The priest negotiating with narcotics gangs
A Mexican bishop is in dialogue with cartel bosses amid escalating violence in the country. “I can talk with them,” Bishop Salvador Rangel Mendoza told the Guardian, although he admitted that progress can be difficult, with at least eight separate crime organisations working in his diocese.
Bishop Rangel has brokered prisoner exchanges between rival groups and negotiated the release of kidnap victims through his work. “When we perform our pastoral work, we are left with no choice but to move among them [the narcos],” he said. “If Guerrero is in the hands of narcotics traffickers and all those people work for them, when you do apostolic work, it is among them.”
The Church has also fallen victim to violence in the area – at last six priests have been murdered in Guerrero since 2009. Two were ambushed earlier this month. Last week a congregation of nuns withdrew from the city of Chilapa after the parents of one of the Sisters were kidnapped and killed.
“I know that people are afraid, even I’m afraid,” the bishop said at a Mass where he announced the news that the nun’s parents had died.
Is Lent too soft? Newman wasn’t sure
“It is quite predictable that at the beginning of every Lent, the claimed laxity of Catholic fasting and abstaining is decried,” Amy Welborn wrote on her blog.
Observing that “Critics have been saying the same things for about 400 years, it seems”, Welborn returned to a sermon by Blessed John Henry Newman given on the First Sunday in Lent, for his take. He said: “… the great precept of self-conquest and self-surrender is to be expressed, that depends on the person himself, and on the time or place. What is good for one age or person, is not good for another.”
Noting that “a civilised age is more exposed to subtle sins,” Newman said: “On the other hand [fasting] being so light as it is, so much lighter than it was in former times, is a suggestion to us that there are other sins and weaknesses to mortify in us besides gluttony and drunkenness.”
Words are not enough to save married life
Thomas Pascoe, writing for Conservative Woman, said that since 2013 the British government has “failed to prioritise marriage in either social or economic policy”. Pascoe, a campaign director of the Coalition for Marriage, said that government initiatives to date “have focused in the wrong places”.
He urged the Government to be decisive: “Either marriage is the gold standard of adult relationships or it is an option among many to be tampered with at will.”
Kit Malthouse, minister for family support, housing and child maintenance, has said “we believe that marriage can help build more stable relationships”, but Pascoe wrote that “good words are not good deeds”.
✣ Maxims such as ‘wear out your favourite sports shoes’ and ‘allow dogs to get closer’ are being attributed to Pope Francis in a message periodically trending on social media.
This humdrum advice is contained within a “gentle reminder” allegedly written by the Holy Father. The message offers advice not only on clothing and dogs, but glassware: “Utilise the new dinnerware,” it urges.
The 250-word message contains many other recommendations, chiefly centred on enjoying life’s pleasures. It concludes: “Leave the rest in God’s hands. Amen”. But the “gentle reminder” is, unsurprisingly enough, fake news. According to fact-checking website Snopes.com, the message was probably written by singer Marcela Tais in a Tumblr post, originally in Portuguese.
✣ A Muslim Scottish government minister is giving up Irn-Bru for Lent to raise money for Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). Humza Yousaf, the Scottish National Party’s minister for transport and the islands, tweeted: “Should say reason I’m supporting @ACN_ Scotland is because the persecution of Christians worldwide in some Muslim majority countries is something that deeply saddens me, and most Muslims.”
✣The week in quotations
What they’re trying to do is blame us Bishop Salvador Rangel on Mexican authorities CNS
Repentance and reconciliation are urgent Bishop Okpaleke in his resignation letter CNS
Lent is a time of spiritual ‘training’, of spiritual combat Pope Francis in his Angelus address CNA
We are still there, scourged, wounded, yet still there Archbishop Wanda on Christians in Erbil, Iraq CNA
✣Statistic of the week
48.6 Percentage of US adults aged 18-64 who are married Source: Institute for Family Studies
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