Highest honour for Catholic soldier killed in Iraq
A Catholic soldier will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the United States’ highest military decoration, the White House has announced. Staff Sergeant Travis Atkins was killed on June 1 2007, after tackling a suicide bomber to protect his fellow soldiers. He was 31. At his funeral, the priest said that Atkins had lived out his calling.
Atkins is the fifth soldier to receive the Medal for actions taken during the Iraq war. It is awarded for “Conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty”. The ceremony will take place on Wednesday March 27: Atkins’s son Trevor and other family members will be present.
Embassy staff accuse Vatican diplomat of misconduct
A Vatican diplomat has been accused of corruption and of having a “romantic” relationship. Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, who was the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations from 2010 to 2014, was accused by three unnamed priest-officials who spoke to the Catholic News Agency (CNA). They alleged that Archbishop Chullikatt sent “inappropriate” text messages to the woman and that staffers were required to obtain a visa for her to visit the US.
The archbishop was also accused of financial misconduct, “arbitrary wage cuts” and outbursts of anger. In 2013, complaints were made to the Vatican. But according to the sources, the archbishop did not face censure. CNA said the archbishop could not be reached for comment.
Dispute over seminary closure
Chicago’s undergraduate seminary has closed, but board members are protesting. In January, Cardinal Blase Cupich (pictured), the Archbishop of Chicago, announced that St Joseph College seminary would close. The cardinal said that applications were declining, and that more and more aspirants to the priesthood had already been to college – meaning that an undergraduate seminary was less needed. Undergraduate seminarians will now study in Minnesota.
Members of the advisory board have written to the cardinal, saying that the closure will have a “horrible impact” on seminarians and the Church. They also alleged that the decision had been taken with a “complete lack of transparency”, and with insufficient “advance warning or dialogue”.
Bishops welcome governor’s block on death penalty
The bishops of California welcomed a decision by Governor Gavin Newsom to issue a moratorium on executions in the state and a temporary reprieve for all inmates on the state’s death row.
In a statement on behalf of the state’s bishops, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco said they agreed that the death penalty is unnecessary in present-day California.
Archbishop Cordileone has previously clashed with Governor Newsom, particularly in 2014 over same-sex marriage. After the archbishop attended a rally against same-sex marriage, the governor signed a letter calling on him to “promote reconciliation rather than division and hatred”.
Thousands march for unborn as debate looms
More than 100,000 people across Ecuador marched against abortion last Saturday at the annual Festival for Life. The Archdiocese of Guayaquil said the main aims of the event were the “protection of life from conception, the defence of the institution of marriage and the right to freedom of education, recognised in Article 45 of the Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador.” The march in Guayaquil concluded with a concert featuring various Ecuadorian pop stars. The National Assembly is due to debate liberalising the country’s abortion laws in the coming week.
Bishops ask Pope to visit homeland
In a letter commemorating the sixth anniversary of Pope Francis’s election, the bishops of Argentina have said they will ask the pope to visit his homeland. The bishops said they will meet with the Pope during their ad limina visit this spring.
Speculation had been high that Pope Francis would visit Argentina in 2016, but he explained that he would be unable to visit that year or the following year due to other scheduled pastoral trips. “The world is larger than Argentina and I cannot be in two places at once,” the Pope said. “I will leave it in the Lord’s hands to show me the date.”
Union threatens to stop abortions
A gynaecologists’ union is threatening an abortion strike, in which its members would refuse to carry out terminations, as part of a dispute over insurance coverage.
SYNGOF issued a statement to its 1,600 members, which was relayed on social media and confirmed to the website France Info. The current president of the union, Bertrand de Rochambeau, already refuses to perform abortions, which he describes as “homicide”. Jean Marty, former union president and a co-signatory, is himself pro-abortion, However, he said, “If we don’t issue threats which disturb society, we are not heard.”
The union claims that new government proposals would not extend full insurance coverage to some of its members.
Cambodians prepare for baptism
In the Cambodian capital last Sunday, 154 people took part in a service of welcome, ahead of their baptism at the Easter Vigil.
Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler, the apostolic vicar, told them: “Our society needs small lights. You are this salt, this light.” According to Asia News, the group includes “members of young Catholic communities in Bati and Tropeang Kragnoun, in the south-western province of Takeo … who welcomed their first baptised only recently”.
Six years for Pell
Cardinal George Pell has been sentenced to six years imprisonment following his conviction on five counts of sexual abuse.
The cardinal will be eligible for parole after serving three years and eight months. He maintains his innocence. His appeal begins in June.
Kenyan bishops reject dirty money allegations
Archbishop Philip Anyolo, chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, has denied claims that the Church accepted funds stolen from the public purse. Archbishop Anyolo told the Religion News Service: “We condemn any acts of corruption because it’s against God’s will. If you steal money or anything and bring it to the Church, you … have lost touch with God.” The archbishop was responding to allegations that politicians were donating expropriated public money, with tacit approval from the Church, to gain support from Catholics.
Bishops offer solidarity after mass murder of Muslims
New Zealand’s bishops have issued a message of solidarity with the country’s Muslims after mosque attacks in Christchurch that left 50 people dead.
“We are deeply saddened that people have been killed and injured,” the bishops wrote, “and our hearts go out to them, their families and wider community. We wish you to be aware of our solidarity with you in the face of such violence.”
A telegram from the Vatican, sent by Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said: “Commending those who have died to the loving mercy of Almighty God, Pope Francis invokes the divine blessings of comfort and strength upon the nation.”
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