Missions Work to Foster World Peace
Children like Paska, a Ugandan "soldier" twice threatened with shooting when she tried to escape, are a primary concern of the Church and its missionaries. World Mission Sunday, to be observed Sunday, October 24, 2004, encourages work with such children, many of whom have no families, no homes to return to and no hope. As they speak about Jesus, missionaries give children a home and family, then work to restore their social identity. Many young people have been able to return to their homelands to spread peace rather than waging war. The challenge to the Church is to make that happen more often – to convince children who were once taught to kill to listen instead to the words of Jesus: "Love one another." "Mission is not dead," says Sister Marie De La Trinité Siopongco, SSVM, USCCB's Assistant Secretary for the Committee on World Mission. "By virtue of our Baptism as Christians, we have a responsibility to proclaim His name, which we do by means of mission education in our Catholic schools, religious education programs and through our seminaries." While celebrating the unity and universality of the Church, Pope John Paul II calls World Mission Sunday "an excellent occasion for an examination of conscience with regard to [Catholics'] missionary obligation, and for reminding all the faithful that each one is involved in this duty."
For more information, contact Sister Marie De La Trinité Siopongco, SSVM at (202) 541-3147 or email@example.com.
Catholic Marriage Not a Barrier to Escaping Domestic Violence
Domestic Violence Awareness Month, recognized each October, calls attention to the fact that marriage in the Catholic Church should not condemn a women to a life lived in terror, trapped in a cycle of domestic violence. Thousands of brides and grooms will promise to honor and respect each other in October, which has become one of the most popular months for weddings. Sadly, some of these brides will later find themselves victims of abuse — physical, sexual, psychological, verbal or economic — and although they may want to leave the marriage, many believe that Catholic Church teaching on the permanence of marriage requires them to stay in an abusive relationship. As "first responders" to both victims and batterers, priests are encouraged to listen to and believe the victim's story, help her to assess the danger to herself and her children, and refer her for counseling and other specialized services. In dealing with people who abuse, church ministers need to hold them accountable for their behavior. When interventions fail to stop abuse, "some abused women fear that if they seek a divorce they cannot remarry in the Catholic Church," says Sheila Garcia, Assistant Director in the USCCB Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women and Youth. "The bishops encourage these women to consider seeking an annulment, that is, an official church declaration that the marriage bond is not valid." In "When I Call for Help," the U.S. Catholic Bishops emphasize that "no person is expected to stay in an abusive marriage…Violence and abuse, not divorce, break up a marriage."
For more information, contact Sheila Garcia at (202) 541-3041 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Separated Refugee Children: At Risk and In Need of Protection
Many hundreds of thousands of refugees have found peace and hope in the United States, their newly adopted country. This is a remarkable achievement, yet the children, often separated from their parents, face serious challenges to successful adjustment and well-being. Refugee children who have lost their families through war, violence or other causes are often forgotten when they arrive in refugee camps – alone, scared and, at times, abused and exploited. Separated refugee children are at higher risk for sexual abuse and exploitation, physical abuse, child labor and trafficking, family breakdown and other threats. Internationally, a growing level of attention is being paid to the needs and prevalence of separated refugee children, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is a leader among non-governmental agencies in addressing the needs of children forced to flee their homes, working with a broad network of Catholic agencies to facilitate resettlement in the United States. "In light of the needs and risks that these children face, public and private service providers are obliged to examine the current level of care and support given to these children to determine if more can and should be done to protect and serve this vulnerable population," says Julianne Duncan, USCCB's Associate Director of Children's Services for Migration and Refugee Services.
For more information, contact Julianne Duncan at (202) 541-5412 or email@example.com.