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Statement claims radical feminist group bombed Mexico bishops’ conference

July 27, 2017 CNA Daily News 1

Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 27, 2017 / 01:02 pm (CNA).- An online statement purporting to be from a radical feminist group has claimed responsibility for the explosive set off at the Mexican Bishops’ Conference earlier this week.

On Tuesday, a small homemade explosive detonated at the Mexican Bishops’ Conference (CEM) in Mexico City. No one was injured, and the building incurred little damage.

On Wednesday, a group calling itself the “Informal Feminist Command for Anti-Authoritarian Action” claimed responsibility for the bombing in a statement posted on Contra Info, an international website that claims it is run by “anarchists, anti-authoritarians and libertarians.”

The statement says Feminist Command was responsible for the bomb, which was intended as retaliation “For every torture and murder in the name of your God! For every child defiled by pedophiles!”

While Contra Info has posted previous stories about Feminist Command’s actions in Mexico, the group’s existence is unconfirmed, according to the AP.  

Aramando Cavazos, the bishop conference’s press office director, explained in a statement Tuesday that “the pertinent investigations are taking place, as apparently this is not the first case occurring in that area of Mexico City,” he said.

Mexico has seen a slew of violence against priests in recent months, including numerous stabbings and murders. Earlier this month, Fr. Luis López Villa was found bound and stabbed to death in his room. He was the 18th priest to be murdered in Mexico in the last six years.

 

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News Briefs

Bomb set off at Mexican Bishops’ Conference headquarters

July 25, 2017 CNA Daily News 1

Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 25, 2017 / 02:30 pm (CNA).- Unidentified persons set off an explosive today at the headquarters of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference (CEM) in Mexico City. No one was injured, according to a conference spokesman.

A security camera video shared by Bishop Ramon Castro of Cuernavaca shows footage from inside the building of the moment the explosive went off outside the facilities.

“The headquarters of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference has been attacked with a three cylinder explosive device,” Bishop Castro said.

“I believe this reflects the situation in Mexico,” he added.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”es” dir=”ltr”>La sede de la Conferencia Episcopal Mexicana ha sufrido un atentado con bomba molotv de 3 cilindros.Creo que eso refleja la situación de Mex <a href=”https://t.co/YTtPq3HoBJ”>pic.twitter.com/YTtPq3HoBJ</a></p>&mdash; Mons. Ramón Castro (@MonsRamonCastro) <a href=”https://twitter.com/MonsRamonCastro/status/889872150546366464″>July 25, 2017</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

The conference’s press office director, Aramando Cavazos, explained in a statement that “today in the early hours of the morning, around 1:50 a.m., an unknown type of explosive device was placed at the main door of the CEM building.”

He indicated the explosion only caused “material damage to that door” and said that “no one outside or inside” was injured.

“The pertinent investigations are taking place, as apparently this is not the first case occurring in that area of Mexico City,” he said.

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News Briefs

These nuns offer their blindness for the salvation of the world

July 25, 2017 CNA Daily News 1

Santiago, Chile, Jul 25, 2017 / 06:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- This Aug. 15 will mark 90 years since the Sacramentine Sisters of Don Orione were founded to offer something very particular for the salvation of the world: their blindness.

They are a community of blind nuns consecrated to perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and wear a distinctive white habit, a red scapular, and a white Host embroidered on the chest.

“I intend to offer with this new branch of the religious family, as a flower before the throne of the Blessed Virgin, so that she herself, with her blessed hands, offer it to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament,” Saint Luigi Orione told them when he founded the order in Italy Aug. 15, 1927.

This branch of the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity (LMSC) has as its mission, according to its constitutions, to offer to God “the privation of sight for those who do not know the truth yet so that they may come to God, the light of the world.”

In addition they seek to support with Eucharistic Adoration and sacrifice “the apostolic action of the LMSC and the Sons of Divine Providence,” the two congregations founded by Saint Luigi Orione.

The congregation is present in Italy, Spain, the Philippines, Kenya, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile.

They have been in Chile since 1943 and currently there are three sisters there: Sr. María Luz Ojeda, Sr. Elizabeth Sepúlveda, and Sr. María Pía Urbina, who is on mission in the Philippines at the moment.

These sisters attend computer classes to be able to bring before the Blessed Sacrament the numerous petitions they receive from many faithful through their Facebook account, where they offer to pray for each intention they receive.

Sr. María Luz Ojeda had an accident when she was a child which left her with severe vision problems which gradually increased until at 30 years of age she completely lost her sight.

“Sometimes I personally thank God, since because of this I was able to enter the congregation. Before the Blessed Sacrament I often tell the Lord: ‘this is my means of helping you save souls,’ and I’m happy,” Sr. María Luz told CNA.

The religious sister explained that “every day in our prayer and Adoration we present to the Lord the poverty, sufferings, and sorrows of humanity.”

“Perhaps what I am going to say may seem like I’m claiming too much  but I am going to have this to present to the Lord on the day he calls me, that I helped him save souls,” Sr. María Luz said.

The sisters dedicate each day of the week for a special intention: Mondays for the sick, Tuesday for young people, Wednesdays for peace, Thursdays for vocations, Fridays for the elderly, Saturdays for children, and Sundays for families.

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News Briefs

How a college mission trip inspired a coffee business

July 24, 2017 CNA Daily News 2

Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Jul 24, 2017 / 05:11 pm (CNA).- When Matt Hohler was in college in 2010, he was a reluctant Catholic – and not a coffee drinker. 

That year, his mom gave him a trip to a college Catholic conference as a Christmas gift. It was a conference with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, which annually draws several thousands of college students seeking to know more about their faith. 

Hohler was not thrilled. 

“I remember being a bit sour about it,” he told CNA. “I remember thinking I don’t really wanna go, I thought it wasn’t cool.” 

But he went anyway, had a great time, and came back with a pull on his heart to go on a FOCUS mission trip to Honduras, “even though I remember not even knowing where Honduras was at the time,” he recalled. 

He signed up for the trip, and the week he spent with FOCUS teaching catechesis in Honduras “was mind-bending to say the least.” 

What struck him most was the Honduras people’s extreme generosity amidst the experience of extreme poverty. 

“They just gave everything they had, and they had nothing,” Hohler said.

That fascination with Honduras and desire to help those in need continued to grow, and eventually Hohler returned for a year to volunteer as an English teacher, a job he found through a connection from the trip. 

That year, he came home for Christmas break and was hanging out at grandma’s house before the rest of the family arrived.  

While they waited, Hohler’s grandmother pulled him into a hallway, where there had been a statue of the Virgin Mary for as long as Hohler could remember. 

“She said, ‘There have been times in our lives where I swear we didn’t have enough money, and we put money under the statue of Mary, and we’d come back and there would be more money than before,’” Hohler recalled. 

She told him to always remember to put God first, and handed her grandson $1,000 with simple instructions: “Go do something good with it.” 

When he returned to Honduras, the search for that “something good” led Hohler to Sr. Maria, a Catholic nun who has dedicated her life to serving her community near Lake Yojoa, Honduras. Her nutrition-focused organization, Casa de Angeles, provides 100+ children at risk of malnutrition with lunches every day throughout the school year. 

As Hohler spent time with Sr. Maria and the children, he realized that many of the kids’ impoverished families were coffee farmers, who were still making insufficient wages despite promises of markups after their coffee gained labels like “organic” and “fair-trade.” (He also started to drink, and love, coffee.)

Hohler, along with like-minded friend Robert Durrette, decided to do what they could to get a fairer wage for small-scale coffee farmers in Central and South America. And that’s how coffee start-up Levanta Coffee began. 

Taken from the Spanish reflexive verb “levantarse,” Levanta means to wake up, but it can also mean to rise up. 

“By waking up each morning with a cup of Levanta Coffee, you’re giving hard-working coffee farmers from Honduras and Peru the opportunity to lift themselves up economically,” the businesses’ Kickstarter page explains. 

The business model of Levanta cuts out nearly all of the middlemen involved in the process of most coffee sales – including fair trade coffee – that takes away from the profits that actually end up in farmers’ hands. 

“We too used to think that ‘Fair Trade’ was the best way to support small scale farmers. We sipped our coffee believing we were helping farmers like Daniel and Rosa earn a good living. Problem is, that just wasn’t true,” Hohler and Durette explain on their Kickstarter. 

“‘Fair trade’ offers 20 cents more per pound of coffee, but very little of that extra money actually makes it back to small-scale farmers. Although they had been promised higher prices and better returns on their hard work, many coffee farmers are still struggling to put food on the table. In the best-case scenario, farmers might get a few hundred extra dollars per year. This translates into an income of $2,000-$4,000 a year for the average farmer who is often providing for a family of 4-6 people,” they noted. 

The Levanta model will provide a 50 percent higher payment that will end up directly in the hands of the small-scale coffee farmers in both Honduras and Peru, where the pair has launched their startup. 

“Essentially what we’re doing is taking a page out of what a lot of humanitarian aid is doing now, in terms of direct transfers. Rather than investing in aid in terms of professionals or food, or whatever it be, a lot of studies have found that just by giving them more cash and allowing them to make their own decisions, it’s actually allowing for more and more development,” Hohler explained.

In exchange, Levanta Coffee asks their farmers to share their personal stories with coffee drinkers around the world. 

Co-founder Robert Durrette said he believes “the stories of the farmers we have partnered with is crucial to sparking change in the coffee industry. You will learn about their hardships and struggles, but also their successes – all while we deliver you better coffee.”

“It gives you the opportunity to look at the coffee you drink in a more personal way, and you’ll know exactly how this is being impactful,” Hohler said. “We’ll be following up year after year, making sure it’s the right model, being really transparent and really inviting people into this story so they can experience it.” 

The pair launched their Kickstarter on July 18th, and have already seen great results, with $32,348 of their $35,000 goal having been raised at the time this article was written. If they make their stretch goal of $50,000, they can partner with a third coffee producer. 

It hasn’t always been easy – Hohler said he was questioned by several well-meaning friends and family about when he would “get a real job.” But he’s stuck to his decision, saying that he feels it’s a call from God to put his faith into action. 

“The thing I wanted to do with my faith was to show it through action, and be an example of my faith in the way that I live, creating good in the way I live my life rather than telling someone what they should be doing,” he said. 

“Evangelization through action is what I wanted to do.” 

Learn more about Levanta Coffee, and the coffee farmers involved, on their Kickstarter page or by following them on Instagram or Facebook.

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Venezuelan bishops offer day of prayer, fasting as riots continue

July 21, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Caracas, Venezuela, Jul 21, 2017 / 01:17 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Venezuela’s bishops have organized a day of prayer and fasting amid ongoing riots throughout the country as opposition to President Nicolas Maduro hardens.

They have called on the people to use the penitential practices July 21 to ask God “to bless the efforts of Venezuelans for freedom, justice and peace.”

With the help of the Holy Spirit and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, they voiced their hope in a July 13 statement which could be dubbed their manifesto on the current crisis that the effort would help so that “peace and fraternal coexistence may continue being built in the country.”

The day of prayer and fasting follows two similar initiatives, one of which took place Aug. 2, 2016, and the second May 21, 2017.

The bishops urged all faithful to participate in the day, in order “to not let themselves be robbed of the hope that makes possible, with the help of God, what is impossible; to communicate hope and to be protagonists in this historic moment and in the future of our country.”

In order to draw attention and support for the event, those who are participating are promoting it on social media with the hashtag #OracionporVenezuela – in English #PrayerforVenezuela.

The day of prayer and fasting comes amid ongoing violent protests prompted by an opposition-organized July 16 referendum in which roughly 7.6 million Venezuelans voted in rejection of the national, socialist government.

Sunday’s unofficial referendum led to violence in several areas across the country, which so far has lead to the deaths of at least three people.

As voters were waiting to cast their ballot near the parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Caracas’ Catia area, shots rang out, leaving one man dead. When people fled into the parish for refuge, where Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino had been celebrating Mass, the doors were locked, barring the people and the cardinal from leaving.

According to reports, yesterday two more young men were killed in Valencia during a 24-hour strike that blocked businesses and public transport, bringing the death toll in anti-government protests to nearly 100 since April.

In addition to yesterday’s 24-hour strike and the ongoing protests, a large opposition-backed demonstration is scheduled to take place July 22 in a show of support for parliament’s election of new magistrates.

Frustration in Venezuela has been building for years due to poor economic policies, including strict price controls coupled with high inflation rates, which have resulted in a severe lack of basic necessities such as toilet paper, milk, flour, diapers, and medicines.

Venezuela’s socialist government is widely blamed for the crisis. Since 2003, price controls on some 160 products, including cooking oil, soap and flour, have meant that while they are affordable, they fly off store shelves only to be resold on the black market at much higher rates.

A layperson living in Venezuela, who preferred to speak on terms of anonymity due to safety concerns, told CNA July 21 that the day of prayer and fasting is “a light” for the country amid the darkness of the current crisis.

“It seems like a very banal, fragile and simple action in front of yesterday’s strike and tomorrow’s demonstration,” the source said. However, “it’s not only political power or social change that can change the world, but also the awareness of our relationship with God.”

“So a prayer and a fast is something very powerful which are often trivialized,” they said, and, quoting St. John Paul II, added that ‘a prayer and the sacrifice of an unknown person in any unknown place can change the world.’”

The source said there has been an “exaggerated” response to the demonstrations on the part of the government, but that amid the violence, the day of prayer and fasting – which ranges from organized initiatives from parishes to personal commitments – is a chance to make “our true need” burn brighter.

It is reported that at least 300 people have been arrested for protesting the government in recent days.

In terms of the international community, the source said politicians are doing what they can, but asked Catholics to unite with Venezuelans in prayer, “but also and above all in communion, which means to be interested and aware of what is happening here.”

What the bishops are asking for is justice and social peace, they said, asking for prayer that “it can be true justice and peace … This is not an alternative, it’s part of life. Not only to make a protest, but to pray, to pray for peace.”

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Pope phones trash man who lost legs in accident

July 19, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jul 19, 2017 / 01:53 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Maximiliano Acuña is a garbage collector in Buenos Aires who earlier this year was injured in a serious accident that left him without legs.

On Tuesday, he was surprised to receive an unexpected phone call from Pope Francis.

The Pope offered words of encouragement, 33-year-old Acuña told the Argentine Morfi Television program.

On March 22, the father of five children had been collecting garbage in a Buenos Aires neighborhood when he was struck by a car going some 80 miles an hour.

As a result of the accident, both of his legs had to be amputated.

A Buenos Aires legislator, Gustavo Vera, decided to tell Pope Francis what happened in an e-mail, in which he explained that the “doctors’ prognosis was for the worst.”

“In the best case scenario, he was expected to be in a vegetative state or to have serious neuronal damage, and in the worst case it was going to be the end for him,” Vera told the Holy Father.

However, Acuña surprised doctors when he came out of the coma on the third day. Two days later, he was moved from intensive care to a regular hospital room. “In a few weeks he was already home with his five children,” Vera related in his message to the Pope.

This July 18, Acuña was getting ready to be honored at a ceremony at the Buenos Aires Legislature when he got a special call.

“I’m Pope Francis. A friend (Vera) sent me a letter, and I was moved and struck by how much strength you have,” the voice said on the other end of the line. “Always go forward, because you’re an example.”

Acuña recounted these words with emotion at a ceremony in front of hundreds of other garbage collectors.

Now, Vera is working with the general secretary of the Truckers Union, Pablo Moyano, to propose that March 22 be declared “Waste Collectors’ Day,” in tribute to this young collector.

“God gave me my life back, because they removed both legs, but everything that is happening to me is beautiful,” Acuña said.

“I always believed in God, I always went to church, praying everyday asking him for work, and that he take care of me day by day.”

“God exists,” Acuña continued. “I want to give everyone this message, that God exists and that he has given me a new opportunity.”

 

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Facebook restores blocked Catholic pages without explanation

July 19, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Denver, Colo., Jul 19, 2017 / 08:10 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Facebook has restored more than twenty Catholic pages in Portuguese and English that were blocked yesterday for unknown reasons.

Between the night of 17 and the morning of July 18, Facebook unpublished at least 25 pages – 21 in Portuguese and 4 in English – without giving an explanation to page administrators.

The blocked Catholic pages each had between hundreds of thousands and 6 million followers.

Hours after CNA and other media published a story about the blocked pages, around 1 a.m. in the morning July 19, all blocked pages had been returned to normal.

In statements collected by ChurchPop.com, Carlos René, administrator of the page “Papa Francisco Brazil”, said that the page was available again “without notification. I just realized that it was already on the air. “

So far, Facebook has not given any explanation of the blocking or restoration of the page. The owners and administrators of sites such as Father Rocky, Catholic and Proud, and Jesus and said they simply realized that their pages had returned to work after seeing their accounts were back online.

Some administrators of the previously blocked pages told ChurchPop.com that they had sent lawyers to the Facebook offices in Brazil to demand that the pages be restored, although it is unclear if this was a decisive factor in the restorations.

 

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Caracas archdiocese rebukes attack on voters in Venezuela referendum

July 18, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Caracas, Venezuela, Jul 18, 2017 / 04:28 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas has repudiated Sunday’s attack on a referendum in which the vast majority of participants expressed their opposition to the constituent assembly called by President Maduro.

The July 16 attack was carried out by armed groups in support of the nation’s socialist government.

Venezuela’s government plans to hold a constituent assembly which would have the authority to write a new constitution and to dissolve the country’s legislature, which is controlled by the opposition.

More than 7.6 million people across Venezuela are believed to have voted against the assembly in Sunday’s unofficial referendum, which was organized by the opposition.

The referendum led to violence in several areas across the country.

The Archdiocese of Caracas said the attack with shots fired against those in line to vote is “an unacceptable attack on the people and on Cardinal Urosa.”

After Mass, the cardinal and the priests were told that pro-government groups were harassing those who were participating in the consultation, which was taking place near Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in Caracas’ Catia area.

After the shots that forced several hundred people to enter the church and which left one person dead and several injured, “the violent group continued to harass those who took refuge in the church and the the church doors had to be locked to protect them. The attackers prevented those inside from leaving the parish church.”

The news release by the Archdiocese of Caracas noted that “in view of the seriousness of the situation, the cardinal then called a priest to ask for support from the authorities. For his part, the pastor of the church, Fr. Tovar, spoke with some of those belonging to the group that was outside the church to ask them to end the siege of the people who had taken refuge inside the church. He reiterated to them that the parish facilities had not been provided for the consultation of the people. However, nothing came of it.”

The release of those inside the church occurred after the intervention of the authorities of the National Bolivarian Police, who spoke with Cardinal Urosa in order to evacuate those who were in the church with guarantees for their safety.

The statement also “totally repudiates the attack by armed groups against the citizens who were peacefully participating in the consultation of the people on the Constitutional Assembly, as well as subsequent siege of all the people who were in the parish church.”

The Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference posted on Twitter photos of a number of bishops participating in the consultation, including Cardinal Urosa and the conference’s president, Archbishop Diego Padrón Sanchez of Cumana, who told CNA that yesterday’s consultation was “successful with the massive as well as peaceful and democratic participation of the Venezuelan people,” which wants “peaceful as well as constitutional ways to get out of the crisis.”

The archbishop added that the people do not want a reform of the constitution but “a change in the system that is governing us and which is ultimately the cause of all the ills from which the country is suffering.”

“A change of the system, not just one person for others, but a change of the total system which also includes the person.”

Poor economic policies, including strict price controls, coupled with high inflation rates, have resulted in a severe lack of basic necessities in Venezuela, such as toilet paper, milk, flour, diapers and medicines.
Venezuela’s socialist government is widely blamed for the crisis. Since 2003, price controls on some 160 products, including cooking oil, soap and flour, have meant that while they are affordable, they fly off store shelves only to be resold on the black market at much higher rates.

 

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Shots fired at people voting outside church in Venezuela

July 17, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Caracas, Venezuela, Jul 17, 2017 / 01:53 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Armed civilians who support the Venezuelan regime opened fire against a large crowd of protestors who were participating in a symbolic referendum in Caracas on Sunday.

The incident forced hundreds to seek refuge inside Our Lady of Mount Carmel church where they stayed until the local archbishop Cardinal Jorje Urosa Savino mediated their safe exit. One person died from gunshot wounds and several others were injured.

Swaths of locals who oppose the current leadership called for a “consultation of the people” on July 16 to protest President Nicolas Maduro’s plans to rewrite the country’s constitution on July 30. Some 7 million people participated in Sunday’s protest.

In the wake of Nicolas Maduro succeeding former socialist president Hugo Chavez after the latter died from cancer in 2013, the country has been marred by violence and social upheaval.

Poor economic policies, including strict price controls, coupled with high inflation rates, have resulted in a severe lack of basic necessities such as toilet paper, milk, flour, diapers and medicines.

Venezuela’s socialist government is widely blamed for the crisis. Since 2003, price controls on some 160 products, including cooking oil, soap and flour, have meant that while they are affordable, they fly off store shelves only to be resold on the black market at much higher rates.

The Venezuelan government is known to be among the most corrupt in Latin America, and violent crime in the country has spiked since Maduro took office.

On July 16, Cardinal Urosa had celebrated Mass in the church located in the Catia section of Caracas. The incident took place following the service.

In concluding the Angelus prayer this Sunday at the Vatican, Pope Francis said he is keeping the people of Venezuela in his prayers.

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