News Analysis

World News: from Los Angeles to Lodwar

St Paul, Minnesota

Attorney seeks to sue Holy See over abuse

An attorney has announced that he is suing the Holy See for documents relating to sexual abuse, reports the Catholic News Service. St Paul attorney Jeff Anderson is representing five sexual abuse survivors suing the Holy See for names of clerical offenders worldwide and the names of Church leaders who have been involved in cover-up. The lawsuit alleges that the Holy See was in a position to know the danger that the abusing priests in the plaintiffs’ cases posed to children, but mandated policies of secrecy that discouraged Church leaders from reporting sexual abuse to civil authorities. Anderson has previously attempted to sue the Holy See, without success.

Washington, DC

Archbishop Gregory is installed

Archbishop Wilton Gregory was installed as the seventh Archbishop of Washington last week. In his homily, he said: “We stand at a defining moment for this local faith community – our hearts filled with hope and eagerness. The storied history of this great archdiocese is a gift to the Church in the United States. Our recent sorrow and shame do not define us; rather, they serve to chasten and strengthen us to face tomorrow with spirits undeterred.” His predecessor, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, resigned last year after he was accused of mishandling abuse cases in a previous post in Pennsylvania. His predecessor, Theodore McCarrick, was dismissed from the clerical state in February, after he was found guilty of sexual crimes against adults and minors. Archbishop Gregory is the first African-American and first convert to lead the archdiocese.

Los Angeles

Catholics urged to object to Confession seal law

Archbishop José Gómez of Los Angeles has said he is “deeply disappointed” after the California Senate passed a bill that would attempt to force priests to break the Seal of Confession. The measure, which legislators voted for by a 30-2 margin, would make it obligatory to disclose suspected abuse or neglect by a fellow-priest or co-worker, even if revealed in Confession.

Archbishop Gómez urged Catholics “to continue to pray and make your voices heard on this issue, which is so vital to our faith and religious freedom”. No government, he said, could set aside the Seal “for any reason”. Through the website of the California Catholic Conference alone, more than 1,300 people contacted their representatives asking them to vote against the bill.


New bishops for embattled archdiocese

The Pope has named two auxiliary bishops for the Archdiocese of Santiago as it struggles with the fallout from a nationwide abuse crisis. Fr Carlos Irarrázaval Errázuriz and Salesian Fr Alberto Lorenzelli Rossi will assist Bishop Celestino Aós Braco, the apostolic administrator. Pope Francis chose Bishop Aós to lead the archdiocese temporarily after the resignation of Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati in March. The archdiocese already has six auxiliary bishops, but four of them are serving as apostolic administrators of other dioceses. Bishop Aós told journalists last month that he had asked the Pope to name new auxiliary bishops to help him reform the archdiocese, which has been rocked by claims of clerical abuse and cover-ups. Nearly all the Chilean bishops offered their resignations in May 2018 after a three-day meeting at the Vatican to discuss the scandal.

Rio Negro, Argentina

Doctor convicted for refusing to perform abortion

A court has found a doctor guilty of preventing an abortion.

Dr Leandro Rodríguez Lastra, a gynaecologist, was ordered to appear before the court after he saved the life of a child whose mother had taken an abortion pill. The court in Rio Negro found him guilty of failing to perform his duty as a public functionary and is preparing to announce a penalty, which could range from two years in prison to a suspension from practising medicine.

The baby he saved has been adopted and will soon celebrate its second birthday. Dr Rodríguez will appeal the ruling.


Brazil consecrated to Immaculate Heart

President Jair Bolsonaro has taken part in a ceremony dedicating Brazil to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The consecration was proposed by national deputy Eros Biondini and the Catholic Parliamentary Front. “We are doing this for Brazil, for our love for our nation,” Mr Biondini said, according to LifeSite. Mr Bolsonaro signed a document proclaiming the national consecration. Other signatories included traditionalist Bishop Fernando Arêas Rifan and retired Bishop João Evangelista Martins Terra. Brazil’s leader, who describes himself as a Catholic, came to power with the support of the country’s influential Evangelical leaders.


Iraqi Christians need urgent aid, says archbishop

An archbishop has asked Britain’s Foreign Secretary to do more to help Iraqi Christians. Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil urged Jeremy Hunt to provide direct aid to Christians and others who have suffered persecution at the hands of ISIS. He also appealed for Britain to increase diplomatic pressure on the Iraqi government to improve security and end discrimination against religious minorities. The Chaldean archbishop thanked Hunt for commissioning a study of anti-Christian persecution worldwide. He said he was “shocked and delighted” when he first heard about the review, which he described as “unprecedented”. There were an estimated 1.5 million Christians in Iraq before 2003. Today there are thought to be fewer than 150,000.


Pope deplores annulment reform delay

Pope Francis has appealed to Italy’s bishops to implement annulment reforms which he introduced in 2015. “It is with regret that I note that the reform, after four years, remains far from being applied in the great majority of Italian dioceses,” the Pope said, according the website Crux. The Pontiff sought to streamline marriage annulments through the document Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus, which gave bishops a greater role in the process, which it resolved should be free of charge.

Vatican City

China appeal

The Pope has called for unity among China’s Catholics. He urged the country’s estimated 10 million faithful, who disagree over how to relate to the state-run Catholic Patriotic Association, to “always remain united in the communion of the Universal Church”.

Nola, Central African Republic

Pontiff prays for murdered missionary

Pope Francis has led prayers for a 77-year-old missionary murdered in the Central African Republic. At his weekly general audience he asked pilgrims to pray for Sister Inés Nieves Sancho, whose mutilated body was found in the village of Nola. Her corpse was discovered at a workshop where she held sewing lessons for local girls. “Today I would like to remember Sister Inés, 77, educator of poor girls for decades, barbarously killed in Central Africa in her room where she taught how to sew,” the Pope said. No group has claimed responsibility.

Lodwar, Kenya

Disarm herdsmen, bishops urge

Bishops in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia have urged the authorities to disarm herdsmen who engage in cattle raiding in a common border region. “We will no longer remain silent. We will no longer remain indecisive, and we will no longer be fearful,” they said. “We are committed to highlighting the suffering which small arms have caused in the daily lives of our people.” Herder communities possess an estimated 8 million illegal small and light weapons in a region that also hosts the highest number of refugees in Africa. “Disarmament has to begin now,” the bishops said. “Peaceful disarmament begins with the transformation of the individual and disarming the mind and the heart.”