News Analysis

World News: From Chile to Chad

Washington, DC

Students vote for pornography ban

Students at the Catholic University of America have voted to ban pornographic websites from the university’s internet system. A member of the student senate, Gerard McNair-Lewis, put forward a “Resolution for a Pornography-Free Campus Network”, which proposed a ban on the 200 most-visited sites. The motion passed the senate by a narrow margin of 13 votes to 12. Alexandra Kilgore, a student who co-sponsored the reoslution, said it showed “commitment to the well-being of the student body”.

The university gave a cautious initial response. Spokeswoman Karna Lozoya said that “No decision has been made on the ban”, but added that recent technology would make it easier to put such a ban into effect. She added: “It is difficult to ignore the firm stance against pornography made by our student body.”

New York

Saint’s heart draws crowds

The incorrupt heart of St John Vianney has reached New York City, where it was present for Sunday Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral.

The six-month national tour, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, has brought more than 100,000 Catholics to venerate the heart of the patron saint of parish priests.

The relic was also on display in its gold reliquary at St Joseph’s Seminary. A statement on the seminary website said it was “truly a moment of grace”.

St John (1786-1859) was parish priest of the small town of Ars, which became world-famous thanks to his dedication, zeal and extraordinary gifts as a confessor.

Front Royal, Virginia

Pioneer of Catholic education dies

Kristin Burns, a founding member of Christendom College as its first Dean of Women and head of philosophy, has died aged 69.

Burns was the first woman to receive a PhD in philosophy from the Angelicum in Rome. She became friends with Warren Carroll, the founder of Triumph magazine, who decided to found a college which would be deeply faithful to Catholic tradition. He asked Burns to join the initial faculty.

Having stepped back from teaching to devote herself to marriage and children, Burns returned in 2002 to become dean of the graduate school. It expanded, and began to offer an online MA in Theology. The Christendom website described Burns as a “history maker”, who helped to establish the college “at a time when the idea of a lay-founded college was unthinkable”.

Mexico City

Response to President’s criticism of Church

A prominent priest has defended the Church’s role in Mexican history, after the new President demanded an apology from the Vatican. Fr Hugo Valdemar, an official in the Archdiocese of Mexico, said that Spanish missionaries had brought “the greatest thing we Mexicans have”: “faith in Jesus Christ, and therefore access to eternal salvation”. The Spanish had suppressed “the diabolical barbarism of human sacrifices and the darkness of idolatry” while preserving the best of indigenous culture.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (right) last month asked for an apology from Spain and the Vatican for the abuses committed during the 16th-century conquest of Mexico.


Missionary and campaigner found dead

Brother Paul McAuley, a British Lasallian missionary, has been found dead. According to media reports, his body had been burned.

McAuley, who was aged 71, was well known for campaigning against deals with oil companies which he argued would devastate the environment and the social fabric. He also worked in education, setting up a school in a poor area of Lima – an achievement recognised in Britain with an MBE. The Peruvian bishops’ conference called on the authorities to “find those responsible”.


Cardinal replaced by administrator

Bishop Celestino Aós Braco has been appointed as apostolic administrator for the Archdicoese of Santiago de Chile. He replaces Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, who is accused of involvement in covering up the abuse crisis. The cardinal denies the claims.

Speaking to journalists in Rome last Wednesday, April 3, Bishop Aos said he was “surprised” and “fearful because of the many challenges I will face”. He added: “We all have the desire and the right for the truth to come out, and for justice to be achieved . . . in the first place in the reparation of victims, and also in prevention.”

Vatican City

Brazilian nine-year-old declared Venerable

A boy who died at the age of nine has been declared Venerable, the first stage of canonisation. Pope Francis officially recognised the “heroic virtues” of Nelson Santana, a Brazilian youngster who died of cancer in 1964. He will now have the title Venerable.

After being diagnosed with osteosarcoma in 1963, Santana devoted the rest of his short life to offering his suffering in union with Christ on the Cross. According to the Catholic News Agency, when his arm was amputated, he said that “pain is very important to increase true love and courageously maintain the love already conquered.” On another occasion, he asked his mother to “promise Jesus not to complain in the face of suffering and pain”.

The Pope recognised six others as Venerable on the same day.


Minister accuses diocese of ‘conversion therapy’ 

A Spanish health minister has suggested legal action against the Church over claims that an archdiocese encouraged “conversion therapy”. An undercover journalist claimed that an event supported by the archdiocese tried to change people’s sexuality – something banned in regions including Madrid. The diocese said the report had misrepresented the kind of pastoral care offered by the Church. But the health minister, Maria Luisa Carcedo (right), said the diocese was “breaking the law”.

Gdańsk, Poland

Burning apology

The Primate of Poland, Archbishop Wojciech Polak, has criticised a priest for burning books which parishioners felt could lead to the occult – including the Harry Potter series. The archbishop said: “The way to conversion is not to burn books, but to show the faithful the basis for a critical evaluation of what they read.” The priest has apologised.

Tandjile, Chad

Christians under the cosh, say reports

Christians in Chad face an ever more precarious future, according to two recent studies. The reports, from the Barnabas Fund and the International Federation for Human Rights, show that Christians in the predominantly Muslim country are under more pressure than ever from Boko Haram militants, local officials and an increasingly extremist populace. Christians are also disadvantaged by the imposition of diya, a sharia law compensation system which is less generous to non-Muslims than Muslims. While the constitution of Chad prohibits the system being applied to Christians, local officials often disregard this to extract money.

Hagåtña, Guam

Archbishop insists he is innocent despite failure of appeal

A former archbishop has continued to protest his innocence after the Vatican upheld his conviction for sexual crimes involving minors. Last year, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith found Archbishop Anthony Apuron of Agaña guilty; it has now confirmed that he committed “delicts against the Sixth Commandment with minors”.

The archbishop has been deprived of his office and forbidden to live within the archdiocese. He claims that he is the victim of “a pressure group that plotted to destroy me”, although he says the Church’s laws of confidentiality mean he cannot go into detail.