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Mississippi bishops denounce racism in 4th of July letter

CNA Staff, Jul 7, 2020 / 01:12 pm (CNA).- The bishops of Mississippi’s two Catholic dioceses called on their priests to preach about racism and highlighted the Church’s anti-racism teachings in a letter to the state’s Catholics on July 4. 

Bishop Louis Kihnemann of Biloxi and Bishop Joseph Kopacz of Jackson issued an unequivocal call for all Catholics to reject racism in society in their joint Independence Day letter.

“We join our voices to vehemently denounce racism, a plague among us. It is an evil and a force of destruction that eats away at the soul of our nation. Ultimately, it is a moral problem that requires a moral remedy—a transformation of the human heart—and compels us to act,” said the letter. 

The bishops offered a list of “practical suggestions and goals” for the two dioceses in Mississippi on how to work to end racism. These include, on the parish level, a reading of the USCCB’s “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love -- A Pastoral Letter Against Racism”; homilies speaking against racism and promoting “personal responsibility to eradicate it and encourage dialog”; prayers to end racism and injustice at Mass; listening seminars for members of the parish and wider community; and invitations for chaplains and police departments “to join seminars and discussions on racism.”

Individually, the bishops suggested that Catholics read Open Wide Our Hearts and other texts concerning Catholic Social Teaching; to learn more about history and causes of racism; vote; to “not take part in racial or discriminatory humor”; work on strengthening family life; and to “speak out whenever you see injustice, racism or discrimination.” 

The bishops’ letter comes at a time when many monuments and artifacts of the Confederacy are being removed around the country, including Mississippi. Last month, lawmakers in Mississippi voted to change the state flag, which included an emblem of the Confederate battle flag. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed the bill altering the flag into law on June 30. 

The flag had flown in its previous form since 1894. 

The bishops said that an honest appraisal of history is necessary to “recognize our participation in the chains of racism,” and to acknowledge that “significant numbers of African Americans are born into economic and social disparity.” 

“Generations of African Americans were disadvantaged by slavery, wage theft, ‘Jim Crow’ laws, and the systematic denial of access to numerous wealth-building opportunities reserved for others,” they added. These effects, when added up, have led to “social structures of injustice and violence,” they said. 

Pointing to the recent widespread protests and rallies “against the tyranny of racism” in response to the “heartless killing of George Floyd,” the bishops stated that a “critical mass” has been reached that has “exploded across our nation and beyond.” 

In their Independence Day letter, the bishops acknowledged that “for many of our fellow citizens, interactions with the police are often fraught with fear and even danger,” but that they also “reject harsh rhetoric that belittles and dehumanizes our law enforcement personnel as a whole,” as well as violence and riots. 

At the USCCB’s Fall General Assembly in November 2018, the bishops endorsed the Cause for Canonization of Sr. Thea Bowman, an African-American religious sister from Mississippi who often spoke out in favor of racial justice. In their July 4 letter, the bishops repeatedly cited Bowman’s work, and agreed with her declaration that low self-esteem due to repeated criticisms from “racist society” was “one of the great problems of the black community.” 

“The enduring call to love is the heart of the matter and the antidote to this toxin,” said the bishops.  

“Love is an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace. For many in Mississippi who strive to live by the Word of God, we cannot ignore the prophets,” they added.

The bishops vowed to “recommit ourselves to continue to liberate the Church from the evil of racism,” which “severely compromises our mission to make disciples of all nations in the name of Jesus Christ.” 

“With the ordained priests and deacons, religious and laity in our diocese we pledge ourselves to strengthen our Catholic tradition to educate, to serve, and to empower all who are on the margins in our communities, especially those who are oppressed by the yoke of racism,” they said. 

“We are not powerless, and the witness of Sister Thea’s life is an icon of hope that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Pro-life MP hails ‘clear victory’ over abortion amendments

CNA Staff, Jul 7, 2020 / 06:15 am (CNA).- A leading pro-life MP welcomed the defeat Monday of attempts to strip away protections for unborn children in the U.K.

Fiona Bruce, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, told CNA July 7 that the result was a “clear victory” for the pro-life movement.

A group of MPs sought to introduce two amendments July 6 removing restrictions on abortion to a bill aimed at combating domestic abuse.

The first, New Clause 28, would have permitted women in abusive relationships to undergo both medical and surgical abortions in any location. 

The second, New Clause 29, would have introduced abortion for any reason up to 28 weeks. 

The first clause was withdrawn after it became clear that it would not be backed by a majority of MPs.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of the House of Commons, ruled that the second clause would not be selected for debate, deeming it “out of scope” of the Domestic Abuse Bill.

Bruce said: “I and other MPs, Members of the Pro-Life All Party Parliamentary Group, are delighted at this clear victory.”

“Thank you to everyone who wrote to their MP -- and prayed -- about the concerning amendments proposed to the Domestic Abuse Bill, which would have brought in the most significant -- and disturbing -- changes to our abortion laws in 50 years, none of which were passed by the House of Commons last night.”

“Indeed one of them, New Clause 29, was not even allowed to be debated by the Speaker: he deemed it ‘out of scope’ before the debate even began.”

Bruce, the Conservative MP for Congleton, continued: “I was very pleased that the proposer of the other -- New Clause 28 -- proposing an extension of the temporary emergency provisions for the provision of ‘at-home abortion pills’ during the current coronavirus crisis, withdrew it.” 

“As the debate went on, with many strong contributions from pro-life MPs against New Clause 28, it became clear to MPs in the chamber of the House of Commons that if New Clause 28 was put to a vote the proposers of this dangerous clause risked a serious defeat.”

Bruce noted that pro-life MPs also won a commitment from the Government to review temporary measures on at-home medical abortions before it takes further action.

“It is to be hoped, and we need to ensure, that this review -- consultation -- will properly and fairly highlight safety concerns around the taking of ‘at-home abortion pills’ which have been highlighted in recent press reports,” she said.

The government announced in March that women would be allowed to perform medical abortions at home until the coronavirus crisis ends. In May, it was reported that police were investigating a case in which a mother took home abortion pills while 28 weeks pregnant, four weeks past the legal abortion time limit.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), which oversees the “pills by post” service, reportedly confirmed that it was looking into the case, along with eight others in which women were beyond the 10-week limit for medical ­abortions at home.

Commenting on Monday’s vote, Carla Lockhart, the Democratic Unionist Party MP for Upper Bann, told CNA: “I am delighted that the majority of MPs voted against this abhorrent legislation being implemented in GB. It shows how low the anti-life brigade will stoop to attempt to hijack a very worthy bill on domestic abuse.

“I make no apology for being a pro-life MP, I used my maiden speech to champion this cause, and will continue to give a voice to the voiceless in this Parliament.”

Dr Helen Watt, senior research fellow at the Anscombe Bioethics Centre in Oxford, told CNA July 6 that it was “a huge relief” that neither of the two amendments were incorporated into the Domestic Abuse Bill.

She said: “For years, the abortion lobby has been pushing for home abortions, and COVID-19 provided the pretext to introduce them. Already, this temporary permission has led to on-the-ground use of abortion pills far beyond the ‘right’ gestation: in a harrowing recent case, one baby killed by home abortion was stillborn at 28 weeks.” 

“It would be unconscionable to entrench permanently home abortions for genuine abuse cases, not least as abusive environments are precisely those in which coercion to abort is most likely, while such coercion is clearly harder to detect remotely.” 

Watt added that women who were not being abused might be tempted to claim that they were in order to gain access to the pills. 

“Checking the facts here is no easier than checking for coercion, gestational age or possible ectopic pregnancy,” she said.

“Home abortions are not only lethal to the baby but carry real harms and risks for the mother: women with crisis pregnancies need swift in-person help, not remote, abortion-focused consultations.”

Ahead of Monday’s House of Commons debate, an English bishop urged Catholics to contact their MPs to express their concern about the amendments. Bishop John Sherrington said that the proposals would “leave the U.K. with the most extreme abortion legislation in Europe.”

He said: “This is being presented as decriminalizing abortion but it would, if carried, do far more than that. It would result in the introduction of abortion on demand, for any reason, up until when a child is capable of being born alive, with a ceiling of 28 weeks.”

“It would leave the U.K. with the most extreme abortion legislation in Europe, where in nearly all countries the time limit for abortion is 12 weeks. The majority of our fellow citizens would like to see the current 24-week limit reduced, not increased.”

Last month official figures revealed that a record number of abortions took place in England and Wales in 2019.

The government said June 11 that a total of 209,519 abortions took place last year, more than in any other year since the practice was legalized by the Abortion Act 1967. 

Catherine Robinson, spokesperson for the charitable organization Right to Life UK, said: “This is a major victory for the unborn child and women facing unplanned pregnancies. These amendments would have left the unborn child with considerably worse protections and removed many of the current safeguards which protect women facing unplanned pregnancies.”

“Thank you to the thousands of people that rallied over the last week to get friends and family to email their MPs. MPs received more emails ahead of this vote than they have ever received ahead of an abortion vote.”

“Thank you to the amazing group of pro-life MPs in Parliament who have worked so hard to ensure that these extreme amendments were defeated.”

This report has been updated to include a comment from Carla Lockhart MP.

Primate of Poland: Church must rebuild trust amid abuse crisis

CNA Staff, Jul 6, 2020 / 09:00 am (CNA).- The Catholic Church can only rebuild trust in its handling of clerical abuse by “taking responsibility for clarifying all crimes and omissions,” the Primate of Poland said Monday.

In a statement issued July 6, Archbishop Wojciech Polak noted the steps that the Polish bishops have taken in response to a burgeoning abuse crisis in the country. 

“I am convinced that only by standing in truth and taking responsibility for clarifying all crimes and omissions, we will rebuild our credibility and trust in the Church in Poland,” he said.

Polak is the Polish bishops’ delegate for the protection of children and youth. As the metropolitan archbishop of Gniezno, the Polish primatial see, he is the Primate of Poland.

His comments came a week after more than 600 people took out a full-page advertisement in the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica urging the pope to intervene in the growing abuse crisis in the country.

A Vatican spokesman said that Pope Francis had been informed of the appeal and was praying for those who sent it.

The Church in Poland has faced intense scrutiny of its handling of abuse allegations in the wake of a documentary film, Tell No One, which has been viewed almost 24 million times on YouTube since its release last year. 

In 2019, the Polish bishops’ conference issued a report which concluded that 382 clergy sexually abused a total of 624 victims between 1990 and 2018.

Polak recalled that the Polish bishops’ conference had appointed the Jesuit priest Fr. Adam Żak as its coordinator for the protection of children and youth in 2013.

Żak oversaw the establishment of a child protection center at the Ignatianum Academy in Kraków, which has trained 6,000 people, including priests and religious, in the past six years.

The Primate of Poland also highlighted the creation in 2019 by lay Catholics of a helpline, known as “Wounded in the Church,” to support the Church’s official abuse reporting system. 

He said that the Polish bishops’ safeguarding guidelines complied with the norms of the Holy See and Polish law, and had earned praise from Archbishop Charles Scicluna, one of the leading figures in the battle against clerical abuse.

“He assessed the documents and guidelines of the Polish bishops’ conference as being very good; but what counts is their application that in some cases malfunctions,” Polak said in his statement, which was issued by the Press Office of the Polish Bishops’ Conference.

The archbishop noted that he personally had reported a fellow bishop, Edward Janiak of Kalisz, to the Vatican under the law promulgated by the pope in June 2019 in the motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi

He said that he had taken the step after viewing the documentary film Hide and Seek, by brothers Marek and Tomasz Sekielski. In the follow-up to Tell No One, they alleged that Janiak had failed to take action against a priest accused of abuse. The bishop has denied the allegations.

“After watching the film, I could not remain silent or stay inactive in the face of the presented facts,” Polak said. 

Last month Pope Francis appointed an apostolic administrator to take charge of Janiak’s diocese while an investigation into the bishop’s actions is carried out.

“Reporting does not resolve the guilt and gives Bishop Edward Janiak a real chance to present arguments in his defense in the context of a canonical process. Judging the case is the exclusive competence of the Holy See,” the Polish Primate explained. 

Polak hailed the creation last year of the St. Joseph Foundation, which seeks to support abuse survivors and to safeguard minors within the Church in Poland.

“The establishment of the Foundation is an expression of solidarity of the Church in Poland with the victims,” he said.

The archbishop acknowledged that, despite progress in combating abuse, confidence in Church authorities had been shaken by the crisis. A survey in January, conducted by the research institute IBRiS, found that trust in the Church had fallen by 13 percentage points compared to 2017, down to 39.5%.

“We must honestly admit that despite the actions taken in Poland, we need to work constantly on changing our mentality. Still in this area there’s a lot to do,” he said.

“We must also honestly admit that the law in force in the Church is not respected everywhere, and not all victims receive the help they need. Ensuring the safety of children and young people in the Church is still a challenge for us.” 

English Catholic bishop: parishes see 'dramatic fall' in income following lockdown

CNA Staff, Jul 6, 2020 / 04:30 am (CNA).- An English bishop has said that parishes have seen “dramatic fall” in income as a result of the coronavirus lockdown.

Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury urged the government to step in to help dioceses struggling financially as a result of the pandemic. 

“The weeks of the national lockdown saw a dramatic fall of about a third in parish income. This is having a serious impact on the operation of parishes,” he told CNA. 

Mike Kane, a local Member of Parliament, raised the financial plight of the Diocese of Shrewsbury, in western England, in the House of Commons last month. 

He noted June 25 that the diocese’s income was down by a third since the government announced a nationwide lockdown March 23. He said that this loss of around $875,000 would have a long-term impact on the diocese’s ability to maintain its buildings.

Kane, the Labour MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East, urged the government to consider introducing an “enhanced gift aid scheme” to shore up diocesan finances.

In his comments to CNA, Davies said that he was grateful to Kane for raising the issue in Parliament.

He said: “We have been working to mitigate the impact at parish level and are grateful for parishioners who were able to continue giving support via online giving through the crisis otherwise the situation would be even more serious.”

“The Shrewsbury Diocese will be looking at what savings are possible by reducing costs or deferring expenditure. This sadly means that the largest outgoings in parishes on planned repairs and maintenance will be an area where savings will be sought.” 

The bishop said he was also concerned that building works would be more expensive than they were before the coronavirus crisis because “contractors have to pass on costs to allow them to operate within the bounds of COVID security.”

He echoed Kane’s call for changes to the Gift Aid scheme, which increases the value of donations by 25% by permitting charities to reclaim the basic rate tax already paid by the donor.

Davies said: “In 2008 there was a transitional relief scheme for Gift Aid to support charities when the income tax rate reduced from 22% to 20%, worth an estimated £100 million to charities at that time. A similar kind of enhanced arrangement is now needed to support charities, including dioceses across the country.”

“As this has already been an operational scheme, the mechanism for the delivery following lockdown should be feasible and easy for the government to put in place quickly.”

The U.K., which has a population of almost 67 million, has recorded 44,305 deaths from the virus as of July 6, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center -- the world’s third highest reported death toll after that of the United States and Brazil.

Catholic churches in England were permitted to reopen for individual, private prayer June 15. Public Masses resumed July 4, with stringent safety measures to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus.

Ennio Morricone, composer honored by Pope Francis, dies at 91

CNA Staff, Jul 6, 2020 / 03:15 am (CNA).- Ennio Morricone, an Oscar-winning Italian composer honored by Pope Francis, has died at the age of 91.

The Italian news agency Ansa reported July 6 that Morricone died in a Rome hospital Monday after he was admitted days earlier with a fractured femur. Morricone’s lawyer Giorgio Assumma said that the composer died at dawn “with the comfort of faith.”

A Rome native, he composed more than 100 classical works and 400 movie and television soundtracks. 

He is perhaps best known in the Catholic world for creating the soundtrack to “The Mission,” the 1986 movie depicting Spanish Jesuits’ efforts to protect indigenous people from enslavement in 18th-century South America. 

Morricone achieved international fame in the 1960s with his work on a trilogy of Westerns -- “A Fistful of Dollars,” “For a Few Dollars More,” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” -- directed by Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood.

He won an honorary Academy Award in 2007, and an Oscar for Best Original Score for Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” in 2016.

Pope Francis awarded the composer the Gold Medal of the Pontificate last year, in honor of his “extraordinary artistic work in the sphere of music, universal language of peace, solidarity and spirituality.”

The award was presented April 15, 2019, by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, in Rome’s Sant’Agnese in Agone church in Piazza Navona.

In an interview with the National Catholic Register in 2013, Morricone discussed the relationship between his faith and art. 

He said: “I do not think about my faith when I write a piece of music. I think of the music that I have to write -- music is an abstract art. But of course, when I have to write a religious piece, certainly my faith contributes to it.”

Morricone wrote the score for “Karol: a Man Who Became Pope,” portraying the early life of St. John Paul II, in 2006.

He also composed a Mass marking the 200th anniversary of the restoration of the Society of Jesus in 2015, dedicating it to Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope. 

The composer and his wife met Pope Francis before the premiere of the “Missa Papae Francisci.” 

Recalling that he cried when he met Francis, Morricone said: “Don’t get the idea that I burst into tears at every opportunity; those were the only two times I have ever cried -- when I first watched ‘The Mission’ and when I met the pope.”

Sagrada Familia invites medical workers to attend July 4 reopening

CNA Staff, Jul 3, 2020 / 11:00 am (CNA).- The Sagrada Família, designed by Antoni Gaudí, will reopen its doors July 4 following a more than 100-day closure due to the coronavirus crisis.

The unfinished basilica, which was forced to close to tourists March 13, will offer free entry to medical workers and their families Saturday in the first phase of its reopening.

Cardinal Juan José Omella, the archbishop of Barcelona and president of the Spanish bishops’ conference, will meet the presidents of the colleges of physicians, pharmacists, nurses, and physiotherapists on the same day, reported the website Religión Digital.

Entry in the first phase will also be extended to others engaged in the fight against the pandemic, including security guards, workers for social organizations and NGOs, and the staff of businesses and retail groups.

This tribute to Barcelona’s front-line workers will last for two weekends, July 4-5 and July 11-12.

In the second phase, called “Hora Barcelona” (“Barcelona Hour”), city residents will enjoy free entry to the basilica, in small groups and without the presence of tourists.

When the first batch of 37,000 tickets for the second phase was made available June 16, all the tickets were reserved within five hours. The second phase will cover the months of July and August.

In the third phase Sagrada Familia will admit both local and international tourists.

The basilica is expected to be completed in 2026, the centenary of Gaudí’s death.

Gaudí, a devout and ascetic figure, began working on the project in 1883. In 1914 he stopped all other works to focus exclusively on the basilica, to which he dedicated himself until his unexpected death.

He was struck by a tram in 1926, at the age of 73, while walking to Barcelona’s St. Philip Neri church for confession. Passers-by did not recognize the famed architect because of his worn-out clothes and lack of identity papers.

He died three days after the accident and was buried in the crypt of his unfinished basilica. His cause for canonization was opened in Rome in 2003.

Last month, the basilica finally received an official building permit, 137 years after its construction began.

Progress on the construction was initially slow as the works depended on private donations. Building work was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War, during which combatants set fire to the crypt and destroyed some of the architect’s designs and plaster models.

Gaudí created numerous celebrated works in Barcelona using his distinctive style inspired by natural forms and eschewing the sharp angles associated with modernist architecture. 

He summed up his approach by saying, “The straight line belongs to men, the curved one to God.”

When questioned about how long it would take to build the basilica, he reputedly said, “My client is not in a hurry” -- referring to God.

Vatican appeals for debt relief for developing countries at United Nations

Rome Newsroom, Jul 3, 2020 / 09:30 am (CNA).- The Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva is urging countries to help relieve the “crippling external debt burdens” of developing countries struggling in the coronavirus pandemic.

“There is no doubt that the current COVID-19 crisis will more severely affect the lives and livelihoods of those in the developing world,” Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič told the UN trade and development board July 2.

“The immediate challenge is to ensure that policymakers have the room and resources to respond to the health shock and to mitigate the accompanying economic damage. Whether and how this happens will have direct consequences for creating a fairer, more inclusive and resilient recovery,” the archbishop said.

The Vatican diplomat noted that one avenue that could soften the pandemic’s “potentially devastating impact” would be by “tackling the crippling external debt burdens accumulated, at both public and private levels, in developing countries over recent years.”

Poor countries owe billions of dollars to international financial institutions and wealthy nations. In April, G-20 countries agreed to suspend debt payments for the world’s poorest countries until the end of 2020. However, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) were not part of this offer.

The World Bank released data in June for 72 low-income countries’ debt statistics, including a breakdown of specific lenders.

This data revealed that China has surpassed the World Bank as the largest creditor to sub-Saharan Africa’s low-income countries. Analysis by the China Africa Research Initiative showed that China has lent $64 billion in Africa as of 2018.

Cardinal Muang Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar, called on China to write off the debts of other countries to help cover the cost of healthcare during the pandemic in April. Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, also appealed to rich countries to forgive the debts of poor countries, which are struggling to fund a coronavirus response.

In a virtual summit between Chinese and African leaders in June, China offered to cancel interest-free loans, which account for less than 5% of African countries’ debt to China, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

At the UN Conference on Trade and Development meeting, Archbishop Jurkovič said that it was “of utmost importance” that the international community take coordinated action “to deliver speedy and substantive debt relief to crisis-stricken developing countries who need it now more than ever, either because they already struggle under unsustainable debt burdens or because they are too poor to tackle the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.”

“Moving towards a more inclusive and sustainable world is not merely a matter of making markets work better,” he said. “It requires a more exacting and focussed agenda that addresses the systemic constraints on resource mobilization and technological diffusion, that mitigates growing asymmetries in market power arising from the lop-sided rules of a hyper-globalized world, and that corrects existing deficits in global economic governance and guarantees the policy space needed to match local challenges with international goals.”

Jurkovič said that roots of the crisis were not only economic, but had a moral dimension, adding there was a need for an “ethic of solidarity” that recognized “the primacy of being over having.”

“Over the last decade, we have learned that excessive liberalization and deregulation, allowing for markets and firms to regulate themselves, privileges short-term gains over long-term commitments. Of great concern is the ever-decreasing economic allocation to the health sector and the abuse and predation of the natural environment on which not just economic life, but all human life, ultimately depends,” he said.

The archbishop quoted Pope Francis’ Easter Urbi et Orbi message in which the pope called on all nations to “meet the greatest needs of the moment through the reduction, if not the forgiveness, of the debt burdening the balance sheets of the poorest nations.”

Cardinal says it is time to rebuild, as economic crisis hits northern Italy

Rome Newsroom, Jul 3, 2020 / 08:10 am (CNA).- A cardinal in northern Italy said Friday that the COVID-19 health crisis has created “immense” poverty in the area, and now is the time to rebuild, to take responsibility, and to share resources.

Indications from local charities and soup kitchens show that poverty in Bologna right now is “immense,” Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, the city’s archbishop, told journalists July 3. “The economic crisis has already started.”

“We should have a sense of great closeness, of solidarity, of sharing,” he said.

Zuppi, who was made a cardinal by Pope Francis last October, spoke to journalists in an informal online meeting organized by the Iscom Association. Since 2015, Zuppi has led the Archdiocese of Bologna, which is located in northern Italy, one of the regions worst hit by the novel coronavirus, with more than 28,000 total cases and 4,200 deaths.

The cardinal said the pandemic had involved everyone, at every level of the Church, and had given us “a sense of responsibility” and “an opportunity for sharing resources.”

Reconstruction, he added, would require “much humility and much determination,” not unlike Italy’s efforts in the post-war period.

Zuppi also referenced the idea of society’s “next to lasts” (“penultimi” in Italian), and the need to look out for those people in this period. Unlike society’s weakest, such as the homeless and those in abject poverty, the “next to lasts” are those one often does not realize are in need of help, who now, due to job losses, are really struggling. 

In the rebuilding period, the cardinal said there were two temptations to avoid. One was to want to change everything and another was to want to go back to the way things were.

Zuppi paraphrased a quotation from the famous Italian novel “Il Gattopardo” (“The Leopard”), noting that “to change everything is to change nothing.”

Rebuilding community in the Church after public gatherings such as Mass were prohibited during the lockdown will be a challenge, but change requires welcoming both the possibilities and difficulties, he said.

According to Zuppi, living out Christian community will follow where there is first a missionary and pastoral conversion.

The cardinal also pointed to Pope Francis’ 2013 apostolic exhortation, Evangelii gaudium, and its call to live the Gospel in one’s daily life.

He emphasized that, moving into this new period post-lockdown, Catholics need “to understand more who we are and to understand more the Gospel.”

“My perspective is the perspective of Evangelii gaudium,” he said.

Catholic bishop: bill changes would leave UK with ‘most extreme abortion legislation in Europe’

CNA Staff, Jul 2, 2020 / 04:00 am (CNA).- An English bishop has urged Catholics to resist a new push to strip away protections for unborn children that would “leave the U.K. with the most extreme abortion legislation in Europe.” 

Bishop John Sherrington issued the appeal July 1 as Members of Parliament sought to table amendments to a domestic abuse bill that he said would introduce “abortion on demand, for any reason, up until when a child is capable of being born alive.”

A group of MPs will seek to repeal sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, which prohibit the administration of drugs or the use of instruments to cause a miscarriage.

Sherrington said: “This is being presented as decriminalizing abortion but it would, if carried, do far more than that. It would result in the introduction of abortion on demand, for any reason, up until when a child is capable of being born alive, with a ceiling of 28 weeks.”

“It would leave the U.K. with the most extreme abortion legislation in Europe, where in nearly all countries the time limit for abortion is 12 weeks. The majority of our fellow citizens would like to see the current 24-week limit reduced, not increased.”

Sherrington, the lead bishop for life issues of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, continued: “This amendment would also have the effect of removing the clauses in the Abortion Act 1967 which enable medical practitioners to exercise conscientious objection in relation to abortion. Furthermore, it would also remove the legal safeguards which currently protect women and children.” 

He urged Catholics to write to their MPs, via the website of the pro-life group Right to Life, urging them to oppose the amendment.

Right to Life has accused the abortion lobby, led by the U.K.’s largest abortion provider BPAS, of trying to “hijack” the Domestic Abuse Bill, which seeks to safeguard women and children who face abuse in their homes.

The charity said that the amendments would represent “the most extensive change to abortion legislation” since the practice was legalized in 1967, leaving England and Wales with “one of the most extreme abortion laws in the world.”

Pro-abortion campaigners have been active throughout the coronavirus crisis, which has had a devastating effect on the U.K., with 43,991 deaths from COVID-19 as of July 2 -- the third highest recorded figure in the world.

When the country entered lockdown in March, the government came under pressure to allow women to have early abortions at home without medical supervision. It approved the measure, then quickly rescinded it, before introducing again.

Sherrington, an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Westminster, expressed shock at the government’s actions. 

He said: “These measures fundamentally change access to abortion in England and Wales for the foreseeable future. Whilst these are emergency times, these measures further endanger women who, for example, are rushed into decisions by abusive partners and act without any proper consultation.”

Last month official figures revealed that a record number of abortions took place in England and Wales in 2019.

The government reported June 11 that a total of 209,519 abortions took place last year, more than in any other year since 1967. 

Antonia Tully, director of campaigns at the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said: “We are looking at a national tragedy here. This appalling figure shows us that abortion is becoming more and more normalized.” 

Founder of Catholic Schoenstatt movement faces allegations of coercion

CNA Staff, Jul 1, 2020 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- A German historian says that recently opened Vatican archives include documents that suggest the German founder of the Schoenstatt ecclesial movement engaged in manipulative and coercive behavior among the sisters of the movement. But the Schoenstatt community says those allegations have long since been addressed.

According to German Catholic newspaper Die Tagepost, theologian and Church historian Alexandra von Teuffenbach has reviewed Vatican assessments of the Schoenstatt movement, which reportedly portray Fr. Josef Kentenich, founder of the movement, as manipulative and coercive.

The Holy See reportedly began to receive reports from alleged victims of the priest in the early 1950s, and dispatched an apostolic visitator, or Vatican observer, to assess the situation. According to von Teuffenbach, Kentenich was sent to the United States after that visitation, but no reforms of the community were subsequently enacted. 

“The church under Pius XII protected the abused woman and the Mary Sisters, who at that time, instead of obeying the official instructions of the church, preferred to follow a questionable figure, as clearly described in the files," Von Teuffenbach wrote.

Kentenich went to the U.S. in 1951, and was permitted to return to Germany in October 1965. He died three years later. A beatification process for the priest began in 1975.  

Additional details of the allegations against Kentenich are expected to be published Thursday.

In a statement Wednesday, Fr. Juan Pablo Catoggio, superior of the Schoenstatt movement, said that “during the 1950 ecclesiastical visitation to Schoenstatt, some individuals made accusations against the founder of Schoenstatt to the Vatican authorities, which led to the 14 year long exile of the founder. These issues were discussed and clarified during the process of beatification opened in 1975. Back then, all the documents and testimonies that were in any way pertinent where made available to the competent Church authorities.”

“If doubt regarding the moral integrity of the Schoenstatt founder would have remained, his exile would not have finished and the Vatican would have not published a nihil obstat to open his process of beatification,”  Catoggio added.

Kentenich was born in 1885 and ordained a priest in 1910. In 1914, he founded a new ecclesial movement in a chapel in Schoenstatt, Germany. The movement, which now includes priests, consecrated women, and lay involvement, is active in 42 countries, and focused on spiritual formation and Marian spirituality.