Through the intercession of “Virgen de Guadalupe,” plans for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in December are proceeding in many different parishes.

Particularly in the areas of large Latino populations in the Diocese of Scranton, the annual observance commemorates the appearance of the Virgin Mary to a Mexican Indian peasant — now venerated as Saint Juan Diego — in December 1531 in Tepeyac, near present-day Mexico City.

The Blessed Mother’s appearance is believed to have resulted in millions of conversions to Catholicism, and her message of hope continues to inspire those of Hispanic descent.

In 1946, Pope Pius XII declared Our Lady of Guadalupe as Patroness of the Americas.

The Our Lady of Guadalupe feast on Dec. 12 will culminate a host of celebrations being planned throughout the Diocese, especially in those parishes made up of significant Hispanic/Latino communities.

Everyone is welcome to join in the following celebrations:

East Stroudsburg
Saint Matthew Parish

December 1 to December 11
7:00 p.m. Rosary in the Church
(Except December 4 and 5)

December 4
Welcoming of Guadalupana Torch
12:30 p.m. Meeting location: Rite Aid Pharmacy parking lot

2:00 p.m. Solemn Mass celebrated by Bishop Joseph C. Bambera

December 5
Departure of Guadalupana Torch
12:00 p.m. The Torch is taken to the town of Suffern, N.Y.
Free bus transportation will be provided for those who would like to join. You must reserve your space in advance. Call (570) 236-2012 or (917) 930-1390

December 11
7:30 p.m. Traditional Mañanitas and vigil in honor to Our Lady of Guadalupe

December 12
7:00 p.m. Mass in honor to Our Lady of Guadalupe

Annunciation Parish

December 2 to December 10
6:30 p.m. Novena
7:00 p.m. Mass

December 11
12:00 p.m. Mass

December 12
5:00 a.m. Mañanitas

Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Parish

December 11
12:00 p.m. Mass; Reception After

Saint Joachim Church

December 10
4:00 p.m. Mass at Saint Joachim

6:00 p.m. Reception in the Hall of the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 99 E. Tioga Street, Tunkhannock

December 12
5:00 a.m. Traditional Mañanitas at Saint Joachim Church


December 2 to December 10
6:30 p.m. Novena
Saint Paul of the Cross Church

December 11
Cathedral of Saint Peter
12:15 p.m. Solemn Mass celebrated by Bishop Joseph C. Bambera. Reception after at Diocesan Pastoral Center across the street

December 12
3:00 a.m. Street procession begins at the Cathedral of St. Peter and will conclude at St. Paul of the Cross.
4:30 a.m. Mañanitas at St. Paul of the Cross Church
6:30 a.m. Morning Mass.
7:00 p.m. Mass at St. Paul of the Cross

Saint Nicholas Parish

December 11
6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Vigil

December 12
5:00 a.m. Mañanitas
4:00 p.m. Street procession starting at 607 N. Franklin St. Wilkes Barre, (Fortoso Family)
Accompanied by Chinelos, Moras and Dance of the Tacuates.

6:00 p.m. Solemn Mass celebrated by Bishop Joseph C. Bambera
7:00 p.m. Reception in the school cafeteria immediately after mass


East Stroudsburg
Parroquia San Mateo

1 de Diciembre al 11 de Diciembre
7:00 p.m. Rosario en la Iglesia
(excepto el 4 y 5 de Diciembre)

4 de Diciembre
Recibimiento de la Antorcha Guadalupana
12:30 p.m. Estacionamiento de la Farmacia Rite Aid, 128 N Courtland St, East Stroudsburg

2:00 p.m. Misa con Monseñor Joseph C. Bambera, Obispo de la Diócesis de Scranton

5 de Diciembre
12:00 p.m. Se despide a la Antorcha Guadalupana y se lleva al pueblo de Suffern, N.Y. Se proveerá transporte gratuito en autobús para los que gusten acompañar. Se requiere reservar su espacio (570) 236-2012
11 de Diciembre
7:30 p.m. Tradicionales mañanitas y vigilia en honor a la Virgen de Guadalupe

12 de Diciembre
7:00 p.m. Misa en honor a Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe

Parroquia Anunciación

2 de Diciembre al 10 de Diciembre
6:30 p.m. Rosario
7:00 p.m. Misa

11 de Diciembre
12:00 p.m. Misa

12 de Diciembre
5:00 a.m. Mañanitas

Parroquia Sagrados Corazones de Jesus y Maria

11 de Diciembre
12:00 p.m. Misa
Recepción después de Misa

Iglesia San Joaquin

10 de Diciembre
4:00 p.m. Misa en la Iglesia San Joaquín
6:00 p.m. Recepción en el Salón de la Iglesia de la Natividad de la Santísima Virgen María,
99 E. Tioga St. Tunkhannock

12 de Diciembre
5:00 a.m. Mañanitas en la Iglesia San Joaquín


2 de Diciembre al 10 de Diciembre
6:30 p.m. Novena diaria
Iglesia San Pablo de la Cruz
1217 Prospect Ave. Scranton

11 de Diciembre
Catedral de San Pedro
12:15 p.m. Misa Solemne precedida por el Monseñor Joseph C. Bambera, Obispo de la Diócesis de Scranton y concelebrada por varios sacerdotes
Recepción después de Misa en el Centro Pastoral Diocesano

12 de Diciembre
3:00 a.m. Procesión por las calles comenzando en la Catedral de San Pedro y finalizando en la Iglesia de San Pablo de la Cruz
4:30 a.m. Mañanitas en San Pablo de Cruz
6:30 a.m. Misa matutina
7:00 p.m. Misa en San Pablo de Cruz

Wilkes Barre
Parroquia San Nicolas

11 de Diciembre
6:00 p.m. – 9 p.m. Velación

12 de Diciembre
5:00 a.m. Mañanitas

4:00 p.m. Procesión comenzando en el 607 N. Franklin St. Wilkes Barre, (Familia Fortoso)
Acompañada de Chinelos, Moras y Danza de los Tacuates.

6:00 p.m. Misa Solemne precedida por el Monseñor Joseph C. Bambera, Obispo de la Diócesis de Scranton y concelebrada por varios sacerdotes

7:00 p.m. Recepción en la cafetería de la escuela inmediatamente después de la misa













SCRANTON – On Nov. 29, 2022, Peoples Security Bank & Trust made a significant contribution to the Diocese of Scranton Scholarship Foundation in support of need-based tuition assistance for students attending a Diocesan Catholic school. The donation is part of the Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program operated by Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development.

Peoples Security Bank & Trust presented the Diocesan Scholarship Foundation with a $25,000 gift through the EITC program. Over the last five years, Peoples Security Bank & Trust has generously donated $127,500 to Catholic education in the Diocese of Scranton.

“We appreciate the continued generous support of Peoples Security Bank & Trust. This commitment has a significant impact in the lives of our Catholic school families,” Jim Bebla, Diocesan Secretary for Development, said at the check presentation.

Pictured, from left: Thomas Tulaney, President & COO, Peoples Security Bank & Trust; Kristen Donohue, Diocesan Secretary for Catholic Education & Superintendent of Catholic Schools; and Jim Bebla, Diocesan Secretary for Development.

A bride in New York City stands in a park across the street from the Manhattan Marriage Bureau Nov. 18, 2021. (CNS photo/Shannon Stapleton, Reuters)

WASHINGTON (CNS) – Ahead of the U.S. Senate’s Nov. 29 61-to-36 vote approving the Respect for Marriage Act, the chairmen of two U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ committees reiterated the bishops’ ” firm opposition” to the “misnamed” measure legalizing same-sex marriage.

In a Nov. 23 joint letter to all members of Congress, the chairmen said they were writing “to implore Congress to reverse course” on H.R. 8404, also known as RMA.

The Senate advanced the measure with a 62-37 vote Nov. 16. Its final vote passing the bill sends it back to the House for a vote. If it passes that chamber, President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill into law.

The U.S. House first passed the bill July 19 with a large, bipartisan vote of 267-157, but now the House must take up the Senate’s amended version.

Issuing the joint letter were Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Robert E. Barron of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.

“Tragically, Congress’s consideration of RMA now takes place in the wake of the horrific attack in Colorado Springs,” they said, referring to the mass shooting at an LGBTQ bar in Colorado that left six people dead and many more injured. “We echo the statement of our brother Bishop (James R.) Golka of Colorado Springs in condemnation of this senseless crime.”

“Our opposition to RMA by no means condones any hostility toward anyone who experiences same-sex attraction,” Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Barron said. “Catholic teaching on marriage is inseparable from Catholic teaching on the inherent dignity and worth of every human being. To attack one is to attack the other. Congress must have the courage to defend both.”

The bill codifies the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges that found a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. It also codifies interracial marriage.

In a Nov. 17 statement after the bill advanced in the Senate, Cardinal Dolan called it “a bad deal for the many courageous Americans of faith and no faith who continue to believe and uphold the truth about marriage in the public square today.”

“It is deeply concerning that the U.S. Senate has voted to proceed toward potential passage of the Respect for Marriage Act,” he said. “(It) does not strike a balance that appropriately respects our nation’s commitment to the fundamental right of religious liberty.”

In their joint letter, Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Barron said that measure’s “rejection of timeless truths about marriage is evident on its face and in its purpose.” They repeated the cardinal’s earlier point that it “would also betray our country’s commitment to the fundamental right of religious liberty.”

The text of their letter and a lengthy detailed analysis by the USCCB on how the bill, if it becomes law, endanger religious liberty can be found at

“First, the bill will be used to argue that the government has a compelling interest in forcing religious organizations and individuals to treat same-sex civil marriages as valid,” the analysis said.

An amendment to the bill says it “protects all religious liberty and conscience protections available under the Constitution or federal law, including but not limited to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and prevents this bill from being used to diminish or repeal any such protection.”

It also “confirms that nonprofit religious organizations will not be required to provide any services, facilities, or goods for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage.”

The amendment was worked out by a bipartisan group of negotiators — headed by Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Susan Collins, R-Maine — who had asked the Senate for more time to consider “an amendment designed to respond to the concerns of GOP lawmakers who feared the legislation could put churches and other religious institutions at legal risk if Congress voted to codify same-sex marriage rights.”

With the amendment, 12 Republicans joined every Democrat in supporting the marriage bill.

But the USCCB analysis said that even with the amendment, under the bill “religious objectors are likelier to be denied exemptions under the First Amendment and RFRA in cases where they would have prevailed but for the passage of RMA.”

The measure “would have a ripple effect that hurts religious freedom in every context where conflicts with same-sex marriage arise, not just in the context of compliance with RMA itself,” the analysis said.

“Employment decisions, employees’ spousal benefits, eligibility for grants or contracts, accreditation, tax exemptions — it runs the full gamut, even in religious liberty conflicts arising out of state or local laws,” it added.

“Unfortunately, a number of religious groups and senators are asserting that the amended text of RMA sufficiently protects religious freedom,” Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Barron said in their letter.

They added that from the perspective of the USCCB, “whose bishops’ ministries comprise the largest nongovernmental provider of social services” in the U.S., the provisions of the bill “that relate to religious liberty are insufficient.”

“The amended act will put the ministries of the Catholic Church, people of faith and other Americans who uphold a traditional meaning of marriage at greater risk of government discrimination,” the two prelates said.

“This bill is needless and harmful and must be voted down,” they said. “At the same time, Congress, and our nation as a whole, must resolve to foster a culture where every individual, as a child of God, is treated with respect and compassion.”

Ahead of the House vote in July, the chairmen of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life and marriage and family committees wrote a joint letter to House members urging they reject the measure.

The Respect for Marriage Act repeals the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, signed into Law by President Bill Clinton. It barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage, until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that law unconstitutional in 2013.

The push in Congress to codify a right to same-sex marriage in federal law followed an opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas in the Dobbs ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade.

Pope Francis delivers his talk during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Nov. 30, 2022. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – A daily examination of conscience is an important tool for recognizing where God is at work in one’s life and where “the evil spirit” tries to lead one astray, Pope Francis said.

“Learn to read in the book of our hearts what has happened during the day. Do it. Just two minutes, but it will do you good, I promise,” the pope told visitors at his weekly general audience Nov. 30.

After his talk, Pope Francis and the crowd were treated to a performance by the Black Blues Brothers, a group of five acrobats from Kenya. Wearing dark suits and ties, they did handsprings, created human pyramids and did tumbling and dance tricks while jumping rope to songs from the 1980 film “The Blues Brothers.”

Continuing his series of audience talks about discernment, the pope spoke again about “spiritual consolation” and about using a daily examination of conscience to distinguish between what just feels good and “genuine consolation,” which, he said, “is a sort of confirmation that we are doing what God wants of us, that we are walking on his paths, that is, on the paths of life, joy and peace.”

Relying on the teaching of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, the pope explained that consolation comes from knowing that a thought or impulse is good at its beginning, middle and end, because it inclines one to do something good, is motivated by love for God and others and leads to a sense of peace.

On the other hand, the pope explained, “the evil spirit” can sneak in and distract one from doing good or sow anger toward others or pride.

“When we talk about the ‘evil spirit,’ we are talking about the devil, you know,” the pope said. “The devil exists.”

Pope Francis used the example of the thought or urge to pray, accompanied by “affection for the Lord and my neighbor, it invites gestures of generosity, of charity: it is a good beginning.”

But, he said, if “every time I have to wash the dishes or clean the house, I have a strong urge to pray — this happens in convents” — then the impulse is not all good.

“Go wash the dishes, then go pray,” he said, because “prayer is not an escape from one’s tasks.”

And, the pope said, “if I begin to pray and, like the Pharisee in the parable, I tend to be self-satisfied and to disdain others, perhaps with a resentful and sour spirit, then these are signs that the evil spirit has used that thought as a key to enter into my heart and to transmit his feelings to me.”

In such cases, he said, “the consolation of prayer” is false, and one simply is “a peacock before God,” strutting his or her presumed holiness.

Then, Pope Francis said, one should ask, “Where does that thought take me? For example, it can happen that I work hard for a good and worthy task, but this pushes me to stop praying; I find I am increasingly aggressive and angry, I feel that everything depends on me, to the point of losing confidence in God. Here, evidently, there is the action of the evil spirit.”

The devil’s style is “devious, masked,” the pope said, and he usually starts with something important to the person and then twists it.

“The more we know ourselves, the more we sense where the evil spirit enters, his ‘passwords,’ the entrance to our heart,” Pope Francis said.

“Before ending your day, stop a bit and ask what has happened (that day) — not in the newspapers,” he said, but in one’s heart.

“Noticing what happens is important,” he said. “It is a sign that God’s grace is working in us, helping us to grow in freedom and awareness. We are not alone; the Holy Spirit is with us. Let’s see how things are going.”

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Pope Francis give their blessing at the end of an ecumenical prayer service for peace in Our Lady of Arabia Cathedral in Awali, Bahrain, in this Nov. 4, 2022, file photo. In a letter to Patriarch Bartholomew, Pope Francis said Christians must acknowledge how sin has exacerbated divisions and how growing in holiness is part of the search for Christian unity. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – While formal dialogue about the theological and historical causes of the splits in Christianity are essential, so, too, is a recognition that “sinful actions and attitudes” have contributed and continue to contribute to divisions in the body of Christ, Pope Francis said.

“We are called, then, to work toward the restoration of unity between Christians, not merely through signed agreements but through fidelity to the Father’s will and discernment of the promptings of the Spirit,” Pope Francis wrote in a letter to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople Nov. 30, the feast of St. Andrew.

“We can be thankful to God that our churches are not resigned to past and current experiences of division, but, on the contrary, through prayer and fraternal charity are seeking instead to achieve full communion that will enable us one day, in God’s time, to gather together at the same eucharistic table,” said the pope’s letter, which was read publicly at the end of a Divine Liturgy in the patriarchal church of St. George in the Phanar, the patriarchate’s headquarters in Istanbul.

The letter was delivered personally by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, outgoing prefect of the Dicastery for Eastern Churches, who led a Vatican delegation to Istanbul for the feast of St. Andrew, the brother of St. Peter, and patron saint of the Orthodox patriarchate.

The pope and the patriarch send delegations to each other’s churches each year for the celebrations of their patron saints’ feast days: the Vatican’s June 29 celebration of the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul and the patriarchate’s celebration of the feast of St. Andrew.

Pope Francis included in his letter condolences over the Nov. 13 Istanbul bombing that killed six people and wounded more than 80 on a busy street lined with shops and restaurants.

“I entrust to the mercy of Almighty God those who have lost their lives or have been wounded by the recent attack in your own city and pray that he will convert the hearts of those who promote or support such evil actions,” the pope wrote.

The bombing is another sign that “dialogue and encounter are the only viable path for overcoming conflicts and all forms of violence,” the pope said, mentioning how that position and the importance of interreligious dialogue, in particular, was affirmed by the pope and patriarch when they met and prayed together in early November in Bahrain.

“The full restoration of communion among all the believers in Jesus Christ is an irrevocable commitment for every Christian,” the pope wrote, because “the ‘unity of all’ is not only God’s will but an urgent priority in today’s world,” so often marked by violent divisions.

Catholics and Orthodox, he said, must acknowledge that their divisions “are the result of sinful actions and attitudes which impede the work of the Holy Spirit, who guides the faithful into unity in legitimate diversity. It follows that only growth in holiness of life can lead to genuine and lasting unity.”

Pope Francis also remembered Patriarch Bartholomew and the Orthodox community at the end of his weekly general audience that day.

With thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis told them, “I wish to express my special affection to my dear brother Patriarch Bartholomew I and the entire church of Constantinople. May the intercession of the holy brother apostles Peter and Andrew soon grant the church to fully enjoy its unity” and grant “peace to the whole world, especially at this time to the dear and tormented Ukraine, which is always in our hearts and prayers.”

Pope Francis delivers his Christmas blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world) from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in this Dec. 25, 2021, file photo. With the removal of most of the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pope is scheduled to return to a full slate of public liturgies in December and January. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – With most of the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic removed, Pope Francis is scheduled to return to a full slate of public liturgies in December and January.

Pope Francis is scheduled to resume joining the public to pay homage to Mary under the title of the Immaculate Conception on her feast, Dec. 8. At 4 p.m. he will join the traditional gathering at the Spanish Steps in the center of Rome.

Even though the public event was canceled in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic, the pope still went to the statue of the Immaculate Conception during the early morning to lay a basket of flowers there.

The pope also recites the Angelus prayer at noon Dec. 8 with visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Also on the papal schedule in December and January:

— At 6 p.m. Dec. 12, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

— On Dec. 24 at 7:30 p.m., the pope will celebrate the Mass of the Nativity of the Lord. While the Mass is commonly referred to as “midnight Mass,” the Vatican celebration gradually has been moved earlier to make it easier for people to attend.

— At noon Dec. 25, the pope will give his traditional Christmas blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world) from the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica.

— At 5 p.m. Dec. 31, he will preside over an evening prayer service in St. Peter’s Basilica for the feast of Mary, Mother of God. Vespers will be followed by eucharistic adoration, benediction and the singing of the “Te Deum” to thank God for the year that is ending.

— At 10 a.m. Jan. 1, he will celebrate Mass for the feast of Mary, Mother of God, in St. Peter’s Basilica.

— At 10 a.m. Jan. 6, he will celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the feast of the Epiphany.

— At 9:30 a.m. Jan. 8, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, he will celebrate Mass in the Sistine Chapel and will baptize infants.

Tickets can be requested online at the Vatican website ( through the Prefecture of the Papal Household.

Local and national media in University City, Mo., report on more than 170 toppled Jewish headstones Feb. 21, 2017, after a weekend vandalism attack on Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery near St. Louis. (CNS photo/Tom Gannam, Reuters)

WASHINGTON (CNS) – Saying they are outraged by growing “antisemitic rhetoric” across the country, members of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs urged Christians to decry hate-filled statements and violence aimed at Jewish individuals, homes and institutions.

Committee members also denounced “any rhetoric which seeks to demonize or dehumanize the Jewish people or Judaism as a religious tradition,” in a statement released Nov. 28 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“In unequivocal terms, we condemn any and all violence directed at the Jewish people, whether motivated by religious, racial, or political grievances,” said the committee, chaired by Bishop David P. Talley of Memphis, Tennessee, and has eight other members.

“The rising trend of antisemitic incidents has become even more painful in light of the church’s relationship to the Jewish tradition and our connections to the Jewish people in dialogue and friendship,” the committee said.

The Anti-Defamation League, which tracks incidents of antisemitism, reported 2,717 cases of harassment, vandalism and assault in 2021, an increase of 34% from a year earlier. The number of incidents is the highest on record since the group began tracking them in 1979.

Two rabbis involved in ecumenical dialogue with the committee praised the statement for the resilient solidarity it signifies to the Jewish community.

“The main emotion with the statement is gratitude,” said Rabbi Allyson Zacharoff, representative of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association in the National Council of Synagogues.

“Knowing that the bishops, that the church, is so willing to speak in such a strong way against antisemitism is incredibly fulfilling, incredibly gratifying,” Rabbi Zacharoff told Catholic News Service.

Rabbi Noam Marans, director of interreligious and intergroup relations at the American Jewish Committee, wrote in an email that the statement “reminds the Jewish community that we are not alone, that U.S. Catholic leadership understands resurgent antisemitism as a threat to Jews.”

He also said that antisemitism must be addressed by “all peoples, including, perhaps especially, the faith community.”

The bishops’ statement draws its inspiration from “Nostra Aetate” (“In Our Time”), the Second Vatican Council’s 1965 declaration on the relationship between the Catholic Church and non-Catholic faiths. It explains that over six decades the committee has built partnerships with the National Council of Synagogues, the Orthodox Union and the newly established Modern Orthodox group.

“In each of these exchanges, leaders in the Catholic and Jewish faiths have learned to encounter each other in a spirit of good will and a sincere desire to encourage our respective faithful to live together in a society increasingly diverse in its racial, ethnic, religious and political makeup,” the committee said.

However, the statement continued, such lessons “are being challenged by the re-emergence of antisemitism in new forms” in online and in-person settings.

Quoting Pope Francis’s 2013 address to the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations, where he said, “a true Christian cannot be an antisemite,” the nine bishops cautioned that Christians “must be ever vigilant of the various ways” in which hatred and violence arise.

The committee members said that Jewish and Christian religious traditions have a “shared spiritual patrimony” that provides the foundation for the strong relations existing among the two communities.

Again Citing “Nostra Aetate”, the committee explained that the Catholic Church always must work to protect the root from which the two religions grew and from which the church “continues to draw sustenance as all await in varied ways the coming of the Messiah.'”

Further, the committee said: “We affirm that the Jewish people cannot be held responsible for the death of Christ or be depicted as rejected or accursed in theological discourse. It must always be remembered that Jesus, Mary, and the apostles were all Jewish,” the committee said.

In addition, the panel reiterated its long-held stance of supporting a “just political solution” that recognizes “Israel living in peace alongside a viable and independent Palestine.”

The committee added that it continues to seek ways to “foster bonds of friendship between members of the Body of Christ and the Jewish people” and remains recommitted to broadening the implementation and teaching found within “Nostra Aetate.”

Rabbi Marans credited the years of effort among Catholics to live out the values expressed in “Nostra Aetate” for leading to the committee’s “powerful call” against antisemitism.

“Without this half century of Catholic-Jewish progress post ‘Nostra Aetate,’ we would be stuck in millennia-long enmity,” Rabbi Marans wrote.

Rabbi Zacharoff agreed, telling CNS that she viewed the Vatican Council document as the foundation to continue bolstering Jewish-Catholic relations.

Both rabbis also called for continued efforts to share the message of “Nostra Aetate” in churches and synagogues as well as in political, educational and corporate settings.

“We have a tremendous ally in Pope Francis, who has been consistently and forcefully outspoken in the battle against antisemitism,” Rabbi Marans said. “Pope Francis’ example in this is emulated by the USCCB in their new statement and beyond.”

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis has suspended the secretary-general and other top officers of Caritas Internationalis, appointing a temporary administrator to oversee improved management policies and to prepare for the election of new officers in May.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, whose second term as Caritas president was to end in May, also loses his position, although he is to assist the temporary administrator in preparing for the future by taking “special care of relations with the local churches and the member organizations,” said the papal decree published Nov. 22.

Caritas Internationalis is the umbrella organization for 162 official Catholic charities working in more than 200 countries; it includes the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities USA, the Canadian bishops’ Development and Peace and the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

Pope Francis appointed Pier Francesco Pinelli, a business management consultant, to oversee the Vatican-based offices of the general secretariat.

In a statement also released Nov. 22, the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, which has some oversight responsibility for Caritas Internationalis, said the suspension of the officers “has no impact on the functioning of member organizations and the services of charity and solidarity they provide around the world; on the contrary, it will serve to strengthen such service.”

Earlier this year, the statement said, the dicastery “commissioned a review of the workplace environment of the CI General Secretariat and its alignment with Catholic values of human dignity and respect for each person.”

Pinelli and two psychologists conducted the review, which included interviewing current and past employees, the dicastery said.

“No evidence emerged of financial mismanagement or sexual impropriety, but other important themes and areas for urgent attention emerged from the panel’s work,” the statement said. “Real deficiencies were noted in management and procedures, seriously prejudicing team-spirit and staff morale.”

The announcement of the pope’s provisions came while some 100 Caritas representatives from around the world were having a two-day meeting in Rome “to reflect on how to strengthen local leadership within the confederation and enhance fraternal cooperation among member organizations.”

According to Vatican News, Cardinal Tagle read the papal decree to the assembly and, while acknowledging the news could upset or confuse some people, he said they should be reassured knowing that it came after “a careful and independent study of the working environment of the secretariat and the governance exercised by the people and bodies in charge.”

The papal decree, he said, is “a call to walk humbly with God” and be open to a process of discernment, which includes acknowledging shortcomings.

Aloysius John, the secretary-general since 2019, was not present at the meeting, Vatican News said. John, a French citizen who was born in India, had been head of the organization’s section for institutional development and capacity building before his election as secretary-general.

Cardinal Michael Czerny, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and Pinelli, the new administrator, also were present at the meeting, Vatican News reported.

Pope Francis, in his decree, said that Caritas Internationalis assists him and the bishops “in the exercise of their ministry to the poorest and most needy, participating in the management of humanitarian emergencies and collaborating in the spread of charity and justice in the world in the light of the Gospel and the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

“To improve the fulfillment of this mission,” the pope said, “it seems necessary to revise” the current regulations governing Caritas Internationalis, a task that Pinelli will guide.

Pinelli told Vatican News that his hope was “to initiate processes of reconciliation and improvement that can bear fruit in the long run for this association.”

People in Colorado Springs, Colo., attend a vigil Nov. 20, 2022, after a mass shooting at Club Q, a LGBTQ nightclub. At least five people were killed and 25 others injured by a 22-year-old gunman who entered the nightclub just before midnight Nov. 19 and immediately opened fire. The shooting lasted just minutes before patrons confronted and stopped the suspected shooter, identified as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich. (CNS photo/Kevin Mohatt, Reuters)

WASHINGTON (CNS) – Catholic leaders have condemned the Nov. 19 attack on an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, that killed at least five people and injured at least 25.

Seven of those wounded were in critical condition.

The church leaders – the archbishop of Denver, leaders of religious orders and congregations, and a Catholic outreach group to members of the LGBTQ community – also prayed for those impacted by the attack and urged for an end to hate crimes and use of language that condemns those in the LGBTQ community.

The suspected gunman, 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, faced murder and hate crime charges Nov. 21, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press, adding that the suspect used an AR-15-style semiautomatic weapon in the attack at Club Q before he was subdued by people at the club.

On its Facebook page, the club thanked the “quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack” within minutes of the alleged gunman opening fire after entering the club shortly before midnight Nov. 19.

It also noted that a drop-in center was set up at a nearby hotel with counseling services available all week. Outside the club, a makeshift memorial was filled with flowers and stuffed animals.

Police have identified the deceased victims as Daniel Aston, Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh and Derrick Rump.

Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila said he was “saddened by this tragic and senseless act.”

In a Nov. 20 statement, he said that “while the motives remain unclear, what is clear is that evil incidents like this have become far too common in our society. The random acts of killing innocent human beings must be condemned by a civil society.”

Similarly, Bishop James R. Golka of Colorado Springs, issued a Nov. 21 statement calling the nightclub shooting “especially troubling” since the shooter “appeared to target members of the LGBTQ community.” He said anytime “specific members of the population are targeted for violence, we should all be concerned.”

The bishop also spoke against gun violence and mentioned the anxiety and pressure many are feeling since the pandemic and urged anyone struggling to contact a priest or minister from their church or Catholic Charities of Central Colorado.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops retweeted the bishop’s message and said they joined him and “the community of Colorado Springs in lamenting this violent act and praying for all those impacted.”

Mark Joseph Williams, a clergy abuse survivor, responded to the Colorado bishop’s tweet by pointing out that when he addressed the U.S. bishops Nov. 15 during their fall general assembly in Baltimore, he had asked them to walk with all the abused.

He said he now asks Bishop Golka “and his brother prelates to walk w/ our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. It is our faith. God loves all.”

Outreach, a new initiative of Jesuit-run America Media that provides resources for LGBTQ Catholics, similarly issued a statement on its website Nov. 20 praying for those who died, those who were wounded and for the LGBTQ community in Colorado Springs.

It said the “motive for this terrible attack on LGBTQ people remains unclear” but also pointed out that it took place “the day before Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day when we commemorate transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of violence.”

The night of the attack, Club Q was planning to host a drag show to mark the day of remembrance.

The Outreach statement stressed that while a motive remained unclear, what is clear, it said, is “the effect that stigmatizing language has on the safety and well-being of LGBTQ people.”

“Language that seeks to reject, condemn, isolate, blame or target LGBTQ people should be rejected, especially by religious leaders,” it said, adding that such language “leads only to further harassment, beatings and violence.”

“Churches and other religious institutions are called to stand on the side of all who are in any way persecuted, including LGBTQ people,” the Nov. 20 statement said.

Paulist Father René Constanza, president of the Paulist Fathers, also condemned not only the attack but harmful rhetoric toward those in the LGBTQ community.

“Violence targeting our LGBTQ sisters and brothers must stop,” he said.

In a Nov. 21 statement, he said “rhetoric that dehumanizes and disrespects the inherent dignity of those who identify as LGBTQ is unacceptable, including that espoused by members of our own Catholic Church and other faith communities.”

He also said gun violence “needs to be more seriously dealt with by our civil leaders.”

The priest said it was time for society “to address the anger, contempt, and indifference that fuel violence against all people because of their sexual orientation, skin color, race or religion.”

The general council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters based in Adrian, Michigan, similarly responded to the shooting saying their “hearts ache” for those who were killed and those injured and offered “deep condolences to family and friends who are mourning the loss of their loved ones.”

“There is no place for hate crimes in our nation nor for the angry and venomous language that often precedes such evil acts — whether committed against members of the LGBTQ+ community or people who are Black, Indigenous, Latino or Asian American, or because of a person’s religious faith,” the sisters said.

Likewise, the Redemptorists of the Denver province grieved the loss of life and injuries inflicted and said they extended their prayers “for the well-being of the LGBTQ community in Colorado Springs as it faces the trauma of this attack and the pain it incurred.”

The order’s members, based in Chicago, said in a Nov. 21 statement that they recognized that “LGBTQ people are especially vulnerable to an inordinate and unwarranted amount of violence in the world,” and pledged to work against such violence and discrimination and help those who suffer from it.

The Redemptorists said the shooting was reminiscent of when 49 people were killed and 53 more were injured at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in 2016.

At the time, they said, bishops and Catholic leaders spoke out against the tragedy but when they did “very few mentioned the victims as members of the LGBTQ community.”

New Ways Ministry, a Maryland-based Catholic advocacy outreach group for LGBTQ people, said in a statement that it joined “millions of Catholics in the U.S. and worldwide who mournfully pray over the tragic loss of five lives in the recent shooting at Club Q.”

The group also called on “every bishop to condemn such violence in all its forms. Such a message can deter future perpetrators, and it also expresses pastoral support to LGBTQ people in their communities.”

New Ways Ministry also urged bishops and Catholic leaders “to join in the many demonstrations and vigils in support of LGBTQ people, which will emerge over the coming weeks.” It stressed that all Catholics “should redouble their efforts to end discrimination against LGBTQ people by supporting equality initiatives and laws.

This view was echoed by Johnny Zokovitch, executive director of Pax Christi USA, who called on Catholic leaders in U.S. dioceses, parishes, universities and schools “to make clear both their condemnation of violence against members of the LGBTQ community and their efforts to end discrimination against LGBTQ people.”

Security personnel in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, stands guard next to the COP27 sign Nov. 20, 2022, during the closing plenary at the COP27 climate summit. (CNS photo/Mohamed Abd El Ghany, Reuters)

A historic, late-hour deal reached at the U.N. climate change summit to establish a “loss and damage” fund for countries vulnerable to the devastating impacts of a warming world represented “a real breakthrough,” said representatives of Catholic and other religious groups.

Saying the establishment of the fund was an answer to their prayers, the faith-based voices recognized the step as a sign of progress in response to global warming, despite negotiations falling short in other areas.

They cautioned, however, that the new fund will fail to aid communities already suffering from extreme heat and storms if the plan follows the path of past pledges that have not yet been delivered, including the elimination of heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions and financing climate mitigation and adaptation efforts.

“If governments stick to paving the way for a future with good intentions and aspirational declarations while widening the gap with the implementation and follow-up needed, they will indeed lock us up on pathways to disaster,” CIDSE, a network of 17 Catholic development agencies from Europe and North America, said in a statement.

In addition, only about 30 countries delivered on promises made at COP26 in 2021; they had pledged more aggressive national climate plans in line with meeting the Paris Agreement’s ambitious temperature limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

The inability to reach a decision on ending fossil fuel usage made COP27 “a lost opportunity,” Comboni Missionary Sister Paola Moggi said during a debriefing webinar Nov. 22 hosted by the International Union of Superiors General. She attended the summit on behalf of the faith-based NGO VIVAT International.

“We can cure the symptoms but not address the causes. And this was for me the failure of this COP,” she said.

Still, the establishment of a loss and damage fund Nov. 20 — two days after the summit officially closed — resonated with religious leaders, civil society groups and climate activists. The groups for years have pushed wealthy countries to take concrete actions to reduce their emissions and provide financing for climate-related destruction, especially in the global south.

Jesuit Father Leonard Chiti of southern Africa called the deal “a huge achievement.”

He noted that before COP27 it wasn’t clear if loss and damage would be on the agenda or if developed nations, including the U.S., would reconsider their past resistance to such a fund over fears of limitless liability claims.

Days before the conference began, delegates backing loss and damage successfully added the issue to the discussions. As negotiations continued, developing nations were later joined by the European Union in pressing for the fund to be inserted into the final text summarizing the outcome.

The Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan calls for the fund to assist developing countries particularly vulnerable to adverse climate impacts, although it does not define which countries can access it, which ones will contribute to it or how much. Those details are expected to be negotiated over the next year.

Adrian Dominican Sister Durstyne Farnan said the agreement revived the spirits of climate activists, who had given up on government representatives for failing to commit to fighting climate change.

“The final outcome document is hopeful. Many were doubting that COP27 would come out with statements and commitments to fund loss and damage, just transition and climate mitigation,” she said.

David Munene, programs manager of the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa, said loss-and-damage financing is “a step toward what we have been fighting for years. This has been on the agenda for the last 27 years, yet no action has been taken. So it’s the right time.”

Father Vitalis Anaehobi, secretary general of the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa, said the agreement brought hope to the world that one day it would be able to eradicate the effects of climate change by preserving the environment.

“This is a great success for all people of goodwill who wanted COP27 not to end in words without concrete actions. With this decision, I can rightly say that COP27 has achieved what many others failed to do,” he said.

COP27 was the first conference at which the Vatican was a formal party to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and to the Paris Agreement. The new status meant the Holy See delegation had a seat at the negotiating tables and a vote on the final outcomes, which under U.N. rules require unanimity.

The Vatican delegation, led by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, met with fellow Catholics to discuss priorities and strategies several times. On the conference’s final scheduled day, Nov. 18, 13 Catholic institutions attending the summit issued a statement to the delegation expressing their concerns with the global response to climate change.

“We emphasize that any implementation of climate solutions must be anchored on the following three pillars: justice, equity, and solidarity,” the statement said.

Rodne Galicha, executive director of Living Laudato Si’ Philippines, said he hopes the lessons the Catholic Church learns from the Synod of Bishops on synodality can be incorporated into how it engages in future climate conferences, especially including the voices and stories from the peripheries where climate change is often felt the fiercest.

“Being officially part of the (U.N.) process, we will be assured as a synodal and inclusive church that our ecological and social concerns are articulated and acted upon,” he said.

Even with the breakthrough on loss and damage, the summit’s final text did not include a call or a timeline for a phaseout of fossil fuels, and instead repeated language reached in 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland, for “the phasedown of unabated coal power and phaseout of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.”

Nations did agree to a program to rapidly scale up mitigation efforts, with twice-annual meetings through 2030, and reiterated that countries that haven’t aligned their climate plans with the 1.5-degree Celsius goal should do so before the end of 2023.

“Incremental progress is defeat. We can’t negotiate w/ physics. It’s a #ClimateEMERGENCY,” tweeted Tomás Insua, executive director of Laudato Si’ Movement, which was present throughout the conference.

COP27 also did not see developed countries deliver on their pledge to mobilize $100 billion annually to the Green Climate Fund for mitigation and adaptation efforts in developing countries and has pushed that timeline back to 2025.

A Global Shield fund was launched to help countries facing climate disasters. In addition, negotiators called on multilateral development banks and international financial institutions to mobilize private financing toward “significantly increasing climate ambition” and to reform their practices and priorities to simplify access to climate finance.

By the end of the summit, 150 countries had joined the Global Methane Pledge to slash emissions of methane — a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide but with a much shorter lifespan — by 30% by 2030.

With COP27 concluded, many religious leaders and Catholic actors are now urging world leaders to implement the issues that they agreed to in Egypt to save lives and livelihoods.

“My worry is that many things have been agreed on before but have never been implemented,” Munene said.

“My prayer now,” he said, “is that they stick to what they agreed to and implement it because people have lost many things, including lives, livelihoods, shelter and properties, due to the effect of climate change.”