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Academics object to pro-choice federal appointment in Argentina

September 12, 2019 CNA Daily News 0

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sep 13, 2019 / 12:00 am (CNA).- The deans of five Argentine law schools have protested the appointment of a supporter of legalized abortion as Argentina’s Ombudsman for the Rights of Girls, Boys and Adolescents since “it’s a clear violation of the federal juridical order.”

On June 26 the Argentine House of Representatives confirmed Marisa Graham, a well-known abortion advocate in Argentina, to lead the nation’s Ombudsman’s Office for Boys, Girls and Adolescents.

Graham’s appointment now awaits confirmation by Argentina’s senate.

The signatories to a letter of objection are the deans of the law schools of the Argentina Catholic University, the Catholic University of  La Plata, the Saint Thomas Aquinas University of the North, the University del Salvador, and Fasta University.

Graham’s “public and manifest advocacy in support of the legalization of abortion is discriminatory with respect to countless people who would be unprotected, helpless and deprived of the defense of their most elementary rights,” the deans said.

These rights are contained in the articles of the National Constitution, the American Convention on Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Civil and Commercial Code.

The regulations recognize “that people’s lives begin with conception and from that moment they are already children up to 18 years of age; that all children have the intrinsic right to life from conception and that their survival and development are to be guaranteed from that moment to the maximum extent possible, by the State and without any discrimination,” they said.

“The arguments invoked by Dr. Graham that her position on the legalization of abortion would not influence the exercise of her office are unsustainable, while it is not understood how she will defend the right to life of the unborn child, that they are persons according to the norms of the highest level in our legal system,” they warned.

The Ombudsman Office for Boys, Girls and Adolescents monitors public policies on childhood and ensures that the State guarantees compliance with the rights of minors.

This office has been vacant since it was created in 2005 with the Law on the Comprehensive Protection of the Rights of Girls, Boys and Adolescents.


This story was initially published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language partner agency. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.


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Court orders Mexican Senate to take up pro-family constitutional amendment bill

September 9, 2019 CNA Daily News 0

Mexico City, Mexico, Sep 9, 2019 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- A Mexican federal circuit court has ordered the country’s Senate to consider a pro-family constitutional amendment bill filed more than three years ago.

The Mexican Council on the Family (ConFamilia) filed in February 2016 a federal constitutional amendment bill recognizing “the right of man and woman to enter into marriage and found a family.”

The bill also says that marriage “is an institution in the public interest and the natural foundation of the family,” and as such “must be protected by the state.”

The constitutional amendment proposal is the first citizen initiative introduced in the Mexican Senate. It had the support of 200,000 signatures, nearly twice the number required by law.

Under Mexican law, a citizen initiative is a means for citizens to directly file a specific bill or have a particular issue taken up by the Congress.  

In a video message released Sept. 5, Juan Dabdoub, president of ConFamilia, lamented that the previous Legislature of the Mexican Congress ignored the citizen initiative.

“In face of the refusal of the previous legislature, a federal judge ordered that the Senate had to consider the citizen initiative,” he said. However, “distressingly, the Senate again refused to fulfill its obligations and appealed.”

“But they lost the appeal and a court ordered the Senate Board of Directors that it had 20 business days to fulfill its responsibility,” he said

The court indicated that the 20 business days would begin Sept. 3.

“Thus the senators of the current legislature have the opportunity to lay the groundwork for the  fundamental element of society, the family, to be protected, and thereby greatly benefit all of Mexican society.”


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Argentine bishops ask government to declare food emergency

September 6, 2019 CNA Daily News 0

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sep 6, 2019 / 03:49 pm (CNA).- Catholic bishops in Argentina are calling on the government to declare a food and nutrition emergency in response to heightened inflation and rising poverty rates.

“Faced with a severe increase in homelessness, poverty, unemployment and the indiscriminate increase in the price of the basic food groups, we find ourselves in an emergency food and nutrition situation which essentially affects the most vulnerable, especially children,” said the Bishop’s Commission for Pastoral Social Ministry.

The commission asked the government to “provide the necessary measures to declare a food and nutrition emergency throughout our country” and take swift action to remedy the situation.

The bishops asked the government to create early childhood baskets, to be distributed free or at a subsidized cost, offering diapers, medications, vitamins and dietary essentials including milk, meat, fish, eggs, legumes, fruits and vegetables.

They also asked the government to increase “the budget allocated for soup kitchens and schools, community and family gardens, and family and social farming ventures, guaranteeing equity and the quality of the federal food and nutrition assistance services.”

“Pope Francis reminds us that fraternity is the main foundation of solidarity and that effective policies are also needed to promote the principle of fraternity, ensuring people—equal in their dignity and in their fundamental rights—access to goods so that everyone has the opportunity to fully develop themselves as persons,” they said.

In addition, the bishops called on volunteers to help out where they can.

Bishop Carlos Tissera, president of the local Caritas chapter, stressed that food aid from the government “is not enough to alleviate the deficiencies of this time.”

Faced with the current crisis, he said, “Caritas is making their…resources available to the community so more aid can arrive quickly, through their soup kitchens, food stands, neighborhood centers and volunteer teams from all over the country.”

Tissera, who is also bishop of Quilmes, noted that Caritas “is day by day alongside the most vulnerable communities creating hope and encouraging everyone to recognize their dignity, fostering the culture of work, solidarity and the common good.”

Argentinian President Mauricio Macri, who took office in 2015, introduced austerity measures including cuts to years-worth of government subsidies, leading to sharply increasing gas and electrical bills.

Following a drop in investor confidence, the Argentinian peso has dropped in value by more than 20% against the dollar in the last two months, while inflation has climbed above 50%.

Data from the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina’s Social Debt Observatory estimates that some 35% of the population is living in poverty.

Archbishop Jorge Lozano of San Juan de Cuyo lamented in a recent statement that “having a job today doesn’t ensure getting above the poverty line.”

“Having a job today doesn’t ensure getting above the poverty line. There are a lot of people that don’t have quality of life in terms of their food, their education. They have a job… but that job is not enough to be able to cover basic necessities.”

Lozano said that there are neighborhoods in the province where “the number of children coming to the soup kitchens has doubled.”

“Food deliveries have been bolstered and in the Church there are several initiatives that Caritas is promoting, but we’re overtaxed,” he said.

The archbishop voiced optimism that the national government would respond to the bishops’ call for a food and nutrition emergency to be declared in the country.

“I hope that the necessary means to assure quality food for the entire population will soon be organized,” he said.



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Colombian bishop decries assassination of mayoral candidate

September 4, 2019 CNA Daily News 1

Popayan, Colombia, Sep 4, 2019 / 05:29 pm (CNA).- The secretary general of the Colombian bishops’ conference has deplored the assassination of Karina García, a mayoral candidate in the country’s southwest, and called for an end to the bloodshed in the country.

García, 31, was running for mayor of Suárez, in Cauca Department. She was killed in a Sept. 1 ambush along with her mother and four others.

Bishop Elkin Fernando Álvarez Botero, auxiliary bishop of Medellin, told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language sister agency, Sept. 3 that “as a Church we receive with profound sorrow this murder of one of the candidates for local office. We sent a message in the past few days with an appeal to avoid all forms of violence in the political campaigns, but this murder is a sign that we’re returning to those ways of violence which do not allow us to move forward.”

According to BBC World News Spanish edition, prosecutors indicated that the vehicle the victims were riding in was ambushed by another car crosswise in the middle of the road. Several men got out with high powered weapons, who fired on García and those accompanying her. They then pulled the bodies out of the vehicle and incinerated it.

The Colombian Liberal Party candidate had been warning for several weeks that her life was in danger. She began to get worried when unidentified persons began painting her campaign posters black.

Garcia also charged that fake news started to appear about her saying that if she becomes the mayor of Suárez, she would bring in paramilitaries and take away land from the people, accusations which she denied.

“I ask the other candidates and their supporters to not continue making, in face of these armed groups, irresponsible commentaries about my candidacy (…) For God’s sake, don’t be irresponsible! This could have consequences for me, even fatal ones,” García said in a video posted a few days ago.

Álvarez told ACI Prensa, “This is a very serious situation. Just as we are saddened by the death of this candidate we are also grieved by all the lives that are being ended in Colombia because of the violence.”

“We have to get back to valuing life as a gift from God.  Not just that of the community leaders, whose deaths are painful because they’re ending the hopes of the country, but of all human lives,” he said.

The bishop recalled the importance of participating in elections, and encouraged the candidates to run “political campaigns according to democratic principles that actually help and not divide.”

“The message we want to send to the candidates and the voters is let’s not polarize the country any more, let’s seek unity and let’s run principled democratic campaigns.”

Álvarez asked “those who still continue to take the path of violence, to be very aware that with violence, death and eliminating people, we’re not going to achieve anything for the country.”

“The violence has got to end. No more bloodshed,” he concluded.

Regional and municipal elections will be held in Colombia at the end of October. To be elected are governors for the 32 administrative districts representatives to the district assemblies, mayors of 1,099 towns, city council members, and members of the local administrative boards of the national territory.

The BBC also reported that different institutions maintain that between 200 and 400 community leaders have been killed in the last three years.


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Thousands partipate in Costa Rican pro-life march

September 4, 2019 CNA Daily News 0

San José, Costa Rica, Sep 4, 2019 / 04:18 pm (CNA).- Thousands participated in Saturday’s March for Life in the Costa Rican capital, urging that the president not sign a technical regulation for the performance of therapeutic abortion.

The Aug. 31 event was organized by Wake Up Costa Rica, Democracy in Action, and the Autonomous University of Central America.

Joining the march were politicians who urged president Carlos Alvarado not to sign the “Technical Norm for Non-Punishable Abortion” which would regulate Article 121 of the Criminal Code for the performance of therapeutic abortion in public and private clinics nationwide.

The government announced in early 2019 that the technical norm was being drafted by a team from the Department of Health and was going to be signed by the president during this year, though an exact date has not yet been set.

Pro-life groups however charged that the norm could be a window to allow abortion on demand.

Costa Rica’s Criminal Code considers abortion a crime, decriminalized only in cases of risk to the life of the mother. The Political Constitution states in Article 21 that “human life is inviolable.”

Carmen Chan, an opposition legislator of the New Republic Party, said while attending that march that “life is inviolable and no one has the right to put an end to it and our duty is to promote laws and policies that contribute to the improvement of living conditions for Costa Ricans.”

“But no, the direction and the defenses that this government has chosen are quite different, that’s why we’re on the front lines today as a people, defending the most basic right of all—the right to life – which goes hand in hand with all those social guarantees that correspond to the state to offer,” she said.

Democracy in Action posted on social media that the activity “ended in success” and that “it brought together thousands of people who marched peacefully.” They also said that for 2020 there will be “a lot more.”

“The pro-life people of Costa Rica took to the streets to demonstrate that we’re against abortion on demand, and we’re not going to remain silent in face of the pretensions of abortion advocates, that we’re going to defend life from conception and do so because we are indeed a people of pure life,” Democracy in Action added.

Days prior to the march, the Costa Rican bishops’ conference invited all citizens to participate, and thanked the secular organizations that “with great dedication and zeal for promoting the culture of life, have organized this event.”


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Border bishops ‘filled with mourning’ over deaths of migrants

September 3, 2019 CNA Daily News 1

Matamoros, Mexico, Sep 4, 2019 / 12:09 am (CNA).- At the end of their recent semi-annual meeting, Catholic bishops from dioceses along the Texas-Mexico border lamented the challenges facing migrants and called on governments to welcome newcomers and help them adjust to life in a new country.

“We are filled with mourning that many people seeking a better future have lost their lives” in fleeing their homelands, the bishops said.

From 2015-2018, nearly 4,000 migrants had died or gone missing along the route through Mexico to the U.S., the Associated Press reported.

The bishops said they are also deeply saddened by the uncertainty and rejection facing those requesting asylum, as well as growing racism and discrimination toward foreigners.

“The drama of those who suffer deportation, who see their dreams, efforts, and sacrifices cut short and who return penniless and in debt to dangerous conditions pains us,” they said.

“We shall continue to advocate for the human rights of the poor and of migrants, in particular children and young people,” they continued, calling for immigrants to receive “the possibility of integral development, a decent and peaceful life” in their new homeland.

Bishop from along the Texas-Mexico border met Aug. 30-Sept. 1 in the Mexican diocese of Matamoros, across the U.S. border from Brownsville, Texas.

Attending the meeting from the United States were Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Mario Avilés and Bishop Emeritus Raymundo Peña, Bishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio, Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, Bishop James Tamayo of Laredo, and Bishop Emeritus Michael Pfeifer of San Angelo.

Participating from Mexico were Bishop José Guadalupe Torres Campos of Ciudad Juárez, Bishop Hilario González García of Linares, Bishop Eugenio Lira Rugarcía of Matamoros, Bishop Jesús José Herrera Quiñonez of Nuevo Casas Grandes, Bishop Enrique Sánchez Martínez of Nuevo Laredo, Bishop Alonso Garza Treviño of Piedras Negras, and Bishop Raúl Vera López of Saltillo.

On Aug. 31, the bishops celebrated Mass next to the Rio Grande, which separates the United States and Mexico, and prayed for migrants, living and deceased.

Speaking with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language sister agency, Bishop Eugenio Lira of Matamoros stressed that the reality facing migrants is rapidly changing, “and this requires us to be attentive in order to respond appropriately.”

For example, he said, “in some border towns, the migrants are no longer going so much to the migrant houses [run by the Church], but are instead camping on the bridges so they don’t lose their place to have their asylum request processed. This has required us to adapt and go out to them, bringing food and clothing, providing them the support that we can.”

In addition, the Church continues to serve those who come to migrant houses and service centers, he said.

He also stressed that the bishops “will continue our dialogue with the authorities of our countries so that the life, dignity and fundamental rights of all people continue to be respected… and that situations forcing many people to migrate – such as poverty, inequality and violence – will be eliminated.”

The Mexican bishop emphasized that it is key to “continue above all our task of evangelization, which is the best way to create a culture that respects, promotes and defends the life, dignity and rights of all people, particularly migrants.”

Society must realize that they have been entrusted by God with the wellbeing of migrants, he said, “so that we can, as the pope says, welcome them, integrate them, protect them and help them along.”

Evangelization fosters this whole process, Bishop Lira said, “because it leads us to an awareness that we are all children of the same Father, and therefore brothers. We cannot see the other person as some thing, but someone.”

“The invitation that Jesus makes to us to ‘Do unto others as we would have others do unto us’ will always continue to be timely,” he said.


This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.


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‘Enough of the violence’ – Mexican archdiocese laments massacre at night club

August 29, 2019 CNA Daily News 1

Veracruz, Mexico, Aug 30, 2019 / 12:53 am (CNA).- The Archdiocese of Xalapa in Mexico called for peace after a massacre at a night club in the town of Coatzacoalcos claimed 26 lives on Tuesday night.

According to the Veracruz state Attorney General’s Office, 10 women and 16 men died in the attack, and 11 more people were injured. The office said the attack was clearly deliberate.

The local press reported that a group of armed men entered the Caballo Blanco bar, opened fire and threw Molotov cocktails.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador called the attack “lamentable,” saying “it fills us with sadness.”

López Obrador condemned those responsible for the attack, and noted claims that the attackers may have been previously arrested and released by authorities.

Fr. Manuel Suazo, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Xalapa, told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language sister agency, that the local Church “deeply laments the tragedy that took place.”

“We journey in solidarity with the relatives who are suffering grief and pain in face of this terrible situation, which once again fills with mourning the homes of many people in Veracruz,” he said.

In the most recent report from the Executive Secretariat of the National System of Public Safety in Mexico, released in July, Veracruz had seen 133 first-degree murders so far this year, making it ninth in the country.

Through July 31, the agency reported 1,550 homicides in the state of Veracruz.

According to the Mexican newspaper El Universal, the first half of 2019 has been the most violent on record in the country, with 17,065 homicides nationwide.

Suazo said that the area is already experiencing a “continued situation of insecurity and violence.” This new tragedy, he said, “makes citizens feel helpless because the insecurity has not been brought under control, but has increased.”

“Enough of the violence and insecurity. Not one more victim! We want to live in peace,” he said.

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.



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Amazon missionary bishop: Synod plans miss the real problems

August 21, 2019 CNA Daily News 1

Belém do Pará, Brazil, Aug 21, 2019 / 02:51 pm (CNA).-
A long-time missionary bishop of the Amazon River delta has said that the working document for an upcoming synod of bishops on the region does not address the actual problems faced by the Church in the region.

Bishop José Luis Azcona, is the missionary bishop emeritus of Marajó, a diocese that includes dozens of islands in the Amazon River Delta. During his years of service in the region, Azcona lived under death threats for denouncing human trafficking and for defending the human rights of indigineous people.

In remarks recently offered to ACI Digital, CNA’s Portugese-language sister agency, Azcona criticized the Instrumentum laboris, or working document, for October’s Pan-Amazonian synod of bishops, which he said fails to address the Church’s most pressing challenges: a growing Pentacostal majority; child labor, abuse, and trafficking; and a spiritual crisis.

Azcona said that synod must address a sobering reality: “the Amazon, at least the Brazilian Amazon, is no longer Catholic.”

He questioned the central points of the synod’s preparatory document, which he said focus unduly on “a distorted vision of the so-called Amazonian face,”  “interculturality,” and the ordination of married men.

The Face of the Amazon

According to Azcona, “the Amazon, at least the Brazilian Amazon, is no longer Catholic.

“This point of departure is crucial for conducting the synod. If the Amazon has a Pentecostal majority, it is necessary to address that reality thoroughly.”

“Any nostalgia for an Amazon that no longer exists is fatal to its integral evangelization. Even in some areas of the Amazon the Pentecostal majority reaches 80%,” he said.

“A Pentecostal penetration into several indigenous ethnic groups, overrunning cultures, ethnic identities, indigenous peoples in the name of the Gospel, is a serious phenomenon in today’s Amazon, which with its fundamentalist and proselytizing connotations has a profound impact on the indigenous peoples.”

“This is today’s Amazonian face!”

“There’s not one word about this point in the Instrument laboris,” Azcona said.

The bishop added that “the long experience of years confirms that in many Amazonian dioceses the faith is not lived out in society nor in history.  The chasm between the confession and celebration of faith in beautiful liturgies and the social, environmental, cultural and political reality has not yet been overcome.”

Child abuse

Azcona next pointed the pervasive problems of child abuse in the Amazon region.

“Unfortunately, the synod doesn’t know, or knowing doesn’t understand, the significance, for the present and the future of the Amazon, of the faces of anguished, re-victimized and denigrated children, [abused] by their own parents and relatives, subjected to a slavery that forms an essential part of the abandoned and destroyed face of Jesus in the Amazon.”

“This entire document is straw if it doesn’t understand or doesn’t commit to the spirit and letter of the Gospel: ‘He who receives a little one like this receives Me and he who receives Me, receives the Father who sent Me.”

In that regard he continued, “in Pará alone in one year there were 25,000 reports of crimes of this kind [Editor’s note: pedophilia]. According to experts in this area, for every reported case of pedophilia there are four others besides. If during approximately one year there were 100,000 abused children in Pará, isn’t this face of destroyed children an essential part of the Amazonian face?”

“Where is the pastoral sensitivity, so evident and so firmly expressed by the Holy Father Pope Francis, expressed by those responsible for the Instrumentum laboris?” Azcona asked.

“Where is the defense of the Amazon, of its children, in the Instrumentum laboris, and, therefore, in the synod? Let’s stop these false projections about the Amazon, and instead make possible new paths for it.”

“What is the Amazonian face? Can a synod next October of this magnitude be built with a presentation so far from reality, from identity, from respect for what is different, when pre-established schemes of interpretation of reality deform what is real?” he questioned.

Inculturation or ‘Equalization’?

Azcona also criticized “the themes around the inculturation of the Gospel in the Amazon and related areas,” which he said “are presented in a context of immanence, Neo-Pelagianism, leveling out the Gospel with Amazonian (indigenous) cultures, ecclesiologically devoid of theological and pastoral foundations, annulling the Gospel of salvation.”

Recalling the Ad gentes decree of the Second Vatican Council, the bishop pointed out that “the words of the Gospel proclaimed by the Church decide the destiny of persons, of peoples, cultures and nations.”

“In no part of the Instrumentum laboris is anything similar explicitly affirmed. On the contrary, the tendency to equalize the indigenous cultures with the Gospel is overwhelming. This is a point of departure which cannot be dispensed with in a synod.”

“Forgetting this fundamental principle renders the synod useless and nullifies the specific and unique power of God in the Gospel, as well as all missionary dynamism in the Amazon and from the Amazon,” he said.

Azcona pointed out that “in no part of the Instrumenum laboris is the presence of demons spoken of, or their influence, their malice in persons, peoples and cultures, as well as the victory of Christ, his deliverance and the destruction of the power of the Evil One.”

“The document forgets the luminous and guiding pages that speak of the Evil One and his presence in history, to which Pope Francis devotes numbers 158-164 in last year’s apostolic exhortation on holiness, Gaudete et Exultate.”

He also warned that “the Pelagianism spread throughout the document, leads to attributing to the Amazonian man, to his ethnic and cultural groups, more than what belongs to them, because they are realities created and marked by sin, and it supplants the solid conciliar doctrine about the Gospel and the mission of the Church in the power of the Risen One, as found in Lumen gentium 16.

“Finally, the utopian ideo to revitalize the pre-Colombian religions, separating them from Christ and the universal Church, would not be progress but regression,” he said.

Ecological conversion

Addressing the question of ecological conversion, the bishop argued that “the need for repentance for the forgiveness of sins is the fundamental challenge that the Church has to face in the Amazon. Without this absolute priority of the being and action of the Church there is no future for the Amazon, because we thus forget the presence of the Kingdom of God in the world.”

“In the absence of the repentance that ‘makes exist that which does not exist’ for the generation of the new Amazonian man, the document does not experience the hunger, the thirst for the Holy Spirit.”

According to the bishop “the document, forgetting the New Pentecost encouraged by Pope Saint John XXIII in the preparatory prayer for the Council, sets aside the nucleus of the mission in the Amazon. Is this mission in the Amazon like a land and water mission? Or is it the missionary dimension which, as the Church in the Amazon, is called and sent out to the world? Let us be guided by the inspired teaching of Pope Francis in Evangelii gaudium.”

“What the Holy Father proposes is evangelization and therefore an Amazon very different from a set of tasks carried out, projects, pastoral plans, inculturation, ecology.”

“Why doesn’t the document cry out this truth, the only truth that can save the Amazon?” he asked.

Viri probati

Azcona said that “the ordination of “viri probati” is going to be useless,” since “it’s placing a piece of new cloth on an old fabric. The tear is bigger!”

On the other hand, he observed, “the clergy in the Amazon need, as does the entire Church, repentance, conversion, the faith that saves in the strict sense. Experience offers this evidence. The meaning of the priestly ministry and specifically in the Amazon, is lost or is dead in the lives or in the authentic pastoral conversion of priests.”

“Why ordain viri probati within a priesthood in crisis?” he asked

“The perfect and perpetual continence of the Kingdom of Heaven will continue being, a sign of encouragement of pastoral charity and the original source of spiritual fruitfulness- within the Amazon,” he said.

“We may ask: Does this attitude of prayer exist for the gift of celibacy in the priests of the Amazon? “Does the entire Church pray that this sublime gift be poured out on the whole Body of Christ? The facts answer: ‘No’!’”

“And also, and principally, deciding this issue is something completely inopportune in a context in which the current trends of large groups of Catholics, the so-called conservatives, are questioning the Magisterium of the Church, specifically in the Supreme Pontiff himself. Some are publicly calling him a heretic demanding his immediate resignation. Others are demanding his resignation for the lack of consistency on the issue of pedophilia in the Church! Let’s not entertain a discussion on the legitimacy of these questions. What is certain is than an affirmative response would open up the risk of a division, of a real schism in the Church.”

He thus stressed that “it’s not about the victory of the so called ‘conservatives’ or the ‘progressives.’ It’s about what is greatest in the Church: charity. In the face of charity, any concept or sociological label ought to pale.”

“Recognizing that the venerable institution of priestly celibacy belongs to the disciplinary area of the Church and therefore subject to changes, I considerate it disadvantageous, even dangerous at this time for ecclesial unity, to open up the possibility that the document is asking for,” Azcona said.

“It’s not an exclusively indigenous ministry problem. It’s a situation of the widespread shortage of priests in the Church. The same reasons that can be invoked for this recognition asked for by the document are the same ones that can be applied to the entire Church, or to much of it.”

According to the bishop, “the problem is not just the lack of enough priests, but the examination, discernment of this great shortage for a realistic solution.  The fundamental root of this shortage of vocations in the Church and also in the Amazon, including the evangelized  indigenous peoples, is due to an alarming lack of faith or the absence of faith that works in practice through love and necessarily in history and society.”

Thus, he explained, “even though it’s a disciplinary issue, this becomes an ethical imperative beginning with the absolute instruction: Christ died for the unenlightened brother; your freedom is not something absolute; it is against Christ they sin, wounding the conscience of the brother; the only absolute is love; this love is that of God poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit”

“Is this the love of the Church in the Amazon? Is this the love of God that sufficiently pervades the criteria for pastoral care, the ecclesial criteria, the praxis as the supreme reality or is it gnosis or Pelagius which commands the ship of the Church in the Amazon?”

“This danger of schism is not imaginary! Nor in the Amazon!” Azcona concluded.

Azcona, 79, is a native of Pamplona, Spain. He was appointed a missionary bishop in the Amazon in 1987, and retired from his post in 2016.


This interview was first published by ACI Digital, CNA’s Portugese-language sister agency. It has been adapted and translated by CNA.