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In Alabama, EWTN remembers Bishop Foley’s service to the Church

Birmingham, Ala., Apr 18, 2018 / 04:38 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The death of Birmingham’s Bishop Emeritus David Foley prompted tributes from those he served, including the EWTN Global Catholic Network, where he served as a board member and television show host.

 
“All of us at EWTN are saddened by the death of the Most Reverend David Foley who served the Diocese of Birmingham as Bishop for over a decade,” Michael P. Warsaw, Chairman of the Board and CEO of the Alabama-based EWTN Global Catholic Network, said April 18.
 
“I had the privilege of first knowing Bishop Foley thirty years ago when he was a pastor in the Archdiocese of Washington,” Warsaw continued. “Throughout his life and wherever his service to the Church took him, he was always known for his keen intellect, pastoral sensitivity and powerful preaching.”
 
“May God reward him for his life of service to the Church, and may he rest in peace,” he said.

Bishop Foley, who according to news reports had been fighting cancer, passed away Tuesday evening at the St. John Vianney Residence for Priests at the age of 88.

Foley served as Bishop of Birmingham from 1994 until his retirement in 2005. The Diocese of Birmingham said the bishop had a very active retirement.
 
“Bishop Foley’s retirement was in name only: he never stopped being a priest, which was the true love of his life. He would spend Christmas and Thanksgiving at prisons, celebrate Mass for any priest for any reason in any parish at any time, and would regularly help with confirmations,” the diocese said in a statement.
 
“Always humble, he quietly continued his ministry, which included visiting the sick at hospitals each week and celebrating Mass once a week for the elderly unable to travel,” said the diocese. “He lived a full and happy life as a priest, setting an example to all on how to live fearlessly following Christ.”
 
Bishop Foley and Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation, foundress of EWTN Global Catholic Network, had been friends. Warsaw noted that Bishop Foley served on the EWTN Board of Governors.
 
“He also took great joy in hosting ‘Pillars of Faith,’ a weekly live call-in television program that examined the Catechism of the Catholic Church from cover to cover,” said Warsaw.
 
“Despite their occasional disagreements, when Mother Angelica suffered her stroke and brain hemorrhage in 2001, Bishop Foley was one of the first to be at her bedside and he remained a frequent visitor to pray for her,” Warsaw continued. “He never wavered in his respect for all that Mother had accomplished and was always supportive of the Network she founded.”
 
Born in 1930, Foley was ordained a priest May 26, 1956 by Washington Archbishop Patrick O’Boyle in Saint Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C. He served in various parishes for 30 years.
 
In 1986, he was ordained an auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia. He was installed as the third Bishop of Birmingham in 1994. He stepped down in 2005 upon reaching 75 years of age, but served as administrator of the Diocese of Birmingham until Bishop Robert Baker was installed as bishop in 2007.
 
Bishop Foley’s body will be received at Birmingham’s Cathedral of Saint Paul on Sunday at 2 p.m., followed by hourly prayers until 6:30 p.m. A rosary will be held at 4 p.m. Bishop Baker will preside over a Vesper service at 6:30 p.m., at which Abbot Cletus Meagher of St. Bernard Abbey will preach.
 
Bishop Foley’s Mass of Christian Burial will take place at the cathedral on Monday April 23 at 11 a.m. Archbishop Thomas Rodi of Mobile will preside at the Mass. Burial will take place in the cathedral’s courtyard.
 
Memorial contributions are requested to be sent to the Birmingham diocese’s Seminarian Education Fund.

Buffer zones and abortion clinics: why this English bishop is concerned

Portsmouth, England, Apr 18, 2018 / 03:24 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- After a London borough passed an ordinance earlier this month establishing a buffer zone around a local abortion clinic, Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth said he was concerned by the unjust measure.

The Ealing Council, which serves the west London borough, voted April 10 to enforce a Public Space Protection Order, which effectively bans public prayer and counselors who assist women within 100 meters of the Marie Stopes clinic, a leading abortion provider in London which performs around 7,000 abortions annually.

“I am deeply concerned about the imposition of ‘no-prayer zones’ around clinics where abortions take place,” Bishop Egan said April 18.

“To remove from the environment of the abortion clinics alternative voices is to limit freedom of choice. Indeed, research shows that many women have been grateful for the last-minute support they have thereby received,” Egan continued.

The Portsmouth bishop went on to call the ruling “disrespectful to vulnerable women,” who can be gravely harmed by an abortion procedure. He also lamented the removal of peaceful prayer near the abortion clinics, which he called crucial for women considering abortions or who have experienced abortions.

“…prayer is crucial: for forgiveness, for healing, for reparation, for the dear mothers and fathers involved, for the safety and protection of the unborn child and for the conversion of the medical staff who are complicit,” Egan said.

Auxiliary Bishop John Sherrington of Westminster also expressed his dismay in February over the buffer zone before it was passed, noting that buffer zones come with the danger of “denying freedom of expression and fostering intolerance toward legitimate opinions which promote the common good.”

“It should not be necessary to limit the freedom of individuals or groups to express opinions…” Sherrington continued.

The buffer zone was originally sought after by the Marie Stopes abortion clinic in response to members of the Good Counsel Network, a pro-life group, who prayed and offered counseling outside its clinic. Marie Stopes made claims that the counselors and those praying harassed and intimidated the women seeking abortions.

The recent ruling was applauded by members of the London abortion clinic. Richard Bentley, managing director of Marie Stopes UK, called the measure a “landmark decision for women.”

Bentley also noted that other councils around the UK were looking into similar measures around abortion clinics.

However, the Good Counsel Network denied the allegations of harassment, noting that their organization has aided over 1,000 women in the past six years outside of abortion clinics.

“I am dismayed, but not surprised, by Ealing Council’s decision to ban offers of help outside the abortion center here,” said Elizabeth Howard of the Good Counsel Network, according to the Catholic Sentinel.

“Hundreds of women over the years have accepted help and are grateful for the chance to keep their babies,” Howard continued, saying the ruling will “harm vulnerable women who need our assistance.”

The buffer zone will be legally enforced starting April 23, and offenders against the ruling could be fined or prosecuted under the ordinance. Some pro-life groups are expected to challenge the decision of the council in the coming months.

“The imposition of ‘no-prayer zones’ outside clinics – I mean prayerful vigil, not militant or disruptive action – is unhelpful, unjust and unnecessary,” Egan said.

Critics blast US crackdown on protected Vietnamese immigrants

Washington D.C., Apr 18, 2018 / 02:54 pm (CNA).- Thousands of Vietnamese immigrants in the U.S. who were previously protected under an agreement largely for refugees fleeing post-war Vietnam could face detention and deportation in coming months.

The Trump administration’s efforts to remove the Vietnamese immigrants, many of whom have lived in the U.S. for decades, have drawn sharp criticism from immigration advocates.

“Often folks are being deported to dangerous situations and a country where they know neither the language nor have any community connections any longer,” Greg Walgenbach, director of Life, Justice and Peace from the Diocese of Orange, Calif. told CNA.

“Will families have the ability to make arrangements for them to be received in the country to which they are returned?” he asked. “These are all questions that in the haste to show a ‘tough on immigration’ approach, the U.S. government is casting aside humanitarian concerns and the dignity of the human persons involved.”

Walgenbach said individuals should have the chance to have their cases reviewed to see if anything has changed that might allow them to stay. Families should be able to communicate with their members and given time to make arrangements.

“Especially until immigration laws are changed to be more compassionate and just, the human dignity of every immigrant must be upheld,” said Walgenbach, whose diocese has a large Vietnamese community.

A 2008 repatriation agreement between the U.S. and Vietnamese governments states that Vietnamese citizens are not subject to return to Vietnam if they arrived in the U.S. before July 12, 1995 – the date when the two governments re-established diplomatic relations. Much of this population consists of refugees who fled post-war Vietnam, fearing persecution under the communist government.

Vietnam refuses to take back immigrants who fall under the agreement, meaning that those who have been detained with final deportation orders are in a legal limbo.

Most of the 1.3 million Vietnamese immigrants in the U.S. are legal residents and not in danger of deportation.

But about 8,600 of them are under final deportation orders and are at risk of imminent detention. Of these, 7,821 have criminal convictions, a spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement told Reuters.

However, Ted Osius, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam from 2014 to October 2017, said that “[t]he majority targeted for deportation—sometimes for minor infractions—were war refugees who had sided with the United States, whose loyalty was to the flag of a nation that no longer exists.”

Ambassador Osius spoke against the deportation policy in the April 2018 issue of The Foreign Service Journal, published by the American Foreign Service Association. He said U.S. government efforts against such immigrants were among the actions that had prompted him to resign.

“[T]hey were to be ‘returned’ decades later to a nation ruled by a communist regime with which they had never reconciled. I feared many would become human rights cases, and our government would be culpable.”

Many of the immigrants had supported South Vietnam during the Vietnam War and the Vietnamese government would consider them a destabilizing force, Osius told Reuters.

“These people don’t really have a country to come back to,” he said.

Some of the immigrants had committed serious crimes, Osius acknowledged, although immigration advocates say that many of the convictions are decades old. Osius said that the repatriation agreement had meant that they would be left alone.

Immigration lawyers have said that some detained Vietnamese immigrants have been held for as long as 11 months because Immigration and Customs Enforcement cannot deport them.

Previously, arrested Vietnamese immigrants with final deportation orders who had arrived before 1995 would be released within 90 days, under supervision orders. In 2017, 71 Vietnamese people were deported to Vietnam, compared to 35 the previous year.

In February, several groups filed a class action lawsuit in Los Angeles federal court seeking to challenge the indefinite detentions.

One of those detained, Hoang Trinh, came to the U.S. in 1980 at the age of four when his family fled postwar Vietnam. He became a legal resident, married and raised two children in Orange County, Calif., the Washington Post reported in March.

He has spent at least seven months in detention under Immigration and Customs Enforcement. For a 2015 drug charge he spent a year in prison, then was arrested in 2017 for possession of marijuana. He was then ordered to be removed from the U.S. Trinh is a party to the lawsuit.

Phi Nguyen, litigation director with Asian Americans Advancing Justice--Atlanta, charged that Immigration and Customs Enforcement is acting “in complete disregard for the law.”

“The only thing that has changed is that our administration wants the Vietnamese government to completely abandon the repatriation agreement.”

Nguyen said that her parents fled Vietnam after her father was imprisoned for three years, during which he suffered from forced labor and starvation.

The fate of these immigrants is a subject of international discussion. Katina Adams, a spokeswoman for the State Department’s East Asia bureau, said the U.S. and Vietnamese governments continue to discuss their positions on Vietnamese citizens now in the U.S.

Reuters cited a senior Vietnamese official who said Vietnam needs to accept those who went to the U.S. after the war, not as a consequence of it.

Irish archbishop: The Christian vision of family is attainable

Rome, Italy, Apr 18, 2018 / 11:53 am (CNA/EWTN News).- One of the leading organizers of this year's World Meeting of Families has said the gathering aims to show the world that living the Christian ideal of marriage and family life is not impossible, but is something realistic that can be attained.

“Our message about marriage and family, about fidelity, that God loves you personally, that human life is sacred from the first moment of conception until the moment of death, that chastity is possible for our young people,” is a message often seen as out-of-date, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh said.

Yet these messages “are achievable for people today,” he said.

“Sometimes people present the Church as being completely out of touch, but actually the Church is hugely in touch. It just wants to keep challenging people to the joy of the Gospel.”

Archbishop Martin spoke to CNA April 18 about the upcoming World Meeting of Families, which is slated to take place in Dublin Aug. 21-26.

Pope Francis will be present at the event Aug. 25-26, where he will preside over the “festival of families” and the closing Mass.

The World Meeting of Families is meant to share “the idea that family is good news, that it is a joyful message, that family is possible,” he said.

We too often “forget the huge number of families who continue faithfully to try to live out a life of love and a life of understanding and commitment to one another in very difficult or challenging circumstances,” he said.

Families, he said, are the first place where people learn to go outside of themselves through compromise and sacrifice, which goes against the individualistic mentality of global society.

“Very few families can survive individualism,” he said, explaining that one's approach to family life has to start from the perspective of love and joy, which are the heart of the Gospel.

This in turn raises questions about how much social, political and legislative support is available to families, and how challenges can arise if this support is not given.

“Why is it that so many young people will choose not to get married? Maybe because they can't get a hold of a mortgage, or because the benefit system suits them better to live as single people rather than as a couple with their children. Why is it that legislation on issues like addictions, gambling, or a whole lot of areas where family life can be destroyed, why are these not priorities in social policy-making?”

So in addition to focusing on the Gospel vision of the family, the “harder edge” of the global gathering in August will focus on how families can be supported from all levels of the Church and of society.

Some 16,000 people have registered for the event, most of whom are from overseas, Martin said.

And as the date gets closer, organizers on the ground are starting to “ratchet up” the preparations at a faster pace.

“This is an opportunity for families to meet families from other parts of the world and to learn from each other and to share with one another how we do it; how do we actually survive as a family in this crazy, complicated world,” Martin said.

Excitement is building and Ireland is ready to give the pope and the world “a hundred thousands of welcomes,” he said, using a colloquial Irish saying.

Martin said the gathering will be a time for families to come together and share their experiences, their hopes, and their challenges, without sugar-coating anything.

Acknowledging that no family is perfect, “we're not in any way trying to romanticize family love,” he said. Rather, the goal is to share the Christian vision of the family, based on hope and love, and to welcome families who are distant or who perhaps don't feel welcome, he said.

“The word 'welcome' is important,” he said, adding that for him, it is sad to hear when people say that for whatever reason, they do not feel entirely welcome in the Church.

And this goes not only for “these neuralgic issues, for example LGBT people or people living in second unions … I'm talking about people who think the Church's vision of the family is completely out of touch with reality,” Martin said.

“I would love to think that we can talk about ways of welcoming families, welcoming people who … feel that they don't measure up, or feel that unless their family is perfect, that everyone in their family is living a perfectly holy life, that they are not welcome,” he said.

To this end, he pointed to Gaudete et exsultate, Pope Francis' exhortation on the call to holiness in today's world, saying example of holiness can be found in “your mom, your grandmother, your dad. People who struggled but lived as best they could a faithful life.”

“So I think that when we think about reaching out, sometimes we think they are people way out on the margins, but often they are people who are simply trying to struggle to live a good family life everyday and who feel that somehow the Church presents an impossible ideal.”

Vatican reportedly rejects German bishops' proposal for intercommunion of spouses

Vatican City, Apr 18, 2018 / 10:58 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has reportedly rejected a planned proposal by the German bishops' conference to publish guidelines permitting non-Catholic spouses of Catholics to receive the Eucharist in some limited circumstances.

Austrian news site kath.net has reported that Vatican sources say the CDF, with papal approval, has suspended the German bishops' proposal, and sources close to the congregation have confirmed this to CNA.

It is not clear whether the Vatican has asked the bishops' conference to modify the contents of the draft guidelines, whether they have suspended the development of a draft while the matter is considered further, or whether it has been entirely rejected.

In February, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising announced that the German bishops' conference would publish a pastoral handout for married couples that allows Protestant spouses of Catholics "in individual cases" and "under certain conditions" to receive Holy Communion, provided they "affirm the Catholic faith in the Eucharist”.

The announcement was made "after intensive debate" at the conclusion of the general assembly of the German bishops' conference, which was held Feb. 19 - 22 in the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt, and attended by 62 members of the bishops' conference under the leadership of conference chairman Cardinal Marx.

Last month, seven German bishops sent a letter to the CDF and to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity asking for clarification on the matter. The signatories did not consult beforehand with Cardinal Marx.

The seven bishops asked whether the question of Holy Communion for Protestant spouses in interdenominational marriages can be decided on the level of a national bishops' conference, or if rather, "a decision of the Universal Church" is required in the matter.

The letter was signed by Cardinal Rainer Woelki of Cologne, Archbishop Ludwig Schick of Bamberg, Bishop Gregor Hanke of Eichstätt, Bishop Konrad Zdarsa of Augsburg, Bishop Stefan Oster of Passau, Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg, and Bishop Wolfgang Ipolt of Görlitz.

“From the view of the signatories, the goal in a question of such centrality to the Faith and the unity of the Church must be to avoid separate national paths and arrive at a globally unified, workable solution by way of an ecumenical dialogue,” the Archdiocese of Cologne told CNA Deutsch April 4.

The Code of Canon Law already provides that in the danger of death or if “some other grave necessity urges it,” Catholic ministers licitly administer penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick to Protestants “who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed.”