Grand Rapids, Michigan
Diocese backs priest over Communion refusal
The Diocese of Grand Rapids has backed a priest who refused Communion to a parishioner who is in a same-sex marriage.
Judge Sara Smolenski, chief judge of the Kent County District Court, received the Eucharist on November 17, but then Fr Scott Nolan phoned her “to demand that she ‘respect the Church’ and not return for the Sacrament in the future”, according to a letter from parishioners to Bishop David Walkowiak of Grand Rapids (pictured).
The diocese said: “No community of faith can sustain the public contradiction of its beliefs by its own members. This is especially so on matters as central to Catholic life as marriage.
Pro-lifers oppose Senate family planning amendment
Pro-life leaders including Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, chairman of the US Bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities, have called on President Trump to block an amendment to a Senate bill which they say would “enrich global abortion providers”. The amendment could increase provision for international family planning from $575 million to $632.55 million.
Government policy dictates that no US taxpayer money should support foreign organisations that “perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations”. The pro-life leaders said the amendment would effectively contradict this policy, and fund NGOs that provide abortion.
Wheeling, West Virginia
Bishop tells predecessor to make reparation
Bishop Michael Bransfield, formerly of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, has been asked by his successor to pay back nearly $900,000 he is alleged to have taken from Church funds and used for private air travel, luxury hotels, expensive clothing, dining and alcohol. Bishop Bransfield denies any wrongdoing.
Bishop Bransfield’s successor, Bishop Mark Brennan, called on his predecessor to apologise to those he is accused of harassing, diocesan employees he allegedly intimidated, and to the faithful for the “grievous harm” caused to the diocese. Bishop Brennan also said that Bishop Bransfield will have to take the salary of a retired priest rather a bishop, return a diocesan car and lose his privilege of being buried in the diocese.
Thousands renew consecration to Christ the King
Ten thousand lay Catholics have renewed their consecration to Christ the King in a ceremony at the foot of the huge Christ the King statue in Bicentennial Park, Silao.
The event took place on the eve of the Solemnity of Christ the King last month. The organisers said that the occasion had special resonance at a time of threats “to life, the family, fundamental freedoms, the death of so many innocent people at the hands of organised crime, and the ever-growing rate of abortions in our country”.
The statue was erected in 1920, amid the persecutions that escalated into armed conflict in the Cristero War of the late 1920s.
Archbishop calls for peace in Latin America
With increasing political and social upheaval in Latin America, a senior prelate has urged those in conflict to “end all forms of violence, wherever it comes from, and to continue looking for paths of dialogue that will allow us to achieve permanent peace”.
Archbishop Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte of Trujillo, Peru, president of the Episcopal Conferences of Latin America and the Caribbean, said: “Violence is not fought with violence.” He continued: “To destroy our countries is not the right solution. It is time to act as brothers and not as enemies.”
Bishop Zanchetta appears in court
An Argentine bishop has appeared in court for a hearing ahead of a trial on charges of sexual abuse of seminarians. He denies the claims.
According to the Buenos Aires Times, his lawyer told the hearing that the allegations could be a matter of “perception”, such as “a hug that lasted longer than normal, a kiss that instead of the cheek could fall on an ear, touching a leg, risqué jokes”.
Argentine media have reported that the Vatican was notified of allegations against Bishop Zanchetta in 2015. He told Pope Francis the claims were false. Two years later he stepped down as bishop of Orán, after which the Pope appointed him to a Vatican job.
Ban on parent protests over LGBT programme upheld
A judge has upheld a ban on demonstrators at a primary school which is teaching children about sexuality and gender. Anderton Park, in Birmingham, has adopted a teaching programme which endorses same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage as part of the value of “equality”. Parents and other protesters had gathered outside the school, saying that the classes were not appropriate for the children, some of whom are as young as five.
The school asked Birmingham City Council to ban the protests. The council agreed, meaning that demonstrators could be arrested. Mr Justice Warby upheld the ban, saying that the protests were causing too much noise and were distressing school staff. He said the school’s “No Outsiders” classes were merely about equality.
Mount Athos, Greece
Patriarch Bartholomew: reunion inevitable
Reunion between the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodoxy is inevitable, Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople has reportedly said.
Bartholomew, the “first among equals” of Orthodox patriarchs, made the comments at a private meeting on Mount Athos, according to a report from the Union of Orthodox Journalists. OrthoChristian reported that he said there are no dogmatic differences between Orthodoxy and Catholicism.
Chinese religious leaders and government have met to plan the next stage of “sinicisation”, according to the state news agency Xinhua.
They plan to ensure that religion fits “core socialist values”, and to develop “theology with Chinese characteristics”, away from “Western ideology”.
Bangui, Central African Republic
Salesians defend placement of abuser priest
The Salesian order in Belgium has defended its decision to send a priest who was a convicted child abuser to work as national director of Caritas in the Central African Republic. Fr Luk Delft (right) was later accused of abusing children in the country.
Salesian Fr Carlo Loots, Fr Delft’s superior in Belgium, said: “You can say the Salesians shouldn’t have let him go to Africa, but we trusted the advice given by the probation commission, which should also have seen it was too risky. This case is very complex, and I don’t think it helps much to start blaming people.”
Christians granted bail after 11 years
Five Christians who have been imprisoned for 11 years have been released on bail, after years of campaigning by the Church. They had been accused of the murder of Swami Laxmananda Saraswati, a Hindu leader, in Kandhamal in 2008. His death led to anti-Christian rioting in India, with around 100 people killed. The five continued to be imprisoned despite denials and journalistic investigations which appeared to vindicate them.
Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar said: “I am overjoyed that finally my people have received bail; [but] I feel saddened that innocent Christians were incarcerated for 11 long years … for no fault of theirs, except that they were Christians.”
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