Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Study: Young adults want to be heard by the Church

LINTHICUM, Md. — It's no secret that for years, teenagers and young adults have been leaving the Catholic Church, putting aside organized religion for a more personal spirituality, another faith tradition or no faith at all. A new study by St. Mary's Press looks at the reasons for such religious disaffiliation, asking teenagers and young adults ages 15 to 25 a basic question: Why did you leave the Church? The answers reported in the study, titled "Going, Going, Gone: The Dynamics of Disaffiliation of Young Catholics," vary widely with respondents citing sociological, familial and spiritual reasons as well as opposition to organized religion. What's key to the study, said John Vitek, CEO and president of St. Mary's Press, is that the process gave young people a voice, something which has not happened often within the Church.

Young adults gather for fellowship, learn ways to share faith

CHICAGO — More than 8,000 people from around the country gathered at McCormick Place in Chicago in early January to gain the tools to share their faith with the world. They were attending SLS18, a biennial conference sponsored by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, known as FOCUS. Mass was the focal point of each day of the Jan. 2-6 conference, along with talks by keynote speakers such as Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron; actor Jim Caviezel, who played the role of Jesus in "The Passion of the Christ"; and Sister Bethany Madonna, a Sister of Life. Christian recording artist Matt Maher performed an evening concert Jan. 5. Organizers said priests heard more than 4,000 confessions and many of the young people attended eucharistic adoration held in a special area during the entire event.

Comments attributed to president condemned

WASHINGTON — Some Catholics said it was more important to look at the sentiment, not the vulgarity of the words the president of the United States allegedly used to refer to immigrants from certain countries. Catholic organizations complained about the comments attributed to U.S. President Donald Trump at a Jan. 11 meeting about immigration. On Jan. 12, Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., said the president used profanity to refer to people from certain countries, and other "things which were hate-filled, vile and racist" during a meeting about immigration, and at least one Republican senator, South Carolina's Lindsey Graham, confronted him about it. The National Black Catholic Congress condemned the remarks. "As people of faith, concerned with the dignity of all of God's people, we deplore such racist and hateful speech," the group said. "Those countries the president disparaged are by no means Shangri-La's (sic) but, that's why people emigrate from them," said Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski Jan. 12 via Twitter.

Archbishop brings 'God's love' to mudslide victims with special Mass

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Amid tragedies such as the devastating mudslides in Southern California and the horrific wildfires that preceded them, "we want to know why" they happen, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez said Jan. 14. "It is not easy. One of the hardest things in the world is to keep believing in God's love when we see tragedy," he said in the homily at a Mass with victims of the mudslides at Santa Barbara Mission. "Why does God allow mudslides and fires and earthquakes and hurricanes and wars and famines? I do not know. Nobody knows!" he said. "But we all know one thing: God did not make us to see us get hurt. He made us out of love. We are His sons and daughters and He wants only the best for every one of His children."

WORLD

Philippine Church leaders expect more deaths as police relaunch drug war

MANILA, Philippines — Church leaders in the Philippines warned of more killings after the national police announced it is relaunching the government's controversial anti-narcotics war, reported ucanews.com. Human rights groups say President Rodrigo Duterte's campaign against illegal drugs has claimed the lives of at least 13,000 people since it was launched in 2016. National Police Chief Ronald dela Rosa promised a "bloodless" operation, adding that police would observe the " true spirit" of " tokhang," the police anti-narcotics campaign. "Tokhang," a combination of the Visayan words "toktok" (knock) and "hangyo" (appeal), is the police's door-to-door campaign to convince drug users to surrender for rehabilitation. "The spirit of 'Tokhang,' if implemented properly, is bloodless," said dela Rosa. "That's why it's called knock and plead," added the police chief.

Pope will visit Ukrainian Catholic basilica in Rome

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis will visit the main church of Italy's Ukrainian Catholic community in late January, showing his continued concern over the war in Eastern Ukraine and his closeness to the tens of thousands of Ukrainian immigrants living and working in Italy, the head of the church said. Ukrainian Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, major archbishop Kiev-Halych and head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, said the pope's Jan. 28 visit is "a sign of solidarity with the Ukrainian people, who are suffering the effects of the war" and "a manifestation of the pope's closeness to Ukrainian migrants in Italy." The pope's plan for an afternoon visit to the Ukrainian Basilica of St. Sophia in Rome was announced by the Vatican Jan. 12.

Belgian Catholics concerned about abuse of country's euthanasia law

OXFORD, England — Catholics in Belgium are concerned the country's euthanasia law is being abused to kill patients without legal checks and safeguards. Auxiliary Bishop Jean Kockerols of Mechelen-Brussels said "not just the Church's hierarchy, but doctors and medical professionals as well" were concerned. On Jan. 9, the Belgian Church's Cathobel news agency published an article saying the Federal Euthanasia Control and Evaluation Commission violated its statutes by failing to refer suspected legal abuses for investigation. "It's shocking that, 15 years since its creation, this commission has not referred a single file to prosecutors or condemned a single doctor," the Catholic report said. "It is acting as judge and jury, and not fulfilling its role. It isn't broadening application of the law, but violating it." Bishop Kockerols told Catholic News Service Jan. 11 that the Church had long been aware the commission was "not working as it should."

Christians must convert to ecumenism, cardinal says

VATICAN CITY — To be effective evangelizers, the Catholic Church and other Christian churches must constantly undergo their own conversion to a stronger commitment to Christian unity, said Cardinal Kurt Koch, the Vatican's chief ecumenist. "So that the evangelizing task can be carried out in a credible way, the Church itself continually needs a self-evangelization that includes conversion to the ecumenical search for Christian unity," the Swiss cardinal wrote in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano. In preparation for the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jan. 18-25, Cardinal Koch's article focused on the connection between mission and Christian unity, a connection that gave birth to the ecumenical movement among Protestants more than 100 years ago and one that the Catholic Church has acknowledged since the Second Vatican Council.

Young Palestinians tell Israelis, bishops of wide range of feelings

QUBEIBEH, West Bank — The entrance into this small Palestinian village encircled by the Israeli security barrier and settlements is through a series of bleak and darkened underpasses. But bishops from three continents said their Jan. 17 meeting with students from the Bethlehem University nursing department satellite campus gave them a sense of hope. "Previously, we were at a Palestinian school, and they were not very hopeful for their future, but here they are coming to study, and they are getting jobs at the end, which means they will stay here, which is a good thing," said Bishop William Nolan of Galloway, Scotland. The Qubeibeh Nursing Program is in its 10th year. One hundred students are enrolled in the program, which allows young people from the neighboring villages to study in the university's academic program without having to make the circuitous and expensive trip through the settlements and checkpoints to Bethlehem, West Bank.

— Catholic News Service 

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