Pro-lifer appointed to UN post
Pro-life groups have hailed the appointment of Andrew Bremberg as US Representative to the UN in Geneva. Bremberg (left) has helped the Trump administration reinstate the Mexico City Policy, which stops US funding going to foreign NGOs that promote abortion. Bremberg “will be a strong advocate for the cornerstone of all human rights, the right to life, and will stand up to the international abortion lobby at the United Nations”, said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B Anthony List. But his appointment was opposed by 38 organisations including Planned Parenthood, which said Bremberg would use his post “to strip away reproductive rights and LGBTQI rights around the world”.
Fewer US Hispanics are Catholic
Catholics are no longer a majority among Hispanics in the US, according to a new report from the Pew Research Forum. The study, which surveyed American adults in 2018 and 2019, showed a continuing decline in the last decade in those identifying as Christians, from 77 to 65 per cent.
Catholics have fallen from 23 to 20 per cent of the population over the last decade. But Hispanics identifying as Catholic have fallen by a far greater amount, from 57 to 47 per cent.
More Hispanics are now born in the US rather than being immigrants, and are urban rather than rural, both of which contribute to secularisation, the academic Hosffman Ospino, author of the 2014 report “Hispanic Ministry in Catholic Parishes”, told the Catholic World Report.
Damning report on child abuse in Colorado
More than 160 children were sexually abused by 43 Catholic priests in Colorado over a 70-year period, according to a report by the state’s attorney general, published last week. The abuses mostly took place in the 1960s and 1970s, though nine children were abused in the 1980s and at least 11 in the 1990s.
The report claimed that the three dioceses in Colorado spent decades attempting to cover up the abuse, and that more than half of the victims were abused after Church officials became aware that priests were involved.
“I am sorry about this horrible history – but it is my promise to continue doing everything I can so it never happens again,” said Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver.
Bishop criticises Jesuit over Bible tweet
Fr James Martin, editor-at-large of the Jesuit magazine America, was at the centre of a Twitter storm last week. Fr Martin posted a link to an article he described as “interesting”, which suggested that the biblical condemnation of same-sex sexual activity might not be “correct”.
Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, accused Fr Martin of “challenging the Deposit of Faith that I promised to defend”, saying: “If we go down that road (of questioning Scripture) where do we stop?” Fr Martin said that he was being “lambasted by Catholics who excoriated me for not accepting the ‘inerrancy’ of Scripture. News flash: Catholics are not biblical fundamentalists.”
Last month Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia urged Catholics to be wary of Fr Martin’s writings, while adding that “bitter personal attacks” on him by other Catholics “are inexcusable and un-Christian”.
La Paz, Bolivia
Bishops urge clarity after disputed election
Bolivia’s bishops have called for greater transparency in vote-counting in the country’s presidential election. President Evo Morales (pictured) was ahead in the count, which was suspended for 24 hours; when it resumed he was even further ahead, almost close enough to claim outright victory. “We’re making a call for the vote to be respected, the public outcry to be heard and hopefully there is a run-off election,” said Bishop Ricardo Centellas Guzmán of Potosi.
Catholics oppose president on Amazon
A poll in Brazil has concluded that the majority of Brazilian Catholics believe that global warming is a fact, and that deforestation of the Amazon is regrettable.
The survey of 1,502 Catholics found that around 70 per cent believe preserving the Amazon is “very important” and 85 per cent see attacking the rainforest as a sin. President Jair Bolsonaro has faced worldwide criticism for his environmental policies, such as slashing funding for an environmental watchdog.
At the Amazon synod there have been many calls for better protection of the rainforest.
Monks criticise authorities over Franco exhumation
The abbot of the Benedictine abbey at Spain’s Valley of the Fallen has complained that the manner of the exhumation of former dictator Francisco Franco has violated the abbey as a place of worship. Fr Santiago Cantera, prior of the Abbey of the Holy Cross, said: “The actions of the security forces and the workers have been and are totally incompatible with the principle of the inviolability of places of worship.”
His complaint does not appear to be against the exhumation in principle, but about the way that it was done: “The Civil Guard, without judicial authorisation to allow it, accessed and wandered about the premises of the abbey and, what is more serious, accessed and wandered about the basilica,” he said.
Holy See finances in spotlight
The head of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) has appeared to have acknowledged that the Vatican granted a €50 million loan to buy an Italian hospital out of bankruptcy, possibly contravening European regulations. In a statement last week Bishop Nunzio Galantino seemed to confirm reports that when the hospital was unable to repay the loan, the Vatican secured a $25 million grant from the US-based Papal Foundation to cover the loan.
Call for inquiry
Hong Kong Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing has called for an independent inquiry into the actions of the police in the recent demonstrations. The protests were against a proposal, now withdrawn by the government, to allow mainland China to extradite alleged criminals.
New regulations stifle Chinese churches
China has brought in new regulations controlling places of worship, in a move which many Christians see as yet another curb on their freedom. The new rules require churches to create a “charter” – to be approved by local religious regulators – setting out all their activities, including examples of actual situations. They apply to China’s five official religions: Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, Buddhism and Daoism. The measures are part of the “sinicisation” of religion – bringing all religious activity in China under the control of the Chinese Communist Party. There are concerns that rural churches, often with semi-literate congregations, do not have the resources to create a charter.
Religious leaders’ support for protesters
Religious leaders in Lebanon have given their support to protesters who have taken to the streets to demonstrate against government corruption. Activists have rejected a new government package of reforms, demanding the resignation of the cabinet. Cardinal Bechara al-Rahi (pictured), head of the Maronite Catholic Church, asked the government to listen to the protesters’ demands, saying “the people would not have risen had they not reached extreme pain”. Metropolitan Elias Audi of the Greek Orthodox Church in Beirut and the country’s leading Sunni Muslim cleric also spoke in support of the protests.
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