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Posted on 09/20/2023 21:30 PM (CNA Daily News)
ACI Prensa Staff, Sep 20, 2023 / 18:30 pm (CNA).
Our Lady of Flowers is one of the most noted Marian devotions in the Diocese of Malaga in Spain and her devotees were disheartened to learn Sept. 19 that her shrine, located in the town of Álora, of which she is the patroness, had been desecrated.
The incident took place Monday night but was not discovered until early Tuesday, when the person in charge of opening the church noticed the damage and the theft.
According to the Diocese of Malaga, the assailants entered by neatly forcing open the grating on the sacristy window. From there, they entered the church, where they desecrated the tabernacle and the image of the Virgin.
In addition to leaving the consecrated hosts that were reserved in the tabernacle scattered on the floor, the thieves took a ciborium and the mantle of the Virgin and Child Jesus that is part of the image, which is kept in an alcove with tempered glass.
Along with the mantle, the thieves took “small jewelry left by the faithful” during their recent Sept. 8 pilgrimage. Some collection boxes where the faithful deposit their alms were also broken into. The incident was reported to the Civil Guard.
In a joint statement posted on X Sept. 19, the pastor of the shrine, Father Felipe Manuel Gallego; the leader of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Flores, Álvaro Fernández; and the mayor of Álora, Francisco Jesús Martínez, announced that the place “will remain closed” until the repairs are completed and that the image of the Virgin “will remain in a reserved place for protection,” which the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Flowers stated is “the high altar of the Church of the True Cross” in Álora.
The shrine of the Virgin of Flores was founded by Queen Isabella (1451–1504) and is located 1.25 miles from the town of Álora. A convent of Franciscan Recollects was built there and they remained there until 1835, when they were expelled by the so-called Confiscation of Mendizábal.
The Virgin of Flowers on Mars
The name of the Virgin of Flores has gone beyond diocesan devotion in Malaga in a particular way, as it was among the 150,000 references to life on Earth that were placed aboard NASA's Perseverance space probe sent to Mars in 2020.
On Feb. 18, 2021, the space mission robot landed on the surface of Mars after seven months of travel. On a hard disk in the robot was included a reference to the patroness of Álora thanks to Spanish Air Force Sgt. Francisco José Fernández.
Upon learning that NASA had opened the possibility of including terrestrial references in the robot, he registered the name of the Virgin of Flowers.
In a report published in Diario Sur in 2020, Fernández explained the reasons for this action: “I have always been a [member] of the Brotherhood, although I can [get to the] town very little; that’s why I wanted to do something nice for them and this occurred to me. It is still exciting to know that for a few years her name will be there, in space, among the valleys and deserts of Mars.”
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Posted on 09/20/2023 21:10 PM (CNA Daily News)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 20, 2023 / 18:10 pm (CNA).
Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy and 25 House Republicans introduced a resolution Tuesday to repeal the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, a law that has been used extensively by the Biden administration to penalize pro-life activists.
Passed in 1994, the FACE Act imposes criminal penalties on individuals convicted of “violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct” that interferes with access to abortion clinics, places of worship, and pregnancy centers.
The resolution introduced by Roy in the House and sponsored by Utah Senator Mike Lee in the Senate would repeal the FACE Act on the grounds that it is an unconstitutional use of federal power and that it has been weaponized against people of certain religious and political beliefs.
In a Monday press release Roy said that “free Americans should never live in fear of their government targeting them because of their beliefs. Yet, Biden's Department of Justice has brazenly weaponized the FACE Act against normal, everyday Americans across the political spectrum, simply because they are pro-life.”
“Our Constitution separates power between the federal government and the states for a reason, and we ignore that safeguard at our own peril,” Roy went on. “The FACE Act is an unconstitutional federal takeover of state police powers; it must be repealed.”
Roy also led an unsuccessful effort to prohibit taxpayer funding from being used to enforce the FACE Act in April.
How has the FACE Act been used?
Though churches and pregnancy centers are included in the FACE Act, in the last year only four people have been charged for attacks on churches and pregnancy centers, despite over 100 attacks.
During Wednesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing, Roy questioned Biden Administration Attorney General Merrick Garland about bias in the FACE Act’s application.
“Are you concerned that enforcement of the FACE Act has been biased towards pro-lifers over anti-life protestors 126 to 4,” Roy asked Garland. “126 times against pro-lifers, versus 4 times.”
Most recently, three pro-life activists — Joan Bell, 74, Jean Marshall, 73, and Jonathan Darnel, 41 — were found guilty on Sept. 15 of felonies related to the FACE Act that could land them up to 11 years in prison and fines as much as $350,000.
The Biden Department of Justice alleged that the three activists engaged in a conspiracy to create a blockade of an abortion clinic in an October 2022 protest in Washington D.C.
Another eight pro-life activists in Michigan were charged with FACE Act violations in February.
The most notable FACE Act charge was made against Mark Houck, a Pennsylvania father of seven, who made national headlines when he was arrested by armed authorities at his home on Sept. 23, 2022. Houck was eventually cleared of all charges in January.
New Jersey Republican Rep. Chris Smith, a co-sponsor, said in a press release Tuesday, that “the FACE Act prescribes harsh, mean-spirited punishments when pro-life individuals engage in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience — the staple of the human rights and civil rights movements.”
“Under the FACE Act, peaceful actions like holding a sign, singing a hymn, or praying the Rosary, if conducted near an abortion mill, can result in jail sentences, massive fines, and punitive damages by the party that feels it has been offended,” he said.
“The Biden Administration has weaponized the FACE Act, singling out nonviolent pro-life advocates and punishing them as felons,” Smith continued. “At the same time, there has been no documented arrest in over 80 instances of violent attacks, firebombing, and vandalism by pro-abortion activists in a coordinated effort to intimidate front-line volunteers and licensed medical professionals providing critical support to mothers in need and their unborn baby boys and girls.”
Posted on 09/20/2023 21:00 PM (CNA Daily News)
ACI Prensa Staff, Sep 20, 2023 / 18:00 pm (CNA).
Several priests with a presence on social media and the civil association Enraizados have protested derogatory comments made against St. Teresa of Calcutta on a radio program in Spain.
On Monday this week, a contributor to the Spanish radio station Cadena SER’s main news program, Roberto Enríquez Higueras, known as Bob Pop, claimed that St. Teresa of Calcutta was part of a list of “bad people who did things well” along with personalities such as Shakira, Diana Spencer (Lady Di), the writer Truman Capote, the politician Margaret Thatcher, and the Nobel laureate in literature Mario Vargas Llosa.
Higueras said the Albanian saint who founded the Missionaries of Charity “is worse than cinchona,” an expression used in Spain that refers to the bitter taste of the plant.
Asked about the reasons that led him to assert such a thing, he responded that it was based “on her entire policy, on her entire creed. She actually dedicated herself to taking advantage of poverty, all of the worst: She prevented abortions, she sold children... The only good thing that Teresa of Calcutta did was to appear that she was good."
Higueras further accused the saint of being a “chunga,” (a dodgy person as defined by the Spanish Royal Academy: “bad-looking, in poor condition, of poor quality”) because she dedicated herself to “claiming pain, poverty — other people’s of course — as a experience of coming to Christ. But in reality she worked for the system, for power.”
In his opinion, what she did well was play “the character, we believed it,” which he called “a great job.”
The host of Cadena SER’s star program, Ángels Barceló, added: “Acting all day has to be terrible.”
Bob Pop has been a contributor to Mongolia magazine, known among other issues for its irreverent and blasphemous covers. He is also the author of a television series titled “Maricón perdido.” In 2021, the Ministry of Equality awarded him the Rainbow Recognition for LGBT visibility in the field of communications.
In response, Father Jaime Melchior pointed out on X that the attack on St. Teresa of Calcutta “hides something more important: Smearing people, and their heroic actions, worthy of imitation, so that we believe it’s impossible to attain holiness.”
Father Francisco José Delgado ironically commented on the controversial radio program when he said of Bob Pop and the journalist Ángels Barceló: “If these two despicable persons spoke well of St. Teresa of Calcutta I would be worried.”
Father Francisco Llorens of the Archdiocese of Valencia considered that what happened is “very serious” and that what pains him the most “is the silence of the house of Añastro” — in reference to the Spanish Bishops’ Conference, whose headquarters are on that street in Madrid.
Father Ignacio Narváez, SJ, asked that the link to the video that has circulated on messaging apps not be opened, “because they will interpret the views as a victory. What we Christians do is pray for those who denigrate, lie, and sow hatred.”
Father Juan Manuel Góngora of the Diocese of Almería responded to the criticism of radio contributor Bop Pop with a brief image from the film “The Passion of the Christ” in which Jesus, in the Garden of Olives, crushes the head of a serpent.
Today the Enraizados Association launched a protest campaign against the performance on Cadena SER, which they said “harshly lashed out against St. Teresa of Calcutta, spreading hatred against her life.”
In the text encouraging the protest, the association’s president, José Castro, stated that “if Mother Teresa were here, she would probably tell us that ‘lack of love is the greatest poverty.’ Precisely for that reason, because of her enormous capacity to love, she saved children from being aborted. Which this heartless commentator absurdly denounces.”
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Posted on 09/20/2023 18:00 PM (CNA Daily News)
ACI Africa, Sep 20, 2023 / 15:00 pm (CNA).
The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) has condemned the Sept. 16-17 kidnapping of more than 30 people across Nigeria’s Enugu State, including a Catholic priest, and called on police officials in the Nigerian state to either act on the lack of security in the region or leave office.
Father Marcellinus Obioma Okide was abducted Sept. 17 on his way back to St. Mary Amofia-Agu Affa Parish in the Enugu Diocese, where he serves as parish priest. A prayer appeal has been sent out for the priest’s safe release. Okide is among dozens of people who were taken by armed Fulani bandits in separate locations within Enugu State.
Intersociety condemned the police force in Enugu for “looking the other way” and “choosing to be deaf” as Islamist Fulanis wreak havoc on Christian populations in the Nigerian state and in the entire southeast region of the West African country.
Instead, the authorities are busy killing innocent civilians in the name of a crackdown on the “sit-at-home” order by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Intersociety said in a Sept. 19 report sent to ACI Africa, CNA’s news partner in Africa.
“The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law is deeply shocked and dismayed that more than 30 defenseless citizens of the southeast were abducted in two days in three different locations in Enugu State by the jihadist Fulani herdsmen, with the Enugu State Police Command … looking the other [way] and choosing to be deaf,” said officials of Intersociety led by their board chair, Emeka Umeagbalasi.
Those whom Intersociety want out of office for laxity amid the rampant attacks are Enugu State Commissioner of Police Kanayo Uzuegbu; Anambra Commissioner of Police Tony Olofu; and General Officer Commanding 82 Division Nigerian Army Maj. Gen. Hassan Taiwo Dada.
The three must tackle security challenges in Enugu State “without being selective and partisan as widely perceived or seen as errand boys of the jihadist Fulani herdsmen,” the human rights activists said.
In reference to the kidnappings in Enugu, they added: “The trio must as a matter of uttermost urgency and extreme public importance speak out including addressing a joint or separate press conferences so as to keep the southeasterners abreast of the abductions and efforts put in place, if any, to rescue the victims and apprehend the jihadist Fulani herdsmen responsible.”
Between Sept. 16-17 more than 30 passengers and others on the road were abducted by jihadist Fulani herdsmen.
Intersociety reported that the abductions took place in at least three different locations, including Edem-Nrobo-Ezikolo-Abbi Road in Uzo Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State, where armed jihadists on Sept. 16 attacked a passenger bus that was traveling to the town of Nsukka.
The jihadists are also said to have killed one civilian in Ezikolo-Abbi, shot and wounded others, and abducted several others into the nearby forests.
On Sept. 17, another group of jihadist Fulani herdsmen launched an attack on a bus that was carrying Father Okide and several other passengers, abducting the Catholic priest and six others, according to the Intersociety officials.
Intersociety called for action to address the lack of security specifically in Enugu, saying: “The unchecked activities of the jihadist Fulani herdsmen in the southeast have not only risen to an apogee but also mandatorily required that the trio of Enugu State commissioner[s] of police … unmask and go after the jihadists.”
They challenge those in charge of security in Enugu to “retire voluntarily from the army and the police” if they cannot live up to what is expected of them.
This story was first published by ACI Africa, CNA’s news partner in Africa, and has been adapted by CNA.
Posted on 09/20/2023 17:32 PM (CNA Daily News)
CNA Staff, Sep 20, 2023 / 14:32 pm (CNA).
A monthlong nationwide college tour by Vice President Kamala Harris, meant in part to promote the expansion of abortion under law, has prompted repudiation from pro-life advocates.
The tour, announced Sept. 7, is aimed at bringing together “thousands of students for high-energy, large-scale events” focused on “key issues that disproportionately impact young people across the country — from reproductive freedom and gun safety to climate action, voting rights, LGBTQ+ equality, and book bans.”
Harris is set to visit “around a dozen campuses in at least seven states,” including historically Black colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions, community colleges, apprenticeship programs, and state schools, the White House said. Most of the states Harris will visit, such as Virginia and North Carolina, are considered swing states in U.S. presidential elections.
Harris’ most recent stop was at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro on Sept. 15. In her speech, which focused mainly on voting rights, Harris urged voters to support, among other things, the “freedom to make decisions about your own body.”
“One does not have to abandon their faith, or deeply held beliefs, to agree that the government should not be telling [a woman] what to do with her body,” Harris said, taking issue with what she called “extremist so-called leaders” passing state pro-life laws. The vice president criticized those laws, especially those being passed without rape and incest exceptions, calling them “immoral.”
“What the [Supreme] Court took away, Congress can put back in place. Congress can pass a law that puts back in place the protections of a case called Roe v. Wade, which gives you the right to make decisions for yourself,” she told the crowd, urging them to vote for lawmakers who will do so.
Harris has long been considered a champion of the abortion industry, raking in numerous endorsements and campaign contributions from pro-abortion organizations. She and President Joe Biden, a Catholic, have on numerous occasions jointly reaffirmed their support for abortion and condemned efforts by pro-life lawmakers to enact restrictions on abortion.
In recent months, Harris has lamented the growing number of states that have restricted abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and encouraged Congress to enact pro-abortion legislation, drawing ire from national pro-life groups.
SBA Pro-Life America, a national advocacy organization, condemned Harris’ urging the young people in attendance to use their votes to expand access to abortion.
“Vice President Kamala Harris just kicked off her ‘Abortion Activism Around America’ tour aimed at indoctrinating our young people. Today, she spoke in the beautiful and vibrant state of North Carolina. While there, she continued to push her no-limits abortion-on-demand beliefs. But Harris needs to understand that North Carolinians do not support her radical approach,” said Michelle Ashley, SBA Pro-Life America’s North Carolina state director.
“In fact, the majority of North Carolinians want serious limits on abortions, wanting no elective abortions after the first trimester,” Ashley continued, citing a poll SBA conducted in January.
“This belief stands in complete opposition to the Biden-Harris administration’s stance. I’m grateful to the brave North Carolinians who stand fearlessly for life in the face of this current administration’s nationwide no-limits pro-abortion push.”
Students for Life of America (SFLA) staged a protest in North Carolina ahead of Harris’ arrival and said they were directed by university police to stand in a “free speech area.” The group said that despite some resistance from students, a number of “genuinely curious students approached us, wanting to hear more about our beliefs and resources. Several minds were changed.”
“Unfortunately, after Harris’ event ended, a large mob surrounded us, and chaos ensued,” SFLA member Lydia Taylor narrated.
“When they shouted ‘Black Lives Matter,’ I told them that pro-lifers agree with them and that the abortion industry was targeting Black lives in the womb. Together, we could protect those Black babies — but sadly, this made them even more aggressive. Finally, the police came through the mob to get us out and to safety. We were forced to leave some of our property behind in the chaos, and the deserted signs were torn up immediately and vandalized further.”
The day before Harris arrived in North Carolina, SFLA president Kristan Hawkins sent a letter to Harris inviting her to debate the issue of abortion on a college campus. Hawkins is making her own college tour this fall and both women are stopping at Northern Arizona University, albeit on different dates.
“The administration that you help lead fights for abortion through all nine months, for any reason, with taxpayer funding, up to and including infanticide. Throw in the attacks on conscience rights and states passing pro-life laws, and it’s clear that your administration is working to earn the money that Planned Parenthood Action and others have invested in your agenda,” Hawkins wrote in part.
“While this is well known to those of us who track this human rights policy, for most students on college and university campuses, the extent of the radial abortion agenda of the Biden-Harris administration is more camouflaged by rhetoric about ‘access’ and ‘justice.’”
The pro-life group National Right to Life responded the day before Harris’ North Carolina stop, on Sept. 14, saying the Biden administration has “employed a whole-of-government approach to promoting abortion, using every lever of power at its disposal to make abortions more available and more common, with no thought of the innocent unborn children who would die.”
“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have made unlimited abortion throughout pregnancy a priority issue,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life.
“The Biden-Harris abortion agenda is extreme and out of step with the majority of Americans.”
Harris’ next stop will be at Morehouse College, a historically Black men's liberal arts college in Atlanta, on Sept. 26, according to the White House website.
Posted on 09/20/2023 17:00 PM (CNA Daily News)
ACI Africa, Sep 20, 2023 / 14:00 pm (CNA).
At least 11 people were killed Sept. 15 after members of the Islamic State attacked a village in Mozambique and opened fire on Christians after hand-picking them from Muslims, the Catholic pontifical and charity foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International reported.
In a Sept. 18 report, ACN indicated that the terrorists arrived in the village of Naquitengue, located in Mocímboa da Praia district of the embattled Cabo Delgado province, in the early afternoon and summoned the villagers.
After separating the Christians from the Muslims, “based on names” to identify them, “they opened fire on the Christians,” the report stated.
The charity foundation has gathered accounts of those affected by the violence in the Mozambican district and said: “The reports are disturbing.”
Those who spoke to ACN recounted that Christians were “showered with bullets” in the incident.
“There are also records of burned houses and destroyed property,” ACN reported. “Hours later, on Sunday, the terrorist organization Islamic State claimed this attack, reporting 11 deaths, although the number of victims is expected to be higher, at least 12, with several injured.”
The Catholic entity further reported that the attack, which it described as “of enormous cruelty,” caused panic among the populations, who fled to the forests.
Friar Boaventura, a missionary from the Institute of the Fraternity of the Poor of Jesus (PJC) present in Cabo Delgado, confirmed to ACN the terrorists’ strategy to isolate Christians from others before executing them, noting that it was not the first time such an incident had happened in Cabo Delgado.
“This strategy has already happened in the past,” he said, adding that terrorists had already carried out attacks “with this same scenario” — that is, to “separate Christians from Muslims.”
The missionary told ACN that the Sept. 15 incident had left the population scared, adding that the attack occurred at a time when many people were beginning to return to their homelands.
Friar Boaventura lamented that “new moments of tension and insecurity” had engulfed the population and asked “that we pray for our brothers who suffer so much.”
The crisis in northern Mozambique, which erupted in 2017, is mostly concentrated in Cabo Delgado province but has also spread to neighboring provinces, such as Nampula and Niassa.
Here, armed men belonging to the Islamic State, locally referred to as Al Shabaab, continue to attack civilians. As of April, the violent conflict had displaced more than 1 million people.
This story was first published by ACI Africa, CNA’s news partner in Africa, and has been adapted by CNA.
Posted on 09/20/2023 16:00 PM (CNA Daily News)
CNA Staff, Sep 20, 2023 / 13:00 pm (CNA).
Ethnic Armenians in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh, have agreed to lay down their arms and dissolve their military forces following a short but intense Azerbaijan offensive on Sept. 19.
Though internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, the Nagorno-Karabakh region is made up almost entirely of Christian ethnic Armenians who claim self-sovereignty under the auspices of the Republic of Artsakh.
The Azeri attack — labeled “counterterrorism measures” by the Azeri government — included rocket and mortar fire on both military and civilian targets, according to Artsakh authorities.
During the attack close to 100 Armenians were killed, including civilians, and several hundred were wounded, according to a statement from former Artsakh State Minister Ruben Vardanyan to Reuters.
The attacks forced over 10,000 people, including women, children, and elderly, to evacuate their homes, according to the Artsakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
This week’s escalation was the first indication of large-scale outright military conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh since 2020. Christian Armenians have been trapped, without food or medicine, behind the Lachin Corridor blockade for months sparking outrage among human rights activists who say Azerbaijan is engaged in ethnic cleansing.
On Wednesday the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Azerbaijan said that “an agreement has been reached as of 13:00, 20 September 2023, to stop the anti-terror measures.”
The terms of the agreement, according to the Azeri Defense Ministry, were that all “illegal armed groups lay down their arms, withdraw from their battle positions and military outposts, and are subjected to complete disarmament” and “simultaneously, all the ammunition and heavy military equipment is handed over.”
The Azeri government also demanded the withdrawal of all “formations of Armenia’s armed forces stationed in the Karabakh region,” though Armenia denies it has any forces stationed inside Nagorno-Karabakh.
In a Wednesday press briefing, Azeri Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Fariz Rzayev said that “as a result of the counterterrorism measures taken by the Azerbaijani armed forces, the agreement was reached today for the full demilitarization, disarmament, and disbandment of the remnants of the regular forces of the Republic of Armenia, which were still illegally deployed in the sovereign territories in the Republic of Azerbaijan.”
According to the defense ministry, the disarmament is to be conducted with the supervision of the Russian peacekeeping contingent stationed in the region.
Reuters reported that the Artsakh Republic also agreed to the disarmament, saying: “In the current situation, the actions of the international community to end the war and resolve the situation are inadequate. Considering all this, the authorities of the Republic of Artsakh accept the proposal of the command of the Russian peacekeeping contingent to cease fire.”
Posted on 09/20/2023 15:29 PM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, Sep 20, 2023 / 12:29 pm (CNA).
The head of the Vatican’s charity office is traveling to Ukraine to inaugurate a new home for displaced mothers and children in Lviv days after a warehouse containing aid burned to the ground following a Russian strike.
According to a Sept. 20 press release from the Dicastery for the Service of Charity, papal almoner Cardinal Konrad Krajewski is in Ukraine this week to open the House of Refuge “in the name of Pope Francis, as a sign of support and closeness to the many people who were forced to flee because of the conflict, bringing the apostolic blessing.”
The shelter was built during the conflict with Russia and financed in part by the Vatican. It will provide temporary housing to women who have fled the bombing in other parts of Ukraine.
The visit follows Russian attacks in Ukraine that killed nine people Sept. 19, according to Reuters. In Lviv, a drone strike set on fire several industrial warehouses, including a warehouse used by the Catholic charity Caritas-Spes to store humanitarian aid.
The secretary general of Caritas Internationalis, Alistair Dutton, said the attack destroyed more than 330 tons of humanitarian aid for Ukrainians.
“The mission’s employees were unharmed,” the head of Caritas-Spes Ukraine, Father Vyacheslav Grynevych, said, “but the warehouse with everything inside burned to the ground including food, hygiene kits, generators, and clothes.”
“We will be able to calculate the final details of the losses later, as special services are currently working at the scene. We already know that 33 pallets of food packages, 10 pallets of hygiene kits and canned food, 10 pallets of generators and clothes were destroyed,” the priest said, according to a press release from Caritas Internationalis.
Dutton is in New York this week to attend the U.N. General Assembly at which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke Tuesday.
The Caritas-Spes warehouse served as a place to store aid from other countries, including Caritas Poland, before it was transported to families in eastern Ukraine.
The Caritas-Spes warehouse has also been used as a deposit for supplies, including generators, donated to Ukraine by Pope Francis through the Vatican’s charity office.
“I am sorrowful for what happened in Lviv with the attack on the warehouse of Caritas-Spes,” Krajewski said. “They struck to destroy the possibility of helping people who are suffering.”
In a message to Cardinal Peter Turkson on Sept. 19, Pope Francis denounced “the use in contemporary warfare of so-called ‘conventional weapons,’ which should be used for defensive purposes only and not directed to civilian targets.”
The pope’s message, dated Sept. 12, was sent to the chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences on the occasion of a Sept. 19-20 conference on Pacem in Terris, St. John XXIII’s 1963 encyclical on peace.
“It is my hope that sustained reflection on this issue will lead to a consensus that such weapons, with their immense destructive power, will not be employed in a way that foreseeably causes ‘superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering,’ to use the words of the St. Petersburg Declaration,” Francis said.
Posted on 09/20/2023 14:30 PM (CNA Daily News)
ACI Prensa Staff, Sep 20, 2023 / 11:30 am (CNA).
The bishop of San Francisco de Macorís in the Dominican Republic, Alfredo De la Cruz, who will be participating in the Synod on Synodality in October at the Vatican, said the event should discuss mandatory celibacy, the diaconate, and the ministerial priesthood for women, among other issues.
The prelate made the remarks during a virtual event titled “International Synod Conversation of the Church. Will anything change in the Church?” organized by the Academy of Catholic Leaders and held Sept. 18.
Also participating in the event were Cardinal Seán O’Malley, archbishop of Boston and president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors; Luis Cabrera, archbishop of Guayaquil, Ecuador; and the Spanish laywoman Eva Fernández, coordinator of the International Forum of Catholic Action.
Asked about what could change in Catholic doctrine, De la Cruz noted: “We must first distance ourselves from everything that fundamentalism signifies, from believing that doctrine can’t be touched. That would be the first temptation we would have, to believe that doctrine can’t be touched. Doctrine is there in order to reflect, to see.”
Regarding the topics the synod should address, “in the light of the word,” De la Cruz noted there is “without a doubt, the protagonism of women. The Church cannot turn its back on this entire movement, this growth, these victories of women. I’m going more specific. For example, in the case of the diaconate, we have to address priestly ministry.”
The Commission for the Study of the Female Diaconate was established for the first time by Pope Francis in August 2016. In May 2019, the Holy Father indicated that he was not afraid to study the topic further, “but up to this moment it doesn’t work.” In April 2020, the pontiff established a new commission to review the issue.
St. John Paul II wrote in his 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis that the ministerial priesthood is reserved only for men and that the Church has no power to change this.
“On the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, the last clear word was pronounced by St. John Paul II, and this remains,” Pope Francis said during the press conference on his return trip from Sweden to Rome in November 2016.
De la Cruz also pointed out in his participation in the online event that “we would have to address mandatory celibacy; we will have to address Communion to all those who participate in the Eucharist as a feast of the Lord and as a community of faith, because we say that Eucharist is the meeting place of all brothers. ‘Ah, I encounter my brother, but to one group I don’t give anything to eat’ and I leave them hungry,” he added.
Canon 277 of the Code of Canon Law states: “Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and therefore are bound to celibacy, which is a special gift of God by which sacred ministers can adhere more easily to Christ with an undivided heart and are able to dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and humanity.”
Regarding the limits for the issues he mentioned, the bishop from the Dominican Republic commented that “the pope is very wise to sometimes leave that time for reflection. There are things that need time... When we often say that doctrine can’t be touched, the pope has pointed out the temptation of ‘backwardness.’ Rather, they don’t go to the doctrine as such, but to the ways in which we express and live the faith.”
“And God spoke to us concretely through Jesus at one time. He took up truths that in his time were difficult to address, yet he dared. I believe that we have to have that strength of Jesus, that daring, that ability to dare to propose things that have not been proposed,” the prelate said.
The bishop of San Francisco de Macorís also highlighted the importance of doctrine in seeking the truth and commented that “when we seek that truth about God it cannot be something non-dynamic; it has to be in motion.”
“I believe the synod has great possibilities,” O’Malley commented. “Of course, much will depend on us, the members of the Church, if we are willing to work with this issue and let the Holy Spirit guide us.”
Given the concern of many of the faithful who believe the synod is going to change the doctrine of the Church or that it is going to undermine the profession of faith, the cardinal said that “the idea of the Holy Father is to help us live that beautiful principle that we received from St. Augustine: unity in the essential, freedom in the accidental, and charity in everything.”
“I believe that the Holy Father wants us to use as a paradigm for the Church the life of the early Church, which we find in the Acts of the Apostles. There is where we see a Church that had to face many very serious crises such as Judas’ betrayal, the difference between ethnic groups, and the theological debate on how to receive Gentiles into the Church,” the cardinal continued.
O’Malley highlighted that “the way to overcome those divisions and those challenges was prayer, dialogue, and the Holy Spirit.”
During his participation, Cabrera referred to the issue of ideologies and said that these are partial visions of reality and each one of them “sometimes tries to declare itself as the only way and there we fall into a serious problem.”
“How to break with that? For us the first point of reference is the word of God. In these two thousand years we have a magisterium and a doctrine, which are very little known,” the bishop said. “The ideology is there, but if we analyze from the word, from the magisterium, we can overcome it.”
Eva Fernández highlighted the need of formation for the faithful: “a comprehensive formation for life that helps us to live our faith coherently in the midst of the world, and above all in that great unknown — which academics help us a lot here — the social doctrine of the Church.”
Liberation theology and the poor
Later in the online conversation, De la Cruz commented that “the synod becomes that light that is waking us up, keeping us alert in the face of all the problems. In the case of social issues, it has to do, especially in Latin America, with the rise of liberation theology, which was strongly attacked. “So those priests who were involved in social life found themselves persecuted and rejected.”
“In Latin America, it’s no secret that all this tension that was experienced around liberation theology caused that inaction we have today in concern for social issues,” he added.
“The neoliberal message,” he continued, “that the poor cannot be helped, that the poor must be given the hook to fish, that also permeated the Church in a negative way and this has also led to that certain inaction of not worrying about social matters.”
“The synod is encouraging us to look again towards the poorest,” he concluded.
Liberation theology, which arose during the second half of the 20th century, presents an analysis of social reality from historical materialism. Many of its postulates were criticized during the pontificate of St. John Paul II and by the then-prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would later become Pope Benedict XVI.
Several of its main ideologues abandoned the Church or held ideas contrary to the magisterium. Some even became guerrilla fighters, such as the Colombian priest Father Camilo Torres.
In May 2022, Pope Francis addressed a video message to the Pontifical Commission for Latin America in which he said that at the beginning of liberation theology, “Marxist analysis was played with a lot” and they didn’t have “the slightest idea” of the Latin American reality.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Posted on 09/20/2023 13:04 PM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, Sep 20, 2023 / 10:04 am (CNA).
Pope Francis extolled Wednesday the “apostolic zeal” of St. Daniele Comboni, an Italian missionary priest and bishop who fought to end slavery in Africa.
Comboni witnessed “the horror of slavery” as a missionary in the mid-19th century in what is now Sudan. In his writings, he spoke of slavery more than 450 times and decried how the slave trade “degrades humankind and turns human beings, endowed like all of us with the light of intelligence, a ray of divinity and image of the most holy Trinity, to the dismal condition of animals.”
Pope Francis shared the “energetic and prophetic” life story of the founder of the Comboni missionary orders during his general audience on Sept. 20.
“Comboni’s dream was that of a Church who makes common cause with those who are crucified in history, so as to experience the resurrection with them,” Pope Francis said.
Speaking to an estimated 15,000 people in St. Peter’s Square, the pope pointed to Comboni as an example of how Christians are “called to fight every form of slavery.”
“Slavery, like colonialism, is not something from the past, unfortunately,” he added.
“In Africa … political exploitation gave way to an ‘economic colonialism’ that was equally enslaving,” he said, quoting a speech he gave in the Democratic Republic of Congo earlier this year.
Comboni summed up his vision for evangelization in Africa with the words “Save Africa with Africa,” a mindset that Pope Francis called “a powerful insight devoid of colonialism.”
“St. Daniel Comboni wanted every Christian to participate in the evangelizing enterprise,” he said. “With this spirit, he integrated his thoughts and actions, involving the local clergy and promoting the lay service of catechists.”
Comboni was born in 1831 into a poor family in a town on the shores of Lake Garda in northern Italy. After discovering his vocation to the priesthood, he was inspired by the stories he heard from missionary priests returning from Africa.
At the age of 26, he joined a missionary expedition bound for Khartoum, Sudan, in 1857, three years after he was ordained to the priesthood.
After two years in Africa, three of the five other missionaries Comboni had traveled with had died, and Comboni also became ill.
Comboni wrote to his parents: “We will have to toil, sweat, die, but the thought that we sweat and die for the love of Jesus Christ and the health of the most abandoned souls in the world is too sweet to make us give up on the great undertaking.”
The Italian missionary priest later wrote that the African people “have taken possession of my heart that lives for them alone.”
Pope Francis highlighted how “Comboni’s great missionary passion” came from “the joy of the Gospel, drawn from Christ’s love, which then led to Christ’s love.”
The priest wrote: “The Eucharistic Jesus is my strength.”
Comboni was appointed apostolic vicar of Central Africa and ordained a bishop in 1877. He died in Sudan in 1881 amid a cholera epidemic. His legacy lives on in the religious orders he founded, which are now known as the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus and the Comboni Missionary Sisters, and are present in 42 countries on five continents.
“St. Daniele testifies to the love of the Good Shepherd who goes in search of the one who is lost and gives his life for the flock. His zeal was energetic and prophetic in being opposed to indifference and exclusion,” Pope Francis said.
“In his letters, he earnestly called out his beloved Church who had forgotten Africa for too long. … His witness seems to want to repeat to all of us, men and women of the Church: ‘Do not forget the poor — love them — for Jesus crucified is present in them, waiting to rise again.’”