A Toronto jury has ordered the Congregation of St Basil to pay $2.6 million (£1.5 million) in damages to a man abused by a priest 50 years ago. The sum is a record for clerical abuse in Canada. The court heard that Hod Marshall (pictured) was moved between schools despite admitting he had abused teenage boys. In 2011 he was convicted of 17 instances of indecent assault and given a two-year sentence. Rod MacLeod, who was abused over four years, said he was pleased a new benchmark had been set. Fr David Katulski, the Basilians’ vicar general, apologised “sincerely and unreservedly” for Marshall’s conduct but said the order was considering an appeal.
A priest who was kidnapped last month has been found dead in the Mexican state of Morelos. Fr Moises Fabila Reyes, 83, who worked at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, was abducted while on holiday. He appears to have died of a heart attack as a result of the conditions in which he was held. His family are believed to have paid a ransom of more than $100,000.
Fr Reyes is the latest victim of Mexico’s endemic violence. In the week his body was found, two other priests were murdered. Fr Juan Miguel Contreras was shot dead while hearing Confessions. Fr Rubén Alcántara, vicar general of the Diocese of Cautitlan Izalli, outside Mexico City, was stabbed to death the day before. The Catholic Multimedia Center, which monitors violence, called it the Church’s “black April”.
Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes has told demonstrators in Nicaragua that their government is “demonic” and “based on envy and every kind of evil”.
He was speaking after the Church agreed to act as a mediator between the administration of Daniel Ortega and the opposition. The reconciliation talks follow a crackdown on protests that left more than 60 people dead. Protesters were unhappy about planned cuts to pensions and Ortega’s authoritarian rule. Cardinal Brenes said during a demonstration last Saturday: “The government has just one month to come through. If it doesn’t, the people will be told that it couldn’t.” (see Fr Raymond de Souza, later article).
Bishops in Venezuela have said their country faces a “history of death” if the government presses ahead with elections this month. They said the elections lacked legitimacy and would cause further mayhem in a country marked by rising disease and food shortages, where 90 per cent of the population live in poverty. Many candidates are banned from standing. The bishops warned that, “far from providing a solution to the crisis in the country, [the elections] can aggravate it and lead it to an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe”. They called for the elections to be postponed.
Twenty-eight per cent of Catholics in the United States say they believe in a “higher power”, but not in God as described in the Bible, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.
The poll suggested that 69 per cent of Catholics do believe in a biblical God. This figure goes up to 92 per cent among historically black Protestant traditions. For Evangelical traditions, it was 91 per cent and for mainline Protestants it was 72 per cent.
Among American adults generally, 90 per cent said they believed in a “higher power”, while 56 per cent believed in God as described in the Bible. Among all demographic groups, more women than men saw God at work in all or most of what happened in their lives. The figures came from a telephone survey of 4,700 adults.
One of Pope Francis’s closest associates in Argentina, Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández, is stepping down from his role as rector of the Catholic University of Argentina (UCA), to be replaced by lay professor Miguel Ángel Schiavone.
Some speculate that Archbishop Fernández may be appointed Archbishop of La Plata, a major diocese, as the incumbent, Archbishop Héctor Aguer, turns 75 next May. Archbishop Fernández is thought to have been a key contributor to Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium and Amoris Laetitia. He often appears on television in Argentina to comment on Pope Francis’s statements.
Poland’s bishops have said they no longer have enough clergy to minister to Poles living abroad and urged emigrant Catholics to integrate more with the Church in other countries.
“Even with a very large group of Polish priests, it isn’t possible to reach in a timely way every place where Poles are found,” said the Warsaw-based bishops’ conference.
While thanking bishops in other countries for enabling Polish-language Masses, they said Poles should also attend Masses in the local language and maintain strong contacts with Catholics of other nationalities. “Promote Polish culture, defend Poland’s good name … But also respect the country which has accepted you and given you work,” they said.
A bishop in the Republic of Congo has said his priests’ “first concern is to get enough to eat”.
Bishop Bienvenu Manamika Bafouakouahou of Dolisie said priests’ ill health was a second issue, as the diocese could not afford insurance. “If one of them were to have serious health problems, I don’t know what we’d do,” he said. Poverty in the country was growing because of a drop in oil prices, but the biggest challenge was a lack of safe drinking water. “Many adults die drinking contaminated water, even children,” he said. “Hundreds of people are buried almost every day.”
The philippines Bishops’ Conference has appointed a priest to look into the care of migrant workers in Kuwait amid a fierce diplomatic row.
Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines president, has imposed a ban on workers going to Kuwait following concerns over their treatment. He also called for the 260,000 workers there to return home. His actions came after reports of abused workers committing suicide and the discovery of a maid’s body in a freezer.
Bishop Ruperto Santos said that Fr Restituto Ogsimer would investigate the “real condition” of workers and show that the Church is concerned about their welfare.
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