National and world news, November 17, 2017

Nuncio: Bishops must focus on youth, evangelization, Jesus
BALTIMORE (CNS) — There are three things bishops must always keep in mind as they exercise their episcopal ministry, according to Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican’s nuncio to the United States: youth, the mission of evangelization and “the Lord himself.”
“The Holy Father has demanded of bishops that their mission requires passion,” Archbishop Pierre said in an address to the U.S. bishops Nov 13, the first day of their fall general assembly in Baltimore. “We need to have the passion of young lovers and wise elders.”
Pope Francis has warned that “the biggest threat of all is gluttony,” Archbishop Pierre added, in “which all appears to proceed normally while in reality faith is winding down.”
“I ask you for passion — the passion of evangelization — what are we as bishops, totally to be passionate about,” he said. As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops celebrates its centennial in 2017, the archbishop added, “I think this is a fundamental question that the illustrious past of your conference gives as Christ as the center of your life and your church.”
In focusing on youth, Archbishop Pierre said, “Pastors, parents and teachers know the difficulties of transmitting the faith in our day, which is not so much the nature of change as the change in age. Young people struggle not only with existential questions but practical ones, like finding work.”
He noted that “50 percent of Catholics under 30 identify as ‘nones’ (having no religious affiliation) ... and nearly 14 million Hispanics born Catholic but raised here have become nones.”
Archbishop Pierre said, “Perhaps we could become discouraged. However, we are a people of hope. Our hope is basically in the Lord and the Holy Spirit. Are we passionate about our youth? If so, this means being open to accompanying them personally as spiritual fathers, even if this means demands on our time and our energy.”

Abortion, assisted suicide focus of pro-life activities, says N.Y. Cardinal Dolan
BALTIMORE (CNS) — Assisted suicide and abortion remain the focus of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, according to Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, the committee chairman.
One of those issues was being taken up by the American Medical Association House of Delegates as the U.S. bishops held their fall general assembly in Baltimore Nov. 13-14.
The AMA House of Delegates was meeting concurrently with the USCCB meeting and was likely to consider the June recommendation of the AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs to change the AMA’s decades-long position against assisted suicide to one of “neutrality.”
“In light of the complex and deeply contested nature of the issues at stake, CEJA believes it is wisest to proceed cautiously and allow ample time for thoughtful reflection in developing its report,” the AMA had said in a statement at the time.
“Efforts continue, in collaboration with other groups, to provide CEJA with compelling reasons to maintain the AMA’s long-held opposition to assisted suicide,” Cardinal Dolan said in a report submitted in advance of the bishops’ meeting. “Similar efforts continue with state-level medical associations to urge them to maintain or adopt opposition to assisted suicide.”
In his remarks Nov. 13, the first day of the USCCB meeting, Cardinal Dolan lauded the bishops’ longtime collaboration with the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment. “They have been with us for 45 years,” since the 1973 Supreme Court decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton that allowed legal abortion virtually on demand, Cardinal Dolan told his fellow bishops.

Religious vocations continue to blossom within the United States, according to sisters’ survey
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious released “encouraging” numbers last week from its annual survey of the communities associated with the council.
The 2017 report, prepared by Dominican Sister Mary Bendyna, again shows over 900 sisters currently in initial formation, with temporary professed as the largest group followed by novices and postulants. The number of sisters in the initial stages of religious life has remained steady throughout the six years the survey has been conducted, continuing an encouraging trend among council members and their communities.
“Religious life continues to blossom in the United States,” said Mother Mary McGreevy, chairperson of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious and Superior General of the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma.
“Amongst responding communities, 165 new postulants were welcomed in 2016. These same communities also received 137 sisters as novices and celebrated 103 first professions and 72 perpetual professions. These numbers indicate that young women today are hearing and responding to God’s call for a total gift of self. This encouraging trend is a blessing not only for the individual communities but for the entire Church.”
The survey also asked respondents to indicate the country of birth of each sister who made perpetual profession in 2016. The data showed that the majority of newly perpetually professed sisters, 62.5 percent, were born in the United States. The next most common countries of origin this year were Mexico, 7 percent, and the Philippines, 6 percent.
The average age of the sisters overall is 58, consistent with previous studies. The average age of postulants is 28; of novices, 28 years old; and 32.5 years old for temporary professed sisters.
About 85 percent of professed sisters are fully engaged in active service, while 15 percent are retired because of age or infirmity. The sisters currently serve in at least 137 dioceses across the United States.
Located in Washington, D.C., the CMSWR was founded in 1992 with the canonical approval of St. John Paul II. The sisters of the CMSWR members represent around 120 communities nationwide with almost 6,000 sisters. For more information, visit cmswr.org.

Young people want to be heard, be part of leadership, report says
BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Young people in the church want to be heard and be invited to be a part of church leadership, according to a report by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in preparation for next year’s Synod of Bishops on youth.
They are often at transition points in their lives, yet they don’t know where to go for mentorship, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president, said Nov. 13.
He presented a summary of the responses gathered from dioceses and Catholic organizations to the bishops during their annual fall assembly in Baltimore.
The cardinal noted that pulling together the responses of young people from high school age to young adults is a challenge because of the group’s broad diversity and many different needs. He also said the report affirms a growing awareness of the challenges young people face today with economics, anxiety and drug and alcohol abuse.
The cardinal pointed out that the survey responses indicate that church leaders have work to do to walk with young people and address challenges they face, but he also said there has been some positive growth in young people’s faith.

Pope sends condolences after quake kills hundreds
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis sent messages of condolence to people in Iran and Iraq after a magnitude 7.3 earthquake killed more than 400 people, mostly in Iran.
The pope “assures all affected by this tragedy of his prayerful solidarity,” said the nearly identical messages, released Nov. 13.
“In expressing his sorrow to all who mourn the loss of their loved ones, he offers his prayers for the deceased and commends them to the mercy of the almighty,” said the telegrams, signed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state.
As he often does in emergencies, Pope Francis also asked for the “blessings of consolation and strength” for first responders and civil authorities.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the Nov. 12 quake was centered 19 miles outside Halabja, Iraq. It was felt as far west as the Mediterranean coast.
The hardest-hit area was Iran’s western Kermanshah province, which sits in the Zagros Mountains that divide Iran and Iraq. The Associated Press reported residents in the rural area rely mainly on farming to make a living.
Caritas MONA, the regional branch of the church’s charitable aid agency in the Middle East and North Africa, sent tweets asking people to join Caritas Iran and Caritas Iraq in prayers for those affected.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with our brothers and sisters in Iraq and Iran following yesterday’s devastating earthquake that hit the border region,” said another tweet Nov. 13.
Caritas Mexico raises $900,000 after September quakes
The Mexican bishops’ conference and Caritas Mexico announced the charitable agency had raised more than 17.3 million pesos (US$900,000) to assist with relief and rebuilding after twin earthquakes struck the country in September. The money will be used to build relief centers and shelters for those who were left homeless or displaced.
“We will work in community centers,” Father Rogelio Narvaez, executive secretary of Caritas Mexico, said Oct. 23 in Mexico City. “With the current contribution of the church in Mexico, we can build enough units in the affected places.”
Two earthquakes of magnitudes 8.1 and 7.1 violently shook Mexico Sept. 7 and Sept. 19.
The first earthquake leveled parts of southern Oaxaca and Chiapas states, leaving 100 dead and damaging more than 100,000 homes. The second earthquake struck just south of Mexico City, claiming 369 lives in the national capital and in the outlying states of Morelos and Puebla.

The pope’s intention
Here is Pope Francis’ prayer intention for this month:
That Christians in Asia, bearing witness to the Gospel in word and deed, may promote dialogue, peace, and mutual understanding, especially with those of other religions.