Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City has welcomed the decision by Oklahoma and Kansas to join nine other US states in signing legislation ensuring that faith-based adoption and foster care providers can provide these services in accordance with their religious beliefs. Catholic adoption agencies in some other states including Illinois, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia have been forced to close because of laws requiring them to place children with same-sex couples or unmarried couples. Supporters of the legislation in Oklahoma argue that the many non-Catholic adoption agencies in the state make sufficient provision for LGBT adoptive parents.
More than 150 Catholic groups in Canada have applied for and accepted grants for Canada Summer Jobs projects for students, despite a requirement from Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government to tick a box attesting that they accept abortion as a human right. Over 100 of these are parishes, but some are charities, schools, hospitals and care homes. According to LifeSiteNews, some of these groups have now retracted their acceptance, saying it was made in error, and have returned the money. But others have said they are keeping the funding because they are already committed to their projects. At least three Canadian bishops have instructed parishes to return any funding they have been given. The Archdiocese of Toronto has calculated that it will lose $1.1m (£637k) in grants to about 30 parishes and charities.
Nicaragua’s bishops have suspended their role as mediators in a national dialogue amid political turmoil in the country, citing a “lack of consensus among the parties”. The bishops said a six-person commission should continue to seek a solution. Protests against President Ortega’s rule have left several dozen people dead. “We’re putting out a call to all media and social networks to please stay on the side of truth, and foster a respectful environment that aids further dialogue, avoiding attacks, disqualifications, and threats that damage dignity, reputation, body, and morale,” the bishops’ mediation and witness commission said. “It was impossible to continue with the National Dialogue,” said Auxiliary Bishop Silvio José Báez of Managua.
A new cardinal-designate once faced death threats because of his environmental views, it was reported this week. Archbishop Pedro Barreto Jimeno of Huancayo, Peru, campaigned against a smelting complex that was polluting the area and giving children lead poisoning. During one protest in favour of the smelter and against the environmental coalition, protesters carried a coffin with the archbishop’s name on it. “He was not afraid to risk his life at times when he had to denounce and oppose powerful interests on issues related to mining companies, making an option for the environment and the people,” said Mauricio Lopez of the Pan-Amazonian Church Network.
The head of the Chilean Church’s National Commission for the Prevention of Abuses has resigned for failing to respond to allegations of sexual abuse in his diocese. Two years ago Bishop Alejando Goic of Rancagua received information about a group of priests known as La Familia who were accused of sexual misconduct, including the abuse of children. But he did not take any action until a news programme broadcast the story recently. Fourteen priests in his diocese have now been suspended pending investigation.
Cardinal Mario Poli of Buenos Aires has urged politicians to protect the unborn in a homily delivered in front of the country’s president, Mauricio Macri. The remarks were made on the day of the Irish referendum. In a sermon for an annual Te Deum Mass, he said the “first duty of the state” was to care for the life of its citizens, especially the weak. He quoted Pope Francis saying that the defence of the unborn “needs to be clear, firm and passionate”. Abortion is rare in Argentina but President Macri has allowed Congress to debate liberalising the law.
Two bishops have strongly criticised the BBC after a presenter asked Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg whether his Catholic faith was a bar to holding high office. The bishops of Shrewsbury and Paisley made the remarks after the MP was interviewed by Jo Coburn on the BBC’s Daily Politics show. Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury told the Herald: “It is hard to see this treatment of Catholic politicians as being other than a new bigotry.”
A statue of a saint has been removed from outside a Catholic church in China days after it was installed last month. The statue of St John Wu Wenyin, who was tortured and executed during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, was taken down by the Church in Handan diocese in the Hebei province after online complaints about its installation. The complaints came from a blogger thought to have official connections who said the statue contradicted the position of the party and the state.
Incidents of religious repression in China have been growing in recent months. Faith Weekly, the biggest Catholic media outlet in China, has been ordered not to report any news about Month of Mary pilgrimages in the country.
An Australian nun who angered the Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte by taking part in a protest has had a month-long reprieve on an order to leave the country. Sister Patricia Fox, 71, superior of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion, said of Duterte: “I think he is still unhappy with me.”
The bishops’ conference of Cameroon has called for urgent talks to stop an escalating conflict between English-speaking separatists and government forces. “Let us stop all forms of violence, and let us stop killing each other … Let us spare our country, Cameroon, an unnecessary and baseless civil war,” said a letter signed by Archbishop Samuel Kleda of Douala. “We, the Bishops of Cameroon, believe that there is urgent need for mediation.” They said the English-speaking parts of the country were marked by “blind, monstrous violence and … radicalisation”.
A Catholic priest in the Democratic Republic of Congo is reported to have contracted the Ebola virus. The unnamed priest, from the western diocese of Mbandaka-Bikoro, has been quarantined. In the most recent outbreak of the disease, which has no known cure, 22 have died and more than 50 other people in the country have been infected.
Catholic Relief Services has been working with Caritas and other organisations to combat the deadly disease, helping people to take precautions and reduce their risk of contracting or transmitting the virus. More than 11,000 died in the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
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