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Kansas ministry brings Adoration Under the Stars

Wichita, Kan., Jul 13, 2018 / 03:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A Kansas-based ministry led more than a thousand people in Eucharistic adoration last week, allowing Catholics and non-Catholics to worship the Creator among the stars.

Wichita Adore Ministries hosted “Adoration Under the Stars” July 5 at the cemetery outside St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Ost, fewer than 30 miles northwest of Wichita.

Jesse Elpers, president of WAM, said the event is a simple yet profound encounter with God.

The event ties “together the creation of God with he who created it on an altar in the middle of nowhere underneath a starlit sky,” he told CNA. “[It] has a beautiful simplicity to it.”

“If nothing else, in such a serene place like that, just to be face to face with your Lord … it’s a beautiful thing.”

An estimated 1,300 people, including 24 priests, attended the event, which also included confession and music.

Elpers said confession is one of the most important aspects of the event. More than 500 people received absolution at the event last year.

Father Dan Duling, pastor of St Joseph's, has been at the church for the past two years. The event is important, he said, because it teaches young people the value of adoration and emphasizes the glory of God in all creation.

It’s “teaching our young people about adoration and giving them an environment [in which] they can pray and adore Jesus,” he told CNA. “I think the important thing for the people is knowing God’s presence out there in his creation and everything around us.”

The event began six years ago with just over 60 attendees and was one of the first ministries of WAM. The organization is a non-profit solely run on volunteer time.

Last year, WAM handled more than 100 events, including parish adoration and diocesan conferences. The company will also lend out production equipment to parishes to put together adoration events themselves.

Elpers said the non-profit’s mission is to lead people to encounter Christ, promoting conversion and personal engagement with the loving creator.    

“The ultimate goal of every effort we do, both in adoration events and in the production ministry, is to give each soul a chance at an encounter with Christ” he said, using adoration to bring people “face to face with the heart of the one who made [them], the heart of the one who longs for them.”

Catholic Charities Hawai'i to build housing for low-income seniors

Honolulu, Hawaii, Jul 13, 2018 / 12:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Catholic Charities Housing Development Corporation (CCHDC) recently purchased several acres of land in Kahului on the island of Maui in order to build a rental housing complex for low-income senior citizens.

They closed the deal with Alexander and Baldwin, a Hawaiian real estate company, June 27. Catholic Charities Hawai'i received 3.86 acres, but no other terms were revealed.

“We are pleased to have played a role in helping Catholic Charities Hawaii to bring more affordable housing to Maui, in particular for Maui’s seniors, who are very important to A&B,” said A&B chief real estate officer Lance Parker, as quoted in a July 10 Maui News article. “We are confident that Catholic Charities understands the needs of this special group and will provide housing that they all can truly call home.”

Called the “Kahului Lani senior affordable rental project,” the complex will have over 160 units accompanied by 260 parking stalls. The first of two building phases, it will be funded by low- income housing state and federal tax credits and a multi-family bond.

The second phase includes an 83-unit, six story complex, along with a two-story multipurpose building for Catholic Charities management offices. Construction will begin at the end of this year, and it is projected to be completed in 2020. Costs will total nearly $48 million.

Seniors ages 55 and up who “earn 60 percent or less of the county’s area median income,” according to a July 9 Pacific Business News article, are eligible to stay in the complex. The project will provide “an affordable permanent living option, offering complementary amenities” for seniors, said the Maui News.

“We are excited that this land purchase will allow us to move ahead in the development of this important facility,” CCHDC President Rick Stack said in a statement.

In India, nun accuses bishop of rape

New Delhi, India, Jul 12, 2018 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- Authorities are investigating Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar after a Kerala nun accused him of raping her in 2014 and sexually abusing her on multiple occasions over two years—but the bishop strenuously denies the claims and charges that the nun is accusing him to avoid disciplinary action.
 
Bishop Mulakkal, 54, heads a Roman Catholic diocese in the northern India state of Punjab. He oversees the alleged victim’s Missionaries of Jesus religious congregation.
 
The congregation is based in Jalandhar but has a convent in the Diocese of Palai, in Kerala State.
 
The nun has said the rape took place during the bishop’s May 2014 visit to the convent in Kerala. In a 72-page complaint to police, filed June 29, she alleged that the bishop sexually abused her over a dozen times over two years.
 
For his part, Bishop Mulakkal has claimed the allegations were made in retaliation against him because he has acted against the nun’s sexual misconduct, the bishop told UCA News. He said the nun was alleged to be having an affair with the husband of her cousin.
 
“She threatened to quit the order,” the bishop said, claiming that the nun sought a dispensation so that she could marry.
 
However, she “withdrew the application and continued to threaten me with sex allegations,” the bishop said, in a UCA News report published July 2.
 
Bishop Mlakkal claimed that when he took action against the nun, her brother threatened to kill him.
 
Father Peter Kavumkal, the vicar-general of the Jalandhar diocese, told UCA News that the nun’s congregation had planned to dismiss her July 2.
 
“It is all planned and timed to blackmail the bishop from taking punitive action against her,” the priest charged, claiming that the diocese went to police first.
 
Fr. Kavumkal filed a June 22 complaint in both Punjab and Kerala, charging blackmail and threatening the life of the bishop.
 
The case has prompted various media reports and rumors, with the Times of India reporting that a prime witness for the bishop’s complaint has told the investigating officials that the bishop intimidated him into writing the threatening letter. There are conflicting reports about whether the bishop will be interrogated soon, and some reports indicate the nun has submitted to authorities text messages from the bishop as evidence.
 
The International Business Times of India makes other claims against the bishop, reporting that other nuns have said the bishop encouraged them to file false charges against his accuser, that there are allegations of sexual abuse from several nuns, and that the bishop sent indecent messages to his accuser and others. However, the newspaper did not provide a source for those allegations.
 
A police official said the nun was standing by her accusations and would be subjected to medical tests to determine whether she had been sexually assaulted.
 
Pope Benedict XVI had named Bishop Mulakkal to become Auxiliary Bishop of Delhi in 2009. In June 2013, Pope Francis appointed him Bishop of Jullundur. Fewer than one percent of the diocese’s approximately 19.3 million people are Catholic, the website Catholic Hierarchy says.
 
The nun is part of the Kerala-based Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, an Eastern Catholic Church in union with Rome.
 
The case also could involve Cardinal George Alencherry, who is both head of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly
 
A lay group in the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, called the Movement for Transparency, has filed a police complaint charging that Cardinal George Alencherry received the nun’s complaint six months ago but failed to report it to the police.
 
That claim follows other accusations against the cardinal.
 
In November 2017 the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly’s canonical presbyteral council publicly accused Cardinal Alencherry of involvement of dubious land deals. The council’s representatives charged that the cardinal, two senior priests and a real estate agent sold land at undervalued prices, for a loss of $10 million. They accused the cardinal of bypassing the canonical body’s authority.
 
In June the Vatican bypassed the Syro-Malabar Church’s synod and suspended the administrative powers of the archdiocese’s two auxiliary bishops, all archdiocesan offices, and the archdiocesan council. A Vatican letter said Cardinal Alencherry "should absolutely not be involved" in any decisions, UCA News reports.
 
It tasked the new administrator with auditing the archdiocese through an independent agency and sending the results to the Vatican confidentially. The new administrator must also determine the responsibility of those “who have wounded church unity with unfounded allegations, lacking the spirit of obedience and ecclesial sense.”
 
Pope Francis appointed Bishop Jacob Manathodath of Palghat as the archdiocese’s apostolic administrator.

House committee moves to protect religious adoption agencies

Washington D.C., Jul 12, 2018 / 04:45 pm (CNA).- The House Appropriations Committee moved to protect the conscience rights and religious freedom of faith-based adoption agencies on Wednesday.

The committee adopted an amendment to an upcoming funding bill that would preserve federal funding for agencies who do not want to place children with same-sex couples.

The amendment was introduced by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL). In a statement published on his website, Aderholt said that the opioid epidemic has caused the number of foster care cases to “skyrocket,” and that religious charities are needed to assist with this crisis.

However, “several states and localities across the country are not allowing religious organizations, such as Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian services, to operate child welfare agencies,” due to their refusal to place children with same-sex couples, in accord with their religious beliefs.

Alderholt said this amendment will aim to prevent religious discrimination against those agencies. The amendment mandates that the Department of Health and Human Services withhold 15 percent of federal funds for child welfare services in states that do not allow religiously-based child welfare agencies to operate in accordance with their beliefs.

Faith-based agencies in several states have had to shut down their adoption divisions because they did not want to violate their religious beliefs.

Catholic Charities of the Boston archdiocese ceased handling adoptions in Massachusetts in 2006, a little less than two years after the state legalized same-sex marriage. Catholic Charities in California followed suit later that year. In 2011, Catholic Charities of Illinois also stopped handling adoption cases.

In Illinois, about 2,000 children were displaced when Catholic Charities shut down, forcing other agencies to take on their cases.

The city of Philadelphia is being sued by several foster mothers after it stopped working with Catholic Social Services to place foster children. While Catholic Social Services would not place children with a same-sex couple, no same-sex couple ever made a complaint about the agency before its relationship with the city was severed.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) accused Republicans of pushing a “bigoted, anti-LGBTQ agenda” that could result in children being without homes.

In a statement released July 11, she pledged to fight the “disgusting, deeply immoral and profoundly offensive effort,” and said there was “no place for bigotry.”

This, says Heritage Foundation Research Assistant Melanie Israel, is falsehood.

"The other side is falsely saying that this prevents LGBT couples from adopting. That's not true," said Israel. "They are still welcome to foster and adopt from a plethora of agencies, in particular the state-run agencies, and even some faith-based agencies. Not all faith-based agencies take issue with placing children outside of a home with a married mom and dad."

Faith-based agencies can play a supportive role for a child’s birth-mother as well, said Israel. These women, and families that are seeking to foster and adopt, “deserve the chance to be able to work with an agency that’s going to share their faith, and their values.”

“For many birth-moms, the decision to give a child up for adoption, it's a very loving decision, it's a very brave decision, but it's also very scary,” she told CNA.

A faith-based agency could provide assistance to her spiritual needs in addition to anything else that would arise during the adoption process, and could provide assurance that the child would go to a family with a similar set of values, Israel added.

 

France vs. Croatia: A Catholic World Cup breakdown

Denver, Colo., Jul 12, 2018 / 03:49 pm (CNA).- On Sunday, France and Croatia will square off on the soccer pitch for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Championship. While most U.S. Catholics are only casual soccer fans, many will join more than 3 billion people around the world who are expected to watch the game.

What team will U.S. Catholics root for as two historically Catholic countries face off?

If you’re still undecided, perhaps a comparison of the Catholic life, history, and culture of France and Croatia would be helpful:

Catholic roots

Croatia:

During the time Jesus lived in Palestine, Croatia, along with the rest of the Balkan Peninsula, was a part of the Roman Empire- most of it a part of the Roman province of Dalmatia.

Located along the Adriatic Sea, Dalmatia, which was also sometimes referred to as Illyricum, an older Greek name, was home to Roman subjects and their religions from across the Empire. At the time Jesus lived, there was a Jewish population in the region. Some members of the Jewish community became Christians during the earliest periods of Christian evangelization.

Scripture records that Titus, a disciple of St. Paul, travelled to Dalmatia, and he might have died there. The region is mentioned in St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy.

Some old traditions hold that St. Paul might have gone to Dalmatia too, since he wrote in the Letter to the Romans about visiting “Illyricum,” but he probably was referring to a part of Greece close to modern-day Albania.

The Croatian people, who migrated to the Dalmatian region in the 6th century, probably followed tribal religions until natives to the region, along with Byzantine and Benedictine missionaries, some from France, converted them to Catholicism. By the 9th century, Croats could be considered a Christian people, and, by the end of that century, Croatian nobility had begun pledging their allegiance to the pope.

France:

France is often referred to as the “eldest daughter of the Church,” because of the long and faithful history of the Catholic Church there.

There are many early legends that connect France and New Testament figures. One such legend says that Lazarus, Mary, and Martha were exiled from Israel and travelled by boat to France’s Mediterranean coast. Still another says that Lazarus was the first bishop of Marseille, and that he is buried in Burgundy. Some such legends say that Mary Magdalene is the sister of Lazarus and she made the trip, and then lived for 40 years in a cave in Provence -- France’s famous madeleine cookies are sometimes said to be named for Mary Magdalene.

The earliest non-legendary record of the Church in France begins in the 2nd century, when 48 Catholics, included the Bishop of Lugdunum, were martyred in Lyon, which was then part of the Roman province of Gaul.

Most French people consider King Clovis I to be the founder of France. Clovis converted from paganism, and was baptized on Christmas Day in 496 by Saint Remy. Clovis’ baptism is considered to be the foundational moment of western Christendom.

The point:

Croatia is mentioned in the Bible. While France is the Church’s eldest daughter, any place mentioned in Scripture has a strong claim on ancient Christian roots. This point goes to Croatia.

Saints

Croatia:

Croatia’s patron saint is St. Joseph. You can’t do much better than that. Unless your patron saint is the Blessed Virgin Mary. France’s patron saint is the Blessed Virgin Mary, in addition to several other saints.

St. Jerome was born in the region of Dalmatia. So was St. Marko Krizin, a priest of the Counter-reformation, and St Leopold Mandic, a pious Capuchin missionary. St. Nicholas Tavelic was a Croatian Franciscan, who was martyred in 1391 in Jerusalem after refusing to convert to Islam, along with 3 Franciscan companions.

In 2003, Pope St. John Paul II dedicated a church to the Croatian martyrs, soldiers who were slaughtered by invading Ottoman forces in the 15th century. Hundreds of thousands of other Croats have faced martyrdom and persecution, and died holy deaths in discipleship of Jesus Christ.

France:

St. Joan of Arc. St. John Vianney. St. Therese of Lisieux. St. Remy. St. Denis. St. Peter Faber. St. Isaac Jogues. St. Louis IX of France. St. Vincent de Paul. I’m really just getting warmed up. This category is going to France.

The point:

In its long history, Croatia has presumably given the Church many holy men and women, but many of them remain unknown. Over the centuries, the holy people of central European countries have not gained as much attention as those from western Europe. This is unfortunate. But France has a lot of saints. A lot. France gets the point.

Cathedrals

Croatia:

The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is stunning. Beautiful. A gothic-style cathedral built in the 1200s, and restored in the 1880s. There are barricades around the cathedral that were built in the 1400s to hold back Ottoman invaders. Those same barricades held back the Ottomans in another invasion attempt 200 years later. Zagreb’s cathedral has also survived an earthquake. It’s a gem for the entire Church.

France:

The cathedral at Chartres is considered to be the highpoint of Gothic art and architecture. Its stained glass is world famous. It has been imitated around the world. Built in the late twelfth century, it has been restored several times. During World War II, an American colonel snuck behind German lines to ensure it was not being occupied by the Germans. His heroism ensured that the building was not bombed by the Allies.

The point:

Chartres is famous. Zagreb’s cathedral should be more famous. One is considered the high-point of European architecture. The other held back hordes of Ottoman invaders. People hate that soccer has ties, but this is a soccer story, and this category is a tie.

 

The Score: Croatia 1, France 1.

So what team will Catholics root for? The Church’s "eldest daughter," or the team whose coach loves the rosary?

Game on.