Catholic adoption agencies will be able to follow Church teaching without losing state support, after the Trump administration reversed a policy which had been in place since 2016. The Department of Health and Human Services announced that it will no longer deny funding to adoption agencies who refuse to place children with same-sex couples. The bishops’ conference welcomed the decision, saying the old rule had “threatened to shut out faith-based social service providers, namely adoption and foster care agencies that respect a child’s right to a mother and a father”. However, Catholic dioceses are unable to open adoption agencies in a few states, such as Massachussetts and California, which have interpreted anti-discrimination law as excluding Catholic agencies.
Mother asks for prayers in ‘brain death’ battle
A woman has asked for prayers for her teenage son who has been declared “brain dead”, amid a court battle to keep him alive. LaShauna Lowery says her son, Titus Jermaine Cromer Jr, could need up to two years to recover. But his doctors want his life support to be switched off. At the time of going to press, a court judgment was expected soon. The subject of “brain death” is controversial, with some medical experts believing it is often misdiagnosed. Catholic ethicists disagree over whether “brain death” is a real death. Lowery, a Baptist, told the Catholic News Agency: “We feel that human life … is invested with the highest dignity by God.”
World’s oldest Sister of Mercy dies aged 111
The oldest Sister of Mercy in the world, and possibly the oldest living religious, has died aged 111, the Catholic News Service reports. Sister Mary Aidan Donaldson was born in Northern Ireland. After being inspired by a group of Sisters of Mercy from Mobile, Alabama, who visited the country, she moved to join them, arriving during the Great Depression. Sister Mary worked as a teacher for 50 years. “She was formidable,” one Sister recalled. “There was just something about her that called for respect.” In old age, Sister Mary became the convent’s “official greeter”. Another Sister told the Catholic Week, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Mobile: “She loved everybody and she loved for people to come in.”
Parish residence is attacked
A priest and migrant shelter operator has suffered a violent robbery at his parish residence, the Catholic News Service reports. The robbery came amid a wave of assaults on parishes – often during Mass – in Mexico’s second-largest city. According to a statement from the Migrant and Refugee Shelter in the Guadalajara suburb of Tlaquepaque, a couple arrived at Fr Alberto Ruiz Perez’s residence asking for “a religious service”. The male then pushed Fr Ruiz, pulled a gun on him, and five other armed individuals stormed the residence, stealing personal items and approximately $1,050 (£810
San Luis, Argentina
Bishop limits altar service to males
A bishop has limited altar service to males, asking his priests to maintain the old liturgical custom. According to the newspaper Clarín, Bishop Pedro Daniel Martínez of San Luis wrote to his priests, saying that women and girls should not serve at the altar. Pope John Paul II was the first pope to permit altar girls, a practice previously forbidden but now left to bishops’ discretion. Altar girls are still forbidden in the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska. Bishop Martínez has previously issued a rule that Communion must be received on the tongue rather than in the hand.
Priest faces ‘homophobia’ inquiry
A priest is facing a local government inquiry for allegedly inciting homophobia, after he expressed concern about possible legal threats for Christians who object to same-sex marriage. Fr Rodrigo Arruda told his congregation that a recent Supreme Court ruling criminalising homophobia amounted to “judicial activism” and “censorship”. An LGBT rights group reported the priest to the authorities, and a state attorney is investigating. Catholic Congresswoman Chris Tonietto, a member of President Jair Bolsonaro’s conservative Social Liberal Party, said it was a case of “censorship”, Crux reported.
Synodal path ‘no longer binding’
The German bishops’ conference appears to have watered down its plans for a “binding synodal process”, following criticism from a Vatican department. The German bishops are embarking on a wide-ranging consultation of matters including sexual morality and the priesthood. But the plans were widely criticised after it emerged that the Central Committee of German Catholics, a group containing critics of Church teaching, would play a major role. Cardinal Marc Ouellet wrote to the bishops, telling them that the plans for a “synodal path” were “not ecclesiologically valid”. Now, according to CNA Deutsch, the statutes for the “synodal process” have been revised so that they no longer refer to a “binding” process, but instead stress the authority of bishops.
Auditor general was ‘getting too close’
The Vatican’s former auditor general has claimed he was sacked to cover up misconduct. Libero Milone told the Financial Times: “We were getting too close to information that they wanted to be secret, and they fabricated a situation for me to be thrown out.” Milone was removed in 2017. In other financial news from the Vatican, Cardinal Angelo Becciu has defended his actions after revelations about a property deal. “My conscience is clear,” he said.
Parish’s last stand
Catholics have barricaded themselves inside a church, amid the latest of a series of church demolition campaigns. Officials have reportedly said that “the Vatican supports us”, a reference to the Vatican-China agreement, and have ordered the demolition of 40 more churches.
Nun appeals after dismissal for protest
A nun has appealed to the Vatican after being dismissed from her congregation. Sister Lucy Kalapura is taking her appeal to the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, after the Franciscan Clarist Congregation removed her from the order. She was accused of “defiance, violating the norms of the congregation and infringing on the vow of poverty,” according to a Crux report. Sister Lucy took part in protests against Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who is about to go on trial facing charges of raping a nun. He denies the allegation.
Kidnapped priest returns safely
A Nigerian priest has been released two days after his kidnapping, in the latest example of the threat to clergy in the country. Fr Arinze Madu, vice-rector of the Queen of Apostles Seminary, was abducted by gunmen, but has returned safely. Fr Benjamin Achi, communications director for Enugu diocese, told ACI Africa: “We are really grateful to God, he is out of the abductor’s net and is back in one piece.” This year, several priests have been attacked and killed in Nigeria, with the southern diocese of Enugu being one of the most dangerous for priests. The bishops continue to call on President Muhammudu Buhari to do more to stop the violence.