Archdiocese tight-lipped on McCarrick payouts
The Archdiocese of Washington has declined to comment on ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s use of funds. McCarrick, who was reduced to the lay state after being exposed as having committed sexual abuse, was Archbishop of Washington from 2006 to 2018. The Catholic News Agency reported that through his Archbishop’s Fund, McCarrick made gifts to senior Vatican figures, whose names are in the archdiocesan archives.
The archdiocese, while acknowledging that the fund existed, has declined to disclose who received money, or how much. It also declined to comment on whether details of the fund were included in a report on McCarrick submitted to Rome.
Pence and Pompeo affirm religious freedom
Two of the most senior figures in the Trump administration have affirmed their support for the civil liberties of religious believers. Speaking at the Second Annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, Vice-President Mike Pence told the delegates: “We’re gathered here, 106 nations strong, because we believe in the freedom of conscience.” He noted that in Nicaragua and Venezuela the government often targets Catholics who criticise the regime.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also spoke, drawing attention to the mistreatment of religious minorities in China. He said that China had put pressure on some delegates not to attend the meeting, and told them: “If you’re here today and you’re a country which has defied the Chinese pressure to come here, we salute you and we thank you.”
Pinterest whistleblower tells his story
A social media whistleblower has said that tech companies are “cracking down on pro-life speech” as part of a “war for abortion rights”. Eric Cochran was a software engineer at Pinterest, where he heard senior officials talking about the need to combat misinformation. But, he told the National Catholic Register in an exclusive interview, he began to have suspicions, and discovered that the company had lists of “Sensitive Terms”, which included phrases such as “Bible verses”, and of blocked pornography – which included Live Action, the pro-life group.
Cochran, a Calvinist, told the story to the investigative news website Project Veritas. After the report, Pinterest responded by banning Live Action entirely. Cochran lost his job.
Wheeling, West Virginia
Bishop barred from living in former diocese
Pope Francis has announced sanctions on Bishop Michael Bransfield, the former Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston. The bishop was accused in a Vatican-commissioned report of sexual harassment and serious financial misconduct. (He denies all wrongdoing.)
The bishop had already been suspended from exercising any priestly ministry. Under the new sanctions, he will not be allowed to take part in public Masses or live in his former diocese. He must also make “personal amends” for the harm he did to the diocese, the Pope said.
The bishop was also found to have made large financial gifts to bishops and Vatican officials. Some have returned the money.
Bishops: We can’t accept this many US-bound migrants
Guatemala’s bishops have criticised the idea of the country being classed as a “safe third country” for asylum seekers, reports the Catholic News Service. The country’s constitutional court stopped President Jimmy Morales from declaring Guatemala a “safe third country” in a decision on July 14. Signing such an agreement would have meant migrants travelling through Guatemala and wishing to seek asylum in the United States would be required to do so in Guatemala. The bishops said: “We cannot absorb the migrant population that comes from other countries.”
Police in the Diocese of Limeira are investigating allegations of abuse and cover-up. Three priests have been publicly accused by their alleged victims, who were teenagers at the time of the alleged assault. The allegations were made in a weekly magazine, Revista Veja. The lawyer for the alleged victims is seeking $530,000 in damages for each of them.
The magazine accused the former bishop of the diocese, Vilson Dias de Oliveira, of covering up the cases and asking accused priests for money. He is also under investigation by the Vatican and stepped down in May, citing “attacks” on him and the Church.
Government considers sanctions for persecution
The British Government is considering whether to impose sanctions on persecutors of Christians, the Ambassador to the Holy See has confirmed. Sally Axworthy told EWTN that Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary as we went to press, has said that ‘‘We will look at imposing sanctions on people who commit violations of freedom of religion and belief, as we do impose sanctions on people who commit other kinds of crimes.” Mr Hunt commissioned a report which argued for such sanctions.
Ms Axworthy said: “The Foreign Secretary has said that ‘We are going to accept all of the recommendations in the report, and of course now we study how we do that.’ ”
New head of Holy See Press Office
The Vatican has announced a new director of the Holy See Press Office, taking over from interim director Alessandro Gisotti.
The Holy See announced that British-born Matteo Bruni will serve as director of the office. He started last Monday, July 22.
Bruni, 42, is originally from Winchester. He graduated from La Sapienza University in Rome, and has worked in the press office since 2009.
Katuwapitiya, Sri Lanka
A church targeted in the April 21 bomb attacks has reopened.
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith took Mass at St Sebastian’s, at which at least 90 people were killed in the attacks. The cardinal said the country’s rulers “have no backbone” in facing terrorism and should resign.
Contain Ebola outbreak, Church urges
Church officials in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have called for international action to contain Ebola, after an epidemic in the country’s eastern provinces was declared an emergency by the World Health Organisation, the Catholic News Service reports. Mgr André Massinganda, deputy secretary general of the bishops’ conference, said: “Our greatest need now is for those with power to identify an effective strategy for containing the disease and to come to the aid, via the United Nations, of our government and population.”
Nineveh Plains, Iraq
Restoration of holy places begins
The restoration of churches is a sign of hope for the post-ISIS era, a Chaldean priest from the Nineveh Plains has said. “The first place people visited after the liberation [from ISIS] was the monasteries and churches,” Fr Salar Kajo told a conference in Washington, DC, according to the Catholic News Service. “I want to tell you why: it was not just their house or their work that they left for three or four years because of ISIS. It was their holy places, their identity.”
But other speakers at the conference, co-sponsored by the International Community of the Holy Sepulchre and the Hudson Institute, said “billions of dollars” would be needed to restore the holy places of Syria alone.
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