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Indigenous priest murdered in Mexico

March 29, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Jesús María, Mexico, Mar 29, 2017 / 12:43 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Fr. Felipe Altamirano Carrillo, an indigenous priest who served in the Mexico’s western state of Nayarit, was murdered Sunday while returning from saying Mass in one of the towns in which he served.

Fr. Altamirano Carrillo was killed March 26, apparently the victim of assault during a theft.

“We are seized by the pain of his loss, so premature , and the way it happened,” read a statement of the Territorial Prelature of Jesús María del Nayar, which the priest served.

“Although so far we don’t have the details of this incident, we have been informed that he was returning from celebrating the Sunday Mass in the community of Cofradía, which is part of his parish, accompanied by some other people. He was driving his vehicle and at some point during the trip, they came upon some armed persons, presumably with the intention of assaulting them.”

The prelature said that “it is known that the only person who died was Fr. Felipe, and some of those accompanying him are injured.”

“Our prelature is mourning the loss of a very beloved brother, and we again express our most heartfelt condolences to Father Felipe’s family. May Our Lord Jesus Christ and Our Most Holy Mother console them in this time of sorrow, since we trust that our brother, who has shared the cross of Christ,  will now be able to enjoy his glorious resurrection,” it said.

Fr. Altamirano Carrillo, of the Cora people, was born July 23, 1963 in Jesús María. The oldest of eight children, he was ordained a priest in 1989. He was president of the Indigenous Pastoral Ministry of the prelature and at the time of his death he was serving as pastor in Mesa del Nayar, about 15 miles southwest of Jesús María.

Cardinal José Francisco Robles Ortega of Guadalajara, president of the Mexican bishops conference, issued a statement March 27 asking God for the eternal rest of Fr. Altamirano Carrillo, and that “the Lord may grant his relatives and friends the strength, the hope, and the consolation of the faith.”

“The Mexican Bishops’ Conference expresses its condolences and joins in prayer with Bishop José de Jesús González Hernández, O.F.M., the clergy, those in consecrated life, and the lay faithful of the Nayar prelature, the parents and relatives of Fr. Felipe Altamirano Carillo.

Cardinal Robles stated that “in these times in which a Catholic priest is again struck by crime, we turn our gaze to the Risen Christ who confers on us the strength to fight to build a world that is reconciled, and at peace, is just and fraternal.”

“Death is not the end of the message of love brought to us by Our Savior, but life to the fullest. With his priesthood, Father Felipe embodied these certainties which faith give us,” the cardinal wrote.

Fr. Altamirano Carrillo is the second priest to have been murdered in Mexico in 2017.

Fr. Joaquín Hernández Sifuentes of the Diocese of Saltillo, in northern Mexico, was killed in January, also seemingly while being robbed.

Drug trafficking has led to increased murder and kidnapping in Mexico, with priests not unaffected. In recent years, 17 priests in the country have been murdered.


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Building the border wall is treasonous, Mexico City archdiocese declares

March 29, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Mexico City, Mexico, Mar 29, 2017 / 09:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archdiocese of Mexico said in a Sunday editorial that Mexican businessmen who would participate in the construction of a border wall with the United States are as traitors to their country.

In the March 26 editorial “Betrayal of the Homeland” in Desde la Fe, the archdiocese stated that “any business with intentions of investing in the wall of the fanatic Trump would be immoral, but above all, its shareholders and owners ought to be considered traitors to the homeland.”

United States president Donald Trump had Jan. 25 ordered a wall to be built on the U.S.-Mexico border. An estimated 650 miles of the 1,900 mile-long U.S.-Mexico border have a wall constructed currently. The president has indicated his intention that Mexico will pay for the wall’s construction.

The Mexico City archdiocese wrote that “as the months go by, the immigration policies of Donald Trump are coming up against reality. Demagoguery during the campaign was easy, but actions in practice, turn out to be  difficult in face of notable opposition from civil society, churches, and activists, who are confronting an erratic government whose promises cannot be so easily implemented.”

“Trump set aside $2 billion for construction of the wall, which must join together solid construction and a soft aesthetic appearance in order to hide, beneath the paint and the lights, hatred, suppression, and division,” the editorial stated.

For the archdiocese, “what is deplorable is that on this side of the border there would be Mexicans ready to collaborate on a fanatical project which annihilates the good relationship and concord of two nations which share a common border.”

“It’s not just two or three but more than 500 companies that are looking for good profits. For them the end justifies the means,” they criticized, and deplored “the timidity of the Mexican government’s economic authorities, who have not stood up to these businessmen.”

For the Archdiocese of Mexico, those who claim that building the wall is “an inalienable right” of the United States “are those same myopic people who fail to see that the wall is an outright threat which violates relations and social peace.”

“Let us remember that in the name of ideology, nations and entire continents were divided, plunging millions into uncertainty. The only overriding voice was that of weapons, shooting, repression and the legal murder of anyone who dared to cross a border in search of freedom.”

The editorial said that the Mexican businesses which join Trump’s project will feed “all those forms of discrimination that throughout history have subjugated millions of human beings. In practice, joining a projecting which is a grave affront to dignity is to shoot yourself in the foot.”

“The wall represents the predominance of a country that considers itself good, with the manifest destiny to overwhelm a nationality which it has considered to be perverted and corrupt: Mexico.”


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Insides that didn’t decompose – and other stunning facts about Oscar Romero

March 24, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

San Salvador, El Salvador, Mar 24, 2017 / 02:49 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his role as Vicar General, Monsignor Ricardo Urioste was one of the closest collaborators of Oscar Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador who was martyred for the faith in 1980 and beatified two years ago.

And this monsignor has some stories to tell.

Among the most fascinating involve details surrounding the day Romero was killed, what the late archbishop really thought about the controversial and problematic Liberation Theology, and the fact that the martyr’s insides hadn’t decomposed when they were exhumed three years after his death.

Archbishop Romero was brutally killed while celebrating Mass on March 24, 1980 – a time when El Salvador was on the brink of civil war. In February 2015, Pope Francis officially recognized his death as having been for hatred of the faith and gave the green light for his beatification.

Msgr. Urioste, who currently heads up the Archbishop Romero Foundation, said that during the time the martyr lived, whenever “he preached, spoke, was a pastor, they accused him of being communist, Marxist, a politician, and a thousand things.”

However, he noted how after 12 years of extensive study on the life and writings of the archbishop, the Vatican never found anything that supported these claims.

In an interview with CNA, Msgr. revealed some the of the lesser known facts surrounding the new blessed, as well as his continuing legacy on the Church and the world at large.

What happened on the day Archbishop Romero died

Msgr. Urioste can easily recall the day that Archbishop Romero was killed, saying that it was “an ordinary day of work” for him.

In the morning the archbishop had a meeting with a group of priests, and then they ate lunch together. After the meeting he went to confession with his usual confessor, which was a priest named Fr. Segundo Ascue.

Once he confessed, Archbishop Romero went to celebrate a 6 p.m. Mass in San Salvador’s hospital of Divine Providence, which was staffed by nuns. The Mass, Mons. Urioste recalled, had been widely publicized throughout the diocese.

While he was celebrating Mass in the hospital’s chapel, the archbishop was shot in the chest from outside.

Msgr. Urioste said that after getting a phone call informing him of what happened, “I immediately went to the hospital, and he was already taken to the polyclinic. A television set arrived, they interviewed me, and after I went to the hospital where he was.”

He recalled how as the sisters were going to embalm Archbishop Romero’s body, he told them “please be careful not to drop his insides anywhere, but that they pick them up and bury them, and they did, burying them in front of the little apartment he had in the hospital where he lived.”

Three years later, on the occasion St. John Paul II’s visit to the country, the nuns of the hospital “made a monument to the Virgin in the same place where we had buried (Romero’s) insides.”

“When they were digging they ran into the box and the plastic bag where they had placed the insides, and the blood was still liquid and the insides didn’t have any bad smell,” he revealed.

“I don’t want to say that it was a miracle, it’s possible that it’s a natural phenomenon, but the truth is that this happened, and we told the archbishop at the time (Arturo Rivera y Damas), look monsignor, this has happened and he said ‘be quiet, don’t tell anyone because they are going to say that they are our inventions,’” he said.

However, “Pope John Paul II was given a small canister with Archbishop Romero’s blood,” he noted.

Msgr. Urioste recalled that when John Paul II arrived to San Salvador, the first thing he did “was go to the cathedral without telling anyone. The cathedral was closed, they had to go and look for someone to open it so that the Pope could enter and kneel before the tomb of Archbishop Romero.”

John Paul II asked during his visit that no one manipulate the memory of Archbishop Romero, Msgr. Urioste recalled, and lamented how “they politicized him.”

“The left had politicized him, putting him as their banner. And the right politicized him, saying things that are untrue about the bishop, that are purely false, they denigrated him.”

One of the things that the Church in El Salvador wants, Msgr. Urioste said, is that “the figure of the archbishop, known now a little more than he was before, is a cause for reflection, a motive for peace, a motive for forgiveness, a motive for reconciliation with one another, and that we all have more patience to renew ourselves and follow the paths that Archbishop Romero proposed to us.”

“I think that (Romero’s) figure is going to contribute a lot to a better meeting and reconciliation in El Salvador,” he said.

What Archbishop Romero really thought about Liberation Theology

Despite the many accusations leveled against the archbishop of San Salvador, his Vicar General said that Romero “never had a Marxist thought or Marxist ideology in his mind.”

“If there had been, the Vatican, which has studied so much, would not have beatified him, if they had found that he had Marxist interests.”

The real backbone of his closeness to the poor, he said, was the Gospel and the teaching of the Church.

“He was a servant of the Gospel, he never read anything from Liberation Theology, but he read the Bible.”

Msgr. Urioste noted that the archbishop’s library, “had all these books from the early Fathers of the Church, from the current Magisterium of the Church, but (he) never even opened any of the books from Liberation Theology, or Gustavo Gutiérrez, or of anyone else.”

“He read the Bible and there he encountered a Jesus in love with the poor and in this way started walking toward him,” he said.

What set Archbishop Romero apart

One of the most distinguishing characteristics of Archbishop Romero was “his great sense of work. He was an extremely hardworking man and devoted to his work day and night – until midnight and until dawn,” Msgr. Urioste said.

He recalled how the archbishop would begin to prepare his Sunday homilies the day before, and would always include three reflections on the Eucharist. When Romero preached, he made frequent reference to the Fathers of the Church, based his comments on Church teaching and related his thoughts to the country’s current reality.

“A homily that doesn’t have this relation with what is happening sounds the same here as in Ireland, in Paris, as anywhere,” the priest said.

He recalled how in Romero’s time the government was “a ferocious military dictatorship, which had ‘national security’ as it’s theme.”

Everyone who either sided with the poor or expressed concern for them “was accused of being communist, they were sent to be killed without thinking more. There were 70 thousand deaths like this in the country at that time,” Msgr. Urioste noted.

“The social economic reality was of a lot of poverty, of a great lack of unemployment, of low wages.”

Ultimately, Archbishop Romero’s beatification, the monsignor said, is “a triumph of the truth.”

It is a triumph, he said, of the truth of “who Archbishop Romero really was, what he did, how he did it, from the Word of God, from the Magisterium of the Church, in defense of the poor, who were the favored ones of Jesus Christ and who were were also the favored ones of Archbishop Romero.”

A verison of this article was originally published May 23, 2015.


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Priests in Peru encouraged to visit victims of floods, mudslides

March 23, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Piura, Peru, Mar 23, 2017 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On the occasion of the worldwide “24 Hours for the Lord”, the Archdiocese of Piura encouraged priests to visit and bring aid to the victims of the natural disasters in northwestern Peru.

In a message released March 20, Archbishop José Antonio Eguren Anselmi of Piura recalled that the March 25 ’24 Hours for the Lord’ “is intended to facilitate during Lent access to the sacrament of Confession for the faithful, along with Eucharistic adoration, the recitation of the Holy Rosary and other kinds of liturgical activities.”

“Without changing the nature  of this initiative by the Holy Father, and after personally visiting in these weeks various districts and cities in our battered archdiocese, I thought we could celebrate it this year, besides in our churches, by visiting our brother victims in our parish communities who now more than ever need an encouraging voice to find again the reason for their hope.”

Heavy rains in Peru have triggered days of floods and mudslides in Peru, which have killed more than 70 people in the country. Hundreds of thousands have been affected by the natural disasters.

A third of the population affected by the natural disasters are in the Piura region.

The Archbishop of Piura suggested to the priests that “this Saturday, March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, in conjunction with pastoral workers, catechists, and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, you organize with due prudence some activity to visit the Lord in our victim brothers.”

“I know that a lot of you are already taking action and I commend you and encourage you to continue,” he emphasized.

Archbishop Eguren encouraged “visiting the affected sectors of the parish to being them assistance with food, clothing, personal hygiene items, which have been collected  in your parish communities during these days.”

Another suggestion from the prelate was to “organize a Liturgy of the Word or recitation of the Holy Rosary to pray with our brothers, while the priest hears confessions, anoints the sick, and the ministers of Holy Communion distribute the Eucharist to the elderly, sick, and everyone who requests it.”

Other activities recommended by the archbishop are visiting the sick in healthcare facilities, inmates in prison and organizing events for the children of the affected families.

“These are just a few ideas and suggestions I’m sharing with you. I’m sure you have many more and probably better ones,” he said.


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March for life, peace and migrants in Tijuana draws 30,000

March 22, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Mexico City, Mexico, Mar 22, 2017 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Some 30,000 people gathered last Sunday for the 17th March for Life, Peace and Migrants in Tijuana, Mexico.

Led by the Archbishop of Tijuana, Francisco Moreno Barrón, participants marched from the former bullfighting stadium, Toreo de Tijuana, to the Tijuana Auditorium, where they arrived at 11:30 am.

Before the march on March 19, the Archbishop of Tijuana prayed for the migrants and young people depicted on the wall at Aeropuerto y Cuauhtémoc Norte Boulevard. “We want to make present on this wall all our brother migrants, not just those who cross this border, but all the migrants from all over the world,” the prelate said.

“The entire human community is one family, which came forth from the hands of God out of love. And we are called to live united in love as one family,” he added.

The archbishop said that “unfortunately because of selfishness in the world, the selfishness in the human heart, walls have been raised up, not just in past times, but also in the present, which seek to divide us, alienate us and also at times to confront us.”

Instead of walls, he said, what is needed are “spaces, elements, bridges which would rather bring us closer together and help us build fraternity, so that we can live in peace and realize in our midst God’s dream for his children: that they live united and in peace.”

The State Government Religious Affairs officer, Marco Antonio González, representing the Government Undersecretary, said that “the importance of this march for us is the fact that the Catholic Church is proclaiming, supporting the need we have as a community to promote values and principles.”

The march started around 9:00 am and began with adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. During the march, Archbishop Moreno carried a cross as a symbol of the crosses that migrants carry.

“I invite you to remain united as a Church, making our contribution to building a better society in the Archdiocese of Tijuana, I invite you to be builders of peace, to fight for life and to have an open heart to our migrant brothers,” the prelate exhorted.

After the march, the archbishop celebrated a Mass in the Tijuana Auditorium.



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These friends with Down syndrome are thriving in the Argentina pizza market

March 21, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mar 21, 2017 / 11:32 am (CNA).- Mateo studied baking and Leandro pastry making. Franco and Mauricio wanted to be waiters. These overlapping interests led the four friends with Down syndrome to start a successful pizza service in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

With nearly 40,000 followers on Facebook, this group of friends held nearly 30 events in just their first two months. Wherever they are called, they always arrive with their own oven and outfits. The offer pizza and empanadas, and they even have a menu for those who are gluten intolerant.

Each one knows his role in the undertaking, which is coordinated by Leandro López, president of the Crecer Sumando (Growing Together) association, which is dedicated to serving young people with Down syndrome.

López told CNA that “the idea was to try to change a little bit the paradigm regarding persons with Down syndrome,” in order to help normalize their inclusion in society’s workforce.

It all started in 2015, when López began working with efforts to help integrate Mauricio, Franco and Leandro into society.

“When that year was over, the guys were eager to work but there was this void.”

“In early 2016, when Mateo had already joined them, we began to work with their parents in the area of jobs, to see what kind of work they would like to do,” recalled the physical education teacher.

“One day I suggested cooking pizza, and I dove into the whole process, from buying all the materials to when we sat down at the table to eat,” López said.

The idea took off, and in June last year, the group began to work with the idea of having a pizza service whose name – “Los Perejiles” – was proposed by Leandro.

They had their first event on July 9. It became “a revolution on social media,” prompting them to “create an account, choose a logo and work on all their outfits.”

“They’re my teachers and I’m learning with them what the needs are,” López said regarding managing the project.

“These young people can really be included in society, and they have a whole lot to teach us. I’m learning something new from them every day: the goodness of being human, the essence of the human being. There is no envy or selfishness among them, instead there is friendly collaboration.”

López said that “at present there are no real job opportunities for people with Downs” in Buenos Aires. There are several training schools, but the chances of graduates being able to move beyond them and find other jobs is low.

“It seems to me that we all have a right to two fundamental things, to life and be taken into account. These two premises can make a person live happily their whole life,” López said.

This article was originally published on CNA September 19, 2016.


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Local bishop: Ongoing messages at Argentine apparition will be kept private

March 21, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

San Nicolás de los Arroyos, Argentina, Mar 21, 2017 / 11:06 am (CNA/EWTN News).- It’s been called the Medjugorje of Argentina.

A now widely-popular apparition of Mary began in the early 1980s when rosaries began to glow in multiple homes in the town of San Nicolás de los Arroyos, a city of 138,000 people about 150 miles from Buenos Aires.

After seeing this phenomenon, local wife and mother Gladys Quiroga de Motta began praying to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary first allegedly appeared to Motta on Sept. 25, 1983, as a glowing figure wearing a blue crown and veil.

Motta has only a fourth grade education and no formal biblical or theological schooling. She is the mother of two daughters, and a grandmother. Since 1983, she has continued to receive apparitions and messages from both Christ and Mary, containing calls for peace and warnings about the urgency of conversion for all mankind.

The recent Bishops of San Nicolás de los Arroyos have granted approval of the Marian apparition and have granted official license for the revelations to be published, through what is called an imprimatur in canon law. This means that the content of the messages was not found to be contrary to faith or morals.

The apparition, called Our Lady of the Rosary of San Nicolás, has inspired devotion throughout the region and draws thousands on pilgrimage annually.

Last May, the revelations of the apparitions through 1990 were declared to be “of supernatural origin” and worthy of belief by Bishop Hector Cardelli of San Nicolás de los Arroyos, who retired in September 2016 at the age of 75.

“I recognize the supernatural nature of the happy events with which God through his beloved daughter, Jesus through his Most Holy Mother, the Holy Spirit through his beloved spouse, has desired to lovingly manifest himself in our diocese,” he said at the time.

His successor, Bishop Hugo Santiago, asked in a March 13 video announcement that any further messages from the apparition not be published.

In 1990, Bishop Domingo Castagna had also asked that further messages be kept private. The two following Bishops of San Nicolás de los Arroyos decided to allow the messages’ publication, and so the messages of the apparition through 2015 are published.

Miracle researcher Michael O’Neill of told CNA that Bishop Santiago is likely making the decision so that he can familiarize himself with the apparition and avoid confusion among the faithful. He had previously been a priest of the Diocese of Rafaela, and Bishop of Santo Tomé.

“From a practical perspective, Bishop Santiago may not be as familiar with the Marian events of San Nicolás as he wants or needs to be, and therefore while he acclimates himself to the volume, regularity and content of these messages, he may be slowing (the publication of messages) down out of caution and care for the faithful,” O’Neill said in an e-mail interview.

The handling of the messages of the San Nicolás apparition has been particularly challenging because, like those of Medjugorje, the visionary is still alive and still claiming to receive messages. The Church typically does not rule definitively on ongoing apparitions, but waits until the messages have stopped to determine their authenticity. Similarly, a cause for canonization cannot be opened for someone who is still living.

San Nicolás is remarkable in that a portion of the messages from the apparition, those between 1983 and 1990, have been declared supernatural and worthy of belief, putting them on par with other apparitions like Fatima and Our Lady of Guadalupe.

This is because Bishop Cardelli “felt that the messages were so important for the faithful in our modern world and perhaps because he understood that such an approval would happen in many years if the messages were waited out in traditional fashion,” O’Neill said.

When determining whether an apparition is supernatural in origin, bishops consult the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s 1978 Norms regarding the manner of proceeding in the discernment of presumed apparitions or revelations.

An approved apparition must be free from factual error, with no doctrinal errors attributed to God, Mary, or the saints. Any theological and spiritual doctrines presented must be free of error. The person(s) receiving the messages is/are to be psychologically balanced, honest, moral, sincere, and respectful of church authority. The events cannot be associated with moneymaking or mass hysteria, and must show healthy spiritual fruits.

There is nothing in the messages after 1990 that has been necessarily contentious or contrary to faith and morals, according to O’Neill. Rather, while the almost daily messages have been approved and validated by local bishops, they have not been approved through any formal statement.

Bishop Santiago will continue to receive and examine the messages from Motta, but his decision to keep them private for the time being “seems to bring the events into more clearly defined boundaries for the guidance of the faithful,” O’Neill said.

The messages of the San Nicolás apparition have consistently dealt with “common themes of approved apparitions over the years: prayer, conversion, penance and a return to the sacraments,” O’Neill said.

At various times, the Virgin Mary apparition referred Motta to several Bible verses. One month after the first appearance, the apparition gave her a white rosary and said, “Receive this Rosary from my hands and keep it forever and ever. You are obedient; I am happy because of it. Rejoice, for God is with you.”

Early on in the apparitions, the Virgin Mary asked Motta to find a statue that had been blessed by a Pope and was forgotten in a church. She found the statue Nov. 27, 1983, where Mary had told her to look – in the belfry of the city’s cathedral, where it had been left because it had been damaged and not restored.

The statue in question was of the Mother of God holding the Child Jesus. It had been brought from Rome after it was blessed by Leo XIII. The statue resembled the apparitions Motta had received.

Motta has also received at least 68 visits and messages from Christ.

According to reports, Motta has shared the apparitions’ messages from the beginning and has been obedient to church authorities. She now lives a life of great devotion and keeps a low profile. She reportedly received stigmata – the wounds of Christ – on her wrists, feet, side and shoulder.

There have been several documented healings related to the apparitions, including the healing of a boy with a brain tumor.

Motta has shared about 1,800 messages from the Virgin Mary. Many focus on topics such as peace, repentance, returning to the sacraments, and drawing people closer to Christ.

But there are also messages with an apocalyptic theme, predicting great turmoil for humanity ahead.

“So each new message carries tremendous weight as the newest addition to a larger volume of validated messages and events,” O’Neill said.

Father René Laurentin, an expert on Marian apparitions, recounted the apparitions’ messages in his book An Appeal from Mary in Argentina.

At one point, Mary said: “Many hearts do not accept my invitation to prayer and to conversion. That is why the work of the devil is growing and expanding.”

Mary has also stressed the importance of prayer, especially the rosary, and said that she wanted to cure mankind of the “illness” of materialism.

The apparition of Christ also had many warnings for mankind.

“Today I warn the world, for the world is not aware: souls are in danger. Many are lost,” Christ said in a 1987 apparition. “Few will find salvation unless they accept me as their Savior. My mother must be accepted. My mother must be heard in the totality of her messages. The world must discover the richness she brings to Christians.”

The popularity of the apparition has grown throughout the region, and Bishop Castagna ordered the construction of a shrine as the Virgin had requested. Construction began in 1987 and the shrine was consecrated in 1990. Every year, a massive pilgrimage to the shrine takes place May 22.

O’Neill said he believes that the popularity of and devotion to Our Lady of the Rosary of San Nicolás, and its lack of controversy when compared to Medjugorje, is due to the strong belief in the authenticity of the apparition by the bishops and the local faithful.

O’Neill, who himself has closely studied the apparition, messages and statements of the Bishops of San Nicolás, said he has “seen in the writings and statements of the local bishops there how much they believed it to be an authentic apparition event.”