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Follow Mary's 'yes,' pope says ahead of World Youth Day

Vatican City, Nov 21, 2018 / 11:31 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Serving others first requires listening to God in prayer, so that one can give the same ‘yes’ to God’s will that Mary gave, Pope Francis said in a message for World Youth Day 2019.

“To be at the service of others does not only mean to be ready for action. It means also to be in conversation with God with an attitude of listening, just like Mary,” the pope said in a video message Nov. 20.

“[Mary] listened to what the angel said to her and then she responded,” he said. “It is by relating to God in the silence of our hearts that we discover our identity and the vocation to which God is calling us.”

Whether one’s vocation is marriage, consecrated life, or the priesthood – “all these are ways of following Jesus,” he stated. “The important thing is to discover what God wants from us and to be brave enough to say ‘yes.’”

Pope Francis will visit the small Central American country of Panama in January for World Youth Day, an international gathering of young people which was begun by Pope St. John Paul II in 1985. Ordinarily held sometime in the summer months, in 2019 it will take place Jan. 22-27, to avoid Panama’s rainy season.

In 2019, the theme for World Youth Day is Mary’s fiat from the Gospel of Luke: “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

In his message in anticipation of the event, Francis said there are many young people, both believers and non-believers, who have the desire to do something good for others, especially for the suffering.

“This is a strength in young people, a strength that all of you possess. It is a strength that can change the world,” he underlined.

God’s plan is “meant to make our lives fruitful and produce many smiles and happy hearts. To respond to God positively is to take a first step towards being happy and towards making many people happy,” he said.

“May Our Lady be with you on this pilgrimage,” he concluded, “and may her example encourage you to be brave and generous in your response.”

Mary, under the title of Santa Maria la Antigua, has been an important figure in the Catholic Church in Panama for centuries. She was officially declared the country’s patroness under that title by the bishops’ conference in 2000.

Pope Francis will be in Panama for World Youth Day from Jan. 23-Jan. 29, 2019. After a nearly 13-hour flight, he will land in Panama for the official welcoming ceremony at the airport Jan. 23.

The next morning, the pope will meet with Panama’s president Juan Carlos Varela, followed by a meeting with authorities, the diplomatic corps, and other representatives of Panamanian society.

The same day he will meet with the bishops of Central America. The official opening of World Youth Day at Santa Maria La Antigua field will take place that afternoon.

Friday, January 25, the pope’s schedule will begin with the celebration of a penitential liturgy with young detainees at a juvenile detention center and in the afternoon, he will lead the Way of the Cross for the young people of World Youth Day in Santa Maria La Antigua field.

The next day will begin with Mass with local priests, consecrated, and members of lay movements. At this Mass there will be a dedication of the altar of the Cathedral Basilica of Santa Maria la Antigua.

That day Pope Francis will eat lunch with the seminarians of the Major Seminary of San Jose, followed by a prayer vigil with youth in San Juan Pablo II field in Metro Park.

His final day, Sunday, Jan. 27, Francis will celebrate Mass for World Youth Day at 8 a.m. in the same park as the prior evening’s prayer vigil.

He will afterward visit a home for the needy, called “Good Samaritan House,” where he will lead the Angelus. His final speech will be in a meeting with the volunteers of World Youth Day in the Rommel Fernandez stadium before departing Panama for Rome, where he should arrive shortly before noon Jan. 29.

Pope Francis will give a total of seven speeches, three homilies, and one Angelus during the five days he is in Panama.

 

Trump defends relationship with Saudi Arabia after journalist's murder

Washington D.C., Nov 21, 2018 / 10:20 am (CNA).- Citing low oil prices, U.S. President Donald Trump has said that he will continue to support Saudi Arabia after the death and dismemberment of a Washington Post journalist last month.

“The crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one, and one that our country does not condone,” the president said in a statement Tuesday. “We have already sanctioned 17 Saudis known to have been involved in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, and the disposal of his body.”

However, he stressed the economic impact of maintaining a strong relationship with the Saudi government.

“After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States.”

Trump’s comments come in response to the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Born in Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi had moved to the U.S. last year and was a frequent critic of the Saudi regime. He was killed and his body dismembered at a Saudi consulate in Turkey last month.

The Saudi government has denied involvement in the killing, but the denial has been disputed.

“The CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi…according to people familiar with the matter,” the Washington Post reported last week.

Trump noted that Saudi Crown Prince has denied his involvement in the assassination, saying, “we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder.”

“Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”

“In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Trump continued. He cited their reliability as “a great ally in our very important fight against Iran” as well as their responsiveness “to my requests to keeping oil prices at reasonable levels.”

“The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region,” Trump said.

On Wednesday, Trump thanked Saudi Arabia for drops in oil prices.

“Oil prices getting lower. Great! Like a big Tax Cut for America and the World. Enjoy! $54, was just $82,” he said on Twitter. “Thank you to Saudi Arabia, but let’s go lower!”

For years, Saudi Arabia has been ranked among the world’s worst human rights violators. In its 2017 human rights report on Saudi Arabia, the U.S. State Department pointed to the country’s unlawful killings, torture, arbitrary detention, political prisoners, human trafficking, and restrictions on freedoms of expression, assembly, movement and religion.

Last year, Aid to the Church in Need ranked Saudi Arabia as “extreme” in the scale of anti-Christian persecution. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has repeatedly named Saudi Arabia as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC), a label that identifies foreign governments which engage in or tolerate “systemic, ongoing, and egregious” religious freedom violations.

Saudi Arabia is currently involved in what has become a nearly four-year proxy war in Yemen. The conflict began when the Shiite Muslim Houthi tribe took control of a key territory and chased the president from the capital city. Saudi Arabia and some Arab allies intervened on behalf of the opposing faction, while Iran has backed the Houthi rebels.

At least 6,500 civilians have been killed in the conflict, as have over 10,000 combatants. More than 2 million people have been displaced from their homes. The number of people facing pre-famine conditions could reach 14 million, the U.N. has estimated.

Mass starvation in Yemen is a possible threat, as a military engagement in the major port city of Hodeidah could block food and other humanitarian aid for millions of people. Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, has said that starvation is a weapon of war and the famine is “wholly man-made.”

“Mass starvation is a deadly byproduct of actions taken by warring parties and the Western nations propping them up,” Egeland said in an Oct. 15 statement.

The U.S. government is providing some forms of military support to Saudi Arabian forces in the conflict and U.S.-supplied weapons have been traced to incidents that have killed civilians. An Aug. 9 aerial bombing of a school bus killed dozens of children with a bomb manufactured by U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin, CNN reported.

Then-President Barack Obama had banned the sale of precision-guided military technology to Saudi Arabia, citing human rights concerns, but the Trump administration overturned the ban in March 2017.

 

Cardinal DiNardo denies priests named in report ‘credibly accused’

Houston, Texas, Nov 21, 2018 / 09:16 am (CNA).- Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, has denied that he allowed two priests to remain in active ministry despite credible allegations of sexual abuse against them.

 

CBS News aired a report Nov. 20, citing accusations against two Houston priests, Fr. Terence Brinkman and Fr. John Keller, who are presently in active ministry within the archdiocese.

 

During the meeting of the U.S. bishops’ conference held in Baltimore last week, CBS asked DiNardo if he was aware that “you have two priests with credible sexual abuse allegations currently in active ministry in your diocese?”

 

DiNardo, who serves as president of the U.S. bishops' conference, asked which priests were being referenced. On hearing the names of Brinkman and Keller, he immediately responded that neither was a credible allegation.

 

“That’s not a credible one,” DiNardo said of the accusation against Keller. Regarding the allegation against Brinkman the cardinal replied that “[the accusation against] Terry was never credible.”

 

Under the Dallas Charter and Essential Norms governing how U.S. dioceses are to handle sexual abuse allegations against priests, a “credible” accusation is any allegation which has the semblance of truth or not found to be manifestly false or frivolous.

 

Since 2002, all accusations of sexual abuse against a priest in an American diocese are examined by an independent, lay-led diocesan review board which determines if they are “credible.”

 

Citing court documents, the report says that Fr. Brinkman was accused of sexually abusing a minor, but that a civil case was dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired. The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston said that the accuser had offered a physical description “that does not match Fr. Brinkman."

 

The website Bishop-Accountability lists the accusation as having been made in a civil suit filed in July 2010, and concerns alleged events in the mid 1970s. The CBS report made no reference to these dates but did display the same image of Fr. Brinkman that appears on Bishop-Accountability.

 

Fr. Thomas Keller is accused by Mr. John LaBonte of giving him alcohol and fondling him in his bed during an overnight trip. LaBonte was 16 at the time of the alleged incident.

 

LaBonte told CBS that he presented his allegation to the then-Diocese of Galveston-Houston in 2002, at the height of the last sexual abuse crisis in the Church in the United States.

 

Citing a letter received he in 2003, LaBonte says the diocese confirmed that Keller behaved in a manner “inappropriate for a priest” and was receiving “therapy” but that they "could not conclude” that that the incident "constituted sexual abuse."

 

Both Keller and Brinkman remain in active ministry. The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston could not be reached for comment.

 

DiNardo has committed to release a list of all clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston by the end of January 2019. That list will include accusations dating back seven decades.

Pope Francis: God alone can heal the wounds of sin

Vatican City, Nov 21, 2018 / 03:13 am (CNA/EWTN News).- People need the mercy of God and the healing of the Holy Spirit to root out the sin in their lives – they cannot do it on their own, Pope Francis said at the general audience Wednesday.

“It is useless to think of being able to correct oneself without the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is futile to think of purifying our heart in a titanic effort of only our will. This is not possible,” he said Nov. 21.

“We must open ourselves to relationship with God, in truth and in freedom,” he urged, “only in this way can our labors bear fruit. Because it is the Holy Spirit that carries us forward.”

Before the start of the general audience, the pope greeted and blessed an ill woman, who was brought to the square by her family, and accompanied by medical personnel.

In his catechesis, he reflected on the 10th commandment, which says to not covet the house or wife or goods of one’s neighbor. In a way, this commandment sounds like the commandments against stealing and against adultery, Francis pointed out.

“Keep in mind,” he said, “that all the commandments have the task of indicating the boundary of life, the limit beyond which man destroys himself and his neighbor, spoiling his relationship with God.”

He explained that the Ten Commandments signal the behavior and actions which will destroy one’s self and destroy one’s relationship with God and with others, and said in the 10th and final commandment, it is emphasized that all sin comes from a common root: “evil desires.”

Quoting Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, Francis said: “From within, in fact, from the heart of men, come evil purposes: impurity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.”

“A good list, huh?” he commented off-the-cuff, saying he would reread it, “because it will be good for everyone.”

To try to follow the Ten Commandments, therefore, is useless, the pope said, if not accompanied by the desire to also be rid of the evil desires hiding within the heart.

“The last words of the Decalogue educate everyone to recognize themselves as beggars,” he said. “They help us to face the disorder of our heart, to stop living selfishly and become poor in spirit, authentic in the presence of the Father, allowing ourselves to be redeemed by the Son and taught by the Holy Spirit.”

Quoting the beatitudes, he said: “‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’”

“Yes, blessed those who stop deluding themselves, believing that they can save themselves from their weakness without the mercy of God, who alone can heal; only the mercy of God heals the heart,” he emphasized.

“Blessed are those who recognize their evil desires, and with a repentant and mortified heart stand before God and men as righteous, but as sinners,” he concluded. “This is a beautiful prayer... These are those who know how to have compassion, who know how to have mercy on others, because they experience it for themselves.”

At the end of the audience, Francis noted the Nov. 21 commemoration of Pro Orantibus Day, which is dedicated to remembering cloistered religious communities.

“It is a most opportune occasion to thank the Lord for the gift of so many people who, in monasteries and hermitages, dedicate themselves totally to God in prayer, in silence, and in hiding,” he said.

Do must not forget these communities in “the affection, the closeness, and the material support of the whole Church!” he urged.

Venice illuminated in red for Asia Bibi, persecuted Christians

Venice, Italy, Nov 21, 2018 / 12:09 am (CNA/EWTN News).- To express solidarity with persecuted Christians, including Asia Bibi, a Pakistani woman recently acquitted of blasphemy, the city of Venice was illuminated in red light Tuesday night.

In a message of support for the initiative, Pope Francis said the event “will draw the due attention of all to the serious problem of discrimination that Christians suffer in many parts of the world.”

“There are countries where a religion is imposed, others where there is violent persecution or systematic cultural mockery towards the disciples of Jesus!” he said.

Starting after dark Nov. 20, eight historic Venetian buildings, as well as the Rialto Bridge and the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute, were lit up in the color red to bring awareness to the plight of persecuted Christians around the world.

The same evening, young people from the Archdiocese of Venice made a walking pilgrimage through the city to pray for persecuted Christians.

The event, sponsored by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), follows a similar initiative in February, when the Colosseum was illuminated.

In 2017, ACN also illuminated in red London’s Parliament building, as well as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Paris and the cathedral in Manila, Philippines. The year before, the famous Trevi Fountain in Rome was lit.

From Nov. 21-Nov. 28, other major landmarks in the cities of Montreal, Toronto, Paris, Barcelona, London, Sydney, and Washington, DC will also be illuminated in red for an evening.

This year’s initiative, organized in conjunction with the city of Venice and the Patriarch of Venice Francesco Moraglia, is being put on in a particular way for Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi.

The mother-of-five was acquitted of blasphemy charges by Pakistan’s Supreme Court Oct. 31. However, her life is still in danger, as the ruling is under government review as part of a deal to appease groups that were leading riots in the streets.

Bibi had spent eight years on death row in Pakistan after she was accused of blasphemy for making disparaging remarks about the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

Bibi’s family has asked that she be granted asylum in the United States, the United Kingdom, or in other countries around Europe. Italy has offered to help Bibi obtain asylum.

Pope Francis will travel to Romania in 2019

Vatican City, Nov 20, 2018 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis will visit Romania in 2019, according to Archbishop Ioan Robu of Bucharest, president of the Romanian bishops’ conference.
 
Archbishop Robu met the pope Nov. 9, together with the bishops of Romania gathered in Rome for their ad limina visit.
 
“The meeting with the pope was long because each of us had the opportunity to talk,” Robu told CNA.
 
Although details of the meeting cannot be disclosed because they are part of a personal exchange between the pope and the bishops, Robu said that he could announce that Pope Francis will go to Romania next year.
 
“The date and program have not been set yet, the Holy See and Romanian administration will get to details in a further discussion. Also the Orthodox Church of Romania will be involved in the talks, as the majority religion in Romania. The pope, however, confirmed to us he will come in 2019,” Robu said.
 
As of 2011, there are 870,774 Catholics in Romania; 4.3 percent of the population. The Catholic Church is the second largest Romanian denomination after the Romanian Orthodox Church.
 
The Romanian bishops’ conference is composed of 17 bishops, including both bishops of Roman Catholic dioceses and Greek Catholic dioceses, that is, dioceses of the Byzantine rite.
 
Robu said that relations between the Catholic Church and the Romanian Orthodox Church vary according to the rite.
 
“There are no tensions,” he said, “between Orthodox and Catholics of the Latin rite, while the relations between Greek Catholics and Orthodox are living a sort of winter.”
 
He added that the “winter” in their relationship is mostly generated by the discussion about the return of churches to the Greek Catholic Church.
 
In 1948, when the Communist party took over the country, the Greek Catholic Church was declared illegal and the property rights of as many as 2,500 Greek Catholic church buildings and other assets were transferred to the Romanian Orthodox Church.
 
In 1989, in the wake of the Romanian revolution, the bill that declared the Greek Catholic Church outlawed was repealed, and the Romanian Greek Catholic Church could be restored.
 
Ever since, the Greek Catholic Church struggled to have its properties returned, and much of the original property has remained in Romanian Orthodox or government hands.

Robu mentioned “the case of the Greek Catholic cathedral of Baia Mara, which is the only cathedral not returned to the Greek Catholic Church.” He also said that “there are many churches that were not returned to their legitimate owner.”
 
Relations with the Romanian Orthodox Church is crucial.
 
St. John Paul II visited Romania in 1999, and so an eventual visit by Pope Francis in 2019 will mark the 20th anniversary of the first visit of a pope in the country. St. John Paul II had a wonderful relationship with Patriarch Teoctist, then head of the Romanian Orthodox Church.
 
Robu recounted that “when John Paul II came to Romania, the splendid relation between the pope and Patriarch Teoctist made all the difference: Orthodox, including Patriarch Teoctist, took part in the Catholic Mass, and Catholics, including John Paul II, took part in the Orthodox prayer.”
 
Times have changed, the archbishop added, and “I cannot see all of this being possible today. Patriarch Daniel, who took the helm of the Romanian Orthodox Church in 2008, has not encouraged the celebration of joint prayers, nor with Catholics nor with any other religious denominations. There is not even anymore a joint prayer during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.”
 
Robu also said that “sometimes, in the case of mixed marriages between Catholics and Orthodox, the Orthodox ask for a second Orthodox baptism to celebrate the wedding. Sometimes, when a Catholic is best man in an Orthodox wedding, the priest ask him to convert to Orthodoxy and sign the conversion in that very moment.”
 
It is still soon to preview how Pope Francis will eventually handle these issues, but it is almost certain that there will be a meeting with Patriarch Daniel.
 
Pope Francis will be welcomed by a flourishing Catholic Church in Romania.
 
Robu underscored that “the Romanian Church gave 44 fidei donum priests, spread in many European dioceses, and there are a lot of vocations, though they are decreasing.”

Federal judge sides with asylum-seeking migrants, blocks Trump order

Washington D.C., Nov 20, 2018 / 04:22 pm (CNA).- The Trump administration’s new rules limiting asylum for undocumented immigrants was wrong, says a federal judge who ruled they can still claim asylum even if they do not cross the border at an official point of entry.

U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar said that President Donald Trump’s Nov. 9 proclamation violates  immigration law that clearly makes such migrants eligible to seek asylum.

“Whatever the scope of the President’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden,” said Tigar, who temporarily blocked President Trump’s proclamation from taking effect at least until a Dec. 19 hearing.

Tigar, a President Barack Obama nominee, said the ban on asylum “irreconcilably conflicts” with immigration laws and with the “expressed intent of Congress.” He said the ban would put potential asylum seekers at “increased risk of violence and other harms at the border.”

Trump administration leaders defended the proclamation, claiming it was “lawful and tailored” and aimed at “controlling immigration in the national interest.”

The order cited the same powers in a Trump administration travel ban that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“As the Supreme Court affirmed this summer, Congress has given the President broad authority to limit or even stop the entry of aliens into this country,” Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Katie Waldeman and Department of Justice spokesman Steven Stafford said in a statement.

“Our asylum system is broken, and it is being abused by tens of thousands of meritless claims every year,” they added, characterizing asylum as a “discretionary benefit” given by the executive branch only under certain legal conditions. They said they would continue to defend the executive branch’s “legitimate and well-reasoned exercise of its authority to address the crisis at our southern border.”

Trump’s order drew criticism from Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, who chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, and other Catholic leaders. They made a Nov. 14 joint statement responding to the proclamation.

“While our teaching acknowledges the right of each nation to regulate its borders, we find this action deeply concerning,” they said. “It will restrict and slow access to protection for hundreds of children and families fleeing violence in Central America, potentially leaving them in unsafe conditions in Mexico or in indefinite detention situations at the U.S.-Mexico border.”

“We reiterate that it is not a crime to seek asylum and this right to seek refuge is codified in our laws and in our values,” said the Catholic leaders.

Bishop Vasquez was joined in the statement by Sister Donna Markham, O.P., president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA; Jeanne Atkinson, executive director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network; and Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services.

The Catholic leaders urged the Trump administration to seek “other solutions that will strengthen the integrity of the existing immigration system, while assuring access to protection for vulnerable children and families.”

They said the Catholic Church will continue to “serve, accompany and assist” all those who flee persecution, “regardless of where they seek such protection and where they are from.”

President Trump’s order was part of a response to the several migrant caravans reported to be headed to the U.S. from Central America. It was intended to last for 90 days unless Mexico agrees to allow U.S. immigration officials to deport to Mexico those Central Americans who have entered the U.S. at the southern border.

“We need people in our country, but they have to come in legally,” he said Nov. 9

According to DHS estimates, about 70,000 people a year claim asylum after crossing the border without documentation.

Recently media attention and immigration restriction advocates have focused on caravans of refugees and immigrants, sometimes growing or shrinking as they progress towards the U.S. border on a journey that can be dangerous.

The latest caravan of about 3,000 people has arrived in Tijuana, across the U.S.-Mexico border from San Diego. U.S. Border and Custom Protection officials said they closed northbound traffic at the San Ysidro crossing for several hours on Monday to install movable barriers in response to reports that there was a plan to rush the crossing. There was no rush, the Associated Press reports.

On Nov. 9 President Trump had said that the situation of people crossing the southern border has changed in recent decades. About two decades ago, the average person caught crossing the southern border was a single adult who was immediately returned to Mexico, and did not try to claim asylum or express fear about going back to their country of origin.

He claimed there has been a “massive increase” in fear-of-persecution or torture claims. While the “vast majority” satisfy the first asylum step of appearing to have a credible fear, only a “fraction” are ruled to qualify for asylum.

There are about 1.1. million asylum cases pending in immigration courts, and about 20 percent of applications for asylum are approved, the Associated Press reports.

Other officials who defended the new policy have said it would encourage migrants to pass through official border crossings where their asylum claims can find a fast hearing. The border is close to 2,000 miles long.

Between the active date of President Trump’s order and the court ruling, DHS had referred over 100 people who had sought asylum without going to an official crossing to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The president has advocated revoking the right to citizenship of babies who are born in the U.S. to non-U.S. citizens. His family separation policy came under strong criticism and was changed.

His travel ban on foreigners from several predominantly Muslim countries was blocked in federal court before the U.S. Supreme Court let it stand.

Most of his immigration actions have come through regulatory change and presidential orders, rather than through new legislation passed by Congress.

Winona-Rochester diocese to file for bankruptcy amid abuse lawsuits

Winona, Minn., Nov 20, 2018 / 03:53 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Diocese of Winona-Rochester will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, it was announced Sunday. Bishop John Quinn wrote a letter explaining the decision, which was distributed in bulletins throughout the diocese.

In a recorded video statement posted on the diocesan website, Quinn said he was sorry, and that on behalf of his brother priests, he “offer(s) an apology to these survivors and acknowledge their pain and suffering,” and pledged to “remain vigilant” to prevent abuse in the future. He also said it was important to create an “environment of healing” for both abuse survivors and their families.

Quinn explained that due to the 121 claims of child sexual abuse by priests within the diocese, and after praying for guidance as to how to best heal the pain of these survivors, the diocese would file for bankruptcy. A total of 17 priests in the diocese have been accused of sexual abuse.

This move is the “most just and equitable way to hold ourselves accountable, to bring healing and justice to the survivors, and to find a path forward for our diocesan community,” said Quinn.

“By proactively taking this step, we will begin to bring healing and justice to survivors, holding ourselves accountable for the abuse that occurred in the past,” said the bishop. The diocese will continue to work with survivors and their legal counsel.

Filing for bankruptcy will allow the diocese to reorganize their finances, and continue to provide social service work. Quinn said there was “no way to predict” how long this was going to take, but he promised complete transparency and will continue to provide updates throughout the process.

He did, however, say that he does not anticipate a day-to-day change for members of the diocese, and that no parishes or parish schools will be closing due to the bankruptcy filing. This is because they are separate legal entities, he explained.

Survivors of clerical sexual abuse in the diocese will be compensated, said Quinn, by a combination of insurance, savings, money from the sale of assets, and other sources.

“I am committed to keeping our children, and vulnerable adults, safe from sexual abuse,” said Quinn.

“I want to assure you: all clergy against whom credible accusations have been previously made are either deceased, or have been removed from ministry, laicized, and no longer function in any priestly capacity in the diocese.”

Quinn explained that since 2002, the diocese has implemented a program in order to ensure the safety of children in the diocese. As part of this program, every member of the clergy, as well as diocesan employees and volunteers, undergoes a background check.

“I pray for God’s grace during this difficult period, as well as for guidance and strength from the Holy Spirit,” said Quinn.

“I believe that we will walk together toward healing, reaffirming our dedication to carrying out ministries across southern Minnesota. I also ask for your continued prayers and support as we work together to offer healing to those who have suffered unconscionable abuse and to forge a path forward for all of us.”

Quinn also said that he welcomed suggestions from members of the public on how the diocese could work to become a safer environment.

Gunman kills one at Catholic store in Missouri

St. Louis, Mo., Nov 20, 2018 / 02:56 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A gunman remains on the loose after shooting a woman and sexually assaulting another at the Catholic Supply of St. Louis retail store in Ballwin, Mo. on Monday afternoon. Ballwin is a suburb of St. Louis.

The woman killed was identified on Tuesday as Jamie Schmidt, from the nearby town of House Springs. Schmidt was a customer in the store at the time of the attack. She was shot in the head by the assailant, and died after being transported to the hospital in critical condition. She was 53.

Schmidt is survived by her husband and three children.

In an emotional tribute posted on Facebook, her husband Gregg Schmidt remembered his wife’s singing voice and encouraged everyone to share feelings of love at every opportunity.

"Folks, I had my own Mother of Dragons but she was taken from us today,” said Schmidt.

“I still don't know how to feel yet. I do know one thing for sure. Hug your friends and family and tell them you love them every time you get the chance. I didn't get to say goodbye and that hurts pretty bad. She was my angel, my partner, my best friend and the love of my life. I'm sorry if you never got to hear her sing recently because it gave me chills. I probably won't be on Facebook much for awhile but know that I love you all in some way or another,” said Schmidt.

The suspect is described as a white male, between the ages of 45 and 50, 5’7, with a heavyset build. He is not believed to have known Schmidt, and police think the attack was random.

Catholic Supply of St. Louis released a statement saying that they were “shocked and saddened” by the “senseless tragedy” that occurred at the chain’s West County location Nov. 19. They asked for prayers for the victims and their families.

Catholic Supply of St. Louis’ three locations were closed on Tuesday and will reopen Wednesday, said the statement.

“We are cooperating fully with the ongoing police investigation, and we will share details as appropriate. We appreciate your patience, grace and prayers during this difficult time.”

Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis also weighed in with a statement, saying that the archdiocese’s hearts went out to the victims of the “horrific tragedy” at the store.

“We join with civil authorities asking for the community's assistance in apprehending the culprit of this crime,” said Carlson in the statement released to Facebook.

Carlson also instructed parishes throughout the archdiocese to offer prayers for those affected by the shooting and for an end to violence.

As a precaution, two area schools canceled classes on Tuesday due to security fears stemming from the shooting.

Cardinal DiNardo calls for 'reasonable' gun control after Chicago hospital shooting

Chicago, Ill., Nov 20, 2018 / 12:29 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- After a shooting at Mercy Hospital in Chicago left four dead, including the gunman, on Monday afternoon, the president of the U.S. bishop’s conference offered prayers for the victims and called for reasonable gun restrictions.

“Yesterday, at a place which should be a center of healing, a police officer, a doctor and a pharmaceutical resident lost their lives in a senseless act of gun violence,” Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said in a Nov. 20 statement.

“We entrust to Almighty God the victims and their loved ones and for [sic] the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe. May her love and compassion embrace and bring comfort to those who sorrow,” he said.

According to reports, the shooting is being investigated as a domestic dispute. Dr. Tamara O'Neal, one of the victims, had been engaged to gunman Juan Lopez until September.

The other victims of the shooting were Dayna Less, 25, a pharmacy resident and recent graduate of Purdue University, and police officer Samuel Jimenez, 28, who was responding to the shooting.

Lopez was found dead with gunshot wounds to the head; it is unclear if they were self-inflicted or if they were sustained while he exchanged gunfire with police.

Lopez had worked for Chicago Housing Authority, which said in a statement after the shooting that Lopez had cleared background checks and did not have a history of complaints against him during his employment there.

In his statement, DiNardo said the shooting yet again called into question how someone “capable of such violence was able to obtain a firearm to carry out this heinous act.”

“In our desire to help promote a culture of life, we bishops will continue to ask that public policies be supported to enact reasonable gun measures to help curb this pervasive plague of gun violence. Our prayers are with the staff of Mercy Hospital and the people of the Archdiocese of Chicago as they continue God’s healing work.”