US Bishops Decry Desecration of Catholic Sites

Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Religious Liberty, and Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued the following statement in response to reports of increasing incidents of church vandalism and fires:

“In the last few weeks, we have witnessed, among other things, one church rammed with a car and set on fire, as well as statues of Jesus Christ and of the Virgin Mary defaced or even beheaded. A historic mission church has also been badly damaged by fire, and the cause is still under investigation.

“Whether those who committed these acts were troubled individuals crying out for help or agents of hate seeking to intimidate, the attacks are signs of a society in need of healing.

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Students Lead Class Prayer: 5 Tips to Get Started

Help Students Lead Class Prayer

At the beginning of the year, I spend a few days preparing students to lead class prayer. I teach high school religion during the day, and we open each class period with prayer. This is a great opportunity to help the students build faith skills! They get a chance to show their faith in front of their peers, as well as practicing public speaking, reading aloud, and choosing a formal prayer.

Skills to Lead Prayer

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Plight Worsens for Poorest Christian Families in Damascus

“Here in Damascus, everything has become so expensive!” So says Sister Joseph-Marie Chanaa. “The worsening plight of the people has forced me to get involved in the social sphere in order to help the poor and the suffering”, she adds – for originally she worked as a catechist. A member of the congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Besançon in France, Sister Joseph-Marie has been working ever since the war in Syria, heading a group of 16 people engaged in helping the poorest Christian families in Damascus – thanks not least to the support from Aid to the Church in Need (ACN International).

The civil war in Syria is now in its 10th year and the social need throughout the country has only continued to grow, she laments. According to UN figures, in 2019 some 83 percent of the Syrian population was living below the poverty threshold. And although the bombs have stopped falling on Damascus itself, the civilian population is continuing to pay the price for the conflict and for the subsequent economic sanctions, which are limiting the revenue of the state and thus cutting the funds available for paying the salaries of public service workers, which in turn is leading to growing impoverishment among many families. And what is more, the general destruction and contamination of the agricultural infrastructure and the subsequent supply chain, such as markets and bakeries, the lack of productive employment and depletion of people’s savings, the growing debt and limited economic opportunities, have all combined to compound the social and economic difficulties and at the same time have forced rental prices still higher. It is a crisis that has no more spared the many Christians in the capital than it has the rest of the population.

In Damascus, the cost of renting a small two-roomed apartment with a sitting room and kitchen has increased to an average of around 60,000 Syrian pounds, or over 100 Euros. Sister Joseph-Marie cites the example of a family in which only the father has work, earning a salary of 80,000 Syrian pounds (140 Euros). This means that he has barely 20,000 Syrian pounds, or €40 left for his family to live on. To give some idea of prices, the cost of a sandwich is around £1000 Syrian, or €1.7 – “a very high price for Syrian conditions”, she explains.

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Funeral Mass for Bishop Eugenio Scarpellini Celebrated in Bolivia

On Monday, July 20, in the Cathedral of the diocese of El Alto, dedicated to the Virgin of Carmel, the funeral mass of Bishop Eugenio Scarpellini was celebrated, reported Fides News Agency.

The Bishop of El Alto, who died on July 15 from Covid-19, had been a missionary in Bolivia since 1988, national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, PMS, and coordinator of the PMS of the American continent. The Eucharist was presided over by Mgr. Aurelio Pesoa, Secretary-General of the Bolivian Bishops’ Conference, and was attended by priests, religious, authorities and friends, respecting the health measures in force.

According to the news released by the PMS of Bolivia, Mgr. Sergio Gualberti, Archbishop of Santa Cruz, fraternal friend of Mgr. Scarpellini, pronounced the homily in a virtual form, expressing his feelings. “On the one hand, the pain and sadness of the sudden and unexpected death of Bishop Eugenio – he said -, the loss of a great pastor much appreciated and loved by his people, and in particular by me, with whom we cultivated a profound friendship. On the other, the feelings of gratitude to God for the life of Mgr. Eugenio, for having given him the gift of faith, having chosen him as a priest in the image of Christ and for sending him as a missionary to our Church in Bolivia, where he carried out his ministry with passion, generosity, and joy”. Mgr. Gualberti then recalled “his overflowing vitality and the enthusiasm he put into everything he did, infecting people with the energy that emanated from his whole being, the heart of the faithful follower of Christ, the good shepherd, generous, sensitive and attentive towards people, especially the poor”.

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