Fidel Castro funeral procession
People line a road as they await the caravan carrying former Cuban President Fidel Castro's ashes in El Maja, Cuba. The ashes of Castro, who died Nov. 25 at age 90, are expected to be interred at St. Ifigenia Cemetery in Santiago, which holds the remains of other illustrious Cuban figures.
Carlos Barria/Reuters, cns
Study: Parents as attached to devices as their kids are
WASHINGTON — For adults complaining about America's youth being saturated in media usage, it appears the apple hasn't fallen far from the iPad.
Parents spend more than nine hours a day with screen media, and the vast majority of that time is spent with personal screen media, according to a study issued Dec. 6 by Common Sense Media, a San Francisco-based organization that has long been tracking children's media usage.
Even so, according to the study, 78 percent of parents believe they are good media and technology role models for their children.
When it came to parents' screen-time use, 51 percent said they used it for eight hours or more each day, 30 percent said for four to eight hours, 13 percent for two to four hours, and 6 percent for less than 2 hours.
Common Sense said it is possible for people — parents and children alike — to use more than one form of media simultaneously, such as listening to music while engaging in social media. Still, some groups' habits skew the survey's results.
While only 61 percent of parents reported playing video games the day before they were polled, the study said, "these users played video games for an average of 2:27 (hours and minutes), compared to only 1:30 among all parents in our sample, which includes the 39 percent of parents who played no video games at all," the study said. "Similarly, the 61 percent of parents who used social media yesterday spent 1:48 doing so, compared with the average of 1:06 among all parents. Only 19 percent of parents used e-readers yesterday, but those who did spent 1:16 reading e-books."
Prayers for migrants
WASHINGTON — Prayer services and special Masses were planned in many dioceses across the country as the U.S. Catholic Church has asked that the Dec. 12 feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe be a day of prayer with a focus on migrants and refugees. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of the Americas. "As Christmas approaches and especially on this feast of Our Lady, we are reminded of how our savior Jesus Christ was not born in the comfort of his own home, but rather in an unfamiliar manger," said a Dec. 1 statement by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The view from 1941
HONOLULU — "Our beloved country is at war. Our peaceful shores have been ruthlessly attacked, and all citizens are called upon to unite their efforts toward that peace for which we have all prayed, that peace which the world cannot give, and that peace which God will surely bring about when mankind has seen its folly and conforms its ways to his." Those are the opening words of the front-page editorial of The Catholic Herald, the publication of the Diocese of Honolulu, published Dec. 11, 1941, four days after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the attack.
Support for DACA students
WASHINGTON — More than 70 presidents at Catholic colleges and universities have signed a statement pledging their support for students attending their schools who are legally protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA. The statement, posted Nov. 30 on the website of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, says it hopes "the students in our communities who have qualified for DACA are able to continue their studies without interruption and that many more students in their situation will be welcome to contribute their talents to our campuses." President Barack Obama's DACA program protects young immigrants brought into the United States by their parents as young children without legal permission. More than 720,000 of these young immigrants have been approved for the program, which protects them from deportation for two-year periods.
Prayers in wildfires' wake
GATLINBURG, Tenn. — Catholic parishioners in the Diocese of Knoxville are among those who have lost homes and businesses in the wildfires that ravaged tourist areas in the Great Smoky Mountains region Nov. 29, said Bishop Richard F. Stika of Knoxville. News reports said the death toll from the fires had reached at least seven, with as many as 45 people suffering injuries. More than 700 structures have been damaged or destroyed throughout Sevier County. "The Catholic community of east Tennessee continues to pray for those who have been affected by the terrible wildfires in Gatlinburg and other communities across the region," Bishop Stika said. "We are grateful for all the men and women who bravely put themselves in harm's way to protect people and property that were in danger."
Seek the common good
VATICAN CITY — In a world filled with frustration and fear, seeking the common good is more important than ever, Pope Francis told French politicians. Before leading his general audience Nov. 30, the pope met privately with French political representatives, who were taking part in a pilgrimage to Rome. Given "the current international climate, marked by frustrations and fears, intensified by attacks and blind violence that deeply lacerated your country, it is even more important to seek and develop the meaning of the common good" and what is in the general interest, he said. France, whose foundations are liberty, equality and fraternity, the pope said, is full of potential and its diversity should be seen as an opportunity."
Author retraces pope's life
WASHINGTON — When Pope Francis first stepped onto the balcony overlooking St. Peter's Square in Rome, Mark Shriver like millions of other people around the world was captivated by this man who humbly bowed his head after asking the people there to pray for him, before he would offer his first blessing to them. Shriver wondered who was this man from Argentina, who joked that the cardinals had gone to the ends of the earth to choose a new pope? A publisher invited Shriver to write a book about the new pope. Over the next two and one-half years, he extensively researched the pope's life, his writings and speeches, interviewed close to a hundred people who knew Jorge Mario Bergoglio before he became pope, and retraced the pope's life, from his childhood in Argentina to his papacy in Rome. Shriver's book, "Pilgrimage: My Search for the Real Pope Francis," went on sale Nov. 29.
Call for peace
BRUSSELS — Pax Christi International has called for a new peace process to end violence among Israelis and Palestinians and assure fundamental human rights as defined by international law. Saying that adherence to international law is critical for a peaceful world, on Dec. 1 the Catholic peace organization urged Israel and Palestine to return to negotiations and "begin a dialogue rooted in mutual respect for human rights and the dignity of the other." Pax Christi added that recognition of the full equality of Palestinians would be a strong step toward securing long-term peace.
Resistance is normal
VATICAN CITY — Struggling against God is normal because following his way toward redemption always comes with some kind of cross to bear, Pope Francis said in a morning homily. When feeling hesitant or unwilling, "don't be afraid," just plead with God — "Lord, with great strength come to my aid. May your grace conquer the resistance of sin," he said Dec. 1.
Pope: Listen, students
VATICAN CITY — Upholding the truth and moral values isn't easy, especially for young people, Pope Francis said. "But with God's help and with the sincere will to do good, every obstacle can be overcome," he told international students and those who minister to them. Students studying abroad and about 100 campus ministers and representatives of bishops' conferences participated in the Fourth World Congress on the Pastoral Care of International Students Nov. 28-Dec. 2. Pope Francis said it was important that new generations always be inspired and guided to build a "healthier society," especially when it comes to dealing with moral dilemmas.
Foundation of faith
CINCINNATI — In what came to be her final interview, actress Florence Henderson told St. Anthony Messenger magazine that throughout her life, through good times and bad, her Catholic faith was her foundation. "I don't ever remember not praying. Bedtime prayers, the rosary, praying for friends, relatives, for the sick and for those who had died. It was a natural part of our lives," she told writer Rita E. Piro in August. The story appears in the January 2017 issue of the magazine, published by Cincinnati-based Franciscan Media. Henderson, who died Nov. 24 at age 82, was best known for her role as Carol Brady in the 1970s sitcom "The Brady Bunch."
CAPE TOWN, South Africa — Hunger levels are so severe in drought-ridden southern Madagascar that many people in remote villages have eaten almost nothing but cactus fruit for up to four years, said a Catholic Relief Services official. Eating this fruit leaves crimson stains on people's faces and hands, and there is a "shame of poverty associated with these stains in Madagascar," an island nation 250 miles off the coast of mainland Africa, said Nancy McNally, CRS information officer for East and Southern Africa. The cactus plant "is the only thing that grows" in southern Madagascar, and the plants "are growing everywhere" in earth "that looks like white silt," she said in a Nov. 23 telephone interview from Nairobi, Kenya.
— Catholic News Service
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