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Pope Francis: Self-interest and hypocrisy destroy the Church

August 21, 2019 CNA Daily News 0

Vatican City, Aug 21, 2019 / 06:00 am (CNA).- Pope Francis decried hypocrisy and self-interest Wednesday, saying that Christian community should always be characterized by generosity and solidarity.

“A life set only on profiting and taking advantage of situations at the expense of others inevitably causes interior death,” Pope Francis said Aug. 21 in Paul VI Hall.

“And how many people say they are close to the Church, friends of priests, bishops, while they are only looking for their own interest. These are the hypocrisies that destroy the Church,” he added in a departure from his prepared remarks.

Pope Francis said he asks the Lord to “pour over us His Spirit of tenderness, which overcomes all hypocrisy and puts into circulation that truth which nourishes Christian solidarity.”

The pope said that solidarity is “the inalienable expression of the nature of the Church,” which he called the “tender mother of all, especially the poorest.”

“Being members of the body of Christ makes believers co-responsible for each other. Being believers in Jesus makes us all co-responsible for each other,” he said.

“Among Christians we cannot say: ‘Poor person, he has a problem at home, he is going through this family difficulty’. But, I must pray. I carry it with me. I am not be indifferent. This is being a Christian,” Francis explained.

Throughout Pope Francis’ general audience, a young girl who appeared to have a mental disability, danced across the stage clapping her hands in front of the pope in Paul VI Hall.

“We have all seen this beautiful girl – she is beautiful … victim of an illness and does not know what she is doing,” he said.

Pope Francis asked the audience if they had prayed for this young girl and her family. “Whenever we see someone suffering we must pray,” he said.

The pope stressed the importance of concrete acts of generosity in the life of a Christian, particularly with one’s time and money.

“The sign that your heart has converted is when conversion reaches your pockets,” he said. “There  is where we see if one is generous with others, if one helps the weakest, the poorest.”

In the life of the Church, there have always been Christians who stripped themselves of unnecessary things to give them to those who needed them, Pope Francis said.

He pointed to the example of the early Christians described in the Acts of the Apostles.

“A concrete example of sharing and communion of goods comes to us from the testimony of Barnabas: he owns a field and sells it to deliver the proceeds to the Apostles,” Francis said.

“The Christian community is born from the overabundant outpouring of the Holy Spirit and grows thanks to the leaven of sharing between brothers and sisters in Christ. There is a dynamism of solidarity that builds the Church as the family of God,” he said.

Pope Francis also pointed out that there were negative examples of hypocrisy and selfishness among this same community. He described the story of Ananias and his wife Sapphira described in chapter 5 of the Acts of the Apostles.

Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of property to give the proceeds to the apostles, but retained for themselves a portion of the purchase price.

To which St. Peter responded, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart so that you lied to the Holy Spirit and retained part of the price of the land? … Why did you contrive this deed? You have lied not to human beings, but to God.”

Upon hearing these words from Peter, Ananias fell down and died. “This cheating interrupts the chain of free sharing… and the consequences are tragic, are fatal,” Pope Francis said.

“We could say that Ananias lied to God because of an isolated conscience,” he said. “Hypocrisy is the worst enemy of this Christian community, of this Christian love: that of pretending to love each other, but only looking for one’s own interest.”

“To fail in the sincerity of sharing … in the sincerity of love, means to cultivate hypocrisy, move away from the truth, to become selfish, to extinguish the fire of communion and turn to the frost of interior death,” the pope said.

[…]

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Four more abuse allegations against former Cheyenne bishop

August 20, 2019 CNA Daily News 0

Cheyenne, Wyo., Aug 20, 2019 / 12:16 pm (CNA).- Four new sex abuse allegations have been raised against Emeritus Bishop Joseph Hart, spanning his time both as a priest in Missouri and a bishop in Wyoming.

Jack Smith, a spokesman for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, said the allegations were brought forward by either the alleged victims or their family members, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

He said the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph “has turned over all information we have about allegations pertaining to Bishop Hart to the Diocese of Cheyenne, which I understand they have shared with local law enforcement in Cheyenne.”

More than a dozen total accusations of sexual abuse have been raised against the former bishop. The new allegations come from his time in both Cheyenne and Kansas City-St. Joseph, although all of the alleged victims were Missouri residents.

Hart has been accused in lawsuits of taking minors on trips and giving them alcohol and marijuana, then abusing them.

Kansas City attorney Rebecca Randles, who has represented some of the individuals accusing Hart of abuse, said the bishop would party with two other priests in Kansas City who have also been accused of sexual abuse.

Police in Wyoming last week recommended that two clerics accused of sexually abusing male juveniles in the 1970s and ’80s be criminally charged, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. The clerics were unnamed in the report.

A press release from the police said its investigation “stems from a case initiated in 2002 that was reopened in 2018,” the Casper daily reported Aug. 14.

In July 2018 the Diocese of Cheyenne announced that Emeritus Bishop Joseph Hart had been credibly accused of sexually assaulting two boys after he became Bishop of Cheyenne in 1976, following an investigation of charges ordered by its current bishop.

In 2002, a Wyoming man accused the bishop of sexually abusing him as a boy, both during sacramental confession and on outings. The alleged abuse took place after Hart had become a bishop.

The Natrona County district attorney in 2002 had put forward a report saying there was no evidence to support the allegations that originated in Wyoming.

The Cheyenne diocese said in July 2018 that it “now questions that conclusion.”

According to the diocese, Bishop Steven Biegler, the present ordinary, had ordered a “fresh, thorough investigation” because the claims against Hart had not been resolved.

In December 2017, the bishop retained an outside investigator who obtained “substantial new evidence” and who concluded the district attorney’s 2002 investigation was flawed. The investigator concluded that Bishop Hart had sexually abused two boys in Wyoming.

The diocesan review board, after reviewing the report, concurred with the investigator, finding the allegations “credible and substantiated.” The diocese reported the alleged abuse to the Cheyenne district attorney in March 2018, and Cheyenne police opened an investigation.

The diocese said it reported the allegations of abuse as required by its own policy, the national Catholic Church policy, and Wyoming law.

In August 2018, the diocese announced it had found credible a third allegation of child sexual abuse committed by Bishop Hart.

“A third individual reported that he, too, was sexually abused by Bishop Hart in 1980,” the diocese said. This third person reported the abuse after the diocese’s announcement there was “credible and substantiated” evidence that Bishop Hart had abused two Wyoming boys.

This third allegation was also reported to the Cheyenne Police Department.

Bishop Hart has denied accusations of abusing minors.

His first accusers came forward in 1989, when he was alleged to have abused boys while serving as a priest in Kansas City. Ten individuals named Hart in lawsuits related to child sexual abuse claims dating from the 1970s. These accusations were part of settlements the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph reached in 2008 and 2014, though Bishop Hart denied the accusations, the Missouri diocese said July 2.

Bishop Hart was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Kansas City–St. Joseph in 1956, where he served until he was named an auxiliary bishop in Cheyenne in 1976, and appointed to lead the diocese two years later. He served as Bishop of Cheyenne until his resignation in 2001 at the age of 70.

In June the Cheyenne diocese released a list of substantiated allegations of sexual abuse against minors or vulnerable adults. The release listed allegations against 11 clerics who had served in the diocese.

[…]

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New South Wales parliament delays final abortion bill vote

August 20, 2019 CNA Daily News 0

Sydney, Australia, Aug 20, 2019 / 11:32 am (CNA).- A final vote on a bill to decriminalize abortion in the Australian state of New South Wales has been delayed until the middle of September, according to local media reports.

The state’s Legislative Council had been scheduled to debate the bill beginning Aug. 20, and the final vote will now take place the week of Sept. 17.

The Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019 would allow abortions for any reason up to 22 weeks of pregnancy; after that, it would allow for abortions if two doctors believe an abortion should be performed “in light of future physical, social and psychological circumstances,” according to The Guardian.

Under current law, abortion is only legal in NSW if a doctor determines that a woman’s physical or mental health is in danger. “Mental health” has been interpreted by courts to include “economic and social stress.”

Pro-life protestors rallied outside the parliament building after the delay was announced.

As the parliament of New South Wales opened debate on the bill Aug. 6, hundreds of pro-lifers joined a three-day prayer vigil. Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney called for all Catholics to pray against the bill’s passage.

The Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Anglican Church of Australia, and the NSW Presbyterian Church all oppose the bill.

“Rather than pursuing laws that will lead to more abortions, we should instead be investing in ways to support pregnant women who feel they have no other choice,” Archbishop Fisher said July 29.

The bill was set to have been introduced to the state parliament July 30, and debated that week. Debate was delayed, however, after concerns it had been rushed through without proper consideration.

Despite this, the bill passed the Legislative Assembly Aug. 8 by a vote of 59-31.

According to The Catholic Weekly, the Archdiocese of Sydney’s publication, the bill originally did not mandate any counseling or period of consideration for the woman.

After some revisions, the bill would now require medical practitioners to offer counselling to a woman seeking an abortion if they believe it would be beneficial, The Guardian reports.

Critics of the bill have also objected that it would require doctors with conscientious objections to refer women to other abortion providers.

The legislation would also make it a criminal offense for individuals to perform abortions without the proper authorizations, carrying a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment for doing so. Doctors would also have to obtain “informed consent” from patients before performing abortions.

According to supporters of the bill, it clarifies what they believe were previously ambiguous terms in penal code with regard to abortion. But according to conservatives who oppose the bill, it opens up the possibility for abortion at any time for any reason as long as two doctors agree.

Tanya Davies, a Liberal Party member and fomer women’s minister, introduced an amendment that would have barred sex-selective abortion. The amendment was voted down, with some legislators arguing it could lead to racial discrimination and profiling, and that sex-selective abortion “is not an issue in NSW,” The Catholic Weekly reported.

[…]

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Hospital boat named ‘Pope Francis’ sets sail to serve rural Amazon region

August 20, 2019 CNA Daily News 2

Belem, Brazil, Aug 20, 2019 / 09:30 am (CNA).- A hospital boat named the “Pope Francis” set sail this week in the Amazon River to bring medical care to rural populations.

“Just as Jesus, who appeared walking on water, calmed the storm and strengthened the faith of the disciples, this boat will bring spiritual comfort and calm to the worries of needy men and women, abandoned to their fate,” Pope Francis said in a letter sent to mark the ship’s launch Aug. 17 in Belem, Brazil.

“In addition to being a beautiful concrete gesture in view of the Synod of Bishops for Amazon, this river hospital is above all a response to the Lord’s mandate, who continues to send His disciples to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick,” the pope said, according to Vatican News.

The hospital boat is the initiative of the Fraternity of Saint Francis of Assisi in the Providence of God in partnership with their local diocese and the Brazilian government.

The Brazilian Franciscans were inspired to create the floating hospital when Pope Francis visited their healthcare facility during World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in 2013. During the visit, the pope encouraged Friar Francisco Belotti to expand his religious order’s charitable works into the Amazon region.

The boat, 32 meters in length, contains an operating room and analysis laboratory, and is able to provide a range of medical services, including X-rays, vaccinations, electrocardiogram,  mammograms, and ultrasounds. The hospital began treating its first patients Aug. 18.

“Barco Hospital Papa Francisco” will travel along the Amazon River to reach people who live in communities in the Amazon only accessible by river.

It is staffed by 20 medical volunteers, 10 crew members, and a Franciscan boat director for each 10-day voyage.

Pope Francis, who has often spoken of the Church as a “field hospital,” added that the Church can also now be seen as a “hospital on the water.”

The pope connected the hospital boat’s launch to the upcoming Special Synod of Bishops from the Pan-Amazonian region, to be held at the Vatican Oct. 6-27. The synod’s working document, entitled “Amazonia: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology,” discusses the environmental and economic problems faced by Amazonian communities and pastoral approaches to the region.

“The Church cannot but worry about the integral salvation of the human person, which involves promoting the culture of indigenous peoples, talking about their vital needs, accompanying movements and joining forces to defend their rights,” the synod working document states.

[…]