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U.S. Bishops Provide Aid to Education Center in Albania and Support for Those Affected by the War in Eastern Ukraine

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe approved over $4.8 million in funding for 206 projects in 22 countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

Projects approved for funding include:

·         The Don Bosco Center for Education in Albania, founded 21 years ago, provides cultural, social, and academic resources to over 1,000 children from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds. The center provides stability and aid to the rapidly growing population of people from rural areas moving into the city to find work. The center also offers elementary, middle and high school education and has a vocational training center, a youth center, and a day care center. The grant will assist with necessary updates to the building to welcome more children and provide a safe environment for them.

·         A grant to support seven priests, five hieromonks, and eight religious sisters that serve the parishes near the war zone in Eastern Ukraine. The armed conflict periodically reaches into that region making it a dangerous place to live. The priests and religious have remained there to offer pastoral and humanitarian aid to those in need. This grant will provide food, medicine and transportation costs to support the priests and sisters as they offer pastoral care and humanitarian aid to the tens of thousands of internally displaced persons in the region.

"As a family of faith, we stand with those who work tirelessly to build the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, who continue to face the challenge of overcoming decades of political and religious oppression," said Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, "We look to those living in this region as an example of hope and perseverance and continue to support their efforts to renew their communities."

Other projects approved by the subcommittee include scholarships, church construction, outreach to the poor, and evangelization programs. Grants approved by the subcommittee support the Church in countries that were oppressed by communist rule.

Grants are funded by the annual Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. The national date for this collection is Ash Wednesday, although dioceses may take it up on different days. The Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe oversees the collection and an annual grant program as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. More information about the collection and who it supports can be found at www.usccb.org/ccee.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Committee on National Collections,

Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Eastern Europe, Albania, Ukraine, Don Bosco Center, youth, evangelization, pastoral care, humanitarian

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Philippines preparing for 7th Asian Youth Day ‎

(Vatican Radio) The biggest event of the Asian Catholic Church this year, is taking place in Yogyakarta city, Indonesia, next week.  The 7th Asian Youth Day (AYD7) is being hosted by the Archdiocese of Semarang, August 2-6, with over 2000 ‎‎young people from ‎‏‎21 ‎Asian countries rallying around the theme, “Joyful Asian Youth: Living the Gospel ‎in Multicultural Asia‎!”‎ The continent-level event has been held in various Asian cities since 1999 in intervals of 2, ‎‎3 ‎and 5 years, with the last AYD in Daejeon Diocese in Korea in 2014, in which Pope Francis participated. 

Organizers have divided the entire AYD into three events spread across 11 days from July 30 to August 9.  On arrival, the participants will head to the 11 of Indonesia’s 37 dioceses who will be hosting them from July 30 to August 2 in what is called Days in the Dioceses (DID).  All the participants will then converge in Yogyakarta from August 2 to 6 for the central event of the AYD7.   The 5 days will include a variety of activities such as adoration, confession, Mass, reflections, testimonies, workshops, group sharing, country exhibits and cultural performances.  After the main event, the Asian Youth Ministers will stay back for a meeting, August 6 to 9.

Among the 21 countries participating in the AYD is also the Philippines.  To know about it, we called Fr. Conegundo Garganta, the executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Youth of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.  Speaking to us on the phone from Manila Fr. Garganta  first talked about the Philippine youth delegation to the Asian Youth Day.

Listen:  

Summary:

Fr. Garganta said that 69 young people have been officially registered with the AYD7 but with bishops and youth ministers accompanying them, the entire delegation has 82 members. 

Peparation

The young people will first head to the Indonesian dioceses of Bogor and Jakarta for the Days in the Diocese (DID).  The young people have been preparing for the event following the pre-event modules of the AYD, that recommend reflecting and meditating on the suggested scripture passages, visiting churches, talking to priests, visiting non-Christian families and communities etc.   

Philippine contribution to AYD

Fr. Garganta also talked about the contribution that the Philippine young people will be brining to the AYD.  He talked about the warmth and friendship of the Filipino people, particularly visible in their smiles, and their strong faith.  They would also display the “multi-culturality” of the Philippines, where there are minority and tribal groups and followers of other faiths, “but still people are able to blend well.”

Message

The executive secretary of the Philippine Episcopal Commission on Youth ‎sent a message to Filipinos abroad assuring them that despite numerous challenges and struggles, as in many countries, the faith of the Philippine people was leading them to hope  and to continue working for peace. The Church regards the young not merely as hope for the future but much more for the present.  Fr. Garganta urged the country, the Church and the government, also of other countries, to “really invest in the young people” , because they provide “new perspectives in ways of looking at life…” which promote solidarity, unity, friendship, and understanding.  

(from Vatican Radio)

U.S. Bishops Chairman Appeals to Members of U.S. Senate to Work Together to Remedy Health Care to Serve the Common Good

WASHINGTON—In light of today's Senate Republican vote to address the healthcare law, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, is appealing to Senators on both sides to work together in the days ahead to advance changes that will serve the common good of all. 

Bishop Dewane's full statement follows:

"In the wake of a procedural vote today that opens debate on the amendment process to reform the Affordable Care Act, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) calls on members from both political parties to work together to advance changes that serve the common good. The health care reform proposals currently under consideration would harm millions of struggling Americans by leaving too many at risk of losing adequate health coverage and continue to exclude too many people, including immigrants. We are grateful for the efforts to include protections for the unborn, however, any final bill must include full Hyde Amendment provisions and add much-needed conscience protections. The current proposals are simply unacceptable as written, and any attempts to repeal the ACA without a concurrent replacement is also unacceptable.

As was made clear in the USCCB's letter of July 20, there is much work to be done to remedy the ACA's shortcomings. We call on the Senate to make changes in all of the areas mentioned above. In addition, current and impending barriers to access and affordability under the ACA must be removed, particularly for those most in need. Such changes can be made with narrower reforms that do not jeopardize the access to health care that millions currently receive."

Link to July 20 letter: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/letter-to-senate-on-affortable-care-act-2017-07-20.cfm

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Affordable Care Act (ACA), Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), procedural vote, Hyde Amendment, conscience rights, access, affordability, common good.

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Vatican on migration: an opportunity for development

(Vatican Radio) The integration of migrants and refugees in host nations can and must become an opportunity for new understanding, broader horizons and greater development for everyone.

This message was at the heart of a statement released on Monday by Father Michael Czerny at the UN in New York during an Informal Thematic Session in New York  to gather substantive input and recommendations to inform the Global Compact on Migration

Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:

Father. Michael Czerny, who is the Undersecretary of the Section for Migrants and Refugees in the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development – which answers directly to  Pope Francis himself - focused his intervention on the need to promote a culture in which the consequences and impacts of migration become an opportunity for “human growth, encounter and dialogue in view of the promotion of peace and fraternity among peoples.”   

Pointing out that no one should ever be forced to leave his or her home due to lack of development or peace and that tragically the reasons that compel millions to go on the move today are to be found in endemic poverty, hunger, violence, inadequate work, environmental degradation, weak and corrupt institutions, Fr Czerny said that whether the effects of migration become a gain - for them, their families, their countries of destination and hopefully one day perhaps their countries of origin - depends on the extent to which  they are welcomed, protected, promoted and integrated.

That gain - he continued – hinges “on whether migrants and refugees are helped to transition from objects of emergency care to dignified subjects of their own development” and are permitted to use the education, skills, ambitions, experiences and cultural wisdom they already have, as well as those that could be enhanced through further schooling and training for the development of society.

For this desired win-win to occur, he concluded, migrants must first be received and treated as human beings, with dignity and respect for their rights, and they must be protected against all forms of exploitation and from being permanently cast-away, whether socially, economically or legally.

 

(from Vatican Radio)

USCCB Chairman Mourns for Migrants Involved in Texas Tragedy

WASHINGTON—Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Migration, has issued the following statement on San Antonio law enforcement's identification of a tractor trailer containing 39 people, including ten individuals who died due to heat exposure and asphyxiation.

Full statement follows:

My brother bishops and I are heartbroken by the news coming from San Antonio regarding individuals found dead in a crowded and overheated tractor trailer. I also note our continued concern and prayers for the several other individuals identified, including school-aged children, who are reported to have life-threatening injuries. The loss of lives is tragic and avoidable. We condemn this terrible human exploitation that occurred and continues to happen in our country. In a moment such as this, we reflect upon the words of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, "The defense of human beings knows no barriers: we are all united wanting to ensure a dignified life for every man, woman and child who is forced to abandon his or her own land."

We together mourn for the lives lost and offer our prayers for these individuals and their families.

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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Committee on Migration, Bishop Joe S. Vasquez, Committee on Migration, migrants, tragedy, exploitation, Pope Francis, human life, dignity

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Angelus: Pope appeals for dialogue after Jerusalem violence

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has appealed for moderation and dialogue after a surge of violence and killings over Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

Addressing the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus, the Pope said he is following “with trepidation the grave tensions and violence of the last days in Jerusalem.”

Last week Arab gunmen, shooting from the site – which is Holy to Jews and to Muslims -  killed two Israeli policemen sparking a wave of violence in which three Palestinians were killed in street clashes and a Palestinian fatally stabbed three members of an Israeli family.

“I feel the need to express a heartfelt appeal for moderation and dialogue” Francis said and he invited all faithful to join him in prayer so that the Lord may inspire all sides to come together with proposals for reconciliation and peace. 

Tensions over the site, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount, have surged in the past couple of days following the installation by Israel of metal detectors after two Israeli policemen were killed near there earlier this month.

The measures angered the Palestinians, who accuse Israel of trying to take control over a sacred place.

Israel now says it is willing to consider alternatives to the controversial metal detectors it installed and has called on the Muslim world to put forward other suggestions.

 

(from Vatican Radio)

Jewish, Christian and Muslim National Religious Leaders Unite for Israeli-Palestinian Peace

WASHINGTON—In a letter to President Donald J. Trump, thirty-five Jewish, Christian and Muslim national religious leaders agree that Israeli-Palestinian peace is possible. They believe, "based on the legitimate, long-standing aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians for national self-determination and security, a two-state solution still represents the most realistic way to meet essential interests of both peoples and to resolve the conflict."

The letter includes the signatures of Bishop Oscar Cantú, of Las Cruses, Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington.

The statement by Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders points to the fact that, "despite deep distrust on both sides, recent polls among Israelis and Palestinians show that the majority still yearn for two states." The leaders believe, "pursing either side's version of a one-state solution would likely lead to more years of violent conflict."

The leaders are encouraged that, building on years of official and informal negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, "the basic parameters of a framework for a two-state solution are widely known." And they say, "combined with a broader regional framework such as the Arab Peace Initiative, the incentives for all sides to make the historic decision for a two-state peace agreement are monumental."

They believe that "achieving a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians would have substantial positive effects for the people of Israel and Palestine, the region, the United States' own interests, and our world." The religious leaders are united in pledging their "support for US efforts to achieve this goal."

The full letter can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/middle-east/israel-palestine/nili-letter-to-president-on-israel-palestine-2017-07-19.cfm

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Keywords:  U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, President, President Donald J. Trump, religious leaders, Israelis, Palestinians, two-state solution, Bishop Oscar Cantú, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus, Washington, D.C., Arab Peace Initiative, conflict, peace.

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U.S. Bishops Domestic Justice Chairman Exhorts Senate For More Reasonable Approach on Health Care

WASHINGTON—In light of uncertainty about how the Senate will proceed on health care in the coming days, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called on the Senate to fix problems with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in a more narrow way, rather than repeal it without an adequate replacement.

"Before any legislation had been proposed, the bishops were clear that a repeal of key provisions of the Affordable Care Act ought not be undertaken without the concurrent passage of a replacement plan that ensures access to adequate health care for the millions of people who now rely upon it for their wellbeing," wrote Dewane in the July 20 letter to the full Senate. "To end coverage for those who struggle every day without an adequate alternative in place would be devastating."

The Senate has been discussing various approaches for health care reform, including an ACA repeal approach that does not immediately decide upon a replacement plan. "The American Health Care Act legislation from the U.S. House of Representatives and the Better Care Reconciliation Act from the Senate were seriously flawed, and would have harmed those most in need in unacceptable ways. In the face of difficulties passing these proposals, the appropriate response is not to create greater uncertainty, especially for those who can bear it least, by repealing the ACA without a replacement.

Bishop Dewane urged Congress "to address the ACA's moral deficiencies and challenges with long-term sustainability" by "more narrow reforms, and in a bipartisan way." Included in this would be extending full Hyde Amendment protections to the ACA, enacting laws that protect the conscience rights of all stakeholders in health care, protecting religious freedom, and passing legislation that begins to address barriers to access and affordability for the poor. The full letter can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/letter-to-senate-on-affortable-care-act-2017-07-20.cfm

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Affordable Care Act, ACA, Better Care Reconciliation Act, BCRA., U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, health care reform, Hyde Amendment, conscience rights, religious freedom, affordability.

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V Encuentro’s Nuestra Alegría Viral Video Contest Winners Announced

WASHINGTON—The V Encuentro announced the winners of the Nuestra Alegría Viral Video Challenge via social media. Twenty-two groups of young Hispanic/Latino Catholics across the nation submitted entries for the viral video challenge representing 11 of the 14 episcopal regions in the United States and spanning 16 states.

Young people across the nation were invited to create their own movements and gestures to the official youth and young adult song, Nuestra Alegría, for the V Encuentro. This challenge was launched as a means to encourage the participation of young Hispanic Catholics.

The V Encuentro process is a priority activity of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Strategic Plan for 2017-2020. The national event will take place in Grapevine, Texas, September 20-23, 2018.

"Young people are at the heart of the V Encuentro process. It is wonderful to see their creativity and love for Christ and the Church in joyful motion," said Bishop Nelson Pérez, Bishop designate of Cleveland and chair of the USCCB Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs. "I look forward to follow along with the movements as we sing Nuestra Alegria in the diocesan and regional encuentros, and at the National Encuentro."

The V Encuentro is a four-year process of missionary activity, consultation, leadership development, and strengthening unity in the spirit of the New Evangelization. Its goal is to discern the ways in which the Church in the United States can better respond to the Hispanic/Latino presence and strengthen the ways in which Hispanics/Latinos respond to the call to the New Evangelization as missionary disciples serving the Church.

The first-place was awarded to St. Francis Borgia Deaf Center Youth Group in Chicago, whose members used sign language to express the lyrics of the song. As first-place winners they receive $1,000 and the honor of having the movements used in diocesan and regional Encuentros and at the national event.

Second place with a prize of $500 was awarded to Apóstoles De Ágape, St. John Neumann Catholic Church, Miami, Florida; and the third-place prize of $250 was given to River Valley Millenials, Diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas.

Alejandro Aguilera-Titus, V Encuentro National Coordinator affirmed, "We are very grateful to all the groups that submitted their videos. Their joy, enthusiasm and creativity are the young face of the church today. Congratulation to the winners."

Four other groups received honorable mention:

·         Most Joyful: Escuela de Evangelización San Andrés Jóvenes, St. Francis de Sales, Holland, Michigan.
·         Best Use of Technology: Jóvenes de Coronado- Sacred Heart Church, Coronado, California.
·         Best Concept and Creativity: Cristo Joven- Sacred Heart, Washington, D.C.
·         Best Teamwork: Juventus- Saint Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Voting for the Nuestra Alegría Viral Video Challenge took place from July 1-13, 2017 and a panel of judges from across the nation selected the winners after reviewing the videos on their 18 second submissions and evaluating that the movements and gestures reflected the meaning of the song. Catholics across the country also voted for their favorite groups via Facebook. Video submissions were very creative utilizing flags, drones, and banners. Some of the videos included children highlighting the importance of family to contestants.

All participants of the contest will receive a copy of the pocket book of the Gospels in September. Stories about the winners and other groups that participated in the challenge will be featured on the V Encuentro blog and social media accounts.  All video submissions are available at: https://vencuentro.org/na-videos/.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, ENAVE, V Encuentro, Hispanic Catholics, Latino, Bishop Nelson Pérez, Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs, video, Strategic Plan, New Evangelization, Millennials


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House Budget Resolution Places Poor in Jeopardy Says U.S. Bishops Chairman

WASHINGTON—Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development expressed concern over the proposed U.S. House of Representatives budget resolution, which was voted out of Committee late yesterday. 

“The USCCB is closely monitoring the budget and appropriations process in Congress and is analyzing the proposed House budget resolution in more detail. It is clearly noted at the outset that the proposal assumes the harmful and unacceptable cuts to Medicaid from the American Health Care Act. Additionally, steady increases to military spending in the resolution are made possible by cutting critical resources for those in need over time, including potentially from important programs like SNAP that provide essential nutrition to millions of people. The bipartisan approach to discretionary spending in recent years, while imperfect, reflected a more balanced compromise given competing priorities. 

 A nation’s budget is a moral document. Reducing deficits through cuts for human needs—while simultaneously attempting a tax cut, as this proposal does—will place millions of poor and vulnerable people in real jeopardy. Congress should choose a better path, one that honors those struggling in our country.” Previous letters from the USCCB on the federal budget can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/ 

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, U.S. House of Representatives, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, budget resolution, American Health Care Act, Medicaid, military spending, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), military spending, tax cuts, deficit, poor, vulnerable. 

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