In brief

Washington, DC

Paul Ryan gives ousted Jesuit his job back

Fr Patrick Conroy, the ousted Jesuit chaplain for the US House of Representatives, has returned to his post. In a letter to the Speaker, Paul Ryan, Fr Conroy said he wished to retract his resignation. Mr Ryan, whose office had asked the priest to resign, reinstated him after the letter became public. “I have never been disciplined, nor reprimanded, nor have I ever heard a complaint about my ministry during my time as House chaplain,” the letter said. Mr Ryan said his original decision was made in what he thought was the best interests of the House, but he had decided that “a protracted fight over such an important post” would not be good for the body.


Catholics dismayed at expulsion of Hondurans

Catholic groups have condemned a decision by President Donald Trump to end temporary protected status for more than 57,000 Hondurans living in the United States.Hondurans who arrived in the United States after the devastation of Hurricane Mitch in 1998 now have until January 5, 2020, to return to their country.

Conor Walsh, the Honduras representative for Catholic Relief Services, said that returning such large numbers to a country with a “staggering unemployment rate, high rates of violence, and few available resources … could quickly become a tipping point for communities”. Sister Patricia McDermott, president of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, called the decision “immoral”.

San Salvador

Romero canonisation to be approved next week

The canonisation of Blessed Oscar Romero will gain final approval at a meeting of Pope Francis and cardinals on Saturday May 19, the Vatican has confirmed. Details of the canonisation are expected to be made public shortly after.

Salvadoran Archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas has said the canonisation will “probably” be held in Rome in October, but that El Salvador’s archbishops had requested in a letter to the Pope that the ceremony be held in their country, allowing poor Salvadorans to attend it. The assembled cardinals will also approve the canonisations of five others, including Blessed Pope Paul VI.


Bishops call for ‘authentic democracy’ in Nicaragua

Nicaragua’s bishops’ conference, which has agreed to mediate a national dialogue after a crackdown on protesters left at least 45 dead, has said that the goal of the talks must be to “revise the political system of Nicaragua to achieve an authentic democracy”.

The bishops said the deaths of protesters must be “completely clarified”. The protests began as a reaction to Daniel Ortega’s pension reforms but turned into wider anger against the government. Last week Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes told demonstrators that the Ortega administration was “demonic”.


Canada’s MPs back call for Pope to apologise over abuses

Canada’s House of Commons has overwhelmingly supported a motion to call on Pope Francis to apologise on Canadian soil for abuses that occurred at Church-run residential schools.

What happens next, however, remains unclear. The prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has already invited Pope Francis to Canada to issue a papal apology as called for in a 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission report. Pope Francis has also received invitations from individual bishops.

In a letter released by the Canadian bishops’ conference to the indigenous peoples of Canada, Bishop Lionel Gendron, bishops’ conference president, said a papal visit was not imminent and the Pope “felt he could not personally respond” to the commission’s request to apologise in Canada.


Peru March for Life ‘draws 800,000’

A March for Life in Lima, Peru, drew an estimated 800,000 people last Saturday, Vatican News has reported.The march, which has been organised for six years in a row, was attended by César Villanueva, the prime minister.

Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, one of the main promoters of the event, said on his Saturday radio programme that the march was “a celebration of life”. He suggested that abortion advocates should take their own lives if they were not in favour of it. Abortion is permitted in Peru only if the mother’s life or health is at risk.


BBC re-edits show that misrepresented Jesuit

The BBC has apologised for portraying a Jesuit priest as being involved in the Gunpowder plot. The documentary Elizabeth I’s Secret Agents, originally aired on BBC2, made a series of claims linking Fr John Gerard to the 1605 conspiracy. These scenes have now been re-edited after the BBC upheld a complaint by Michael Maslinski, a 10-times great nephew of Fr Gerard.

Mr Maslinski said: “John Gerard has been revered in my family for 400 years and I was deeply shocked that the series clearly implicated him in the Gunpowder Plot, without any supporting evidence.” Fr Gerard became famous after a daring escape in 1597 from the Tower of London. He died in Rome.


Church official: ‘no real progress’ for Catholics in Russia

Mgr Igor Kovalevsky, secretary-general of Russia’s Catholic Bishops’ Conference, has said that “no real progress” has been made in solving Catholic problems in the country.

“The general situation in Russia isn’t easy right now, and the Catholic Church still faces great challenges in merely building bridges,” he told the Tablet. Last year he said the Church was still trying to regain Catholic buildings seized during the Soviet era. Despite a court order, he said, city officials were refusing to return them.


Cardinal on trial

Cardinal George Pell will stand trial for alleged sex abuse, a magistrate has ruled. Magistrate Belinda Wallington dismissed about half the charges after hearing four weeks of testimony. The charges have not been made public and Cardinal Pell has strongly denied any wrongdoing.

Vatican City

I am part of the problem on abuse, says Pope

Pope Francis has told a Chilean abuse survivor that he was “part of the problem” on the issue of clerical sex abuse.

The Pope met three Chilean survivors individually last week. At a press conference the men said his apology to them must be accompanied by concrete action against those who covered up sexual abuse. “I have never seen someone be so contrite about what he was telling me,” Juan Carlos Cruz told journalists. “I also felt that he was hurting, which for me was very solemn … He said: ‘I was part of the problem.’”


Bishop laments ‘climate of fear’ ahead of vote in Burundi

Burundi’s Catholic bishops have said they oppose a referendum taking place next week that could allow the president to rule until 2034. A draft constitution, put forward by President Pierre Nkurunziza, would limit presidents to two consecutive seven-year terms but would not take into account previous terms.

A statement signed by 10 Catholic bishops said it was “not the appropriate time to make profound changes” to the constitution.
Bishop Joachim Ntahondereye, conference president, told Vatican Radio that a “climate of fear” now permeated society. “People are afraid to say what they think, for fear of reprisals,” the bishop said.