President of Franciscan University resigns
Fr Sean Sheridan has unexpectedly resigned as president of Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.
The university has faced questions over its handling of historical sexual harassment cases. It was also criticised over an incident in January when Stephen Lewis, chairman of the English department, put a novel with blasphemous passages on an advanced reading course. He defended the text, saying that it was not studied for the blasphemy, but to better understand the secular worldview. However, he was removed as department chairman after a storm of criticism.
Fr Sheridan had been president for six years.
Philosophers warn schools not to support gender transition
Catholic schools should avoid affirming transgender theories, two American philosophers have said. Dr Theresa Farnan of St Paul Seminary in the Diocese of Pittsburgh told the Catholic News Agency (CNA) that Catholic schools should not use “preferred pronouns”, in case this leads other pupils to believe transition has actually happened. “It’s damaging to the other students in the school but also for that student, because [it] involves affirming the child in rejecting the givenness of their creation,” she said.
Dr Susan Selner-Wright of St John Vianney Seminary in Denver told CNA: “For a Catholic, what it means to ‘affirm’ someone is to affirm them in their dignity as a person created in the image and likeness of God.”
Doctor offers explanation of the Crucifixion
Blood loss was the medical cause of Christ’s death on the Cross, a local representative of the Catholic Medical Association has said. Dr Timothy Millea told a congregation in Iowa: “Christ emptied himself. As a surgeon, two words that make our hair stand on end are ‘bleeding out’. If you can’t stop it, you can’t keep that patient alive.”
Giving a medical view of Christ’s Passion and Crucifixion, Dr Millea said: “How he lived this long is one of the biggest divine mysteries.” Losing 40 per cent of one’s blood can lead to hypovolemic shock, which threshold Christ would have exceeded after suffering beating, scourging, the Crown of Thorns and nails through His feet and upper wrists for crucifixion.
Threatened Nicaraguan bishop recalled to Rome
Pope Francis has recalled a Nicaraguan bishop to the Vatican for his own safety. Auxiliary Bishop Silvio José Báez Ortega of Managua, an outspoken critic of President Daniel Ortega, has received death threats, and government workers have allegedly been forced to sign petitions to the Vatican demanding his removal.
Bishop Baez thanks Pope Francis, who “has asked me to go to Rome for a period of time. I carry in my heart of a pastor the joy and sadness, the pain and hopes of the people of Nicaragua.” The bishop said that he had not asked to leave, but was called by the Holy Father. He continued: “I am not abandoning the people of God … I am not going to ignore Nicaragua.”
Journalist found guilty of defaming archbishop
A Peruvian judge has found a journalist guilty of defamation against Archbishop José Antonio Eguren Anselmi of Piura.
Salinas co-wrote the book Half Monks, Half Soldiers about sexual, psychological and physical abuse in the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, of which Archbishop Eguren is a member. The archbishop denies any wrongdoing. Salinas said he will appeal, and the Peruvian bishops’ conference has offered the journalist supportive words. In an unusual statement, the bishops said that Salinas had “sought to clarify the truth”.
Bolivia to regulate religions
Bolivia is preparing new legal regulations on religious movements. The new law, awaiting approval by President Evo Morales, requires new Evangelical churches and priests of the traditional Andean religions to register and pay taxes. The government says it is particularly intended to clear up financial irregularities, and to “ensure that the population is not deceived”. The Bolivian constitution guarantees full religious freedom and worship.
The Church has welcomed the new law. A spokesman said: “Important aspects have been clarified, such as the legal personality, the fiscal problem, among others.”
Bishops: new divorce laws will weaken marriage
Britain’s proposed new legislation on divorce will gravely undermine marriage, the Bishops of England and Wales have said.
Currently divorce rests on blame, such as adultery or unreasonable behaviour, or separation for at least two years. In future, couples – or just one of the pair – would be able simply to say that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton, chairman of the marriage and family life committee, said: “If notice can be given by just one party that they wish to leave the marriage without any recourse for the party that has been left, the equality and validity of that contract and the trust and commitment vital for its success will be undermined at the outset.”
Dutch Christians campaign against prostitution
A coalition of 42,000 young Christians and feminists is petitioning the Dutch parliament to make visiting a prostitute illegal. The campaign, called “I am priceless”, asks Instagram users to consider what they would think if it were their sister being bought. It also stresses that prostitution both leads to and is a result of inequality. Social worker Sara Lous said:
“We have so much human trafficking and Amsterdam is most vulnerable because of the high demand for cheap sex.”
Two hundred Catholics are protesting against the destruction of a Marian shrine in Fengxiang diocese.
Around 600 government workers arriving in Mujiaping on Wednesday found their path blocked. “We are willing to lay down our lives,” said one protester.
Bishop charged with rape of nun
Bishop Franco Mulakkal, 55, has been charged with repeatedly raping a nun in a rural convent between 2014 and 2016. Police in the state of Kerala, southern India, charged the bishop on Tuesday morning. He was first arrested in October before being released on bail, following demonstrations by the (unnamed) nun’s supporters to have her complaints taken seriously. She had made the allegations, which he denies, in June.
Sister Anupama Kelamangalath said she and four other nuns were forced to go to the police with the allegations after senior church officials consistently ignored their representations on the nun’s behalf.
Juba, South Sudan
Vatican retreat for rival politicians
Opposing political leaders have returned to South Sudan following a spiritual retreat at the Vatican hosted by Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. The two-day retreat aimed to promote “encounter and reconciliation, in a spirit of respect and trust”, said Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti. At one point, the Pope knelt to kiss the politicians’ feet.
President Salva Kiir Mayardit and opposition leader Riek Machar were given Bibles signed by the Pope and the Archbishop.
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