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Vatican to host nuclear disarmament conference

The Vatican is preparing for a conference on nuclear disarmament this week in the wake of an international effort to ban nuclear weapons. Hosted by the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, the Nov. 10-11 conference will explore solutions and prospects for a world free of nuclear weapons and integral disarmament, in cohesion with Pope Francis' emphasis on promoting peace.

In a Nov. 7 Vatican communique Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the dicastery, said the event “responds to the priorities of Pope Francis to take action for world peace and to use the resources of creation for a sustainable development and to improve the quality of life for all, individuals and countries, without discrimination.”

At the International Atomic Energy Agency conference in Vienna in September, department secretary Msgr. Bruno Marie Duffé also emphasized the importance of the “moral responsibility of the States” and the challenge of a “common strategy of dialogue” invoked by Pope Francis.

The international symposium represents “the first global gathering on Atomic Disarmament” after the approval of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was passed in New York July 7. Until the treaty, nuclear weapons were the only weapons of mass destruction not explicitly banned by any international document. The treaty passed with 122 votes in favor and one abstention, Singapore. However, 69 countries – all the nuclear weapon states and NATO members except the Netherlands –  did not take part in the vote.

One of the conference’s speakers Saturday will be Masako Wada, one of the last survivors of the Hiroshima nuclear attack and an assistant secretary general of Nihon Hidankyo, a confederation of nuclear weapons and experiments victims.  Other attendees include 11 Nobel Peace Laureates, representatives from the United Nations and NATO, diplomats from Russia, the United States, South Korea, and Iran, experts on armaments and weapons and leaders from foundations engaged in the topic. There will also be representatives of bishops' conferences and other Christian organizations and a delegation of professors and students from US and Russian universities.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, as well as the leadership of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, will deliver speeches on behalf of the Holy See; Pope Francis will meet with participants and give an address Nov. 10.

The conference builds on a conference held in New York in March to negotiate the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty. Pope Francis sent a message to that conference saying the doctrine of nuclear deterrence has become ineffective against 21st century threats like terrorism, asymmetrical conflicts, environmental problems, and poverty. These threats, the Pope stressed, are “even greater when we consider the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences that would follow from any use of nuclear weapons, with devastating, indiscriminate and uncontainable effects, over time and space.”

Pope names two laywomen to key positions in Vatican's family office

On Tuesday the Vatican announced Pope Francis’ appointment of two lay women – experts in bioethics and canon law – as the first two under-secretaries of the mega-dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. The appointment of Dr. Gabriella Gambino for the section on life and Dr. Linda Ghisoni for the section on laity was announced in a Nov. 7 Vatican communique, bringing the leadership of the dicastery more clearly into shape after it's establishment in 2016.

The Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life officially began its work Sept. 1, 2016, replacing the former Pontifical Council for the Laity and Pontifical Council for the Family, which were dissolved. The department is responsible for projects relating to the apostolate of laity, families, and the institution of marriage, within the Church, and is responsible for the organization of events such as the World Meeting of Families, which will take place in Dublin in August 2018.

Both Gambino and Ghisoni join dicastery secretary Fr. Alexandre Awi Mello and prefect Cardinal Kevin Farrell, in leading the department. However, the appointment of a third under-secretary for the section on family is still forthcoming.

Gambino, 49, is currently a professor at the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences, is a professor of bioethics at the Faculty of Philosophy, and a researcher and associate professor in the philosophy of law at the University of Rome “Tor Vergata.” Originally from Milan, she holds a doctorate in bioethics from the Institute of Bioethics at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome.

From 2001-2007, she taught and did research at the Institute of the Methodology of Social Sciences of the LUISS-Guido Carli University in Rome, and in 2002 was appointed scientific expert of the National Committee for Bioethics at the Presidency of the Council of Ministers. Gambino collaborated with the former Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Academy for Life from 2013-2016. She is married with five children, and has written numerous publications on the themes of life, family and marriage. In addition to Italian, she speaks five other languages.

Dr. Linda Ghisoni, 52, works as a judge at the First Instance Court of the Vicariate of Rome, as a professor of canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University, and as a professor of law at Roma Tre University. She is from the town of Cortemaggiore in the north of Italy and studied philosophy and theology at the Eberhard-Karls-University in Tübingen, Germany. In 1999 she received a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University, and in 2002 she received the diploma of Rotary Attorney at the Studium rotale of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.

Since 1997 Ghisoni has held various positions at the Tribunals of First Instance and Appeal of the Vicariate of Rome, including Notary, Defender of the Bond, Auditor and Judge. She has also served as Judicial Counselor at the Tribunal of the Roman Rota from 2002-2009, and Commissioner of the Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments for the Defense of the marital bond in causes for the dissolution of the marriage “ratum sed non consummatum” (ratified but not consummated). Since November 2011, she has also worked at the Tribunal of the Roman Rota. From 2013-2016, she collaborated with the former Pontifical Council for the Laity in the field of specialist laity studies in the Church. She is married and has two daughters.

Venezuela's hate crime law seeks to silence political opposition, bishops warn

The president of the Venezuelan bishops' justice and peace commission has criticized a hate crimes law passed on Thursday, charging that its aim is to silence those opposed to the socialist government of Nicolas Maduro. The Law Against Hatred and Fascism, the Nov. 2 legislation passed by the Constituent Assembly, will be used by Maduro's government against the opposition “so we can't even speak or protest,” Emeritus Archbishop of Coro Roberto Lückert Leon told ACI Prensa.

The Constituent Assembly's president, Delcy Rodriguez, has said the law targets media that “promote hatred and racism.” Lückert stated that news media critical of the government have been undercut by Maduro's government. “Right now they've hamstrung the news media. They're using the supply of newsprint to undermine us. The oldest newspaper in Coro is called La Mañana. The can't print it because they're not giving them any newsprint; on the other hand, they gave to the paper that they founded a building, machinery, and newsprint, and it comes out every day. That's freedom of the speech? No.”

According to the Maduro government “it's the opposition that's violent. But when you go to a peaceful march to hand over documents to the prosecutor's office, you're met with the Bolivarian National Guard, the militias and pro-government thugs on motorcycles, so you can't fulfill a civic duty with a state agency. They're the violent ones,” he charged.

Archbishop Lückert stated that “as a Venezuelan, the only solution for the country that I have is elections; but elections that are transparent and fair.” However, he said that at this time the Venezuelan people are profoundly upset by the National Electoral  Council, which “is completely sold out to the government” and which manipulated recent elections so Maduro's party would win.

“I'm really afraid that if people abstained from voting in the Oct. 15 election of governors, it's going to be worse for the election of mayors this coming Dec. 10,” Lückert said. The prelate also said the Constituent Assembly “is an invention Maduro brought in from Cuba,” where there are no political parties or independent news media.

The Constituent Assembly is the product of contested elections, which took place in July. The body has superseded the authority of the National Assembly, Venezuela's opposition-controlled legislature. The vice president of the National Assembly, Freddy Guevara, has been accused of encouraging violence during protests. Guevara has taken refuge at the Chilean ambassador's residence in Caracas.

Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savnio of Caracas called the Constituent Assembly “fraudulent and illegitimate”  in a recent interview with El Nacional. “It's made up of political activists at the service of the government and it's not going to resolve the problems with the economy. What's needed here is to change the Marxist, totalitarian, and statist ideology that has brought the country to ruin,” he charged.

Cardinal Urosa told El Nacional that Maduro wants to “decapitate the opposition so there's  just one political party.” He lamented that “the situation in the country is worse than a month ago: disregard for human rights continues, there are still political prisoners and opposition leaders that won in the elections are being persecuted; childhood malnutrition has increased and diseases eradicated in the 1950s are coming back, such as  malaria, tuberculosis and diphtheria. But we've got to keep up the fight as did Bolivar, despite the defeats.”

Frustration in Venezuela has been building for years due to poor economic policies, including strict price controls coupled with high inflation rates, which have resulted in a severe lack of basic necessities such as toilet paper, milk, flour, diapers, and medicines. Venezuela's socialist government is widely blamed for the crisis.

Since 2003, price controls on some 160 products, including cooking oil, soap and flour, have meant that while they are affordable, they fly off store shelves only to be resold on the black market at much higher rates. The International Monetary Fund has forecasted an inflation rate of 2,300 percent in Venezuela in 2018.  

This article was originally published by ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

We are in the mercy business

This past weekend I was invited to address students in the business program at Mount Saint Mary’s University here in Los Angeles.

I do not hold a master’s degree in business. I have training as an accountant, so I know how companies work. However, my main job is to be a pastor, a priest.

But as I was praying and thinking about it, it struck me that there are management lessons we can learn from Jesus and the Church.

The Church is not a “corporation.” The Church is the family of God on earth, called to carry on the mission that Jesus Christ gave to her. But in earthly terms, we do have a kind of “corporate profile.”  

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles employs more than 16,000 people. We oversee payroll and taxes, pensions and health care plans; we manage a large portfolio of investments. We also operate several nonprofit foundations that provide charitable grants.

Of course, our primary “revenue stream” comes from the generosity of our Catholic people. We are a nonprofit and for us that means everything we bring in goes out in the form of services to our people and the wider community.

We have about 500 or 600 “franchise outlets” or “points of presence” in a “service territory” of about 9,000 square miles — that includes our parishes, schools and all our various ministries in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

Our “customer base” numbers about 5 million Catholics and is incredibly diverse — in terms of race, ethnicity and economic status. We carry out our operations in more than 40 different languages.

So what is the Church’s “business”?

People tend to see the Church as a charitable or humanitarian institution. And that is an important part of what we do.

Our parishes and agencies provide services to nearly 1 million people each year, most of them non-Catholic. We serve nearly 80,000 young people in our schools — two-thirds are from minority households and about one-third are from families living below the poverty line.

But our corporate mission is much more than that. I would say we are in the “mercy business.”

The Church holds the most precious “commodity.” Our Founder and owner called it “the pearl of great price” — the path to true happiness and everlasting life that every person longs to find.

That is the Church’s bottom line.

And as I was thinking about it, my management philosophy as an archbishop is based on the words and example of our “corporate Founder,” Jesus Christ. For me, leadership in the Church is about knowing our purpose — “why” we are doing what we do.

We all know what the Church does. We celebrate Mass and we make the sacraments available — baptism, confession, marriage, confirmation. We teach kids and we heal patients. We help the elderly and the poor. We work for justice in society and try to inspire people to do good and to seek God.

But none of that explains “why” we do what we do. And if we do not think about “the why,” the Church is reduced to only another humanitarian agency trying to make the world a better place.

Jesus is “the why” of the Church. He is the Founder and owner of the Church and we do everything because of him and we do it for him.

Apart from whatever technical and professional skills they bring to their jobs, our employees need to love Jesus and want to follow him and serve his mission. This is the key to our “corporate identity.”

We do not just have a job — we have a mission. The “why” makes all the difference.

Feeding the hungry is important. People need to eat. But when we feed the hungry, as followers of Christ, we have his larger mission in mind. Through the love we show to the poor, we hope to bring them to discover the love of God.

Jesus also gave us instructions for “how” we are to lead.

In founding the Church, he told the apostles, “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant.”

He held himself up as the model for leadership. He said he came “not to be served, but to serve.” That should be the leadership motto for everyone in the Church — to serve, not to be served.

We do not lead by “being the boss.” We exercise leadership through humble service to others, always asking, “What does this person need and how can I help?”

Maybe our business schools should be studying the “leadership style” of Jesus. After all, he founded the most successful institution in human history — the Catholic Church.

The saints and religious founders who followed in Jesus’ footsteps are some of the most dynamic “entrepreneurs” the world has ever seen.

Pray for me this week and I will be praying for you. And let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary to intercede and guide us always to follow in the footsteps of her son. 


You can follow Archbishop Gomez daily via FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Filipino Bishops begin rosary campaign against violent drug war

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has called for a prayer campaign to address violence in an escalating conflict between police and drug traffickers. Since President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on drug trafficking began last year, nearly 4,000 Filipinos are reported to have been killed by the police.

While police say the killings have been acts of self-defense against armed gangs, critics allege that police forces are conducting unauthorized, extrajudicial executions. Vigilante groups are also said to have conducted murder in the midst of the drug war.

The bishops’ prayer campaign challenges Filipinos to pursue healing and repentance, instead of escalating the violence. “Repent so healing can begin. Stopping the killing is only one big step. The journey of healing for the values of our nation turned upside down will be a long journey still,” said Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Filipino bishops conference. “God's people, let's go back to the Lord … we choose darkness over light … We choose violence rather than peace,” he added.

On November 5, an estimated 3,000 Filipinos gathered for Mass and a procession along the Abenida Epidanio de los Santos, a historic Manila highway where a non-violent protest helped end the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. The prayer campaign involves praying the rosary for 33 days, until the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, on December 8th.

In August, the deaths of three teenagers prompted a 40-day prayer campaign, in which churches rang their bells nightly, and parishioners gathered to honor the dead with candles.

In his homily on Sunday, Archbishop Villegas urged Filipinos to work for justice while resisting the temptation to violence. “Peace to you the murdered brethren and victims of extrajudicial killings. May the Lord give you peace in His kingdom, that peace that the world failed to give you!” “May your blood speak to us, disturb us and move us to act to resist violence,” he said, noting that curses will be cast on a nation which spills the blood of its own citizens. Healing begins with asking for repentance, the archbishop said, and he challenged clergy and government officials to be the first to turn away from sin and commit to the service of their roles.

May leaders ask forgiveness, he said, “for falling for the lure of comfort and the attraction of convenience, for giving in to the temptation to be powerful and popular rather than be humble and faithful, for our tendency to judge rather than seek unity, for keeping quiet when we should speak and blabbering when what is needed is silence, God forgive us leaders of your Church.”

He called for greater respect of the country's democratic institutions and laws, noting that civil servants are servants to the people and not in power because of weapons. He encouraged the government to pursue justice not revenge, and to rule by respect rather than fear.  

The war on drugs was a major part of Duterte's 2016 presidential campaign. Reportedly, over 7,000 people have died from police officers and vigilantes from July 2016 to January 2017. In recent months, groups like the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism have accused the government of providing unclear statistics. Harry Rogue, a presidential spokesperson, denied any extrajudicial killings, and said the government was looking into more than 2,000 suspicious deaths. He also encouraged the bishops to work more closely with drug rehabilitation and anti-drug forces.  

US bishops' new child protection program aims to create culture of mindfulness

After years of research, the U.S. bishops are rolling out a new training program that takes some of the best risk-management practices from other industries and applies them to child protection in the Church. The new program, entitled “Creating a Culture of Protection and Healing,” is being piloted in several dioceses and will eventually be available to any diocese by request.

The principles of the program, which will add to the existing trainings and protections already in place, borrows tools and techniques of HROs (highly reliable organizations) from industries in the secular world that also frequently deal with high-risk situations, such as hospitals or airlines.

These HROs are in industries in which, when accidents do occur “it’s rather volatile, it costs lives,” Deacon Bernie Nojadera, executive director of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, told CNA. “For example in the airline industry when a plane crashes or something like that,” it can be very costly in terms of loss of life, he said. “So the industry is looking at ways to make sure that even the lowest person on the chain of command - if they see something that’s untoward, they speak up, they say something, they report it. They know how and what to do when they come across a situation that could cause a problem in the future.”

That’s the same attitude and level of awareness that the bishops are hoping to create in dioceses who implement this new program, he said. “We’re trying to create this mindfulness, a change in culture, so safe environments can be not only established but indeed maintained, because that’s the key. We have to constantly be on our toes, on our guard, with no room for complacency.”

This kind of training has been in the works for several years, said Nojadera, who has a military background and therefore prior experiences with HRO practices. Since most of the information about HRO practices are tailored to specific industries, the bishops decided to partner with Ascension Health, the largest group of Catholic hospitals in the U.S., which uses HRO principles with a theological perspective. “So we’re taking something that the hospitals have been using for 20 some years or so and making it applicable to us,” Nojadera said.

For example, if an incident or a near-miss occurs, the Church can ask the same questions that hospitals ask, albeit in a different context: “What went right? What went wrong? What do we do to improve and make sure it doesn’t happen again?” The new program isn’t meant to replace the current practices, but to add an extra layer of awareness and thoroughness, Nojadera said.

Since the clergy sex scandal of the early 2000s, the Church has put into place numerous policies and practices to protect children from sexual abuse, including the USCCB's Charter for Child and Youth Protection. The charter, implemented in 2002, obligates all compliant dioceses and eparchies to provide resources both for victims of abuse and resources for abuse prevention. Each year, the USCCB releases an extensive annual report on the dioceses and eparchies, including an audit of all abuse cases and allegations, and recommended policy guidelines for dioceses.

Kelly Venegas is the bishop’s delegate for sexual misconduct in the Diocese of Gary, which is one of the pilot dioceses for the new HRO training program. She said that the new training was divided into two sections, with the first focused on anticipating and diagnosing near-misses.

“We’re making sure that near-misses don’t indicate a symptom of a worse problem,” Venegas told CNA. “So rather than just looking and saying, wow, that really could have been a big issue, good thing it didn’t cause any harm - instead we say wait a minute, this was a near-miss, could there be worse problems? Let’s dive into this deeper.”

The second section of the training focused on containment of harm in the case that an incident does occur, Venegas said. “That means we’re making sure that we learn from our mistakes, that we focus on how we can make things stronger, and making sure that we have decisions with input from multiple people involved in the process,” she said.

While some of the concrete details of the application of the new program are still being worked out, Venegas said she was excited that the Church was learning from the best practices of other successful industries. “I think that in the business world there’s been quality assurance programs (in existence) for years, and this is really a way of taking some of the expertise that’s been learned in the secular world and applying it to something that’s very important and close to our hearts,” she said.

Pope Francis grieved by 'senseless violence' of Texas church shooting

On Tuesday Pope Francis voiced his sorrow after 26 people were killed at a Baptist Church in Texas over the weekend, offering his support and praying that such acts of meaningless violence would come to an end.

In a Nov. 7 telegram signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis said he was “deeply grieved by news of the loss of life and grave injuries” caused in Sunday's shooting at a Baptist church in Texas. Francis condemned the “senseless violence” and offered his “heartfelt condolences” to the families of the victims and wounded, members of the congregation and the local community. He closed the letter, addressed to Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, Archbishop of San Antonio, by praying that the Lord would “console all who mourn and to grant them the spiritual strength that triumphs over violence and hatred by the power of forgiveness, hope and reconciling love.”

The Pope's telegram comes just two days after at least 26 people were killed when a gunman opened fire at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Sutherland Springs is a small town located about 35 miles southeast of San Antonio. At least 20 others were taken to the hospital after the shooting, which police believe was motivated by a domestic dispute. After the shooting, the gunman fled the scene, and was later found dead in his car by police.

The shooting marked the latest in a series of similar incidents throughout the United States in recent months, and is the deadliest on record in the State of Texas.

In a message after the event, Archbishop Garcia-Siller offered his condolences and support, saying “We need prayers! The families affected in the shooting this morning at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs need prayers.”

“The evil perpetrated on these who were gathered to worship God on the Lord’s Day – especially children and the elderly – makes no sense and will never be fully understood,” he said, adding that there are no adequate words for the “disbelief and shock” produced by the deadly affair. “There can be no explanation or motive for such a scene of horror at a small country church for families gathered to praise Jesus Christ,” he said, adding that “these Baptist brethren are our family, friends and neighbors who live among us in the archdiocese … We are committed to work in unity with all our brothers and sisters to build peace in our communities; to connect in a more direct and substantial way. The Catholic Church in Texas and across the United States is with you.”

Communion in other churches

Why can’t a Catholic take communion in a Protestant church? If I am at a wedding for example, it just seems like the neighborly thing to do.

Neighborliness is indeed a virtue, and it’s good to want to find common ground with our separated brethren. But some things cannot be compromised for society. This is one of them. Remember that communion was the first dividing controversy in Jesus’ ministry. The Eucharist, as Catholics believe it, has always been a source of division in the world—as is Jesus.

For the first 1,500 years of the Church there was one understanding of what the Eucharist is. Read the Church Fathers and you will see: though they did not have the term “transubstantiation,” early Christians believed that Christ is really and truly present in the Eucharist, and they took great pains to keep those who did not believe from receiving it.

50 years after the Reformation, a variety of views on the Eucharist emerged among non-Catholic Christians and that persists to this day. For Catholics, Communion is an expression of a Christian unity achieved, not a longing for one that does not yet exist. Canon law provides that Catholics may only receive the sacraments from Catholic ministers, though it also provides for exceptions for Catholics to receive outside the Catholic Church in cases of necessity, but only in those churches with a valid priesthood. Most non-Catholic churches do not have a valid priesthood. Hence, their communion is, for Catholics, invalid.  

Accepting communion is saying I believe (that’s what the Amen!  is, after all) to all that that particular community is teaching. A Catholic looks to the Catholic Church to teach him, form his conscience and guide his life, as well as for the sacraments that nourish the spiritual life. Non-Catholics view things very differently from Catholics and although their advice that all are welcome at their communion table may be well meaning, it is not the advice of the Church. 

When Catholics receive communion in another ecclesial setting, it causes scandal. As much as we wish for Christian unity, we do not yet have it and making it appear that we do sends a signal that it doesn’t matter where one worships. 

The Eucharist is the source, summit and focus of our life in Christ. It communicates Christ himself to us and is a real and powerful means of grace. It should not be confused with the communion services of other traditions. Given that God, in the person of Jesus, established communion in the Church and told us what it is (see John 6), it seems we owe it to God to participate in that sacrament as, and only as, he set it out. And he set that out through the Church to whom the sacrament was given.  

Episcopal churches – there are now many schisms of that tradition – pose a particular problem because the liturgy looks so much like the Mass, and because some argue that they, too, believe in the Real Presence. In fact, some of the more orthodox Episcopal congregations are much more outwardly reverent towards their communion than many Catholics are towards the Eucharist.

Regardless of what Episcopalians might think, that those who broke away from the Catholic Church and formed the Anglican Communion did not intend their communion as a Real and Substantial Presence is reflected in the 39 Articles that established the Anglican faith. Further, the Church has ruled very clearly that holy orders in the Episcopal ecclesial bodies are not valid, meaning that from a Catholic perspective, their Eucharist is not valid and Catholics may not receive. 

We are called as Catholics to witness to our faith. That means living visibly as Catholics, showing the world the incredible grace that flows through Christ’s Church. Among those graces is the incredible privilege of receiving Jesus Christ, body and blood, soul and divinity, at Mass. It is sometimes good, in the interests of friendship and ecumenism, to attend non-Catholic services with our loved ones. But what a witness it would be to refrain from communion and explain, gently and lovingly, why.

The answer isn’t just “because the Church tells me I can’t.” The Church, like a good mother, knows her children need guidance. Smart children accept that. And it is worth remembering that if we do as the Church teaches, she will never lead us away from God. We have the richness of the Catholic faith. We have Jesus truly and substantially present at every Mass, and we receive him into our very selves. There is incredible beauty in that.

The neighborly thing to do is to invite others to come and share the feast with us, isn’t it?


Barbara Golder had a 40-year career in medicine and law, including health care ethics. She is now the award-winning author of the ‘Lady Doc’ mystery series and serves as Director of Adult Faith Formation and Evangelization at the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She blogs at

Football playoffs: 22 Catholic schools join the title hunt

Nearly two dozen Catholic high schools from the Los Angeles Archdiocese and Orange Diocese will be vying for divisional titles when the first round of the CIF-Southern Section football playoffs begins Nov. 10.

The field includes three teams which won CIF championships in 2016 — St. John Bosco (Division 1), Paraclete (Division 6) and St. Anthony (Division 10) — and two which won state titles: St. John Bosco (Open) and 2017; Paraclete (3AA).

The leading force to be reckoned with is undefeated Mater Dei, which for the second straight year achieved a perfect 10-0 season, the No. 1 ranking in Division 1, and a No.1 ranking nationally in MaxPreps’ “Xcellent 25” poll. But the Monarchs are also looking to avenge last year’s 42-28 CIF title game loss to St. John Bosco, which enabled the Braves to advance to, and win, the state Open Division championship game.

During the 2017 regular season, Mater Dei’s toughest contest, not surprisingly, was its 31-17 win over the Braves in October, propelling the Monarchs to another Trinity League title. So powerful is the Trinity League that all six teams are in the D-1 tournament, one of 13 such 16-team tourneys that will help determine who is selected for state title games Dec. 15 and 16.

The 208-school field includes a number of teams which have been placed in different divisions this year (like Paraclete in D-5 and St. Anthony in D-9), and some with losing records. The latter were selected based on league record and/or strength of schedule, with their divisional placement determined prior to the start of the regular season.

In several cases, one league is represented in several CIF divisions. The Mission League, for example, is represented in Divisions 1, 2 and 3 of this year’s playoffs, while Angelus League teams are in Divisions 2, 3 and 6.

Following is a division-by-division breakdown of the first-round games, with each team’s regular season record in parentheses:

Division 1: Mater Dei (10-0) vs. Vista Murrieta (4-6); St. John Bosco (8-2) vs. Bishop Amat (5-5); J. Serra (7-3) vs. Long Beach Poly (8-2); Servite (6-4) vs. Mission Viejo (9-0); Chaminade (9-1) vs. Orange Lutheran (5-5); Santa Margarita (7-3) vs. Murrieta Valley (8-2); Serra/Gardena (6-4) vs. Centennial/Corona (8-1).

Division 2: Cathedral (9-1) vs. Redlands East Valley (6-4); Notre Dame/Sherman Oaks (6-4) vs. Calabasas (9-1).

Division 3: St. Francis (9-1) vs. La Serna (6-4); Crespi (1-9) vs. Charter Oak (10-0).

Division 4: Damien (6-4) vs. Paso Robles (5-4).

Division 5: Paraclete (9-1) vs. Ventura (5-5); St. Joseph/Santa Maria (6-4) vs. Harvard-Westlake (8-2).

Division 6: Bishop Diego (9-1) vs. Norte Vista (3-7); St. Paul (4-6) vs. West Torrance (5-5).

Division 9: St. Anthony (7-3) vs. Norwalk (7-3).

Division 11: St. Genevieve (7-2) vs. Westminster (7-3).

Division 12: Verbum Dei (5-5) vs. Godinez (7-3).

Division 13: Santa Clara (8-2) vs. Workman (4-6); Cantwell-Sacred Heart (6-4) vs. Orange (8-2).

Eight-Man Division 1: Villanova (10-0) vs. Windward (8-2), quarterfinals.

Mater Dei, Chaminade, Cathedral win league football titles

Seven Catholic high school football teams won league championships on the final weekend of the 2017 regular season, providing a momentum surge heading into this week’s first round of the CIF-Southern Section playoffs.

Two of the league crowns were decided in head-to-head contests pitting unbeaten-in-league teams against one another:

> Chaminade (9-1 overall), the No. 4 team in Division 1, outscored Bishop Amat, 57-33, to win the Mission League at 6-0, with the Lancers (5-5) ending at 5-1. Both will compete in the Division 1 playoffs.

> Cathedral beat previously unbeaten St. Francis, 28-16, for the Angelus League title. Both the Phantoms (9-1 overall, 5-0 in league) and Golden Knights (9-1, 4-1) earned their way to the playoffs.

As expected, Mater Dei (10-0) ended its perfect season with a 51-7 triumph over Servite to clinch the Trinity League and grab the top seed of the Division 1 playoffs, where all six Trinity League teams will participate.

Conversely, Bishop Diego’s perfect season ended with a 31-24 loss to Grace Brethren, which took the Tri-Valley League title at 3-0 to the Cardinals’ 2-1. Bishop Diego (9-1), which had been No. 1 in Division 6 much of the season, nonetheless earned a playoff spot.

Another longtime No. 1, however, kept its record intact, as Paraclete upended Sierra Canyon, 26-7, in a game pitting winners of their respective Gold Coast League divisions. The Spirits (9-1) will be the top seed in Division 5.

In the South Catholic League, a three-way tie for the lead was resolved when Cantwell-Sacred Heart defeated Bishop Montgomery, 38-23, and Verbum Dei beat St. Bernard, 20-18. Cantwell-Sacred Heart thus finished 3-1 in league, while the other three were each 2-2.

Santa Clara won the Frontier League crown with a 48-35 win over Carpinteria, after the teams entered the finale tied for the league lead. And St. Anthony earned the Sante Fe League title by beating St. Monica, 56-7.

In other league games:

> Mission: Notre Dame/Sherman Oaks 41, Crespi 7; Alemany 27, Loyola 24.

> Trinity: St. John Bosco 51, J.Serra 10; Santa Margarita 38, Orange Lutheran 31.

> Angelus: St. Paul 42, Salesian 8; Harvard-Westlake 53,  La Salle 23.

> Sante Fe: St. Genevieve 48, Mary Star 14.

> Marmonte: Camarillo 35, St. Bonaventure 0.

> Baseline: Damien 34, Etiwanda 28.

> Los Padres: St. Joseph/Santa Maria 20, Santa Ynez 14.

> Non-League: Serra 24, Long Beach Poly 20; St. Pius X-St. Matthias 39, Don Bosco Tech 15.

In Eight-Man Football: Villanova raced past Public Safety Academy of Phoenix, 81-30, in the first round of the Division 1 Eight-Man Football Playoffs on Nov. 4. The Wildcats (10-0) will play Windward (8-2) in the Nov. 10 quarterfinals.

The final regular season polls and first-round playoff match-ups were to be finalized Nov. 6. First-round games are scheduled Nov. 10-11, with the quarterfinals Nov. 17, semifinals Nov. 24-25, and finals Dec. 1-2. State championship games will be played Dec. 15-16.