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Journalist-turned-missionary finds happiness in evangelization

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Aug 21, 2018 / 08:33 pm (ACI Prensa).- Belén Manrique had a promising career in journalism, surrounded by good friends and family. But at age 30, she left her life in Spain behind to become a missionary in Ethiopia.

“I always say that the mission is never boring. It's a thousand times better than what we could imagine. It's a life full of surprises if you put yourself in the Lord's hands,” she told ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish-language sister agency, during a recent visit to Rome.

“I live in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, and my mission is to be a witness to the love of God there where he puts me, to build up the Church because it's very poor there. The Christian community is very weak, and so it is very important to help the people know Jesus Christ,” she explained.

Despite worldly success, “the life I led did not fulfill me,” she said. “The plan God had for me was different, and when I discovered that what he wanted was for me to bring the love of God to people who don't know him, I did not doubt God's call – it wasn't hard for me to leave my job as a journalist or leave Madrid.”

Manrique belongs to the Neocatechumenal Way, an ecclesial movement that focuses on post-baptismal adult formation. She said the movement helped her grow in faith.

“I was able to encounter Jesus Christ and realize that he's the only one who gives happiness to man. I went there where I found the mission the Lord had planned for me.”

Her first destination in Ethiopia was the eastern desert, “where most people are Muslims.”

“I realized it was necessary for the Church to come there to bring the Gospel to those people who don't know [Christ],” she said. “Ethiopia is 50 percent Muslim and 50 percent Christian, but most of them are Orthodox Christians. The Catholic Church is less than 1 percent of the population.”

“We're building a 'missio ad gentes' on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, in a neighborhood where the Catholic Church has no presence. Besides the Orthodox, there are a lot of Protestants,” she said.

Manrique’s work consists of helping out in the parishes, and talking to people. She stressed that success in her mission is “not about gaining followers but of being witnesses and making Jesus Christ known.”

“Not long ago a boy asked me: 'Can you be a Catholic without being a nun or a priest'? Most of the Catholics that have come to Ethiopia are nuns and priests, and so they have that thought.”

She added that she often encounters Ethiopians who want to leave their country, either to flee violence or because they have seen an idealized version of Europe on television, and believe life there to be luxurious and worry-free.

“Every day, there's someone who asks me to bring him to my country, and I tell them that the one who's not going back to her country is me,” she said. “I tell them that I lived in this idyllic world that they want to go to, and I have renounced it.”

“I explain that riches don't give happiness, that I had all that which they long for and it wasn't making me happy.  I'm much happier because God gives happiness and love for one's neighbor.”

 

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Irish bishop: Church must be unafraid to engage difficult questions

Derry, Northern Ireland, Aug 21, 2018 / 05:22 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Faced with daunting cultural challenges, the Church must engage in difficult discussions rather than seeking quick answers, said Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry at one of the local opening Masses for the World Meeting of Families.

The bishop offered prayers “that this week will inspire dioceses, parishes and families to build community in the face of an epidemic of loneliness.”  

“I pray that faith communities will be places of God’s hope in a frightened world,” he continued. “I pray that churches will promote a gracious way of having difficult conversations in a world where harsh words often seem to dominate.”

Held every three years at a different location, the World Meeting of Families focuses on marriage and family as the foundation of society and the Church. The theme for this year’s event is “The Gospel of family, joy for the world.” Some 37,000 people from across the globe are expected to attend the Masses, discussions and services held over the next few days, with even larger crowds anticipated for Pope Francis’ arrival at the end of the week.

Masses to launch the World Meeting of Families were held simultaneously in the 26 Dioceses of Ireland on Aug. 21. Bishop McKeown delivered the homily at the opening Mass in Derry, at St. Eugene’s Cathedral.

McKeown encouraged those attending the gathering this week to discuss major social questions, such as how to promote home environments where young people will thrive, offer healthy role models, defend the weakest in society, and develop a person-centered economy.

He said he hopes Pope Francis will ask these difficult questions when he arrives in Ireland for the final days of the World Meeting of Families.

“I hope he will ask awkward questions and speak the truth in love about how the Church needs to repent and equip itself if it is to be a credible witness of God’s mercy and love in 2018,” McKeown said.  

“I hope he will encourage civil society to look beyond the gloss and the jingles if it is to cherish all the children of the country equally. I hope and pray that Church and state learn from the mistakes of the past but not be trapped by only looking backwards.”

The Derry bishop warned that the Church must remember its mission of service, in imitation of Christ.

“Power corrupts and nourishes arrogance,” he said, adding that “Tired, hollow mantras and self-righteous condemnations serve no-one. Young people are not inspired by angry adults.”

Authentic witness is what will reach people and draw them to Christ, the bishop said. And while the “call to sanctity and to self-sacrificing heroism, to chastity and faithfulness” may not always be welcomed by society, it is the Church’s duty to proclaim the truth as it “seeks to play a positive and prophetic role in civic society.”

In a world where so many families are broken by damaged relationships, illness, poverty, and violence, McKeown said, the World Meeting of Families is a chance for reflection.

“It is not a time for quick, smart answers but for thoughtful listening. It is a moment of divine grace where we can together seek the truth that alone can set us free.”

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Cardinal Wuerl's name vandalized on Catholic high school sign

Pittsburgh, Pa., Aug 21, 2018 / 04:28 pm (CNA).- A Catholic high school named after Cardinal Donald Wuerl was vandalized Monday, following continued criticism of the cardinal’s handling of sex abuse allegations during his time as bishop of Pittsburgh.

Red spray paint covered the cardinal’s name on the sign for Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School on Monday morning.

Police said they received a call at 7 a.m. on August 20 about the Pittsburgh-area school’s entrance sign, which had been painted over on both sides, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Students at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School returned for the first day of classes to find someone had spray-painted over Wuerl&#39;s name on a sign outside the school. <a href="https://t.co/P9E8plLeOv">https://t.co/P9E8plLeOv</a> <a href="https://t.co/MYAwhL810p">pic.twitter.com/MYAwhL810p</a></p>&mdash; KDKA (@KDKA) <a href="https://twitter.com/KDKA/status/1031707501044133888?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 21, 2018</a></blockquote>
<script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

The vandalism took place amid a call for the school to change its name, removing Cardinal Wuerl from the title. A petition calling for a name change has received more than 7,000 signatures.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh has not decided if the school’s name will change, but North Catholic Principal Luke Crawford said an executive session will be held to consider it. Recommendations for a new name would be forwarded to a group overseeing the diocese’s Catholic schools and ultimately decided by Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh.

The vandalism followed an 884-page report released on August 14, concluding an 18-month investigation into clerical sex abuse within six dioceses of Pennsylvania. The report found that some 300 priests had allegedly abused more than 1000 victims in a span of seven decades.

The report raised serious questions about Wuerl’s handling of abuse cases during his tenure as Bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006. In one case, Wuerl authorized the transfer and continued ministry of a priest who had been accused of committing acts of sexual abuse decades earlier.

Wuerl, who now heads the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., has denied having had knowledge of the allegations at the time he authorized the transfer, but questions remain unanswered regarding his management of that case and others.

The cardinal has also recently faced questions related to what he might have known about the alleged sexually coercive behavior of his predecessor as Archbishop of Washington, former cardinal Theodore McCarrick. In recent months, McCarrick has faced allegations that he serially sexually abused two adolescent boys, and spent decades committing acts of sexual assault and coercion toward seminarians and young priests. In 2005 and 2007, two New Jersey dioceses reached settlements with alleged victims of McCarrick.

Wuerl, who succeeded McCarrick as Archbishop of Washington in 2006, reports having had no knowledge of those settlements, or of any complaints about sexually abusive behavior on the part of McCarrick, who continued to live and minister in the Archdiocese of Washington subsequent to his retirement.

 

Cardinal Wuerl's name vandalized on Catholic high school sign

Pittsburgh, Pa., Aug 21, 2018 / 04:28 pm (CNA).- A Catholic high school named after Cardinal Donald Wuerl was vandalized Monday, following continued criticism of the cardinal’s handling of sex abuse allegations during his time as bishop of Pittsburgh.

Red spray paint covered the cardinal’s name on the sign for Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School on Monday morning.

Police said they received a call at 7 a.m. on August 20 about the Pittsburgh-area school’s entrance sign, which had been painted over on both sides, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Students at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School returned for the first day of classes to find someone had spray-painted over Wuerl&#39;s name on a sign outside the school. <a href="https://t.co/P9E8plLeOv">https://t.co/P9E8plLeOv</a> <a href="https://t.co/MYAwhL810p">pic.twitter.com/MYAwhL810p</a></p>&mdash; KDKA (@KDKA) <a href="https://twitter.com/KDKA/status/1031707501044133888?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 21, 2018</a></blockquote>
<script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

The vandalism took place amid a call for the school to change its name, removing Cardinal Wuerl from the title. A petition calling for a name change has received more than 7,000 signatures.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh has not decided if the school’s name will change, but North Catholic Principal Luke Crawford said an executive session will be held to consider it. Recommendations for a new name would be forwarded to a group overseeing the diocese’s Catholic schools and ultimately decided by Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh.

The vandalism followed an 884-page report released on August 14, concluding an 18-month investigation into clerical sex abuse within six dioceses of Pennsylvania. The report found that some 300 priests had allegedly abused more than 1000 victims in a span of seven decades.

The report raised serious questions about Wuerl’s handling of abuse cases during his tenure as Bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006. In one case, Wuerl authorized the transfer and continued ministry of a priest who had been accused of committing acts of sexual abuse decades earlier.

Wuerl, who now heads the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., has denied having had knowledge of the allegations at the time he authorized the transfer, but questions remain unanswered regarding his management of that case and others.

The cardinal has also recently faced questions related to what he might have known about the alleged sexually coercive behavior of his predecessor as Archbishop of Washington, former cardinal Theodore McCarrick. In recent months, McCarrick has faced allegations that he serially sexually abused two adolescent boys, and spent decades committing acts of sexual assault and coercion toward seminarians and young priests. In 2005 and 2007, two New Jersey dioceses reached settlements with alleged victims of McCarrick.

Wuerl, who succeeded McCarrick as Archbishop of Washington in 2006, reports having had no knowledge of those settlements, or of any complaints about sexually abusive behavior on the part of McCarrick, who continued to live and minister in the Archdiocese of Washington subsequent to his retirement.

 

Knights of Columbus announce St John Vianney relic tour

Hartford, Conn., Aug 21, 2018 / 04:22 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus announced Tuesday that the fraternal organization will sponsor a US tour of the heart of St. John Vianney, in the wake of the Archbishop McCarrick scandal.

“Beginning in November, the Knights of Columbus will sponsor, in cooperation with the Shrine of St. Jean Vianney in Ars, France, a national tour of the relic of the heart of this great patron saint of priests,” Carl Anderson wrote Aug. 21 in a letter to the chaplains of the Knights of Columbus.

Anderson opened his letter saying that the problems which have come to light concerning sexual abuse by Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report are cause for grave concern among Catholics and Brother Knights. Many feel deeply betrayed by those whom they long held in high regard.”

“These sins of commission and omission have sent the Church we love … into convulsions. Sadly, the disgrace not only is borne by the perpetrators, it hurts us all.”

While there are “many wonderful and faithful laborers in the vineyard of the Lord among our priests and bishops,” he said that “we have seen many other moral failings by clergy that represent a crisis of commitment to the Gospel.”

He said the Knights of Columbus “will have an important role to play in rebuilding the Church. We must commit the Knights of Columbus to work for repentance, reform and rebuilding of the Church.”

“Repentance should include a full accounting of the misdeeds by those who have committed them. Archbishop McCarrick and others at fault owe us a full account of their actions, motivations and cover-ups,” Anderson wrote.

He suggested a number of possibilities for reform, and said that such reforms “will be difficult for a Church largely unused to them, and we must support our bishops and our priests in embracing these reforms in order to rebuild.”

Anderson wrote that the Knights can help rebuild the Church by embracing “love of God and love of neighbor,” which he said is “exactly the opposite of the rejection of God and exploitation of neighbor that our Church has witnessed in these scandals.”

“In the days ahead, the Knights of Columbus will help renew our Church on a national level through a Novena of Masses in reparation for these sins that have so grievously wounded the Body of Christ. I take this opportunity to ask that you offer this Novena of Masses for our Church at your earliest opportunity.”

The Supreme Knight also mentioned programs and initiatives which the Knights have to help strengthen families and parishes.

“Now is the time for all brother Knights to stand steadfast in faith, as Catholics and as gentlemen. We will assist priests, bishops and our fellow Catholics in helping the Church chart a course for the future that puts Christ at the center.”

Knights of Columbus announce St John Vianney relic tour

Hartford, Conn., Aug 21, 2018 / 04:22 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus announced Tuesday that the fraternal organization will sponsor a US tour of the heart of St. John Vianney, in the wake of the Archbishop McCarrick scandal.

“Beginning in November, the Knights of Columbus will sponsor, in cooperation with the Shrine of St. Jean Vianney in Ars, France, a national tour of the relic of the heart of this great patron saint of priests,” Carl Anderson wrote Aug. 21 in a letter to the chaplains of the Knights of Columbus.

Anderson opened his letter saying that the problems which have come to light concerning sexual abuse by Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report are cause for grave concern among Catholics and Brother Knights. Many feel deeply betrayed by those whom they long held in high regard.”

“These sins of commission and omission have sent the Church we love … into convulsions. Sadly, the disgrace not only is borne by the perpetrators, it hurts us all.”

While there are “many wonderful and faithful laborers in the vineyard of the Lord among our priests and bishops,” he said that “we have seen many other moral failings by clergy that represent a crisis of commitment to the Gospel.”

He said the Knights of Columbus “will have an important role to play in rebuilding the Church. We must commit the Knights of Columbus to work for repentance, reform and rebuilding of the Church.”

“Repentance should include a full accounting of the misdeeds by those who have committed them. Archbishop McCarrick and others at fault owe us a full account of their actions, motivations and cover-ups,” Anderson wrote.

He suggested a number of possibilities for reform, and said that such reforms “will be difficult for a Church largely unused to them, and we must support our bishops and our priests in embracing these reforms in order to rebuild.”

Anderson wrote that the Knights can help rebuild the Church by embracing “love of God and love of neighbor,” which he said is “exactly the opposite of the rejection of God and exploitation of neighbor that our Church has witnessed in these scandals.”

“In the days ahead, the Knights of Columbus will help renew our Church on a national level through a Novena of Masses in reparation for these sins that have so grievously wounded the Body of Christ. I take this opportunity to ask that you offer this Novena of Masses for our Church at your earliest opportunity.”

The Supreme Knight also mentioned programs and initiatives which the Knights have to help strengthen families and parishes.

“Now is the time for all brother Knights to stand steadfast in faith, as Catholics and as gentlemen. We will assist priests, bishops and our fellow Catholics in helping the Church chart a course for the future that puts Christ at the center.”