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International Conference on Christian Persecution convenes in Budapest

Budapest, Hungary, Nov 26, 2019 / 03:00 pm (CNA).- Patriarchs, cardinals, politicians, and Christians from across the globe are in Budapest this week for the International Conference on Christian Persecution. 

“We have 245 million reasons to be here. This is how many people are persecuted daily because of their Christian belief,” Hungarian State Secretary for the Aid of Persecuted Christians Tristan Azbej said Nov. 26 as he opened the conference.

Azbej has been a driving force behind Hungary Helps, a government initiative to provide international aid specifically to persecuted Christian communities in the Middle East -- distinguishing Hungary from most European governments.

Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, Iraq, told CNA that he hopes to see more European leaders acknowledge and respond to the fact that Christians are being persecuted in the Middle East.

“I would ask the European leaders to realize the fact that Christians are being persecuted because until now this voice is still weak,” Warda said. “Hungary and Poland have done the right thing to say clearly and loudly: Christians are being persecuted."

Since the Hungarian government convened the first International Conference on Christian Persecution in 2017, the event has doubled in size to 650 participants from over 40 countries.

"What brings us together is the cause of persecuted Christians in the Middle East, and our search for the elements that bring about these dire situations for the most ancient Christian communities of the East,” Gewargis III, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, said at the conference.

The conference, meeting Nov. 26-28, has drawn many Syrian, Iraqi, and Lebanese Christian leaders, including Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch Ignatius Aphrem II, Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Mosul Najeeb Michaeel, and Rev. Joseph Kassab, head of the Evangelical Community of Syria and Lebanon.

 

About to begin #ICCP_Budapest as hall fills with people who engage helping persecuted Christians. And here's our three greek-catholic bishops! @HungaryHelps pic.twitter.com/Qhjdg7GpzL

— Eduard Habsburg (@EduardHabsburg) November 26, 2019  

Off-the-record conversations were held on “day zero” of the conference Nov. 25 on the Islamic landscape in “a post-ISIS world,” and the role of NGOs in aiding persecuted communities. 

Bishop and Primate of the Armenian Orthodox Diocese of Damascus Armash Nalbandian highlighted in his address that the targeted persecution of Christians is still a very current threat in Syria.

“Not even one month ago, a gunman shot dead Fr. Hovsep Bedoyan the head of the Armenian Catholic community in Syria, Qamishli, near the border of Turkey and his father, Abraham Bedoyan ... The attack was claimed by the Islamic State group,” Nalbandian said.

“The local media reported three bombings in Qamishli, which occurred the same day of the assassination, and were also claimed by ISIS, showed concern that militants were also coordinated attacks against Christians in the city,” he added.

Catholic speakers at the conference include Cardinal Peter Erdő, Primate of Hungary and Archbishop of Budapest; Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, former prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, Archbishop Antoine Camilleri, apostolic nuncio to Ethiopia, Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme of Maiduguri, Nigeria, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto, Nigeria, and Archbishop Ephram Yousif Mansoor of Baghdad, who represented Syriac Catholic Patriarch of Antioch Ignatius Joseph III Younan at the conference.

 

 

Join #Rome Correspondent for @cnalive Courtney Mares, @catholicourtney on the ground in #Budapest for the #ICCP_Budapest 2nd International Conference on #ChristianPersecution. Experience the Sights & Sounds in solidarity with our #Christian brothers & sisters. #Catholic pic.twitter.com/kkbLkTtaSp

— EWTN Vatican (@EWTNVatican) November 26, 2019

 

 

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban gave the plenary address to the conference. U.S. President Donald Trump also wrote a letter to the conference participants, which was read aloud by his assistant Joe Grogan.

The Hungarian and the U.S. governments agreed in November to jointly fund rebuilding projects in Qaraqosh, the largest city in Iraq with a Christian majority.

“Hungarians believe Christian values lead to peace and happiness and this is why our Constitution states that protection of Christianity is an obligation for the Hungarian state, it obligates us to protect Christian communities throughout the world suffering persecution,” Orban said.

“The Hungarians amount to 0.12% of the population of the world. Is there any point for a country of such a size to stand up for the protection of Christians? Our answer is yes,” the prime minister said.

Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Vice President Viktor Hamm reminded the conference that the Hungarian people themselves suffered Christian persecution in the not too distant past under Soviet occupation.

Hamm himself was born in a Soviet labor camp in what is now northwest Russia. “My grandfather was executed by the Soviet regime. My father spent years in the gulags,” he said.

Evangelical Pastor Andrew Brunson was also present at the conference at a Thanksgiving Gala Dinner. Brunson was released in Oct. 2018 after being imprisoned for two years in Turkey. 

"The cross that carried the body of the savior of the world, and that inspired the lives of saints and pastors in the Church for 2 millennia continues today to be the guiding light ... that prompts today disciples of the Lord to partake in his cross,” Cardinal Mueller said at the conference.

“Be promoters of peace, and continue the silent witness of the Lord’s presence in the world,” he said.

Vancouver archdiocese releases report on sex abuse cases

Vancouver, Canada, Nov 26, 2019 / 02:01 pm (CNA).- The Archdiocese of Vancouver released Friday a report on clergy sexual abuse, including 31 recommendations for improvements to policies and procedures.

The Nov. 22 report also named nine clerics who were criminally convicted of sex abuse, had lawsuits settled, or whose cases were otherwise public.

The report is the first such publication by a Canadian diocese.

“Although nothing can undo the wrong that was done to you, I nonetheless wish to offer each of you my heartfelt apology for the trauma, the violation in body and soul, and the sense of betrayal and abandonment by the Church that you feel,” Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver wrote to victims of clerical sexual abuse in a Nov. 21 pastoral letter included in the report.

“For those occasions when we failed to protect you or when we were more concerned with the Church’s reputation than with your suffering, I am truly sorry and ask for your forgiveness as I strive to make amends and bind your wounds,” Archbishop Miller wrote.

The archbishop appointed a committee in the autumn of 2018 to review cases of abuse committed by clerics serving or residing in the local Church. The 13-member committee included civil and canon lawyers; clerics, laity, and a religious; and four victims of clerical abuse.

At its meetings, the committee reviewed 36 cases of clerical abuse: 26 involved the abuse of minors; seven concerned “inappropriate sexual behaviour/abuse between a cleric and adults”; and three regarded priests who had fathered children.

“While Committee members have differing views on a number of issues, all agree major change is needed,” the report reads.

The report says that as the committee met “a number of topics arose which call into question the integrity of the institution of the Catholic Church.” Among the topics listed in the report are clericalism, hierarchicalism, the exclusion of women in Church leadership, and breaches of celibacy.

The committee lamented that through the early 1990s, “victims who came forward had to sign confidentiality agreements.”

Of its 31 recommendations, the committee highlighted that it “proposes as an absolute imperative that the Archdiocese of Vancouver publish a listing of clergy who have been guilty of sexual abuse.”

“The Committee recommends that the listing consist of convicted, admitted, and credibly accused clergy … privacy laws which restrict publication should be consulted but the Committee urges that publication take place to the maximum allowed.”

According to the report, “releasing the names of abusers helps everyone to understand how predators groom entire communities and not to inform the community of predatory behaviours and actions is to put all members of the Church family in jeopardy. Not only this, not publishing names of abusers perpetuates betrayal and distrust.”

Among the recommendations are establishing an intake office for receiving allegations of sexual abuse; mandatory performance reviews for all priests in the archdiocese done by a group of people, including lay men and women; a study of seminary training and screening; and healing and reconciliation opportunities for victims.

The group recommended that “there should be a systematic Archdiocesan plan developed and put in place for educating clergy and laity alike on the inherent evil of clericalism, and the degree to which it has been normalized within the Catholic experience. A strategy for developing and maintaining a Church which more fully reflects the spirit of Vatican II (Lumen Gentium and Apostolicam Actuositatem, for example) should be developed and implemented.”

To this recommendation, the archdiocese responded that Archbishop Miller “will refer this specific recommendation to the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, which is composed of a majority of lay people, to explore prayerfully the development and implementation of an Archdiocesan plan. At least one member of the Case Review Committee will be named to the Pastoral Council to facilitate this.”

The committee also made several recommendations to the Church in Canada, including a nationwide registry of credibly accused priests.

In its report, the archdiocese released the names of five clerics criminally convicted of abuse; two against whom lawsuits were settled; and two whose cases are public.

There are a number of additional cases of clerical sex abuse in the archdiocese, but due to Canada’s privacy laws, which are more restrictive than those of the US, not all could be published.

“Today we are publishing information we are legally allowed to share,” the archdiocese stated.

“We are working with experts from across the country to find legal means to share information regarding clergy who have not been convicted, but of whose guilt we are morally certain. Due to Canadian legislation on privacy, we are more restricted than American dioceses, which have been able to publish the names of what have been called ‘credibly accused’ priests.”

The report said that in considering the publication of names, the local Church must consider both “whether the reported allegations are true” and “whether there are legal constraints to publication.”

In an interview included in the report, Mary Margaret McKinnon, a civil lawyer who chaired the committee, emphasized that the term “credibly accused” is not used by lawyers.

“In Canada we talk about the burden of proof in criminal and civil cases,” McKinnon said. “In criminal cases the offence must be established beyond a reasonable doubt. In civil cases it must be shown to be more likely true than not, or 51%. The American definition used in various American policies [i.e. ‘credibly accused’]  appears to equate to the civil burden here.”

Later on, McKinnon equated the terms “credibly accused” and “probably guilty”.

She also noted that Canada’s provinces and territories have their own privacy legislation, and that in British Columbia “it’s called PIPA, which stands for Personal Information and Protection Act, and the same legislation is in place all across Canada. The defamation laws in Canada and the U.S. are also applied differently.”

Regarding the publication of “credibly accused lists”, as has become common among US dioceses, “we have to figure out a way to balance our legal obligations with the public’s desire to know,” McKinnon said. “A lot of study and discussion is taking place right now to see how we can make this happen.”

The report stated that “in its work, the Case Review Committee discovered that many of the remaining allegations had not been investigated to a currently acceptable standard. In fact, two of the allegations were against ‘unnamed priests’ because the victims/survivors could not remember the names.”

It added that its files of cases will be turned over to new, independent, non-Catholic investigators to “review the evidence and determine how the claims may be further pursued.”

The archdiocese also stated with regard to the cases not dealt with in the report, “These courageous claimants who contacted the Archdiocese were heard and believed. The fact that these cases are not dealt with in this report does not mean they were unfounded.”

Irish nuns’ transfer of hospital land criticized over abortion plans

Dublin, Ireland, Nov 26, 2019 / 01:30 pm (CNA).- A pending land transfer from a religious community to the Irish government for the construction of a new maternity hospital has sparked new controversy, as the hospital is expected to perform abortions under new laws permitting the procedure.

The Religious Sisters of Charity currently own the land that is set aside for a $335 million taxpayer-funded National Maternity Hospital. The facility will be built on the campus of St. Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin. The sisters announced two years ago that they were planning to transfer ownership of three local hospitals, including St. Vincent’s, to a group that will no longer follow Catholic medical ethics.

In a May 2018 referendum, Irish voters repealed a constitutional amendment recognizing the right to life of unborn children as equal to mothers' right to life. Legislators then enacted legislation allowing abortion through 12 weeks of pregnancy, or later in “exceptional circumstances.”

Some Catholics are now arguing that in light of the referendum, the sisters should not go through with the land transfer.

Fr Kevin O’Reilly OP, a moral theologian at the Angelicum in Rome, told The Irish Catholic that the Vatican should block the land transfer, because the Irish government says abortions will take place at the new maternity hospital.

“Thanks to the 36th Amendment of the Constitution, Ireland – to its great shame – now boasts an extremely liberal abortion regime, O’Reilly said.

“It is bewildering that those who have facilitated the process to date clearly do not possess any degree of moral foresight,” he said.

“One can only hope that the competent officials in the Vatican will act in accord with the Church’s constant teaching and the dictates of right reason by forbidding this unconscionable act.”

The National Maternity Hospital is currently located in Dublin’s Holles Street, but will be relocated to the campus of St. Vincent’s Hospital, where patients will be able to receive a wider range of care.

When plans for the new hospital were announced, abortion advocates spoke out against the sisters being involved in its management. Two of the National Maternity Hospital’s board members resigned, citing concerns that the maternity hospital may be run in accordance with Catholic teaching on human life and sexuality, The Tablet reported.

However, the National Maternity Hospital's board had said the new facility will be run independently. Government officials have indicated that the facility will offer all legal medical procedures, including sterilization, in-vitro fertilization, gender transition surgery, and abortion.

Heather Humphreys, Ireland’s Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, told The Tablet that she does not expect the land transfer will be halted.

“The plans are in place and I am confident that they will go ahead,” she said.

Canon law requires Vatican permission for the religious order to sell or give away property worth more than €3.5 million. The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life normally approves such transactions.

The Religious Sisters of Charity said in a statement that Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has approved the land transfer and “recommended our decision to the Vatican for formal sign off.” The sisters said they are “confident of a positive outcome shortly.”

In May 2017, Ireland's Sisters of Charity announced that they would be ending their management of three Dublin hospitals which comprise St. Vincent’s Healthcare Group. The hospitals are to be handed over to a new company, which would be called St. Vincent’s, and the sisters would no longer have any ownership or management of the health care facilities.

Under new management, the facilities will no longer adhere to Catholic medical ethics.

The health care group's origins date back to 1834, when Mary Aikenhead, the founder of the Religious Sisters of Charity, established St. Vincent's Hospital.

Until 2017, the St. Vincent's Healthcare Group included three hospitals. As part of the plan to transfer ownership, two sisters who were on the board of the healthcare group agreed to resign, and the congregation agreed to give up the right to appoint board directors.

In addition, the sisters said, the Religious Sisters of Charity Health Service Philosophy and Ethical Code would no longer be authoritative as the governing documents for the healthcare group. Rather, the documents were to be “amended and replaced to reflect compliance with national and international best practice guidelines on medical ethics and the laws of the Republic of Ireland.”

The Sisters of Charity have committed to paying millions in financial redress to compensate abuse victims who lived the residential institutions they and 18 other religious congregations managed on behalf of the government in previous decades.

Priests convicted of abusing children at Argentina school for the deaf

Mendoza, Argentina, Nov 25, 2019 / 05:53 pm (CNA).- Two Catholic priests have been convicted of sexually abusing students students at an institute that cared for deaf children. The priests have been sentenced to more than 40 years in an Argentine prison.

Their victims say one abuser should have been stopped seven years before his arrest, when he was accused of abusing children at a school in Italy.

Father Nicola Corradi, an 83-year-old Italian, sat in a wheelchair Monday, while he was sentenced to 42 years in prison Nov. 25, alongside Father Horacio Corbacho, 59, sentenced to 45 years. A lay employee, gardener Armando Gomez, was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

The abuse took place at the now-closed Antonio Provolo Institute for Deaf and Hearing Impaired children in Argentina’s Mendoza province. The trial concerned more than 20 instances of abuse in all, including charges of rape, sexual touching, and corruption of minors. The students were reportedly forced to watch pornography or perform sex acts among themselves.

The cases involve 10 students, though about 20 have made abuse accusations. The abusers especially targeted children who spent the night in the institute’s shelters, and the victims said they were afraid to report for fear of living in poverty after being expelled or for fear their parents would be punished.

The students were typically from poor families and had communication limitations. The school did not teach sign language but followed a methodology that aimed to teach children to read and speak like those who could hear, the Washington Post reported in February. Students at the school who used sign language would be physically reprimanded.

The crimes took place from 2004 to 2016, when Corradi, Corbacho, and others were arrested and the school shut down.

After the verdict, victims of the men celebrated outside the courtroom.

“I am happy, thank you so much for the battle, because everyone has supported us. ... This has changed my life, which is evolving,” Vanina Garay, 26, told the Associated Press.

Corradi is a member of the Company of Mary, an Italian religious community that operates schools for deaf children in several countries. The schools are named for Antonio Provolo, a nineteenth-century Italian priest who founded Corradi’s religious community.

Corradi worked at a sister school in in La Plata, Argentina from 1970 to 1994, and former students have accused him of abuse there as well. Before that, he worked at an Antonio Provolo school in Verona, Italy. He was first accused of abuse in 2009, when 14 Italians reported that they had been abused by priests, religious brothers, and other adults at the Provolo Institute in Verona, over the course of several decades.

They could not face civil prosecution due to statutes of limitations.

After a Vatican investigation, five priests at the Italian institute were sanctioned; but Corradi, then living in Argentina, was not among them. A Vatican investigator believed his sole accuser was a victim of abuse, but because Corradi was accused by so many of abuse and his story showed apparent inconsistencies the investigator doubted the plausibility of his claims, according to the Washington Post.

When the Argentine trial opened on Monday, among those protesting outside of the court was ex-student Ezequiel Villalonga, who is now 18.

“Those of us from the Próvolo in Mendoza said: ‘no more fear. We have the power’,” he said, according to the Associated Press. Like many other abuse victims at the school, he is harshly critical of Pope Francis,

“Francis was very quiet about the abusive priests, but now the sentence is coming,” said Villalonga. “I know that the pope is afraid because the deaf have been brave.”

Advocates for the victims have called for the abusers to be dismissed from the clerical state.

The Archdiocese of Mendoza has said it didn’t know the Italian priest’s background when he came to Argentina. It said the priest depended on his Italian-based religious congregation for support. The archdiocese voiced “solidarity and closeness” with the alleged victims and said that in its view the responsibilities and punishments for the alleged crimes should be established.

“As part of the people of Mendoza, we desire truth and justice, and we put in the hands of God … the work of whose who have the task of imparting it,” the archdiocese said in an Aug. 2 statement.

Two religious sisters who worked at the Mendoza school are accused of participating in the abuse or knowing about it, as are former directors and employees who are accused of knowing of the crimes but not taking action. In 2018 one employee was sentenced to 10 years for rape, sexual touching, and corruption of minors.

Pope Francis previously served as Archbishop of Buenos Aires. He headed the Argentine bishops’ conference when the alleged crimes were reported in 2009 and 2010.

In 2014, Corradi was the subject of a letter sent to Pope Francis from Italian victims of sexual abuse who were concerned about the priest’s ongoing ministry, despite the accusations against him. In 2015, the group handed a list of priests accused of abuse to the Pope in person, according to the Washington Post.

The group reportedly did not hear back from Pope Francis, but did hear from a Vatican official, Archbishop Giovanni Becciu, who wrote to the group in 2016 to tell them that he had informed the Italian bishops’ conference of their request for an investigation.

Later that year, Corradi, as well as Corbacho and another employee of the school, were arrested. When Argentine authorities arrested Corradi and Corbacho, the Washington Post reported, local officials said the Church in Argentina was not fully cooperative with the investigation.

After 8-day hunger strike, Nicaraguan mothers transported to hospital

Managua, Nicaragua, Nov 25, 2019 / 05:02 pm (CNA).- A group of mothers who had been conducting a hunger strike in a Catholic church in Nicaragua have left the premises and been transferred to a local hospital for treatment.

The women had spent eight days at Saint Michael the Archangel parish in Masaya, about 20 miles southeast of Nicaragua’s capital of Managua.

“The Archdiocese of Managua, since November 14 has been very concerned about this situation that Fr. Edwing Román has been going through along with the 13 people that began a hunger strike at Saint Michael the Archangel Parish in Masaya, among them mothers of those detained [in anti-government protests],” the archdiocese said in a statement Nov 22.

Authorities had cut water and electricity to the church and surrounded it to block the exit of those inside.

Fr. Román accompanied the hunger strikers physically and spiritually, the statement said. On Nov. 22, he expressed a desire to leave the church with those gathered inside. Cardinal Leopoldo José Brenes, metropolitan archbishop of Managua, and Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, apostolic nuncio in Nicaragua, then asked authorities that a humanitarian route be opened to transport the hunger strikers to Vivian Pellas Hospital.

The transfer of the hunger strikers took place later that day. Fr. Román and three other people remained hospitalized, while the remainder of the hunger strikers were discharged.

“Today these homesick mothers will return to their homes,” the archdiocese said. “May God grant that very soon they will be able to share with their children, deprived of freedom, the joy of being together in family.”

Cardinal Brenes reaffirmed the archdiocese’s support for Fr. Román, and for the humanitarian work that priests have been engaged in since protests against the government began last year.

Anti-government protests in Nicaragua sprang up in April 2018. The crackdown from security forces and pro-government militias resulted in more than 320 deaths last year, with 2,000 injured and tens of thousands fleeing the country as refugees.

Modest pension reforms triggered the unrest but protests quickly turned to objections to what critics said was Ortega’s authoritarian bent.

Ortega, who previously led the country for over a decade after the Sandinistas’ 1979 ouster of the Somoza dictatorship, has been president of Nicaragua since 2007, and oversaw the abolition of presidential term limits in 2014.

The Catholic Church had suggested that the elections scheduled for 2021 be held this year, but Ortega has ruled this out.

Ortega’s backers have said that a demand for the president to leave office early and to hold early elections are tantamount to a coup attempt. Some have labeled the protesters as terrorists, the Associated Press reports.

Ortega’s government has accused many bishops and priests of supporting the opposition.

Other attacks against prayerful demonstrators at churches have also been reported.

On Nov. 21, pro-government assailants attacked San Juan Bautista church in Masaya as Mass was being celebrated, the Associated Press reported. Mass attendees had planned a march to support hunger strikers nearby.

The attackers used clubs, machetes, and metal bars to try to break through the doors. They beat the altar boys, a woman, and a 50-year-old man who were present, according to reports.

The bishops of Nicaragua have called on the government to respect the freedom of speech and assembly and to respect Catholic churches.
 

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

 

Pope Francis Appoints the Rev. Msgr. Robert McClory as Bishop of Gary

WASHINGTON— Pope Francis has appointed the Reverend Monsignor Robert J. McClory as Bishop of Gary.
 
Monsignor McClory is a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit and currently serves as Rector of the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica in Royal Oak, Michigan. The appointment was publicized today in Washington, D.C, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
 
Monsignor McClory was born October 10, 1963 in Detroit, MI, and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Detroit on May 22, 1999. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and Communications (1985) from the Oakland University, MI, a Master of Professional Studies in Economic Development (1987) from Columbia University, NY, and a Juris Doctor (1991) from University of Michigan. He practiced civil law for a major firm from 1991 until 1994.

Bishop-elect McClory attended Sacred Heart Major Seminary (1994-1995) where he pursued philosophy studies. He received a Bachelor of Sacred Theology, magna cum laude (1998) from Gregorian University in Rome, and a Licentiate of Canon Law, summa cum laude (2000) from Pontifical University of St. Thomas (Angelicum), in Rome. He was named a Chaplain to His Holiness by Pope Benedict XVI with the title of “Monsignor” in 2005.

Assignments after ordination include: Vicar, St. Isidore Parish, Macomb Township; St Therese of Lisieux Paris, Shelby Township (2000-2002); Judge of the Detroit Metropolitan Tribunal (2001-present); Administrative Secretary to Cardinal Adam J. Maida (2002-2003); Instructor in Canon Law at Sacred Heart Major Seminary (2002-present); Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Detroit (2003-2009); Weekend Parochial Vicar at St. Blasé Parish, Sterling Heights (2004-2011); Moderator of the Curia and Vicar General, Archdiocese of Detroit (2009-2018); and Pastor-Presentation/Our Lady of Victory Parish in Detroit (2011-2017). Since July 2017, he has been the Rector of the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica in Royal Oak, MI.

Bishop-elect McClory’s other appointments include: Consultant for the Catholic Leadership Institute; and Priest-Observer, Region VI for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Diocese of Gary is in the state of Indiana and has a total population of 786,661, of which 170,203 are Catholic.
 
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Keywords: Bishops appointment, Pope Francis, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Diocese of Gary, Bishop-elect Robert McClory.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
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German bishops will light ‘Synodal Candle’ to launch controversial process  

Bonn, Germany, Nov 25, 2019 / 12:55 pm (CNA).- The German bishops' conference announced Monday that a ceremonial "Synodal Candle" will be lit on the first Sunday of Advent to officially launch the nation’s "synodal process," which is scheduled to run over two years and pass resolutions about Church life in Germany.

The launch ceremony will be hosted by Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who will light a candle together with lay leader Karin Kortmann in Munich's famous Frauenkirche, or "Cathedral of Our Dear Lady."

Draft statutes of the – no longer binding – "synodal process"  were approved Nov. 22 by a majority of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) at the lay group’s plenary assembly.

During deliberations, a motion to amend the statutes to include a focus on evangelization was rejected.

CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German language news partner, reported Nov. 25 that ZdK member Karl zu Löwenstein reminded fellow delegates of Pope Francis’ call for a new evangelization during Nov. 22 deliberations regarding the synod. Before debating and passing resolutions about the structure of the Church, one should first put Christ's message at the center, he argued.

However, two vice presidents of the lay Catholic organization disagreed. Both Claudia Lücking-Michel and Karin Kortmann, both German politicians, argued that any amendment would delay the start of the synodal process.

The German bishops had initially planned a “binding” synodal process for German Catholics, which would pass normative resolutions on moral and ecclesiastical issues. But a Vatican intervention raised concerns that the proposed process constituted a particular council, and could not take place without permission from the Vatican. After that intervention, the initial draft statues were amended to ensure they were no longer canonically binding.

On a visit to German last week, Cardinal Robert Sarah expressed concerns about the planned synod.  Sarah has gone so far as to offer a special prayer for the Church in Germany, given developments there, warning "If a synod aims to change the doctrine of faith, then it is no longer a synod.”

In an unusual move, Pope Francis in June personally wrote a letter to all German Catholics, warning of meaningless structural maneuvering and reiterating a call to evangelization ahead of the announced process.

In addition to concerns about a lack of focus on spreading the Gospel, the actual agenda of the process – which exclusively targets the topics of sexual morality, power and ecclesial offices – and public demands of the ZdK for the blessing of homosexual couples and the ordination of women, have come in for sharp criticism from noted theologians
 

CNA Deutsch contributed to this report.

Statement from U.S. Bishops’ Chairman of International Justice and Peace Committee on Nuclear Weapons

WASHINGTON—Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford and Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued the following statement:

“‘Protect All Life’ was the poignant theme of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Japan this past weekend. In Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the Holy Father gave a powerful witness to the grave threat poised to human life by nuclear weapons. Following in the footsteps of Saint John Paul II, and reiterating the teaching of his predecessors, Pope Francis called for a world without nuclear weapons.

“For our part, the Catholic bishops of the United States remain firmly committed to global nuclear disarmament. We declared in 1993: ‘The eventual elimination of nuclear weapons is more than a moral ideal; it should be a policy goal.’”

“The United States and Russia have over 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons. This fact alone calls for our nation to exercise global leadership for mutual, verifiable nuclear disarmament. The extension of New START Treaty with Russia would be a prudent next step.”

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Bishop David J. Malloy, Committee on International Justice and Peace, nuclear disarmament, Japan, Hiroshima, Nagasaki.

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Media Contacts:
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Bishop of Rockford Appointed as Chairman of U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace

WASHINGTON—Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford has been appointed as Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace by Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The chairmanship of the Committee had previously been held by Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Military Services, USA, who was elected as Conference secretary last week during the bishops’ November General Meeting in Baltimore, creating the vacancy. Bishop Malloy had been voted chairman-elect of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, thus will assume the chairmanship one year early.

In carrying out their work, the Committee advises and assists the bishops, both collectively and individually, in advancing the social mission of the Catholic Church on international justice and peace through policy development, advocacy, education, outreach, and acts of ecclesial solidarity. The work of the Committee includes international public policy issues, especially integral human development, human rights, religious freedom, and peace

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop José H. Gomez, Bishop David J. Malloy, Diocese of Rockford, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Committee for International Justice and Peace.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

 

Catholic Leaders Voice Concern Over New Asylum Rules

WASHINGTON - On Monday, November 18, the Administration published two notices in the Federal Register to implement asylum cooperative agreements with Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The rules would allow the U.S. government to send asylum seekers to the three Central American countries without the opportunity to access asylum in the United States, and require the respective Central American governments to adjudicate asylum claims and attempt to provide protection.

Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and Chairman of the Committee on Migration for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Sean Callahan, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), issued the following statement in response:
 
“Vulnerable individuals seeking protection and safety in the United States should be welcomed and given the chance to access the protection that our laws provide. If implemented, we fear that the asylum cooperation agreements would leave many helpless people, including families and children, unable to attain safety and freedom from violence and persecution. The governments of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras do not have the resources nor the capacity to safely accept, process, and integrate asylees. There are numerous concerns with the implementation of these agreements which have also been voiced by the Catholic Church of Guatemala. Furthermore, these agreements do not address the root causes of forced migration and could further endanger the lives of people fleeing a region that continues to have some of the highest homicide rates in the world.

These rules, combined with the implementation of the Migration Protection Protocol and the continued hold of humanitarian and development assistance to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, undermines U.S. moral leadership in protecting vulnerable populations and risks further destabilizing the region. To preserve and uphold the sacredness and dignity of all human life, we cannot turn our back on families and individuals in desperate need of help. In light of the Gospel, let us always remember we are invited to embrace the foreigner and to take care of this human person. Let us move ourselves from a culture of indifference to a Christian culture of solidarity. We can and must do more.”
 
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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Mario Dorsonville, Archdiocese of Washington, Sean Callahan, Catholic Relief Services, CRS, Committee on Migration, asylum, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador.
 
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