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Come and join us for Holy Mass and be transformed by God’s grace. Participate, go out “into the deep”— get involved. We are truly blessed to have such a Christ-centered, faith-filled community. We invite you to join us and experience this great gift of God. Learn ways you can get involved at St. John Francis Regis by browsing our site, our bulletin, or our Facebook page. Take advantage of the various links and videos and contemplate anew the splendor of our faith alive in our age.
I invite you to consider becoming a registered member of our parish so you can grow in abundant love of God and neighbor. We look forward to seeing you, and may God richly bless you!
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Washington D.C., Oct 21, 2019 / 02:28 pm (CNA).- Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has released a K-12 education plan that, among other proposals, pledges to quadruple federal funding for schools that serve low-income students, but also would place some limits on charter schools.
The New York Times notes that Vermont Senator and fellow Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders issued a similar proposal to limit charter schools in May.
Charter schools receive public funds but are privately operated. Warren’s plan would end “high-stakes testing”— tests that are used to make important decisions affecting the school — as well as ending federal funding for opening new charter schools and banning for-profit charters.
The New York Times notes that charter schools expanded in popularity and support under the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, but there is evidence that public opinion is turning away from charter schools as a means of facilitating school choice.
The Times reports that Warren and her Democratic rivals are vying for endorsements from teachers’ unions, which generally oppose the expansion of the charter sector.
Sister Dale McDonald, P.B.V.M., director of public policy and educational research at the National Catholic Educational Association, told CNA in March that the NCEA has supported “fair and full choice” or “parental choice” for more than two decades.
The NCEA’s membership includes more than 150,000 educators serving 1.9 million Catholic school students across the U.S.
While the group mainly advocates for Catholic education and schemes such as tax credits to help low-income families send students there, the NCEA has also supported charter schools as a means of providing additional school choice to parents.
In guidelines on school choice published in May 2018, the NCEA stated of charter schools that they “typically provide for a clear, focused mission, a smaller student population that facilitates creation of community, more innovative teaching practices, greater parental and local community involvement, clear educational and fiscal standards and accountability measures and fewer state and local school board bureaucratic regulations.”
A major school choice case regarding tax credits for students who choose religious schools, a scheme that the NCEA supports, is currently pending in the Supreme Court. The court in July agreed to hear a case addressing the question of whether states can deny tax credit programs to parents and children who choose religious private schools.
Rome, Italy, Oct 21, 2019 / 08:50 am (CNA).- In the Roman catacombs Sunday morning, some bishops participating in the Amazon synod signed a pact about how they want to conduct their particular churches in the Amazon region, following the style of a similar Catacombs Pact from during the Second Vatican Council.
The two-page document is called “Pact of the Catacombs for the Common Home,” and says it is “for a Church with an Amazonian face, poor and servant, prophetic and Samaritan.”
Quoting a line from Pope Francis’ homily at the opening of the Amazon synod, it says, “so many of our brothers and sisters in the Amazonia are bearing heavy crosses and awaiting the liberating consolation of the Gospel, the Church’s caress of love. For them, with them, let us journey together.”
It was signed by an estimated 40 bishops after a Mass celebrated with about 250 people in the Catacombs of Domitilla in the south of Rome in the early morning Oct. 20. The Mass’ main celebrant was Cardinal Claudio Hummes, who holds the position of relator, or chairman, of the Amazon synod.
Hummes is the archbishop emeritus of San Paolo, Brazil and the president of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM), a driving force behind the synod.
Crux reported that Emeritus Bishop Erwin Krautler of Xingu, Brazil, was the impetus behind developing the Catacombs Pact during the Amazon synod.
The Oct. 20 declaration was modeled after the Pact of the Catacombs: A Poor Servant Church, an agreement signed by 42 bishops on Nov. 16, 1965, near the close of the Second Vatican Council.
The 11 points of the 1965 Pact of the Catacombs mostly centered on the commitment to avoid wealth and to live “according to the ordinary manner” of their people in regards to food, housing, transportation, and related things, and to renounce symbols of power.
The document, which was later circulated and adopted by about an additional 500 bishops, was likewise signed after a Mass in Rome’s Catacombs of Domitilla.
The signatories of the 1965 “pact” included many Latin American bishops, and is said to have had an influence on the development of “liberation theology,” much of which has been condemned by the Church.
In 1984 and 1986, while prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger issued two instructions, approved by Pope St. John Paul II, denouncing many aspects, tendencies, and conclusions of liberation theology.
The Oct. 20 declaration notes a gratitude for the bishops of the Second Vatican Council who signed the 1965 Pact of the Catacombs for the poor, and says they remember “with veneration” all those “who shed their blood for this option for the poor, for defending life and fighting for the protection of our Common Home.”
They state their decision “to continue their struggle with tenacity and courage” in the midst of a “feeling of urgency that prevails in the face of aggressions that today devastates the Amazon territory, threatened by the violence of a predatory and consumerist economic system.”
Invoking the Holy Spirit, they commit themselves “personally and communally” to 15 points, including the commitment “to abandon... all types of colonist mentality and posture,” instead “welcoming and valuing cultural, ethnic and linguistic diversity in a respectful dialogue with all spiritual traditions.”
The signatories denounce violence against the autonomy and rights of native people and their ways of life and state a commitment to “announce the liberating novelty of the Gospel of Jesus in welcoming the other and the one who is different.”
A commitment was also stated to “walk ecumenically with other Christian communities in the inculturation and liberating proclamation of the Gospel with other religions and people of good will…”
They promise to establish “a synodal lifestyle” in their particular churches, in which representatives of native people, missionaries, and other lay people have a “voice and vote” in everything “that concerns the governance of the communities.”
They commit to recognize and value the work already being done in ecclesial ministries in their communities and to move from “pastoral visits to pastoral presence,” “ensuring the right to the Table of the Word and the Table of the Eucharist…”
The bishops promise, as well, to recognize the service and “real diakonia” of women in the Amazon, and to “consolidate them with an adequate ministry of women leaders in the community.”
Several of the points refer to the protection of our “Common Home,” making the promise to live a simple and “happily sober lifestyle” in the face of consumerism and “extreme global warming and the depletion of natural resources.”
They promise to “defend the Amazon jungle” by cutting down on their production of waste and their use of plastic, and by using public transportation whenever possible.
The bishops who signed the pact call themselves not “the owners of Mother Earth, but rather the sons and daughters,” and commit themselves “to an integral ecology in which all is interconnected, the human race and all creation, because all beings are sons and daughters of the earth and over them the Spirit of God moves (Gen 1:2).”
They declare their commitment to renew the preferential option for the poor in their churches, especially for native peoples, and to help them to “preserve their lands, cultures, languages, stories, identities and spiritualities.”
The signatories also promise to “cultivate true friendships with the poor, visit the simplest people and the sick, exercise the ministry of listening, comfort and support that bring encouragement and renew hope.”
The pact closes by saying they place themselves under the protection of the prayers of the Church, and they request to be helped with the intercession, affection, and “when necessary, with the charity of fraternal correction,” of their ecclesial communities.
Rome, Italy, Oct 21, 2019 / 08:15 am (CNA).- A video uploaded to YouTube on Oct. 21 shows two men taking several wooden figures of a nude pregnant woman from a church near the Vatican and throwing them into the Tiber River.
The figures have been present at several events connected to the Vatican’s Amazon synod, and have been the subject of considerable controversy: some have characterized them as images of the Blessed Virgin Mary, others as the indigenous religious figure “Pachamama,” while Vatican spokesmen have characterized them more vaguely as symbols of “life.”
From the four-minute video it appears the event took place around dawn Oct. 21, when a person holding the video camera appears to enter the Church of Santa Maria in Traspontina. The church is in the immediate area of the Vatican, and has been the location of events at which the controversial carved figure of a woman has been present.
Inside the church, a man is seen entering a side chapel and then leaving with a figure. The two people then exit the church and the video shows them carrying five of the carved images of the woman toward Castel Sant’Angelo. The men throw the figures from the side of the Sant’Angelo bridge into the Tiber River.
No faces are shown and the video was uploaded to YouTube under an anonymous account. As of publication, the video had amassed over 12,000 views.
Video has emerged of two men entering a church near the Vatican and stealing indigenous statues. They then filmed the statues being thrown into the Tiber River. #AmazonSynod #SinodoAmazonico pic.twitter.com/IXx5NgFDZN
— EWTN News (@EWTNews) October 21, 2019
The same YouTube account uploaded a second video of the event Oct. 21. The second video is shorter, of higher video quality, and has been edited with music added.
In the caption beneath the second video, it says the action was taken “for only one reason: Our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ, his blessed Mother, and everybody who follows Christ, are being attacked by members of our own Church. We do not accept this! We do not longer stay silent! We start to act NOW!” [sic]
“Because we love humanity, we can not accept that people of a certain region should not get baptised and therefore are being denied entrance into heaven,” the caption continues. “It is our duty to follow the words of God like our holy Mother did. There is no second way of salvation. Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat!”
Asked about the event at a press conference Oct. 21, Paolo Ruffini, head of Vatican communications, called it a “stunt.”
He said it is difficult to be asked for a Vatican reaction to something that had happened only a short time earlier, adding that “to steal something from a place and, in sum, to throw it away, is a stunt.”
Recalling comments he had made last week that the figure “represents life, fertility, the earth,” Ruffini said Oct. 21 that discarding the statues “is a gesture that seems to me to contradict the spirit of dialogue that should always animate everything.”
“I don’t know what else to say. It was a theft,” Ruffini added.
Fr. Giacomo Costa, a communications official for the Amazon synod, said Oct. 21 the carved figure represents life in the Amazon in the same way a “glass of water” or “parrots” represent life in the region.
Focus on the statues, and the gesture of throwing them into the Tiber river, “doesn’t make sense,” Costa said.
The priest added that “really, however, it is never constructive to steal an object.”
The controversial image was part of a tree-planting ceremony in the Vatican Oct. 4 and an Amazonian Via Crucis Oct. 19. The same figure has been present in the vicinity of the Vatican at various events happening during the synod, under the “Casa Comun” initiative, many of which have taken place at the Church of Santa Maria in Traspontina.
The Synod of Bishops on the Pan-Amazonian region is a meeting on the life and ministry of the Church in the Amazon. It is taking place at the Vatican Oct. 6-27.
A small group of people supporting an alleged Marian visionary in Texas were also present outside the Church of Santa Maria in Traspontina Oct. 21, protesting the Amazon synod. Four people stood outside the church, two of whom held signs with “the synod is heretical” written in English, Italian, and Latin.
The group handed out small slips of paper to passersby with the text: “Christ and Mary have come with new words and warnings The Amazon synod is heretical Do not miss the signs”
Both the signs and the slips of paper pointed people to visit the website of a group supporting an alleged Marian apparition, which supporters call “Our Lady Mystical Rose of Argyle.” The Bishop of Fort Worth, Texas, Michael Olson, said in August the alleged apparitions are not real, and released video evidence of the alleged visionary hiding a rose she later claims to have been manifested by the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Supporters of the alleged apparitions say that Satan is trying to discredit their visions.
The protestors, among them the alleged visionary, were present outside Santa Maria in Traspontina at around 1:00 pm Oct. 21, but by 3:00 pm were no longer seen there.
This story was updated at 8:46 MDT Oct. 21, 2019.
Vatican City, Oct 20, 2019 / 06:30 pm (CNA).- An “Amazonian Stations of the Cross” was prayed outside the Vatican Saturday, organized as part of a set of semi-official events connected to the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops on the Amazon.
Imágenes del Via Crucis Panamazónico #SinodoAmazonico #sinododelaamazonia pic.twitter.com/XVu27S3O8g
— Walter Sánchez Silva (@WSanchezSilva) October 19, 2019
The “Via Crucis Amazonico” Oct. 19 was held as part of the “Casa Comune” project, an initiative promoting more than 115 events hosted by a loose network of groups, connected in varying degrees to the Catholic Church.
Among the organizations involved in the project are an advocacy organization backed by bishops’ conferences in Latin America; two aid and development organizations of the German bishops’ conference; and a Brussels-based confederation of social justice groups.
Algunas imágenes del Via Crucis Panamazónico esta mañana en el Vaticano #SinodoAmazonico #SinododelaAmazonia pic.twitter.com/x3CeO2u2bB
— Walter Sánchez Silva (@WSanchezSilva) October 19, 2019
The Saturday Stations of the Cross were attended by people indigenous to the Amazon region and their supporters, along with religious, priests, and bishops participating in the synod on the Amazon, an Oct. 6-27 Vatican meeting of bishops called to discuss the Church’s pastoral ministry in the Amazon region.
Among the participating bishops were Cardinal Pedro Barreto, Archbishop of Huancayo and vice president of the Ecclesial Network of Panama (REPAM) - the principal organizer of the Casa Comune project, along with Bishop Roque Paloschi , Archbishop of Porto Velho and president of the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) - another one of the organizations sponsoring the Casa Comune initiative.
The Stations of the Cross, like most of the events organized by the Casa Comune project, included both traditional Christian symbols and the use of symbols and images derived from the culture of indigeneous Amazonian groups.
Via Crucis Amazónico este sábado en el Vaticano #SinodoAmazonico #sinododelaamazonia pic.twitter.com/ZsJLBMPXSF
— Walter Sánchez Silva (@WSanchezSilva) October 19, 2019
The Way of the Cross began near the Castel Sant’Angelo, roughly one kilometer from St. Peter’s Square, and concluded outside St. Peter’s Basilica.
Participants carried objects symbolic of Amazonian culture, among them a large canoe, bowls with food, indigenous musical instruments, along with the controversial, and now familiar, image of a naked pregnant woman, which has been described variously as a Marian image, as an indigenous religious symbol of Pachamama, or Mother Easter, or as a symbol of life.
As the stations began, participants placed on the ground the canoe, the image of the woman, and photographs of the “martyrs of the Amazon,” among whom was Saint Oscar Romero, the only one of the persons represented who has been canonized by the Catholic Church.
Via Crucis Panamazónico #SinodoAmazonico #sinododelaamazonia pic.twitter.com/gZEvREObT1
— Walter Sánchez Silva (@WSanchezSilva) October 19, 2019
The other persons identified as “Amazonian martyrs” were Sister Cleusa Coelho, Marçal de Souza, Josimo Morales, Fr. Vicente Cañas, Sister Inés Arango, Galdino Pataxó, Fr. Alcides Jiménez, Sister Dorothy Stang, Msgr. Alejandro Labaka, Fr. Ezequiel Ramín, Father Rodolfo Lunkenbein, Father Simao Bororo and Chico Mendes.
After initial chants, the meaning of the celebration was explained: “Remember the martyrs of the way, the lives given by the Kingdom of life. We also remember our lives, the joys and hopes that brought us here, and the sadness and anguish of our people of Panamazonía and the earth. ”
Then, the smoke of some plants that burned in a bowl was spread among the attendees with a feather.
After this initial ceremony, the “Way of the Cross” itself began with its 14 stations, plus an added 15th station dedicated to the resurrection. A large wooden cross, in which a rosary and photographs of the martyrs were nailed, headed the entourage.
The 14 stations were adapted from the traditional Stations of the Cross, and each station was accompanied by a phrase or theme: "human rights," "the great projects of 'development' in the Amazon Basin," "reconciliation," "encounter," "the cultures of Panamazonía," " a call for all,” “ the destruction of nature,” and others.
At the end of each station, a different person read a brief reflection. Among the messages that were conveted was thatt “Mother Earth weeps for the excessive exploitation that is committed in the 9 countries of the Panamazonía.”
Forgiveness was also requested “for the mistakes made as a Church and as humanity; especially through of the abuses of colonization, the systematic violence to human rights and the ethnocide carried out of so many peoples throughout the continent.”
One reflection warned that "scientists and environmentalists presage darkness and shadows of death for our land if we do not stop the indiscriminate use of resources." Therefore, "the call as Church is to announce the Gospel of Jesus and denounce the abuses that Sister Mother Earth experiences."
Imágenes del Via Crucis Panamazónico realizado hoy en el Vaticano #SinodoAmazonico #sinododelaamazonia pic.twitter.com/dBA6JDGWua
— Walter Sánchez Silva (@WSanchezSilva) October 19, 2019
Upon arriving at St. Peter's Square, while meditating on the final station, some participants lay on the ground, upon the photographs of the so-called martyrs of the Amazon, pretending to be dead. At the end of the 15th station, dedicated to the Resurrection, the people lying on the ground rose, conveying resurrection from the dead, and raising their hands to heaven in thanksgiving.
Finally, one woman’s face was painted with Amazonian signs, and adorned her with a crown of feathers, and then raised overhead in a canoe, amid songs and applause from participants.
A version of this story was first reported by ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Vatican City, Oct 20, 2019 / 04:33 pm (CNA).- A confidential report from the Vatican’s anti-corruption authority shows that the Secretariat of State has used about $725 million, most of which came from the pope’s charity fund, in off-books operations.
Italian weekly L’Espresso published a report Oct. 20, revealing information from three confidential Vatican documents, one of which is a report from the pope’s anti-corruption authority, called the Office of the General Auditor, claiming to have found serious financial crimes and corruption within the Secretariat of State.
The documents, L’Espresso reported, detail the use and management of extra-budgetary funds by the Secretariat of State, “deriving in large part from the donations received by the Holy Father for charitable works and for the sustenance of the Roman Curia.”
At least most of the money was drawn from Peter’s Pence, the annual collection through which Catholics are invited to support the charitable activities of the pope.
L’Espresso reported these funds are being used “in reckless speculative operations,” and that the same report by the General Auditor says about 77% of the assets (about $558 million) were put into Swiss and Italian branches of the investment bank Credit Suisse.
A second confidential document acquired by L’Espresso is the 16-page decree authorizing the Oct. 1 search of the offices of the Secretariat of State and the Financial Intelligence Authority (AIF). The raid was ordered by the Vatican City’s prosecutors, called “promoters of Justice,” and led to the suspension of five Vatican officials and employees.
At the time of the raid, a Vatican statement said documents and devices were taken in connection to an investigation following complaints made last summer by the Institute for Religious Works (IOR)— commonly called the Vatican Bank— and the Office of the Auditor General.
The search decree indicates, according to L’Espresso, that the complaints indicated by the Vatican originated from the general auditor and the director of the IOR, Gian Franco Mammi. In the same document, the prosecutors, Gian Piero Milano and Alessandro Diddi, state that they believe they have found “serious indications of embezzlement, fraud, abuse of office, money laundering and self-money laundering.”
Other reports provide details into the Vatican’s 200 million euro ($223 million) investment purchase of a 17,000 square meter apartment building in London.
L’Espresso said that documents show a connection with Italian financier Raffaele Mincione, who was reportedly first approached and asked to invest 200 million euros, on behalf of the Vatican, in an oil company in Angola.
This was the idea of Cardinal Angelo Becciu, then bishop and second-ranking official of the Secretariat of State, according to L’Espresso. Becciu is a former papal nuncio to Angola.
When this project fell apart, Mincione reportedly proposed instead making the investment in the London property, converting a former Harrod’s warehouse into luxury apartments.
The deal went through with the Vatican purchasing 45% of the property in 2012 through Mincione’s Athena Capital Global fund. When the London real estate market took a downturn, the Vatican, in 2018, pulled out of Mincione’s fund and purchased the remaining 55% of the property.
CNA asked Becciu this week for comments about allegations made in relation to his role in the London real estate transaction; the cardinal has not yet responded.
The London property deal was reportedly signed by Msgr. Alberto Perlasca, at the time an official at the Secretariat of State, in November 2018. The Vatican’s London investment was then given over to a different Italian investor, Gianluigi Torzi.
Those are the investments which IOR director general Gian Franco Mammi supposedly reported to the Vatican prosecutors in 2018, leading to the investigation and this month’s raid on the Secretariat of State and subsequent suspension of five officials and employees.
The L'Espresso report claimed that another person involved in the deal was Fr. Mauro Carlino, once a personal secretary of Cardinal Becciu, who was one of the five employees suspended from the Secretariat of State this month.
Carlino was named head of information and documentation at the Secretariat of State by Pope Francis this summer.
The L’Espresso report was written by Italian journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi, one of five people investigated and charged by the Vatican for the publication of confidential documents in the 2015 scandal referred to as “Vatileaks II.” Fittipaldi and a fellow journalist were later acquitted on the basis of a lack of jurisdiction.
The Secretariat of State is the central governing office of the Catholic Church and the department of the Roman Curia which works most closely with the pope. It is also responsible for the governance of the Vatican City state. The Vatican’s Financial Intelligence Authority oversees suspicious financial transactions, and is charged with ensuring that Vatican banking policies comply with international financial standards.