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November 20, 2017   •   VOL. 55, NO. 20   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Marriage convalidation
Twenty-one couples celebrate their convalidation ceremony at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Alexandria, Va., June 24. The Catholic Church must strengthen its programs "to respond to the desire for family that emerges in the soul of the young generations" and to help couples once they are married, Pope Francis said Nov. 11 in Rome.
Tyler Orsburn/cns

Nuclear weapons
Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, speaks to the media during a conference on building a world free of nuclear weapons, at the Vatican Nov. 10. The campaign won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. The conference brought together 11 Nobel laureates, top officials from the United Nations and NATO, diplomats from around the world, experts in nuclear weapons and the disarmament process, scholars, activists and representatives of bishops' conferences.

Advocate for justice
More than 1,400 young people fill Columbus Circle in Washington to listen to speakers before moving on to Capitol Hill to advocate for justice Nov. 6. They were part of the nearly 2,000 participants in the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice conference held Nov. 4-5 in Arlington, Va.

Students' survey
WASHINGTON — A survey of more than 4,000 Catholic campus ministers and students at U.S. colleges, commissioned by the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Catholic Education, showed that both the ministers and the students generally like what's happening in their campus ministry setting. At the same time, campus ministers allude to areas that can be improved, while students acknowledge areas in faith and life where they struggle. The survey, conducted by Vinea Research, was done to help identify how to strengthen campus ministry education and formation programs as well as "renew a national vision of campus ministry as a community of faith, evangelization and discipleship," according to Vinea's Hans Plate. "For most faith-related activities, campus ministers feel they are receiving effective formation," the survey results said.

Protecting objectors
WASHINGTON — Rep. Chris Smith, the New Jersey Republican who co-chairs the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, made another push Nov. 8 for passage of the Conscience Protection Act. The measure amends the Public Health Service Act to allow lawsuits from health care providers who believe they have been discriminated against, or lost their jobs, because they refused to participate in abortions. The House version is H.R. 644 and included in the appropriations package that won House passage in September. The Senate bill, S. 301, is identical to the House version.

Friar's sanctity
DETROIT — It's a great excuse for a family reunion: The Caseys are coming to Detroit. More than 300 relatives of Capuchin Franciscan Father Solanus Casey will visit the Motor City from as far away as California and Ireland to see the man many know as "Uncle Barney" come one step closer to sainthood. "I'm looking forward to the beatification, but I'm also looking forward to spending time with relatives I've already met and some I've never met," Barbara LeDoux of Sacramento, said of the Nov. 18 beatification Mass at Ford Field.

Refugees need jobs
WASHINGTON — Refugees need education and jobs just as much as they need food and shelter, according to a new report by Catholic Relief Services and a Nov. 6 panel discussion about it at the National Press Club in Washington. "School is a game changer for refugees" because it gives them a sense of normalcy, said Giulia McPherson, director of advocacy and operations for Jesuit Refugee Service, one of the panelists. She said education is a top priority and noted that refugees are currently five times more likely to be out of school.

Jesuit network anniversary
ARLINGTON, Va. — Twenty years ago, a small group of Jesuits and their friends began gathering in Columbus, Georgia. For a number of years, they had joined others at vigils and protests outside Fort Benning, Georgia, home of what was then called the School of the Americas, which trained soldiers from throughout Latin America. Many of those soldiers were in death squads that spread death and torture among the rebel as well as the civilian population of El Salvador, which was experiencing a civil war in the 1980s and early 1990s. In late 1989, more than a dozen paramilitary soldiers who had trained at the facility in Georgia opened fire at close range on six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her 16-year-old daughter on the grounds of the Salvadoran capital's Jesuit university. The grisly incident moved Jesuits in the U.S. and their friends to action. They wanted the public in the U.S. to know about the incident, but they also wanted to mobilize others to do something about it. In that spirit, what is now known as the annual Ignatian Family Teach-in was born. From a small group that gathered under a tent in Georgia to protest U.S. training of those who terrorized innocent civilians, they now gather under a different kind of tent, a bigger one that accommodates more than 2,000 mostly young adults who descend each November at the convention space of a hotel in a Washington suburb.

Priest resigns
WASHINGTON — After publication of his letter to Pope Francis questioning the pontiff's teachings, Father Thomas Weinandy has resigned from his position as consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Doctrine. The Capuchin Franciscan priest is former executive director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Doctrine and Canonical Affairs, serving in the post from 2005 until 2013. He expressed loyalty to the pope but told him that "a chronic confusion seems to mark your pontificate."

Learn, share rich history
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Sister Roberta Fulton, principal of St. Martin de Porres School in Columbia, gets excited every year about National Black Catholic History Month. She said that during the November celebration, she looks for ways to share how black Catholics have helped make the church what it is today. The principal, a member of the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur of Buffalo, New York, is from Kingstree and noted that as the only black religious sister from the state of South Carolina, she is a living example of what the month is all about. Black Catholic History Month was initiated in 1990 by the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus of the United States. November was chosen because it holds two commemorative dates for prominent African Catholics: St. Augustine of Hippo, whose birthday is Nov. 13; and St. Martin de Porres, whose feast day is Nov. 3.

Sessions for priests
DUBLIN — Irish priests who have been falsely accused of sexually abusing children are being offered group therapy sessions in a bid to improve their mental health. Ireland's Association of Catholic Priests will run its first so-called "Circle of Healing" later in November in Cork, as part of an innovative new move to help innocent churchmen who have been affected by past abuse scandals.

Forgotten Catholics
QUEBEC CITY — Single people are the forgotten members of the Catholic Church, said a Catholic journalist who has developed expertise on this issue over the past 20 years. "There are more and more single people, yet they are almost never mentioned in the church. They are completely forgotten," said Claire Lesegretain, 58, a religion reporter for French Catholic newspaper La Croix. Since she published a book about the reality of single people in the church in 1998, she has constantly been asked to speak on the issue.

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