World News

In brief

Philadelphia

Keep ‘LGBTQ’ out of Church documents, says archbishop

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia has told the youth synod that “LGBTQ” should be avoided in official Church documents. The archbishop – one of five US bishops at the synod – said that the Church “doesn’t categorise people” by their “sexual appetites”. As a result, he said, “ ‘LGBTQ’ and similar language should not be used in Church documents”. The Instrumentum Laboris, the working document for the synod, includes the acronym, saying that “some LGBT youths … wish to benefit from greater closeness” with the Church. Archbishop Chaput expressed concern that the document did not explain why Catholic teaching about sexuality was “ennobling”.

Toronto

Canadian doctors lay out scenarios for child euthanasia

Doctors at a children’s hospital in Toronto have set out plans for child euthanasia. The proposals, made by doctors, administrators and ethicists at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, were published in the British Medical Journal’s Journal of Medical Ethics. They come three months before the Council of Canadian Academies, an advisory group, reports to Parliament on the medical consensus about extending euthanasia to children and psychiatric patients. Euthanasia was introduced in 2016. The article explained that, if a “capable minor” did not want their parents to know they had asked to die, then under patient confid­­entiality rules doctors must follow the patient’s wishes. The article is backed by the University of Toronto’s Joint Centre for Bioethics.

Modesto, United States

Teenager who gave rosary to dying Kennedy dies at 68

A teenager who gave Robert F Kennedy a rosary as he lay dying from an assassin’s bullet 50 years ago has died in Modesto, California, aged 68. Juan Romero, a 17-year-old hotel worker, or “busboy”, was shaking hands with the Catholic senator after he won the California presidential primary, when Kennedy was shot dead on June 5, 1968. He had met Kennedy a day earlier while bringing room service to his entourage at the Ambassador hotel. “I put my hand between the cold concrete and his head just to make him comfortable,” Juan Romero recalled. “I remember I had a rosary in my shirt pocket and I took it out, thinking that he would need it a lot more than me. I wrapped it around his right hand and then they wheeled him away.”

Managua, Nicaragua

Video of prisoners praying Ave Maria goes viral

A video showing political prisoners singing songs and praying the Ave Maria in Nicaragua has been viewed half a million times on Twitter. The prisoners sing and call for a free Nicaragua in what looks like a courtroom surrounded by armed guards. President Daniel Ortega has jailed large numbers of protesters in a crackdown since April that has left more than 300 people dead. Javier Espinoza, a former inmate of El Chipote prison in the capital of Managua, told ACI Prensa that political prisoners there pray the rosary and the Hail Mary often. “After eating, they shout from their cell: ‘Let’s pray!’ You feel like you’re in a church.”

Rancagua, Chile

Cardinal declines to answer questions during abuse probe

Cardinal Riccardo Ezzati of Santiago de Chile has provoked criticism from abuse survivors by opting to remain silent at a court hearing over allegations of sex abuse cover-up. Chilean prosecutor Emiliano Arias is investigating an alleged sex-abuse ring in the city of Rancagua as well as alleged cover-ups of abuse cases by senior members of the clergy, including Cardinal Ezzati and his predecessor, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz. They deny the charges. One survivor said Cardinal Ezzati’s decision showed “a lack of respect” for survivors.

Cúcuta, Colombia

Thousands crossing border every day

About 5,000 Venezuelan migrants a day are being helped by the Church in Colombia, receiving food and water, clothes and medicine. Venezuela is experiencing an economic and political crisis and has seen thousands of its citizens flee to Brazil, Colombia or the developed world. The Church’s refugee centre is situated at the International Simón Bolívar Bridge near Cúcuta in Colombia, the major border crossing from Venezuela. The refugee aid “is carried out by the Church with the support of local, national and international companies and organisations”, said Archbishop Urbina Ortega of Villavicencio, a city near Bogotá, last week.

Vatican City

Investigation into English cardinal never finished

The Vatican investigation into a sex abuse claim against Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor was not completed, because of a lack of approval from Pope Francis, according to Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the Vatican’s former chief of doctrine. The cardinal is alleged to have abused a teenage girl in the 1960s. Kent police investigated the claim but dropped the case, saying there was not enough evidence. The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) also investigated the claim, but closed the case in 2011. It was re-opened by the CDF two years later, apparently because of an “administrative error”. Cardinal Müller told Life Site News that the pope’s approval was required for such cases and the investigation had not been completed.

Islamabad, Pakistan

Supreme Court to rule on death sentence of Asia Bibi

Pakistan’s Supreme Court heard Asia Bibi’s appeal against her death sentence this week – and has reserved its ruling until a later date. Bibi was sentenced to death under Pakistan’s stringent blasphemy laws in 2010. Her husband and daughter are currently in England, supported by the charity Aid to the Church in Need. Ashiq, her daughter, said her mother was praying constantly. “Having a very strong faith, she is ready and willing to die for Christ,” she said.

Hobart, Australia

Priests threatened

Priests in Tasmania who fail to report sex abuse disclosed during Confession could face up to 21 years in prison, under draft legislation. Several priests have said they would go to jail rather than break the Seal of Confession. Such a measure was proposed by the Royal Commission.

Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast

Bishop warns against ‘magic wand’ preachers

The President of the bishops’ conference in the Ivory Coast has asked Catholic theologians to resist the rise of the “prosperity gospel”. Bishop Ignace Bessi Dogbo of Katiola said the teaching – that the more money you give to a preacher, the more God is supposed to give you in return – was a heresy promoted by “communities which mushroom everywhere by roadsides claiming to be Christian, but which deny the centrality of the Cross, and preach that prosperity could come like a magic wand”. He was speaking at a gathering of theologians in Yamoussoukro.

Palu, Indonesia

Cafod helps victims of massive earthquake

Catholic aid charity Cafod has joined forces with the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) to bring aid to those affected by last week’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia. “Our local colleagues in Indonesia are doing their utmost to provide the basics – clean drinking water, food and shelter – for people to survive over the coming days and weeks,” said Cafod director Chris Bain. He said the charity was already receiving donations from Catholics in England and Wales. Pope Francis has sent $100,000 (£77,000) in aid through the Vatican Dicastery for Human Development to assist rescue efforts and bring medical aid. At least 1,400 have died in the disaster.