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Priest, ex-spokesman for 9 Indian dioceses, arrested, accused of fraud

A Catholic priest accused of fraud in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has been remanded in judicial custody for 15 days.

As the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe approaches, the Virgin Mary inspires community

Several hundred people celebrated the Virgin Mary this week by taking part in a 2.5-mile pilgrimage that ended with a hike up a mountain.

Pope Francis: The world needs peacemakers open to dialogue, forgiveness

Vatican City, Dec 12, 2019 / 10:15 am (CNA).- Pope Francis’ message for the 2020 World Day of Peace released Thursday calls for openness to dialogue, commitment to forgiveness, and an ecological conversion.

“The world does not need empty words but convinced witnesses, peacemakers who are open to a dialogue that rejects exclusion or manipulation,” Pope Francis said in his peace message released Dec. 12.

“We cannot truly achieve peace without a convinced dialogue between men and women who seek the truth beyond ideologies and differing opinions. Peace must be built up continually; it is a journey made together in constant pursuit of the common good, truthfulness and respect for law,” he said.

Pope Francis said that war often begins with “the inability to accept the diversity of others,” which fosters attitudes of “domination born of selfishness and pride.”

“War is fueled by a perversion of relationships, by hegemonic ambitions, by abuses of power, by fear of others and by seeing diversity as an obstacle. And these, in turn, are aggravated by the experience of war,” he said.

He noted that entire nations have struggled to “break free of the chains of exploitation and corruption that fuel hatred and violence.”

“Our human community bears, in its memory and its flesh, the scars of ever more devastating wars and conflicts that affect especially the poor and the vulnerable,” the pope said.

Pope Francis recalled his meeting with survivors of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on his recent apostolic journey to Japan. He said that their testimony bears witness to succeeding generations of the unspeakable suffering and horror caused by the bombings.

The pope reiterated his message that nuclear deterrence can only produce “the illusion of security.”

“We cannot claim to maintain stability in the world through the fear of annihilation, in a volatile situation, suspended on the brink of a nuclear abyss and enclosed behind walls of indifference,” he said.
Pope Francis said that the answer to breaking today’s unhealthy mentality of threats and fear is to pursue “a genuine fraternity based on our common origin from God” through dialogue and mutual trust.

Only by choosing “the path of respect can we break the spiral of vengeance,” he said, underlining the importance of forgiveness by quoting Christ's command to forgive not “seven times, but seventy times seven.”

“This path of reconciliation is a summons to discover in the depths of our heart the power of forgiveness and the capacity to acknowledge one another as brothers and sisters. When we learn to live in forgiveness, we grow in our capacity to become men and women of peace,” he said.

For Christians, confession is a part of the peace process because it “renews individuals and communities” and “bids us to keep our gaze fixed on Jesus, who reconciled all things … by making peace through the blood of his cross,” the pope said.

The sacrament “requires us to set aside every act of violence in thought, word and deed, whether against our neighbours or against God’s creation,” he said.

The World Day of Peace – instituted by St. Paul VI in 1968 – is celebrated each year on the first day of January. The pope provides a special message for the occasion, which is sent to all foreign ministers around the world.

The pope’s message for the 2020 World Day of Peace is entitled, “Peace as a Journey of Hope: Dialogue, Reconciliation and Ecological Conversion.”

“The ecological conversion for which we are appealing will lead us to a new way of looking at life, as we consider the generosity of the Creator who has given us the earth and called us to a share it in joy and moderation,” Pope Francis said.

“All this gives us deeper motivation and a new way to dwell in our common home, to accept our differences, to respect and celebrate the life that we have received and share, and to seek living conditions and models of society that favour the continued flourishing of life and the development of the common good of the entire human family,” he said.

At a press conference on the peace message, Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, said faith in God’s covenant implies care for the weakest members of society and for the environment as God’s creation.

In his peace message, Pope Francis said that democracy can be an important paradigm for the peace process, provided that it is “grounded in justice and a commitment to protect the rights of every person, especially the weak and marginalized.”

“Setting out on a journey of peace is a challenge made all the more complex because the interests at stake in relationships between people, communities and nations, are numerous and conflicting. We must first appeal to people’s moral conscience and to personal and political will,” he said.

“The desire for peace lies deep within the human heart, and we should not resign ourselves to seeking anything less than this,” Pope Francis said.

Sainthood causes require thorough investigation, pope says

The saints are "the true light of the church," so before they are proposed to all Catholics for imitation and veneration, a scrupulous investigation is required, Pope Francis said.

Pope accepts resignation of Sioux Falls bishop; names successor

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Paul Swain of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and appointed as his successor Fr. Donald DeGrood, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

American Jews split over Trump executive order on combating anti-Semitism

President Donald Trump's new executive order directing the government to consider race and national origin when investigating anti-Semitism has been met with mixed reviews from American Jews, mostly along liberal and conservative lines.

Pope Francis taps 'Minnesota farm boy' to lead Sioux Falls diocese

Vatican City, Dec 12, 2019 / 04:42 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Thursday accepted the resignation of Bishop Paul Joseph Swain of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and appointed Minnesota priest Fr. Donald Edward DeGrood as his successor.

Bishop of Sioux Falls since 2006, Swain's resignation was accepted after he reached in 2018 the age of 75, the minimum age of retirement for diocesan bishops.

Bishop-elect DeGrood, 54, grew up outside Faribault, Minnesota, one of five boys in a farming family.

A priest of the Saint Paul and Minneapolis archdiocese, he has been pastor of Saint John the Baptist Parish in Savage, Minnesota since 2017.

A bio the Saint John's website states that "life was great as a farm boy," and that DeGrood first felt called to the priesthood around age seven.   

Saint John's serves more than 2,100 families, according to its website. The church also has a parrochial school with preschool through 8th-grade.

From 2013 to 2017, Bishop-elect DeGrood was the archdiocesan episcopal vicar for clergy.

DeGrood has been pastor of Saint John Parish in Savage, Minnesota since 2017. The parish serves more than 2,100 families, according to its website. The church also has a parochial school with preschool through 8th-grade.

The bishop-elect is also the member of several diocesan committees and was on the board of the the seminaries of Saint Paul until completing his terms earlier this year.

He was a formator and spiritual director at Saint John Vianney Seminary in Saint Paul from 2000 to 2004.

The Diocese of Sioux Falls is one of two dioceses in South Dakota. It covers the eastern part of the state and has over 120,000 Catholics.


This story originally referenced Saint John Vianney Seminary in Denver. The story has been corrected.

Francis laments wars, environmental crisis in 2020's World Day of Peace message

Pope Francis laments in his message for 2020's World Day of Peace that the human community "bears the scars of ever more devastating wars and conflicts," calling on Christians to reject systems of security, such as nuclear deterrence, built on fear of others.

Copy Desk Daily, Dec. 12, 2019

NCR Today: The Copy Desk Daily highlights the latest news and opinion that have crossed copy editors' desks, on the way to readers.

Francis, the comic strip

Francis the comic strip: What happens when you invite a donkey to a wedding?