World News

In brief

US-Mexico border

Pope says America’s immigration problems pre-date Trump

Pope Francis has said he is “on the side” of the US bishops when it comes to separating immigrant families at the Mexican border. The bishops strongly criticised the practice and, amid an outcry, President Donald Trump backtracked, signing an executive order to ensure families were kept together. In an interview with Reuters, Francis declined to comment more directly on the policy, saying he did not know the situation well. But he said the problem pre-dated Trump. “During the Obama years I celebrated Mass in Ciudad Juárez, while on the other side of the border 50 bishops concelebrated … It’s not just an issue with Trump but goes back to prior governments.”

Mexico City

Bishops advise priests on how to stay alive

Mexico’s bishops conference has issued advice to priests on how to stay safe amid rising violence and a spate of clergy murders.The guide, which aims to be a “prevention tool”, advises priests on how to handle telephone extortion attempts and kidnappings. It proposes precautions such as not having the same schedule each day and doing a trial run if
travelling in an unfamiliar area. It also urges priests to be aware of strangers in the street, especially those with “exaggerated behaviours”, and to stay in areas with good phone reception. According to the Catholic Multimedia Center, 24 priests have been killed since 2012, with four deaths already in 2018. Last year there were 25,000 murders in the country.

Masaya

Nicaraguan bishops visit rebel city to help ‘avert massacre’

A group of Nicaraguan bishops travelled to a city besieged by pro-government forces last week, in order, they said, to “avoid another massacre, give comfort and pray with our people”. Twenty-three people have reportedly been killed in Masaya in a crackdown by forces loyal to President Daniel Ortega. Thousands of locals welcomed the bishops, according to AFP, while riot police withdrew. One newspaper said the bishops had “stopped another massacre”. Auxiliary Bishop Silvio Baez said at Mass: “Nicaragua’s pain is great. An unarmed people is being slaughtered. The cities are in the hands of bandits.”

Asunción

Paraguay celebrates its first female Blessed

A Paraguayan woman who has been compared to Mother Teresa has been proclaimed her country’s first female Blessed.
María Felicia Guggiari Echeverría, known as “Chiquitunga” because of her small stature, was beatified in the capital, Asunción. Known for her charity work and intense prayer life, Chiquitunga became a Discalced Carmelite in 1955, four years before she died aged 34. One of those present at the ceremony, 15-year-old Ángel Ramón Domínguez, was born stillborn, but started breathing 20 minutes later after a doctor prayed for Chiquitunga’s intercession.

Toronto, Ohio

Ex-sportswoman takes final vows as a nun

A former American footballer who was known for flooring her opponents with powerful tackles is taking her final vows as a
religious Sister this weekend. Sister Rita Clare Yoches was a full-back with Detroit Demolition, a professional women’s team. During her four years there it won four national titles. But she left in 2006, then in 2007 experienced a calling to religious life, ending her relationship with her boyfriend and entering a Franciscan convent. She said she experienced a turning point during Eucharistic adoration: “I felt God the Father just wrap his arms around me and give me a hug … And my life was forever changed.” She will profess final vows with the Franciscan Sisters Third Order Regular of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother in Ohio on Sunday.

Buenos Aires

Bishops to Macri: do not hurt the poor

The bishops of Argentina have urged President Mauricio Macri to protect the poor from forthcoming spending cuts. The Argentinian government has promised the IMF that, in exchange for a loan worth $50 billion, it will reduce its deficit by undertaking austerity measures. In a statement the bishops’ conference asked that the cuts “do not apply to the poor” and warned the government about the “exclusion and growing marginalisation of millions of Argentines”. The bishops added: “Poverty must be at the centre of the concerns of democracy.”

Dublin

Tickets for papal event in Ireland sell out in just four hours

All 45,000 tickets to see Pope Francis at Knock shrine in August sold out on Monday in just four hours. Places are still available for the papal Mass at Phoenix Park on Sunday. Up to half a million people are expected to attend the Mass, which will conclude the World Meeting of Families.

Another encounter with the Pope at Croke Park on the Saturday evening is only available to those who have registered for the World Meeting of Families. The event is billed as a concert-style evening in which Catholic families from around the world will give testimony about their faith.Pope Francis will be visiting Ireland on August 25 and 26. Places at the papal Mass can be reserved at WorldMeeting2018.ie.

Kisumu City

Priest suspended for a year for rapping

Parishioners have expressed dismay after a popular priest was suspended for a year because of his practice of rapping after Mass.Supporters say Fr Paul Ogalo has attracted hundreds of young people to the Church. Bernard Oketch, 28, described him as “our mentor” and said he had “saved thousands of youths” from drugs. Fr Charles Kochiel, judicial vicar of the interdiocesan tribunal of Kisumu, Kenya, said the priest had been suspended to “give him time to reconsider his ways”.

Geneva

Pope explains why he blocked intercommunion guidelines

The question of allowing Protestants married to Catholics to receive Communion at Mass in special cases has to be decided by each bishop and cannot be agreed by a bishops’ conference, Pope Francis told reporters on the papal plane back from Geneva. The Code of Canon Law “provides for the bishop of the diocese [to make a decision on each case], not the bishops’ conference”, he said. He had been asked why he had requested that Germany’s bishops not publish their proposed Communion guidelines.

Wellington

Bishops ‘fell short’

Cardinal John Dew has said that he and other New Zealand bishops acknowledge their “shortcomings”, especially regarding LGBT people, after a report by the Wilberforce Institute found that only a third of the country identified as Christian, down from 49 per cent in 2006.

Kochi

Pope intervenes as crisis engulfs Syro-Malabar leader

Pope Francis has appointed an apostolic administrator to take over an archdiocese led by Cardinal George Alencherry.
The intervention comes months after Cardinal Alencherry was first accused of orchestrating land deals resulting in the loss of over $10 million. The cardinal – who is the leader of the Syro-Malabar Church – will remain Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly but the Vatican said he “should absolutely not be involved in [administrative] decisions”. Bishop Jacob Manathodath, the administrator, has been charged with restoring unity following the apparent scandal and commissioning an independent audit of the archdiocese.