Browsing News Entries

Faith leaders ask Congress to boost overseas pandemic aid

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tom Brenner, Reuters

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Three dozen faith-based organizations, including Catholic Relief Services, have asked Congress to immediately fund efforts to respond to the coronavirus pandemic around the world.

"If we don't beat COVID-19 everywhere, we can't beat it anywhere," CRS said in a news release publicizing the letter sent July 1.

CRS, the U.S. bishops' overseas relief and development agency, said the faith leaders were seeking $10 billion to $15 billion in aid for the more than 70% of countries the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has described as ill-equipped to handle outbreaks of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

The amount being sought is 0.005% of the $3 trillion Congress authorized in a series of domestic pandemic relief bills since March, CRS said.

Members of Congress continue to discuss another relief package to aid U.S. workers and institutions. In May, the House passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, or HEROES Act. It did not include spending on international aid.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, the Senate majority leader, has said the bill would not be taken up in that chamber. Republicans are undecided on whether to adopt another aid package although talk has emerged in recent weeks that another relief bill was necessary to prevent a deepening of the economic recession the U.S. is experiencing.

The faith leaders' letter said that if the international response is neglected, "we worry that many lives could be at risk."

"A recent report estimated that up to 3 million deaths could occur in these countries without additional humanitarian assistance, and millions more stand on the brink of starvation given the economic upheaval in the world's poorest countries," the letter said.

Among those signing the letter was Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, Illinois, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace. He was joined by leaders of the National Association of Evangelicals, World Vision USA, Food for the Hungry, Sudan Relief Fund and Compassion International, among others.

Vital humanitarian, global health and diplomatic programs from the U.S. can help save lives through prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the illness, and by providing personal protective equipment, the organizations said.

"It is also critical that our country respond to the dire economic, food security, humanitarian and developmental needs heightened by the effects of COVID-19, and to continue ongoing humanitarian operations including treating malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and promoting religious freedom around the world," the letter said.

The leaders also stressed the Christian responsibility to care for people in need.

"At this critical moment, we cannot turn our back on our brothers and sisters around the world," the letter said. "As a nation, we have both the ability and the obligation to provide resources which will prevent the worldwide spread of this disease and alleviate the suffering of those afflicted, and in so doing, we are certain it will also protect us here at home as well."

A poll conduct in April by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition and Morning Consult found that 72% of American voters support assistance to vulnerable people overseas in response to the illness.

The letter was sent as the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. and some countries has spiked in recent weeks, while people have returned to work and businesses have reopened. The worldwide death toll neared 535,000 July 6, with 132,000 deaths in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University.

- - -

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]

Faith leaders ask Congress to boost overseas pandemic aid

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tom Brenner, Reuters

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Three dozen faith-based organizations, including Catholic Relief Services, have asked Congress to immediately fund efforts to respond to the coronavirus pandemic around the world.

"If we don't beat COVID-19 everywhere, we can't beat it anywhere," CRS said in a news release publicizing the letter sent July 1.

CRS, the U.S. bishops' overseas relief and development agency, said the faith leaders were seeking $10 billion to $15 billion in aid for the more than 70% of countries the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has described as ill-equipped to handle outbreaks of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

The amount being sought is 0.005% of the $3 trillion Congress authorized in a series of domestic pandemic relief bills since March, CRS said.

Members of Congress continue to discuss another relief package to aid U.S. workers and institutions. In May, the House passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, or HEROES Act. It did not include spending on international aid.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, the Senate majority leader, has said the bill would not be taken up in that chamber. Republicans are undecided on whether to adopt another aid package although talk has emerged in recent weeks that another relief bill was necessary to prevent a deepening of the economic recession the U.S. is experiencing.

The faith leaders' letter said that if the international response is neglected, "we worry that many lives could be at risk."

"A recent report estimated that up to 3 million deaths could occur in these countries without additional humanitarian assistance, and millions more stand on the brink of starvation given the economic upheaval in the world's poorest countries," the letter said.

Among those signing the letter was Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, Illinois, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace. He was joined by leaders of the National Association of Evangelicals, World Vision USA, Food for the Hungry, Sudan Relief Fund and Compassion International, among others.

Vital humanitarian, global health and diplomatic programs from the U.S. can help save lives through prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the illness, and by providing personal protective equipment, the organizations said.

"It is also critical that our country respond to the dire economic, food security, humanitarian and developmental needs heightened by the effects of COVID-19, and to continue ongoing humanitarian operations including treating malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and promoting religious freedom around the world," the letter said.

The leaders also stressed the Christian responsibility to care for people in need.

"At this critical moment, we cannot turn our back on our brothers and sisters around the world," the letter said. "As a nation, we have both the ability and the obligation to provide resources which will prevent the worldwide spread of this disease and alleviate the suffering of those afflicted, and in so doing, we are certain it will also protect us here at home as well."

A poll conduct in April by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition and Morning Consult found that 72% of American voters support assistance to vulnerable people overseas in response to the illness.

The letter was sent as the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. and some countries has spiked in recent weeks, while people have returned to work and businesses have reopened. The worldwide death toll neared 535,000 July 6, with 132,000 deaths in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University.

- - -

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 cn[email protected]

Soto: 'Strenuous labor' of ending racism shouldn't be 'toppled' by looting

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CNS) -- By defacing and toppling a statue of St. Junipero Serra in Sacramento, protesters may have meant "to draw attention to the sorrowful, angry memories over California's past," but "this act of vandalism does little to build the future," Bishop Jaime Soto said July 5.

The bishop, who heads the Sacramento Diocese, made the comments after the statue on the grounds of the California Capitol in Capitol Park was torn down by a group of demonstrators late July 4.

"There is no question that California's indigenous people endured great suffering during the colonial period and then later faced the horror of government-sanctioned genocide under the nascent state of California," Bishop Soto said. "This legacy is heartbreaking."

However, he continued, "it is also true that while Father Serra worked under this colonial system, he denounced its evils and worked to protect the dignity of native peoples."

"His holiness as a missionary should not be measured by his own failures to stop the exploitation or even his own personal faults," the bishop added.

Bishop Soto's remarks echoed those of Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez in a column he wrote for the July 1 feast day of St. Junipero Serra. The Sacramento bishop also referred to the column, published June 29 in Angelus, the online news platform of the Los Angeles Archdiocese.

"The exploitation of America's first peoples, the destruction of their ancient civilizations, is a historic tragedy," Archbishop Gomez wrote. "Crimes committed against their ancestors continue to shape the lives and futures of native peoples today. Generations have passed and our country still has not done enough to make things right."

"I understand the deep pain being expressed by some native peoples in California. But I also believe Fray Junipero is a saint for our times, the spiritual founder of Los Angeles, a champion of human rights, and this country's first Hispanic saint," the archbishop said, noting that he was "privileged" to concelebrate the Spanish Franciscan's canonization Mass with Pope Francis in 2015 during the pontiff's pastoral visit to Washington.

Known for spreading the Gospel in the New World during the 18th century, the Franciscan priest landed in Mexico, then made his way on foot up the coast of Mexico and to California, where he established a chain of missions that are now the names of well-known cities such as San Diego, San Francisco and Santa Barbara.

He was the first president of the California mission system, and personally founded nine of the state's 21 missions. It is estimated that during his ministry, St. Junipero Serra baptized about 6,000 native people.

In 2015, some people objected to the canonization of the Spaniard, like critics did of his beatification in 1988, because of questions raised about how Father Serra allegedly treated the native peoples of California and about the impact of Spanish colonization on native peoples throughout the Americas.

"Understanding the efforts of Father Serra to bring light into the bitter, bleak darkness of colonial ambition is the difficult task of history," Bishop Soto said in his statement. "So is the present arduous work to chart the future with hope.

"The strenuous labor of overcoming the plague of racism should not be toppled by nocturnal looting," he continued. "Dialogue should not abdicate to vandalism. Nor should these unnerving episodes distract us from the duties of justice and charity upon which a better California can be built."

The Fourth of July weekend, Bishop Soto said, was a reminder to the nation "our common cause is to be a living monument to those words carved into the American soul, 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.'"

"All monuments are imperfect as are our efforts to live up to America's founding ideals," he said. "The primary task is to build up our community, not tear it down."

- - -

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]

Soto: 'Strenuous labor' of ending racism shouldn't be 'toppled' by looting

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CNS) -- By defacing and toppling a statue of St. Junipero Serra in Sacramento, protesters may have meant "to draw attention to the sorrowful, angry memories over California's past," but "this act of vandalism does little to build the future," Bishop Jaime Soto said July 5.

The bishop, who heads the Sacramento Diocese, made the comments after the statue on the grounds of the California Capitol in Capitol Park was torn down by a group of demonstrators late July 4.

"There is no question that California's indigenous people endured great suffering during the colonial period and then later faced the horror of government-sanctioned genocide under the nascent state of California," Bishop Soto said. "This legacy is heartbreaking."

However, he continued, "it is also true that while Father Serra worked under this colonial system, he denounced its evils and worked to protect the dignity of native peoples."

"His holiness as a missionary should not be measured by his own failures to stop the exploitation or even his own personal faults," the bishop added.

Bishop Soto's remarks echoed those of Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez in a column he wrote for the July 1 feast day of St. Junipero Serra. The Sacramento bishop also referred to the column, published June 29 in Angelus, the online news platform of the Los Angeles Archdiocese.

"The exploitation of America's first peoples, the destruction of their ancient civilizations, is a historic tragedy," Archbishop Gomez wrote. "Crimes committed against their ancestors continue to shape the lives and futures of native peoples today. Generations have passed and our country still has not done enough to make things right."

"I understand the deep pain being expressed by some native peoples in California. But I also believe Fray Junipero is a saint for our times, the spiritual founder of Los Angeles, a champion of human rights, and this country's first Hispanic saint," the archbishop said, noting that he was "privileged" to concelebrate the Spanish Franciscan's canonization Mass with Pope Francis in 2015 during the pontiff's pastoral visit to Washington.

Known for spreading the Gospel in the New World during the 18th century, the Franciscan priest landed in Mexico, then made his way on foot up the coast of Mexico and to California, where he established a chain of missions that are now the names of well-known cities such as San Diego, San Francisco and Santa Barbara.

He was the first president of the California mission system, and personally founded nine of the state's 21 missions. It is estimated that during his ministry, St. Junipero Serra baptized about 6,000 native people.

In 2015, some people objected to the canonization of the Spaniard, like critics did of his beatification in 1988, because of questions raised about how Father Serra allegedly treated the native peoples of California and about the impact of Spanish colonization on native peoples throughout the Americas.

"Understanding the efforts of Father Serra to bring light into the bitter, bleak darkness of colonial ambition is the difficult task of history," Bishop Soto said in his statement. "So is the present arduous work to chart the future with hope.

"The strenuous labor of overcoming the plague of racism should not be toppled by nocturnal looting," he continued. "Dialogue should not abdicate to vandalism. Nor should these unnerving episodes distract us from the duties of justice and charity upon which a better California can be built."

The Fourth of July weekend, Bishop Soto said, was a reminder to the nation "our common cause is to be a living monument to those words carved into the American soul, 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.'"

"All monuments are imperfect as are our efforts to live up to America's founding ideals," he said. "The primary task is to build up our community, not tear it down."

- - -

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]

At Angelus, pope backs U.N. resolution calling for global cease-fire

IMAGE: CNS photo/Iliya Pitalev, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis praised the United Nations' adoption of a global cease-fire resolution amid the coronavirus pandemic that has swept the world.

"The request for a global and immediate cease-fire, which would allow that peace and security necessary to provide the needed humanitarian assistance, is commendable," the pope said July 5, after praying the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

"I hope that this decision will be implemented effectively and promptly for the good of the many people who are suffering. May this Security Council resolution become a courageous first step toward a peaceful future," he said.

The resolution, which was first proposed in late March by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, was unanimously passed July 1 by the 15-member Security Council.

According to the U.N., the council "demanded a general and immediate cessation of hostilities in all situations on its agenda" to allow for "the safe, unhindered and sustained delivery of humanitarian assistance."

In his Angelus address, the pope reflected on the Sunday Gospel reading from St. Matthew, in which Jesus thanks God for having hidden the mystery of the kingdom of heaven "from the wise and the learned" and "revealed them to little ones."

Christ's reference of the wise and learned, the pope explained, was said "with a veil of irony" because those who presume to be wise "have a closed heart, very often."

"True wisdom comes also from the heart, it is not only a matter of understanding ideas: True wisdom also enters into the heart. And if you know many things but have a closed heart, you are not wise," the pope said.

The "little ones" to whom God has revealed himself, he added, are those "who confidently open themselves to his word of salvation, who open their heart to the word of salvation, who feel the need for him and expect everything from him; the heart that is open and trustful toward the Lord."

The pope said Jesus placed himself among those "who labor and are burdened" because he, too, is "meek and humble of heart."

In doing so, he explained, Christ does not place himself as "a model for the resigned, nor is he simply a victim, but rather he is the man who lives this condition 'from the heart' in full transparency to the love of the Father, that is, to the Holy Spirit."

"He is the model of the 'poor in spirit' and of all the other 'blesseds' of the Gospel, who do the will of God and bear witness to his kingdom," Pope Francis said.

"The world exalts those who are rich and powerful, no matter by what means, and at times tramples upon the human being and his or her dignity," the pope said. "And we see this every day, the poor who are trampled underfoot. It is a message for the church, called to live works of mercy and to evangelize the poor, to be meek and humble. This is how the Lord wants his church -- that is, us -- to be."

- - -

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

 

- - -

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]

At Angelus, pope backs U.N. resolution calling for global cease-fire

IMAGE: CNS photo/Iliya Pitalev, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis praised the United Nations' adoption of a global cease-fire resolution amid the coronavirus pandemic that has swept the world.

"The request for a global and immediate cease-fire, which would allow that peace and security necessary to provide the needed humanitarian assistance, is commendable," the pope said July 5, after praying the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

"I hope that this decision will be implemented effectively and promptly for the good of the many people who are suffering. May this Security Council resolution become a courageous first step toward a peaceful future," he said.

The resolution, which was first proposed in late March by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, was unanimously passed July 1 by the 15-member Security Council.

According to the U.N., the council "demanded a general and immediate cessation of hostilities in all situations on its agenda" to allow for "the safe, unhindered and sustained delivery of humanitarian assistance."

In his Angelus address, the pope reflected on the Sunday Gospel reading from St. Matthew, in which Jesus thanks God for having hidden the mystery of the kingdom of heaven "from the wise and the learned" and "revealed them to little ones."

Christ's reference of the wise and learned, the pope explained, was said "with a veil of irony" because those who presume to be wise "have a closed heart, very often."

"True wisdom comes also from the heart, it is not only a matter of understanding ideas: True wisdom also enters into the heart. And if you know many things but have a closed heart, you are not wise," the pope said.

The "little ones" to whom God has revealed himself, he added, are those "who confidently open themselves to his word of salvation, who open their heart to the word of salvation, who feel the need for him and expect everything from him; the heart that is open and trustful toward the Lord."

The pope said Jesus placed himself among those "who labor and are burdened" because he, too, is "meek and humble of heart."

In doing so, he explained, Christ does not place himself as "a model for the resigned, nor is he simply a victim, but rather he is the man who lives this condition 'from the heart' in full transparency to the love of the Father, that is, to the Holy Spirit."

"He is the model of the 'poor in spirit' and of all the other 'blesseds' of the Gospel, who do the will of God and bear witness to his kingdom," Pope Francis said.

"The world exalts those who are rich and powerful, no matter by what means, and at times tramples upon the human being and his or her dignity," the pope said. "And we see this every day, the poor who are trampled underfoot. It is a message for the church, called to live works of mercy and to evangelize the poor, to be meek and humble. This is how the Lord wants his church -- that is, us -- to be."

- - -

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

 

- - -

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]

John Feister of Glenmary Challenge wins St. Francis de Sales Award

IMAGE: CNS photo/Cassie Magnotta, courtesy John Feister

By Chaz Muth

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- John Feister, assistant editor of Glenmary Challenge, is the recipient of the 2020 St. Francis de Sales Award from the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada.

The award -- named for the patron saint of writers and journalists -- recognizes "outstanding contributions to Catholic journalism" and is the highest honor given by the CPA.

The announcement was made July 2, via a pre-recorded video released as a premiere on social media during the 2020 Catholic Media Conference, which was held virtually using digital technology due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's an honor to receive this prestigious award," Feister said in his video acceptance message.

He spent much of the message thanking family, friends and colleagues who had supported him over the decades in his craft in print, broadcast and digital media.

"In a media environment where ongoing change becomes our new normal, there is someone who has for more than a quarter century led the charge to make the media organizations he has worked with better and has collaborated with and shown his colleagues in the Catholic press ways forward," said Mark Lombard, the 2019 winner of the St. Francis de Sales Award, in his nomination of Feister.

"From his work as editor of both St. Anthony Messenger magazine and the 200,000+ circulation Catholic Update newsletter, founding AmericanCatholic.org, and guiding audiobook and online efforts including 'Saint of the Day' at Franciscan Media and leading online video efforts at Glenmary Home Missioners, co-authoring seven books and launching American Catholic Radio," Lombard said, "John Feister has demonstrated his commitment to effectively reach and faithfully impact Catholics throughout the world."

Feister was one of four finalists for the 2020 St. Francis de Sales Award, often nicknamed the Franny.

The other three finalists were Michael F. Flach of the Arlington Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia; George Matysek Jr. of Catholic Review Media in the Baltimore Archdiocese; and Garry O'Sullivan of The Irish Catholic.

Though Feister expressed his gratitude for receiving the award, he said his achievements were not solely dependent on him.

"It is the people you work with who make your career," Feister said. "Along with loving family, they make you who you are. Yes, you have to cooperate, you have to shine, you have to pour your heart and mind into anything you expect to be excellent. But, we all share the award."

- - -

Follow Muth on Twitter: @chazmaniandevyl

 

- - -

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]

John Feister of Glenmary Challenge wins St. Francis de Sales Award

IMAGE: CNS photo/Cassie Magnotta, courtesy John Feister

By Chaz Muth

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- John Feister, assistant editor of Glenmary Challenge, is the recipient of the 2020 St. Francis de Sales Award from the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada.

The award -- named for the patron saint of writers and journalists -- recognizes "outstanding contributions to Catholic journalism" and is the highest honor given by the CPA.

The announcement was made July 2, via a pre-recorded video released as a premiere on social media during the 2020 Catholic Media Conference, which was held virtually using digital technology due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's an honor to receive this prestigious award," Feister said in his video acceptance message.

He spent much of the message thanking family, friends and colleagues who had supported him over the decades in his craft in print, broadcast and digital media.

"In a media environment where ongoing change becomes our new normal, there is someone who has for more than a quarter century led the charge to make the media organizations he has worked with better and has collaborated with and shown his colleagues in the Catholic press ways forward," said Mark Lombard, the 2019 winner of the St. Francis de Sales Award, in his nomination of Feister.

"From his work as editor of both St. Anthony Messenger magazine and the 200,000+ circulation Catholic Update newsletter, founding AmericanCatholic.org, and guiding audiobook and online efforts including 'Saint of the Day' at Franciscan Media and leading online video efforts at Glenmary Home Missioners, co-authoring seven books and launching American Catholic Radio," Lombard said, "John Feister has demonstrated his commitment to effectively reach and faithfully impact Catholics throughout the world."

Feister was one of four finalists for the 2020 St. Francis de Sales Award, often nicknamed the Franny.

The other three finalists were Michael F. Flach of the Arlington Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia; George Matysek Jr. of Catholic Review Media in the Baltimore Archdiocese; and Garry O'Sullivan of The Irish Catholic.

Though Feister expressed his gratitude for receiving the award, he said his achievements were not solely dependent on him.

"It is the people you work with who make your career," Feister said. "Along with loving family, they make you who you are. Yes, you have to cooperate, you have to shine, you have to pour your heart and mind into anything you expect to be excellent. But, we all share the award."

- - -

Follow Muth on Twitter: @chazmaniandevyl

 

- - -

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]

Archives reveal abuse allegations against founder of Schonstatt movement

IMAGE: CNS photo/KNA

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Documents uncovered from the recently opened archives of the pontificate of Pope Pius XII revealed allegations of sexual abuse and abuse of power against the founder of the Schonstatt movement, Father Joseph Kentenich.

Reports of the apostolic visitation made in the early 1950s written by Dutch Jesuit Father Sebastiaan Tromp were made known by German scholar Alexandra von Teuffenbach July 2 after she wrote a letter regarding her discovery to German newspaper Die Tagespost and Italian journalist Sandro Magister.

Von Teuffenbach, a former professor of church history at Rome's Pontifical Regina Apostolorum University, said the testimonies, letters and conversations Father Tromp had with members of the Schonstatt Sisters of Mary, as well as Father Kentenich, revealed "a situation of complete subjugation of the nuns, concealed in a certain way by a sort of family structure applied to the work."

"Kentenich was the 'father,' the founder with absolute power, often equated with God," von Teuffenbach wrote to Magister. "So much so that in many expressions and prayers it is not clear whether these are addressed to God the Father or to the founder himself."

The behavior of the founder of Schonstatt, she added, is "a striking example of what Pope Francis probably means when he speaks of clericalism, with the father and founder of the work who sets himself up as the proprietor of the nuns, in soul and body."

She also praised Father Tromp, as well as the Roman Curia under Pope Pius XII, noting that that the documents revealed an "assiduous and meticulous search for the truth" during the investigation.

The Schonstatt movement was founded in Germany in 1914 by Father Kentenich as a way "to help renew the church and society in the spirit of the Gospel" and is present in over 100 countries around the world, the movement's website states. It includes priests, nuns and lay members.

The process of beatification of Father Kentenich was opened seven years after his 1968 death.

The day before Die Tagespost's article regarding von Teuffenbach's findings were published, Father Juan Pablo Catoggio, superior of the Schonstatt movement, released a statement acknowledging Father Tromp's visitation in 1950 and the accusations against Father Kentenich, "which led to the 14-year long exile of the founder" to Wisconsin.

However, Father Catoggio said, "these issues were discussed and clarified during the process of beatification opened in 1975" and that all documents regarding the allegations were "made available to the competent church authorities."

"If doubt regarding the moral integrity of the Schonstatt founder would have remained, his exile would not have finished and the Vatican would have not published a 'nihil obstat' ('no objection') to open his process of beatification," he said.

Speaking by phone with Catholic News Service July 2, von Teuffenbach said she decided to make Father Tromp's findings known in the hope "that the truth will be told."

"We have in the Gospel that verse that says, 'the truth will set us free,'" she said.

Von Teuffenbach told CNS that her intention in making the details of the visitation known was not meant to "hurt Schonstatt, because they do many good things."

"I hope that this does not do damage for Schonstatt, but rather a path so that Schonstatt can have a new beginning, not by venerating a person of this kind, but by doing positive things," she said.

Nevertheless, she said, the revelation of allegations against Father Kentenich by a Vatican-appointed visitor should mean that "it is not possible to beatify a person who, more than just sexual abuse, committed abuse of power."

"There must be a necessary process because it cannot continue this way," von Teuffenbach told CNS. "What they (Schonstatt) have done is create a veneration based on a lie, on a falsehood. And I do not like this. It cannot work" this way.

- - -

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

 

- - -

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]

Archives reveal abuse allegations against founder of Schonstatt movement

IMAGE: CNS photo/KNA

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Documents uncovered from the recently opened archives of the pontificate of Pope Pius XII revealed allegations of sexual abuse and abuse of power against the founder of the Schonstatt movement, Father Joseph Kentenich.

Reports of the apostolic visitation made in the early 1950s written by Dutch Jesuit Father Sebastiaan Tromp were made known by German scholar Alexandra von Teuffenbach July 2 after she wrote a letter regarding her discovery to German newspaper Die Tagespost and Italian journalist Sandro Magister.

Von Teuffenbach, a former professor of church history at Rome's Pontifical Regina Apostolorum University, said the testimonies, letters and conversations Father Tromp had with members of the Schonstatt Sisters of Mary, as well as Father Kentenich, revealed "a situation of complete subjugation of the nuns, concealed in a certain way by a sort of family structure applied to the work."

"Kentenich was the 'father,' the founder with absolute power, often equated with God," von Teuffenbach wrote to Magister. "So much so that in many expressions and prayers it is not clear whether these are addressed to God the Father or to the founder himself."

The behavior of the founder of Schonstatt, she added, is "a striking example of what Pope Francis probably means when he speaks of clericalism, with the father and founder of the work who sets himself up as the proprietor of the nuns, in soul and body."

She also praised Father Tromp, as well as the Roman Curia under Pope Pius XII, noting that that the documents revealed an "assiduous and meticulous search for the truth" during the investigation.

The Schonstatt movement was founded in Germany in 1914 by Father Kentenich as a way "to help renew the church and society in the spirit of the Gospel" and is present in over 100 countries around the world, the movement's website states. It includes priests, nuns and lay members.

The process of beatification of Father Kentenich was opened seven years after his 1968 death.

The day before Die Tagespost's article regarding von Teuffenbach's findings were published, Father Juan Pablo Catoggio, superior of the Schonstatt movement, released a statement acknowledging Father Tromp's visitation in 1950 and the accusations against Father Kentenich, "which led to the 14-year long exile of the founder" to Wisconsin.

However, Father Catoggio said, "these issues were discussed and clarified during the process of beatification opened in 1975" and that all documents regarding the allegations were "made available to the competent church authorities."

"If doubt regarding the moral integrity of the Schonstatt founder would have remained, his exile would not have finished and the Vatican would have not published a 'nihil obstat' ('no objection') to open his process of beatification," he said.

Speaking by phone with Catholic News Service July 2, von Teuffenbach said she decided to make Father Tromp's findings known in the hope "that the truth will be told."

"We have in the Gospel that verse that says, 'the truth will set us free,'" she said.

Von Teuffenbach told CNS that her intention in making the details of the visitation known was not meant to "hurt Schonstatt, because they do many good things."

"I hope that this does not do damage for Schonstatt, but rather a path so that Schonstatt can have a new beginning, not by venerating a person of this kind, but by doing positive things," she said.

Nevertheless, she said, the revelation of allegations against Father Kentenich by a Vatican-appointed visitor should mean that "it is not possible to beatify a person who, more than just sexual abuse, committed abuse of power."

"There must be a necessary process because it cannot continue this way," von Teuffenbach told CNS. "What they (Schonstatt) have done is create a veneration based on a lie, on a falsehood. And I do not like this. It cannot work" this way.

- - -

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

 

- - -

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]