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WASHINGTON—Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, decried the opening of a 2,400-bed detention center in Dilley, Texas, constructed to house, among others, families fleeing persecution in Central America.

The detention center, located southwest of San Antonio and operated by a private, for-profit group, was inaugurated Dec. 15.

“It is inhumane to house young mothers with children in restrictive detention facilities, as if they are criminals,” Bishop Elizondo said December 16.  “Already traumatized from their journey, these families are very vulnerable and need care and support, not further emotional and psychological harm.”

Studies have shown that detention has a harmful psychological impact on children.  Continue Reading »

By Mark Pattison Catholic News Service

cns-logoWASHINGTON (CNS) — Catholic Relief Services and a host of other nonprofit agencies that distribute food aid overseas were successful in getting lawmakers to purge a provision in a bill that could have cut the amount of food aid they would be able to distribute in the future.

The provision would have increased from 50 percent to 75 percent the amount of food aid that must be transported on privately owned, U.S.-flagged ships. In 2012, Congress had lowered the requirement from 75 percent to 50 percent.

The Senate approved a two-year Coast Guard funding reauthorization bill Dec. 10 after striking the provision. The House, which had passed a version of the legislation in April containing the increase to 75 percent, must now reconsider the bill before the lame-duck congressional session ends as expected in mid-December. Continue Reading »

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In 2008, Hurricane Ike swept through Bridge City damaging much of the city including the education building at St. Henry Parish.

After several years planning and months of construction, parishioners gathered together Dec. 10 as Bishop Curtis J. Guillory, SVD, blessed each classroom of the new education building that will house religious education classes and other parish events. Continue Reading »

By Catholic News Service

cns-logoVATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis’ 2014-15 Christmas season celebrations will include exactly what he did a year earlier.

Releasing the pope’s schedule Dec. 10, the Vatican said he would:

– Celebrate Christmas Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at 9:30 p.m. Dec. 24.

– Address the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square and give his blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world) at noon on Christmas.

– Celebrate evening prayer Dec. 31 in St. Peter’s Basilica at 5 p.m. and lead the “Te Deum” to thank God for the year that is ending.

– Celebrate Mass at 10 a.m. Jan. 1, the feast of Mary, Mother of God, and the World Day of Prayer for Peace, in St. Peter’s Basilica.

– Celebrate the feast of the Epiphany Jan. 6 with a Mass at 10 a.m. in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Earlier, the Vatican had confirmed that Jan. 11, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Pope Francis would celebrate Mass in the Sistine Chapel and baptize newborns.

By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service

cns-logoVATICAN CITY (CNS) — With the strength of the grace that comes from the sacrament of marriage, Catholic families are called to proclaim God’s love to the world, Pope Francis said.

God’s love gives birth to the family, and that love must be “the center of all its human and spiritual dynamism,” the pope wrote in a letter Dec. 9 to Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, which will sponsor the Sept. 22-27 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia next year.

Repeating his promise to attend the gathering in Philadelphia, Pope Francis thanked the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for generously committing itself to organize and host the event as a “service to the universal church and to families on every continent.” Continue Reading »

By Catholic News Service

cns-logoAUSTIN, Texas (CNS) — Appealing to Gov. Rick Perry “as a man of deep Christian values,” the Texas Catholic Conference urged him to stay the Dec. 3 execution of Scott Louis Panetti and commute his sentence to ensure the inmate receives the proper medical treatment for mental illness.

“Our request for mercy in this case is motivated not only by the Catholic Church’s active opposition to the death penalty as a desecration of human life, but also in part by Mr. Panetti’s circumstances,” said the conference, which is the public policy arm of the state’s Catholic bishops.

According to an AP story, Panetti has been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. For several years leading up to the 1992 murders he was convicted of committing, he was hospitalized several times for mental illness. At times, he believed he was in a spiritual war with the devil. Continue Reading »

IMG_1315St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica, Beaumont, and Bishop Curtis J. Guillory welcomed parishioners from around the diocese Dec. 2 to a Mass of thanks giving for the canonization of St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara.

St. Chavara, the founder of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, was canonized in Rome Nov. 23 by Pope Francis. Several members of the Carmelite order are currently serving in the diocese as pastors and ministers to the sick.

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