World News

In brief

Washington, DC

‘We need answers’: Catholic women appeal to Pope Francis

More than 30,000 Catholic women have signed a letter to Pope Francis asking him to issue a “direct response” to allegations from the former US nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.

The 750-word letter, published on the website of the Washington DC-based Catholic Women’s Forum, began by quoting the Pope on the need for a “more incisive female presence in the Church”. The letter said: “We write to you, Holy Father, to pose questions that need answers.” It cited Francis’s statement that he would “not say a single word” about the Viganò accusations. “To your hurting flock, Pope Francis, your words are inadequate,” the letter says. “That a cardinal would prey on seminarians is abhorrent. We need to know we can trust you to be honest with us about what happened.”


I am victim of ‘hitman’ journalist, says cardinal

Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, who has been accused of ignoring sexual and financial misconduct in his Honduras diocese, has said he is the victim of a journalist “hit man”.

The Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, coordinator of Pope Francis’s Council of Cardinals, was criticised in Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s testimony. Asked about the allegations, the cardinal said: “I am the victim of a ‘hit man’ who practises media harassment. His name is Edward Pentin and he works for an EWTN newspaper called the National Catholic Register.”

In July Mr Pentin reported that dozens of seminarians had alleged widespread sexual misconduct at Tegucigalpa’s seminary. He claimed Cardinal Maradiaga dismissed them as “gossipers”.


Cardinal denounces ‘shameful’ attacks on Pope Francis

Cardinal Rubén Salazar of Bogotá, Colombia, has said that attacks on Pope Francis are “shameful” and motivated by his focus on the poor. He made the remark during a Mass in Medellín on the day the former US nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò issued his “testimony” urging the Pope to resign.

Statements in support of Pope Francis followed from bishops’ conferences in Argentina, Peru and Spain as well as from Comece, the commission representing bishops’ conferences in the European Union. Peru’s bishops praised Francis’s leadership, saying they supported him “in the face of attempts to destabilise the Church”.


Archbishop urges Pope to postpone the youth synod

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia has asked Pope Francis to call off the synod of bishops on young people this October to focus instead on the life of the bishops.

“Right now, the bishops would have absolutely no credibility in addressing this topic,” the archbishop said at a conference at Philadelphia’s St Charles Borromeo seminary, according to a report by LifeSiteNews. A diocesan spokesman confirmed the letter had been sent to Francis. However, a source close to Archbishop Chaput told Matthew Schmitz of First Things that his call was for the synod to be “rescheduled”. Schmitz tweeted: “Chaput did not intend for the statements made at this event to become public.”


Cardinal: Church is at fault amid ‘unprecedented’ tensions

Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati of Santiago has told priests of his archdiocese that the Church is facing “unprecedented” tensions that it helped to create through its “crimes”. The cardinal, who has been summoned by civil prosecutors to testify over allegations that he covered up abuse, told priests: “We live in a moment of tension at a national level and in the Church. We, the Church, have contributed to the tension with our problems and our crimes.” All of Chile’s active bishops offered their resignations to the Pope in May. Four of these have been accepted.

Buenos Aires

Bill urges removal of Catholic symbols

Argentina’s Congress is preparing to debate the removal of Catholic images and crosses from state-owned spaces and buildings. Five members of the centre-right Cambiemos party proposed the Bill, saying religious symbols “do not conform to the secular nature of the national state”.

In the same week, students at the National University of Cordoba replaced an image of the Virgin Mary at the entrance to the law faculty with a green handkerchief supporting abortion. A video shows the activists chanting “Church, state, separate affairs”.

Chemnitz, Germany

Church leaders condemn protests against immigrants

German Catholic leaders have condemned anti-immigrant riots in an eastern Germany town that erupted after a German man was killed in a brawl with migrants.Bishop Heinrich Timmerevers of Dresden-Meissen told the Catholic news agency KNA that violence should never be used to “justify xenophobic, inhuman mass demonstrations” or to “incite anger against entire ethnic groups”. Riots in the town of Chemnitz left at least 20 seriously injured when police failed to separate the anti-immigrant protest from a smaller counter-demonstration. Cardinal Reinhard Marx urged Christians to counter “nationalism, injustice and the restriction of freedom”, adding: “As Christians, we know where we have to stand

Catania, Sicily

Church takes in 100 migrants stranded on rescue boat

The Church has agreed to take on 100 migrants rescued at sea after the Italian government refused permission for them to enter the country. The migrants, many from Eritrea, were picked up by the Italian coastguard and held on a ship for 11 days amid a stand-off between Italy and its European Union partners. Ireland and Albania eventually agreed to take 20 each. Matteo Salvini, interior minister, told supporters: “The Church has opened its heart and opened its wallet.”


Abortion penalties

The South Korean government has listed abortion as an “immoral” medical action and introduced new penalties for doctors who perform abortions illegally. The moves come as the country’s supreme court considers liberalising the country’s abortion laws.

N’Djamena, Chad

Bishops fearful after criticising president

Chad’s bishops live in fear for their lives after Criticising President Idriss Deby’s reforms, a source has told the US-based Catholic News Service. In April the bishops called for a referendum on a revised constitution that allowed Mrp Deby to stay on as president until 2033. They said the reforms were not supported by Chadians and risked “gravely perverting democratic rules”. Mr Deby has also introduced a religious oath for office-holders and sacked Christian officials who refused to take it. A senior Church source said bishops had been threatened following their statement.


Australian Church rejects call to lift Seal of Confession

Australia’s bishops and religious orders have rejected a call by the country’s Royal Commission to compel priests to disclose abuse heard in the confessional. In a formal response to the 17-volume report issued by the Royal Commission last year, they said that the Seal of Confession was “inviolable” and that mandatory reporting would infringe religious liberty. They also said that children would be “less safe” if mandatory reporting was required, as it would discourage perpetrators or victims from raising the matter during Confession. “An opportunity would be lost to encourage a perpetrator to self-report to civil authorities or victims to seek safety,” they said.