World News

In brief

Lansing, Michigan

Consecrated virgins ‘shocked’ by new Vatican rules

The US Association of Consecrated Virgins has said it is “deeply disappointed” after a Vatican instruction suggested the discipline was open to women who were not virgins. The document, Ecclesiae Sponsae Imago (“The Image of the Church as Bride”), said: “To have kept her body in perfect continence … or to have practised the virtue of chastity in an exemplary way, while of great importance with regard to discernment, are not essential prerequisites.” The US group called this “shocking”, adding: “The entire tradition of the Church has firmly upheld that a woman must have received the gift of virginity”, both physical and spiritual, “in order to receive the consecration of virgins”.

Memphis

Vatican sends mission to troubled diocese

The diocese of Memphis, Tennessee, underwent a three-day apostolic visitation last month amid criticism of its leadership. The visitors, Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta and Archbishop Bernard Hebda of St Paul and Minneapolis, interviewed around 50 priests and laity during their trip. Bishop Martin Holley of Memphis generated controversy after asking each of his priests to sign a resignation letter and ordering the transfer of three quarters of them. There were protests from priests, some of whom had been in their positions for years. In a letter to priests, Bishop Holley said the purpose of the visitation was to “assist the local diocese and improve the Church’s ability to minister to the people it serves”.

Diriamba

Mob attacks cardinal, nuncio and bishop

A cardinal, nuncio and bishop were among clergy attacked by a pro-government mob in the Nicaraguan city of Diriamba last week.
The group – including Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes and nuncio Archbishop Waldemar Stanisław Sommertag – were trying to reach a basilica where anti-government protesters had taken refuge.

Bishop Silvio José Báez tweeted: “I was injured, punched in the stomach, [and] they took my episcopal symbols away from me.” He posted a picture of a gash on his arm and blood-stained sleeve. At least 300 people have died during protests. On Saturday a student sheltering in a church in Managua was among those shot dead by paramilitaries.

Huancayo

Corruption scandal is a new low for Peru, says cardinal

Cardinal Pedro Barreto Jimeno of Huancayo has said that Peru is “hitting bottom” in terms of corruption after journalists’ recordings revealed top judges negotiating sentences – including for the rape of a 10-year-old – in exchange for payments.
The cardinal appealed for a “new culture of honesty”. The bishops’ conference, meanwhile, called for a reform of the judicial system, backing a proposal made by President Martín Vizcarra. “It is a demand of the entire population … They are fed up with this problem, which has existed for decades,” the bishops said.

Ottawa

Nuncio: Pope seeks reconciliation with indigenous people

The nuncio to Canada has said that Pope Francis is “not against a gesture of reconciliation” towards indigenous Canadians over abuses at Catholic-run boarding schools.Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi was speaking amid pressure on the Pope to visit Canada and apologise for the abuses. Such an apology has been demanded by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which spent years investigating the schools, and by Canada’s parliament. Bishop Lionel Gendron, bishops’ conference president, said the Pope “felt he could not personally respond” to the request. Archbishop Bonazzi explained that the Pope was “willing to seek together ways that can foster the desired process of healing and reconciliation with and among the indigenous peoples in this
country”.

Córdoba

Police expel protesters from Mass

Police have arrested four women who disrupted a Mass in the Argentine city of Córdoba last Sunday. Police said the women shouted pro-abortion slogans during an invasion of the Church of the Sacred Heart, known as the Church of the Capuchins. Police official Alfonso Mosquera said on Twitter that the women had invaded the sanctuary, “uttering offensive slogans to the Catholic faith”. It was reported that they grabbed flags and a camera from parishioners. The incident comes as Argentina’s senate debates the
introduction of abortion on demand.

London

Cardinal deplores ‘deep darkness’ of asylum system

Cardinal Vincent Nichols has said Britain’s treatment of asylum seekers is a “shame on our country”. He told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme that the “deep darkness” of the system was created deliberately in a “deeply mistaken sense that treating people this badly will prevent others seeking sanctuary in this country”. The cardinal made the remarks after visiting asylum seekers helped by the Jesuit Refugee Service. Sarah Teather, the charity’s UK director, called for more support for asylum seekers whose applications are rejected but who stay to appeal. Applicants are condemned to a life of destitution, sometimes for many years, even though appeals are successful in 40 per cent of cases, she said. “The waste of years [is] unimaginable.”

Vatican City

Two teenagers are declared Venerable

Pope Francis has advanced the Causes of two teenagers, recognising their “heroic virtue”. Carlo Acutis, an Italian who died aged 15 from leukaemia, called the Eucharist “my highway to heaven” and used his computer skills to catalogue Eucharistic miracles around the world. Alexia González-Barros, born in Madrid in 1971, was killed by a tumour aged 14. She often prayed: “Jesus, I want to be healed; but if you do not want that, I want what you want.”

Kigali

Government seeks to regulate priesthood

Rodrigo Duterte has claimed that he lost his faith after being groped by a Jesuit during Confession while at secondary school. The Philippines president said during a speech in Davao City that the incident was “not that serious” but that afterwards “I created my own God.”

Abuja

Bishops say president is complicit in killings

The Rwandan government is seeking to pass a law restricting who can serve as a priest. The measure comes after authorities closed more than 7,000 churches because they failed to meet health, safety and noise regulations. The latest proposal would require any Christian or Muslim cleric to have a bachelor’s degree. Other regulations include requiring each church to have a garage.
President Paul Kagame expressed surprise at the number of churches in Kigali, the capital, saying they were unnecessary. “Are these boreholes that give people water? … This has been a mess.”

Lisbon

Pope to cardinal: your Amoris guidance ‘filled me with joy’

Pope Francis has personally thanked the Patriarch of Lisbon for his guidance on Amoris Laetitia. Francis said it “filled me with joy”.Cardinal Manuel Clemente was heavily criticised for the note, which dealt with Communion for the remarried. John Paul II and Benedict XVI reaffirmed traditional Church teaching that, for such couples to receive Communion, it is necessary to resolve to live “in complete continence”. Cardinal Clemente appeared to differ from this teaching in his instruction.

Yangon

‘We risk holocaust’

Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon, Burma, has said the world risks an “ecological holocaust”. Referring to deaths from natural disasters, he said that rich countries’ disproportionate production of greenhouse gases amounted to “genocide” and was a “crime against humanity”.

Jalandhar

Dozens of Catholics sign letter calling for removal of bishop

More than 150 people have called for the removal of a bishop accused of rape. Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar is being investigated by police after complaints by a nun. The letter, sent to Cardinal Oswald Gracias, president of India’s bishops’ conference, and Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, the nuncio, was signed by members of the Indian Theological Association, a forum of Catholic theologians, the Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace, a lobby group for women Religious, and several other groups. It asked that the bishop be relieved of his pastoral responsibilities so that the Church is “seen to actually practise the zero tolerance it professes to observe in abuse cases”.