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Pope: Migrants seeking new life end up instead in 'hell' of detention

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Decrying the unimaginable "hell" migrants experience in detention centers, Pope Francis urged all Christians to examine how they do or don't help -- as Jesus commanded -- the people God has placed in their path.

Christians must always seek the face of the Lord, who can be found in the hungry, the sick, the imprisoned and foreigners, the pope said on the anniversary of his first pastoral visit as pope to the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Jesus warned everyone, "whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me," and Christians today must look at their actions every day and see if they have even tried to see Christ in others, the pope said in his homily during Mass July 8.

"Such a personal encounter with Jesus Christ is possible also for us, disciples of the third millennium," he said.

The Mass, held in the chapel of the pope's residence, marked the seventh anniversary of his first apostolic journey to an island that has been a major destination point for migrants seeking a new life in Europe.

However, since 2014, at least 19,000 people have died, drowning in the Mediterranean Sea during those boat crossings. Pope Francis mourned their deaths during his 2013 visit with prayers and tossing a floral wreath into the rippling water.

In his homily at the Vatican chapel July 8, he remembered those who are trapped in Libya, subjected to terrible abuse and violence and held in detention centers that are more like a "lager," the German word for a concentration camp. He said his thoughts were with all migrants, those embarking on a "voyage of hope," those who are rescued and those who are pushed back.

"Whatever you did, you did for me," he said, repeating Jesus' warning.

The pope then took a moment to tell the small congregation -- all wearing masks and sitting at a distance from one another -- what had struck him about listening to the migrants that day in Lampedusa and their harrowing journeys.

He said he thought it strange how one man spoke at great length in his native language, but the interpreter translated it to the pope in just a few words.

An Ethiopian woman, who had witnessed the encounter, later told the pope that the interpreter hadn't even translated "a quarter" of what was said about the torture and suffering they had experienced.

"They gave me the 'distilled' version," the pope said.

"This happens today with Libya, they give us a 'distilled' version. War. Yes, it is terrible, we know that, but you cannot imagine the hell that they live there," in those detention camps, he said.

And all these people did was try to cross the sea with nothing but hope, he said.

"Whatever you did ' for better or for worse! This is a burning issue today," the pope said.

The ultimate goal for a Christian is an encounter with God, he said, and always seeking the face of God is how Christians make sure they are on the right path toward the Lord.

The day's first reading from the Book of Hosea described how the people of Israel had lost their way, wandering instead in a "desert of inequity," seeking abundance and prosperity with hearts filled with "falsehood and injustice," he said.

"It is a sin, from which even we, modern Christians, are not immune," he added.

The prophet Hosea's words call everyone to conversion, "to turn our eyes to the Lord and see his face," Pope Francis said.

"As we undertake to seek the face of the Lord, we may recognize him in the face of the poor, the sick, the abandoned, and the foreigners whom God places on our way. And this encounter becomes for us a time of grace and salvation, as it bestows on us the same mission entrusted to the apostles," he said.

Christ himself said "it is he who knocks on our door, hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, imprisoned, seeking an encounter with us and requesting our assistance," the pope said.

The pope ended his homily by asking Our Lady, the solace of migrants, "help us discover the face of her son in all our brothers and sisters who are forced to flee from their homeland because of the many injustices that still afflict our world today."

 

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Final Farewell to Msgr Georg Ratzinger at His Funeral Today in Regensburg – Benedict Followed Mass Online

Followed by In-Depth, Personal Conversation with Georg's Dear Friend & Co-Author of ‘My Brother, the Pope’

The post Final Farewell to Msgr Georg Ratzinger at His Funeral Today in Regensburg – Benedict Followed Mass Online appeared first on ZENIT - English.

‘Such a Personal Encounter With Christ Is Possible Also for Us,’ Pope Reminds Commemorating 2013 Lampedusa Visit

'You Cannot Imagine the Hell Lived in Libya's Detention Centers,' Francis Adds Off the Cuff

The post ‘Such a Personal Encounter With Christ Is Possible Also for Us,’ Pope Reminds Commemorating 2013 Lampedusa Visit appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Trump expected to refile paperwork soon in his effort to end DACA

IMAGE: CNS photo/Carlos Barria, Reuters

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- President Donald Trump is expected to refile paperwork during the second week of July to end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, following the Supreme Court ruling that his administration went about trying to end the program the wrong way.

The Hill, a political news outlet, reported July 6 the president's upcoming action had been expected the previous week and currently "the exact timing remains in flux."

The day after the court's June 18 DACA ruling, the president vowed to do something about it and tweeted he would submit "enhanced papers" to comply with requirements to end DACA. "Nothing was lost or won," he said about the decision, saying the court had punted on it and the administration would just try again.

The issue before the court was Trump's 2017 executive order to end the Obama-era program that had enabled 700,000 qualifying young people, brought to the U.S. as children by their parents without legal documentation, to work, go to college and get health insurance -- and not face deportation.

President Barack Obama established DACA by executive order in 2012.

The court's combined decision on three separate appellate court rulings that blocked Trump's order stop DACA basically left the program in place -- protecting recipients from deportation and enabling them to still receive benefits such as work authorization -- while emphasizing the president went about rescinding the program in the wrong way.

Catholic leaders who work on immigration issues right away predicted Trump would continue his efforts to end DACA, starting with refiling the paperwork to do so in a way that complied with the high court's requirements.

The process will "likely immediately be mired in litigation," said Ashley Feasley, director of policy for Migration and Refugee Services for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Ilisa Mira, an attorney in the Oakland, California, office of Catholic Legal Immigration Network, or CLINIC, similarly said Trump could issue a new memo that she said would satisfy what the court was looking for but would "bring up more litigation."

Another possible path, she said, would be for the Department of Homeland Security to issue a regulation affecting the program that would need a notice and comment period and could take months to complete.

The Supreme Court's majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, said the government failed to give acceptable reasons for ending DACA and that Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, in her efforts to dismantle the program three years ago, didn't use all options to limit the program and didn't consider the program's importance to its participants.

"Here the agency failed to consider the conspicuous issues of whether to retain forbearance and what if anything to do about the hardship to DACA recipients," the opinion said. "That dual failure raises doubts about whether the agency appreciated the scope of its discretion or exercised that discretion in a reasonable manner. The appropriate recourse is therefore to remand to DHS so that it may consider the problem anew."

While waiting to see what the president does, immigration advocates, like Feasley and Mira, are urging DACA supporters to push the Senate for legislation that would give DACA recipients, known as Dreamers, and those with Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, a path toward citizenship.

"We can't let the Senate get a pass," Feasley said in a June 19 webinar sponsored by the USCCB's Justice for Immigrants campaign.

When asked if the issue could wait until after the November elections, Feasley was adamant it could not, "especially if the president is doubling down; it really is time," she said.

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

 

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Copyright © 2020 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]

Vatican task force calls for an end to arms production

IMAGE: CNS photo/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Gabriel A. Martinez, U.S. Navy, ABACAPRESS.COM via Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Human health, peace, security and progress would be better served with a complete end to the production of weapons worldwide, said members of a Vatican task force.

"Now, more than ever, is the time for nations of the world to shift from national security by military means to human security as the primary concern of policy and international relations," Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, said at a Vatican news conference July 7.

Cardinal Turkson also heads a COVID-19 response commission Pope Francis created in April to analyze the many challenges the world is facing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and to come up with proposed guidelines and strategies for addressing the many crises.

The commission has five task forces focused on different issues, and the cardinal was one of three speakers at the news conference giving an update on what the working group dedicated to "security" has proposed for building a more peaceful, healthy and secure world.

The pandemic and the many emergency measures in place have sparked a number of problems in some parts of the world, the cardinal said; for example, there is an upsurge in domestic violence, police or military brutality in enforcing lockdowns, "adventurists" taking advantage of social or global disruptions to embark on a new war or seize territories; and the disruption of elections, which could worsen tensions.

"Now is the time for the international community and the church to develop bold and imaginative plans for collective action commensurate with the magnitude of this crisis" caused or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

"Now is the time to build a world that better reflects a truly integral approach to peace, human development and ecology," he said.

One concrete proposal endorsed by Pope Francis is the United Nations' call for a global cease-fire, Cardinal Turkson said. A complete cessation of hostilities would be necessary for achieving the peace, solidarity and global unity needed for successfully dealing with the pandemic and its effects, he said.

"But one thing is to call or endorse a cease-fire statement, another thing is to implement it" and get it to hold, he said, which means "we need to freeze weapons production and dealing" and end investments in armaments.

Salesian Sister Alessandra Smerilli, a member of the COVID-19 commission and an economic expert, said "we are at a stage in which we must understand where to direct financial resources."

Safety and security are supposed to be about guaranteeing human health and well-being, she said. But arsenals full of weapons do nothing to help stop the spread of the pandemic, she added.

What if instead of engaging in an arms race, she asked, "we 'race' toward food, health and work security? What are citizens asking for right now? Do they need a strong military state or a state that invests in common goods?"

Nations should ask how their citizens want their money to be spent and if it makes any sense to continue with "massive investments in weapons if human lives cannot be saved because there is no adequate health care system," added Sister Smerilli, who teaches political economy at the Salesians' Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences "Auxilium."

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the world's military spending keeps rising, and last year it was estimated to be $1.9 trillion or about $250 per person.

Sister Smerilli said this ongoing push for more arms and greater military power is "a vicious circle that never ends, pushing in turn toward a constant increase in military spending, a positional competition that causes irrational expenses."

"We need courageous leaders who can demonstrate that they believe in the common good, who are committed to guaranteeing what is most needed today. We need a collective pact to direct resources for health security and well-being," she said.

Alessio Pecorario, who heads the commission's task force on security, said "choices have to be made. Medical supplies, food security and economic revival focused on social justice and green economy all require resources that can be diverted from the military sector in the context of renewed arms control."

Given the urgency, complexity and intertwined nature of today's challenges, the task force has concluded that "human and financial resources and technology should be used to create and stimulate strategies, alliances and systems to protect lives and the planet and not to kill people and ecosystems," he said.

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The Vatican COVID-19 commission publishes weekly newsletters of its work at www.humandevelopment.va/en/vatican-covid-19/newsletter.html.

 

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Copyright © 2020 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]

Focolare member in Colombia pays it forward by helping fellow migrants

IMAGE: CNS photo/Manuel Rueda

By Manuel Rueda

TOCANCIPA, Colombia (CNS) -- When Alba Rada arrived in Colombia, members of the Focolare movement gave her a warm welcome, got her kids in school and helped her with housing until she found a place to rent.

Now the 44-year-old Venezuelan immigrant replicates that kindness through a nonprofit that is helping more than 200 Venezuelans who live in Tocancipa -- and many more who pass through a highway that crosses the town.

"We know what it's like to go through tough times and face an uncertain future," said Rada, who arrived in Colombia six years ago.

"So we like coming out here to provide material and emotional support," she said, as she handed out hot meals to a group of migrants that had been on the road for days.

Rada set up her nonprofit, the Radaber Foundation, in 2018 as thousands of Venezuelans left their crisis-wracked nation and headed to neighboring countries like Colombia in search for work. With their savings depleted by hyperinflation, many were forced to walk and hitchhike for hundreds of miles toward their destinations, passing through small towns like Tocancipa.

"We started to help these hitchhikers with food and by finding people who would host them for a night or two," Rada explained. "It started as a WhatsApp group, and eventually we became a more formal organization."

The group is made up mostly of Venezuelan immigrants who want to help recent arrivals. Some of the volunteers are also members of the Focolare movement, a Catholic lay group that promotes the ideals of unity and universal brotherhood and operates in dozens of countries.

Rada is a lifelong member of Focolare and ended up in Tocancipa largely because of her ties to that group.

The town in central Colombia only has 35,000 people, but its home to a large Focolare center that includes a school, a house for consecrated members, and a space for spiritual retreats.

"At first I only thought of guerrillas and drug trafficking when Colombia was mentioned," Rada said. "But my sister convinced me to give it a try. She told me the movement was here and that there was a school for the kids."

Rada ran a graphic design company in Venezuela and had been looking for a way out of the country for some time. She was pushed to make the move in 2014 after her car was stolen from her at gunpoint, while her children were in the back seat.

In Tocancipa, members of the Focolare movement helped her to settle down, securing a place for her two children at the movement's school, and holding a dinner party, where they donated electrical appliances to her family.

With her accounting skills, Rada also landed an administrative job at the Focolare school and made contacts that would later help her with donations for her nonprofit.

Now the Radaber Foundation is focusing mostly on helping Venezuelan migrants to deal with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thousands of people have lost their jobs in Colombia as the government imposed a national lockdown to slow down the virus.

In Tocancipa and the surrounding area, Rada's nonprofit has provided food packages to more than 200 families that have lost their income during the pandemic.

It is also helping migrants who are now trying to head back to Venezuela after losing their jobs and not being able to pay rent.

More than 70,000 Venezuelan migrants have returned to their country since the pandemic broke out, according to the Colombian government. Many are doing so on foot, because they cannot afford bus fare.

On a recent weekend, Rada and half dozen volunteers gathered below a pedestrian bridge that crosses the main highway leading out of Tocancipa.

They handed out sleeping bags, snacks, sunblock and toilet paper to migrants who were making the long trek back home.

"I was doing well in Colombia," said Jose Luis Sanchez, a 54-year-old taxi driver from Venezuela, who had found work at a plastics factory in Bogota. "But my factory shut down and I had no more money to pay rent." Sanchez was walking back to Venezuela with this wife and figured the journey to the border would take him about two weeks.

Another migrant, Luisiana Cordoba, said she was coming from Ecuador, where she had been working as a dental assistant. The dentist closed her practice due to the pandemic, leaving Cordoba jobless.

"I'm travelling with my kids, so people have been more friendly and we've gotten several rides," said Cordoba, who had three small children with her. "Along the road we've been sleeping at bus terminals or under shopfronts to avoid the rain."

Rada said her organization is trying to make the perilous journey back to Venezuela safer by giving migrants orientation and advice on the risks ahead.

She said that while funding for her organization is sometimes scarce, she is motivated by the expressions of gratitude from the people she helps and by a biblical passage that was sent to her years ago in a letter written by the founder of the Focolare movement.

"There is more joy in giving than in receiving," the passage said.

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Copyright © 2020 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]

Caritas Helps Hand-Washing in Niger

Key to Stopping Spread of Covid-10

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A Catholic Return to Mass in England

A Video Reflection by Fr Christopher Whitehead of Bath

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Theology for Millennials: ‘Junipero, Activism and Ignorance’

By Father Mario Arroyo

The post Theology for Millennials: ‘Junipero, Activism and Ignorance’ appeared first on ZENIT - English.