Grand Rapids, Michigan
Adoption agency wins ‘discrimination’ battle
A Catholic adoption agency has won a court battle against the state of Michigan, in what religious freedom advocates immediately hailed as a landmark case.
The state had tried to exclude agencies which declined to place children with same-sex couples – effectively banning St Vincent Catholic Charities. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty sued the state, on behalf of St Vincent Catholic Charities and a married couple who have adopted five children with special needs. District Judge Robert Jonker (pictured) ruled that “The state’s real goal is not to promote non-discriminatory child placements, but to stamp out St Vincent’s religious belief and replace it with the state’s own.”
Annandale, New Jersey
Hundreds join pilgrimage for diocesan renewal
More than 700 members of the Diocese of Metuchen have walked a nine-mile pilgrimage, praying for a spiritual renewal in the diocese. The pilgrimage was part of preparation for the diocese’s consecration to Christ through Our Lady of Guadalupe, which will take place on October 12, her feast day.
According to the Catholic News Agency, the pilgrims included 23 priests, who heard confessions throughout. There was also rosary and hymn-singing in both English and Spanish.
Those unable to join the walk, for health or other reasons, were able to participate by going to Adoration in Annandale, the starting point for the pilgrimage.
Sister Anna Nguyen, one of the organisers, said: “The Lord’s presence was palpable.”
Arson attack on cathedral
Pro-abortion activists have tried to set fire to the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, during a protest on behalf of legal abortion.
As the arson attempt was tackled by firefighters, word of the attack spread on social media, and Catholics gathered to defend the cathedral, as well as other churches in the city. The police acted quickly, sending extra numbers to prevent further acts of desecration.
The protests followed two significant defeats for unborn children in Mexico. Last week Oaxaca state legislature voted 24-10 to decriminalise abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Earlier in September, the high court upheld a government regulation relaxing the rules around abortion in cases of rape.
Cardinal: synod document has ‘feeble Christology’
Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino has raised concerns over “weaknesses” in the Amazon synod working document, saying that it risks watering down mission to “mere dialogue and accompaniment”.
The cardinal praised the document’s engagement with political and environmental realities, But these concerns had obscured Christ, the cardinal said. The document exhibited “a very feeble Christology, because it practically does not mention the person of Christ as redeemer and saviour of humanity.”
The cardinal said he hoped that the synod would “surmount” the problems in the document, by putting evangelisation back at the centre of the Church’s role.
Vatican intervenes in Heralds of the Gospel
Pope Francis has appointed retired Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis of Aparecida to oversee the spiritual life of the religious association Heralds of the Gospel, the Catholic News Service reports.
Controversy arose in 2017 when videos were released claiming to show irregularities, such as priests using the name of the group’s founder, Mgr João Scognamiglio Clá Dias, in the rite of exorcism. The Vatican announced an apostolic visitation in 2017, and Mgr Clá Dias said he would step down.
Indigenous people face rising violence
Violence against indigenous people in Brazil has significantly increased, according to a new report from the bishops’ conference.
The bishops’ Indigenous Mission Council received reports of 135 indigenous people murdered in 2018, according to council president Archbishop Roque Paloschi of Porto Velho. This is up from 110 in 2017. There were also 109 cases of “invasions, illegal exploitation of natural resources and various damage to heritage” – a rise from 2017. The figure for 2019 was already 160, the council reported. The report accused the Bolsonaro government of turning a blind eye to the invasion of indigenous peoples’ land.
IVF expansion proposal passes lower house
France has moved closer to expanding IVF rights, after the lower house of parliament voted for a draft bioethics law which would allow lesbian couples and single women to use medically assisted reproductive technologies. The law must now pass the upper house, but it faces a broad coalition of opposition, including the Church.
Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort of Reims, president of the bishops’ conference, said before the vote that he understood the suffering of childless women. “But our societies are making a collective mistake when they pretend to resolve sufferings with medical and juridical techniques.” Le Figaro said in an editorial that the proposed reform “threatens the foundation of our humanity”.
Christians alarmed by ‘forced conversion’ law
Christians in India are coming under renewed pressure, after Himachal Pradesh became the seventh state to pass a law against “forced conversions”.
The text of the law forbids enticing someone to change religion through offering them some benefit in return. But Christians fear it will be used to punish innocent activities like offering to pray for somebody else’s healing. “Forced conversion” could be punished with up to seven years in prison.
Vatican police have visited the Secretariat of State and the Financial Information Authority, according to a statement issued as the Herald went to press. Police took away documents and electronic devices.
A “senior Vatican source” told Reuters it was in connection with real estate deals.
Ban on confessional seal spreads
The Australian states of Victoria and Tasmania have become the latest in the country to pass legislation criminalising priests who fail to report the abuse of children disclosed during confession, the Catholic News Service reports. The country’s six states and two territories are all expected to have such laws in place in coming months.
Victoria and Tasmania join Queensland and Western Australia as having passed or introduced such laws to parliament. New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory governments have signalled that they will introduce legislation.
Pope endorses ‘ecumenism of hate’ article
Pope Francis has endorsed a controversial article about American religion and politics, in remarks made last month but only now made public.
In an exchange with Jesuits in Mozambique, the Pope recommended a 2017 article by Fr Antonio Spadaro and Marcelo Figueroa (pictured), which denounced an “ecumenism of hate” between Evangelicals and Catholics on the political right.
The Pope also denounced “triumphalism”, saying that he had felt “bitterness” after meeting two Catholic converts , because they were introduced by a woman as though they were “trophies”.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.