No Picture
News Briefs

In historic move, Irish nuns to give up three Dublin hospitals

May 30, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Dublin, Ireland, May 30, 2017 / 04:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Ireland’s Sisters of Charity will end their management of three Dublin hospitals, the sisters have announced, saying they will hand over control to a group that will not follow Catholic medical ethics.

“Although the Sisters of Charity no longer have any direct involvement in the provision of healthcare services we remain dedicated to preserving the legacy of Mary Aikenhead, whose mission in life was to heal and care for the sick and poor,” Sister Mary Christian, Congregational Leader of the Religious Sisters of Charity, said Monday.

“We believe that the future continued success of St. Vincent’s Healthcare Group can best be ensured by our transferring ownership of the group to a newly formed company with charitable status to be called ‘St. Vincent’s.’ The Religious Sisters of Charity will have no involvement in this new company.”

The decision to transfer control of the three Dublin hospitals had been under consideration for more than two years, James Menton, chairman of the healthcare group, told the Irish state broadcaster RTÉ.

Menton said the developments “reflect the wonderful legacy to Irish healthcare of the Sisters of Charity.”

“The sisters have always held the highest ambitions for the provision of world class healthcare services in Ireland and have successfully achieved and sustained this,” he said.

“They also see the need for the proposed development of the new National Maternity Hospital integrated within the Elm Park campus and want to do everything possible to ensure this vital facility for mothers and babies is developed as quickly as possible.”

The health care group’s origins date back to 1834, when Mary Aikenhead, the founder of the Religious Sisters of Charity, established St. Vincent’s Hospital.

Until this year, the St. Vincent’s Healthcare Group included three hospitals. Two sisters who were on the board of the healthcare group’s board will resign and the congregation will give up the right to appoint board directors.

The long-considered move to give up the three hospitals follows recent controversy over a reported proposal that the sisters be given ownership of a $335 million taxpayer-funded National Maternity Hospital because the congregation owned the land on which it would be built, the campus of St. Vincent’s University Hospital.

The controversy prompted the Irish Minister for Health Simon Harris to say in April that there must be “no question of religious interference” in the new hospital.

The National Maternity Hospital’s board had said the new facility would be run independently and would provide procedures like sterilization, in-vitro fertilization, and some abortions.

The sisters have now said they will not own or help manage the new hospital.

The controversy over the new hospital often included claims from critics that Catholic ethics were not good medical practice.

The sisters’ statement appeared to echo these claims, saying the governing documents of the new health care group so that the Religious Sisters of Charity Health Service Philosophy and Ethical Code would no longer be authoritative.

Rather, it will be “amended and replaced to reflect compliance with national and international best practice guidelines on medical ethics and the laws of the Republic of Ireland,” the statement said.

Some observers predicted further ethical problems if Ireland were to instate permissive abortion laws, a possible outcome of current heavy lobbying from pro-abortion advocates.

Fiona Crowley, Amnesty International’s research and legal manager, responded to the hospital decision. She said her organization had been concerned “at the proposed involvement in women’s health services of a religious congregation whose ethos is inherently antithetical to women’s sexual and reproductive rights.” Crowley said the group hopes that the government will ensure the new group and the new facility “will be free of any religious ideology prejudicial to women’s health.”

Crowley linked the move to the push to overturn the Republic of Ireland’s strongly pro-life Eighth Amendment.  

Amnesty’s Irish affiliate is a part of that effort, in part with funding by international groups like the Open Society Foundations. The foundations see Ireland as a possible model to advance permissive abortion laws in Catholic countries.

The Sisters of Charity have committed to paying millions in financial redress to compensate abuse victims who lived the residential institutions they and 18 other religious congregations managed on behalf of the government in previous decades.


No Picture
News Briefs

In Rome, Catholic Charismatic Renewal to celebrate 50 years

May 30, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Rome, Italy, May 30, 2017 / 02:09 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Some 30,000 followers of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal will be in Rome this week to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the movement with meetings and Mass, culminating in a prayer vigil led by Pope Francis in the Circus Maximus.

The May 31 – June 4 jubilee is being organized by the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services and the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships.

The celebrations are capped on each end by events with Pope Francis, starting with the Wednesday General Audience and ending with Mass in St. Peter’s Square for Pentecost.

On the vigil of Pentecost the Pope will address participants during an ecumenical prayer vigil.

Organizers told journalists Tuesday that they expect participants to hail from some 220 countries around the world. Of these, around 300 are evangelical or Pentecostal leaders.

There will also be 600 priests and 50 bishops present.

The program includes meetings, symposia and workshops in locations across Rome, including testimony by some of the witness of the early years of the charismatic renewal.

Other smaller events throughout will include Eucharistic adoration, concerts, conferences, and street evangelization. Mass on Friday will be said by Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.

Salvatore Martinez, president of Italy’s Catholic charismatic association, told journalists May 30 that the Golden Jubilee is a sign of communion, unity, and charity.

“The Pope urges us to be protagonists of history, and to make these charisms a dynamism of love for men of our time,” he said. “Spiritual ecumenism will be the culminating moment, the heart of this spiritual celebration.”

This spiritual ecumenism will not included discussion of doctrine, according of Michelle Moran, president of ICCRS.

Gilberto Gomes Barbosa, head of the Catholic Fraternity, said the work must be about “spiritual communion,” not indoctrination.

Pope Francis met with members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal at Roman gatherings in 2014 and 2015.

Speaking June 1, 2014, the Pope voiced hope that both evangelical and Catholic charismatic groups, would share the same office as a sign of ecumenism.

His attendance for two consecutive years at the Catholic charismatic movement’s Renewal with the Spirit convocation and his planned participation during this year’s Golden Jubilee celebration show his attention to charismatic movements as a means to foster an ecumenical path and dialogue.



No Picture
News Briefs

Kidnapped Filipino priest pleads for help in video

May 30, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Marawi, Philippines, May 30, 2017 / 11:49 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A week after Islamist militants kidnapped some 240 Catholics in the Philippines, a video has surfaced online showing one of the hostages, Fr. Chito Suganob, calling for the government to halt their military offensive in the city.

Shown wearing a black polo and jeans, Fr. Suganob at the beginning of the 5-minute video lists the other “prisoners of war” taken hostage with him, including several Catholic college students and professors, as well as some 200 others, including women and children.

He speaks directly to Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, asking him to withdraw his army from the city and “to stop the airstrikes, and to stop the cannons.”

With a cracked voice, the priest, who is vicar general of the Marawi territorial prelature, asks the president to “please consider us,” saying that “it’s hard” for the hostages to bear, because they can hear gunfire and cannons going off around them.  

The militants, he said, “don’t ask for anything…they just ask that you leave this place peacefully.”

Militants of the Maute group stormed the city of Marawi, on the southern Philippines island Mindanao, May 23. The group, formed in 2012, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in 2015.

The militants’ violence began after a failed army and police raid to capture Isnilon Hapilon, a local Islamist leader.

The Maute militants have burned several buildings, including the Catholic cathedral and the bishop’s residence. They are also said to have freed more than 100 inmates from prisons in the city. The fighting has reportedly killed at least 20 people in the city.

The group was blamed for a September 2016 bombing that killed 15 people in southern Davao, the president’s hometown. A military raid on their jungle camp last month reportedly found homemade bombs, grenades, combat uniforms, and passports of suspected Indonesian militants.

The militants have threatened to kill their hostages if the nation’s military fails to cease its current offensive against them.

Bishop Edwin de la Peña y Angot, Prelate of Marawi, told CBCP News that he was not home at the time of the attack, but his secretary is reportedly among the hostages.

The bishop said he received a phone call from a militant who used his secretary’s phone. On the other end of the line was a militant who introduced himself as a member of the Islamic State, and demanded a unilateral ceasefire.

Bishop Peña said he was allowed to speak with Fr. Suganob at the time in order to help make their demands clear.

“Mr. President, if you want me to kneel before you just to knock your heart in favor of our families who are crying out there in different places, for our relatives … we will do that,” the priest said.

He warned that the use of violence by the army will only put the lives of the hostages at further risk, since the militants are “ready to die for their religion.”

Speaking directly to Duterte, he stressed that “you can’t use force and violence because they have the commitment they will die for this.”

“Please consider us, we are victims,” he said, explaining that if needed, he would beg for their release and for the army to withdraw.

The video, according to CBCP News, first surfaced on the Facebook account of a user named “Datumasa Khalid.” Although it’s still unclear where the video was filmed, Fr. Suganob is seen standing in front of houses and vehicles that have been destroyed.

According to Philippines station ABS-DBN News, the death toll from fighting in Marawi has risen to 104, including some 65 militants, 20 government forces, and 19 civilians.

Much of the city’s population of more than 200,000 has fled the city, though officials believe as many as 2,000 have been trapped by the fighting.

In response, the area’s Caritas branch on May 29 launched a solidarity appeal asking dioceses to contribute what they can to help the displaced. As a start, the charitable organization has offered an initial 300,000 Philippine pesos ($6,000) for relief efforts in nearby Diocese of Iligan.

In the wake of the kidnapping, the Filipino bishops have urged prayers for Fr. Suganob and the other hostages.

While the majority of Filipinos are Catholic, they make up only five percent of the population in Marawi, a mostly Muslim city.

Archbishop Socrates Buenaventura Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, president of the Filipino bishops’ conference, last week urged prayers for peace and asked the militants to show mercy.

“We call on the Maute group that claims to bear arms in the name of a Merciful and Benevolent God – the very same God we Christians worship and adore – to do the One God true honor by the mercy and benevolence that are two of our God’s most exalted attributes,” he said May 24.

The archbishop also addressed the response of government forces, saying, “We beg of them to make the safety of the hostages a primordial consideration.”

Duterte, who has been heavily criticized for a brutal crackdown on illegal drugs, has placed all of Mindanao under martial law.

The president has sought peace talks with two large Muslim rebel groups in the country’s south but has ordered the military to destroy smaller extremist groups like the Maute.


No Picture
News Briefs

Here’s what Pope Francis and Justin Trudeau talked about

May 29, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Vatican City, May 29, 2017 / 10:40 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a private audience which focused on religious freedom as well as reconciliation with native people of Canada.

According to a brief May 29 communique from the Vatican, Pope Francis and Prime Minister Trudeau conversed on the topics of integration and reconciliation with indigenous people, as well as religious liberty and current ethical issues.

In their 36-minute meeting which the Vatican described as “cordial,” they touched on the positive bilateral relations between the Holy See and Canada, “along with the contribution of the Catholic Church to the social life of the country.”

Afterward “in the light of the results of the recent G7 summit, attention turned to various matters of an international nature, with special attention to the Middle East and areas of conflict,” the communique stated.

During the visit, Trudeau extended an invitation to Pope Francis to visit the country of Canada, during which time he could bring the Church’s apology for harm done to indigenous people in Canada in the mid-19th through 20th centuries when 150,000 children from native tribes were forced to undergo “enculturation” to the state through attendance at residential schools.

Some 6,000 children died in the schools and though they were state-owned, a number were managed by Catholics. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which ran from 2008-2015, called for action on 94 points, one of which was an apology from the Catholic Church.

In 2009, Benedict XVI did apologize for the Church’s participation in the system during a meeting with the head of the Canadian National Assembly, Phil Fontaine, showing “his pain and anguish caused by the deplorable conduct of some members of the Church,” adding that “acts of abuse can never be tolerated by society.”

The Prime Minister’s spokesman, Cameron Ahmad, said Trudeau’s main agenda for the conversation with Francis was reiterating the open invitation to the Pope to come to Canada and for “reconciliation” with the indigenous communities on this point.

Ahmad also said that other important topics for Trudeau included the climate, religious and ethnic diversity – such as interreligious dialogue – and immigration.

At the end of the meeting, the Pope gave Trudeau a medallion symbolizing forgiveness, joy and mutual acceptance. It also references the scripture passage from Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

Francis also gave him a copy of his environmental encyclical Laudato Si, as well as copies of his 2015 Apostolic Exhortation on the family “Amoris Laetitia” and his 2013 exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium.”

Along with the three customary documents, the Pope also gave the prime minister a copy of his message for the 2017 World Day of Peace, which he signed, just like the one he gave to U.S. President Donald Trump during their meeting last week.

For his part, Trudeau gifted Francis a copy of “Relations de Jesuits du Canada,” a rare 6-volume edition that documents the Jesuits’ reports on Canadian territory, and a Jesuit vocabulary in a special edition.

The meeting was not Trudeau’s first visit to the Vatican. A Catholic, he met St. John Paul II in 1980 during the papal meeting of his father, former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau with the pope.  
Afterward, Trudeau met with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher.

Absent from Trudeau’s agenda for the audience were any topics related to life-issues, particularly that of euthanasia. Assisted suicide was legalized by the federal government in Canada on June 17, 2016. It now falls to the local provinces to reform the medical system to be in conformity with the new laws.

Canadian bishops from the provinces of Ontario and Quebec met with Pope Francis recently for their ad limina visits in April and the beginning of May. During the meetings the bishops all expressed concerns regarding the threat to freedom of conscience in relation to euthanasia’s legalization.


No Picture
News Briefs

Holy Cross priest tapped as bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee diocese

May 29, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Vatican City, May 29, 2017 / 05:56 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Monday the Vatican announced Pope Francis’ appointment of Fr. William “Bill” A. Wack to be the next bishop of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida.

A member of the Congregation of Holy Cross, a religious order of priests, Bishop-elect Wack succeeds Bishop Gregory L. Parkes, who was appointed Bishop of St. Petersburg, Florida by Pope Francis on Nov. 28, 2016 and installed on Jan. 4, 2017.

Fr. Thomas O’Hara, C.S.C., Provincial Superior of the United States Province of Priests and Brothers of the Congregation of Holy Cross, said that they are delighted at the selection of Fr. Wack to serve as bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee.

“Bishop-elect Wack is a gifted pastor and administrator who possesses an extremely welcoming personality. He is quick to reach out to all, is strong enough to lead and humble enough to listen. Above all, he is an outstanding priest who is passionate in his faith and absolutely dedicated to serving the People of God,” he said May 29.

Blessings on my Holy Cross brother and friend, @pt_diocese Bishop-elect Bill Wack @FrWack #SpesUnica

— Fr. Dennis Strach (@DennisStrachCSC) May 29, 2017

He said Fr. Wack, who has served as pastor of St. Ignatius Martyr parish in Austin, Texas since 2009, “has been a blessing” to the people there and will “no doubt be a blessing to all in the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee.”

“As his brothers in Holy Cross, we are proud of him and are united with him in prayer as he assumes this important responsibility in our Church.”

Austin Bishop Joe S. Vásquez said in a statement May 29 that he received the good news of Pope Francis’ appointment “with joy” and offered his prayers for Bishop-elect Wack and the faithful of Pensacola-Tallahassee.

“I know the faithful of Pensacola-Tallahassee are excited to receive their new shepherd. Father Wack is an exemplary priest who is well-respected by his brother priests and loved by those he serves,” he said.

“Father Wack has been of great help to me, and I express my deep appreciation to him for his years of service in the Diocese of Austin. As the people of Pensacola-Tallahassee come to know him, they will see his love for the Church and his desire to serve his flock with warmth and compassion.”

Bishop-elect Wack, 49, wrote on Twitter after the announcement that in his life he has never wanted to be anything but a Holy Cross priest, but “because God called (through Pope Francis) I can only say, ‘Here I Am.’”

Pope Francis is a pope of many surprises. I just didn’t think that I would be one of them! #blessed

— Fr. Bill Wack, CSC (@FrWack) May 29, 2017

Fr. Wack was born on June 28, 1967 in South Bend, Indiana. He studied government at Holy Cross College, eventually receiving his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend in 1990.

He also did ecclesiastical studies at Notre Dame and received a diploma in Executive Management from the school in 2002.

Entering the seminary at Notre Dame in 1985, he professed his solemn vows in the Congregation of Holy Cross on August 28, 1993. He was ordained a priest in the congregation the following year on April 9, 1994.

Fr. Wack’s brother, Fr. Neil Wack, is also a Holy Cross priest.

During his formation, Fr. Wack was involved in ministering at detention centers, a prison, homeless shelters, AIDS Services of Austin, and among the people of the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota.

After his ordination, the bishop-elect served as parochial vicar of Sacred Heart Parish in Colorado Springs, Colo. for three years.

From 1997-2002 he was Associate Director of Vocations for the Congregation of Holy Cross and he was a member of the administrative council of Holy Cross Associates from 1998-2002.

He was also a member of the Caritas of the Diocese of Phoenix from 2003-2008.

Since 2009 he has been the pastor of St. Ignatius Martyr Parish in Austin, Texas. He served as a member of the Austin Diocesan Advisory School Board from 2010-2016 and was Vice President of the Presbyteral Council of the diocese and Dean of the Austin Central Deanery.

Bishop-elect Wack speaks both English and Spanish.