Sainthood cause of Lakota catechist moves forward
BALTIMORE — The U.S. bishops voted Nov. 14 to move forward the sainthood cause of Nicholas W. Black Elk, a 19th-century Lakota catechist who is said to have introduced hundreds of Lakota people to the Catholic faith. At the annual fall assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore, the bishops "approved by voice vote the canonical consultation," or support for the cause. The episcopal consultation process is "a step in the Catholic Church's process toward declaring a person a saint." Bishop Robert D. Gruss of Rapid City, S.D., spoke to the bishops about Black Elk, born into the Oglala Lakota Tribe in 1863 in Wyoming. "He was widely known among his people as a holy man and mystic," Bishop Gruss said. "He was given a vision at a very early age." The message of that vision was that "we should all live as one."
California bishop asks for prayers after shooting tragedy in his state
BALTIMORE — Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, Calif., asked his brother bishops meeting in Baltimore to pray for the victims of the nation's latest shooting tragedy. The bishops were gathered for the second day of their annual fall assembly Nov. 14. Early that morning in Northern California, a gunman opened fire at random locations, including near a grade school, in a rural area, leaving at least four people dead and at least 10 others injured. The Associated Press reported that sheriff's deputies fatally shot the gunman, whose name wasn't released. He was the fifth fatality in the incident. At least three children were among those being treated for injuries. The Tehama County Sheriff's Office said that it was dealing with seven crime scenes. Tehama County is one of several counties that comprise the Sacramento Diocese.
USCCB unveils new website for National Bible Week
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has acquired the domain name Catholic.Bible. The site, https://catholic.bible, is already up and running. It contains a survey from the American Bible Society on Catholics' use of the Bible. With National Bible Week being observed Nov. 12-18, there are links to resources in both English and Spanish, as well as links to the New American Bible revised edition and to the Little Rock Scripture Study website. The theme for the weeklong observance is "The Bible: A Book of Faith/La Biblia: Un Libro de la Fe" and recognizes the 25th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Catholic.Bible also contains a growing log of daily Mass readings and the "lectio divina," a prayerful way of reading Scripture, in English and Spanish. A list of licensed publishers of Catholic Bibles is coming soon.
U.S. seminary in Rome to host World Day of Poor lunch guests
ROME — Just before Thanksgiving, the Pontifical North American College will welcome some special guests of Pope Francis. About 4,000 poor people are expected to join the pope for Mass in St. Peter's Basilica Nov. 19, which Pope Francis had designated as the Catholic Church's first World Day of the Poor. After the Mass and noon recitation of the Angelus, the 4,000 people will be offered lunch. But since this is a Sunday lunch — not a sack lunch — the Vatican audience hall can accommodate only about 1,500 people. The North American College, the U.S. seminary in Rome — located on the hill above the Vatican — was one of several seminaries and soup kitchens that offered to serve some of the pope's guests. "We are expecting a group of just over 200 guests to be coming to the college for 'pranzo,'" said Father David A. Schunk, assistant vice rector of the college. "The group will be dining in our refectory." An admonition from St. John Chrysostom "remains ever timely," Pope Francis said in a message for the 2017 celebration. He quoted the fifth-century theologian: "If you want to honor the body of Christ, do not scorn it when it is naked; do not honor the eucharistic Christ with silk vestments and then, leaving the church, neglect the other Christ suffering from cold and nakedness." The pope chose "Love not in word, but in deed" as the theme for 2017.
Peace, dialogue held hostage by nuclear weapons threat, pope says
VATICAN CITY — The existence of nuclear weapons creates a false sense of security that holds international relations hostage and stifles peaceful coexistence, Pope Francis said. "The threat of their use as well as their very possession is to be firmly condemned," the pope told participants at a conference on nuclear disarmament hosted by the Vatican. For years, popes and Catholic leaders had said the policy of nuclear deterrence could be morally acceptable as long as real work was underway on a complete ban of the weapons. In condemning possession of the weapons, Pope Francis seemed to indicate that deterrence is no longer acceptable. Nuclear weapons "exist in the service of a mentality of fear that affects not only the parties in conflict but the entire human race," he said Nov. 10. The conference, sponsored by the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, brought together 11 Nobel laureates, top officials from the United Nations and NATO, diplomats from around the world and experts in nuclear weapons and the disarmament process. They were joined by scholars, activists and representatives of bishops' conferences, including Stephen Colecchi, director of the U.S. bishops' Office of International Justice and Peace.
Pope bans cigarette sales at the Vatican
VATICAN CITY — Concerned by the damage caused by smoking, Pope Francis has banned the sale of cigarettes in Vatican City State. Starting in 2018, the Vatican "will cease to sell cigarettes to employees," Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, said in a statement Nov. 9. "The reason is very simple: The Holy See cannot contribute to an activity that clearly damages the health of people," he said. "According to the World Health Organization, every year smoking is the cause of more than seven million deaths throughout the world." The Vatican used to be known as a safe haven for cigarette smokers. That changed dramatically in 2002, when Vatican City prohibited smoking in offices and public places. However, cigarettes continued to be sold to current and retired personnel at the Vatican. Even after the cigarette ban goes into effect, the Vatican will continue discount sales of gasoline, groceries and other goods to employees and retirees.
— Catholic News Service