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November 19, 2017
Archive of November 11, 2017

Decision to axe US migration program endangers minors, bishops warn

Washington D.C., Nov 11, 2017 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Trump administration's ending of a program that helped reunite Central American minors with their parents in the U.S. has drawn strong objections from the U.S. bishops.

The administration decided to end refugee processing in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala for those who apply for U.S. entry through the Central American Minors program. The program had allowed some parents legally present in the U.S. to request a refugee resettlement interview for their children and other family members like the child’s other parent, a caregiver, or a grandchild, ABC News reports.

“This decision of the administration unnecessarily casts aside a proven and safe alternative to irregular and dangerous migration for Central American children,” said Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, head of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration. Terminating the entire program will “neither promote safety for these children nor help our government regulate migration,” he said Nov. 9.

“Pope Francis has called on us to protect migrant children, noting that ‘among migrants, children constitute the most vulnerable group’,” the bishop continued.

The Central American Minors program was established in 2014, at the height of the surge of unaccompanied migrant children coming to the U.S.-Mexico border from Central America, primarily El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

There were about 14,000 applications to the program, with 8,000 having been processed. A total of 3,328 children and family members were admitted as refugees and parolees. Another 6,000 people’s applications are still under consideration.     

Vasquez offered prayers for those affected.

“We continue to pray and express our support for parents who endure anxiety and emotional hardship knowing their children will continue to languish in violence; and to the children themselves, who will not be able to reunite and embrace their parents,” he said.

A U.S. State Department official told ABC News the program was ended “as part of the overall U.S. government review of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program” for fiscal year 2018.

Some critics of the program said many applicants did not meet the legal definition of a refugee because they were fleeing violent conflict, but not persecution of some kind.

Vasquez said the program, which had previously included both refugee and parole options, should have been maintained “precisely because it provided a legal and organized way for children to migrate to the United States and reunify with families.”

Vasquez cited the August decision to end the program’s parole option for Central American migrants. That decision caused “heartbreaking family separation for families who have learned that their child has no safe means of arriving to the U.S.”

Ending the overall program will “sadly perpetuate more of the same family breakdown,” he said.

The bishop was “deeply disappointed” that the administration decided to terminate the program in its entirety. He said it was “especially troubling” to have a short cutoff date for accepting applications to the program.

There was barely a day’s advance notice to those who provide services, he said.

The State Department recently ended temporary protected status for Nicaraguans, meaning about 2,500 Nicaraguans must leave before January 2019 or face deportation. Many of them have been living in the U.S. for years and have children. Protected status for Hondurans has been extended another six months.

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Father Janos Brenner: Hungarian priest and martyr

Szombathely, Hungary, Nov 11, 2017 (CNA/EWTN News) - Besides the smiling Pope, John Paul I, several other people’s causes advanced towards sainthood this week. Among them is Servant of God János (John) Brenner, a Cistercian Hungarian priest whose martyrdom was acknowledged by Pope Francis this week.

Brenner was born on Dec. 27, 1931 in Szombathely, Hungary. A young person “full of life, joy and mischief,” Brenner attended Catholic schools run by the Cistercian order (a reformed order of Benedictines) for several years until the nationalization of schools by the communist government which came to power after World War II as part of the Eastern Bloc.

He felt called to the Cistercian order. He applied and was accepted as a novice to the order in Zirc in 1950, and took the name Br. Anastasius (Anasztáz).

However, only a few months after Brenner began formation, the communist government began suppressing religious houses. To protect the men in formation, the novice master moved the young brothers from the abbey to private apartments, where they hoped to continue formation in secret.

It was around this time that Brenner, along with a few other novices, moved to the local seminary to begin studying to become a priest, while continuing with his Cistercian formation through correspondence.

Despite the dangers and religious oppression going on around him, journal entries from Brenner at the time display a deep trust in God and a strong desire to do his will.

“There is no greater joy than when man who is nothing, can be even more annihilated in Christ and immerse himself into the infinite world of His soul filled with wonderful riches which are forever given over to us,” he wrote in 1950.

“Even if the road is rough, I look at your pain- ridden face and follow you. I ask you only one thing: May I always fulfill most precisely what you give to me as my vocation.”

Brenner took vows with the Cistercian order and then was ordained a priest in 1955.

Throughout his ministry, he was known for his willingness and readiness to serve and to sacrifice, and took as his priestly motto the verse Romans 8:28: “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”

Brenner was especially talented at working with youth, which all the more made him a target of the communist government.

Even when he was made aware of personal threats against his life, and his bishop offered to transfer him elsewhere for his own safety, Brenner responded: "I'm not afraid, I'm happy to stay."

On the night of Dec. 14, 1957, Brenner was falsely called to give last rites to a sick person in a neighboring town, amid the reprisals for the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.

He left his home, carrying his anointing oils and the Eucharist, but was ambushed in the woods outside Rabakethely and stabbed 32 times. He was found dead the next day, still clutching the Eucharist in his hands, which has earned him the title of the “Hungarian Tarcisius.” St. Tarcisius was a young boy and third century martyr who was also killed while carrying and protecting the Eucharist.

While the communists had hoped that Brenner’s death would intimidate the faithful in the area, they could not stop devotion to Brenner’s memory. The Chapel of the Good Pastor was built in 1989 on the spot where he died, and is a popular place of pilgrimage for people throughout the country. The dirty and bloodied surplice Brenner wore when he was killed has been preserved as a relic.

Because Brenner has received a declaration of martyrdom from the Vatican, his new title is Venerable Servant of God János Brenner. This means that the path is open for Brenner’s beatification, as the usual requirement for a miracle is waived in cases of martyrdom.

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Pope Francis: The future of the world depends on the family

Vatican City, Nov 11, 2017 (CNA/EWTN News) - The future of the Church and the world is dependent on the good of the family, said Pope Francis in a video message Saturday.

“The love between a man and woman is one of the most generative human experiences, it is the ferment of the culture of encounter and brings to the present world an injection of sociality,” the Pope said.

“The family born of marriage creates fruitful bonds, which reveal themselves to be the most effective antidote against the individualism that currently runs rampant.”

Quoting his 2016 apostolic exhortation, Amoris laetitia, he emphasized, “Indeed the good of the family is decisive for the future of the world and of the Church.”

The Pope sent a video message to participants in the third international symposium on Amoris laetitia, organized by the Italian bishops’ conference. Taking place in Rome Nov. 11, the theme of the meeting was: “The Gospel of love between conscience and norm.”

Speaking about the role of the properly formed conscience, Francis warned against the temptation to turn to a sort of egoism or “cult of self.”

“The contemporary world risks confusing the primacy of conscience, which is always to be respected, with the exclusive autonomy of the individual in relation to the relationships he lives,” he said.

This is why, he said, there is a need to form consciences – not substitute them – and to accompany spouses and parents in learning to “apply the Gospel to the concreteness of life.”

In the reality of the family and of marital love, there may come situations which require “arduous choices,” he continued, and these should be made “with righteousness.” Therefore, divine grace, “which illuminates and strengthens married love and parental mission,” is absolutely necessary for spouses and the family.

Pope Francis’ video message echoed his recent keynote address to a major conference on the future of the European Union, in which he spoke out against abortion and said the Christian understanding of the family can serve as a model on which the European continent can base its identity as it faces a changing and uncertain future.

In the family, “diversity is valued and at the same time brought into unity,” Francis said Oct. 28, explaining that the family “is the harmonious union of the differences between man and woman, which becomes stronger and more authentic to the extent that it is fruitful, capable of opening itself to life and to others.”

 

 

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