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The hospital on a hill: Padre Pio's earthly work

San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, Jul 20, 2018 / 03:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On a hill overlooking the quiet, southern Italian town of San Giovanni Rotondo sits a state-of-the-art private hospital and research center built by one of the 20th century’s most beloved saints, Pio of Pietrelcina.

Known as “Padre Pio,” how did a poor Capuchin priest in ill health establish, on a rocky hilltop in rural Italy, one of today’s most efficient European hospitals – a project which he called his “earthly work”?

The beginning

Padre Pio understood physical suffering beginning from a young age, having been frequently ill. Even after he entered the Capuchins, making solemn vows at the age of 19, people doubted he would be well enough to finish studies for the priesthood or to live the strict rule of the Franciscans.

Despite this, three years later he was ordained a priest; and his experiences with illness led him to be close to the sick and suffering for the rest of his life. He would always say that Christ is present twice in the sick and the poor.

In 1918, the saint also received the visible stigmata – bleeding wounds corresponding to the five wounds Christ received at his crucifixion – while praying before a crucifix in the choir loft of the chapel of the Capuchin monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo.

He had settled permanently in the monastery of the small village, at the time comprised mainly of farms and shepherds, just six months before. From that time, he had the desire to create a hospital founded on the principle of caring for both the body and soul of the sick and suffering.

The first step toward fulfilling this dream began in 1925, with the conversion of an old, small convent into a clinic of just a few beds, reserved for those with extreme necessity.

Years passed, and at the end of 1939, Padre Pio again spoke of his desire to build a hospital, this time with several men who also believed in the project and who formed a group to support it.

The project unofficially began on Jan. 9, 1940, with the first collaborators each making a small donation toward the realization of the hospital. “I also want to give my offering,” the humble Padre Pio said, handing over a 10-cent franc he had received the same morning from a Swiss man.

The friar called the hospital the “Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza”, or “Home for the Relief of the Suffering”, because, as he said later, this “work” was “inspired and created to be a spiritual demonstration of God’s love through a call for charity.”

Construction commenced in 1947, though the roughly 20 workers hired at the start did not yet have an architectural plan for the building, and there were only 4 million Italian Lira (about $2,400 today) in the bank.

By this point many people had, from devotion or curiosity, been traveling to see Padre Pio in the poor village, and some thought the Capuchin friar and his group of supporters were crazy to be building a hospital in a village in southern Italy. But Padre Pio said: “The Work is not mine… but Providence’s.”

If he could, he said, he would build the hospital in gold, because whatever is done for the sick is done for Christ, and nothing can be too good for the Lord.

Inauguration

Eventually, it was completed, with the inauguration taking place May 5, 1956. The hospital, only receiving the designation of clinic at the time, had 250 beds. An out-patient clinic with additional departments and services was also a part of the Casa, with a round-the-clock emergency room, and a small chapel where Padre Pio would frequently pray.

At the inauguration ceremony, Padre Pio said, “a seed has been sown on the Earth that [God] will warm with the rays of his love… a place of prayer and science.” A year later, he noted that at the Casa “patients, doctors, priests shall be reserves of love and when it abounds in one, so it shall be passed to all.”

“The Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza has already opened its arms to many thousands of suffering bodies and spirits, offering to all, regardless of status, from the most wealthy to the less well-off, ministering to all, in generous measure,” he said.

From its start, the Casa was also helped by two nearby farms, which produce olive oil and all the dairy products used in the hospital.

Soon after its launch, the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza was given to the Holy See by Padre Pio, being one of just two hospitals under the jurisdiction of the pope.

Years before the hospital was completed, groups of people had begun to provide spiritual support for the project. Promoted by Padre Pio, the prayer groups were in response to a call from Ven. Pius XII for people to gather to pray together, especially in the face of World War II.

“Without prayer, our House for the Relief of Suffering is somewhat like a plant without air and sun,” Padre Pio said, calling the prayer groups the “frontline of this little City of charity.”

The Casa today

These prayer groups continue to flourish today. And the hospital grows, with just under 1,000 beds spread across at least 26 medical and surgical departments, and another 14 departments for diagnosis and other services, all run by nearly 3,000 staff members.

From its humble beginnings as a private clinic, the Casa is now classified as a private national research hospital, specializing in genetic and hereditary diseases, and includes a home for the elderly and housing for families with children receiving cancer treatment.

During the first expansion in 1967, a second, larger chapel was added to the interior of the hospital. In the two chapels a rosary is prayed every day, three or more Masses are celebrated, and staff and patients stop by for moments of personal prayer.

Additional support for hospital staff includes regular spiritual and ethical training courses taught by theologians.

At the hospital’s 10th anniversary in 1966, two years before his death, Padre Pio reflected on the “humble origins” of the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza, and how, coming from nothing, “the miracle of faith and charity to which this Work bears witness before the eyes of the world becomes all the more important.”

Entrusting the success of his earthly work to prayer, he said, it is that which “unites all good souls and moves the world, that renews consciences, that sustains the Casa, that comforts the suffering, that cures the sick, that sanctifies their work, that elevates simple medical assistance, that gives moral strength and Christian resignation to human suffering, that becomes a smile and the blessing of God upon weakness and frailty.”

Papal aides say prosperity gospel is distorted take on the ‘American Dream’

Vatican City, Jul 20, 2018 / 12:00 am (CNA).- After publishing a highly controversial essay in July 2017 alleging the existence of an “ecumenism of hate” between Catholics and Evangelicals in the U.S., close papal confidantes Fr. Antonio Spadaro SJ and Marcelo Figueroa in a new article issue a scathing critique of the “prosperity gospel,” which they say is based on a reductionist view of the American Dream.

In the new essay, run July 18 in the Jesuit-run magazine “La Civilta Cattolica,” which is directed by Spadaro, the authors argue that the prosperity gospel, rooted in late 19th century America, is closely tied to the Protestant Evangelical movement in the U.S., and sees power, wealth and success as the result of one's faith, while poverty and misfortune are signs of a lack of faith.

“The risk of this form of religious anthropocentrism, which puts humans and their well-being at the center, is that it transforms God into a power at our service, the Church into a supermarket of faith, and religion into a utilitarian phenomenon that is eminently sensationalist and pragmatic,” they said.

Spadaro and Figueroa, a Protestant who heads the Argentine section of Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, said the prosperity gospel is “a reductive interpretation” of the American Dream.

Though historically this dream saw the United States as a heaven for economic migrants seeking better opportunities than were available in their homeland, Spadaro and Figueroa argue that this vision has turned into a distorted religious belief being put forward by big-name Evangelical televangelists.

The authors cited U.S. President Donald Trump's Jan. 30 State of the Union address, in which the president pointed to popular American motto “in God we trust” and spoke of importance of family and the military, a clear indication that they see Trump as an example of this “neo-Pentecostal” brand of theology.

Spadaro and Figueroa said the two main “pillars” of the prosperity gospel are health and economic success – a mentality they said stems from “a literalist exegesis of some biblical texts that are taken within a reductionist hermeneutic.”

Popular televangelist personalities such as Joel Osteen, Oral Roberts, Pat Robertson, Benny Hinn, Robert Tilton and Joyce Meyer, who are often considered to be key prosperity gospel figures in the United States, were dubbed by Spadaro and Figueroa as “evangelicals of the American Dream.”

“Their growth is exponential and directly proportional to the economic, physical and spiritual benefits they promise their followers,” the authors said, adding that “all these blessings are far removed from the life of conversion usually taught by the traditional evangelical movements.”

Spadaro and Figueroa argued that these preachers take scripture out of context, diffusing a message that God is at the service of humanity, and that one can obtain blessings and prosperity, whether physical or economic, simply through religious conviction.

There is a “lack of empathy and solidarity” on issues like migration from adherents to the prosperity gospel approach, they argued.

In this movement, “there can be no compassion for those who are not prosperous, for clearly they have not followed the rules and thus live in failure and are not loved by God,” Spadaro and Figueroa argued.

Biblical teachings such as “you reap what you sow” or that one will receive “a hundredfold” for their good works have been reduced to a “contract” in which the more one gives, the more they expect to get in return, the authors said.

Under this approach, God is made in the image of man, they said, and people believe that they can earn their own success through their actions, making the thought of poverty “unbearable,” because “first, the person thinks their faith is unable to move the providential hands of God; second, their miserable situation is a divine imposition, a relentless punishment to be accepted in submission.”

When it comes to the prosperity gospel and the American Dream, Spadaro and Figueroa said the problem is that the financial success of the United States has been seen as a direct result of America's faith in God.

“It leads to the conclusion that the United States has grown as a nation under the blessing of the providential God of the Evangelical movement,” they said. “Meanwhile, those who dwell south of the Rio Grande are sinking in poverty because the Catholic Church has a different, opposed vision exalting poverty.”

This view not only “exasperates individualism and knocks down the sense of solidarity,” they said, but it also “pushes people to adopt a miracle-centered outlook, because faith alone – not social or political commitment – can procure prosperity.”

And the risk in this is that “the poor who are fascinated by this pseudo-Gospel remain dazzled in a socio-political emptiness that easily allows other forces to shape their world, making them innocuous and defenseless,” Spadaro and Figueroa said, adding that “the prosperity gospel is not a cause of real change, a fundamental aspect of the vision that is innate to the social doctrine of the Church.”

The two closed their essay saying the prosperity gospel is product of two ancient heresies – Pelagianism and Gnosticism – which Pope Francis, who has consistently spoken out against the prosperity gospel mentality, warned of in his recent apostolic exhortation on holiness, Gaudete et Exsultate.

The prosperity gospel, they said, is “a far cry” from the original American Dream, which they described as a “positive and enlightening prophecy” that has inspired many, and which is embodied in civil rights defender Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's legendary “I Have a Dream” speech.

St. Margaret of Antioch

Saint Margaret, whose feast is celebrated on July 20, is a virgin and martyr. She is also called "Marina". Margaret belonged to Pisidian Antioch in Asia Minor, where her father was a pagan priest. Her mother died soon after Margaret's birth, so she was nursed by a pious woman who lived about five or six leagues from Antioch. Having embraced Christianity and consecrated her virginity to God, she was disowned by her father and adopted by her nurse.  One day, while she was engaged in watching the flocks of her mistress, a lustful Roman prefect named Olybrius caught sight of her, and attracted by her great beauty sought to make her his concubine or wife. When neither cajolery nor threats of punishment could succeed in moving her to yield to his desires, he had her brought before him in public trial at Antioch. Threatened with death unless she renounced the Christian faith, the holy virgin refused to adore the gods of the empire. An attempt was made to burn her, but the flames, we are told in her Acts, left her unharmed. She was then bound hand and foot and thrown into a cauldron of boiling water, but at her prayer her bonds were broken and she stood up uninjured. Finally the prefect ordered her to be beheaded.  The Greek Church honors her under the name Marine on July13, and the Latin, as Margaret on July 20. Her Acts place her death in the persecution of Diocletian (A.D. 303-5), but in fact even the century to which she belonged is uncertain. St. Margaret is represented in art sometimes as a shepherdess, or as leading a chained dragon, again carrying a little cross or a girdle in her hand, or standing by a large vessel which recalls the cauldron into which she was plunged. Relics said to belong to the saint are venerated in very many parts of Europe; at Rome, Montefiascone, Brusels, Bruges, Paris, Froidmont, Troyes, and various other places. Curiously enough this virgin has been widely venerated for many centuries as a special patron of women who are pregnant.

New Arizona law awards custody of frozen embryos in favor of birth

Phoenix, Ariz., Jul 19, 2018 / 05:20 pm (CNA).- A new Arizona law awards contested custody of frozen embryos to the parent seeking to “develop them to birth.” A Catholic bioethicist told CNA it was a “positive development” in an otherwise unusual ethical situation.

The law, which came into effect July 1, is first of its kind in the United States. It was partly inspired by a custody dispute over frozen embryos. Ruby Torres, a 37 year old woman from Arizona, and her ex-husband John Joseph Terrell created the embryos prior to Torres’ treatment for breast cancer, when she was told she was unlikely to conceive after radiation and chemotherapy. They married shortly thereafter, divorcing three years after she had finished cancer treatments.

Seven embryos were created and remain frozen in storage. Torres told the judge during divorce proceedings that she wanted the embryos,calling them her last chance of having a biological child. Terrell protested, saying he did not want to become a father or be responsible for supporting a child.

Last year, the judge ruled that the embryos should be donated, but not to Torres. She appealed this decision. The law does not apply retroactively to this case or other similar cases.

In other custody disputes, judges have ordered frozen embryos to be either destroyed, remain frozen until an agreement can be made, or donated for use in research purposes. Rarely have they been awarded to a person seeking to actually gestate a child.

Should an embryo be successfully carried tol birth, the Arizona law does not make the unwilling party liable for child support.

Critics of the law say that it “forces” people to become parents against their will. Dr. Ted Furton, director of publications at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, said that this argument is the result of a mentality that considers embryos to be property, not human life.

“As soon as you produce embryos, the man and wife are parents,” Furton told CNA in an interview. “Parenthood doesn't happen later, it happens at that moment.”

“So, they're already parents. What they don't realize when they say 'I don't want to be a parent'--it's too late.”

Furton said that he thought the law’s recognition of an embryo as a human life and not as a form of property was a “very positive development” and a “good sign,” and that he is hopeful these kinds of laws would help people “to better understand that these are indeed human lives, and like every human life, deserve protection.”

On 'Humanae vitae'- Pope Paul VI did not act alone

Vatican City, Jul 19, 2018 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- Humanae vitae is not a “pre-conciliar” encyclical, Bl. Paul VI did not develop the final draft in solitude, and, the pope sought opinions before promulgating the text, according to a new book on the encyclical’s history.
 
The book “La nascita di un enciclica” (The Birth of an encyclical), was written by Professor Gilfredo Marengo, a professor of theological anthropology at the Pontifical Theological Institute John Paul II for Studies on Marriage and Family.
 
To write the book, Professor Marengo was given access to documents from the archive of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, with special permission from the pope, since archival material from the Holy See is usually made available to scholars only after 70 years.
 
The documents include a series of drafts and instructions and also a never published encyclical draft, De nascendi prolis, which was overturned by a new draft, which ultimately became the final text of Humanae vitae.
 
The study of these documents lead Marengo to a final conclusion: “the idea that Paul VI made his decisions alone is just mythological.”

At the same time, “the isolation in which he found himself” after the promulgation of the encyclical is a different matter, Marengo said.
 
The book is the conclusion of a historical research project on Humanae vitae which initially sparked concern when announced. At the beginning, some speculated that a commission to reinterpret Humanae vitae had been formed, composed of Marengo, along with Pierangelo Sequeri, president of the Pontifical Theological Institute John Paul II, and professors Philippe Chenaux and Angelo Maffeis.

Church officials said last June this was not the study group’s intended purpose, and Marengo, at the eve of the publication of the book, told CNA that Paul VI’s encyclical needed no update.

“The journey toward Humanae vitae was not difficult because of Paul VI’s doubts or uncertainties on contraceptive practice. Difficulties came from the seeking of a language able to convey that judgement in a balanced, convincing and pastorally fruitful way,” Marengo said
 
The path toward the publication of Humanae Vitae was long. It started in 1963, when St. John XXIII established a commission for the study of marriage, family and birth control.
 
Shortly after this, St. John XXIII died, and Paul VI was elected pope. He expanded the commission’s membership from 6 to 12, and in 1965 he further expanded the membership to 75, chaired by Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, prefect of the Holy Office – now named the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.
 
Professor Marengo’s book follows step-by-step the development of discussion, from one session of the commission to another. In general, there is at first a pastoral approach, then a more doctrinal one, and then the synthesis offered by Bl. Paul VI.
 
Among the biggest concerns of some commission members was that arguing that the use of a contraceptive pill could be licit in some particular cases would favor the anti-birth policies of the developed West, thus impacting negatively the poorest countries.
 
The issue of birth control was part of the discussion during the drafting of the Second Vatican Council’s constitution Gaudium et Spes. However, Paul VI made the decision to take the birth control issue out of the discussion. Marengo notes that the pope asked to include in Gaudium et Spes sections reiterating the Church’s teaching on issues of marriage and family, opposing contraceptive mentalities and praising conjugal chastity, in order not to raise any doubt about Catholic teaching.
 
Particularly noteworthy is the plenary meeting of the expanded commission that took place March 25 – 29, 1965. The gathering recognized that a public statement on responsible paternity was needed, while it underscored that it had been impossible to reach a shared conclusion about whether the pill could be used licitly.
 
So, they proposed a temporary pastoral instruction, a “provisional solution to face the impossibility of reaching a convincing doctrinal stance.”
 
Paul VI did not like it. Marengo noted that the pope was concerned “to avoid that the Church, and especially the magisterium, seemed unable to say a clear word on such a debated issue in the public opinion.”
 
In addition to that, Paul VI deemed unacceptable “to back a change of the magisterium, not because there were strong and shared reasons, but because of the inability to untie all the knots.”
 
Bishop Carlo Colombo, then auxiliary bishop of Milan, also made his proposal for a pastoral turn, and presented a text which said that “contraceptive practice must not always be considered grave sin,” which was a way in the middle not to detach from Pius XI and Pius XII teachings and at the same time to dissolve conflict of conscience among spouses.
 
Paul VI did not take this suggestion, and started a new path of study, in his constant attempt to find a good balance between pastoral practice and doctrine.
 
Marengo underscored that, at the time, finding the proper language was difficult, as “a certain appeal for pastorality had been used to put in discussion some not-secondary issues of doctrine, and this caused uncertainty and uneasiness in the ecclesial body.”
 
At this point, international pressure started to mount.
 
A document stressing that 70 members of the Pontifical Commission were favorable toward the birth control pill was published simultaneously in the French newspaper “Le Monde,” the English magazine “The Tablet,” and the American magazine “National Catholic Reporter” in 1967.
 
This publication is at the origin of the popular narrative that Paul VI acted alone, and against the opinion of the majority of commission theologians.
 
In 2003, Bernardo Colombo, a professor of demographics and a member of the commission, revealed that the document was in fact “just one of the 12 reports presented to the Holy Father,” in an article he wrote in “Teologia”, the journal of the theological faculty of Milan.
 
Professor Marengo’s book also dismisses the narrative.

Despite pressure, the work toward the drafting of an encyclical proceeded. In 1967, Paul VI askes the Vatican Secretary of State to poll participants in the first Synod of Bishops.
 
Only 26 out of the 199 participants in the Synod respond to a request that they give an opinion on birth control. The majority of them called for openness to the use of contraception, while only seven asked the Pope to reiterate the immorality of contraception, according to Marengo.
 
It was, however, only a minority of surveyed bishops who even responded to the survey.
 
Paul VI’s collegial way of working is proved by the numerous opinions he sought, as well as regular dialogue with theologians and commissions, and that final request to the Synod of Bishops.
 
Marengo stressed that “not a few looked at the encyclical as a decision made by Paul VI in total solitude, without taking in consideration the dynamics of the majority and the minority,” despite ample evidence to the contrary.
 
“Although Paul VI had a strong awareness of the apostolic ministry with which he was entrusted, he never wanted to make the decision alone, and his attempt to involve Synod’s fathers in 1967 is a clear proof of that,” Marengo wrote.
 
In the end, Bl. Paul VI had also the courage to reject De Nascendi Prolis, the first draft of the encyclical, after it was already set and had been sent out for translation. Paul VI took the suggestion of Paul Poupard and Jacques Martin, French and English translators of the text and both of them future cardinals.
 
When they read the text, they both stressed that the draft “seemed to be unfit to the task,” that is “to make the doctrine of the Church intelligible and as much as possible acceptable to the modern world in such a delicate and discussed issue.”
 
Poupard and Martin also sketched their own draft, which started on different basis: De Nascende Prolis was mostly a clear and correct explanation of principles, while the Poupard – Martin draft took the perspective of the faithful that hoped from the Church for an interpretation of the moral law.
 
That was, in general, the discussion that led to the final drafting of the Humanae vitae. From Paul VI’s personal corrections to the text, one sees that it was the pope who wanted to add the adjective “human” to the encyclical’s opening.
 
According to Marengo, the text of Humanae vitae shows “the pope’s will to avoid the idea that the search for a doctrinal clarity might be interpreted as insensitive rigidity.”

Paul VI also wanted to emphasize that the Church was very much eager to share problems and difficulties of couples, but not to the point of “justifying a teaching that was not fully consistent with the totality and integrality of the Gospel’s message.”
 
In the end, Paul VI took every possible outcome into consideration. He did not want to suspend any doctrinal judgment, but in reaffirming the doctrine he also put at the center the pastoral method. This was the spirit of the Council: to keep continuity with the deposit of faith, looking for a new way to present it to the world.
 
 One final note: beyond any pastoral openness or scientific uncertainty, documents and drafts prior to the publication of the encyclical show that the final goal was to publish a text in continuity with the Church’s traditional teaching.
 
Paul VI did not want to make a formal declaration to say the teaching of the encyclical was infallible, as requested by the Cardinal Wojtyla. This does not mean, in the end, that he did not consider this teaching as definitive. Everything was solidly anchored to the teaching of the Church. 

University removes priest who hosted rosary of reparation for gay pride parade

Glasgow, Scotland, Jul 19, 2018 / 03:42 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A Catholic priest in Glasgow has been removed as a university chaplain after hosting a rosary of reparation for the city’s gay pride parade.

Father Mark Morris, who served as Catholic chaplain at Glasgow Caledonian University's faith and belief center as well as a parish priest at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Balornock, hosted a ‘Rosary of reparation for the gross offence to God which is Pride Glasgow’ at the parish.

The July 16 Rosary service was held in response to a gay pride event in the city on July 14.

After complaints from LGBT groups, University principal Pamela Gillies announced that “Following due consultation, Father Mark Morris will not return to his chaplaincy role at the university in September,” the BBC reported.

“The university will work with the Archdiocese of Glasgow to ensure the continued provision of chaplaincy support for staff and students at our faith and belief centre when the new term starts,” she said.

A university spokesperson cited a commitment to “supporting equality and diversity on campus,” the Scottish Catholic Observer reported.

The GCU Catholic community issued a statement on Facebook voicing full support for and solidarity with Morris and asking the university to reconsider its dismissal of the priest.

“It is frankly abhorrent that a Catholic Priest would be dismissed from his post as a Catholic chaplain for merely reaffirming the teachings of the Catholic Faith,” the statement said.

The Catholic community described Morris as a “faithful priest who has served our community with joy, dignity, and a smiling face for many years now.” He is both clear and charitable in presenting the truth of Church teaching, and is “well-loved by the students,” they said.

The statement voiced concern that Catholic beliefs “are not valued or respected at the university chaplaincy” and noted that the Rosary hosted by Morris was a parish event, not part of his chaplaincy duties.

“In line with Church teaching, Fr Morris has made it clear on many occasions that homosexual persons are called to a life of chastity. In no way does this mean that homosexual persons are not welcome here at the chaplaincy, nor does it mean that they have fallen short of the love of God,” the university’s Catholic community said.

The Archdiocese of Glasgow said it “is aware of the University’s decision and will address the provision of chaplaincy support in due course,” the Scottish Catholic Observer reported.



Center for women with crisis pregancies to open in Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jul 19, 2018 / 03:29 pm (ACI Prensa).- Priests who work in the slums of Buenos Aires announced Tuesday a “Home of the Motherly Embrace” to care for women in crisis pregnancies.

The initiative, presented at Christ the Worker parish July 17, seeks to respond  to the needs of women who live in the slums and also is a sign of the commitment of the Church to defending the lives of the unborn and their mothers.

Besides lamenting the progress of the abortion bill which passed in the Argentine Chamber of Deputies and is now being debated in the Senate, the priests explained that the Home of the Motherly Embrace will receive teens and young adult women with at-risk pregnancies who are abandoned and who may be tempted to abort, as well as women who have procured abortions.
 
They will be provided nutrition, medical care and checkups, psychological support, and legal and social counseling during the pregnancy and their babies' first years, until they enter the educational system.

The center will seek to facilitate access to maternity policies and programs, and, if necessary, the process of adoption.

“In a family atmosphere that welcomes, embraces and accompanies (we) will especially seek to encourage and strengthen (the women). The center will also receive and accompany teenage or young adult dads in their growing responsibilities,” the priests said in a statement.

“We choose to take on the  responsibility for these dramatic situations as a community and we're not uncritically awaiting the establishment of an actual throwaway culture of human beings.”

The priests will carry out their work “there (in the slums) where life goes forward despite the difficulties; and every pregnancy, every girl and every boy, is awaited and welcomed as a gift, with the hope that a future different and better than the existing one awaits him or her.”

The proposal was signed by four bishops, more than 20 priests, and two nuns.

 

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

New sexual abuse allegations leveled against Cardinal McCarrick

Washington D.C., Jul 19, 2018 / 03:15 pm (CNA).- A Virginia man filed a police report Monday, alleging that from the age of 11 he was sexually abused and assaulted serially by now-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was a priest of the Archdiocese of New York when the abuse was alleged to have begun.

The New York Times reported July 19 the man’s allegation, that McCarrick began sexually abusing him in 1969, when the priest was 39 and the man, “James,” whose full name has not been reported, was 11 years old. McCarrick was reportedly a friend to the alleged victim’s family.  

The man says that he continued to be sexually abused by McCarrick for almost two decades, the Times reported.

The man claims that the abuse contributed to alcohol and drug habits that plagued him for years. He also says that he attempted to disclose the abuse to his father several years after it began, but was disbelieved, according to the Times.

In 1969, when the abuse is alleged to have begun, McCarrick ended a four-year term as president of the Catholic University of Puerto Rico, and became assistant secretary for education in the Archdiocese of New York. In 1977, he become auxiliary bishop of New York, and later became the Bishop of Metuchen, Archbishop of Newark, and, eventually, Archbishop of Washington.

Criminal statutes of limitation may prevent McCarrick from being charged with crimes relating to the abuse alleged Monday. A canonical statute of limitations, known technically as prescription, might also preclude the possibility that McCarrick face canonical charges for the alleged abuse, although the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is authorized to waive that statute in certain circumstances.

Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, told CNA Thursday that the archdiocese learned of these allegations only when the New York Times article was published.

The archdiocese has not heard from law enforcement agencies about this matter, or from the alleged victim or his attorney, Zwilling said, adding that he hopes the victim or his attorney will contact the archdiocese, directly, or through the archdiocese’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, an independently managed entity designed to assist victims of clerical sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of New York.

A source close to McCarrick told CNA that he had not received any official notification of the allegation and is therefore unable to respond. The source said the cardinal is committed to following the processes put in place by Church authorities regarding the allegations.

On June 20, the Archdiocese of New York, announced that it had concluded an investigation into a different allegation that McCarrick had sexually abused a teenager, finding the claim to be “credible and substantiated.”  

The Vatican was informed of that accusation, and as a result, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, by order of Pope Francis, prohibited McCarrick, 88, from public ministry.

Since that announcement, media reports have detailed additional allegations, charging that McCarrick sexually abused, assaulted, or coerced seminarians and young priests during his time as a bishop. The Diocese of Metuchen and Archdiocese of Newark disclosed that they had recevied reports that McCarrick engaged in sexual misconduct with adults, and reached legal and financial settlements in two cases.

McCarrick is reportedly now living at a Catholic nursing facility administered by religious sisters. The cardinal has not been publicly prohibited from contact with minors, a precautionary step often taken when a priest is being investigated for an allegation of abuse against a minor.

The Vatican has not announced if McCarrick will face canonical charges related to the initial allegation of sexual abuse. Sources tell CNA that the matter is being addressed at the Vatican under the direct supervision of Pope Francis.

 

Catholic church in UAE to host fatherhood celebration for migrant workers

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Jul 19, 2018 / 02:47 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A Catholic church in Dubai is hosting a celebration to honor the United Arab Emirates’ migrant workers – many of whom are fathers separated from their homes to provide for their families.   

It is a “day to honor some…fathers who are working here, separated from their families back home,” said Father Lennie Connully, OFM Cap., pastor of St Mary’s Catholic Church.

“They are here struggling for their families. We want to honor them, 500 of them,” he told CNA.

More than 500 men are expected to attend the July 20 event taking place at a labor camp for Khansaheb Investments in Dubai, more than 80 miles northeast of Abu Dhabi.

Organized by Saint Mary’s Catholic Church, the workers will enjoy games, dinner, dance, and gift baskets. The men will be given a combination of food and necessities, including items such as coffee, tea, sugar, detergents, razors, and phone cards. Father Connully said the calling cards will help connect the fathers and their families.

The fathers are “making a big sacrifice in being away from their families just to provide for them. So that is the reason why we thought of them,” he said. “It’s not on a very big scale, but it is something we can give at this moment.”

This is the third annual event that St Mary’s parish will host to provide aid and comfort to the people within the UAE. In 2017, the church celebrated the women who provide cleaning services.

This year, the event coincides with celebrations of the life of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding president of the UAE.

“There can be no better way to commemorate the Year of Zayed – founding father of the UAE – than by honouring lonely fathers on the occasion of International Father’s Day. Shaikh Zayed is a true symbol of humanitarianism. To honour his vision and memory, St. Mary’s Catholic Church has decided to bring fun and entertainment into the lives of more than 500 deserving workers from selected labour accommodations in Dubai,” Fr. Connully said, according to Gulf News.

Dubai has a large migrant-to-citizen ratio, with immigrants making up more than 80 percent of the population and 90 percent of the work force.

Father Connully told CNA that the labor camps, though imperfect, offer these men a chance to be employed.

“A labor accommodation is provided by the company which employs them,” he said. “We cannot say it is ideal, but then the company, of course, is by all means looking for profit with using as little as possible.”

In 2016, numerous reports came out about these labor camp’s low wages, undocumented workers, and poor living conditions. According to Khaleej Times, there are months when workers were not paid and visas where confiscated.

However, Father Connully said the conditions are comparatively good to situations these workers face in their home countries, and the wages are still an opportunity the men may not have otherwise.

“It is comparatively good because they all have single rooms and all that…they have air conditioning and other good[s] compared to” their home countries, he said. “They are able to spare something, send something back home.”

The Asian Migrant Centre found that the largest source of migrant workers in the UAE originate from India. There are also large numbers of guest workers who are Catholic from Africa, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and the Philippines.

There are also sizable minorities of Hindus and Buddhists among the guest workers.

The Father's Day event will serve men of “any religion,” Fr. Connully said. “We have Hindus, Muslims, Christians, all sorts of people from all over the world.”

Because God is the provider, Father Connully said fatherhood plays an important role in the faith and is an honored position.

“In the Christian faith, [fatherhood is] a very, very important role…because we look to God as our Father. He is the provider of all mankind and the Father of the family. In the Christian family, the father has a big role to play and the father has an honored position in every family, especially in the East.”

Latin American bishops announce day of prayer for Nicaragua

Managua, Nicaragua, Jul 19, 2018 / 01:04 pm (ACI Prensa).- The Council of Latin American Bishops has expressed solidarity with the people of Nicaragua and declared Sunday, July 22, a day of prayer for the country.

The bishops of Nicaragua have also called for a day of fasting on July 20, and a month of prayer including adoration, the rosary, fasting, penance and the renewal of baptismal promises.

In a message released July 18, the bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean expressed their “closeness and solidarity with the Nicaraguan people and with their pastors, prophets of justice, in the face of the dramatic and painful social and political crisis currently experienced there.”

“In the face of this grave situation, we are called to be the voice of those who have no voice to uphold their rights, to finds ways to dialogue and establish justice and peace, 'so that in Christ all may have life,' especially those who feel disconsolate because of the deaths and violence.”

“We encourage you to continue to defend human rights and to be bearers of hope,” the council told the bishops of Nicaragua.

Since April 18, there have been massive demonstrations in Nicaragua against President Daniel Ortega, who has been in power since 2007 and was reelected in 2016 in elections disputed by the opposition. In January 2014, he oversaw the abolition of presidential term limits.

The demonstrations have been put down by police and paramilitaries, with more than 300 deaths.

The Catholic Church has participated as a mediator and witness to national peace talks convened by Ortega. However, Church officials have also faced attacks from groups with ties to the government.

On July 9, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, apostolic nuncio Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, and Bishop Silvio Báez were assaulted during a pastoral visit to Diriamba.

Divine Mercy parish in Managua, where more than 100 students had taken refuge, was also attacked by police and paramilitaries during the night of July 13.

The following day, pro-government mobs attacked the car of Bishop Abelardo Mata of Estelí. The bishop took refuge in a nearby house and was able to return to his diocese only after dark, with the help of Cardinal Brenes, who intervened with the government to send police commissioner Ramon Avellan to guarantee Mata’s physical safety.

The Organization of American States condemned the violence in Nicaragua July 18 and urged Ortega to hold early elections in March 2019 to alleviate the crisis. The bishops of Nicaragua made a similar request last June, but Ortega has ruled this out.

In their July 14 statement, the Nicaraguan Bishops' Conference denounced “the lack of political will by the government to dialogue” and seek real processes that would lead the country to a true democracy.

Nicaragua's crisis began after Ortega announced social security and pension reforms. The changes were soon abandoned in the face of widespread, vocal opposition, but protests only intensified after more than 40 protesters were killed by security forces initially.

Anti-government protesters have been attacked by “combined forces” made up of regular police, riot police, paramilitaries, and pro-government vigilantes.

The Nicaraguan government has suggested that protesters are killing their own supporters so as to destabilize Ortega's administration.

The pension reforms which triggered the unrest were modest, but protests quickly turned to Ortega's authoritarian bent.

Ortega was a leader in the Sandinista National Liberation Front, which had ousted the Somoza dictatorship in 1979 and fought US-backed right-wing counterrevolutionaries during the 1980s. Ortega was also leader of Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990.

Aid to the Church in Need has launched an online global prayer campaign for Nicaragua, stressing that the nation is facing “its bloodiest crisis since the 80s.”

 

 

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