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Documentary highlights life of religious sister who died in Ecuador earthquake

April 17, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Guayaquil, Ecuador, Apr 17, 2018 / 06:40 pm (ACI Prensa).- A new documentary film entitled “All or Nothing” tells the story of Sister Clare Crockett, a religious sister who died in the earthquake that took place in 2016 in Ecuador.

The film which is available in Spanish, English and Italian, is “the true story of a sister who gave everything to God, holding nothing back,” her community says.

April 16 marked the second anniversary of the earthquake that struck Manabí Province in Ecuador, in which 262 people died and more than 2,500 were injured.

Sister Clare Crockett of the Siervas del Hogar de la Madre (Sisters of the Home of the Mother) was killed when the community’s building in Playa Prieta, Ecuador, collapsed in the 7.8-magnitude earthquake.

Four aspirants and one resident youth also died in the quake.

The Siervas del Hogar de la Madre have now released the film “All or Nothing: Sister Clare Crockett,” which tells the story of the 33-year-old religious sister, who had been a rising actress when she left her career to pursue God’s calling.

This documentary film shows more than 15 years of Sister Clare’s life – a life which the sisters say “goes straight to our hearts as a call, to ask ourselves what are we ourselves giving or not giving to God.”

Originally from Ireland, Sister Clare wanted to be an actress. By age 18, she lived a life of partying and alcohol.

One day, a friend asked if she wanted to go on a free trip to Spain. The trip turned out to be a 10-day pilgrimage.

“I tried to get out of it, but my name was already on the ticket, so I had to go. I now see that it was Our Lady’s way of bringing me back home, back to her and her Son,” she said, according to EWTN. “I was not a very happy camper. Nevertheless, it was on that pilgrimage that Our Lord gave me the grace to see how He had died for me on the Cross. After I had received that grace, I knew that I had to change.”

“I knew that I had to leave everything and follow Him. I knew with great clarity that He was asking me to trust in Him, to put my life in His hands and to have faith,” she said. “It never ceases to amaze me how Our Lord works in the souls, how He can totally transform one’s life and capture one’s heart.”
Sister Clare went on to become the voice of Lucy on the long-running EWTN children’s television series “Hi Lucy.”

The distribution of the documentary film “All or Nothing” is free and is scheduled to be shown in Ireland, Canada, the United States, England, Italy, Singapore, the Philippines, Colombia, Spain, Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico, El Salvador, Uruguay, Peru, Nicaragua, Chile, Latvia, Bolivia, Brazil, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic.

Viewers interested in scheduling a screening can visit



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They were going to get married. Now he’s a priest and she’s a sister

April 12, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Apr 12, 2018 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- Before discovering their vocations, Fr. Javier Olivera and Sister Marie de la Sagesse were engaged and planning their wedding. God had other plans.

Speaking to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language sister agency, Fr. Olivera said that they both grew up in Catholic families and that “our parents knew each other when they were young.” They saw each other frequently when they were children.

“I had really left the practice of religion. When I was 19, I came back from a back-packing trip to Peru and I met her. I asked her if she believed in virginity until marriage, because for me this was kind of an invention by the Church. She laid out the principles so well about purity, from faith and reason, that it impacted me. I met a woman who knew how to defend what she believed and who was at the same time very intelligent,” Olivera commented.

Soon after that conversation, they began dating. At that time both of them were studying law. He was at the National University at Buenos Aires and she was at the National University at La Plata.

Fr. Olivera said that “it was like any other courtship but we tried to take advantage of cultural life through music, literature and philosophy. We read books together, we’d go out for coffee. We had a group of friends with whom we attended conferences of Argentine Catholic authors.”  

“I started to practice the faith, to pray, to go to Mass on Sundays. All in large part thanks to her, to God mainly, but to her as an instrument,” said the priest. He added that they also prayed the rosary together.

For her part, Sister Marie de la Sagesse, whose baptismal name is Trinidad Maria Guiomar, told ACI Prensa that what she most appreciated about her then-boyfriend was “his sincere search for the truth without fearing the consequences.”

The couple got engaged  when they were 21 and decided to get married after college, two and a half years away.

The discovery of a vocation

One day Trinidad Maria’s older brother broke the news that he would be entering the seminary, and she remembered, “we were reeling from it  because we weren’t expecting that.”

“I had a car and with my fiancée we decided to take him to the seminary, which was in San Rafael, Mendoza Province,” she said. They both decided to stay in the area a few days so Javier could visit some friends who were in the seminary, and Trinidad Maria could visit some friends in the convent.

“When we got back, we talked about how crazy all that was, that her brother had left everything, the possibility of having a family, an important career. We began to ask ourselves, ‘What would happen if God called us to the religious life?’ The first thing we said was ‘no’ and that that was crazy because we were having a really beautiful engagement and we were already buying things to get married,” Fr. Olivera recounted.

Weeks went by “there was this constant thought in my soul about what would happen if God called  me, if I had to leave everything, why not be a priest? How to know if the best way to get to heaven for me is the priestly life or the married life? Where can I do the most good?”

After so many doubts he decided to tell his fiancée about his vocational concerns, who confessed to him that she “was thinking the same thing” after her brother entered the seminary.

However, neither one of them made a decision. “Since we still had two years before  finishing law school, that was a great excuse to not yet enter the seminary or the convent,” Fr. Olivera said.

They had “a very prudent monk” as a spiritual adviser, who told them: “Look, that is an issue between each one of you and God. No one can interfere with souls.”

For her part, Sister Marie de la Sagesse told ACI Prensa that “it was a long period of discernment, at least two years, until God clearly showed me the consecrated life, and I could not doubt that he was asking of me this total surrender.”

After finishing their studies, both embraced their vocations. In 2008, when they were 31, he was ordained a priest in the Diocese of San Rafael, and she made her final vows in the congregation of the Sisters of the Merciful Jesus.

Fr. Olivera is currently a university professor and has a blog called “Que no te la cuenten”  (Find out for yourself). He has written a book on vocational doubts entitled “¿Alguna vez pensaste? El llamado de Cristo” (Have you ever thought about it? The Call of Christ).

Sister Marie de la Sagesse lives in southern France and has an apostolate in Saint Laurent Parish in the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon.

Regarding their story, she said that “I consider it a special grace that both of us were called almost at the same time. So kind and thoughtful of Divine Providence, who doesn’t miss a detail . And what I really appreciate is that we’re still friends and not just us, but our families too.”

This story was originally published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language sister agency. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.


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Pope Francis admits ‘serious mistakes’ in Chile sex abuse case

April 11, 2018 CNA Daily News 3

Vatican City, Apr 11, 2018 / 01:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a letter addressed to Chile’s bishops, Pope Francis admitted to making “serious mistakes” in handling the nation’s massive sex abuse crisis and asked for forgiveness. The pope summoned Chile’s bishops to Rome to address the issue, and invited victims to meet with him as well.

Referring to a recent investigation of abuse cover-up in Chile carried out by Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, Pope Francis said that after a “slow reading” of the report, “I can affirm that all the testimonies collected speak in a stark manner, without additives or sweeteners, of many crucified lives and I confess that this has caused me pain and shame.”

Francis admitted to misjudging the severity of the affair, telling Chile’s bishops that “I have made serious mistakes in the judgement and perception of the situation, especially due to a lack of truthful and balanced information.”

He asked the bishops to “faithfully communicate” this recognition, and he apologized to all those he might have offended.

In addition, he summoned all of Chile’s 32 bishops to Rome to discuss the conclusions of Scicluna’s report in the third week of May, where they will discussion the conclusions of the report as well the pope’s own conclusions on the matter.

In his letter, signed April 8, Divine Mercy Sunday, Francis said he wants the meeting to be “a fraternal moment, without prejudices or preconceived ideas, with the sole objective of making the truth shine in our lives.”

The decision to summon an entire bishops’ conference to Rome is remarkably significant. Nothing of the nature has happened since April 2002, when John Paul II met with 12 of 13 U.S. Cardinals, eight of whom headed major dioceses, and two high-level representatives of the USCCB at the Vatican to address the abuse crisis in the United States, and told them they had handled the situation wrong.

In a tweet after an April 11 press conference on the letter in Chile, Jaime Coiro, spokesman for the Chilean bishops conference, said that in the coming weeks Pope Francis will also meet with some victims of abuse carried out by Chilean clergy, asking each one personally for forgiveness.

In comments to the media, Coiro recognized the damage done to minors who were abused, saying “we were not able to care for them adequately.” The coming weeks, he said, will be “an intense renewal of our vocation and mission” for the Church in Chile.

The pope’s letter comes after Scicluna made a Feb. 19-25 visit to the United States and Chile to investigate accusations of negligence on the part of Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno, who has been accused of covering up abuse of his long-time friend Fernando Karadima.

While on the ground, Scicluna interviewed some 64 people related to the accusations and compiled an report that is some 2,300 pages long, which he delivered to Pope Francis March 20.

In 2011, Karadima was found guilty by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of sexually abusing several minors during the 1980s and 1990s, and sentenced to a life of prayer and solitude.

Opponents of Barros have been vocal since his 2015 appointment to lead the Diocese of Osorno, with many, including a number of Karadima’s victims, accusing the bishop of covering up the abuse, and also also at times participating.

In addition to Barros, Karadima’s victims have also accused three other Chilean bishops who had been close to Karadima – Andrés Arteaga, Tomislav Koljatic and Horacio Valenzuela – of cover-up.

Despite the protests, Barros has maintained his innocence, saying he didn’t know the abuse was happening. Pope Francis has backed him, and has refused to allow Barros to step down from his post, though the bishop has submitted a letter of resignation multiple times.

Francis’ decision to send Scicluna to Santiago to investigate the accusations came after controversy flared during the pope’s Jan. 15-18 visit to Chile, during which he responded to a Chilean journalist who asked about the Barros issue, saying the accusations were “calumny,” because there was no proof.

The comment prompted uproar from Barros’ critics, several of whom are victims of  Karadima’s abuse. It also prompted Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, one of the Pope’s nine cardinal advisors and head of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, to release a statement saying the words were painful to victims.

In a conversation with journalists on the way back to Rome, Pope Francis apologized, but said there was no evidence condemning Barros, and that so far, no victims had come forward.

However, less than one week after the decision to send Scicluna to Chile was announced, one of Karadima’s victims, Juan Carlos Cruz, said in an interview with the Associated Press that in 2015 he had sent a letter to the pope through the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, alleging that Barros had seen Karadima’s abuse and had at times participated.

Members of the commission confirmed the news, and said the commission’s head, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, had indeed handed the letter to Pope Francis, raising the question of whether the pope actually read the letter.

Before going to Santiago Feb. 19 to interview witnesses related to the Barros accusations, Scicluna  stopped in New York to interview Cruz. He then went to Santiago to interview additional witnesses related to the Barros case.

Scicluna is a well-regarded Vatican expert on sex abuse appeals cases. In addition to heading the Archdiocese of Malta, in 2015 he was named by the pope to oversee a team in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith charged with handling appeals filed by clergy accused of abuse. He served as the congregation’s Promoter of Justice for 17 years, and is widely known for his expertise in the canonical norms governing allegations of sexual abuse.

In addition to his interviews on Barros, Scicluna also met with alleged victims of abuse by the Marist Brothers, a move which seemingly broadened the scope of his mandate in the country.

In August 2017, the Marist Brothers reported that a member of the congregation had admitted to abusing 14 boys in Chile. Earlier this year, the Marist Brothers began a canonical investigation of allegations of sexual abuse in Chile by some of its members.

In his letter to Chile’s bishops, Pope Francis said now is an “opportune” time to “put the Church of Chile in a state of prayer.”

“Now more than ever we cannot fall back into the temptation of verbiage or stain in ‘universals,’ he said, and told the bishops to look to Christ in the coming days and weeks.

“Let us look at his life and gestures, especially when he shows compassion and mercy to those who have erred. Let us love in the truth, let us ask for wisdom of heart and allow ourselves to be converted.”


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Cardinal calls for consecration of Mexico to Immaculate Heart of Mary

April 10, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Guadalajara, Mexico, Apr 10, 2018 / 03:27 pm (ACI Prensa).- Facing violence, poverty and corruption, Mexico should be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, said Archbishop Emeritus Juan Sandoval Íñiguez of Guadalajara.

“In face of the tribulations our country is currently going through, and the need we have for a good government, a suggestion occurs to me: that our bishops of Mexico consecrate the country on May 13, the date of the first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima, to the Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary; and that each bishop do the same in his own diocese,” he said in a recent video released by El Universal.

He recalled that the Virgin Mary had requested the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart, in her apparitions to the shepherd children at Fatima.

“A few years later, without violence, without the shedding of blood, the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain fell that divided Europe. The Blessed Virgin of Fatima foresaw future times and told us that the remedy was prayer and to make Christ reign in the world and in society along with her Immaculate Heart,” the cardinal said.

Saint John Paul II sent a letter in December 1983 to the world’s bishops, including the Orthodox bishops, in which he expressed his intention to consecrate Russia to the Heart of Mary.

At that time, Russia was part of the Soviet Union, which had imposed communism on a number of countries especially in Eastern Europe, and a great number of Christians were martyred.

On March 25, 1984, the Feast of the Annunciation, in Saint Peter’s Square, Pope John Paul II consecrated Russia, along with all of humanity, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. and in communion with all the bishops of the world.

Sister Lucia, one of the three Fatima visionaries, affirmed that his consecration “has been done as Our Lady had requested.”

In 1989 the Berlin Wall fell. Over the next two years, the USSR collapsed. On Dec. 8, 1991 – the Feast of the Immaculate Conception –  Soviet leaders declared that the Soviet Union was to be dismantled and replaced by the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Reflecting on this, Cardinal Sandoval said, “it seems to me that this suggestion is pertinent; hopefully our bishops can carefully consider it, because in this time of tribulation, the voice of our bishops in guiding the people is needed. They are the religious leaders of Mexico, and the people, the people of God, hope for a word from us bishops.”

He emphasized that in consecrating Mexico to the Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, “we will be doing a service to our homeland, and I believe that God will take that into account for us.”


This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.



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Priest murdered during Holy Week in El Salvador

April 3, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

San Salvador, El Salvador, Apr 3, 2018 / 05:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Fr. Walter Osmir Vásquez Jiménez was shot and killed the afternoon of March 29, Holy Thursday, on a dirt road outside of the town of Lolotique, El Salvador, as he was on his way to celebrate Mass.

The Archdiocese of San Salvador released a statement expressing “its sorrow over the murder of Fr.  Walter Vásquez. We express our solidarity with the Diocese of Santiago de María and his relatives.”

“We urge the appropriate authorities to determine the facts,” they added.

According to the National Civil Police of El Salvador, the priest, 36, was stopped and killed “when he was riding in a car to celebrate a Mass in a place known as La Casona.”

The local press attribute the crime to gangs active in the area.

According to the Italian publication l’Avvenire, three armed men wearing ski masks robbed the priest and other passengers in the vehicle, taking their wallets, watches and cell phones. They then ordered the priest to get out of the car and took him some 150 feet away and shot him. However, Fr. Vásquez Jiménez was only grazed by the bullet and attempted to flee, when he was then shot again and killed.

Witnesses claim it was “an execution.”

Although the motive for the killing is unknown, l’Avvenire reported that the victim exercised his ministry in a violent area of the country where the gangs extort businesses and the priests often try to provide protection for the inhabitants. They also support young men who do not want to join the gangs.

“We’re on the front lines, every day we wonder when they’re going to shoot us, and we’re surprised they still haven’t done it,” said a priest whose name was withheld for security reasons.

The president of El Salvador expressed his “condolences to the family of Fr. Vásquez Jiménez  and the country’s entire Catholic community.”

The Salvadoran government said that it has instructed the police “to ramp up security in Lolotique and at all the religious celebrations nationwide.”

In addition “a quick and thorough investigation of the case” was ordered  “to find those responsible to promptly bring them to justice.”

The Diocese of Santiago de María said that Fr. Vásquez Jiménez “was parochial vicar of Our Lady of Mercy parish in the town of Mercedes Umaña, and this week he had been assigned to work during Holy Week at Most Holy Trinity parish in the town of Lolotique.”

“We express our condolences and solidarity” with the family of the priest and to the faithful he cared for,” the Salvadoran diocese stated.

“We condemn violence of any kind,” they said in a statement while they thanked “ the authorities for their prompt response in face of such a sacrilegious act,” in order to “find those responsible for the crime and that justice be done.”

Hundreds of faithful attended the priest’s funeral Mass and burial in Lolotique on April 1. Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez, the auxiliary bishop of San Salvador, presided at the Mass, which was concelebrated by the Archbishop of San Salvador, Luis Escobar Alas.

The archbishop stated that “unfortunately we must recognize and denounce sin, injustice, lies, corruption, arms trafficking, drugs and so many social evils, especially the violence which has caused and continues to cause so much pain.”

“It is incredible that on Holy Thursday, after having participated in the Chrism Mass, one of our priests, Fr. Walter Osmir Vásquez, would be violently murdered. It is not possible that this should happen in a Christian country,” he added.

Speaking to the media, the prelate stressed that “it is not only the person of the priest that moves us to sorrow  but all those who die because of these kinds of situations which end up in these grave, very grave incidents.”

Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chávez, emphasized that “we are here along with Fr. Walter to say: Yes to life, yes to love, yes to forgiveness, yes to justice.”

This article is a CNA translation and adaption of stories originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa.


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Colombian diocese donates 250,000 hosts to alleviate shortage in Venezuela

April 2, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

Cucuta, Colombia, Apr 2, 2018 / 01:56 pm (ACI Prensa).- With a flour shortage leading to a lack of hosts in Venezuela, the neighboring diocese of Cúcuta, Colombia donated 250,000 hosts for border dioceses to celebrate liturgies during Triduum.

Bishop Victor Manuel Ochoa of Cúcuta donated the hosts to dioceses along the Colombian-Venezuelan border in their area, saying that he hoped to convey “the charity of Christ.”

The delivery was made early March 30 on the Simon Bolivar International Bridge, which connects the two countries.

Venezuela is facing severe food and medicine shortages amid the economic crisis under President Nicolas Maduro. Thousands have fled the country as necessities become increasingly scarce.

This is not the first time that the Diocese of Cúcuta has donated components for the Eucharist to the nearby Venezuelan Church.

The Diocese of Cúcuta, which provides thousands of meals daily to refugees fleeing from Venezuela into Colombia, noted in a statement that “it is also important to take care of the needs that afflict the Faith as a consequence of this time of crisis in the border region.”

The grave crisis facing Venezuela has also affected the life of the local Church.

As early as August 2015, it had been reported that the economic crisis had caused the production of hosts in three Venezuelan states to drop by 60 percent.

In a March 28 RCN Radio broadcast, Sister Pilar Rivas of the Servants of Jesus Mother House, which makes hosts for parishes in Caracas and Venezuela’s interior, said that in the last two years, they have had to short-fill orders due to the lack of raw material.

“With orders placed in advance, if they ask for 10,000 hosts we give them 2,000 because we can’t meet a very big demand for orders…Sometimes we have to stop making hosts due to the shortage of flour, we have gone for entire weeks without being able to make hosts,” she said.

In some areas, priests have had to divide hosts into numerous pieces in order to provide for the faithful.

Sister Pilar voiced hope that “with the mercy of God and the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” circumstances in the country will improve.


This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.


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March for Life in Argentina draws massive crowds

March 27, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mar 27, 2018 / 03:10 pm (ACI Prensa).- Marking the Day of the Unborn Child in much of Latin America, tens of thousands of Argentinians took to the streets throughout the country to demonstrate for the sanctity of all human life.

According to organizers, approximately 150,000 people marched from Plaza Italia down Sarmiento and Libertador avenues on March 25, ending up at the University of Buenos Aires Law School.

The main goal of the march was to reject abortion and to call for comprehensive solutions upholding the dignity of the mother and the unborn child.

Argentina was the first country in Latin America to mark a Day of the Unborn Child, declared Dec. 7, 1998 by then-president Carlos Saul Menem.

The 2018 March for Life took place simultaneously in 200 cities throughout the South American country in the provinces of Buenos Aires, Catamarca, Chaco, Corrientes, Córdoba, Chubut, Mendoza, Entre Ríos, and others.

The Buenos Aires march was accompanied by Dr. Soledad Otazua, who explained the process of human development in the mother’s womb with a large-scale model of a baby at 12 weeks gestation.

A group of doctors also read a pro-life manifesto. “Harming a living human being in any way with the intention of ending its life under no conditions constitutes a medical act,” the text states.

“Neither the state nor anyone can force any agent or healthcare professional to engage in practices that go against their conscience,” the manifesto adds.

Pro-life activist Patricia Sandoval traveled to Argentina to participate in the event and share her life’s testimony. She explained that the she had undergone three abortions earlier in her life. Later, she worked with Planned Parenthood in California and assisted in an abortion, when she realized the humanity of the unborn child and underwent a powerful conversion.


This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.