Pope Francis Performs Midair Wedding Ceremony for Couple on Papal Flight

via CNS:

During his flight to Iquique Jan. 18, the pope was approached by LatAm flight steward Carlos Ciuffardi Elorriaga and asked for a blessing for him and his wife, stewardess Paula Podest Ruiz.

The couple were supposed to be married in their home parish in Santiago Feb. 27, 2010. However, tragedy struck when an earthquake destroyed the church. Eight years later, they remained only civilly married….

At that moment, the pope surprised the couple with offering to marry them right there on the plane.

Quote of the Day

Pope Francis: “It is a grievous fact that we grow so inured to such situations of poverty and need, to these tragedies affecting so many lives, that they appear “normal”.  Persons are no longer seen as a paramount value to be cared for and respected, especially when poor or disabled, or “not yet useful” – like the unborn, or “no longer needed” – like the elderly.”

Bishops Weisenburger and Kicanas: Time to Speak Up for Immigrants

Bishop Emeritus Gerald Kicanas and Bishop Edward Weisenburger of the Diocese of Tucson write:

As we begin a new year, fears continue to grow for legal immigrants, as the administration rescinds protections that had been extended to them by previous presidents. Not only is the current administration set on deporting undocumented immigrants with equities, it is also focused upon deporting immigrants with legal status conferred under U.S. law.

Most recently, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), part of a federal law passed in 1990, has been terminated for the 200,000 Salvadorans, as it has been for Haitians and Nicaraguans. These groups came to the United States amid dangerous armed conflicts, environmental disasters or widespread epidemics in their countries.

Salvadorans were granted TPS protection, which defers deportation and grants work authorization, because of the 2001 earthquakes that devastated the area and killed more than 1,000 people. In their years in the United States they have planted roots, bore children and been contributing members of our society. According to the Center for Migration Studies of New York, nearly 90 percent are employed and close to a third of now-US based Salvadorans own homes. They have 192,000 US-citizen children.

Now these families are in danger of being separated and possibly returned to countries still struggling with dangerous violence and instability….

We have seen the good will and heroic efforts of Americans who helped people involved in devastating natural disasters in our country. We believe that these same Americans, good Samaritans, would support protecting vulnerable populations and not returning them to dangerous situations. We believe they would welcome with open arms people that have been traumatized and applaud the “dreamers” who want to be contributing members in our communities.

Quote of the Day

Pope Francis: “There must be no family without a home, no refugee without a welcome, no person without dignity, no wounded person without care, no child without a childhood, no young man or woman without a future, no elderly person without a dignified old age.”

Millennial of the Year 2017: Michael Wear

At a time when many prominent white evangelicals provide blanket support to a president that demonizes minorities, pursues policies that harm the poor and vulnerable, and erodes foundational democratic norms on a regular basis, our 2017 Millennial of the Year, Michael Wear, offers an alternative approach to faith in public life and Christian witness that is both authentic and ethical. In contrast to those who have helped to foster the resurgence of the darkest populist impulses in our country, those who have replaced their Christian worldview with one that simply reflects their party affiliation or ideology, and those who embrace, in both politics and religion, an extreme individualism that deeply undermines the quest for communion and the common good, Wear—the author of Reclaiming Hope—has articulated and executed an approach to politics that reflects his firm commitment to human dignity and the flourishing of all. At a time when American democracy is facing grave challenges, he offers an excellent model for how Christian citizens can serve God through engaging in politics and how all citizens can strengthen our democracy and work for a more just, authentically free country and world.

Michael Wear has delivered valuable messages and insights for those who care about their faith and the common good, including:

  • Politics cannot offer ultimate salvation but it is critically important
  • Politics is causing great spiritual harm in Americans lives, and a big reason for that is Americans are turning to politics to have their spiritual needs met
  • Voting is not about a person’s individual purity but just one way we express our love for God and our neighbors through the inherently pragmatic vehicle of democratic participation. Imperfect candidates are therefore not an excuse for withdrawal from participation entirely.
  • Intermediary institutions are critical and need government support, along with space to live out their values
  • The decency and dignity of the president matters
  • People on both sides of the political aisle have contributed to polarization and the culture war (though perhaps not equally)
  • There is common ground on abortion if both sides are willing to engage
  • The pro-life movement’s partisanship is self-defeating
  • Christians must address racial injustice
  • The way Christians operate in the public sphere affects the appeal of Christian witness.

Yet it’s not just his message, but his willingness to fight for his ideals within the system, that matters. He served in the White House faith-based initiative during President Obama’s first term and directed faith outreach for Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign. While sharing many of the party’s highest ideals and best approaches to public policy, he has also worked for a more inclusive, just Democratic Party. Wear pressed the Democratic Party to improve upon its outreach to people of faith. He has called on the party to embrace a pro-family agenda that would strengthen the American family. And he has fought for a big tent Democratic Party against those who would impose an abortion litmus test that would exclude the over 20 million pro-life Democrats in this country from having real representation. Extremely skilled and politically adept, if he placed his ascent in the party above his faith, he would have had an easy path to positions of greater and greater power and prestige. Instead, he has chosen faithfulness. And with this approach, he has shown how to engage in dialogue and pragmatic action to promote the common good with thoughtfulness and integrity. Our country needs good examples of moral, responsible citizenship, and people of faith need to see excellent examples of faithful citizenship. Michael Wear offers both.

Trump Attacks Immigration from ‘Shithole’ Countries

via Washington Post:

President Trump grew frustrated with lawmakers Thursday in the Oval Office when they discussed granting entry to immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal, according to several people briefed on the meeting.

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, according to these people, referring to countries mentioned by the lawmakers.

Trump then suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries like Norway, whose prime minister he met with Wednesday. The president, according to a White House official, also suggested he would be open to more immigrants from Asian countries because he felt they help the United States economically.

The remarks have sparked a strong backlash:

Pope Francis’ Prayer Intentions for January 2018: For Religious Minorities in Asia

In the vastly diversified cultural world of Asia, the Church faces many risks and her task is made more difficult by the fact of her being a minority.
These risks, these challenges are shared with other minority religious traditions, with whom we share a desire for wisdom, truth and holiness.
When we think of those who are persecuted for their religion, we go beyond differences of rite or confession : We place ourselves on the side of the men and women who fight to avoid renouncing their religious identity.
Let us pray for all of them, so that Christians, and other religious minorities in Asian countries, may be able to practice their faith in full freedom.