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Venerable church a natural place to view heavens during solar eclipse

IMAGE: CNS photo/Ed Langlois, Catholic Sentinel

By Ed Langlois

ST. PAUL, Ore. (CNS) -- Hundreds of solar eclipse viewers Aug. 21 watched the sky grow dim and then witnessed the spectacular dancing white corona of the sun's edge from alongside Oregon's oldest Catholic church.

Built in 1846, St. Paul Church in the small town of St. Paul was already venerable the last time it was in an eclipse path of totality in 1918. The brick building, restored after a 1993 earthquake, stood silent and strong Aug. 21 as the crowd around it cheered and cried out during the eerie minute that the moon blotted out the sun's light.

"God puts on the best shows!" one woman called out.

While the heavens were creating awe, Msgr. Gregory Moys was providing for creature comforts of visitors. Some towns in the eclipse zone provided portable bathrooms, but that was a bit much for the city of St. Paul to afford. Msgr. Moys, pastor of St. Paul Parish, opened up the back door of the 171-year house of worship so viewers could find relief in a set of rooms once used by Oregon's pioneer priests.

One Vancouver, Washington, family made the trip and sat happily in front of St. Paul Church.

"It's a memory they'll have for a long time," James Longfellow said of his wife and children. Longfellow's 8-year-old daughter, Analise, feared she might forget. Her parents assured her she'd remember.

Pete Hamlin, a member of St. Matthew Church in Hillsboro, recalled trying to watch a 1979 eclipse as a child, but the Oregon skies were cloudy.

"This is a good opportunity," Hamlin told the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland. He came to St. Paul with friends Greg Clemmons and John Hedlund.

While the solar event was stunning, the trio spent much of their time before looking over the old brick church and discovering its history.

The edifice replaced a log church that had been built in 1836 by settlers who had written Catholic officials in the East repeatedly before two missionaries were sent from Quebec -- Fathers Francis Blanchet and Modeste Demers. Native American workers helped make the bricks that are still in good shape.

On April 25, 1846, a month before the cornerstone was laid, a partial solar eclipse was visible in St. Paul.

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Langlois is managing editor of the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland.

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Copyright © 2017 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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Polish archbishop thinks Vatican will recognize Medjugorje apparitions

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Jonathan Luxmoore

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- A Polish archbishop who inspected Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine for the pope predicted the Vatican will soon recognize its Marian apparitions.

"The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has passed all documentation to the Secretariat of State -- everything suggests the apparitions will be accepted before the year ends," said Archbishop Henryk Hoser.

"It's difficult to believe the six visionaries have been lying for 36 years," the archbishop said. "What they say is coherent, and none is mentally disturbed, while the apparitions' faithfulness to church doctrine is also a powerful argument for their authenticity."

The archbishop spoke as he completed a report from his spring mission to the hilltop shrine, which has not been officially recognized by the church despite 2.5 million pilgrims annually.

He told Poland's Catholic Information Agency, KAI, he had found an "exceptional atmosphere" of "spiritual creativeness" at Medjugorje, characterized by "prayer, silence, meditation, Eucharist, adoration, fasting and reconciliation."

He added that the shrine was seeing "huge dynamic growth," in contrast to older sanctuaries in Portugal, France and Poland and had succeeded in remaining "a true place for pilgrims" while "eliminating tourist elements."

"Everything is moving in a good direction. My mission wasn't aimed at closing Medjugorje down, but at evaluating whether pastoral work is being properly organized there in line with church teaching," Archbishop Hoser said.

"My conclusions are that it is, and my impression is highly positive," he told KAI.

Six teenagers claim to have seen the Virgin Mary June 24, 1981, near Medjugorje. Since then, they have reported more than 42,000 apparitions at the site, which was largely untouched by the 1992-95 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In April, the then-prefect of the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Muller, told KAI ageny it still could "take a long time" for the Vatican to rule on the apparitions, despite Archbishop Hoser's pastoral visitation.

Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar-Duvno, the local ordinary, has consistently dismissed the Medjugorje apparitions as false, like his predecessor, Bishop Pavao Zanic, and appealed to bishops abroad not to support pilgrimages there.

However, in March, Cardinal Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, defended the shrine as "Europe's largest confessional," and said he counted on the Vatican to appreciate its evangelical potential in generating "conversions and acts of grace."

Pope Francis told reporters traveling with him from Fatima, Portugal, in May that the most important fact about Medjugorje is "the spiritual fact, the pastoral fact" that thousands of pilgrims go to Medjugorje and are converted. "For this there is no magic wand; this spiritual-pastoral fact cannot be denied."

The spiritual fruits of the pilgrimages, he said, are the reason why in February he appointed Archbishop Hoser to study the best ways to provide pastoral care to townspeople and the pilgrims.

Speaking to reporters May 13, Pope Francis gave no indication of when a final pronouncement about the alleged apparitions would be made. However, the said that a commission set up by then-Pope Benedict XVI had spent years investigating the phenomenon and tended to believe the apparitions in that first week of the summer of 1981 may have been real, but the continued reports of apparitions are questionable.

Furthermore, Pope Francis told the press, "personally, I am more 'mischievous.' I prefer Our Lady to be a mother, our mother, and not a telegraph operator who sends out a message every day at a certain time -- this is not the mother of Jesus."


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Two die in earthquake on Italian island

By

ROME (CNS) -- One of the two women who died when an earthquake struck the Italian island of Ischia was killed by falling debris from a 19th-century church. The other died in her home, which was destroyed by the quake Aug. 21.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake, which struck at 8:57 p.m. local time, measured a magnitude of 4.3. Ischia is located off the coast of Naples.

As of late Aug. 22, Italian authorities had not released the names of the two women who died. The Italian bishops' television station, TV2000, said the destroyed church was Santa Maria dei Suffragio, more commonly known as the "Purgatory Church." The church in the village of Casamicciola was built in the 19th century after a quake in 1883 destroyed the previous church on the site.

Much of the international news coverage of the quake focused on the rescue of three children, brothers, who were buried under the rubble. The first of the brothers to be rescued, seven hours after the quake, was 7-month-old Pasquale. The next morning, rescuers were able to free 7-year-old Mattias. Ciro, 11, was freed 16 hours after the quake. All of the brothers are expected to make a full recovery.

The local hospital originally treated 39 other people for quake-related injuries. One person remained in serious condition, although most of the others were treated and released.

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Copyright © 2017 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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Cardinal Parolin visits Russia, focuses on ecumenism and peace

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Although he said planning a papal trip to Russia was not on the agenda, the Vatican secretary of state said his visit to Moscow was designed to build on the meeting Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill had in Cuba in 2016.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the secretary of state, was visiting Moscow Aug. 21-24 and was scheduled to meet with the patriarch and Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as with leaders of Russia's Catholic community.

The list of topics for the meetings ranged from ecumenical dialogue and interreligious cooperation to current world affairs and climate change, he said in a series of interviews before leaving Rome.

After a long morning meeting Aug. 22, the cardinal and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held a brief news conference, telling reporters they had discussed ongoing conflicts in Ukraine, Syria, Yemen, the Holy Land and Venezuela.

Cardinal Parolin said his meetings with government officials were designed to share "Pope Francis' interest in bilateral relations between the Holy See and the Russian Federation as well as his concerns in the sphere of international affairs."

"Obviously," the cardinal said, "the meeting offered an occasion to discuss some concrete questions regarding the life of the Catholic Church in the Russian Federation, including the difficulties that remain in obtaining work permits for non-Russian religious personnel and the restitution of some churches, which are needed for the pastoral care of Catholics in the country." Many church buildings were confiscated by the former Soviet government and never returned.

Regarding international affairs, Cardinal Parolin said he and Lavrov discussed several ongoing conflicts, including the war in Eastern Ukraine and the war in Syria.

In situations of war, he said, the Catholic Church often is directly involved in promoting humanitarian aid for the victims, but it also works on a diplomatic level to promote a negotiated peace with guarantees of "justice, legality, truth" and the safety of civilians.

The Russian foreign ministry posted online the first minutes of the working meeting between Cardinal Parolin and Lavrov.

The foreign minister told the cardinal, "We see that our positions are close on a number of current issues, including the peaceful settlement of crises, fighting terrorism and extremism, promoting the dialogue among religions and civilizations and strengthening social justice and the role of the family."

And, he said, it is important that the strengthening of Vatican-Russian relations is "complemented by the dialogue between religions, which was launched during the historical meeting between Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis in Cuba."

Cardinal Parolin began his visit to Russia with a meeting with Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of external relations for the Russian Orthodox Church.

After the meeting, he told reporters their time together was very constructive, and that even though there are "thorny issues," there also is a great desire to overcome them. As an example of an ongoing difficulty, Cardinal Parolin said the existence of the Ukrainian Catholic Church "remains for the Russian Orthodox Church an obstacle."

In the evening Aug. 21, Cardinal Parolin presided over a Mass for Moscow's Catholics in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Before Mass, he had met with the country's Catholic bishops.

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Eclipse thrills, inspires viewers to admire the precision of creation

IMAGE: CNS photo/Dennis Sadowski

By Dennis Sadowski

HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. (CNS) -- Science teacher Jane Irwin isn't often left without words, but the total solar eclipse left her in a quiet reflective mood.

"Awesome. God's amazing" was the best she could muster after the sun reappeared from behind the moon after totality Aug. 21.

"I've got to synthesize this myself," she said minutes after the sun reappeared as the moon moved away from obscuring Earth's closest stellar neighbor. "How can people deny the existence of God after seeing this? I'm not a terribly emotional person, but I got choked up seeing it."

Irwin was among about 50 people gathered at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Hopkinsville, the town near the point of maximum eclipse. She planned to have her students write about the eclipse when classes resumed Aug. 23. Her inspiration for the assignment was Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, director of the Vatican Observatory, who spoke at the parish Aug. 20 during a pre-eclipse program.

"Brother Guy said if you didn't write about it, it didn't happened. Hopefully, in 10 years when they pull that out, they'll remember and be inspired by what they saw," Irwin said.

Joining her was one of her students, Tim Sunderhaus, 8, a third-grader at the parish school.

Tim was accompanied by brothers Luke, 12, in seventh grade, and Peter, 10, in fifth grade, and father Todd. Luke called the eclipse an amazing sight.

He found the sun's corona -- the intensely hot outer atmosphere visible from Earth only during a total eclipse -- most interesting to observe. "I was thinking it finally happened because people have been talking about it for such a long time," he told Catholic News Service.

Cheers and whistles erupted in the parish parking lot where viewers had gathered as darkness approached and the corona appeared around a black hole. Three bright red prominences appeared along the right edge of the sun during totality.

People called out the planets as they appeared. First there was bright Venus to the west of the sun and then Mercury very close to eastern limb of the star. Crickets began chirping, thinking night was approaching. The air cooled several degrees as the moon's shadow deepened.

The entire event was impressive for Franciscan Father Richard Goodin, vocation director for his order's St. John the Baptist Province based in Cincinnati. The Kentucky native drove from Cincinnati overnight to see the eclipse after a redeye flight from Las Vegas where he preached at Masses Aug. 19 and 20 making a mission appeal.

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I like to brag I'm all things Kentucky," he told CNS as a blue University of Kentucky cap shielded his bearded face from the hot sun. "What better and more fitting place for this to be than in Kentucky?"

Hopkinsville officials and business owners had worked for nearly two years to capitalize on the eclipse. They billed their town as "Eclipseville." Located near the point of maximum eclipse, the city of 33,000 wanted to showcase its friendliness and the quality of life it offers in largely agricultural Christian County.

Eclipse chasers started arriving Aug. 18 and by the morning of the event traffic crawled along city streets.

Some of those travelers made their way to a field the parish owns across the street from the church. Spots were going for $10. Some stayed overnight, camping in tents or in the back of their vehicle. Others, arrived in the pre-dawn hours eager to catch the spectacle.

Ron Howell and Cheri Ricketts, members of St. Catherine of Siena Church in Toledo, Ohio, were sitting in chairs next to their Chevrolet Equinox enjoying coffee in the warm early morning sun. They said they wanted to see something they had never seen before and that Hopkinsville was a reasonable distance to travel.

"We're basic, but we're prepared," said Howell, 72.

"I'm sure it's going to be spiritually moving, just to see the wonder of it all and the precision," Ricketts, 66, added.

Across the lot Hendrik Schultz, professor of nuclear astrophysics at Michigan State University, sat with his daughter, Lilley, 16, enjoying a slight breeze in the shade of tall trees. He said he brought his daughter and her boyfriend along so they could see something rare and beautiful.

But he was leaving the physics of the eclipse out of any discussion as he showed off the pinhole tube he made to observe the event.

"I don't want to spoil it with too much science. It's like a waterfall. You wouldn't want a lecture on hydrology. You just want to enjoy it," he said.

In another corner, Jayden Braga, 5, patiently waited for the eclipse as his parents, Derrick and Alissa Braga of Rochester Hills, Michigan, tended to housekeeping chores in their tent. The family traveled all night to arrive in time for the celestial wonder.

The youngster explained how important it was to view the eclipse with special glasses until the moment of totality. Then he became more animated.

"I'm so excited," he said, "I could fly off the chair."

In his presentation the evening before, Brother Consolmagno urged people to let the eclipse be an example of God's design for the universe and to appreciate the beauty of ongoing creation.

"This is more than just an emotional sense," Brother Consolmagno told the audience. "It's a sense that speaks to your soul. It's a sense I get when I'm doing science ... the sense I feel in these rare unforgettable moments of prayer and God finds the time to find me to speak."

The presentation before a full house in the church was one of several special events leading to the eclipse. The city also planned a downtown festival over the weekend before the skies darkened. Vendors hawked T-shirts, Christmas tree ornaments, plaques, jewelry, posters and anything else they could creatively tie to the event.

Sts. Peter and Paul parishioner Maureen Leamy took time Aug. 19 to visit the vendors during the downtown festival. An assistant county attorney for Christian County, Leamy was looking forward to seeing the eclipse, even though it meant that Tuesday will be a busy day for hearing criminal cases from the long weekend the court was closed.

"This is time for Hopkinsville to shine," she said. "We never had an event like this."

Andra V. Gold, owner of Accessories Plus in Hopkinsville, made several dozen T-shirts with a snappy message: "Keep calm. It's only the eclipse." He said he sold a few shirts, but more importantly the eclipse and the celebration surrounding it was a way to meet people, some of whom traveled hundreds of miles to southwest Kentucky, and impart a few words of wisdom.

"If they can travel that distance, why can't we walk out our back door and be hospitable?" he said. "We can be hospitable and understand each other."

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski.

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Copyright © 2017 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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Eclipse a way to appreciate creation, Vatican astronomer tells audience

IMAGE: CNS photo/Dennis Sadowski

By Dennis Sadowski

HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. (CNS) -- A total solar eclipse is a rare event, something to appreciate and enjoy in the mind of Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, director of the Vatican Observatory.

So as the first eclipse crossed the country from coast to coast in 99 years Aug. 21, Brother Consolmagno wasn't going to do anything but take it in and think about the beauty and mystery of God's creation.

The astronomer urged an audience in a packed Sts. Peter and Paul Church during a pre-eclipse program in this southwestern Kentucky town near the point of maximum eclipse to take the time to reflect on what the two minutes and 40 seconds of totality means to them.

"Pray for good weather," he said to laughs. "But also pray for what God wants you to learn from the experience."

Tens of thousands of people had descended on Hopkinsville, a city of 33,000 an hour northwest of Nashville, Tennessee, by late Aug. 20. Thousands more were expected the morning of the eclipse. Brother Consolmagno said he was as excited as anyone to view the blackening of the sun.

He also said that as a scientist and a person of faith, he is guided by inquisitiveness to explore the heavens and the desire to better understand how God put the universe together. There is no conflict between science the faith, he said.

"Being a scientist can be a way of worshipping God," he said.

He repeated a similar message to reporters during a news conference before his presentation.

"We're here not just to remind my fellow scientists who are used to me by now, but also to show religious people how important is it to be able to praise the Creator by studying creation, studying it honestly, finding out how God really created this place. There's never going to be a shortage of marvels for us to discover or surprises for us to experience," he said.

"We can come to know the Creator by seeing the things of his creation."

He said the by understanding the cycle of solar eclipses -- occurring about every 18 months and 11 days -- people can see the rhythms of the universe and the continuing nature of creation and have an experience "that fills the soul with joy."

Brother Consolmagno made the trip to Hopkinsville at the invitation of Father Richard Meredith, pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Church. Father Meredith told Catholic News Service he contacted the Vatican Observatory soon after he learned a few years ago that the eclipse path would pass over the town.

Parishioners prepared for more than a year, having established a committee to welcome visitors and host Brother Consolmagno.

"Being a parish with a parochial school, we stress the unity of truth," Father Meredith said. "This (eclipse) is a major opportunity to reflect that, as science and faith work together serving to manifest the Lord.

The eclipse is a wonder and these wonders praise the creator. This could very well be the only planet around the only star whose moon is at the right distance and size to give a total solar eclipse," the priest said.

He introduced Brother Consolmagno with by reading from Psalm 19: "The heavens proclaim the glory of God; the sky proclaims its builder's craft."

"This isn't only Catholic," he told CNS. "This is a tradition inherited from God's revelation in the Old Testament."

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter:@DennisSadowski.

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Copyright © 2017 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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Pope leads prayers for an end to 'inhuman violence' of terrorism

IMAGE: CNS photo/Marta Perez, EPA

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- "Let us beg the Lord, God of mercy and peace, to free the world from this inhuman violence," Pope Francis prayed after a week of deadly terrorist attacks in Africa and Europe.

Reciting the Angelus prayer at midday, the pope asked an estimated 10,000 people in St. Peter's Square to pray in silence and then to join him in reciting the Hail Mary for the victims of the attacks the previous week in Burkina Faso, Spain and Finland.

At a restaurant in Ouagadougou Aug. 13, gunmen opened fire on people eating outside. Authorities in Burkina Faso said 18 people died and 20 were injured. The gunmen were believed to be part of a group known as "al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb."

In Spain, 13 people died after a van mowed down pedestrians Aug. 17 on Barcelona's famous Las Ramblas street and another woman died in a vehicle attack the next day in Cambrils. Five suspects were killed by police and other members of what authorities described as a 12-man terrorist cell were being sought.

In Turku, Finland, Aug. 18, two women were stabbed to death and eight other people were injured in what police described as a terrorist attack.

Among the pilgrims in St. Peter's Square for the midday prayer were the 50 first-year students of the Pontifical North American College, the seminary in Rome sponsored by the U.S. bishops. Pope Francis gave them a shoutout before wishing everyone in the square a happy Sunday.

In his main Angelus talk, the pope spoke about the day's Gospel reading from St. Matthew about the Canaanite woman who persistently asks Jesus to heal her daughter.

"This woman's interior strength, which allows her to overcome every obstacle, can be found in her maternal love and in her trust that Jesus can fulfill her request," the pope said. "This makes me think of the strength of women. With their strength they are able to obtain great things. We've know many women like this."

In the Gospel story, when the woman first cries out, Jesus seems to ignore her, the pope noted. But she is not discouraged and continues to call out to him.

In the end, Jesus recognizes her great faith and answers her request, the pope said. "Her insistence in invoking Christ's intervention stimulates us never to be discouraged and not to despair when we are oppressed by the harsh trials of life."

"The Lord does not turn away from our needs and, if sometimes he seems indifferent to our requests for help, it is to test us and strengthen our faith," Pope Francis said. "We must continue to cry, like this woman: 'Lord, help me. Lord, help me.'"

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Copyright © 2017 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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Pope urges respect for the life and dignity of migrants, refugees

IMAGE: CNS photo/Christinne Muschi, Reuters

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- With millions of people fleeing violence, persecution and poverty around the globe, individual nations must expand options that make it possible for migrants and refugees to cross their borders safely and legally, Pope Francis said.

"The principle of the centrality of the human person, firmly stated by my beloved predecessor, Benedict XVI, obliges us to always prioritize personal safety over national security," Pope Francis wrote in his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2018.

The Vatican will mark the day Jan. 14, while in the United States, the bishops' conference sets aside an entire week -- Jan. 7-13 -- as National Migration Week.

The pope's message for the annual event was released Aug. 21, which is earlier than normal, to stimulate Catholic involvement in the U.N. process for developing and adopting a Global Compact for Migration and a Global Compact on Refugees.

Since the U.N. General Assembly voted in September 2016 to draw up the compacts, the Vatican and many Catholic organizations have been participating in the discussions and hearings to formulate them. The U.N. hopes to have a draft of the compacts ready by February and to present them to the General Assembly in September 2018.

Approving the development of the compacts, "world leaders clearly expressed their desire to take decisive action in support of migrants and refugees to save their lives and protect their rights," the pope said in his message. He urged Catholics to get involved by lobbying their governments to include in the compacts proposals that would ensure the welcome, protection, promotion and integration of migrants and refugees.

For Catholics, he said, "every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age."

"The Lord entrusts to the church's motherly love every person forced to leave their homeland in search of a better future," Pope Francis wrote.

To fulfill its duties toward migrants and refugees, he said, the church needs all of its members to act in solidarity with them, whether it is in countries of departure, transit, arrival or return.

In the message, Pope Francis called for countries to: "increase and simplify the process for granting humanitarian visas and for reunifying families"; grant special temporary visas to people fleeing conflict; uphold the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees "independent of their legal status"; educate people in migrant-sending countries about their rights and obligations abroad; stop the detention of underage migrants; provide migrants, refugees and asylum seekers with work permits so they can begin supporting themselves and contributing to their new communities; and guarantee the right of all migrants and refugees to practice their faith.

"Considering the current situation, welcoming means, above all, offering broader options for migrants and refugees to enter destination countries safely and legally," the pope said.

And, he said, even when faced with situations in which someone has entered a country without the proper legal permits, "collective and arbitrary expulsions of migrants and refugees are not suitable solutions, particularly where people are returned to countries which cannot guarantee respect for human dignity and fundamental rights."

Nations and local communities, the pope said, need to do more to integrate migrants and refugees in the communities that welcome them. Integration does not mean the newcomers will be asked to give up their cultural identity, but that they will have opportunities to share their cultures and to discover the cultural heritage of their new communities.

Pope Francis signed the message Aug. 15, the feast of the Assumption, and entrusted to Mary "the hopes of all the world's migrants and refugees and the aspirations of the communities which welcome them, so that, responding to the Lord's supreme commandment, we may all learn to love the other, the stranger, as ourselves."

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Copyright © 2017 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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Vatican pharmacy does booming business

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Serving an average of more than 2,000 clients a day, the Vatican pharmacy may be one of the world's busiest in-person dispensaries of pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter medicines, soaps, ointments and elixirs.

Run, since 1874, by the Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God, the pharmacy continues to produce some of its own ointments and potions, Brother Thomas Binish Mulackal told the Vatican newspaper.

The Vatican's own products include a cream for preventing bedsores, anise and quinine elixirs, six different fragrances of soap, lavender water, an anti-acne lotion and a specially produced aftershave, said Brother Mulackal, the pharmacy director.

The laboratory where the products are made -- and where pharmacists mix some drugs to meet physicians' exact prescriptions for their patients -- is about to undergo an expansion, he said.

In an interview published Aug. 18 in L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, Brother Mulackal said the number of clients served each day averages between 2,000 and 2,500. About half of them are Vatican residents, employees and their family members. The rest come from outside the Vatican for medicines that are not available in Italy or are difficult to find. Outsiders must have a prescription and valid ID to enter.

The pharmacy, which includes a large personal hygiene, beauty and cosmetics section, stocks some 42,000 products, the brother said. The products come from Italy, Switzerland, France, Germany and the United States.

The top-selling products from abroad, he said, are: Bengay, a pain-relieving heat rub; Contractubex, a scar treatment ointment; Hamolind, a hemorrhoid treatment; Pantogar, sold to prevent hair loss; Osteo Bi-Flex for joint health; and Aspir-Low, a low-dosage aspirin.

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Copyright © 2017 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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Catholic leaders urge prayers, unity after attacks in Spain

IMAGE: CNS photo/Quique Garcia, EPA

By Jonathan Luxmoore

OXFORD, England (CNS) -- Spanish church leaders urged prayers and national unity after two terrorist attacks left at least 19 people dead.

Pope Francis, U.S. bishops and others weighed in with prayers and rejection of the Aug. 17 attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, where cars drove into pedestrians. The Islamic State group claimed credit for the attacks. Thirteen were killed in Barcelona; one pedestrian and five suspects were killed in Cambrils.

"People are deeply shocked and saddened by this totally random event," said Msgr. Josep Ramon Perez, dean of Barcelona's Catholic cathedral. "While many are naturally asking what's happening to the world to make such things possible, many also recognize that the most important response is to pray for peace."

Thousands attended a midday vigil Aug. 18 in Barcelona's Plaza de Catalunya, attended by Spanish King Felipe VI and government and political party leaders from across the country. Spanish police asked mourners not to bring bags or backpacks to the vigil, which was accompanied by parallel commemorations in Madrid and other cities, as well as at the European Union's headquarters in Brussels.

Barcelona Cardinal Juan Jose Omella interrupted his retreat Aug. 17 to return to his city and be close to his people. The Archdiocese of Barcelona released photographs of him visiting victims of the attack at the hospital.

In a message to Cardinal Omella, Pope Francis denounced the "cruel terrorist attack" in Barcelona and said such "blind violence," which sows death and pain, is "a great offense to the Creator."

The papal message, sent by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, included prayers for the eternal repose of the dead, and for their families.

Pope Francis, it said, also prayed that God "would help us continue working with determination for peace and harmony in the world."

In an interview Aug. 18, Msgr. Perez said Barcelona's cathedral and neighboring churches had been closed after the attack as part of a security lockdown, forcing visitors and pilgrims to remain inside until late evening.

"The terrorists who carried out this action have nothing to do with ordinary people here," Msgr. Perez said, noting that "local Muslims are just as shocked and horrified as everyone else."

Candles, flowers and messages of solidarity were placed in memory of victims at various city locations.

Meanwhile, the Tarraconense bishops' conference, grouping Catholic bishops from Spain's Catalonia region, said members were "completely dismayed" by the "barbarity of the attack and the contempt it implies for human life and its dignity," adding that Barcelona and its inhabitants had always been "committed to the cause of peace and justice."

In an Aug. 18 interview with the Spanish church's COPE news agency, Cardinal Ricardo Blasquez, president of the Madrid-based bishops' conference, said Spaniards would be "especially beaten" after the Barcelona outrage, which had "inflicted a wound on everyone." He urged citizens to remember that Muslims were "the main victims" of Islamic State and not to "criminalize" them for the attack or "identify terrorism with Islam."

"Far from being terrorist violence, the true road to building a future of peace, now and forever, lies in respect for all people," Cardinal Blasquez said.

Following the first attack, Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, said the bishops' conference "unequivocally condemns this morally heinous act and places itself in solidarity with the people of the Archdiocese of Barcelona and Spain at this terrible time of loss and grief."

"Terrorist attacks on innocent civilians can never be justified," he said. "To directly attack innocent men, women and children is utterly reprehensible."

The attack is the latest of several in which trucks and vans had been driven at high speed through pedestrian zones in Europe.

In an Aug. 18 message, Archbishop Georges Pontier of Marseille, president of the bishops' conference in neighboring France, said the Barcelona atrocity was "an insult to the Creator," and would unite Catholics in their determination that "evil will not have the last word." In Nice, France, in July 2016, 86 people were killed and 458 injured in a similar attack with a 19-ton truck.

The Las Ramblas attack was Spain's worst since March 2004, when Islamist militants detonated 10 bombs on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people and injuring more than 1,800.

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