Browsing News Entries

Peruvian archbishop withdraws defamation suit against journalist

Piura, Peru, Apr 24, 2019 / 03:55 pm (CNA).- The Archbishop of Piura, Peru, José Antonio Eguren, announced that he will withdraw a complaint of aggravated defamation against journalist Pedro Salinas, who was found guilty and convicted in the first instance by a Peruvian court.

In a statement published April 24, the archbishop said that "today I have presented before the First Unipersonal Criminal Court of Piura my request for withdrawal of the complaint filed against the journalist Pedro Salinas Chacaltana for the crime of aggravated defamation towards me."

On April 22, the results of an April 8 judgment against Salinas were released. Judge Judith Cueva Calle sentenced Salinas to one year of probation and a fine of 80 thousand soles (about $24,000) for the crime of aggravated defamation against Archbishop José Antonio Eguren Anselmi.

In his statement, Eguren said the judgment provoked "a series of unjustified reactions, even within the Church , which I consider to impact a higher good, namely the unity of the Mystical Body of Christ."

"As a bishop, my first responsibility is to watch over the portion of the People of God entrusted to me. For this reason, without prejudice to the outcome of the judicial process, I have decided to renounce my right to defend my reputation and good name," he said.

The archbishop recalled that "my intention in presenting the lawsuit against Mr. Salinas, was to defend the fundamental right that we all have to the good name, to reflect on the value of the honor of the people, and to prevent those who would make false and offensive accusations without more foundation.”

Therefore, he said, "I trust that this decision will be understood in its proper dimension and can contribute to the unity of Peruvians and our Church, so important in the country’s current moment.”

The case of Pedro Salinas

Pedro Salinas is co-author of the book "Mitad Monjes, Mitad soldados," published in 2015, which recounts the sexual, physical and psychological abuses committed by Luis Fernando Figari, founder of the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, and other members of the same group. Eguren himself is a member of the group.

On Aug. 15, 2018, Eguren filed an aggravated defamation lawsuit against Salinas for comparing him in a January article to the Chilean bishop Juan Barros, who was accused of covering up the sexual abuse of ex-priest Fernando Karadima.

According to Salinas, Eguren himself would have a part of the system of physical, psychological and sexual abuse within the Sodalitium.

In the article, Salinas also cited an Al Jazeera article that accused Eguren of illegal land dealings in the city of Piura.

The archbishop reiterated in a statement on April 14 that Salinas declined to rectify those accusations and "dismissed all the information that was sent to him, via a notary, which proved that what he said was false."

In the same statement, he said that he requested that Salinas not be incarcerated, and that any civil judgment imposed on the journalist be donated to a shelter unconnected with the Sodalitium.

Judgment is a "historical fact"

Percy García Cavero, Eguren’s attorney, told ACI Prensa April 24 that the judgment against Salinas is a "historical fact,” and that Eguren decided to withdraw from the lawsuit because "he understands that there are higher interests, that in the present moment of the Church, require him to renounce the right to defend his honor. "

"The purpose is obviously to maintain unity and avoid any type of damage to the process of reparation and accompaniment to the victims of the Sodalitium," the attorney explained.

In this regard, he noted that the withdrawal of the complaint "is not a victory for Salinas, because Archbishop Eguren is not suggesting that is was wrong for him to complain, on the contrary.”

"He recognizes that he had every right, that his honor has been tainted and that an independent judge said so," said Garcia Cavero.

The lawyer said that the issue "is legally settled," recalling that the "sentence issued by the judge of first instance is fully valid in terms of legal oath."

"It is important reference for journalists in terms of regular practice of the profession and I think it should be a resolution of analysis in different legal and journalistic academic environments," he said.

This quarrel was a "historical fact that will not disappear because there was a process and a valid pronouncement that determined that Mr. Salinas Chacaltana slandered Archbishop Eguren," he said.

"Although there is no penalty, civil compensation or any sentence, the sentence has a moral content," he added.

The Sodalitium Christianae Vitae is a society of apostolic life founded in Peru to which the director of CNA, Alejandro Bermúdez, belongs.

 

This report was originally published by ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish-language sister agency. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Rev. Walter Kedjierski Named as Executive Director of Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

WASHINGTON— Rev. Walter Kedjierski of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York has been appointed as Executive Director of the Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), based in Washington D.C.

Fr. Kedjierski will begin the new position effective June 3, 2019. Msgr. Brian Bransfield, USCCB General Secretary, made the appointment.

"Fr. Kedjierski brings to the Conference an abundance of knowledge and experience in the realm of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, both at the institutional and the personal levels,” said Msgr. Bransfield. "I am very grateful to Fr. Kedjierski for accepting this important position in service to the bishops and to the Conference. I am equally grateful to the Most Reverend John O. Barres, Bishop of Rockville Centre, for his kind consideration of the needs of the Conference and the Church in the United States.”

Since June 2017, Fr. Kedjierski has served as Rector/President of the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, New York, where he first served as Vice Rector and Director of Diaconate Formation, as well as Director of the Sacred Heart Institute for the Continuing Formation of Clergy. Father Kedjierski is also the Director of the Diocese’s Office of Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Affairs, where he served from 2007 to 2010 as Associate Ecumenical officer in charge of Relations with Muslims and Other Religious groups, and in which role he is a member of the Catholic Association of Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers (CADEIO), the Long Island Council of Churches, and the Long Island Multi-Faith Forum. Father Kedjierski was a member of the board of trustees of the Inter-Faith Center of the Islamic Center of Long Island, in Westbury, NY, for three years. He has participated in sessions of the USCCB’s dialogue with the Orthodox Union of Rabbis in New York and facilitated numerous ecumenical and inter-religious dialogues, the latest being a dialogue on non-violence this past fall with Indian Hindu scholar Swami Nikhileswarananda.

Fr. Kedjierski attended the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, graduating with a Master of Divinity in May of 2002. After his ordination to the priesthood on June 8, 2002, he served in parish ministry until June 2016. In May 2011 he earned an Ed.D. in Inter-faith and Ecumenical Education from the Graduate Theological Foundation in Mishawaka, Indiana, and in August 2016, he earned his Ph.D. in Dogmatic/Spiritual Theology from the Graduate Theological Foundation’s Foundation House at Oxford University Program.

Fr. Kedjierski has additionally published several articles on theological and ecumenical topics in journals such as Homiletic and Pastoral Review and the Princeton Theological Review.

---

Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Diocese of Rockville Centre, Fr. Walter Kedjierski, Secretariat Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Monsignor Brian Bransfield

###
Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

Catholic church vandalized in Northern Ireland

Belfast, Northern Ireland, Apr 23, 2019 / 04:01 pm (CNA).- A Catholic church in Northern Ireland was desecrated with paint in the early hours of Easter Sunday morning, receiving disapproval from political officials.

Sacred Heart Church in Ballyclare, about 13 miles north of Belfast, had white paint thrown on it after midnight April 21.

Police arrested a 26 year-old man related to the “criminal damage.” He has cooperated with the police and has been released on bail.

A 35 year-old woman was also warned by the police for assisting an offender.

Noreen McClelland, a local politician of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, lamented the incident, saying, according to The Irish News: “This is an appalling, senseless act, the motive being to cause hurt and distress to the Catholic community of Ballyclare. Easter Sunday is a special date in the Christian calendar and for the congregation to find their church defaced in such a way is totally unacceptable.”

Members from the Democratic Unionist Party also spoke against the vandalism. MP Paul Girvan and assembly members Pam Cameron and Trevor Clarke released a joint statement, noting that these actions did not represent the community as a whole.

"All places of worship should be free from attack and from the fear of attack,” they said, according to The Irish News. “We stand with our neighbours at this time and assure them of our support.”

Religious disputes have long been part of the history of Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom and has been predominantly Protestant, while the majority-Catholic Republic of Ireland gained its independence in 1916.

The region has had ongoing religiously and politically based conflicts, most notably “the Troubles”, which included violent clashes that lasted from the late 1960s until 1998, when the Good Friday Agreement was struck.

Since 1998, there has been only sporadic sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.

In July, St. Mary's church in Limavady was vandalized with sectarian graffiti. Paramilitary slogans from an anti-Catholic group marked a door and some of the walls of the church, and a large crucifix outside of the church was also painted on.

In October 2017, the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force made threats which forced four Catholic families to flee their homes at a social housing project in Belfast.

Recent demographic figures have suggested that Catholics will likely outnumber Protestants in Northern Ireland by 2021. According to the last census, in 2011, Protestants outnumbered Catholics in Northern Ireland by just three percent.

Salvation is found in Jesus - not in ideologies - says Cuban priest

Havana, Cuba, Apr 23, 2019 / 03:05 pm (CNA).- While recent policy changes in the U.S. have left the people of Cuba facing increasing uncertainty, the message of the Catholic Church is always that security is ultimately found in Christ, said a priest from the island nation.

“This is the task of the Church: to say that salvation is found only is Jesus, who gives concrete, precise answers to the person seeking the truth,” said Fr. Yosvany Carvajal, pastor of the Cathedral of the Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Havana and director of the Father Felix Varela Cultural Center.

“Ideologies don't save people, ideologies are ideas. They are a body of ideas that exist in various political systems; but man's definitive salvation is found only in that true man and true God who has come to speak to us of an everlasting love that saves,” the priest told Vatican News April 21.

He highlighted the participation of the faithful in the Holy Week celebrations, saying that although the Church in Cuba is poor, it is “a living Church” with hope in “the Risen One who has conquered death, sin and evil.”

Religious celebrations were publicly banned in Cuba after the triumph of Fidel Castro's revolution. However, Christmas became a holiday beginning in 1997, as a concession to the request by Saint John Paul II before his visit in January 1998.

Likewise, during his visit to Cuba in March 2012, Benedict XVI made the same request for Good Friday. The communist government allowed its celebration as an exception in 2012 and 2013, and made it an official holiday beginning in 2014.

Carvajal said the faith of the Cuban people can be seen particularly clearly during Holy Week.

“Signs of Christianity are seen everywhere, and also popular religiosity. You can see that all this is alive, present in the people,” the priest said. He pointed to the high participation in Good Friday services as a sign that the people desire to be close to Christ in his Church.

The Cuban priest also said the Church in the country “is a Church that accompanies the people, which is suffering, especially these days due to the embargo policy.”

Last week, the Trump administration announced new penalties and tighter sanctions on Cuba. Among the new policies is the activation of a previously unused provision allowing U.S. citizens to sue foreign companies that operate on property confiscated by the government following the Castro revolution.

As a result of this, Carvajal said, “the population is going through hard times because they don't know what is going to happen.”

“The economic situation is not easy, but the Cuban people are a joyful people,” he said, and they never lose “the sense of the joy of living.”

He recalled the visits that Saint John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis made to Cuba, which “helped greatly the Church to not be afraid.”

“The people now find themselves in this difficult situation following the measures announced by the U.S. Government. There is concern,” he noted. “But with the message of the Gospel we must always announce the joy and hope of the definitive triumph of Christ. We must always continue on this path of announcing reconciliation and dialogue as the only possible way of seeking the true good.”

 

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

Bishops Urge That All People Count and Must Be Included in Census Efforts

WASHINGTON—Bishop Frank Dewane, of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and Bishop Joe Vasquez, of Austin, Chairman of the Committee on Migration, issued the following statement in advance of the oral argument of Department of Commerce v. New York, before the United States Supreme Court regarding the importance of ensuring an accurate count for the U.S. Census.

“Our country conducts a Census every ten years to count the number of men, women and children residing in the United States. Census data helps direct more than $800 billion annually to key programs designed to advance the common good, strengthen families and reduce poverty. The Catholic Church and other service providers rely on the national Census to provide an accurate count in order to effectively serve those in need,” said Bishop Dewane.

“We urge for all people to be counted in the Census, regardless of their citizenship. Proposed questions regarding immigration status will obstruct accurate Census estimates and ultimately harm immigrant families and the communities they live in. Our society, rooted in the strength of the family, cannot risk missing this opportunity to give children and parents the tools they need to succeed,” said Bishop Vasquez.
---
Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop Joe Vasquez, Committee on Migration, Department of Commerce, New York, United States Supreme Court, U.S. Census, society, family

###
Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

Porn restrictions further delayed in UK, now scheduled for July launch

London, England, Apr 22, 2019 / 06:34 am (CNA).- The United Kingdom has once again delayed the launch of its constraints on virtual porn. The online age verification program is now scheduled to launch mid-summer.

Digital Minister Matt Hancock signed a commencement order for the Digital Economy Act in 2017 as a means to curb pornography access by those under 18.

After two years of development and numerous delays, the program is now scheduled to be released on July 15. A few parts of the program have been updated since the project was originally expected to launch on April 1.

To view online pornography, internet users will need to confirm their age by entering information from a driver’s license, credit card, or passport. If users do not wish to input their personal information, they may purchase a special ID card, available at thousands of retail shops across the nation for under £10.

For a website to be monitored, more than a third of the site must be dedicated to pornography, ruling out platforms such as Twitter and Reddit, which are known to have small pockets of pornography. Non-commercial pornographic sites will also be exempt.
Government officials say they hope social media companies will make an effort to protect children from encountering pornographic material.

“We know that pornography is available on some social media platforms and we expect those platforms to do a lot more to create a safer environment for children,” a Department of Digital Culture, Media and Sport spokesman told the BBC.

“If we do not see action then we do not rule out legislating in the future to force companies to take responsibility for protecting vulnerable users from the potentially harmful content that they host,” the spokesman said.

Originally, websites that failed to follow the age verification rules were expected to face a nearly $330,000 fine, but this will not be enforced because of the difficulty enforcing payment from porn companies overseas. Rather, the government said a threat to block noncompliant websites should be sufficient to ensure conformity, the BBC reported.

In March, Matt Fradd, author of The Porn Myth and creator of the new 21-day porn detox STRIVE, voiced support for increased restrictions surrounding pornography.

“If it’s something as simple as age verification, I’m all for it,” he told CNA. “It just sounds like we are expecting the same thing of people online that we already expect of them offline.”

Among the available age verification services is AgeID, built by MindGeek, which operates and owns several common pornographic sites.

Some critics of the new UK policy say it violates the privacy of pornography users.

“Data leaks could be disastrous. And they will be the government's own fault,” said Jim Killock from the Open Rights Group, according to the BBC.

The UK’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) said the age verification is a valuable first step, but that other measures need to be taken alongside it.

“The NSPCC is calling for social networks to be required by law to give under-18s safe accounts with extra protections built in, so that children are kept as safe online as they are in the real world,” read a statement from the organization, according to BirminghamLive.

Children’s access to online pornography has been identified as a significant problem: A 2016 study by internet security company Bitdefender found that about 1 in 10 visitors to porn video sites is under age 10.

Fight the New Drug, an organization that works to educate on the harmful effects of pornography, has highlighted numerous studies showing the negative impact of pornography on underage users, including the creation of addictions, changes in sexual taste, and physical impact on the brain.

“Just more broadly, I would say pornography perverts a child’s understanding of human intimacy and sexual life, which is a very beautiful thing,” Fradd stressed.

“It’s as pernicious as sex is beautiful and human intimacy is worthwhile. Since those two things are beautiful and worthwhile, the corruption of it [in regards to] a child is all together something despicable and horrid.”
 

Easter can correct society's 'bitterness and intolerance' – English bishop

Shrewsbury, England, Apr 21, 2019 / 03:01 pm (CNA).- Easter is not a time for political debate, but is rather an opportunity to encounter the pinnacle of the faith – Christ’s death and resurrection, Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury said in his homily for the feast.

At the April 21 Mass said at Shrewsbury Cathedral, Bishop Davies referred to increasing political bitterness and an indifference to Easter's significance.  

“Everything rests on the witness given by those who, on that first Easter morning, came to ‘see and believe'; on the witness of the Apostles and their Successors who stand with Peter in testimony that ‘God raised Jesus to life',” he said.

“In Christ’s Resurrection, we see how human life is no longer destined for death but for everlasting life and happiness. This is the joy of Easter that never fades.”

Easter is a celebration of the Christian foundation, he said, but it is not an excuse for clergyman to criticize on passing political opinions nor is it a time when political sentiments should be prioritized.

“All of our Christian faith and the whole of Christian civilisation depends on this Day,” he said.

“[Political] choices ought not to concern us on this greatest day in the Christian Calendar,” he further added.

This Easter has come at a time of much political strife, he said, noting that English society has seen a deterioration in people’s civility toward those who hold opposing beliefs. As tolerance has declined so has the culture’s comprehension of Easter and truth, he said.

“A deepening bitterness and intolerance in British society must surely be a concern for us all. It might even mark a change in our national character as disagreement and difference now too often leads to anger; enmity; no-platforming; and even threats of violence and death to those in public life.”

“We might trace this breakdown in our civility and gentle tolerance to the loss of the greater horizons which Easter celebrates. In many western societies, we see a descent into an irrationalism in which there is only ‘my truth’ and ‘your truth,’ with no hope of basing our lives and society on what is enduringly and always true. Yet, passing questions of public policy must always be seen from the perspective of what is lasting.”

He pointed to the 2010 visit of Benedict XVI to England, in which the then-pope “observed that if the only thing underpinning our democracy is an ever-changing social consensus, then the real challenge to democracy and social cohesion lies in our losing hold of the very truths which made our civilisation and society possible.”

“It is in Christ – the only person ever to have said, ‘I am the truth’ – that we find the enduring truth about the human person which has long formed the basis of our civility, our understanding of human rights and of a rule of law worth defending.”

As the British Parliament takes a break for Easter, pausing debate on Brexit, Bishop Davies applauded the respite. He expressed hope that this Easter would “return to the foundations that should always underpin our national debates.”

“On this Easter Day, we hear Saint Paul urge the first believers to cast out everything that is malice and to seek 'sincerity and truth'. This is surely the path we, too, should take for the healing of society and the recovery of our tolerance.”

“May the light of this Easter Day lead us gently as a nation to ‘see and believe’ God’s great purpose for us, and so to recognise anew the truth by which we and all of human society can be saved,” he said.

 

President of U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Statement on Terrorist Attacks atMultiple Churches and Hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday

WASHINGTON—The following statement has been issued by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United StatesConference of Catholic Bishops regarding simultaneous explosions in Sri Lanka targeting the country’s minority Christian community as well as luxury hotels around Colombo on Easter Sunday morning. At least 200 people were killed and more than 400 injured inthe terrorist attacks.

Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

“This morning in Sri Lanka a coordinated series of bombings killed hundreds of worshipers in Catholic Churches and others of all faiths in nearby hotels. The Churches were St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo and Zion Church in the eastern city of Batticaloa. This great evil targeted these churches as they were packed full of worshipers who were celebrating Easter, the day in whichChristians around the world celebrate the rising of the King of Peace from the dead. We offer our prayers for the victims and their families. And we join with all people of good will in condemning these acts of terrorism. This evil cannot overcome the hopefound in our Savior’s Resurrection. May the God of hope who has raised his Son, fill all hearts with the desire for peace.”

Keywords: Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, bombings, terrorist attacks, Colombo, Sri Lanka, CatholicChurches, Evangelical Churches, Luxury Hotels, Easter Sunday, Christians, St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, Zion Church

###

Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

 

 

Wooden church- an 'ephemeral cathedral' could go up as Notre-Dame is restored

Paris, France, Apr 19, 2019 / 08:02 am (CNA).- After a massive fire gutted the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris April 15, the cathedral’s rector says a temporary wooden church might soon be constructed in the esplanade, or plaza, adjacent to the cathedral.

Monsignor Patrick Chauvet told France’s CNews April 18 that he was exploring plans to build an “ephemeral cathedral” adjacent to Notre Dame, where cleanup and construction are expected to begin soon.

Mass would be celebrated and confessions offered at the temporary structure, Chauvet suggested, adding that Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo is a supporter of the idea.

"We mustn't say 'the cathedral is closed for five years' and that's it," Chauvet said Thursday.

There is no formal estimate yet for how long the cathedral restoration will take. While France’s President Emmanuel Macron has said that he would like to see restoration completed within five years, experts say that possibility is extremely unlikely.

Nearly one billion euro have been pledged to the restoration effort.

While the images of the cathedral’ exterior suggested nearly total devastation after the fire, inside the cathedral’s vaulted stone ceiling mostly held, and protected many of the cathedral's religious and historical treasures from the flames.

The cathedral’s famed rose windows, its bell towers and massive bells, and its organ were all intact after the fire. The Church’s most important religious items were spared from the fire: the Eucharist, and relics of Christ’s crown of thorns and cross were saved during the fire.

 

Holy Week terrorism suspect arrested

Seville, Spain, Apr 18, 2019 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- Authorities from Spain and Morocco have arrested a 23 year old man in Rabat, Morocco, who is suspected of planning an attack  during Holy Week celebrations in the Spanish city of Seville.

According to Spanish federal police, Spain’s National Intelligence Center and the Moroccan secret service, 23-year-old Zouhair el Bouhdidi was planning detonate explosives during Holy Week processions in Seville, the city in which he lived.

The arrest took place after the Spanish authorities informed the Moroccans that el Bouhdidi had traveled to Morocco, allegedly in preparation for the attack, according to Spanish newspaper El Confidencial.

The police searched his Seville residence April 17.

The Islamic State had called for attacks during Holy Week in Spain in a video broadcast on propaganda channels. The video encouraged ISIS followers or supporters to act in the name of “holy war,” and  showed images of processions on the streets of Valencia and Malaga alongside scenes in which pedestrians are mowed down by vehicles.

The Spanish Interior Minister had reinforced security details beginning last week because of the Holy Week celebrations and the upcoming elections.

Seville’s Holy Week processions have widely recognized for their beauty, and they annually attract throngs of tourists.

 

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