World News

In brief

Telegraph Creek, British Columbia

Bishop asks for prayers as wildfire rages

Wildfire has destroyed a Catholic mission church, rectory and multiple homes in a small community in the Diocese of Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, north-west Canada. The wildfire began with a lightning strike on August 1. A state of emergency was declared three days later, all residents of Telegraph Creek were told to evacuate, and fled to nearby communities. “Many people are in complete distress and broken because they are finding themselves with nothing,” said Bishop Hector Vila of Whitehorse in a letter to Canadian bishops asking for prayers and donations. The British Columbia Wildfire Service said that 136 firefighters and 12 helicopters were fighting the fire.

New Orleans

Catholics protest against ‘satanic’ festival

A pagan festival in New Orleans was disrupted by prot­­ests from local Catholics last weekend. The prot­esters recited prayers and played bag­pipes outside St Louis Cathedral. They held up placards reading “Catholics reject satanic HexFest” and “Do not permit the occult to trample our Catholic heritage”.

HexFest co-organiser Christian Day called for communication and understanding between the two faiths, criticising the “incendiary” language, which “brands us ‘demonic’ for worshipping other gods, when they do not use the word ‘demonic’ to describe Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists [or] Native Americans”. Local priest Fr Christian DeLerno, Jr, who coordinated the prayer action, said he was “sorry this came about”.

San José

Bishops criticise gay marriage ruling

Bishops in Costa Rica have criticised the decision of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court to allow same-sex marr­i­age. The judiciary voted 6-1 against a provision prohibiting marriage between persons of the same sex, giving the National Assembly 18 months to adopt legislation for same-sex unions. “In a democratic and pluralistic society like ours, legal recognition can be given to persons of the same sex that live together,” the bishops said, but then insisted that this must not be equated with marriage. “Wanting to not discriminate against homosexual people does not authorise the state to confound the natural order of marriage and the family,” they said.

Santiago

Police raid bishops’ conference offices

Chilean police have raided the offices of the country’s bishops’ conference, seizing information and statements from alleged vict­ims of abuse by the Congregation of the Marist Brothers. The 90-minute raid last week by police from the sex crimes division was authorised by prosecutor Raúl Guzmán, who is overseeing the investigation into the Marist Brothers. In May, Chile’s bishops offered their resignations to Pope Francis over the sex abuse scandal. The Pope accepted five of these the following month.

Omaha

Catholics lament first execution in years

Leading Catholics in Nebraska called for prayers as the state executed its first death-row prisoner in 21 years on Tuesday. Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha and Bishops James Conley of Lincoln and Joseph Hanefeldt of Grand Island, all in Nebraska, asked Catholics to pray from 10am, when the execution began. They were asked to pray silently or to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet for the victims of violent crime, including the two cab drivers killed by Carey Dean Moore in 1979 when he was 22, and for Moore himself, and for the recently reintroduced death penalty in Nebraska to be ended. Nebraska abolished capital punishment in 2015, but reversed this decision the following year. Moore was executed by lethal injection with four drugs.

São Paulo

Franciscan begins hunger strike

a Franciscan Brother is one of six people staging a hunger strike in protest against the poor conditions of Brazilians. Many of whom face increased violence, unemployment and hunger. Brother Sergio Gorgen is also protesting against the continued imprisonment of the country’s former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and calling for him to be permitted to run in October’s presidential election. He said it is “the people’s hope” that is in prison, not just Lula. “We ask that the court allow the people to vote for whom they choose, for whom they feel will look after them, and that person is Lula,” he said.

Edinburgh

Pro-lifers lose abortion pill challenge

A Scottish court has ruled in favour of women being able to take abortion medication at home. This followed a legal challenge by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC). In her ruling judge Lady Wise wrote: “As a generality, it seems to me that patients who self-administer medication at home may still be described as being treated by their medical practitioner who remains in charge of that treatment.” Chief executive John Deighan said SPUC Scotland would appeal the ruling. “For the sake of women’s health and the universal right to life, we cannot stand idly by whilst such a detrimental measure is implemented in the name of health care,” he said.

Istanbul

US clashes with Turkey over pastor

Turkey has rejected a second appeal for the release of an American pastor, despite releasing a senior human rights official and two Greek soldiers. Pastor Andrew Brunson (pictured) has been held for nearly two years, accused of helping to plot a 2016 coup attempt against President Erdoğan. Relations between the two Nato allies have become strained, with America and Turkey imposing sanctions on each other. Amnesty International said it is “overjoyed” at the release of its chairman in Turkey.

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.

Kerala

Flood causes chaos

India’s bishops have expressed their “prof­ound grief” at the unprecedented floods that are causing heavy loss of lives and damage to crops, houses and cattle. Tor­r­­ential rain and landslides have killed hundreds of people in Kerala state in the worst monsoon in nearly a century

Bangassou

Catholics shelter persecuted Muslims

Catholic institutions in the Central African Republic (CAR) have taken in Muslims who are facing violence from Christian militias. Rebel Muslim groups, together called Seleka, seized power in the CAR in 2012. Self-defence groups, mainly Christian, known as Anti-balaka, have retaliated, attacking Muslims. St Peter Claver Cathedral in Bangassou has given refuge to some 2,000 displaced Muslims, and the Petit Seminaire Saint Louis in the Diocese of Bangassou has taken in approximately 1,600 Muslims, whose homes and businesses have been destroyed.