World News

In brief


Apostolic visitor outlines plans to expand Medjugorje

A Polish archbishop appointed by Pope Francis to oversee the Marian shrine at Medjugorje has outlined plans to expand its facilities and increase the number of Masses there.“Medjugorje represents Europe’s spiritual lungs, a place where millions discover God and the beauties of the Church,” said Archbishop Henryk Hoser, retired archbishop of Warsaw-Praga. “We now have to recreate its infrastructure, firstly by securing its liturgical space. We also need to expand its areas for retreats and provide new places for celebrating the Eucharist.” Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Hoser as apostolic visitor in May. Six young people say Mary has appeared to them in Medjugorge over decades, starting in 1981.


You are the children of martyrs, Pope tells Lithuanians

Pope Francis has said Lithuanians must “never forget” they are the “children of martyrs” after visiting a former KGB headquarters where more than 1,000 people were executed. The Pope was given a tour of the building by a 79-year-old archbishop, Sigitas Tamkevičius, who was jailed there. The Pope also visited a memorial commemorating the murder of 40,000 Jews. At a Mass he urged the country to be
vigilant against anti-Semitism. The remarks came during a four-day visit to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Cochin, India

Bishop arrested

Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar has been arrested and charged with the rape of a nun. The arrest came a day after he was relieved of his duties as bishop. Police had earlier interrogated him for seven hours. The bishop has said the allegations are baseless.

Niamey, Niger

Italian priest abducted by Muslim herdsmen

An italian missionary, Fr Pierluigi Maccalli of the Society of African Missions, was kidnapped in southern Niger last week, according to the Vatican news agency Fides. Thomas Codjovi, a Church spokesman, said that, according to local residents, “eight men arrived on motorbikes, broke into his house opposite the church and forced him to go with them”.

Fr Mauro Armanino, based in the city of Niamey, said the abductors were ethnic Peuls – also known as Fulani – a nomadic Muslim group that has been causing unrest in the region. In neighbouring Nigeria, thousands of Christians – including two priests – have been killed in attacks by Fulani herdsmen.


Prominent atheist is baptised a Catholic aged 85

A former governor-general of Australia and leader of the Labor Party has been baptised as a Catholic at the age of 85. Bill Hayden, previously an atheist, said he could “no longer accept that human existence is self-sufficient and isolated”. He told Brisbane’s Catholic Leader that a key moment was visiting 93-year-old Sister Angela Mary Doyle, whom he had always admired. “The next morning I woke with the strong sense that I had been in the presence of a holy woman. After dwelling on these things I found my way back to the core of those beliefs – the Church.”


Cardinal pulls out of synod to attend to crisis at home

Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark has disclosed that Pope Francis has granted his request to withdraw from the youth synod.He said his archdiocese “suffers greatly as a result of the crisis that continues to unfold”. “After the revelations of the past summer,” he said, “I could not see myself absent for a month from our archdiocese and from you, the people entrusted to my care.” He wrote to Pope Francis asking to withdraw. The Pope replied the next day, he said. The diocese has been drawn into controversy since revelations emerged about a previous Newark archbishop, Theodore McCarrick. An inquiry has also been launched into alleged sexual misconduct at its seminary.

New York City

Cardinal is ‘impatient’ for a papal response on McCarrick

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York has said that while he trusts in Pope Francis’s handling of the abuse crisis, he has grown “impatient” while waiting for his response to the US bishops’ request for an apostolic visitation. Cardinal Dolan said the Church had to uncover why Theodore McCarrick rose to become a cardinal despite decades of sexual misconduct. An apostolic visitation that included lay people “would be a particularly effective way to do that”, Dolan said.

Leaders of the US bishops’ conference met Pope Francis earlier this month. Several measures have been announced since, including an independent reporting mechanism for complaints of abuse or sexual assault by bishops. But the Vatican has not responded to the request for a visitation.


Priest removed after burning of rainbow flag

Cardinal Blase Cupich has removed a priest amid a row over the burning of a rainbow flag in his parish.
Fr Paul Kalchik had planned to burn a flag decorated with a rainbow and a cross that he found in the church’s storage but the cardinal ordered him not to. Parishioners reportedly burned the flag anyway in a private ceremony featuring a prayer of exorcism. This prompted a protest outside the Resurrection Church in Avondale, Chicago, from gay rights activists. Cardinal Cupich said: “It has become clear to me that Fr Kalchik must take time away from the parish to receive pastoral support so his needs can be assessed.” He said he was acting out of concern for the priest’s welfare and that of his parish.

Masaya, Nicaragua

Church cancels processions in city marred by protest deaths

The city of Masaya normally celebrates the feast of its patron saint, St Jerónimo, with huge processions ­– but this year, after scores of people were killed during protests, the processions have been cancelled. The Vatican news agency Fides said groups organised by the local government attempted to hold a procession, but the churches were closed and few people came. At least 35 people died in the city during protests against the rule of President Daniel Ortega. Last month Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes said cancelling festivities would be a “wonderful offering of communion with the families of the people who have deceased, are detained or disappeared”.


Pope accepts two more Chilean bishops’ resignations

Pope Francis has accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number who have stepped down since June in response to the abuse scandal. Bishop Carlos Pellegrin Barrera of Chillán, 60, and Bishop Cristian Contreras Molina of San Felipe, 70, were replaced by apostolic administrators. One of them, Fr Sergio Perez de Arce, has written an article urging Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati of Santiago to resign and for the nuncio to be reassigned. Almost all of Chile’s 34 bishops offered their resignations to Pope Francis in May.

Encarnación, Paraguay

Judges suspended for verdict on priest

Three judges who gave a light sentence to a priest convicted of abusing a 14-year-old boy have been suspended. The judges, Fabian Iglesias, Nelio Prieto and Blas Zorrilla, gave Redemptorist Fr Felix Miranda a two-year suspended sentence and a £600 fine. They will not be able to continue in their posts while their decision is investigated. The trial concluded last month but the victim’s mother first reported the abuse – which took place in the southern Paraguayan city of Encarnación – to the bishops and then secular authorities back in 2006.