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How Catholic culture can thrive on the internet

June 23, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Quebec City, Canada, Jun 23, 2017 / 01:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Social media can be difficult to navigate, but Catholics can reach out with a content-savvy approach that can truly engage people, young social media professionals told Catholic media leade… […]

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El Salvador’s first cardinal a friend of Blessed Oscar Romero

June 21, 2017 CNA Daily News 1

San Salvador, El Salvador, Jun 21, 2017 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis’ decision to elevate Bishop José Gregorio Rosa Chávez is unprecedented: not only is he the first Salvadoran cardinal, he is also the first auxiliary bishop to be given a red biretta.

The cardinal-elect, who will receive the honor at a June 28 consistory, is also well-known for his close collaboration with Blessed Oscar Romero, an Archbishop of San Salvador who was martyred in 1980.

Bishop Rosa, 74, has been auxiliary bishop of San Salvador since 1982.

The Pope’s May 21 announcement of a consistory to create five new cardinals came as surprise to many, though possibly none more than Bishop Rosa.

“I thought it was a joke,” he told CNA of getting the phone call at 5 a.m. “I never thought that this could happen to me.”

Bishop Rosa also described the appointment as “a charge,” saying he prayed for peace after receiving the announcement: “It’s a grace that you have to know how to receive with humility,” he reflected, adding that the office of cardinal is “a service which demands of you a total disposition to martyrdom.”

He also said Mass at the tomb of Blessed Oscar Romero, who he said “shed his blood, like a true cardinal. He shed his blood for Christ, for the Church … this gave me a measure of tranquility.”

Born in 1942 to a farming family in Sociedad, Bishop Rosa was ordained a priest of the Diocese of San Miguel in 1970. He studied at the Catholic University of Louvain from 1973-76, where he obtained a licentiate in social communications.

Under Blessed Romero, beginning in 1977, he headed the Archdiocese of San Salvador’s communications office. He also served as a rector and theology professor at the Central Seminary of San José de la Montana.

He was appointed auxiliary bishop of San Salvador in 1982, a position he has held ever since. Today he works as a parish priest and is president of Caritas Latin America.

Like Blessed Romero, Bishop Chávez has been outspoken about government abuses, even publicly naming the alleged killers of four Jesuits, their housekeeper, and her daughter, who were martyred in 1989. He has sustained death threats and accusations of being a communist.

His designation as a cardinal, while his immediate superior, Archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas, was bypassed, suggests that he may be destined for another appointment, after 35 years as San Salvador’s auxiliary bishop. It certainly shows Pope Francis’ willingness to look beyond the traditional “cardinal sees” for those whom he wishes to give the red hat.

The designation of the auxiliary bishop as cardinal-elect has been well-received in El Salvador, where he is known also for his dedication to work with the poor.

Bishop Rosa was “fundamental in our process of dialogue and negotiation that allowed us to sign the peace accords in 1992,” said El Salvador’s Foreign Ministry.

President Salvador Sanchez tweeted: “The pope’s announcement fills us with immense gratitude and happiness.” He also offered his congratulations.


Nuestras felicitaciones y reconocimiento a Monseñor Gregorio Rosa Chávez por tan importante nominación como el primer Cardenal salvadoreño.

— Salvador Sánchez (@sanchezceren) May 21, 2017


El Salvador suffered a civil war from 1979 to 1992, and gang violence has been a problem in the country ever since. Work against the violence continues, and Bishop Rosa has spoken out against the killing on behalf of the nation’s bishops.

Many expected Bishop Rosa to become archbishop when Blessed Romero’s successor died in 1994, so with this designation by Pope Francis “his prize arrived,” San Salvador parishioner Estela Henriquez told the Associated Press the day of the appointment.

Speaking to Salvadoran media, he declared: “I dedicate this appointment to Archbishop Romero.”


Elise Harris contributed to this report.


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Pope Francis to visit Chile, Peru in January 2018

June 19, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Lima, Peru, Jun 19, 2017 / 10:40 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Holy See Press Office announced Monday that Pope Francis will travel to Chile from January 15 to 18 and Peru from January 18 to 21, 2018.

In Chile the Holy Father will visit the capital of Santiago, as well as Temuco and Iquique. In Peru, he will visit the capital city of Lima, as well as Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo.

“The program of the trip will be published in due course,” the Vatican statement said.

The Archbishop of Lima and Primate of Peru, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, affirmed in a press conference on Monday that “the Holy Father receives daily invitations from countries around the world. He has (chosen) to come to Peru and Chile. This makes us think of the enormous affection he has for our country.”

The Pope “comes as a pilgrim of peace, justice, unity. It is an excellent opportunity for the whole Peruvian family to seek the best, knowing that the Pope brings a message of reconciliation and mission, that the Church is open to (everyone),” he added during the press conference, held in the headquarters of the Peruvian Bishops’ Conference in Lima.

“I call on you so that together we can prepare well for the presence of the Pope that will be a before and after in the history of the country,” he concluded.

The President of Peru, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski reiterated the archbishop’s comments, saying that the Holy Father’s visit “will mark a before and after” for Peru.

“I think this visit is going to be an immense success,” he added.

In Chile, the Apostolic Nuncio, Bishop Ivo Scapolo, announced the news, accompanied by Archbishop Santiago Silva, President of the Episcopal Conference of Chile (CECh), Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, Archbishop of Santiago, and Bishop Fernando Ramos, General Secretary of the CECh, who will be the General Coordinator of the papal visit.

In the announcement Bishop Fernando Ramos affirmed that “the Pope is an important person as Peter’s successor, and his word and testimony are always intended to (announce) the person of Jesus.”

“In his visit he will help the church to reaffirm our following of Jesus,” he added.

The announcement comes a few months ahead of Pope Francis’ upcoming trip to Colombia in September.

The Church’s first Latin American Pope has already visited several countries in South and Central America, including Brazil in 2013, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay in 2015, and Cuba and Mexico in 2016. He has yet to visit his home country of Argentina as Pope.

The last Pope to visit Chile and Peru was Pope John Paul II, who made pastoral trips to Peru in 1985 and 1988, and Chile in 1987.


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Italian exorcist to Jesuit leader: No, the devil isn’t just a ‘symbol’

June 2, 2017 CNA Daily News 4

Lima, Peru, Jun 2, 2017 / 04:08 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Italian priest and exorcist Fr. Sante Babolin said that “the devil, Satan, exists” and that “evil is not an abstraction,” in response to recent comments from Fr. Arturo Sosa, Superior General of the Society of Jesus.

In an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, Fr. Arturo Sosa said that “we have made symbolic figures, like the devil, to express evil.”

“Social conditioning can also represent this figure, since there are people who act [in an evil way] because they are in an environment where it is difficult to act to the contrary,” Fr. Sosa added.

Speaking to ACI Prensa June 2, Fr. Babolin recalled several places in documents and statements of the Church that show the true existence of the devil.

Fr. Babolin recalled the documents of the IV Lateran Ecumenical Council in 1215, state that Christians “firmly believe and simply confess” that God created “from nothing…the spiritual and the corporal, that is, the angelic and the mundane, and then the human. “

“(T)he devil and other demons were created by God good in nature, but they themselves through themselves have become wicked,” notes the text of the council.

Fr. Babolin, known as the “exorcist of Padua,” also recalled two speeches of Pope Paul VI in 1972, which also confirm the existence of the devil “to the faithful, who tend to doubt the existence of Satan…his presence and action. “

On June 29, 1972, Paul VI, alluding to the contemporary situation of the Church, said in his homily that it seemed “the smoke of Satan” entered the temple of God. That same year, on November 15, Paul VI warned that “one of the major needs of the Church” is to defend ourselves “from that evil that we call the Devil.”

Fr. Babolin also noted that the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the devil exists in reality, not in the abstract. In the section of the Catechism regarding the “deliver us from evil” petition of the Our Father, in para. 2851, it states that “in this petition, evil is not an abstraction, A person, Satan, the Evil One, the angel who opposes God. The ‘devil’ (dia-bolos) is the one who ‘crosses’ in the design of God and his work of salvation fulfilled in Christ.”

Fr. Babolin said that the faithful should see the statement of the Fourth Lateran Ecumenical Council, the assertions of Paul VI and what is recorded in the Catechism as “three irrefutable points” about the existence of the devil.


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This is the first laundry with Down syndrome workers in Latin America

May 28, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Concepción, Chile, May 28, 2017 / 04:09 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Three years ago the Church in Chile launched “Lavandería 21,” a new work inclusion project for people with Downs syndrome, whose results today far exceed what was hoped.

It all began in 2012 when the Archbishop Fernando Natalio Chomali Garib of Concepción learned of this successful initiative in Europe and the United States, and so he decided to organize one in his archdiocese.

Thus was opened in 2014 “Lavandería 21” – which takes its name from the third copy of chromosome 21 which causes Down syndrome.

“It is a unique project in Latin America,” Paula Abarzua, a special ed teacher and part of the team in charge of the laundry, told CNA.

Abarzua explained that the project began with 11 young people and currently there are 15, in addition to six others who now work at the Archdiocese of Concepción or the Betania Retirement Home.

There are two work shifts, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. Customers include clinics, hotels, and buses.

As regards the work process, Abarzua said that “the guys are the ones who sort out, separate, weigh the laundry, and load the machines.”

“Also, when the washing process is over, they remove the laundry and put it in the dryer. After that it goes on to be ironed and folded.”

Abarzua has been working with the young people since the project started and said that “they’ve changed a lot.”

“They now feel more autonomous, independent, the fact they receive their salary increases their sense of self worth a lot,” she said.

In addition, “the personal growth, the maturity they’ve gained and the commitment to their work is very satisfying for us here. They value their work.”

For Abarzua “the fact that we’re under the Church’s wing shows that it is really committed to the issue of inclusion and it ought to be an idea that is replicated throughout the world.”


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Following sixth journalist murder this year, Mexican bishops speak up

May 22, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Mexico City, Mexico, May 22, 2017 / 03:22 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Mexican Bishops’ Conference offered prayers for journalists as they face increased violence in their efforts to uncover truth.

“The Mexican Bishop’s Conference expresses its support and solidarity with journalists throughout Mexico, facing violence attacks in the exercise of their profession,” the bishops said in a May 21 statement.

According to the international journalist advocacy group Reporters without Borders, an estimated 105 journalists have been murdered in Mexico since the year 2000. This makes Mexico the third most deadly country in the world for journalists, after Syria and Afghanistan, and ahead of Iraq.

So far in 2017 alone, six journalists have been murdered in Mexico.

The most recent was Javier Valdez, shot dead May 15 in Culiacan, Sinoloa. The journalist, a correspondent for “La Jornada” in Sinaloa, had done in-depth reporting on drug trafficking and organized crime in Mexico.

In their statement, the Mexican bishops recalled Pope Francis’ words that the journalist “has a very important role and at the same time a very great responsibility.”

“Freedom, in the form of expression, is a gift bequeathed by God, so no one has the right to take it away from anyone…there is nothing to justify an attack on that freedom,” they stated.

“We join in prayer that the Lord Jesus may console and alleviate the suffering and the worries that overwhelm the entire profession that today is afraid to do its work, since we are aware that the aggression is being directed at people who are members of the media in general: reporters, cameramen, editors, bureau chiefs, managers, among others.”

The Bishops of Mexico stressed that “hatred and resentment must not be the protagonists in the history of salvation, which is why we speak out in readiness to continue working strenuously to establish peace in our nation.”

“We are aware that only through actions of solidarity is it possible to heal society,” they said.

The Mexican Bishops’ Conference reiterated the commitment of the Church in the country to spiritually accompany “the families of the victims of those who have suffered attacks, extortion, kidnappings, murders, because of their reporting work, as a consequence of the social deterioration that prevails in our country.”

“Before God, no one’s work is unimportant, especially when it comes to the search for and dissemination of the truth which clearly allows the Kingdom of God to be built up.”

The bishops also called on the civil authorities to ensure “that everyone can exercise their profession in freedom and security, to fight the impunity and corruption which is striking and wounding our country so much.”

“Holy Mary of Guadalupe, Queen of Mexico, save our homeland an preserve our faith,” they concluded.


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How the ‘Mini Pope’ moved the hearts of pilgrims at Fatima

May 21, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Fatima, Portugal, May 21, 2017 / 03:02 am (CNA).- The photo of a baby dressed up as the pope at the Fatima Shrine rocked social media during Pope Francis’ pilgrimage to Portugal for the centenary of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary.

But what many do not know is the moving story behind this tender picture.

Diego Guerreiro is from the Portuguese city of Pinhal Novo, located some 25 miles from the capital, Lisbon. He was born prematurely at 33 weeks, weighed three pounds eleven ounces and measured 16 inches.

Speaking to Tvi24, his mother Carla said that after the birth she could not see her baby. “They had to immediately resuscitate him and take him away to the intensive care unit,” she said.

The little one “had trouble breathing. None of the doctors could explain why he was struggling to breathe so much,” said Carla, who has another seven-year-old son.

She said that Diego was in the Santa Maria Hospital for 76 days, where he experienced both many improvements and setbacks in his health. The baby spent half that time in neonatal intensive care with respiratory assistance.

MiniPope is doing the rounds on social media. Born premature, mother promised to bring him to #Fatima100 if he lived. Grandma made costume

— Filipe d’Avillez (@Favillez) May 12, 2017

The evening of the day he was to be discharged, Diego again had a severe reversal and was returned to intensive care. At that time, Carla asked Pope Francis to intercede for her son and promised that when the pontiff went to Fatima on May 12-13, she would bring the baby to the shrine.

On Thursday May 11, they arrived at Fatima and spent the night in their car in order to go to the Shrine at 8:00 a.m. the following day. They got a place near the security barrier installed along the route where the popemobile would pass.

For this occasion, the mother and the grandmother had the idea of dressing him up like Pope Francis. They both searched the Internet for a pattern that “would be easy to make” and the grandmother sewed the outfit.

To complete the ensamble, Carla put around his neck a rosary that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI gave to the baby’s father when he was at the Fatima Shrine as part of the security detail of the pontiff.

Diego is still having problems, with his mother saying “actually he can faint at any moment.” Meanwhile, she remains steadfast and alert to help her son when needed.


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The murder case of Blessed Oscar Romero has been reopened

May 19, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

San Salvador, El Salvador, May 19, 2017 / 01:14 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A nearly 40 year-old murder case was reopened this week to properly prosecute the suspected killer behind the Salvadorian archbishop’s martyrdom.

Because of an amnesty law that prohibited the prosecution of criminal acts stemming from the El Salvador Civil War, the alleged murderer of Archbishop Oscar Romero was never convicted of any crime. The law was lifted last year by the country’s constitutional court, reopening cases from 1980 to 1992.

Judge Ricardo Chicas reopened the case on Thursday and ordered that charges be sought against the main suspect, whose case was dismissed in 1993 because of the amnesty law.

Alvaro Rafael Saravia was a soldier and is the main suspect tied to a right-wing death squad who killed the priest at a hospital in San Salvador. Blessed Romero was killed while saying mass at the hospital’s chapel. The archbishop was well known for preaching against the country’s poverty and corruption from the pulpit.

Social and economic inequality of the 1970s resulted in demonstrations and rebellions against the El Salvador government. The protests were encountered by government repression, leading to death squads and forced disappearances. Pro-government forces fought against left-wing guerilla groups from 1979 to 1992.

The El Salvadoran Civil War claimed an estimated 75,000 lives before a peace agreement was established in 1992.

Many of the clergy spoke against El Salvador’s inhumane practices, and many Catholic leaders faced backlash once they denounced the government. Blessed Romero especially decried both the social injustices which heavily oppressed the poor and the military’s oppressive tactics.

Blessed Romero became exceedingly outspoken once a close friend and teacher to the archbishop was gunned down by military forces on the way to Mass. Before he died in 1980, 30 priests in his archdiocese were either murdered or expelled from the state, and many more lay faithful were subject to the same fate.

Investigation into Archbishop Romero’s canonization officially opened in 1993, but was delayed until the early 2000s because of complex politics and false reports. In January of 2015, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints unanimously recognized the priest as martyr due to the hatred towards the faith identified within the act, and Pope Francis approved for the beatification a month later.


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How one cardinal believes euthanasia can be shown as ‘toxic’

May 18, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Toronto, Canada, May 18, 2017 / 12:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Legalized euthanasia must still be fought – and that fight requires a broad argument that can persuade people of all beliefs, Cardinal Gerhard Mueller told a Canadian audience May 15.

Euthanasia is not only wrong in itself, but its legalization creates “toxic and deadly pathologies that disproportionately afflict the weakest members of society,” the cardinal told the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute at a gathering at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica.

A clear understanding of legal assisted suicide’s individual and social wrongs is needed to persuade Canadians to take the steps to reverse the “dangerous legal error” of the Canadian Supreme Court and Parliament, which recently legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide nationwide.

He voiced confidence that all persons of good will should be able to see “the profound and inevitable social harms that fall disproportionately on the weak and vulnerable when euthanasia is legalized.”

“The goodness of a society can be measured by how well it treats and protects its weakest and most vulnerable members,” he said. “Nations that legalize euthanasia fail to care rightly for the least of our brothers and sisters.”

In Cardinal Mueller’s view, the prudential argument against euthanasia is the most powerful argument in a pluralistic society that can persuade people of all religious beliefs, including those without religious beliefs.

He found an example of such persuasion in early 1990s New York. A commission called the New York Task Force on Life and Law had been convened by then-New York Gov. Mario Cuomo. The commission began its work expecting to recommend legal assisted suicide.

“But when they studied the question carefully and dispassionately, they quickly realized that the toxic and deadly social pathologies that would inevitably accompany legalization were too grave and severe to justify such a course of action,” he said.

“The committee recommended that assisted suicide and euthanasia should remain illegal, because decriminalizing these practices would inexorably lead to: grave and lethal new forms of fraud, abuse, coercion and discrimination against the disabled, poor, elderly, and minorities; deadly forms of coercion by insurers and faithless family members; corrosion of the doctor-patient relationship; an eventual shift to non-voluntary and involuntary euthanasia; and widespread neglect of treatment for mental illness and pain management.”

The cardinal cited the commission’s own words:

“We believe that the practices would be profoundly dangerous for large segments of the population, especially in light of the widespread failure of American medicine to treat pain adequately or to diagnose and treat depression in many cases. The risks would extend to all individuals who are ill,” it said. They would be most severe for those whose autonomy and well-being are already compromised by poverty, lack of access to good medical care, or membership in a stigmatized social group.”

The commission said the risks of legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia for marginalized groups are “likely to be extraordinary” given that the health care system and society “cannot effectively protect against the impact of inadequate resources and ingrained social disadvantage.”

According to the cardinal, the New York task force was particularly struck by the situation in the Netherlands at the time, where there was one case of killing without consent for every three or four who died in consensual euthanasia. The commission projected that if euthanasia were similarly practiced in the U.S., about 36,000 people would die in voluntary euthanasia per year and another 16,000 would be victims of non-consensual euthanasia.

As an example of involuntary euthanasia, the cardinal cited reports from the Netherlands in which “a doctor surreptitiously euthanized a nun over her objections, and justified it on the grounds that she was mistaken about her best interests due to an irrational and superstitious commitment to religious belief.”

In U.S. states where euthanasia has been legalized, there have been cases of insurance companies that offer to pay for assisted suicide drugs rather than pay for costly medical treatment. Family members have also pressured patients into choosing suicide.

The cardinal distinguished assisted suicide and euthanasia from aggressive pain treatment, which aims to eliminate suffering through potentially risky means, not to kill the patient.

He said assisted suicide or direct killing are deceptively described as “aid in dying.” This is “a fabricated expression whose only rhetorical function is to conceal the very nature of the death-dealing action it describes.”

“The use of euphemism or obscure terminology in issues involving life and death should always alert us to an effort to hide the truth,” Cardinal Mueller said.

He countered justification for assisted suicide that claims that euthanasia only affects the patient and people are entitled to choose the time and manner of their death.  

“Anyone who has ever experienced the suicide of a loved one or even a casual acquaintance knows the profound effects this can have on entire communities,” he said, citing the demonstrated risks of suicide spreading like a “contagion.”

Euthanasia is not self-contained, as it affects families and communities and alters the medical community’s relationship to patients and the public.

Suicidal patients are often not in a position to exercise autonomy, and suicidal desires often depart once mental illness and pain are effectively treated.

“This is true even among the terminally ill,” he said.
The cardinal defended doctors and nurses who could face coercion for refusing to participate in euthanasia.

“ No one who trains and takes an oath to care for the sick should be pressed into ending the lives of the very people that they have promised to serve,” he said, saying that refusal to aid in euthanasia “represents basic fidelity to the very medical art that the physician professes.”

Cardinal Mueller said church teaching on euthanasia is accessible and enduring.

“The Catholic Church has long recognized that every human being, no matter his or her condition or circumstance, is possessed of inalienable and equal dignity,” he said. “This beautiful truth about the human person and his matchless worth is intelligible and self evident to every person of good will, regardless of faith tradition.”

The cardinal cited the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s 1980 Declaration on Euthanasia, which said that making an attempt on the life of an innocent person opposes God’s love for the person.

While there are psychological factors that diminish or remove moral responsibility, to take one’s own life is “often a refusal of love for self, the denial of a natural instinct to live, a flight from the duties of justice and charity owed to one’s neighbor, to various communities or to the whole of society.”


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Priest stabbed during Mass at Mexico City cathedral

May 17, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Mexico City, Mexico, May 17, 2017 / 06:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A Mexican priest is in “delicate but stable” condition after being stabbed in the neck Monday evening at Mexico City’s cathedral, according to government and church authorities.

Father José Miguel Machorro Alcalá, 55, was stabbed in the neck and torso May 15 at the conclusion of saying Mass at the cathedral.

Witnesses reported that it appeared the attacker’s intention was to slit the priest’s throat.

Authorities detained a suspect at the scene who had reportedly attempted to flee the cathedral. The suspect has been identified as John Rock Schild, who identified himself as an artist from the United States. He is believed to be about 30 years of age.


Afortunadamente la policía detuvo al agresor!

— Padre José Aguilar (@PadreJosedejesu) May 16, 2017


At a news conference, the lawyer of the Archdiocese of Mexico, Armando Martínez, asked for prayers for the priest and said the motive for the attack was still unclear.

“We cannot talk about terrorism, we cannot talk about motives, because we obviously have no significant facts,” he said.

In a radio interview Tuesday morning, archdiocesan spokesman Hugo Valdelomar said the attack occurred as Fr. Machorro was blessing the congregation with holy water. He said the priest suffered severe injuries to his neck and near his lung.

Fr. Machorro was transferred by helicopter to a private hospital. He was operated on, and is now stable but in intensive care, according to the Mexico City archdiocese.

Masses at the cathedral are continuing at regularly scheduled hours.

The attack is one of many recent attacks against priests in Mexico. Drug trafficking has led to increased murder and kidnapping in the country. In recent years, 17 priests have been murdered and many others have been kidnapped or assaulted.