World News

In brief


Bishops: keep palliative care separate from legalised killing

Canada’s bishops have called for euthanasia and assisted suicide to be considered as distinct from the practice of palliative care.

In response to a public consultation the bishops asked that palliative care should “not include interventions which intentionally cause the death of the patient”, saying there was a “fundamental distinction” that needed to be maintained. Assisted suicide and euthanasia were legalised in Canada in 2016.

Their statement came after a Canadian man filed a lawsuit against an Ontario hospital which he said offered him assisted suicide. Roger Foley, 42, who suffers from a rare neurological disorder, released audio recordings in which he asked to be cared for at home, saying this would relieve his misery, but was instead encouraged to consider assisted suicide.

Santa Rosa, California

Bishop orders end to lay-led Communion services

The bishop of Santa Rosa has ordered an immediate end to Communion services in his diocese where a priest is not present. Bishop Robert Vasa said such services were “not consistent” with a 2004 instruction from the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, which says that diocesan bishops “should not easily grant permission” for such services on weekdays “especially in places where it … would be possible to have the celebration of Mass on the preceding or the following Sunday”. Bishop Vasa said the practice had become popular in several parishes both on Sundays and weekdays. He urged parishes to “take very seriously the directives of the Church.” (Damian Thompson, Charterhouse)

Mexico City

New cardinal is facing rebellion, says magazine

Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes, the new Archbishop of Mexico City, is failing to consult priests on sweeping changes to his archdiocese, stirring discontent, the news magazine Proceso has claimed. The cardinal is seeking to break up the archdiocese into several dioceses and to reorganise its finances. He has also caused alarm by working closely with SNAP, the lobby group for survivors of sex abuse, it said. Guillermo Gazanini Espinoza, of the country’s Catholic Multimedia Centre (CCM), said priestly critics wanted to “open the dialogue that until now has been denied them”. He said critics included the cardinal’s own auxiliary bishops.


Bishops alarmed as Maduro launches crackdown

Venezuelan bishops have urged Nicolás Maduro to stop the “violent repression” of opponents following an apparent assassination attempt. At least six people have been arrested after two drones exploded near Maduro during a parade. One politician, Juan Requesens, was seized by intelligence agents and his whereabouts is unknown. The bishops’ justice and peace commission said allegations should not lead to “arbitrary detentions, cruel or inhumane treatment, torture and forced disappearances”. They called for investigations to work through the “proper channels”.


Cardinal opens inquiry into scandal-hit seminary

The archbishop of Boston has ordered an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct at his diocesan seminary.Cardinal Seán O’Malley said he had asked its rector to go on a one-term sabbatical so the inquiry could be independent. Alleged activities at the seminary, he said, were “directly contrary to the moral standards and requirements of formation for the Catholic priesthood”. The intervention came after an article posted on the site One Peter Five alleged a culture of heavy drinking and sexual activity. Cardinal O’Malley said the claims were of “serious concern” and that he had asked investigators to report their findings as soon as possible.


Pope thanks bishops for tackling crisis

Pope Francis has sent a handwritten note to Chile’s bishops thanking them for their efforts to tackle clerical abuse.“I am struck by the work of reflection, discernment and the decisions you have made,” the Pope wrote. The bishops, he said, were “united” in guiding the faithful. After a plenary assembly this month, the bishops apologised for failing abuse victims, issued guidelines on responding to allegations, and committed to a series of other actions. All Chile’s active bishops offered their resignation to the Pope in May. Five have been accepted so far. They have also set up a new Department for the Prevention of Abuse.


More than 10,000 urge archbishop to cancel Fr Martin talk

More than 10,000 people have signed a petition asking organisers to cancel a talk by Fr James Martin at the World Meeting of Families in Ireland. The petition, started by the Irish branch of Tradition, Family, Property, draws attention to Fr Martin’s past statements, which they claim amount to dissent from Church teaching.

Among other statements, the organisers cite his public comment to a gay man who asked about the Sign of Peace: “I do hope in 10 years you’ll be able to kiss your partner.” Fr Martin has repeatedly affirmed that he has “never challenged” Catholic doctrine. The organisers say they have no plans to change the line-up.


Nun alleging rape by bishop had sent letters to the nuncio

A nun who is accusing a bishop of rape sent letters reporting the assault to the nuncio, according to a report by an Indian TV channel. The channel, Mirror Now, said it had received copies of two letters apparently sent to Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro in January and June. The Sister, a member of the Punjab-based Missionaries of Jesus, has accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar of 13 instances of sexual assault between 2014 and 2016.
The letter alleged that the bishop had also harassed her brother, who is a priest, along with other members of her family.

Tianshui, China

Priests replaced

Two “underground” priests in China have been removed from their parish for holding a youth summer camp. Authorities in Tianshui asked the local branch of the state-controlled Catholic Patriotic Association to send personnel to replace Fr Wang Yiqin and Fr Li Shidong.


Kabila to step down after stand-off with Catholics

President Joseph Kabila, who has ruled the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for 17 years, has said he will step down after general elections. His resignation comes after months of protests (pictured) against his rule, organised by the Catholic Lay Committee. The protests were violently repressed, leaving 18 dead. The decision paves the way for the first peaceful transition of power in the country’s history. The Catholic Lay Committee said: “This well-deserved victory is only one step in the struggle [for true democracy].”


Former monk arrested over murder of Coptic bishop

A former monk has been arrested in connection with the murder of a Coptic Orthodox bishop. Bishop Anba Epiphanios, 64, prior of the monastery of St Macarius in Wadi Natrun, north-west of Cairo, was found dead with injuries to his head and hands last month. Reports said Wael Saad had confessed to beating him to death with an iron pole. Saad was expelled from the monastery in the days following the murder for what the Coptic Church described as “continuous violations” of the duties of his religious life. The Church is investigating allegations of improper behaviour among the monks and has suspended the admission of new applicants for a year.