Catholics from across New Mexico and Texas have flocked to see a statue of the Virgin Mary said to be weeping tears. Parishioners first noticed the phenomenon at the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Hobbs, New Mexico, during Sunday Mass. Even after the statue’s face was wiped, they said, the tears reappeared.
“That’s when I saw that she really was crying,” Fr José Segura said. “I think it’s a reminder for all of us to get closer to God and to stop being violent.” The Diocese of Las Cruces said it was investigating. “We try to take a scientific scepticism,” said Deacon Jim Winder, vice chancellor. “You can’t prove a miracle, but you can disprove all other explanations.”
Masked men fire mortar at Jesuit university
Masked men attacked security guards at the Jesuit-run University of Central America in Nicaragua last week. Fr José Alberto Idiaquez, the university rector, said the assailants arrived in vans and fired mortar shots at the guards. Their intent, he said, was to hurt or kill, “based on the charge of gunpowder used and the nearness of the shot”. He said the attackers were “armed with impunity guaranteed to them by the current government”.
The attack came during a week in which at least 15 people were killed during protests against the administration of Daniel Ortega. On Sunday Pope Francis prayed for an end to the violence, which followed a failed attempt by the bishops to mediate dialogue between the government and opposition groups.
Gang in Venezuela seizes church buildings
A group claiming to be acting for a local mayor has seized church property in Mérida state, Venezuela. The group stormed into Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in Ejido, south-west of Mérida, last week, tearing off padlocks on doors giving access to the parish halls and football field. They ordered the priest, Fr José Juan Flores, to remove his belongings, then welded the doors shut.
Auxiliary Bishop Luis Enrique Rojas Ruiz of Mérida said the behaviour was “frightening and arbitrary”.Tensions between the Church and Nicolás Maduro’s government are high. Earlier this year President Maduro called two bishops “devils in cassocks”.
New cardinal denounces rumours he has wife and children
Bolivian Cardinal-designate Toribio Ticona has strongly rejected claims that he has a wife and children. The rumours first surfaced in 2011, but were “simple calumny”. He said he would have “no problem filing a libel lawsuit”. The website Adelante La Fe had claimed it was a “well known fact” that Bishop Ticona, 81, was “living with a lady in Oruro’s chancery” while bishop of Coro Coro. But the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero said the Vatican had investigated and found that “nothing is true”. The bishop will be elevated to the College of Cardinals on June 29.
Supreme Court sides with baker over gay wedding cake
The US Supreme Court has sided 7-2 with a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, said the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had violated the constitution’s protection of religious freedom in its ruling against the Masterpiece Cakeshop. But he said the case had limited scope, explaining that the issue “must await further elaboration”.
The court ruled that the cake in question was an artistic creation, not just a baked good. It said: “If a baker refused to sell any goods or any cakes for gay weddings, that would be a different matter.” But in this case, the court said, the baker “had to use his artistic skills to make an expressive statement, a wedding endorsement in his own voice and of his own creation”.
Abuse survivors ‘comforted’ by Pope
Priests who were abused by the influential Chilean cleric Fr Fernando Karadima have said they feel comforted and hopeful about the Church’s future after a four-hour meeting with Pope Francis.Fr Eugenio de la Fuente Lora, one of five priests described as having suffered “abuses of power, of conscience and of sexual abuse”, said he felt “immense gratitude” to the Pope, whom he described as an “admirably empathetic person”. Fr de la Fuente added: “I have great hope because he has a very ample and profound understanding of the problem” and had identified “concrete paths for moving forward”.
Complaints of abuse increase for fourth year in a row
The number of allegations of child abuse made to the Church in England and Wales has risen for the fourth year running. Last year complaints were made against 118 individuals, up from 93 in 2016 and 91 in 2015. In 2014 the figure was 79.The figures were released by the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission, an independent body that oversees standards in safeguarding in the English and Welsh Church.
The incidents related to child pornography, sexual abuse and physical abuse. More than five out of six abuse allegations related to offences against boys, with only 13 per cent against girls. About a fifth of the reported incidents occurred in the previous year.
Vatican rejects German proposal for sharing Communion
Pope Francis has asked the German bishops’ conference not to publish guidelines which would have relaxed the rules on Protestants receiving Communion at Mass.
Cardinal-designate Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said in a letter that the guidelines raised “a series of problems of notable importance”. He said he had spoken to the Pope. “The Holy Father has reached the conclusion that the document has not matured enough to be published.”
Death sites honour
Japan has proposed that Oura Cathedral in Nagasaki and a dozen other sites be given Unesco World Heritage status. In Nagasaki 26 Christians were crucified by order of the Japanese chancellor of the realm in 1597. Unesco is expected to consider the request later this month.
Dramatic photo shows bishop blessing Ebola priest
A Congolese priest who was placed in quarantine after testing positive for Ebola has reportedly been released and declared Ebola-free. A picture of Fr Lucien Ambunga kneeling as Bishop Fridolin Ambongo of Mbandaka-Bikoro prayed for him across a fence went viral last week. It was posted on Twitter by the photographer Will Swanson. Fr Ambunga was said to have contracted the disease after ministering to a dying patient.
Catholic murdered for marrying upper-caste Christian girl
Protests have taken place across India’s southern state of Kerala after the murder of a young Catholic man in an “honour killing”. Kevin Joseph, 26, a lower caste Dalit Christian, was kidnapped and killed by a gang allegedly hired by the upper-caste Christian family of his wife, Neenu Chacko, 20, just five days after their wedding.
Upper-caste Christians claim to be descended from Hindu Brahmins who were converted to Christianity by St Thomas in the year 52. Caste prejudice against Dalit Christians has increased in recent years. Mr Joseph’s family said they asked for police help when he was kidnapped, but were ignored.