Poll: Catholics hope Bishop Malone steps down
An opinion poll has found widespread discontent with Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, who has faced accusations of mishandling abuse cases. The Buffalo News polled 473 Erie and Niagara County residents, all of whom identified as Catholic or lapsed Catholic.
Eighty-six per cent said they thought Bishop Malone should step down. Only three per cent of those surveyed said they thought he should stay on.
Malone denies the accusations. He told a press conference earlier this month: “I’m here because I feel an obligation … if I thought that the majority of Catholic people in particular were calling for my resignation, that would be a different story.”
Former aid agency head criticises bishops
The former president of Development and Peace, the Canadian member of the international Caritas organisation, has claimed that the bishops’ attitude toward their charitable agency is hurting its membership and credibility, the Catholic News Service reports.
Development and Peace has been criticised by some bishops who suspect the organization might be supporting partners that do not conform with Church teaching, especially on sexual morality and abortion. The bishops’ conference and Development and Peace are conducting a joint review of these partnerships. Their conclusions regarding 52 of the 180 partners are expected to be made public by the end of September. Jean-Denis Lampron, who was president of the organisation’s National Council, said the bishops were “trying to kill a fly by using an atomic bomb”.
Bishop offers cemetery for 2,000 unborn
Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend (pictured) has offered the use of a Catholic cemetery for the bodies of 2,246 aborted babies found at the home of a recently deceased abortionist.
Bishop Rhoades expressed his “horror and disgust” at the discovery, which is being investigated by the attorneys general of Illinois and Indiana.
The bishop offered his “assistance, including the use of our Catholic Cemetery in Fort Wayne, for the proper and dignified burial of the remains of these unborn children”. Their bodies were found in sealed plastic bags inside boxes at the home of Ulrich Klopfer, who owned and operated at three abortion clinics.
Former guerrilla leader suggests papal mediation
A former guerrilla leader has asked Pope Francis to mediate between Venezuela and Colombia, as tensions rise along the border.
Senator Pablo Catatumbo (pictured), a former senior member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), said the war of words between the two countries had to end.
He suggested that the two governments could “go to a major moral and peaceful authority – such as the Pope – to intervene and create a dialogue with the two sides.”
He said that any armed conflict between the two countries would only benefit the weapons industry in Russia and the United States.
Abortion bill narrowly rejected
Ecuador’s parliament has rejected a bill to legalise abortion in cases of rape. The country’s laws only permit abortion in cases where a woman with a mental disability has been raped, or when the mother’s life is in danger. The proposed expansion of the law was only narrowly rejected: it needed 70 votes in the National Assembly, but received 65. Fifty-nine members of the Assembly voted against it and six abstained. Before the vote, Archbishop Alfredo Espinoza of Quito urged parliamentarians to remember that “God is the God of life, not the God of death.”
Alto Solimões, Brazil
Bishop: synod is ‘small-p political’
A Brazilian bishop who will attend next month’s Amazon synod has said the synod is political, but has said he doesn’t want to attack President Jair Bolsonaro.
Bishop Adolfo Zon Pereira of Alto Solimões told the Guardian that the synod was not designed to undermine Bolsonaro. “This is my government,” he said. “Why would I want to harm it?” He said the synod would be “a political act – but with a small ‘p’. It isn’t partisan.” He also expressed pessimism about contemporary politics: “Why is the extreme right growing today? Because people are searching for a saviour.”
Government drops ‘named person’ scheme
A proposal for the state to monitor every child in Scotland has been dropped, after a long legal and political battle. The “named person” scheme, which would have assigned a monitor to every under-18 year-old in the country, was too complex to satisfy the questions of Members of the Scottish Parliament.
The first setback for the scheme came in 2016, when the UK Supreme Court said it could breach international human rights law on the right to privacy and to a family life.
The Scottish government tried to come up with a new proposal which would address those legal difficulties. But MSPs asked for a draft version of the scheme, and last week the education secretary John Swinney said an expert panel had found this impossible.
Dachau preacher beatified
A priest who died in the Dachau concentration camp has been beatified. Fr Richard Henkes cared for typhus victims in the camp, and died in 1945 after contracting the disease. Henkes (pictured) spoke out against the Nazis in the 1930s, particularly drawing attention to the euthanasia of the disabled. He was first questioned by the Nazis in 1937, but it was only in 1943 that one of his homilies led to his imprisonment in Dachau. He preached to prisoners in Block 17, in their native Czech.
The Philippines Senate has conducted hearings into two bills to legalise divorce, in the only country apart from Vatican City with no divorce law. The bill has passed the lower house.
The bishops’ conference has condemned the proposal, saying it would lead to family breakdown.
School backs down in headscarf ban row
A Catholic-sponsored school has lifted a ban on headscarves after an outcry. St Joan of Arc School had expelled 22 Muslim schoolgirls who wore a headscarf for religious reasons, leading to a public outcry and talks which were led by the minister for education, Aminata Tall (pictured), according to local reports. Some of the girls’ parents also threatened legal action.
The school has now backed down, agreeing to readmit the girls. According to the BBC, they will be allowed to wear a scarf provided by the school in a size that doesn’t obscure the uniform.
Bishops protest as government steps up attacks on Church
The Eritrean government has escalated its assault on the Church, forcibly taking four Catholic schools into national ownership. In June, the government seized all 22 Catholic healthcare centres.
The bishops responded forcefully to the closures of schools, asking in a letter to education minister Semere Re’esom: “If this is not hatred against the faith and against religion, what else can it be?” They asked for “open and constructive dialogue” and said that the closures violated “the rights and the legitimate freedom of the Church”. The government’s attacks on the Church are thought to be in retaliation for the bishops’ criticisms of the government’s record on poverty and civil liberties (see page 14).
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