In brief

Philadelphia Archbishop sets up ‘quasi-parish’ for traditionalists

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia has set up a “quasi-parish” for those interested in the traditional Latin Mass.He said there was a “growing interest” in the Extraordinary Form and that it was “timely to provide additional pastoral care”. The quasi-parish, in Conshohocken, a suburb of Philadelphia, will become a permanent parish if deemed a success, and will be entrusted to the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP), a traditionalist group founded in 1988. The church, St Mary’s, had been part of a parish merger and was only used for Masses occasionally. David Swedkowski, who campaigned to preserve the church, said: “We couldn’t be more thrilled.”




Canadian bishops freeze funding for Catholic aid agency

At least ten dioceses in Canada are withholding funding from the overseas aid agency of the bishops’ conference, amid concerns that it is working with groups that contradict Catholic teaching. Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto is holding back 800,000 Canadian dollars (£450,000) from the Canadian Catholic Organisation for Development and Peace (CCODP), citing “alarming concerns” about its partners. Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton said an estimated 40 groups “appear to show evidence of conflict with Catholic moral and social teaching and, in particular, that they do not demonstrate full respect for the sanctity of human life”. Two Brazilian campaign groups, for instance, are listed as aid agency “partners” despite their support for abortion. The bishops’ conference and aid agency are conducting a joint inquiry.




Seventh US state introduces assisted suicide

Hawaii has become the seventh state to legalise assisted suicide in the United States. Under the new law, which goes into effect next January, doctors can prescribe lethal drugs to people who are terminally ill and deemed to have less than six months to live. A petition against the bill attracted 150,000 signatures. Hawaii follows Oregon, Washington, California, Colorado, Vermont and the District of Columbia in introducing similar legislation. A court approved assisted suicide in Montana. Campaign group Care Not Killing noted that the law required a person’s underlying illness to be recorded as the immediate cause of death, rather than the ingestion of barbiturates. This was “not only a lie,” it said, “but one mandated by state law”.




Consecrate Mexico to the Immaculate Heart, urges cardinal

A cardinal has called for Mexico’s bishops to consecrate the country to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, the retired archbishop of Guadalajara, told Mexico’s El Universal newspaper that he was making the suggestion “in face of the tribulations our country is currently going through, and the need we have for good government”. He suggested the consecration occur on May 13, the date of the first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima. The cardinal pointed out how, after St John Paul II consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart, the Iron Curtain fell “without bloodshed”. Pope Francis consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart in 2013.




Cardinal: I am not to blame for Pope’s poor briefing

Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz, a member of Pope Francis’s Council of Cardinals, has said he is not to blame for the Pope’s mishandling of the Chilean abuse scandal. The retired archbishop of Santiago spoke to Chile’s El Tercera daily after the Pope lamented in a letter to the country’s bishops that he had received “a lack of truthful and balanced information”. The cardinal said that many people had claimed he was responsible, but informing Francis about “possible errors and evils” in the Church was not the job of the Council of Cardinals. In a response on Twitter, abuse survivor Juan Carlos Cruz claimed that Cardinal Errázuriz was a “wicked” man who, he said, had lied to the Pope.


Buenos Aires


Argentina considers legalising abortion

Lawmakers in Argentina are considering whether to legalise abortion without restrictions in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. A bill has been introduced in Congress and a special commission is hearing from experts and witnesses over the next two months. The president, Mauricio Marci, said he was opposed to the bill but would allow a free vote and would sign it into law if it was passed. Abortion is currently legal in cases of rape or where there is a risk to the health of the mother. Hundreds of thousands of Argentines attended pro-life rallies on the Day of the Unborn last month.




Council bans pro-lifers from helping women outside clinics

Ealing Council has become the first local authority in Britain to ban pro-life vigils outside an abortion clinic. Councillors voted unanimously to use a controversial legal mechanism, a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), to prevent members of the public from praying and offering support to pregnant women within 100 metres of a Marie Stopes clinic. Ealing has written to other councils urging them to follow suit. Several, including Portsmouth, Southwark and Manchester, have already passed motions promising to take action. The Times reported that Lambeth Council was likely to vote on a possible PSPO in June. Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth said in a pastoral letter that the pro-life movement needed to “change tack”.




Pope and Patriarch Kirill discuss missile strikes on Syria

Patriarch Kirill has said that he had a lengthy phone discussion with Pope Francis about Syria after 103 missiles were fired by the US, Britain and France at three government sites last Friday. The Patriarch told journalists at his residence outside Moscow: “It was a very meaningful dialogue in favour of peace. We shared the common concern about the situation in Syria, and we talked about how Christians should influence this situation.” A joint statement by Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs in Syria condemned the attack as “unjust aggression”.




Archbishop on trial for alleged cover-up

Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide has denied allegations of abuse cover-up, telling a criminal court he had no memory of being informed about sexual abuse that occurred in the 1970s. If convicted he could be jailed for two years.




Algeria approves beatification of Trappists

The Algerian government has given permission for seven Trappist monks to be beatified in the city of Oran later this year. Algeria’s foreign minister, Abdelkader Messahel, told France 24 that the beatification would take place “in a few months, in the coming weeks”. The monks of Tibhirine, murdered by an Islamist group in 1996, were among 19 victims of Algeria’s civil war recognised as martyrs in January. The prior, Christian de Chergé (pictured), wrote that, if he were killed, he wanted it remembered that his life was given “to God and to this country”.


Ha Tinh


Catholic jailed for nine years for trying to subvert state

A Catholic activist has been sentenced to nine years in prison for allegedly trying to subvert Vietnam’s communist state. Teresa Tran Thi Xuan, 42, was convicted of “attempting to overthrow the people’s government”. A state-run newspaper said she shared video clips and articles from “reactionary groups” and organised protests against the local government over toxic waste. When Xuan was arrested in October, thousands of Catholics attended a candlelit vigil to pray for justice. One woman told UCA News that Xuan gave “material and spiritual support to poor people and natural disaster victims”. Over two weeks in March and April, 10 social activists were jailed. Their sentences totalled 96 years.