Catholic News Agency (CNA)
Alindao, Central African Republic, Nov 16, 2018 / 04:05 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- At least 42 people have died in an attack Thursday on the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Alindao, in the Central African Republic, according to local reports.
At least one priest was among those killed in the Nov. 15 attack. Some unofficial estimates have said the death toll could reach as high as 100. Many of the people killed were refugees sheltering at the Church.
The CAR has suffered violence since December 2012, when several bands of mainly Muslim rebel groups formed an alliance, taking the name Seleka, and seized power.
In reaction to the Seleka's attacks, some Central Africans formed self-defense groups called anti-balaka. Some of these groups, mainly composed of Christians, began attacking Muslims out of revenge, and the conflict took on a sectarian character.
According to reports from Aid to the Church in Need, ex-Seleka forces attacked the cathedral, reportedly in retaliation for a Muslim who was killed the day prior by anti-balaka.
The priest killed in the attack was vicar general of the diocese, Abbe Blaise Mada. Aid to the Church in Need added that some reports have said second priest, Father Celestine Ngoumbango, was also killed, but this has not been confirmed.
Houses in the neighborhood were also looted and burned.
Many Catholic churches in the country provide refuge to Muslims and Christians alike fleeing violence, included churches in the Diocese of Bangassou, some 140 miles to the east of Alindao, where several Catholic institutions have taken in displaced Muslims who face violence at the hand of anti-balaka.
Anti-balaka killed more than 100 Muslims in Bangassou in May 2017 before United Nations peacekeepers intervened, and since then the city's Petit Seminaire Saint Louis has been home to about 1,600 displaced Muslims. Another 2,000 Muslims have taken refuge at St. Peter Claver Cathedral in Bangassou.
The CAR held a general election in 2015-16 which installed a new government, but militant groups continue to terrorize local populations. Thousands of people have been killed in the violence, and at least a million have been displaced. At least half of Central Africans depend on humanitarian aid, the U.N. reports.
Pope Francis visited the CAR during his trip to Africa in 2015, and urged the country’s leaders to work for peace and reconciliation.
Three priests were killed in CAR this year prior to yesterday’s Cathedral attack.
Yaoundé, Cameroon, Nov 16, 2018 / 04:03 pm (ACI Prensa).- Three Franciscan sisters and 13 novices travelling from Bamenda to Shisong in Northwest Cameroon have been released, after they were captured by separatist fighters in the small village of Bamessing yesterday.
The hostage-takers were positively identified by an ecclesiastical source as the “Amba boys” - separatist fighters using hit-and-run tactics to engage the armed forces of the Republic of Cameroon in a guerilla warfare for the separation of English-speaking Cameroon from French-speaking Cameroon and the independence of the new nation they have named ‘Ambazonia.’
This nearly three-year conflict has led to several hundred deaths on both the militia and government forces sides, 300,000 refugees in Nigeria and more than 80,000 internally displaced persons in Cameroon.
The separatist fighters are known to dig up trenches on the main road leading from Bamenda, the capital city of the Northwest Region, to many other villages and towns surrounding it, mainly in a bid to prevent military transport and soldiers from reaching their hideouts.
The kidnappers held the religious sisters and their novices hostage in a remote bush overnight, as negotiations took place between an official of the Diocese of Kumbo and the hostage takers.
A source at the Diocese of Kumbo confirmed that the Amba boys had taken the sisters hostage because of what they perceived to be the support of the Church for a peace conference convened by Christian Cardinal Tumi.
The sisters and the novices were released unharmed on the afternoon of November 16. They were handed over to representatives of the Diocese of Kumbo. The conditions of their release were not clear.
Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 16, 2018 / 03:33 pm (ACI Prensa).- As part of their work at the 106th Plenary Assembly, the Mexican Bishops' Conference (CEM) is discussing and could approve a commission for the protection of minors, to deal with cases of sexual abuse in all the dioceses of the country.
The CEM Plenary Assembly is taking place Nov. 12-16 at Casa Lago, Cuautitlán Izcalli, a church facility on the outskirts of Mexico City.
At a Nov. 15 press conference, Bishop Alfonso Miranda, Secretary General of the CEM, noted that “the proposal for the creation of a commission for the protection of minors in the Catholic Church in Mexico will be presented this afternoon.”
This proposal for a commission, he explained, “is to make official what we are already doing in practice at the General Secretariat.”
However, he added, currently “there does not exist a body within the structure” of the Church in Mexico to address abuse accusations.
“It does not exist, rather each bishop in his diocese deals with this situation and this issue, but on the national level it hasn't yet existed.”
“What we intend is that there be a regulatory body which would oversee, which would serve in an advisory capacity to address not only “the issue of the bishop but also what they have to do with the victim, the perpetrators, with the regulations under Mexican law and also under canon law, in complete liaison with the Vatican, with the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.”
He said that this body would also work in coordination with other bishops' conferences. “We want to be a step forward, we want to be proactive in such a crucial issue for the Catholic Church worldwide and also of course in Mexico.”
In February 2019, the presidents of national bishops’ conferences around the world will gather in Rome to meet with Pope Francis to address the issue of sexual abuse in the Church.
Bishop Miranda said the Mexican bishops will prepare “something more specific for the coming meeting in Rome which our new president of the CEM,” Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera of Monterrey, is scheduled to attend.
This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Edmonton, Canada, Nov 16, 2018 / 03:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A member for Canadian Physicians for Life says requiring provision of assisted suicide by Catholic hospitals and by hospices will have disastrous results for palliative care throughout the country.
Karol Boschung, a second year medical student at University of British Columbia, wrote an opinion piece in the Edmonton Journal Nov. 15 expressing concern for the effects of forcing out Catholic healthcare providers.
“Bullying Catholic health-care providers into compliance will not result in expanded access to medical care for all Canadians. If forced to perform procedures which compromise its morals, the Catholic Church may be pressed into withdrawing from the administration of organizations like Covenant Health,” she said.
Covenant Health is one of the major health care administers for Alberta, she said, noting the Catholic health service provides over one-third of palliative-care beds for this province.
According to Covenant Health’s figures in 2008, the organization had more than 8,800 staff across 11 sites. The report states that the budget for 2008 was $514 million, which helped served more than 2,300 beds.
“What might happen to these beds if the government found itself on the hook for purchasing these facilities?” she asked.
“Indeed, attempting to push the Catholic Church out of the administration of Covenant Health would reduce, not improve, access to palliative care and other essential services.”
Boschung spoke on the recent media attention around Doreen Nowicki, who had ALS and committed physician-assisted suicide in 2017. On Covenant Health property, Nowicki had been denied access to the exams to determine the patient’s eligibility for assisted suicide
While sympathizing with the struggle of ALS, Boschung said assisted suicide is not an intrinsic human right as argued by the ethicist Arthur Schafer, who supported Nowicki in a story last month by the CBC.
“We are talking about a fundamental human right, not a privilege to be bestowed at the discretion of a Catholic or religious bureaucrat,” Schafer told the CBC, noting that Covenant’s position was morally inexcusable.
Boschung said that since assisted suicide was decriminalized by the Supreme Court of Canada's Carter v Canada decision in 2015, assisted suicide “has gone from a criminal offence to a broadly-accepted practice — even a 'fundamental human right,' even though legally it is nothing of the sort.”
She added that pressure to provide assisted suicide has affected not only Catholic organizations.
“For example, the Delta Hospice Society, a secular hospice in B.C., was embroiled in controversy earlier this year when the local health authority attempted to bully them into making physician-assisted suicide available on their premises, despite strenuous objections by hospice founders and operators.”
“The operators correctly maintained that PAS was incompatible with the philosophy of hospice palliative care, and that to force them to provide this service was incompatible with the mission of the hospice itself,” Boschung wrote.
Boschung said enforcing PAS is a shorted-sighted solution – a move which will reduce palliative care to ensure the availability of assisted suicide.
“If we really care about the sick and dying, the last thing we need is an approach that leads to a reduction in the availability and diversity of end-of-life care,” she said.
“To push for such an outcome would be a triumph of ideology over practicality.”
Vatican City, Nov 16, 2018 / 02:06 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- There is the bloody martyrdom of Christians killed for their faith, but also another “martyrdom” which takes place when religious freedom is unjustly limited, Pope Francis said Friday in an audience with a group which assists the Church in the Holy Land.
“It is in front of the whole world – which too often turns its gaze to the other side – the dramatic situation of Christians who are persecuted and killed in ever-increasing numbers,” the pope said Nov. 16 in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.
“In addition to their martyrdom in their blood,” he said, “there is also their ‘white martyrdom,’ such as that which occurs in democratic countries when freedom of religion is restricted.”
Pope Francis spoke with around 130 members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem on the final day of their Nov. 13-16 general assembly in Rome. The knighthood order provides financial support to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
To their material support, the pope urged them to unite prayer under the intercession of Our Lady of Palestine. “She is caring Mother and the Help of Christians, for whom she obtains strength and comfort from the Lord in sorrow,” he said.
Emphasizing that the order is not just a “philanthropic agency,” he called its members to “place the evangelical love of your neighbor as the final aim of your works, to witness everywhere the goodness and care with which God loves everyone.”
Since the order’s last general assembly in 2013, it has grown in number, in geography, in pilgrimages, and in the material assistance it has offered to the Church in the Holy Land, the pope noted, thanking the members for their support of the Holy Land.
“It is a good sign that your initiatives in the field of training and health care are open to all, regardless of the communities they belong to and the professed religion.”
“In this way you help to pave the way to the knowledge of Christian values, to the promotion of interreligious dialogue, mutual respect and mutual understanding,” he said, adding: “your contribution to the construction of the path... will lead, we all hope, to the achievement of peace throughout the region.”
Francis also noted the assembly’s agenda, which focused on the role of the local leaders, but underlined the importance of remembering that their main purpose is the spiritual growth of members – not the success of charitable initiatives which cannot be separated from “religious formation programs” for members.
So that members, called knights and ladies, may “strengthen their indispensable relationship with the Lord Jesus, especially in prayer, in the meditation of the Holy Scriptures and in the deepening of the doctrine of the church,” he said.
Leaders of the order of the Holy Sepulchre, he urged, have the task in particular of giving an example “of intense spiritual life and concrete adherence to the Lord.”
Francis closed the audience by asking for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the Church in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East, “with her special intercession for those whose life and freedom are in danger.”
Vatican City, Nov 16, 2018 / 11:18 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis visited Friday the temporary medical clinics serving Rome’s poor and homeless in St. Peter's Square this week.
During the Nov. 16 visit to the free mobile health clinics, which lasted about 20 minutes, the pope greeted those present, speaking with them and giving them each a rosary he had blessed.
He also greeted the volunteers and medical professionals within each of the shelters. Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, accompanied the visit.
The mobile clinics, an initiative begun last year, have been open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day the week leading up to the World Day of the Poor, which will be celebrated Nov. 18.
The temporary center offers Rome’s poor and homeless free visits with doctors specializing in general medicine, cardiology, infectious diseases, gynecology, obstetrics, podiatry, dermatology, rheumatology, and ophthalmology. A laboratory for clinical analysis is also present.
Established by Pope Francis at the end of the Jubilee of Mercy, the World Day of the Poor takes its theme for 2018 from Psalm 34: “This poor one cried out and the Lord heard.”
The day will be marked by the pope with a Mass with the poor in St. Peter’s Basilica followed by lunch with around 3,000 poor men and women inside the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.
Present at the tables of the lunch will also be members of the Roman community, such as volunteers from local charitable organizations, parish priests, and university students and faculty.
The evening prior a prayer vigil for charitable volunteers and others who help the poor will be held at the Basilica of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls.
Brussels, Belgium, Nov 16, 2018 / 10:59 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In the wake of the European elections, a proposal was raised to consider “family” as the basis of Europe's cultural heritage.
The idea was raised at a high-level conference at the European Parliament in Brussels that took place Nov. 6.
The conference was promoted by FAFCE, the Federation of Catholic Family Associations, that gathers all the National Catholic Family Associations in Europe in the framework of its biannual board.
The conference was entitled “Family: the Ecosystem of Cultural Life in Europe,” and was hosted by MEPs Anna Zaborska and Luigi Morgano, in cooperation with the Commission of the European Bishops Conferences, on the occasion of the European Year for Cultural Heritage.
The panel of the high-level meetings included representatives from the European Parliament, the top ranks of COMECE, and from the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.
The Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life participated at its highest levels, with a speech delivered by Dr. Gabriella Gambino, undersecretary of the section on the family.
In her intervention, Gambino stressed that the pope asked her to “collaborate with the Church in reconstructing an authentic culture of life and family within the big challenges posed to modernity,” and noted that the dicastery “is attentive to some of the most delicate current issues, especially with the upsurgence of new forms of so-called parenthood, also as a result of in vitro fertilization.”
Gambino stressed that “family is a source of society because it is at the root of the common good,” but also because “it is the place where the human being is culturally nurtured, and where each of us become every day more human from the first moment of conception.”
Marriage is important to protect the human being. It juridically guarantees two orders, that of sexuality and that of generation.
Gambino explained that “the order of sexuality must be exclusive between spouses,” while “the order of generation establishes the family role that comes from marriage,”
This is the reason why, she said, marriage is not just “a social institution of the couple, it is strong in generating cultural roles that go beyond spouses.”
In the end, the human being is “the subject in relations that need others and a strong bond,” and so “if bonds are fragile, the human being’s need to have roots is not fulfilled. This is why “it is important to work on the political field so that family can be a place of certainty and stability.”
Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, president of COMECE, stressed that family “is the most ancient foundation on which our society is based,” and it is “the first place where we found protection, counselling, solidarity and altruism.”
A participant of the Synod of Bishops on young people, faith and vocational discernment, Archbishop Hollerich said that “young people express the wish to live in family,” but “despite this deep desire to have a family, young people are scared.”
“Some people are scared because of economic situations, others because forced emigration make relations more unstable, and others are even scared not to be able to live in a conjugal life,” he said.
But family, Hollerich concluded, is crucial, because with no families “the European cultural heritage will not be inhabited anymore, and people will not be capable to create culture.”
Fr. Oliver Poquillon, general secretary of the COMECE, concluded that “family is the natural ecosystem of the human being. It is the natural environment for any person, and for this reason it must be at the heart of our political debate.”
Finally, Antoine Renard, President of FAFCE underscored that Europe needs trust, starting to promote a new cultural life from the most basic unit of society: "Politicians need to trust families and the families will trust them".
The Board meeting of FAFCE followed the conference. The board discussed about the strategy and the future actions of the Federation.
For the first time a member from Slovenia participated in the Board : the Iskreni Institute. The Italian Federation of Kindergardens was accepted as a full member of FAFCE. Invited guests also attended this board meeting from Latvia, The Netherlands, and Ukraine.
Dublin, Ireland, Nov 16, 2018 / 08:49 am (CNA).- The heart of St. Laurence O’Toole is again on public display six years after it was stolen, and 800 years after the death of the saint.
The relic was stolen from Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral in March 2012 by someone who is believed to have hidden overnight in the building. The relic had been kept in a heart-shaped wooden box behind an iron cage. The thief lit two candles on the cathedral’s Trinity altar before leaving, state broadcaster RTE News reports.
After receiving credible intelligence, police found it undamaged in April 2018 following a search in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. The heart was promptly returned to the cathedral, but was not put on public display until a new shrine could be built.
Police have tested the reliquary for fingerprints and other evidence but have not yet made any arrests.
St. Laurence was born in 1132 in what is now County Kildare and named Archbishop of Dublin in 1161. He played an important role as a peacemaker during the Anglo-Norman invasions.
He helped establish the Augustinian order in Dublin and reformed the monastic orders in Ireland. He was known for his humility, mortification and prayer.
St. Laurence died in Normandy in 1180, during travels to contact the English king for another peace-making effort. His body was buried in France, but his heart was returned to Ireland. Christ Church Cathedral’s Chapel of St. Laud has hosted his heart ever since.
He was canonized in 1225.
Christ Church Cathedral, which has been part of the Church of Ireland since the Protestant Reformation, hosted a special ecumenical service Nov. 14. St. Laurence is venerated in both the Church of Ireland and the Roman Catholic Church, which observes his feast day Nov. 14.
Dublin’s Catholic Archbishop Diarmuid Martin celebrated his feast day Mass at St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral.
“Laurence O’Toole was above all a Churchman,” the archbishop said in his homily. “In his role of peacemaker that he was forced to undertake as part of his duty, he always appeared as someone different. He was a political figure in a different way: he was a man who sought to change society through the weapons of his Christian faith: prayer, respect, generosity to the less fortunate, appealing to the higher instinct of humankind, and the courage to take concrete steps to do something.”
Algiers, Algeria, Nov 16, 2018 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Paul Desfarges of Algiers has said that Bishop Pierre Claverie and his 18 companions, who were martyred in Algeria between 1994 and 1996, are “models for our lives as disciples today and tomorrow.”
The Algerian martyrs will be beatified Dec. 8 at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Cross in Oran.
“The beatification of our brothers and sisters is a grace for our Church,” Archbishop Desfarges wrote in a November pastoral letter.
He urged the local Church “to love as they did in the freedom that the Holy Spirit gives” because the martyrs “go before us on the path of witness that our Church is called to give in this land of Algeria, which from the first century has been watered with the blood of the martyrs.”
Archbishop Desfarges said that the 19 martyrs “still continue their mission” and noted that “their lives were given to God and to the people to whom love had united them.” He encouraged the faithful to pray to them “asking for the grace of fidelity for our Church in its mission.”
The archbishop said that the witness of the future blesseds “takes us down the path of ordinary holiness.”
“Life is given to us in order to live it giving ourselves in the everyday...holiness is not a perfection in virtue or morals” but “is a matter of giving your own life, loving and serving in the ordinary things of every day life,” he stressed.
Archbishop Desfarges recalled that the Gospel of following Christ “invites us, encouraged by our blesseds, to live welcoming others to the point of completely divesting ourselves. To welcome the other person is to be totally present to his presence.”
He recalled that “there is no greater love than to lay down your own life for your own friends,” and emphasized the invitation to “endure humiliations” because “to welcome Jesus means to be welcoming to the enemy,” for “the Cross is lifted up when at the moment you are loving the most, you are rejected.”
Finally, the Archbishop of Algiers invited the faithful to live this “time of witnessing” through inter-religious dialogue.
“The witness of the Catholic Church is not a witness against another's religion, but a witness that the love of Christ poured out in our hearts calls us to live a love for everyone, without distinction, even enemies,” he concluded.
In January Pope Francis had authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to recognize the martyrdoms.
The future blesseds are Bishop Claverie, who was a French Algerian and the Bishop of Oran from 1981 until his Aug. 1, 1996 martyrdom. He and his companions were killed during the Algerian Civil War by Islamists.
In addition to Claverie, those being beatified are: Brother Henri Vergès, Sister Paul-Hélène Saint-Raymond, Sister Esther Paniagua Alonso, Sister Caridad Álvarez Martín, Fr. Jean Chevillard, Fr. Alain Dieulangard, Fr. Charles Deckers, Fr. Christian Chessel, Sister Angèle-Marie Littlejohn, Sister Bibiane Leclercq, Sister Odette Prévost, Brother Luc Dochier, Brother Christian de Chergé, Brother Christophe Lebreton, Brother Michel Fleury, Brother Bruno Lemarchand, Brother Célestin Ringeard, and Brother Paul Favre-Miville.
The best known of Claverie's companions are the seven monks of Tibhirine, who were kidnapped from their Trappist priory in March 1996. They were kept as a bartering chip to procure the release of several imprisoned members of the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria, and were killed in May. Their story was dramatized in the 2010 French film Of Gods and Men, which won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival.
After the death of the monks of Tibhirine, Bishop Claverie knew his life was in serious danger. A bomb exploded at the entrance of his chancery Aug. 1, 1996, killing him and an aide, Mohamed Bouchikhi.
Oxford, Ohio, Nov 16, 2018 / 12:06 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A pro-life display at an Ohio university has been vandalized three times since it was erected Monday by the school’s pro-life organization.
Students for Life America at Miami University’s Oxford campus had constructed a Cemetery of Innocents – a memorial which stood with white crosses and several pro-life signs.
Set up on Nov. 12, the memorial was a reminder of the gravity of abortion in the U.S. One of the signs read “Each Cross Represents 10 Babies who Die by Abortion Each Day” and another sign advertised Project Rachel, a healing ministry for women after an abortion.
Students of the university are believed to have participated in the vandalism, which began on Monday night when the sign explaining the crosses’ significance was knocked down. The other sign was reportedly stolen.
President of Students for Life, Ellie Wittman, told the Miami Student that the group reported the act to the Miami University Police Department shortly after it happened.
“We can’t say we didn’t expect the vandalism, but we would hope our fellow students would respect our right to free speech,” she said.
The display was then vandalized again on Tuesday, but this time the crosses were also pulled from the ground and thrown into recycling bins. After it was reported to campus police again, the display was then torn down about an hour and a half later.
A pro-abortion banner was also hung Tuesday night near the Cemetery of Innocents. The Miami Student reported that the sign read “Each Cross Represents 10 Women who Made One of the Hardest Decisions of Their Lives.”
The individual or group behind the vandalism has not yet been identified. However, the university’s Dean of Students Kimberly Moore said the school condemned the act.
“Such destructive behavior is not acceptable in our community and we must all join together to condemn it in the strongest possible terms. All Miami University students and student organizations have the right to free speech,” she said in a public announcement, according to the Catholic Telegraph.
Sarah Wilhem, social chair of the university’s Students for Life chapter, was disappointed over the vandalism. She expressed hope for more respectful dialogue in the future, the Catholic Telegraph reported.
“Students for Life had hoped for a more civil response that sparked conversation. Instead our display was vandalized multiple times which does not align with Miami’s values and is completely unacceptable. I hope that in the future our community can have a more constructive dialogue,” she said.
Columbus, Ohio, Nov 15, 2018 / 06:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Ohio House has once again passed a pro-life bill that would ban abortions after a baby’s heartbeat is detected.
“This bill basically says if there is a heartbeat you cannot abort. If there is a heartbeat, there is life…there is no debating that,” said Rep. Ron Hood, R-Ashville, according to Dayton Daily News.
On Nov. 15, the heartbeat bill passed the House 58-35. The bill will now head to the Ohio Senate before the legislative session ends in December.
If the bill becomes law, it would ban abortions at around six weeks, or once a baby’s heart beat is detected. It does not make an exception for incest or rape.
Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-Youngstown, pushed for an amendment which would mandate sex education in K-12 schools in Ohio. This amendment has been tabled.
The bill had originally passed in 2016, but was vetoed by Ohio Governor John Kasich (R). The recent vote in the House was two shy of the 60 votes it needs to override a potential veto.
Kasich has signed into law 18 abortion regulations or restrictions, including a 20-week ban; the heartbeat bill is the single one he has vetoed.
Pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice have opposed the bill. Catherine Ingram, D-Cincinnati, said the bill would bring back dangerous methods of abortion procedures.
In the past, the bill was supported by pro-life organizations such as the Susan B. Anthony List. However, Ohio Right to Life pushed back against the bill, noting that similar legislation in other states have been overturned by the courts.
Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, said in 2016 that the U.S. Supreme Court has also refused to hear appeals to those cases.
“Legal scholars believe that asking the Court to entertain a third heartbeat law at this time would cause irreparable harm to the pro-life movement,” he said.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, abortions increased last year by 1 percent compared to the previous year. Out of the 20,893 abortions performed in 2017, the report stated, almost half of those were conducted after nine weeks of the pregnancy.
“Abortion is an assault on the family. Abortion is an assault on Ohio because it destroys the hearts and minds of women,” said state Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, according to Dayton Daily News.
Santiago, Chile, Nov 15, 2018 / 05:29 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A close advisor of Pope Francis has left the “C9”, the pope’s body of cardinal advisors, as he faces charges of covering up for clerical sex abuse in his home country of Chile.
Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, Archbishop Emeritus of Santiago, told Radio Cooperativa that he has officially left the Council of Cardinals, and noted that it was not a resignation but the end of his term. He said he travelled to Rome to bid farewell to Pope Francis and to thank him.
The announcement came at the same time that a Chilean court said it is summoning the cardinal on charges that he protected Father Jorge Laplagne, accused of sexual abuse of minors.
Victims of sex abuse have also filed a complaint with the Chilean court against Errazuriz for “false testimony” in the case of former priest Fernando Karadima, who has been found guilty by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the sexual abuse of minors.
The cardinal is also accused of “misinforming” Pope Francis on the role that Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid, Bishop Emeritus of Osorno, played in covering up the abuse of Karadima. Barros has also been accused of covering up of the abuse of minors committed by Fr. Pedro Quiroz.
For a time, Pope Francis publicly defended Barros, calling the accusations against him “calumny.” He apologized during a meeting with Chilean sex abuse victims for being “part of the problem” and for originally dismissing their concerns.
In May, all of the Chilean bishops presented their resignation to the Holy Father en masse. Thus far, seven of those resignations have been accepted by Francis.
In July of this year, the Chilean prosecutor’s office released a list of 266 persons who were victims of clerical sex abuse as minors, a number that the country’s bishops called “alarming.”
Prosecutor Sergio Moya could not confirm when Errázuriz was scheduled to appear before the court.
Juan Carlos Cruz, a victim of Karadima who met privately with Pope Francis in May, told Cooperativa that it was “very good news” for abuse survivors that Errázuriz was called before the courts. He added that he was “not surprised at all” that the cardinal had been accused of mishandling abuse cases.
Vatican City, Nov 15, 2018 / 04:13 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis encouraged the community of the Pontifical Latin American College Thursday to avoid cultural fragmentation and to be close to their people.
“One of the phenomena currently afflicting the continent is cultural fragmentation, the polarization of the social fabric and the loss of roots,” the pope said Nov. 15 in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.
“This is exacerbated when arguments are fomented that divide and propagate different types of confrontations and hatred towards those who 'are not one of us', even importing cultural models that have little or nothing to do with our history and identity and that, far from combining in new syntheses as in the past, end up uprooting our cultures from their richest autochthonous traditions.
He spoke to the community to mark the 160th anniversary of the college's founding. He noted that it “is one of the few Roman Colleges whose identity does not refer to a nation or a charism, but which seeks rather to be the meeting place, in Rome, of our Latin American land … offering you, young priests, the opportunity to create a vision, a reflection and an experience of communion that is expressly 'Latin Americanized'.”
Francis lamented that new generations are “uprooted and fragmented”, and said that “the Church is not external to this situation and is exposed to this temptation; since she is subject to the same environment, she runs the risk of becoming disoriented by falling prey to one form of polarization or another, or becoming uprooted if one forgets that the vocation is a meeting ground.”
He added that “the invasion of ideological colonization is also suffered in the Church.”
Because of this, he said it is important at the college “to create bonds and alliances of friendship and fraternity. And not because of a declaration of principles or gestures of goodwill, but because during these years you can learn to know better and make your own the joys and hopes, sorrows and anguish of your brothers; you can name and face specific situations that our people live, and face and feel your neighbour’s problems as if they were your own.”
The Pontifical Latin American College should help create a good priestly community “if one knows how to help oneself, if one is able to lay down roots in the lives of others, brothers and sons with a common history and heritage, part of a same presbytery and the same Latin American people. A priestly community that discovers that the greatest strength it has to build history is born of the concrete solidarity among you today, and will continue tomorrow between your churches and peoples to be able to transcend the merely 'parochial' and to lead communities that know how to open up to others to interact and to promote hope.”
Latin America needs, he said, “artisans of relationship and communion, open and trusting in the novelty that the Kingdom of God can inspire today … A priest in his parish, in his diocese, can do a lot - and this is fine - but he also runs the risk of burning himself out, of isolating himself or harvesting for himself. Feeling part of a priestly community, in which everyone is important – not because it is the sum of people living together, but because of the relationships they create, this feeling part of the community – can awaken and encourage processes and dynamics capable of transcending time.”
“This sense of belonging and recognition will help to creatively unleash and stimulate renewed missionary energies that promote an evangelical humanism capable of becoming intelligence and a driving force in our continent,” Pope Francis said.
“Without this sense of belonging and work hand in hand, on the contrary, we will disperse, we will weaken and, worse still, we will deprive so many of our brothers of the strength, the light and the consolation of friendship with Jesus Christ and of a community of faith that gives a horizon of meaning and life. And so, little by little, and almost without realizing it, we will end up offering Latin America … a God without Christ, a Christ without a Church, a Church without a people ... pure re-elaborated Gnosticism.”
He said Latin America knows that “the love for Christ and of Christ can not manifest itself except in passion for life and for the destiny of our peoples, and especially solidarity with the poorest, the suffering and those in need.”
The pope said this “reminds us of the importance … of developing the pleasure of always being close to the life of our people; never isolating ourselves from them. The life of the diocesan presbyter is lived – the repetition is valid – in this identification and belonging. The mission is passion for Jesus, but at the same time, it is passion for His people. It is learning to look where He looks and to let ourselves be moved by the same things He is moved by: feelings for the life of His brothers, especially sinners and of all those who are despondent and fatigued, like sheep without a shepherd. Please, do not huddle in personal or community enclosures that keep us away from the hubs where history is written. Captivated by Jesus and members of His Body, we integrate fully into society, share life with everyone, listen to their concerns ... rejoice with those who are happy, mourn with those who mourn and offer every Eucharist for all those faces that were entrusted to us.”
Francis said the linking of the college's anniversary with the canonization of St. Oscar Romero, a sometime student, is providential, calling him a “living sign of the fruitfulness and sanctity of the Latin American Church. A man rooted in the Word of God and in the hearts of his people.”
“This reality allows us to make contact with that long chain of witnesses in which we are invited to place our roots and take inspiration from every day … Do not fear holiness, and do not fear spending your life for your people.”
“On the path of cultural and pastoral miscegenation we are not orphans; Our Mother accompanies us,” Pope Francis stated. “She wanted to be like that, mestizo and fertile, and that is how she is with us, our Mother of tenderness and strength who rescues us from the paralysis or confusion of fear, just because she is simply there, as our Mother.”
“Brother priests, let us not forget, and confidently ask her to show us the way, to free us from the perversion of clericalism, increasingly to make us 'village pastors' and not to let us become 'clerics of the state'.”
He concluded with a message for his brother Jesuits who help run the college, saying that “one of the distinctive notes of the Society’s charism is seeking to harmonize contradictions without falling prey to reductionism. This is why Saint Ignatius wanted to think of the Jesuits as men of contemplation and action, men of discernment and obedience, committed to daily life and free to leave.”
The Jesuits at the college should help the young priests “to harmonize the contradictions that life presents to them and present them without falling into reductionism, gaining in the spirit of discernment and freedom,” he said.
“Teach how to embrace problems and conflicts without fear; to handle dissent and confrontation. Teach how to reveal all kinds of 'correct' but reductionist discourse is a crucial task for those who accompany their brothers in formation. Help them to discover the art and taste of discernment as a way of proceeding to find, in the midst of difficulties, the ways of the Spirit by tasting and feeling the Deus semper maior within. Be teachers of broad horizons and, at the same time, teach how to take charge of the small, to embrace the poor and the sick, and to take on the reality of everyday life. Non coereceri a maximo, contineri tamen a minimo divinum est.”
Washington D.C., Nov 15, 2018 / 04:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Legislation could help advance religious freedom and human rights in China’s far western province of Xinjiang, say U.S. lawmakers concerned about the treatment of the region’s Uyghur minority.
“The United States must hold accountable officials in the Chinese government and Communist Party responsible for gross violations of human rights and possible crimes against humanity, including the internment in ‘political re-education’ camps of as many as a million Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim minorities,” U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) said.
The bill will signal “that we will not tolerate Chinese government intrusions on American soil,” said the senator.
The bill calls for the immediate closure of reported internment camps in Xinjiang. It asks the FBI to report on harassment and intimidation of ethnic Uyghurs. It calls for the State Department to report on the scale and scope of the reported crackdown.
It also advocates the full implementation of the Frank R. Wolf Religious Freedom Act, which ensures U.S. foreign policy commitments to international religious freedom. It calls for targeted sanctions to be considered against individual human rights abusers in Chinese government, the ruling Communist Party, and in state security.
Following a two-day review of China’s record in August, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has said that up to 1 million Uyghurs could be currently held against their will and without trial in extra-legal detention, on the pretext of countering terrorism and religious extremism.
Rubio and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act in the Senate on Nov. 14. U.S. Rep Chris Smith, (R-N.J.), introduced the House version of the bill with lead Democratic co-sponsor Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-N.Y.)
“The internment of over a million Uighurs and other Muslims in China is a staggering evil and should be treated by the international community as a crime against humanity,” said Smith. “The Chinese government’s creation of a vast system of what can only be called concentration camps cannot be tolerated in the 21st century.”
A high-tech security network has been set up in Xinjian, with many police checkpoints and surveillance cameras, the Washington Post reports.
On Nov. 6 China rejected a U.N. review that criticized its human rights record in Xinjian. It has repeatedly characterized the region as a place recovering from extremism, saying it is stabilizing the area with training centers that help train former extremists for employable skills.
Chinese officials have claimed that the criticism of its human rights record is “politically driven.” They have said Islamist militants and separatists are a serious threat in the far western Xinjiang province and charge that they plot attacks and create tension between the predominantly Muslim Uighur minority and the Han Chinese majority, Reuters has reported.
Several countries have asked China to allow independent U.N. observers into the region, without success.
Smith said the legislation gives the Trump administration “the tools to take a firm stand against Beijing’s plans to erase the religious identity, culture, and language of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in China’s western province.”
He said that U.S. businesses should be barred from “helping China create a high-tech police state” in the province.
“The situation in Xinjiang and China’s treatment of its Uighur Minority is beyond abhorrent,” added Menendez. “The President needs to have a clear and consistent approach to China, and not turn a blind eye as a million Muslims are unjustly imprisoned and forced into labor camps by an autocratic regime.”
In addition to the U.S., several western countries have criticized the camps and called for them to be closed: the U.K., Canada, France and Germany.
On Oct. 10 the Congressional-Executive Commission on China emphasized what it called “the dire human rights situation inside China and the continued downward trajectory by virtually every measure,” since Xi Jinping came to power as general secretary of the Communist Party and now its president.
Rubio chairs the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, and Smith is its co-chair. The commission was created in 2000 to monitor human rights and rule of law developments in China.
Denver, Colo., Nov 15, 2018 / 03:34 pm (CNA).- I love CNA’s newsrooms.
In Denver, DC, and in Rome, our newsrooms are staffed with smart Catholics, telling interesting stories about the Church and the world. We have great conversations, vigorous debate, and occasionally we have candy taste-test tournaments.
For me, at least, it’s fun, inspiring, and informative to hang out in our newsrooms, with the journalists of Catholic News Agency.
We’ve launched a new podcast that aims to invite you into the conversation. Each episode of CNA Newsroom will give you a rundown of Catholic news, a conversation with one of CNA’s journalists going in-depth on a story or issue, and some commentary or analysis. Sometimes we’ll interview interesting or unusual people. Sometimes we’ll do narrative-style audio reporting. Sometime we’ll let our reporters Mary Rezac and Perry West argue over whether Parks and Rec is better than the Office. (It is.)
I’ll be your host, and usually I’ll be joined by one of CNA’s editors. Kate Veik is our executive producer, and she’s joined in production duties by Jonah McKeown. Our format might develop with time, because things in our newsroom often develop, and we want to bring you the best Catholic news podcast we can produce. We’ll look forward to your feedback and ideas.
Our first episode, which we released today, features reporting, interviews, and analysis from this week’s meeting of the U.S. bishops’ conference. You can find it on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Stitcher, and on our website. I hope you’ll give it a listen, and let us know what you think.
Welcome to the CNA Newsroom.
Washington D.C., Nov 15, 2018 / 02:44 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The U.S. bishops' conference and the Holy See face a class action lawsuit filed by six men who claim they were sexually abused by Catholic clergy during their childhoods. They are seeking financial damages as well as public contrition and reparation from the Church.
The 80-page suit filed Nov. 13 claims that the Vatican and the bishops knew about - and covered up for - the “endemic, systemic, rampant, and pervasive rape and sexual abuse” of the plaintiffs and others at the hands of active members of the clergy, religious orders, and other Church representatives.
The suit opens by invoking two passages of Scripture: “(B)ut people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed,” and: “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather, expose them.”
Rather than protect the plaintiffs, the lawsuit says Church leaders protected and - “incredibly” - promoted the offenders.
These kinds of “wrongful actions, inaction, omissions, cover-up, deception, and concealment” create a “conspiracy of silence to their financial and reputational benefit and to Plaintiffs’ and Class Members’ personal, mental, psychological, and financial detriment.” These actions are “ongoing and continuous” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday at U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. by four attorneys representing six individuals who lived in six different states at the time the abuse occurred - Iowa, California, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. It does not specifically detail the cases of abuse reportedly suffered by the individuals.
The attorneys who filed the suit are Mitchell Toups, Richard Coffman, Joe Whatley Jr., and Henry Quillen, who have previous experience with similar lawsuits on behalf of victims of clerical sex abuse.
Coffman, one of two attorneys on the case from Beaumont, Texas, told the Beaumont Enterprise that he has been watching the unfolding of the recent sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church and felt the “time was right” to file this lawsuit.
“(S)omething needs to be done about this problem," he told the Enterprise.
"There's just a louder and louder outcry going on across the United States for the Catholic church to do something about this situation," Coffman added.
The lawsuit was filed during the autumn plenary assembly of the USCCB in Baltimore, during which the bishops voted down a proposal that would have “encouraged” the Vatican to “release soon” all documents related to the allegations of misconduct against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, whose case has been at the center of the abuse scandals in the Church in the U.S. that have unfolded over the past five months.
At the beginning of the meeting, president of the conference Cardinal Daniel DiNardo also announced a Vatican order that the bishops not vote on any proposed solutions to the abuse crisis until a meeting in Rome in February with other bishops' conferences, a move that the lawsuit said was merely “kicking the can down the road again.”
Several U.S. bishops expressed their disappointment with the order, and the sex abuse crisis still featured as a prominent point of discussion at the meeting, though no action was taken.
The suit also claims that the bishops and the Vatican violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, aimed at organized crime, because the bishops engaged in federal mail fraud and wire fraud in the cover-up of abuse. The Catholic Church in the U.S. is an “unincorporated association” and therefore qualifies as an organization that can be held to RICO standards, it states.
The plaintiffs are seeking “compensatory damages, economic damages, punitive damages, RICO treble damages, medical monitoring, pre- and post-judgment interest, and attorneys’ fees, litigation expenses, and court costs.”
They also seek relief that would compel the Vatican and the bishops to “comply with various state statutes requiring them to report the abusive Clergy to law enforcement or other responsible authorities, terminate the abusive Clergy, identify the abusive Clergy to the general public so that parents may protect their children going forward, release documents evidencing such Clergy abuse to achieve transparency, and such other relief the Court deems just and proper.”
Spokespersons for the USCCB have told several media outlets that the conference will not comment on the lawsuit because it is pending litigation.
Punta Arenas, Chile, Nov 15, 2018 / 10:56 am (ACI Prensa).- A Eucharistic procession through the Patagonian city of Punta Arenas launched the 500th anniversary commemorations of the first Mass celebrated in Chile.
Friar Pedro de Valderrama, the chaplain for the expedition of the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, offered Mass on Sunday, Nov. 11, 1520 in Fortescue Bay on the shores of the Strait of Magellan.
This Holy Mass at the extreme southern tip of Chile became the first Eucharist celebrated in the South American country.
On Nov. 11, the faithful from different communities gathered at the Human Rights Plaza in downtown Punta Arenas, the capital of the Magallanes Region, for a period of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament to help launch this major celebration, which will close on Nov. 11, 2020.
Bishop Bernardo Bastres of Punta Arenas, led the prayers and a Eucharistic procession to the Punta Arenas cathedral.
When participants arrived at the cathedral, the bishop said they were giving “public witness to the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist.”
“Processing down the main street of our city, we gather in our common home, which welcomes us with love, warmth and hope,” he said.
The celebration of the Eucharist then followed. Bishop Bastres reflected on “the mystery of the Eucharist in its two dimensions, that of the celebration which makes Christ really present in the bread and wine, and at the same time the Eucharist invites us to break it, distribute it and share it with others.”
The second dimension, the bishop said, is that “if Christ gives himself to us as food for our lives, we must help everyone to have the necessary food to live in the dignity of a child of God.”
Credit: Diocese of Punta Arenas.
This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Vatican City, Nov 15, 2018 / 10:31 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis and XVI have written letters lending their support to a Vatican-sponsored conference on the risks posed to fundamental human rights.
In a letter on a Nov. 15-16 international symposium in Rome, Benedict wrote that he believes it “extraordinarily useful” to make a close examination of the issue of the “multiplication of rights” and the risk this poses.
Pope Francis, in his own letter on the conference, pointed to Benedict XVI as having “lucidly warned of the urgency of these issues for our time,” and having “intervened authoritatively on them as a thinker and as a pastor.”
The symposium, which is on the theme of “fundamental rights and conflicts between rights,” is being organized by the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI foundation headed by Fr. Federico Lombardi. It is being held at LUMSA, a Catholic university in Rome.
Addressing Lombardi, the former director of the Holy See press office, Benedict wrote that the issue of increasing “rights” is a “current and fundamental question to protect the foundations of the coexistence of the human family,” and is a topic deserving of “an in-depth and systematic reflection.”
The pope emeritus concluded the brief letter with a promise of his esteem and prayers for the event’s speakers and participants, asking the Lord’s blessing on their work “as a precious service for the Church and for the good of the human family.”
In his own letter to Lombardi, Pope Francis pointed to the upcoming 70th anniversary of the United Nations’ adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, noting the appropriateness of having “an in-depth reflection on its implementation and on developing the vision of human rights in today’s world.”
The pope said about the symposium that the changing interpretation of certain rights and the appearance of “new rights,” especially in recent years, “opens up a series of problems that tend to involve, at bottom, the very idea of law and its foundations.”
He praised the pope emeritus’ interventions on the issue of human rights and noted that it was for that reason LUMSA bestowed on Benedict XVI an honorary degree in jurisprudence 20 years ago.
“I therefore hope,” Francis continued, “that the Symposium of high academic level that is about to be celebrated, drawing inspiration from the thought and the magisterium of our beloved Pope Emeritus, can contribute with courage and depth to illuminate an essential problem for the protection of the dignity of the human person and his integral development.”
Al-Fashir, Sudan, Nov 15, 2018 / 09:45 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A group of 13 Christian converts in Darfur, Sudan was arrested and tortured last month for their faith, World Watch Monitor and several Christian aid groups have reported.
The Christians were reportedly taken from a home in southwest Darfur on October 13 and detained and beaten. Some were released shortly after their arrest, while the rest were released on October 21.
According to the Barnabas Fund, an aid group that supports persecuted Christians, those who were arrested had converted from Islam to Christianity, and were being punished for apostasy and pressured to convert back to Islam.
Sharia law remains the dominating system of law in Sudan. While 2005 amendments to the country’s constitution removed some references to Sharia, Sudan President Omar al-Bashir in 2011 vowed a stricter adherence to Sharia law.
Tajadin Idris Yousef, the pastor of the group, who was also arrested, was then made to appear before a court on October 28 for refusing to recant his faith while in police custody.
According to World Watch Monitor, he faces apostasy charges and must report to local authorities every three days. Nine of the men arrested recanted their Christian faith. They were forced to pay fines, and were ultimately charged with “disturbing the peace.”
Sudan ranks fourth on Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of most difficult places for Christians to live, after North Korea, Afghanistan, and Somalia.
Arlington, Va., Nov 15, 2018 / 03:49 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Virginia Catholics are praising the decision of a joint commission of the state legislature to take no action on a study on assisted suicide.
Last year, Del. Kaye Kory (D-Fairfax) asked the Virginia state legislature to consider legalizing so-called “medical aid-in-dying” or physician-assisted suicide.
After receiving public comment, the Joint Commission on Health Care, which was tasked with studying the issue, voted 10-6 on November 7 to take no action on the issue.
“I was very pleased to receive the news that the Virginia Joint Commission on Health Care rejected efforts that might ultimately have led to the legalization of physician-assisted suicide in our commonwealth,” Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington told the Arlington Catholic Herald.
“The commission received nearly 3,000 public comments against legalizing assisted suicide, and comments against assisted suicide outnumbered comments for assisted suicide 8-1! I thank the leadership of the Virginia Catholic Conference, the Arlington Diocese’s Office for Marriage, Family and Respect Life and so many citizens, especially among our Catholic faithful, for standing up for life!” he added.
In a statement posted to the Virginia Catholic Conference website, director of the conference Jeff Caruso said that voters’ voices had been “heard loud and clear” on the issue.
“In prayer and in public, your voices are urgently needed to bring Gospel values to bear on vital decisions being made by those who represent you,” he said.
Of the 3,000 comments against assisted suicide received by the commission, about 2,000 of them them were submitted through the Catholic Conference, Caruso told the Arlington Catholic Herald.
“The gift of life is something that should never be abandoned or discarded and that's the principal that was upheld by the joint commission,” he said.
Caruso said it was “very significant” that the commission declined to take action on assisted suicide, because it is something that could be helpful in the continued fight against legalizing it in the future.
The vote included all of the commission’s Republicans, as well as one vote from a Democrat on the commission. One of the commissioners who voted against assisted suicide was a surgeon, another was a physician.
Del. Scott Garrett (R-Lynchburg), who has experience as a surgeon, told the Virginia Mercury that he voted to take no action because he had witnessed people who had long-outlived their prognosis.
“The resiliency of the human condition is truly an amazing thing,” he said. “Each one of us has certainly, many, many times in our professional careers been faced with somebody who had no chance, they’re going to die in three months, and yet in fact it just wasn’t their time yet.”
The commission did pass several measures to improve health care in the state’s jails and prisons, including actions aimed at improving mental health and substance abuse.
Kory told the Virginia Mercury that she would not propose any assisted suicide legislation this year.
The seven states of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, plus the District of Columbia, have legalized assisted suicide.