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Pope at Angelus: It Doesn’t Matter Who You Know, to Get to Heaven, You Need a Good Life of Faith

Francis Makes Appeal for Amazon 'Vital' to Planet, & Greets Pontifical North American College

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POPE’S ANGELUS ADDRESS: On Striving to Enter the Narrow Door to Paradise (FULL TEXT)

"But Lord I was part of that association, friends with that monsignor, cardinal, group, priest.' Titles do not count. The Lord will only recognize us for ... a life of faith'

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INTERVIEW: Baghdad Bishop: Despite ‘Crisis of Faith’ Today, 1st Trip of a Pope to Iraq Would Be Source of ‘Great Joy’

Wide-ranging Interview with Auxiliary Chaldean Bishop of Baghdad Bishop Robert Saeed Jarjis Done With ZENIT in the Middle East

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West Virginians meet their new Catholic bishop as humble, holy man

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Christopher Gunty

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- People from around the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston already have a good feeling about their new shepherd, Bishop Mark E. Brennan, who was installed Aug. 22 as the ninth bishop of the diocese.

Ron and Jenny Gaither came from Fairmont, southwest of Morgantown, for the installation of the bishop because they believe he is an honest and holy man. The parishioners of St. Anthony in Fairmont said they were hoping to get someone who could help Catholics in West Virginia forget about the scandals in the church. They said they had heard from priests who already met Bishop Brennan that he is a wonderful man.

John Neely of St. John Neumann Parish in Marlinton, a town with a population just over 1,000, said he hopes the bishop will be concerned with the rural parts of the state. "It's very important to get someone down to the parishes," he said, noting that they haven't had bishops visit in 20 years.

Many of the priests in the rural areas serve three or four parishes. "Our pastor has an hour (to drive) to each of his other churches," Neely said. "They do everything for themselves; they don't have an office staff."

He said he wants Bishop Brennan to be "a man of the people and for the people -- the poor people of the diocese."

Father John Chapin Engler Jr., is one such pastor of three parishes in a rural part of the state northwest of Charleston.

Before solemn vespers Aug. 21, Father Engler said, "It's a new day. I'm just thrilled" with the appointment of Bishop Brennan. He said the people of the diocese had been praying a prayer provided by Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, who was apostolic administrator of the diocese from September 2018 until Bishop Brennan's installation.

The people of the diocese prayed for a humble and noble pastor full of zeal and a love for Jesus and the poor. "It's almost like he knew when he wrote it" the kind of man the pope would appoint.

He praised Bishop Brennan for showing up in his own Ford Taurus, carrying his own bag and serving breakfast at Wheeling's Catholic Charities Aug. 21.

Father Engler's country parishes in Bancroft, Nitro and Dunbar are small -- 30, 50 and 70 parishioners. He said their needs are the same as many others in the diocese, "to continue to try to be a light for people in darkness."

Noting that the state is about 4% Catholic and "that means 96% are not," Father Engler said of the new bishop: "He seems to have a knack for reaching out, with a pastoral zeal for the poor."

He said the bishop had already agreed to visit his three parishes for their combined Labor Day picnic. That sends a good message to his people that they won't be forgotten, he said.

Sam and Karen Gross came from the Basilica of the Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral in Charleston, where Sam is a fourth-degree Knight of Columbus and participated in the honor guard at the installation Mass.

"He's a fresh change," Sam said, noting that Bishop Brennan's crosier is made of wood, not gold.

Karen said she believes the bishop will help heal and end the divisiveness in the church and "bring a spiritual message to us so we can all be disciples of Jesus Christ."

The Grosses also mentioned the challenges of life in the diocese, noting that priests in rural parishes have needs that parishioners in Charleston, Morgantown and Wheeling cannot even imagine.

She said the bishop is humble and approachable. "You can tell by his demeanor that he puts others ahead of himself," she said. "Jesus brought him to us for a reason."

Morgan Yost, who works for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston on the program staff of the youth ministry office, said she hopes the bishop will see the youths as part of the church community now, not just in the future, and hopes he will see that they have a role in the church.

She said the bishop sent a video message to a Catholic summer youth camp held in Huttonsville shortly after his appointment was announced July 23. In that video, he said he hoped to be able to visit the camp in person next year.

Lia Salinas, director of Hispanic ministry for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, attended the installation Mass to honor her former boss. Bishop Brennan had been archdiocesan vicar for Hispanics; he was a Baltimore auxiliary bishop until his appointment to Wheeling-Charleston.

"He's a pastor who smells like his sheep. We're sorry to lose him but we know this is what West Virginia needs," she told the Catholic Review, Baltimore's archdiocesan media outlet.

"He's a person you grow to love, a real servant of God," Salinas said.

She described the bishop as hard-working and a people person, noting that he will spend as much time talking to a janitor as with a clergyman or a business executive.

That attitude was visible after the installation Mass when Bishop Brennan standing on a small balcony on the corner of the cathedral blessed the crowd gathered on Eoff Street below. Returning to the street level, still in his liturgical vestments, the bishop crossed the street to greet residents of the Formosa Apartments who had been sitting on chairs in front of their building.

Yvette Smith, Zyanne Hamlin and Kiara Moore, who live in the building, and Carrie Chambliss, who lives around the corner, were pleased to meet the new bishop, whose cathedral directly faces the apartments.

Smith said she hopes the church opens more doors and helps the homeless and others in need, like those who live in the Formosa.

Chambliss added that maybe they could use some prayers too, "because we're all sinners."

"I expect good things from him," she said.

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Gunty is associate publisher/editor of Catholic Review Media, the media arm of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

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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 [email protected]

Latin American bishops urge action to save burning Amazon rainforest

IMAGE: CNS photo/NASA, NOAA handout via Reuters

By Lise Alves

SAO PAULO (CNS) -- "Crying out to the world for solidarity," leaders of the Latin American bishops' council urged international action to save the Amazon rainforest as massive fires continued to burn.

"We urge the governments of the Amazonian countries, especially Brazil and Bolivia, the United Nations and the international community to take serious measures to save the lungs of the world," said the statement Aug. 22 by the top officers of the council, known by its Spanish acronym, CELAM.

"What happens to the Amazon is not just a local issue, but is of global reach," the bishops said. "If the Amazon suffers, the world suffers."

The Amazon produces 20% of the world's oxygen, according to scientific measurements.

Brazil's space research institute, which is responsible for satellite monitoring of the Amazon, had reported that the number of wildfires, common in July and August, had reached a record number already in 2019, with 72,843 fires spotted.

The U.S. space agency, NASA, Aug. 21 and 22 released satellite imagery showing how smoke from the fires had created "a shroud that is clearly visible across much of the center of South America."

French President Emmanuel Macron called on world leaders to place the fires at the top of their agenda as they meet in France for the Group of Seven summit starting Aug. 24. Attendees will include President Donald Trump, Macron and the leaders from Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has said publicly that he believes nongovernmental agencies -- including Catholic-backed agencies such as the Land Pastoral and the Indigenous Missionary Council -- are behind the illegal burnings because they have opposed his call for development of the rainforest. The organizations have strongly denied the allegations.

In its edition released Aug. 23, the front page of the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, led with two articles about the Amazon fires. The first, titled "The Amazon must be protected," included general coverage of the fires' scope and the alarm launched by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. A second article reported on the CELAM statement under the headline, "Save the forest to save the world."

In their statement, the bishops noted that the upcoming October Synod of Bishops for the Amazon will discuss the plight of the indigenous living in the area as well as the deforestation of the region. Sixty percent of the Amazon rainforest is in Brazil.

"Hope for the proximity of the Amazon synod, convened by Pope Francis, is stained by the pain of this natural tragedy," the bishops said. "To the brethren indigenous peoples who inhabit this beloved territory, we express all our closeness and join your voices with yours to shout to the world for solidarity and pay attention to end this devastation."

And while the deforestation of the world's largest tropical forest and the violence against the indigenous population there have been a great concern to the Catholic Church, the upcoming synod also has caused apprehension for the Bolsonaro government.

In February, the Brazilian government was forced to deny that it was spying, through its intelligence agency, ABIN, on more "progressive" bishops and priests working on the synod.

The government's Institutional Security Cabinet, known as ISC, however, admitted it was worried that the meeting would be used to criticize the Bolsonaro administration's stance on environment and indigenous rights.

"There are no general criticism of the Catholic Church. There is the functional concern of the Minister of State Chief of the Institutional Security Office for some points of the synod's Amazon agenda that will take place at the Vatican in October this year," said an ISC statement at the time.

The CELAM bishops, quoting Pope Francis from his homily at his papal inauguration in March 2013, requested to "please ask all those who hold positions of responsibility in the economic, political and social fields, all men and women of goodwill: (to) be guardians of creation, of the design of God inscribed in nature, guardians of the other, of the environment; let's not let the signs of destruction and death follow the path of our world."

The declaration was signed by Archbishop Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte, of Trujillo, Peru, CELAM president, as well as the officers of the organization.

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Contributing to this story was Cindy Wooden at the Vatican.

 

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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 [email protected]

Ivory Coast: Interfaith Peace Foundation for Africa Commits to Peaceful Vote in 2020

Involve Christians, Muslims, and Faithful of Other Confessions or Religious Beliefs

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Latin American Bishops Appeal to Save ‘Lung of the World’

'If the Amazon suffers, the world suffers'

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Joint Press Communiqué on the Viet Nam–Holy See Working Group

Group Met August 21-22 in Vatican

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Archbishop Follo: Salvation is a Gift and a Struggle

With the invitation to strive of receiving the Word spoken to our heart and let ourselves to be shaped by the grace which transforms.

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