News Analysis

World news

Los Angeles

Catholic actor recalls being fired for refusing sex scenes
Catholic actor Neal McDonough has described being fired from the television series Scoundrels after refusing to do sex scenes.

He told Closer Weekly that, after his dismissal in 2011, “I couldn’t get a job because everybody thought I was this religious zealot.” He added: “I am very religious. I put God and family first and me second … It was hard for a few years.”

McDonough, who has starred in many TV shows, including The Band of Brothers and Desperate Housewives, said his career later revived. He paid tribute to his wife, the model Ruvé Robertson, and told the magazine: “I go to church every day [to] say thank you to God for everything he’s given me.”

New York City

Abortion bill ‘foresees a time when being pro-life is a crime’
Officials at the New York State Catholic Conference have expressed alarm at a state bill enshrining abortion as a “fundamental human right”.

The Reproductive Health Act, promised by Governor Andrew Cuomo, is expected to pass in the next few weeks and repeals a number of state requirements, including that only a licensed doctor can perform an abortion.

Kathleen Gallagher, director of pro-life activities for the conference, said the legislation was “worse than we thought it would be” and “foresees a time in New York where it’s a crime to be pro-life”.

Renee Morgiewicz, of Albany diocese, noted that “a ‘fundamental right’ is a right that could supersede everything, even the right of conscience and religious freedom”.

Hagatña, Guam

Archbishop’s nephew sues Vatican over alleged abuse
The Holy See has been named as a defendant in a sex abuse lawsuit filed by the nephew of Archbishop Anthony Apuron, formerly the Archbishop of Agana, Guam.

Mark Mafnas Apuron alleges that his uncle raped him when he was 15 or 16, and is seeking $5 million in damages. Other defendants named in the suit include the archbishop’s order, the Capuchin Franciscans.

Archbishop Apuron was removed from office last year after being convicted of unknown charges in a canonical trial. He has appealed against the verdict and denies multiple allegations of sex abuse. The Archdiocese of Agana is a defendant in some 200 Guam clergy sex abuse cases. It was expected to file for
bankruptcy this week.

Ciudad Victoria, Mexico

Heartthrob seeks to build world’s largest Jesus statue
Eduardo Verastegui, an actor turned film producer, is seeking to create a 250 ft-high statue of Jesus in his home city in Mexico.

If it goes ahead, the statue would be more than double the height of Rio’s Christ the Redeemer, which is 100 ft tall.

The Clarín newspaper said Verastegui hoped to present his plans to Pope Francis. Designed by architect Fernando Romero, the Christ of Peace statue would present Jesus extending his arms for an embrace. Verastegui, an outspoken pro-lifer, has made several films with Catholic themes through his company Metanoia Films. In 2002 he took a vow of chastity.

Caracas, Venezuela

Bishops say Maduro’s presidency is illegitimate
Nicolás Maduro’s swearing in for a second six-year term as president is “illegitimate” and “morally unacceptable”, Venezuela’s bishops have said.

In a statement, the bishops said the country was living through an “extremely grave situation” and called for the “restoration of the rule of law”. They said it was a “sin crying out to heaven to seek to maintain power at all costs”. Maduro’s re-election last May has been widely criticised as illegitimate. Three million people have fled the country during its four-year economic crisis.

Lima, Peru

Cardinal: make path to Church easier
Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima has declared 2019 the Year of Christian Initiation, urging priests to make reception into the Church as straightforward as possible.

The cardinal said he hoped that “all priests and Religious throughout Lima make an effort to make it easier for people to approach Baptism, Confirmation, Confession and First Communion”. Given people’s busy lives, he said, he was asking all priests to “make a special effort so that this first path of encounter with God is not so full of papers, interviews, bureaucracies [and] schedules. Let’s facilitate the encounter with God.”

London

Appeals court to hear pro-lifer’s case against buffer zones
A pro-lifer who raised £50,000 ($64,000) to fund a legal challenge against Ealing Council’s “censorship zone” outside abortion clinics will have her case heard by the Court of Appeal.

Alina Dulgheriu, who says her daughter is only alive today because of the support she received from pro-lifers outside an abortion clinic, raised the money on a GoFundMe page after the High Court rejected her appeal last April. The court upheld Ealing’s Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), which criminalises prayer vigils outside abortion clinics.

Dulgheriu said she was delighted by the ruling. “I am continuing with this appeal to ensure that women in Ealing and all across the country do not have this vital support option removed,” she said.

Rome

Mayor drops plan to reclaim Trevi fountain coins
Rome’s mayor has backtracked on plans to lay claim to the coins flung into Trevi fountain by tourists.

Since 2001 the coins have gone to Caritas, the Church’s charitable arm. Mayor Virginia Raggi, of the Five Star Movement, had wanted to reclaim the coins for use by the city council. But a backlash begun after Avvenire, the bishops’ daily, ran the front-page headline: “Money taken from the poorest.” About €1.5m (£1.3m, $1.7m) is scooped out each year.

Jakarta

Plea on plastic bags
the archbishop of Jakarta has asked Indonesia’s Catholics to reduce their use of plastic bags. Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo made a video appeal after the military was called in to unclog Jakarta Bay. He cited the case of a whale found dead after ingesting plastic.

Cairo

Imam foils deadly attack on church
A Catholic Coptic Patriarch has praised an imam who helped to avert a deadly bomb attack on a Cairo church last week.

Imam Saad Askar called the police and shouted warnings at Copts, urging them to leave the Church of the Virgin Mary and Abu Seifin in Nasr City, a suburb of Cairo, after he had been alerted to a person acting suspiciously. A police officer, Major Mostafa Ebeid al-Azhari, was later killed while attempting to defuse three bombs left in a travel case.

Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sedrak told L’Osservatore Romano that the imam’s action was a “great gesture” and reflected the largely friendly relations between Christians and Muslims in Egypt.

Islamabad

Asia Bibi’s daughters have now left Pakistan, says report
Asia Bibi’s daughters have moved to a Western country while their mother remains in Pakistan, the Spanish Catholic website Actuall has reported.

Asia Bibi, acquitted for blasphemy in October by the Supreme Court in Islamabad after spending eight years on death row, is in a secret location with her husband pending the outcome of a legal review.

According to Actuall, her two daughters have moved with the family of supporter Joseph Nadeem to a country where there is a sizeable community of Pakistani Christians and authorities have been supportive.