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Update: Pope accepts resignation of embattled Chilean cardinal

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Archdiocese of Santiago

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of a Chilean cardinal who has faced widespread criticism for his handling of cases of clerical sexual abuse in the country.

The pope accepted the resignation of Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati of Santiago, the Vatican announced March 23; the Vatican did not give a reason for the cardinal stepping down. All bishops are required to offer their resignations when they turn 75; Cardinal Ezzati is 77.

The cardinal's is the eighth resignation Pope Francis accepted after almost every bishop in Chile offered to step down in May 2018 after a three-day meeting at the Vatican to discuss the clerical sexual abuse scandal. In each case where he accepted a resignation, the pope named an apostolic administrator to lead the diocese temporarily. For the administrator of Santiago, the pope chose Bishop Celestino Aos Braco of Copiapo, who will turn 74 April 6.

Chile has 27 dioceses and other church jurisdictions led by a bishop.

The announcement of the cardinal's resignation comes just over a week after a Chilean news outlet published a 2015 criminal complaint made against Cardinal Ezzati and the Archdiocese of Santiago that revealed a case of sexual abuse that occurred in the cathedral of Santiago and its subsequent cover-up.

Chilean prosecutors also are investigating an alleged sex-abuse ring in Rancagua as well as possible cover-ups of abuse cases in Santiago by senior members of the clergy, including Cardinal Ezzati and his predecessor, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz.

Cardinal Ezzati was subpoenaed in July 2018 after prosecutors conducted several raids of diocesan offices in Rancagua and Santiago.

Although Cardinal Ezzati had said that he would cooperate with authorities in their investigation, he invoked his right against self-incrimination when he appeared in court in October.

Responding to reporters' questions March 23, the cardinal said he will speak "at the appropriate time" and is consulting with his lawyers to make that happen. However, he also said, he leaves the archdiocese with "my head held high, sure that my innocence will be proven" and that people will recognize how much he has done to respond to abuse allegations.

Bishop Aos, celebrating Mass in the Santiago cathedral March 24, acknowledged how destructive the crime of abuse has been for the victims and for the whole church.

However, he said, "we are called not to get stuck brooding over the desolation, falling into doubt, fear and mistrust; we are called to move from being a church of the dejected, desolate, to a church that serves the many downtrodden who live alongside us."

"In a special way," the bishop said, "we will attend to and serve those who suffer the abuse of their dignity" as a result of the "absolutely unjustifiable and absolutely intolerable" crime of sexual abuse by clergy. Superficial changes "are not enough; we need reforms and profound changes, changes that start from the heart of each one of us who has to seek truth and justice."

Survivors of abuse have been critical of Cardinal Ezzati and the country's bishops not only for mishandling cases of abuse, but also for allegedly misinforming the pope about the reality of sexual abuse in the country.

Among the cardinal's most vocal critics is Juan Carlos Cruz, who along with fellow survivors Jose Andres Murillo and James Hamilton, were invited to meet with the pope last April at the Vatican.

Speaking to journalists May 2, Cruz said he told the pope how he was demonized by Cardinals Ezzati and Errazuriz in an email that was later leaked.

"They called me a 'serpent,' they called me everything. I told the Holy Father, and he said he was hurt," Cruz said.

In a message to Catholic News Service March 23, Cruz applauded the pope's decision to accept the cardinal's resignation saying that "the pope knows what he is doing" and expressing hope that the pope would "find someone who will lead Santiago on the right path."

Cruz also expressed his support of Bishop Aos in the difficult task of leading the archdiocese back "to what is true, to its source."

"With all my heart, I wish Bishop Aos all the best. Anything is better than Cardinal Ezzati. We must also support Bishop Aos so that he can unite the clergy, so that he can unite what has been destroyed," Cruz told CNS. "He doesn't have an easy task ahead of him, but obviously, we must support him."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

 

 

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Copyright © 2019 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.

Mary inspires, assists those seeking their vocation, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Yara Nardi, Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Signing his document dedicated to young people, faith and discernment, Pope Francis said Mary, the mother of God, is a source of inspiration and strength for everyone who seeks to understand their vocation and remain faithful to it.

Greeting some 10,000 people, many of them families and young people, in Loreto, Italy, on the feast of the Annunciation, the pope said Mary can help all believers dedicate themselves to "the path of peace and fraternity, founded on welcoming and forgiving, on respect for others and on love as a gift of oneself."

"Mary is the model of every vocation and the inspiration of every vocational pastoral program: Young people who are seeking or questioning their future can find Mary to be the one who helps them discern God's plan for them and find the strength to follow it."

The pope chose to visit the Italian seaside town of Loreto on the March 25 feast day to sign his postsynodal apostolic exhortation -- titled in Spanish, "Vive Cristo, esperanza nuestra," ("Christ, Our Hope, Lives").

The document, based on discussions and input garnered from the world Synod of Bishops on "young people, faith and vocational discernment," was to be released to the public April 2, the anniversary of the death of St. John Paul II. The intention was "to connect two pontificates, so loved and close to the younger generations," said Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Vatican press office.

The pope signed the document at the altar inside the small, one-room Holy House of Loreto, which tradition holds is where Mary was born and raised and where the Holy Family was thought to have lived when Jesus was a boy. It also is held to be the place where Mary received the angel's annunciation and conceived the Son of God through the Holy Spirit.

In his talk to those gathered in the square in front of the basilica housing the sanctuary, the pope said he wanted to sign the document on the date and at the place of the Annunciation to highlight how the Annunciation reveals what is necessary in the vocational process: listening to God's word and God's will, inquisitive discernment and bold decision-making.

God always makes the first move, offering people the gift of his love, Pope Francis said.

"One must be ready and willing to listen and welcome God's voice," which is hard to recognize if life is too "noisy" or agitated, he said. Quiet and extended reflection is necessary, he said, if one is going to be able to go below the surface and discover the "moral and spiritual forces" at work in one's life.

And God is always at work, giving and providing for his disciples no matter how "poor and small" they may be, he added.

Because young people and families are not two separate realities, he said, pastoral programs and outreach must be dedicated to both at the same time because "very often young people are what their family gave them with their upbringing."

"It is necessary to rediscover God's plan for the family," he said, which is "founded on marriage between a man and a woman," and to emphasize the family's "great and irreplaceable" role in serving life and the community.

The pope prayed that God, through Mary's intercession, would help the faithful bring the "Gospel of peace and life to our peers, who are often distracted, caught up in material interests" or surrounded by a spiritual desert.

"There is a need for people who are simple and wise, humble and courageous, poor and generous. In other words, people who, taught by Mary, welcome the Gospel without reservation into their life."

The pope began his visit to the sanctuary with a long moment of quiet prayer seated inside the Holy House. He venerated the statue of Our Lady of Loreto, which in 1922 was carved out of cedar trees from the Vatican Gardens to copy the 14th-century figure destroyed in a fire.

He then celebrated a private Mass inside the Holy House with a small number of people, while thousands watched on large screens inside the basilica and outside in the square.

When Mass was over, the pope signed the postsynodal document on the altar, under the image of Mary, so as to entrust to her the document and its fruitful pastoral outcome. The pope also placed a gift on the altar -- a golden stem of roses in a small silver urn.

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Copyright © 2019 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.

Prayer, dialogue, enthusiasm are key to making good choices, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Archdiocese of Santiago

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When it comes time for young people to make an important decision in life, if the possibilities do not create excitement and trepidation, "it's better to go to bed" and think about it some other time, Pope Francis told middle school and high school students.

"Passion in the life of a young person is important. A life without passion is like plain pasta without salt," the pope said March 23 during a meeting at the Vatican with students and staff from the Barbarigo Institute school in Padua.

Three students were chosen to ask Pope Francis questions, and all three queries had to do with making important choices in life.

In responding, the pope told the young people that prayer, dialogue, enthusiasm and service to others are key to making the right choices about what school to attend, what career to pursue and what vocation God is calling them to.

"You will find the most important point of reference for your choices inside yourself; it is the reference of your own conscience," which becomes clearer through prayer, the pope said.

Authentic education, he said, prepares students for their vocation and their adult life in the world by giving them information and teaching them to think, but also by helping them recognize how the reality around them makes them feel and by showing them the action they can take to help others.

"Intellect is valid and necessary, but it is only one of the languages that you must have," Pope Francis said. The others are having a heart capable of feeling and hands able to provide concrete help.

The students serve at a soup kitchen in Padua, an experience Pope Francis told them was an important part of their education because it helps them "draw close to a problem that is real, not theoretical." The experience, he said, should make the students question why they are so fortunate and what they can do to fight hunger.

And, as far as figuring out vocations and careers, Pope Francis said talking to God in prayer -- "not like parrots, 'blah, blah, blah,' but from the heart" -- is essential.

But the pope warned the young people not to fool themselves into thinking that making life choices is easy. "In the face of a decision there is always a moment, a space of solitude. One cannot make a life decision in someone else's name; each person must do it for him- or herself."

"Do not be afraid of these moments of solitude," the pope told the young people, because struggling with a decision while feeling alone or alone with a potential future spouse will later give "the certainty that you chose well."

And as for a career choice, he said, focusing on the likely job market and earning potential is the wrong way for a Christian to approach the question. "Do not forget that your future work must be a service to society, a service that depends not only on what you do, but on the example you give."

 

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Copyright © 2019 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.

Update: Pope sends aid to southeast Africa after cyclone

IMAGE: CNS photo/Siphiwe Sibeko, Reuters

By

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As an immediate sign of his concern and an encouragement to other donors, Pope Francis has sent $50,000 each to Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi to assist with initial emergency relief efforts after a cyclone hit the region and caused massive flooding.

As of March 22, at least 300 people were known to have died, thousands have been injured and hundreds of thousands left homeless, according to the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

The dicastery, which will distribute the aid from the pope through the Vatican nunciatures in each country, said the week of torrential rain in the region has "razed to the ground tens of thousands of homes and public buildings" and made major roads impassable.

The water and electricity distribution systems have been compromised and there is a growing concern about the spread of diseases, particularly through unclean water.

The Vatican described Pope Francis' donation as a "first contribution" and "an immediate expression of his feeling of spiritual closeness" to the people impacted.

In addition, it noted, the contribution is only "part of the aid that is being gathered throughout the Catholic Church" from bishops' conferences and charitable organizations.

In Washington, the chairmen of the U.S. bishops' subcommittee on Africa and their international policy committee said March 22 that Catholic Relief Services has set up an emergency relief initiative to collect resources to provide humanitarian aid "and begin the longer-term recovery efforts" in the three African countries.

"It is with profound shock, horror and sadness that we learn about the devastation and massive loss of life that has occurred ... due to Cyclone Idai. The magnitude of the cyclone and the scope of its damages are almost beyond belief," said Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, and Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services.

They wrote to the Catholic bishops' conferences of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi as the chairmen, respectively, of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Subcommittee on the Church in Africa and the Committee on International Justice and Peace.

The two prelates expressed sorrow and solidarity over the lives lost by the cyclone and offered prayers for recovery efforts.

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Copyright © 2019 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.

Bishop criticizes 'faith-filled' Catholics who spread fear of Muslims

IMAGE: CNS photo/Irish Catholic

By

DUBLIN (CNS) -- An Irish bishop has criticized Catholics who identify as "faith-filled" while spreading fear and mistrust of immigrants, particularly those who are Muslims.

Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin, chairman of the Council for Life of the Irish bishops' conference, told The Irish Catholic newspaper: "I've found that people who would classify themselves in some cases as traditional Catholics and faith-filled people seem to, in relation to migration and care of asylum-seekers and stuff, they'll say 'oh well these Muslims are putting our civilization at risk and they pose a threat to us.'"

Bishop Doran spoke in the wake of what he described as a "savage attack" on two mosques in New Zealand that left at least 50 people dead.

"All of us, of whatever religious tradition, can identify with what that might mean for a congregation gathered to worship," the bishop said.

Bishop Doran said it was wrong of people to demonize Muslims for the actions of terrorism claiming to be inspired by Islam.

"To define a whole category of people, or a whole nation, or a whole religious group as being in some way more prone to terrorism than any other group is irresponsible," he said.

In his experience, he said, Muslim people living in Irish society do so "peacefully and participate fully."

"We have large numbers of Muslim children in our Catholic schools, and they contribute to the ethos in many ways.

"One of the interesting things about Muslims is while they are of a different faith, they tend to have a level of commitment to faith that in many ways we might well sit up and pay attention to," he said.

In February, Bishop Doran spoke out after a disused hotel slated to house refugees was damaged in an apparent arson attack.

He said the alleged arson had caused "significant upset to parishioners," adding "it is all the more disturbing since it is suggested that the fires are a response to the proposed use of the hotel to house refugees."

"Militant opposition, expressed in the destruction of property, is simply not consistent with the Gospel."

 

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Copyright © 2019 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.

U.S. Bishops’ Chairmen Offer Prayers and Solidarity for Recovery After Deadly Cyclone Hits Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe

WASHINGTON—After historic devastation and loss of life brought on by Cyclone Idai to Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Newark and Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Subcommittee on the Church in Africa, and Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services and Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, wrote to the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe to express sorrow and solidarity over the lives lost by the cyclone and offered prayers for recovery.

The full statement follows:

“It is with profound shock, horror, and sadness that we learn about the devastation and massive loss of life that has occurred in your country due to Cyclone Idai. The magnitude of the cyclone and the scope of its damages are almost beyond belief.

We pray for the hundreds of people who lost their lives in the storm. May they rest in peace and bask in the eternal embrace of our heavenly Father. We also pray for the family members who survived the devastation and now mourn the loss of their loved ones, and struggle to rebuild their homes and livelihoods. They face a long road to recovery. We join them in their mourning. May they find comfort and solace. We offer them our prayers and support.

As a concrete manifestation of that support, we are pleased to inform you that Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops overseas relief and development agency, immediately set up an emergency relief initiative to collect resources to provide humanitarian aid and begin the longer-term recovery efforts in Mozambique/Malawi/Zimbabwe. We have full confidence that you will soon see the results of these efforts.

CRS and the USCCB remain committed to stand with the Church and the people of Mozambique/Malawi/Zimbabwe in your long road to recovery and increased prosperity.”

Donations can be made to Catholic Relief Services.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Catholic Relief Services, Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Cyclone Idai

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

Concern Over New Mercury Rule Expressed by Chairmen of U.S. Bishops’ Domestic Justice and Pro-Life Activities Committees; Bishops Call it “Troubling”

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a new rule that deems it no longer “appropriate and necessary” to regulate mercury and other hazardous air pollutants emitted by power plants. Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities, expressed concern about the potential risks to human life and environmental health.  

 “The proposed change to the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule is troubling since it is well-documented that pregnant mothers and their unborn children are the most sensitive to mercury pollution and its adverse health effects,” said Archbishop Nauman. “The MATS rule reflects a proper respect for life of the human person and of God’s creation – a great example of the integral ecology called for in Laudato Si’,” said Bishop Dewane.  

Comments in opposition to the regulations can be found at: https://t.co/1SniZN2BXq?amp=1
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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mercury, hazardous air pollutants, power plant emissions, environmental health. Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) Laudato Si  
 
Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

Catholic social teaching guides advocates in push for a 'moral' budget

IMAGE: CNS photo/Joshua Roberts, Reuters

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The White House delivered a record $4.75 trillion "Budget for a Better America" for fiscal year 2020 to Congress March 11 and it continued a defining trend to boost military spending and border security while making deep cuts in most other federal agencies.

It was quickly dismissed by many members of Congress as being unrealistic. Congress routinely shapes the budget to reflect priorities that usually differ from the chief executive, although a president's preferences have not always been ignored.

With divided government -- Democrats in charge in the House and Republicans in the Senate and White House -- the budget debate from now through the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1, and perhaps later, may become contentious as congressional committee hearings shape how tax dollars are spent.

However it unfolds, Catholic advocates plan to be part of the process.

Regular visitors to Capitol Hill expressed concern to Catholic News Service over the recent trend to promote Pentagon spending while reducing appropriations for environmental protection, housing, education, nutrition, foreign development and humanitarian aid, and other human needs.

They stressed that they plan to advocate for a budget that promotes human dignity -- as they consistently have for decades.

"We look at it (the budget) through the lens of Catholic social teaching, not by the issue. We look at the moral and ethical components of issues, how they affect the well-being of human beings and how they impact the poor," explained Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

"A budget is a moral document," he continued. "We've said that lots of times. There's a human dimension to the budget and sometimes we forget that."

Bishop Dewane and others representing the USCCB plan to testify at budget hearings and send letters to key House and Senate committee chairmen in the coming months to ensure that the Catholic Church's stances are known.

Bishop Dewane cautioned that the budget must not simply become "a math exercise."

"It's one of human promotion. It should be about recognizing the human person. Human dignity is not something we grant. Every person has human dignity and the budget is a way to recognize and not squelch or destroy the human dignity of God's creation," the bishop said.

The church's position has met with push back at times, largely from members of Congress who have said the U.S. must address its growing $22 trillion debt and the best way to do that is to cut spending.

Still, the USCCB and other organizations have challenged that view, noting that the drive to increase military and homeland security spending continues to the detriment of other important federal programs that face deep cuts.

"What we do say and what the bishops' conference says is if you are concerned about the growing national debt, you can't balance the budget on the backs of the poor," said Bill O'Keefe, executive vice president for mission, mobilization and advocacy at Catholic Relief Services.

O'Keefe told CNS the same principle applies in providing humanitarian and development assistance around the world.

"Because as a Catholic community we value the human dignity of all people, we want to see the moral appropriation of foreign assistance, the type that CRS and the USCCB are advocating for, to grow and meet the need and not to shrink," O'Keefe said.

Foreign assistance programs total about 1 percent of the federal budget.

Others, including Lucas Swanepoel, vice president of social policy at Catholic Charities USA, said the nation faces a moral choice as it mulls how it respond to human needs.

"We can invest in things that destroy, divide and kill or I think we can invest in things that educate, heal and feed people. It's what we're called to do in Matthew 25," Swanepoel said.

Matthew 25 recounts three parables told by Jesus including one about how to respond to "the least of these," including the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the imprisoned and the stranger.

Beyond working with members of Congress, Catholic Charities and other organizations regularly share information with people in parish pews about the benefits of programs that address human needs from disaster aid to elderly services. Despite a growing economy and rising stock markets, the need remains significant in the U.S.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported 39.7 million Americans, about 12.7 percent of the population, remained in poverty in 2017, the most recent year statistics are available.

It's not just church-affiliated organizations that advocate to legislators and share information on budget concerns. Nonprofits such as the Coalition on Human Needs and Network, the Catholic social justice lobby, have invested significant resources and time to address widespread unmet needs.

"If we see church and ourselves as people of faith, we will be dedicated to the best of our church, which is Catholic social teaching," said Presentation Sister Richelle Friedman, director of social policy at the Coalition on Human Needs. "If we remind ourselves that Catholic social teaching calls us to respect the dignity of every person, we remember that our first priority needs to go to people who are poor and vulnerable."

While Sister Friedman isn't tasked with representing church teaching when she visits congressional offices, the positions the coalition takes largely align with that teaching.

At Network, Sister Simone Campbell, executive director, posed a simple question when describing federal spending priorities: How does a particular appropriation promote "the good of the community?"

"What the federal budget should be about is the quality of life in the United States and our relationships around the world," she told CNS.

Sister Campbell, a member of the Sisters of Social Service, said she finds inspiration for her work in Pope Francis' 2015 encyclical "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home," in which he stated that all of humanity has "a claim on all of the resources in our amazing world."

"It's not just the few, it's all," she said. "And the disproportionate attention to increasing the wealth of the few over the needs the many in the budget is clearly immoral."

Such questions are not easy to resolve. Shelley Inglis, executive director of the Human Rights Center at the University of Dayton in Ohio, urged members of Congress to remember the country's core values, which are reflected in Catholic social teaching.

"We are all responsible for contributing to the greater good of everyone," she said. "We can't lose sight of that concept.

"The discussion around the budget is an important way we can go back to basic thinking about where our values lie and what those values mean in decisions in how we invest in people globally and in our own social capital, our own people and our own society for the common good."

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski

 

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Copyright © 2019 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.

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