No Picture
News Briefs

Cardinal Marx reportedly to speak to Pope Francis on intercommunion handout

April 19, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Munich, Germany, Apr 19, 2018 / 12:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The German bishops’ conference has denied reports that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has rejected its planned proposal to publish guidelines permitting non-Catholic spouses of Catholics to receive the Eucharist in some limited circumstances.

“Reports that the Vatican, whether the Holy Father or dicasteries, has rejected the handout are false,” conference spokesman Matthias Kopp said April 19.

In February, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising announced that the German bishops’ conference would publish a pastoral handout for married couples that allows Protestant spouses of Catholics “in individual cases” and “under certain conditions” to receive Holy Communion, provided they “affirm the Catholic faith in the Eucharist”.

The announcement concerned a draft version of the guidelines, which were adopted “after intenstive debate” during a Feb. 19-22 general assembly of the German bishops’ conference under the leadership of Cardinal Marx, who is the conference chairman.

In his statement on Thursday, Kopp Cardinal Marx will inform his fellow bishops on the matter of the guidelines at an April 23 meeting.

The Archbishop of Munich and Freising has been invited to Rome by Pope Francis to discuss the problem. Several sources claim that Cardinal Rainier Woelki of Cologne, who has asked for clarification on the draft guidelines from the Vatican, has been invited as well.

It was reported yesterday by CNA and other media that the CDF had raised objections about the German bishops’ proposal; sources close to the congregation had confirmed this to CNA.

It is unclear whether the Vatican has asked the bishops’ conference to modify the contents of the draft guidelines, whether they have suspended the development of a draft while the matter is considered further, or whether it has been entirely rejected.

Last month, seven German bishops, led by Cardinal Woelki, sent a letter to the CDF and to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity asking for clarification on the matter, appending a copy of the drafted guidelines. The signatories did not consult beforehand with Cardinal Marx.

The seven bishops reportedly asked whether the question of Holy Communion for Protestant spouses in interdenominational marriages can be decided on the level of a national bishops’ conference, or if rather, “a decision of the Universal Church” is required in the matter.

The letter was also signed by Archbishop Ludwig Schick of Bamberg, Bishop Gregor Hanke of Eichstätt, Bishop Konrad Zdarsa of Augsburg, Bishop Stefan Oster of Passau, Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg, and Bishop Wolfgang Ipolt of Görlitz.

“From the view of the signatories, the goal in a question of such centrality to the Faith and the unity of the Church must be to avoid separate national paths and arrive at a globally unified, workable solution by way of an ecumenical dialogue,” the Archdiocese of Cologne told CNA Deutsch April 4.

The Code of Canon Law already provides that in the danger of death or if “some other grave necessity urges it,” Catholic ministers licitly administer penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick to Protestants “who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed.”


No Picture
News Briefs

Irish archbishop: The Christian vision of family is attainable

April 18, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

Rome, Italy, Apr 18, 2018 / 11:53 am (CNA/EWTN News).- One of the leading organizers of this year’s World Meeting of Families has said the gathering aims to show the world that living the Christian ideal of marriage and family life is not impossible, but is something realistic that can be attained.

“Our message about marriage and family, about fidelity, that God loves you personally, that human life is sacred from the first moment of conception until the moment of death, that chastity is possible for our young people,” is a message often seen as out-of-date, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh said.

Yet these messages “are achievable for people today,” he said.

“Sometimes people present the Church as being completely out of touch, but actually the Church is hugely in touch. It just wants to keep challenging people to the joy of the Gospel.”

Archbishop Martin spoke to CNA April 18 about the upcoming World Meeting of Families, which is slated to take place in Dublin Aug. 21-26.

Pope Francis will be present at the event Aug. 25-26, where he will preside over the “festival of families” and the closing Mass.

The World Meeting of Families is meant to share “the idea that family is good news, that it is a joyful message, that family is possible,” he said.

We too often “forget the huge number of families who continue faithfully to try to live out a life of love and a life of understanding and commitment to one another in very difficult or challenging circumstances,” he said.

Families, he said, are the first place where people learn to go outside of themselves through compromise and sacrifice, which goes against the individualistic mentality of global society.

“Very few families can survive individualism,” he said, explaining that one’s approach to family life has to start from the perspective of love and joy, which are the heart of the Gospel.

This in turn raises questions about how much social, political and legislative support is available to families, and how challenges can arise if this support is not given.

“Why is it that so many young people will choose not to get married? Maybe because they can’t get a hold of a mortgage, or because the benefit system suits them better to live as single people rather than as a couple with their children. Why is it that legislation on issues like addictions, gambling, or a whole lot of areas where family life can be destroyed, why are these not priorities in social policy-making?”

So in addition to focusing on the Gospel vision of the family, the “harder edge” of the global gathering in August will focus on how families can be supported from all levels of the Church and of society.

Some 16,000 people have registered for the event, most of whom are from overseas, Martin said.

And as the date gets closer, organizers on the ground are starting to “ratchet up” the preparations at a faster pace.

“This is an opportunity for families to meet families from other parts of the world and to learn from each other and to share with one another how we do it; how do we actually survive as a family in this crazy, complicated world,” Martin said.

Excitement is building and Ireland is ready to give the pope and the world “a hundred thousands of welcomes,” he said, using a colloquial Irish saying.

Martin said the gathering will be a time for families to come together and share their experiences, their hopes, and their challenges, without sugar-coating anything.

Acknowledging that no family is perfect, “we’re not in any way trying to romanticize family love,” he said. Rather, the goal is to share the Christian vision of the family, based on hope and love, and to welcome families who are distant or who perhaps don’t feel welcome, he said.

“The word ‘welcome’ is important,” he said, adding that for him, it is sad to hear when people say that for whatever reason, they do not feel entirely welcome in the Church.

And this goes not only for “these neuralgic issues, for example LGBT people or people living in second unions … I’m talking about people who think the Church’s vision of the family is completely out of touch with reality,” Martin said.

“I would love to think that we can talk about ways of welcoming families, welcoming people who … feel that they don’t measure up, or feel that unless their family is perfect, that everyone in their family is living a perfectly holy life, that they are not welcome,” he said.

To this end, he pointed to Gaudete et exsultate, Pope Francis’ exhortation on the call to holiness in today’s world, saying example of holiness can be found in “your mom, your grandmother, your dad. People who struggled but lived as best they could a faithful life.”

“So I think that when we think about reaching out, sometimes we think they are people way out on the margins, but often they are people who are simply trying to struggle to live a good family life everyday and who feel that somehow the Church presents an impossible ideal.”


No Picture
News Briefs

English bishop calls for ‘new forms of witness’ by the People of Life

April 16, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Portsmouth, England, Apr 16, 2018 / 04:56 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth has encouraged Catholics, as the “people of life”, to be positive and confident in sharing the good news of life.

“There is now in society great confusion and conflict about what it means to be human, about relationships, sexuality and love, but also, most seriously, about the actual value and dignity of human life itself from conception to natural death,” Bishop Egan wrote in an April 15 pastoral letter.

He noted that it has been more than 50 years since abortion was legalized in Great Britain, and that “As a people of life, our efforts to defend the unborn child, to care for pregnant mothers and to reverse or blunt this Act have had mixed results and it now looks as if, unjustly, our secularist government will no longer allow us even to pray outside hospitals and clinics.”

The British parliament and some localities are considering establishing “buffer zones” around abortion clinics to keep away pro-life protestors and those offering alternatives to abortion. One London borough has already established one of these “Public Space Protection Orders”.

“We need to change tack,” the bishop stated.

He is discussing “new forms of witness” with pro-life groups, and has decided that Oct. 23, the day the Abortion Act 1967 was passed, will be kept as a “Day of Prayer and Reparation for Life” in the Diocese of Portsmouth. Priests there are to say a Mass for the Progress of Peoples wearing purple vestments to show penitence.

Bishop Egan added that this year is the 50th anniversary of  the “prophetic” encyclical Humanae vitae, in which Bl. Paul VI warned, “there would be catastrophic consequences for persons, families and society” if the procreative and unitive ends of sexual intercourse were severed.

“Years on,” the bishop wrote, “we can now see exactly what he meant in broken family relationships, the reduction of sex to a casual activity, the trafficking of people for prostitution and pornography, the sexualisation of the young.”

“I intive everyone to revisit this teaching and to reflect on the alternative ‘spiritual ecology’ that the Gospel proposes for family life, when natural methods of fertility and family planning are used. Our diocesan Marriage and Family Life Team are keen to help and to give advice.”

The Bishop of Portsmouth linked being a “people of life” to the need to respond to “evil, injustice, suffering and violence in our world, including the abuse of the Earth and its resources.”

He noted Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si’, “in which he begs people to live an authentically human ecology, a more balanced, simple life-style.”

“It would be good to re-read Laudato Si alongside Humanae Vitae,” Bishop Egan recommended. “As Catholics, we should live an integrally ‘green’ and natural way of life. To do this, of course, given our fallen nature, we need the love of Christ and the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit.”

While “Ours is an era of amazing advances in knowledge and technology, from science and medicine to the arts and humanities … the demise of faith and religion, the demise even of people praying, is rapidly undermining in Britain the foundations of ethics,” he then warned.

“This dilution of our Christian patrimony threatens to usher in a frightening new Dark Age. No wonder a death-wish is arising for assisted suicide and euthanasia,” he said, referring in particular to the proposed legalization of assisted suicide in Guernsey, a Crown dependency which is part of the Portsmouth diocese.

Catholics, a people of life, must not ignore these challenges, but act, asking Christ “to help us reach out in love to those around, to assist people develop a personal relationship with God. This is fundamental to the mission of our schools and parishes.

“But more than this, we must enable the Catholic Tradition to engage positively and constructively with culture and society.”

To this end, he said, the diocese will hold a symposium on “Science – or – Religion?”

“It will tackle positively some of the issues that current advances raise: What does it mean to be human? How can we be happy? What does the Gospel say about life?” Egan said.

Ultimately, Egan urged Catholics to rediscover their love for life through their relationship with God, and asked for their prayers and action in order to promote a culture of life.

“So I ask you now: Be people of life! Love Jesus; keep close to Him and adore Him in the Eucharist. Read the Gospels; study the Church’s social teaching and be open to the questions people raise. This will help us to become positive, confident, ‘can-do’ Catholics.”

“May Mary Immaculate, St. Edmund of Abingdon, and Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati inspire us and pray for us.”


No Picture
News Briefs

Christian leaders in Guernsey: Provide care for the vulnerable, not assisted suicide

April 16, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Saint Peter Port, Guernsey, Apr 16, 2018 / 02:58 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Christian leaders on the Channel Island of Guernsey have united to author an open letter opposing assisted suicide legislation which will be debated in the coming months.

Signed by 53 pastoral ministers and 41 churches, the letter spelled out the dangers of introducing physician assisted suicide in the bailiwick, calling the measure dangerous for the community.

“We believe the proposal to introduce a legal provision for assisted dying to be misplaced and indeed a danger for us as a community, particularly for the most vulnerable in our island,” read the letter.

“We believe the States of Guernsey should focus on the care of vulnerable people, support the Les Bourgs Hospice, increase mental health provision and care well for those with age-related dementia. As a community we need to celebrate and support all of life and not actively seek to terminate life.”

“Every life is a gift that is precious and worthy of defense. Living life in all its fullness will include darker times, pain and sorrow. This is part of the rich diversity and tapestry of life that also provides opportunities for care, generosity, kindness and selfless love,” the letter continued.

One of the letter’s signatories, John Guille, is chairman at Les Bourgs Hospice. Other signatories of the letter included officials of the Catholic Church, the Church of England, and Methodism.

Debate on the whether to approve in assisted suicide legislation in principle will take place May 16 in the territory’s legislature, the States of Guernsey. Guernsey is a Crown dependency for which the U.K. is responsible, located off the coast of Normandy.

Current laws in Guernsey do not make allowances for physician assisted suicide and the island’s prominent hospice center, Les Bourgs, adheres to the World Health Organization’s ethos of hospice and palliative care, which upholds that end-of-life care may “neither hasten or postpone death,” according to the Guernsey Press.

“We are taking the exceptional step of writing to the people of Guernsey as Church leaders across a wide community of Christian witness,” the Christian ministers wrote.

In the letter, the church leaders cautioned against the popular push for “choice” when it comes to end-of-life care, saying that it should not be “the primary argument for life and death issues.”

“Deeper ethical and moral considerations should have much greater weight in matters of island policy and law,” they said, also noting that “individual ‘choice’ is not an isolated event,” but rather something that effects other people and society as a whole.

“Our decisions can also be influenced by profound life-changing events,” they continued, noting that an illness or a grim diagnosis would have a profound effect on a person’s ultimate end of life care.

The leaders also highlighted mental health conditions, such as depression, which could push an individual to pursue assisted suicide, instead of looking into other options. They encouraged the “support of those who love us,” during these challenging times, instead of pushing death.

The States’ consideration of the assisted dying measure would also hold a great weight for the vulnerable on the island, the church ministers noted, saying that individuals with disabilities, the elderly, and others with sicknesses will see the measure as “a threat.”

They also noted that the legislation would dramatically affect the relationship between doctors and patients, “threatening the trust that issuing life-ending prescriptions will bring.” The assisted suicide legislation could additionally open the doors to other measures, the leaders wrote, reaching beyond the conditions of those nearing their lives.

“Of the few other jurisdictions that have introduced assisted dying most have, over time, seen the initial safeguards eroded and criteria broadened to include other conditions beyond terminally ill people,” the letter said.

“To assist in the death of another is essentially to assist in their suicide,” the letter continued.

Ultimately, the Christian leaders on Guernsey urged citizens to discern deeply the potential impact of introducing physician assisted suicide, particularly on the community’s most vulnerable citizens.

“Our hope and prayer is that the requete is rejected by the States,” the letter said. “This is a life and death issue so please contact your deputies with your views, doing so with the care and compassion that sustains our island community.”

Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth, the diocese which encompasses Guernsey, had spoken out against the assisted suicide proposal in a letter last month to the Parish of Our Lady and the Saints of Guernsey. He urged Catholics to “mobilize” and to “speak out against this proposal.”

“Someone near the end of life needs emotional support, comfort and care, good pain control, respect and loving communication – not suicide on prescription,” Egan said.

If the upcoming legislation passes, Guernsey would be the first territory among the British Isles to legalize assisted suicide.


No Picture
News Briefs

Peaceful protests outside hospital to support Alfie Evans’ parents

April 14, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

Liverpool, England, Apr 14, 2018 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Amid a tense battle over medical care for gravely ill toddler Alfie Evans, hundreds of protestors crowded outside Alder Hey Children’s Hospital this week in support of the child and his parents.  

Evans, who is 23 months, suffers from an unidentified degenerative neurological condition, has been under continuous hospitalization since December 2016.

His parents wish for him to continue receiving care and to take him to the Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome, but officials at Alder Hey have gone to court to argue that continuing treatment is not in his best interest, and that his life support should be switched off. Several judges have ruled in the hospital’s favor.

Alfie’s case has garnered international attention, and drew hundreds of protesters to the Liverpool hospital on Thursday night. Local police said the protests were “peaceful,” although they did cause some inconvenience for traffic and others accessing the hospital, according to the BBC.

On Friday supporters again gathered outside of the hospital in solidarity with Alfie and his parents.

His parents, Kate James and Tom Evans, have been fighting to transfer their son to another hospital for further diagnosis and treatment. However, their attempts have been futile, losing cases in both the High Court and Court of Appeal, having their pleas also rejected by the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights.

In February, the court ruled that Alder Hey could legally stop treatment for Alfie, against his parent’s wishes.  

Evans and James are now launching a new legal challenge, asking the Court of Appeal judges to continue life support and treatment for Alfie. The court officials posted their hearing for Monday, saying that a court judge has decided that Alfie could continue treatment, pending the hearing.

The High Court recently set a date to officially turn off life support for Alfie, although the details of the end of life plan are not public.  

However, his parents said that they have an alternative plan. Since the court order would allegedly end when the hospital removes life support from Alfie, the parents believe they can take custody of Alfie and fly him to Rome to pursue alternative treatments.

James and Evans told the BBC that they had a private ambulance and jet on stand-by which would make this transfer possible.

“There’s no court order to say Alfie has to stay in this hospital right now,” said Evans.

“The truth behind the matter is that me and Kate hold full responsibility and we can take him to our transportation van with full equipment with the doctors who have got full duty of care,” he continued.

Alfie’s parents plan to fly him to the Vatican-linked Bambino Gesu Pediatric hospital in Rome. However, Evans said on Friday that police officers have been posted to the Alder Hey hospital to ensure that Alfie is not removed by his parents.

Pope Francis recently tweeted about Alfie, saying it was his “sincere hope that everything necessary may be done in order to continue compassionately accompanying little Alfie Evans, and that the deep suffering of his parents may be heard.”

Earlier this month, Alfie’s parents said that their son has recently shown signs of improvement, noting that he has grown “stronger and more responsive,” and could take breaths on his own. They also said he was stretching, coughing, swallowing, and yawning.


No Picture
News Briefs

Legion of Christ reiterates commitment to Maciel’s victims

April 13, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

Rome, Italy, Apr 13, 2018 / 01:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Legion of Christ has issued a renewed apology for abuses committed by the institute’s founder, and pledged to reach out to victims individually to respond to requests for compensation.  

“We apologize to all the victims throughout our history who have suffered some form of abuse, knowing that this request for forgiveness will never be sufficient to heal the deep wounds that were left,” the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ said in an April 13 statement.

The statement comes in response to a March 26 letter from eight men who say they were sexually abused by the institute’s founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel, and suffered psychological damage from the institute’s failure to believe their allegations.

The Associated Press reported on the letter April 12, saying that the men were among those who raised initial accusations against Maciel in the late 1990s.

The Legion of Christ was long the subject of critical reports and rumors before it was rocked by Vatican acknowledgment that its founder lived a double life, sexually abused seminarians, and fathered children.

The Legion initially denied allegations against Maciel, until the Vatican determined that the accusations were accurate, and the organization issued an apology in 2014.

The eight signatories of the March 26 letter called on the Legion to recognize openly that they had suffered abuse from Maciel, and that the organization’s response after they initially publicized their allegations had caused “moral, psychological and spiritual harm” to them “in a continued, consistent and prolonged way,” the AP reported. They asked the Legion to formally recognize that victims’ reports about being abused were acts of service to the Church, not betrayals of the Legion.

In 2006 the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, with the approval of Pope Benedict XVI, removed Maciel from public ministry and ordered him to spend the rest of his life in prayer and penance. The congregation decided not to subject him to a canonical process because of his advanced age. Maciel died in 2008.

Benedict began a process of reform for the Legion of Christ, a process continued under Pope Francis. Included in that reform process was the establishment of a compensation commission, which was active from 2011-2014 and gave an undisclosed sum to 12 people, the AP reports.

The eight signatories in their letter ask for this commission to be re-formed to hear their cases. Signatory Jose Barna said he did not approach the original commission because he did not trust it, but that he now believes the effort “is worthwhile, because we have suffered for a quarter-century many humiliations, many defamations nationally and internationally,” according to the Associated Press.

In its response, the Legion pointed to its 2014 apology, which condemned Maciel’s abuses and said, “We are grieved that many victims and other affected persons have waited so long in vain for an apology and an act of reconciliation on the part of Father Maciel.”
“[W]e acknowledge with sadness the initial incapability of believing the testimonies of the persons who had been victims of Father Maciel, the long institutional silence and, later on, the hesitations and errors of judgment when setting out to inform the members of the congregation and others. We apologize for these shortcomings, which have increased the suffering and confusion of many,” the Legion said in its 2014 statement.

The institute said it would reach out individually to the signatories to discuss their requests and reiterated its commitment to seek reconciliation and implement safe environment policies moving forward.

The Legion of Christ was founded in 1941 in Mexico. As of 2016, the it had 963 priests, 1,650 male religious, and 121 parishes. Its associated lay movement is Regnum Christi.




No Picture
News Briefs

Scottish bishop: BBC video exemplifies anti-Catholic prejudice

April 13, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Paisley, Scotland, Apr 13, 2018 / 10:52 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Bishop John Keenan of Paisley has criticized a video on homophobia posted by BBC Scotland in which the Eucharist is parodied, being said to “taste like cardboard” and “smell like hate.”

The video, “This is how homophobia feels in 2018”, was posted on BBC The Social’s Facebook page April 9. BBC The Social is a project of BBC Scotland aimed at young people.

The short film was created by Sean Lìonadh, and addresses reactions to a gay couple who are walking in a park. The narrator states that “normality is a crowd-sourced fantasy”, and addresses moral failings of those who view homosexual acts as immoral.

It also depicts a man and a woman, who is pregnant, whose “normality” the narrator says will be shattered when the woman suffers a miscarriage.

Lìonadh’s video goes on to say that “Jesus saved a lot of time when he died for our crimes, that he would’ve wasted teaching small minds that love is no sin.”

A vociferous street preacher is then shown, in between scenes of a Mass, in which a priest elevates a cheese biscuit as a parody of a Host, and then distributes it to a kneeling woman, who makes the sign of the cross. The narrator says during this, “See him, he thinks it’s faith, but under all that din, it tastes like cardboard, and it smells like hate.”

Bishop Keenan referred to the narration in a May 13 Facebook post, saying, “So BBC Scotland has described Holy Communion and Catholics in its latest digital stream for young people in Scotland on homophobia.”

He noted that the video was posted “in a week when a Sunday Times poll found 20% of Catholics reported personally experiencing abuse or prejudice towads their faith” and that recent government figures show that 57 percent of religiously aggravated crime is directed at Catholics, an increase of 14 percent.

“And we all wonder why,” the bishop exclaimed.

Scotland has experience significant sectarian division since the Scottish Reformation of the 16th century, which led to the formation of the Church of Scotland, an ecclesial community in the Calvinist and Presbyterian tradition which is the country’s largest religious community.

Bishop Keenan told the Catholic Herald that the video posted by BBC Scotland “is ridiculing and demeaning the faith of ordinary Catholics, especially at a time when Catholics are experiencing more and more abuse and prejudice in Scotland.”

“The BBC has to be careful,” he noted. “It has to ask itself if it has ceased to be a broadcaster in the public interest, and is just promoting particular interests. You cannot imagine it treating any other religion like this.”

In a subsequent Facebook post, Bishop Keenan provided a link to the Facebook page for the diocesan chapter of Courage, an apostolate which supports those who have same-sex attraction in choosing chastity.

In its own response to the video, the Archdiocese of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh provided in a Facebook post a quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church which teaches that homosexual persons “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” and that “homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”