Pope visits Knots Grotto made in his honor EARLIER: Song dedicated to now-famous grotto

Pope Francis made an unscheduled stop at the Mary, Undoer of Knots Grotto in front of the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.

He was greeted by Sister Mary Scullion of Project Home and volunteers.

“Oh my God,” Scullion said, overwhelmed with emotion. “I am so happy for all of us.”

The pope’s visit lasted minutes.

As he approached the entrance to the grotto, Scullion’s friends pushed her through the security line of secret service and police. She stepped forward and hugged the pope.

The pope asked for her prayers she said.

“This meant the world to us, said Scullion. “Especially to the people whose knots he blessed.”
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By: Mari Schaefer and Daniel Rubin SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2015



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Thank you for receiving me and giving me the opportunity to be here with you and to share this time in your lives. It is a difficult time, one full of struggles. I know it is a painful time not only for you, but also for your families and for all of society. Any society, any family, which cannot share or take seriously the pain of its children, and views that pain as something normal or to be expected, is a society “condemned” to remain a hostage to itself, prey to the very things which cause that pain. I am here as a pastor, but above all as a brother, to share your situation and to make it my own. I have come so that we can pray together and offer our God everything that causes us pain, but also everything that gives us hope, so that we can receive from him the power of the resurrection.

I think of the Gospel scene where Jesus washes the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper. This was something his disciples found hard to accept. Even Peter refused, and told him: “You will never wash my feet” (Jn 13:8).

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By: ABC 6 Action news Sunday, September 27, 2015

Patty Murray invites Gonzaga graduate to watch pontiff

WASHINGTON – The frenzy surrounding Pope Francis’ first visit to the United States comes with an extra dose of excitement for one Washington native.

John Winslow, a recent Gonzaga University graduate, received Sen. Patty Murray’s one and only invitation to watch the pontiff address Congress on Thursday.

Originally from Issaquah, Winslow, 23, is in Washington, D.C., to work for an advocacy organization while strictly adhering to a minimalist lifestyle as part of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.

After Winslow and the five people he shares a home with were profiled by the Washington Post, Murray and her chief of staff extended the offer last Wednesday.

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By: Kevin Graeler  September 24, 2015

Practicing the art of forgiveness

The visit and words of Pope Francis have made a big impression on me. He is about to touch down in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. That is an extended version of our town’s nickname, a version you can hear shouted repeatedly at the World Meeting of Families.

By just about any measure, the World Meeting has so far been a huge success, its sessions well and enthusiastically attended, its anticipation of the arrival of its shepherd palpable at every turn. At this point, I find myself asking what I might do to promote the message of Francis, captured in Thursday’s historic speech to Congress.

“Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of peoples,” he told lawmakers. “We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.”

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By: Orlando R. Barone  Friday, September 25, 2015




Anti-Racist Organizers Win as Seattle Council Votes to End Youth Incarceration

After a three-year crusade of protest, agitation, and organizing, a Seattle City Council meeting on September 21 brought a major victory to a diverse coalition of youth-prison abolitionists and anti-racist organizers.

“We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the youth activists.”

In a 9-0 unanimous decision, Seattle’s City Council passed a resolution that fully endorses the goal of zero-percent detention of youth, and called for the city to develop policies eliminating the necessity of their imprisonment.

While Council Member Mike O’Brien introduced the resolution in a committee meeting last week, it originated with three organizations that advocate for the abolition of juvenile incarceration: Ending the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC),  Youth Undoing Institutional Racism (YUIR), and the Seattle branch of the anti-racist organization European Dissent.

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By:  Sep 22, 2015


Pope Francis on Prison: 'I, Too, Could Be Here'

This time tomorrow Pope Francis will arrive in Washington, D.C. and make his first papal visit to the United States. The pope’s five-day, three-city visit to the United States is jam-packed with prayer services, masses, meetings with government officials — and a visit to the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia.

This may seem like an odd addition to an already heavy schedule, especially when there are countless pressing issues for the pope to address while here — from global warming and economic inequality to international diplomacy and the refugee crisis. But for this pope, a scheduled visit with inmates and their family members is neither new nor surprising. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis was known for his outreach to AIDS patients, prison inmates and residents of the city’s slums. During his first Holy Week as pope, he held a private mass with inmates at a juvenile detention center in Rome; in 2014 he did the same, washing the feet of inmates on Holy Thursday. This past summer in Bolivia, Pope Francis visited an overcrowded, violent prison rife with corruption and called for rehabilitation and re-entry services for its inmates.

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By:  09/21/2015 

Public defender’s division challenges juvenile sentences

BALTIMORE (AP) — The Maryland Office of the Public Defender’s post-conviction division has adopted a strategy to help ensure juveniles convicted of crimes and serving life sentences without the possibility of parole are resentenced following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that such punishments are cruel and unusual.

Under the division’s new Youth-Resentencing Project, attorneys will investigate all life-without-parole cases to determine if the crime occurred before the convict reached age 18 and examine other cases involving juvenile offenders serving long sentences short of life without parole, said division chief Becky Feldman.

“We are looking at what if anything we can do to get them in court, to get them resentenced,” she added.

The project’s launch was spurred by the high court’s 2012 Miller v. Alabama decision that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles violate the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

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By STEVE LASH September 15, 2015

Juvenile Justice System Failing Native Americans, Studies Show

State courts are twice as likely to incarcerate Native teens for minor crimes such as truancy and alcohol use than any other racial and ethnic group, according to the Tribal Law and Policy Institute. And juvenile detention facilities around the country have a disproportionately high number of Native American youth, according to an Indian Law and Order Commission report.

On the reservation, it’s different.

On a recent visit to the Navajo Nation juvenile detention center in Tuba City, it’s quiet. “Right now we don’t have anybody in custody,” says Sgt. Barbara Johnson.

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By: Laurel Morales July 31, 2015

Pope Francis Honored As 'Abolitionist Of The Year'

ROME (AP) – An Italian anti-death penalty group has honored Pope Francis with the prize “Abolitionist of the Year” for his strong position against the death penalty and other forms of “inhumane and degrading” punishments.

“Hands off Cain” on Friday cited Francis’ moves to remove from the Vatican criminal code life sentences, which he called “a death penalty in disguise.” The pope has frequently lashed out against the death penalty, calling it “inadmissible” no matter the offense.

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By Associated Press 7/31/2015

Killing Them Softly: The Juvenile Justice System Is Complicit in Lost Lives

Kenneth Young may never see the inside of the U.S. Capitol.

But lawmakers on the Hill are using his story to make a push for more humane sentencing of child offenders. Right now, the United States is the only country in the world that sentences children to life, followed inevitably by death, in prison without parole.

That’s what happened to Young.

In the early summer of 2000, the then-14-year-old accompanied his mother’s 24-year-old crack dealer on a series of nonlethal armed robberies in Tampa. At 15, Young was tried as an adult and sentenced to four consecutive life terms.

More than 2,500 children, disproportionately young men of color, are serving similar life sentences.

But now there is a push by lawmakers on Capitol Hill, backed by scientists and childhood experts, to recognize the fact that children are different. They argue that children’s brains are not fully developed and they do not yet possess the impulse control or judgment skills of adults.

Leading the charge are lawmakers like Rep. Tony Cardenas, a California Democrat and the first person of color to serve his Latino-heavy San Fernando Valley district, who has championed criminal-justice reform.

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By Emily Deruy July 31, 2015