News Analysis

World news

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

Detroit, Michigan

Sister resigns from seminary after abuse allegations

A nun has resigned as a faculty member of a seminary in Detroit after allegations of sexual misconduct emerged involving two young adult novices under her charge in the 1970s.

Sister Mary Finn had served in various positions at the Sacred Heart Seminary, including as assistant professor of theology, over 50 years.

In a resignation letter, Sister Mary admitted she had “misused my position of authority as a director of novices in the Home Visitors of Mary (HVM) Order, engaging in inappropriate conduct with two adult novices. I regret that behaviour, have repented of my actions, and sincerely apologise for the harm I have caused.”

Her resignation came just as the website Deadline Detroit was preparing an exposé on the decades-old allegations.

Albany, New York

‘Do not build this Death Star’, bishop tells governor

The Bishop of Albany has appealed to New York governor Andrew Cuomo not to go ahead with a “profoundly destructive” abortion law, urging in an open letter: “Mr Cuomo, do not build this Death Star.”

Bishop Edward B Scharfenberger pointed to remarks by Cuomo citing his own Catholic faith and support for Pope Francis. The bishop added that the abortion measure, known as the Reproductive Health Act, was “completely contrary to the teachings of our Pope and our Church”. He noted several of its provisions, including the removal of protection for babies accidentally born alive during abortions. The state’s bishops have already issued a joint statement against the bill.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Avoid contact during Sign of Peace, says diocese

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe in New Mexico has advised Catholics to avoid bodily contact during the Sign of Peace because of high rates of flu.
In a statement it said that, instead of shaking hands or hugging, “it would be best to simply nod your head”. The archdiocese also advised against holding hands during the Our Father.

“If you are sick, sneezing or coughing, it would be best for you to stay home,” the statement said. “You are welcome to take advantage of the Sunday TV Masses which are available in English and Spanish. It is not a sin to miss Mass on Sundays if you are ill.” The Diocese of Allentown in Pennsylvania has also asked that the Sign of Peace be suspended in all its 84 parishes.

Mexico City

Cardinal is not siphoning stolen fuel, says spokesman

A spokesman for Cardinal Norberto Rivera, Archbishop Emeritus of Mexico City, has condemned reports claiming that the cardinal profits from stolen fuel.

The country’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has closed pipelines in an effort to curb fuel theft, leading to shortages.

Fr Hugo Valdemar, the cardinal’s spokesman, said reports that the cardinal owned 18 petrol stations supplied with illicit fuel were “fake news”. He said resentment against the cardinal’s stand against abortion and same-sex marriage was to blame. He also denied reports that the cardinal was a “main persecutor” of the president, saying the two had a “friendship that lasts to this day”.


Pope prays for Colombia after deadliest attack in 15 years

Pope Francis has expressed his closeness to people in Colombia after a car bomb attack killed at least 21 people at a police academy in Bogotá, the capital. The bombing, carried out by a member of Colombia’s last-remaining rebel group, the ELN, is the deadliest terrorist attack in the country for 15 years.

“I continue to pray for the path of peace in Colombia,” the Pope told faithful in St Peter’s Square. He said he had “two pains” in his heart: Colombia and the Mediterranean, where dozens of refugees recently drowned.

São Paulo

Priests divided by loosening of gun rules

A priest who serves in a violent area of São Paulo has expressed concern after President Jair Bolsonaro signed a decree making it easier for Brazilians to buy guns. Irish-born Fr James Crowe said people in the once-notorious Jardim Angela neighbourhood feared a rise in violence, saying they were “very worried that a mere traffic confrontation may lead to death if one of the drivers has a gun”.

But Archbishop Murilo Ramos Krieger of São Salvador da Bahia said many Catholics supported the decree. He knew priests, he said, who urged parishioners to “go out to the firing range and learn how to fire a weapon”, adding that he disagreed with this.


Cardinal claims critics of Francis ‘want a new conclave’

Cardinal Walter Kasper has accused papal critics of exploiting the abuse crisis to try to encourage Pope Francis to resign.

The cardinal, the former president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and a close ally of the Pope, said: “There are people who simply don’t like this pontificate. They want it to end as soon as possible to then have, so to say, a new conclave. They also want it to go in their favour, so it will have a result that suits their ideas.” He was speaking on the Report München programme, aired by ARD, Germany’s state broadcaster.

The cardinal said that turning discussion of the abuse issue into a discussion of Pope Francis was “an abuse of abuse”.

Sisak, Croatia

Bishop accidentally shoots a man during a hunt

A bishop has expressed “deep regret” after accidentally shooting a man in the thigh during a hunt.

According to Croatian media, Bishop Vjekoslav Huzjak of Bjelovar-Križevci was aiming at a wild boar during a hunt in Lipovljane but instead hit a hunter 300ft away. The man, 64, was treated in hospital with injuries classed as severe but not life-threatening. The bishop is being charged with endangering life through a dangerous act.

Manila, Philippines

Duterte up for talks

Rodrigo Duterte is open to dialogue with bishops, a spokesman has said, a few weeks after the Philippines president suggested that “useless” bishops should be killed.

Salvador Panelo, Duterte’s spokesman, said the president “is up for talks, if that’s what [the bishops] are asking for”.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Bishop laments demolition of 100 homes

A bishop has condemned the surprise demolition by authorities of 100 homes in southern Vietnam, saying it has left lives “irreparably damaged”.

The homes in Tan Binh, near Ho Chi Minh City, included one building owned by the Church.

Disputes over property between the Church and communist authorities are common, as Church land was taken over by the state decades ago and only some has been returned. Vietnamese-born Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen of Parramatta, Australia, said the latest “land grab” had caused “damage, destruction and hurt to hundreds of families”.

Suva, Fiji

Archbishop threatens closure of dozens of Catholic schools

The Archbishop of Suva, Fiji, has said the Church could close all its schools in the archipelago if it did not reach agreement with the government on the appointment of head teachers.

Archbishop Peter Loy Chong said the closure of 44 primary and 19 secondary schools was a last resort if the government did not accede to the Church’s wish for Catholic headteachers. Heads are appointed by the Ministry of Education, and a new system does not include “faith” as a criterion in the recruitment process.

The archbishop told FBC radio: “This is something that we will not allow to be dictated [to us] … We will live for this, and we will die for it.” Of Fiji’s population of 900,000, one in 10 is Catholic.