has come three days early with these totally absurd actions,” Auxiliary Bishop Jean Kockerols of Mechelen-Brussels said March 22. “I weep with those who weep, wherever they are. The first reaction, completely normal, is to condemn these totally absurd actions.” “The reaction of Christians ought to be first of all one of compassion with those affected, with those who are grieving,” he continued. “I am thinking of the victims and their families, we are together in prayer, in friendship.” The bishop spoke in an audio statement on the website of the Belgian Conference of Catholic Bishops. At least two men detonated bombs at Brussels Zaventem international airport about 8 a.m. local time. About 80 minutes later, one explosion struck a city metro station near the European Union headquarters. At least 30 people were killed and another 230 injured in the three explosions, CNN reports. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Salah Abdeslam, the primary fugitive in the November 2015 Paris attacks, was arrested in Brussels on Friday. Belgian officials are working on the assumption that the same network is involved in the latest attacks. Bishop Kockerols interpreted the attack in light of the Christian observance of Holy Week. “We have adopted the courageous attitude of Mary who was with the disciples,” he said. “She remained there at the foot of the Cross. Scripture records none of her words, but tells us she was there. This is the attitude of Christians who remain, who live in a still hidden hope in face of the incomprehensible.” The bishop encouraged work for the common good and for public order. He said people should avoid controversies and accusations about guilt and failure to prevent the attack. Bishop Kockerols later joined Archbishop Josef de Kesel of Malines-Brussels in a statement announcing the cancellation of the Chrism Mass scheduled for that day at the Brussels cathedral. The Mass is traditionally held during Holy Week. The bishops cited “obvious security reasons.” A small delegation will celebrate the Chrism Mass tomorrow night at the Collegiate Church of St. Gertrude. The two bishops said “we are invited to stay with Mary at the foot of every cross today. By our prayer and friendship, we must surround the victims and their loved ones, their families.” In the United States, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia was among the Catholic leaders who responded to the attacks. “We join with the Church in Belgium and the entire nation in this moment of intense pain,” he said. “Each life lost was a precious gift from God that has been torn from all those whom it touched.” The archbishop encouraged prayers for the victims. Noting the passion, death and resurrection of Jess Christ, he said: “let us remember that God is the source of love and life and ask Him to bring peace to our troubled world.” E.U. leaders also spoke out. “These attacks have hit Brussels today, Paris yesterday – but it is Europe as a whole that has been targeted. The European Union and its Institutions stand united in the face of terrorism,” said Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission. President Donald Tusk of the European Council voiced his “sincerest sympathies” for the victims of the attack. He said the European Union will work “to help Brussels, Belgium and Europe as a whole counter the terror threat which we are all facing.” “I am horrified by the despicable and cowardly attacks which took place in Brussels today,” said European Parliament President Martin Schulz. “They are born from barbarism and hatred which do justice to nothing and no one.” Pope Francis had responded earlier on Tuesday. He offered prayers for the victims, condemned the acts as “blind violence” and said he’s praying for peace. “Upon learning of the attacks in Brussels, which have affected many people, His Holiness Pope Francis entrusted to the mercy of God the people who have lost their lives and joins those close to them in prayer for the death of their relatives,” said Cardinal Pietro Parolin March 22. The Vatican’s Secretary of State signed the letter, which was addressed to the Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, Jozef De Kesel, on behalf of the Pope. He said that Francis expresses “deep sympathy for the wounded, for their families and for all those contributing to relief efforts,” and prayed that the Lord would bring them comfort and consolation. Pope Francis, he said, “again condemns the blind violence which has caused so much suffering, and he implores God for the gift of peace, invoking upon the grieving families and on all Belgians the benefit of divine blessings.”Photo credit: www.shutterstock.com. Read more

Pope Francis to wash the feet of migrants on Holy Thursday

Vatican City, Mar 22, 2016 / 12:42 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- After spending previous years washing the feet of inmates and disabled persons on Holy Thursday, this year Pope Francis will celebrate the liturgy in a welcoming center for migrants and refugees. The Pope will say a Chrism Mass at the Vatican before heading to the Reception Center for Asylum Seekers, or CARA, in Castelnuovo di Porto, just over 18 miles outside of Rome, on the afternoon of March 24. He will arrive to the center around 5 pm, where he will say the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and wash the feet of 12 migrants welcomed by the center, many of whom are not Catholic. The news came in a March 22 article from the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano explaining the reason why the location was chosen. The article was written by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. In previous years Pope Francis has offered the Lord’s Supper Mass on Holy Thursday at a youth detention center, a rehabilitation center for the disabled, and a large prison in Rome. This marks the first year he will celebrate the liturgy at a migrant center. More than 900 asylum seekers are housed at the center, virtually all of whom come from sub-Saharan Africa. CARA is one of the most demanding asylum centers in all of Italy. In 2015 alone more than 1.1 million migrants fleeing war and violence poured into Europe, and the influx has continued. Many Syrians seeking to escape the civil war which has devastated their country for the past five years enter Europe through Turkey, taking boats to the Greek isles. With leaders perplexed as to how to handle the migrant flow, last week a new deal was struck between the E.U. and Turkey stipulating that all migrants and refugees who cross into Greece illegally by sea will be sent back to Turkey once they have been registered and their asylum claims processed. In return, the E.U. agreed to take in thousands of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey, giving the country early visa-free travel and advancing talks regarding their E.U. membership negotiations. The Pope’s decision to celebrate the Holy Thursday liturgy at the center comes after he has repeatedly pled on behalf of migrants’ rights in past few weeks. In his March 16 general audience Francis appealed to world leaders to open their doors to migrants, lamenting that many are “living a real and dramatic situation of exile.” “Far away from their homeland, with their eyes still full of the rubble of their homes,” these migrants often find “closed doors” when attempting to enter another country, he said. The Pope said that “I like it a lot when I see nations, governments, who open their hearts and open their doors” to the migrants and refugees seeking to enter. Similarly, on Palm Sunday Francis said that when Christ suffered from the indifference of political leaders in being sent from Pilate to Herod and then back to the Roman governor, he was thinking in particular “of so many other people, so many marginalized people, so many asylum seekers, so many refugees.” “There are so many who don’t want to take responsibility for their destiny.” He also offered special greetings to some 6,000 migrants and refugees during his Jan. 17 Angelus address, which fell on the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. The day was also celebrated as a special Jubilee of Migrants as part of Francis’ larger Jubilee of Mercy. In his address, the Pope told the migrants that “each one of you carries within yourself a story, a culture, of precious value; and often unfortunately experiences of misery, oppression and fear,” and encouraged them not to give up in the face of difficulties. During his Sept. 6, 2015 Angelus Francis made an appeal to all the parishes, to religious communities, to monasteries, and sanctuaries of all Europe to “to express the concreteness of the Gospel” and welcome a family of refugees. The Vatican’s two parishes – St. Anne’s and St. Peter’s – have already welcomed two refugee families. The first family, housed by St. Anne’s, consists of a father, mother and two children. Syrian Christians of Catholic Greek-Melkite Church, the family fled their war-torn city of Damascus and arrived to the Vatican Sept. 6, the same day as the Pope’s appeal. The second family, provided for by St. Peter’s, is an Eritrean family, consisting of a mother and her five children who arrived earlier this year.   Read more

Pope Francis grieves Belgium attacks, condemns ‘blind violence’

Vatican City, Mar 22, 2016 / 08:49 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Tuesday Pope Francis offered prayers for the victims of attacks at an airport and metro in Belgium, condemning the acts as “blind violence” and praying for peace. “Upon learn… Read more




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