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Priest in Scotland wants to visit in jail the man who robbed him

July 21, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

Motherwell, Scotland, Jul 21, 2018 / 04:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Father Patrick Hennessy, who was robbed and attacked in May at his rectory in Scotland, says he has forgiven his robber and wants to visit him in prison to give him pastoral care.

Michael McTaggart, 41, was sentenced to four years imprisonment July 17 at Glasgow Sheriff Court for the May 13 robbery of Fr. Hennessy, 73.

Fr. Hennessy told the Scottish Catholic Observer after the sentencing that “it’s a heavy sentence for the fella and I feel quite sorry for him as I think he must have so many problems. I wasn’t expecting him to get anything like four years jail time, it’s obviously a huge mistake for the guy.”

“I would now actually go and visit him in prison if it could be arranged because he obviously needs some help.”

Around 9:40 pm on May 13, McTaggart knocked on Fr. Hennessy’s rectory door. Fr. Hennessy is pastor of St. Columbkille’s in Rutherglen, in the Diocese of Motherwell, and is known regularly to help those who come to his door with donations of food.

McTaggart grabbed the priest and demanded money.

“Father Hennessy gave him two pink collection envelopes he believed to contain £10 each and five pounds from his pocket,” prosecutor Louise MacNeil told the court, according to Glasgow Live’s Ashlie McAnally.

McTaggart continued asking for money, and Fr. Hennessy gave him a donation box, thought to have had about GBP 100 ($130).

While McTaggart went through the envelopes in the donation box, Fr. Hennessy was able to run into the street and alert neighbors, and McTaggart fled.

At the sentencing the judge, Martin Jones, addressed McTaggart, saying, “You have pled guilty to an extremely serious offence … You used violence to extract money from him and pulled hm in to the house after you had obtained money and threatened him in the vestibule of the premises.”

“The time has come to realise if you continue offending this way your sentences are going to get longer and longer.”

At the time of the assault, McTaggart had been released early from a previous sentence.

Fr. Hennessy said the St. Vincent de Paul Society will now handle donations at St. Columbkille’s, and is operated out of the parish hall.

The Motherwell diocese commented that “the safety of priests and religious living in parishes is paramount. In light of recent incidents, the diocese has offered support to all priests to review the security measures across all presbyteries and parish halls.”

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Dublin archdiocese seeks 4,000 Eucharistic ministers for papal Mass

July 20, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Dublin, Ireland, Jul 20, 2018 / 05:39 am (CNA/EWTN News).- With less than a month to go until Pope Francis visits Dublin for the World Meeting of Families, organizers are moving forward with spiritual preparations as well as the practical, and have called for some 4,000 Eucharistic ministers to serve at the closing Mass.

According to the Archdiocese of Dublin, they are expecting around 500,000 people for the event’s closing Mass in Phoenix Park Aug. 26, which will be celebrated by Pope Francis, who will arrive to Dublin Aug. 25 to close the week-long event.

To ensure all attendees have access to communion at Mass, the archdiocese sent an appeal July 17 for some 4,000 Eucharistic ministers – whether they be priests, religious, consecrated or laity – who have already been trained and assist with the distribution of communion in their home parishes.

According to the archdiocese, the ministers who sign up to volunteer at the Mass must be “trained and functioning ministers of Holy Communion,” and must also be “steady on your feet.”

Though plastic tarp will be laid out in several areas, most of the distribution for communion will take place on bumpy, grassy areas of the park, making it important that the ministers are able to stand their ground.

Even though ministers will have already been trained and approved by their parishes, they will also need to be vetted representatives of the World Meeting of Families.  

The archdiocese said it could not guarantee that ministers would be able to distribute in the section where their families are, but voiced hope that this would not stop people from “generously stepping up to help with this important task,” and promised to do their best to keep parish groups together.

So far the archdiocese has prepared some 4,500 ciboria for the Mass, meaning the gold dish used to hold the consecrated hosts in the distribution of communion.

In addition, the archdiocese said they have already received more than 500,000 hosts for the Mass thanks to the Redemptoristine Sisters of St Alphonsus Monastery in Dublin, and the Cistercian Sisters from Glencairn, County Waterford.

Pilgrims up front will receive communion from the main sanctuary area, and teams of nine will be assigned to each of the corrals set up in the park, which will hold roughly 1,400 people apiece.

Eight people divided in pairs of two will distribute communion in each corral, with the distribution point marked with a white umbrella. There will also be a separate minister placed in the middle and marked with a red umbrella for mass-goers who require low-gluten hosts.

Quoting the Gospel of Matthew, which recounts how the disciples “took up what was left over of the broken pieces” after Jesus multiplied the loaves of bread and fish, the archdiocese said they plan to donate any extra hosts to hospitals nursing homes, “so that those who weren’t able to be present and who followed the Mass on television can receive from this tremendous event.”

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From bartender to priest: ‘God is very insistent!’

July 18, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

Santander, Spain, Jul 18, 2018 / 05:17 pm (ACI Prensa).- How do you go from being a bartender who has not attended Mass for 15 years to becoming a priest?

For Fr. Juan de Cáceres, the answer is that God was persistent in pursing his heart and revealing his call.

Today, Fr. Juan is a priest of the Diocese of Santander in Spain. But he had been away from the sacraments for 15 years when he had a conversion that allowed him to hear God’s call in his life.

After finishing his undergraduate studies, Juan enrolled in law school. However, he was not a good student, and in 2006, at the age of 28, he decided to quit law school to open a trendy bar in Santander.

However, with the onset of the economic crisis in Spain, what had initially promised to be a successful business became the focus of his financial problems, compounded by the crisis of turning 30 and feeling a lack of direction in his life.

“I was really lost, drowning in debt and with the [economic] crisis, there were almost no customers. In addition, my friends quit going out like they used to. They began to get married and stopped dating. I found myself all alone,” he said in an interview with the El Diario Montañés news.

While Juan had stopped going to Mass 15 years ago, a friend invited him to some talks on prayer, which became the turning point that changed his life.

At first, he went to the talks to spend time with his friend. But something within him changed little-by-little: he began to go to Mass again, returned to confession, and re-enrolled in school.

His life started to come together again, until two years after that new beginning, he “felt the call” to the priesthood.

But his first reaction was “to say no.”

“I came up with all kinds of objections: my work, my debts, my life. I thought what I needed to do was to settle down, meet a woman who would make me very happy and have a family. But God is very insistent! And from then on, he would not let that thought out of my heart or mind,” he told El Diario Montañés.

When he decided to discern a vocation, he asked then-Bishop Vicente Jiménez of Santander if he could enter seminary in another city, because “had to keep his distance” from his past life. He entered a seminary in Pamplona, about 120 miles away.

“I was working at the bar up to the day before going to Pamplona, where I spent three fantastic years,” he recalled. During that time, Fr. Juan also worked with the Chinese Catholic community.

He was ordained a priest last January and was assigned to serve four parishes in Santander. He also teaches religion classes three days a week to teenagers.

The experience of being a bartender ended up having value for the priest, who noted that during those years, “I was sort of a confessor to everyone.”

He also helps foster vocations in the diocese because as he explains, “a lot of people have felt the same way I did, but they haven’t figured out how to follow up…I’m here to listen and guide.”

 

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

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Study questions authenticity of bloodstains on Shroud of Turin

July 18, 2018 CNA Daily News 2

Rome, Italy, Jul 18, 2018 / 02:56 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A study on the Shroud of Turin based on bloodstain pattern analysis used to investigate crime scenes has sparked fresh debate on what is believed to be Christ’s burial cloth, saying the marks left by the blood flow are not authentic.

The study, “A BPA Approach to the Shroud of Turin,” was published July 10 in the Journal of Forensic Sciences.

In comments to CNA, the leading author, Dr. Matteo Borrini, said that after doing extensive experiments, the results show that bloodstains flowing from Christ’s wrists and a spot where he was stabbed in the side with a spear “are not the blood stains of a man who was crucified.”

The stains “are not realistic” in terms of the direction blood would flow from those type of wounds, he said, adding that he believes that “the stains were done artificially.”

Professor Paolo Di Lazzaro, the director of research at the International Center of Sindonology in Turin, said Borrini’s methods, while sound, would require more time and “specific attention” to details in order to be “scientifically valid and authoritative.”

Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin noted that the study “does not affect the spiritual and religious meaning of the shroud as an icon of the Passion and death of the Lord,” adding that “no one can deny the evidence that contemplating the shroud is like reading the pages of the Gospel tells us about the Passion and death of the Son of God.”

Borrini, a forensic anthropologist teaching at the Faculty Science of the the School of Natural Sciences and Psychology at the John Moores University in Liverpool, is Catholic and is an expert in bloodstain pattern analysis.

Borrini collaborated in his research with Luigi Garlaschelli, a chemist and professor at the University of Pavia, who is also a member of the sceptic educational organization the Italian Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the Pseudosciences.

Based on BPA (bloodstain pattern analysis) tactics used to analyze the shape and flow of bloodstains on objects, clothing or bodies involved in a crime scene, the study is the first to apply BPA techniques to the Shroud of Turin.

Among the most well-known artifacts believed to be connected with Christ’s Passion, the Shroud of Turin has been venerated for centuries by Christians as the burial shroud of Christ, and has long been subject to intense scientific study to ascertain its authenticity, and the origins of the image.

Appearing on the 14-foot long, three-and-a-half foot wide cloth a faintly stained postmortem image of a man – front and back – who has been brutally tortured. The image becomes clear in a haunting photo negative.

It has been venerated by thousands of pilgrims and numerous popes.

Borrini and Garlaschelli first presented their study at the 2014 meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

The study was then read by a panel of anonymous experts in the field, who commented on the research and offered suggestions. The two were then required to respond to the comments made as part of their formal article on the study, which was reviewed by the same anonymous panel before its publication last week.

As part of their research, Borrini and Garlaschelli conducted numerous experiments on both live human volunteers and mannequins using BPA methods, which use geometrical techniques to reconstruct the angle of the splatter from each drop of blood when it meets a surface.

This method “is only physical, and morphological,” Borrini said, explaining that it focuses on “the study of the pattern, the shape, of the bloodstain and the distribution of the bloodstains; the physical, geometric distribution.”

“We tried to recreate the flow of the blood and the dripping of the blood from a wound. In this case, the wound from the wrist created by the nails, or the blood from the wound on the side, the wound that was directly done by the spear that was used on the torso of Jesus Christ according to the Gospels. So we reproduced the blood flowing from these two different wounds,” he said.

To track the blood flow, they used a device created to represent arteries and veins which had been damaged by a nail during a crucifixion, and analyzed what direction the liquid, which represented blood, would go and what pattern it would make.

While some might argue that the speed of blood flow or a person’s health might impact the pattern of the stain, Borrini said that in this case, only the direction matters.

“If the blood were dripping slower or faster, this would not affect the direction,” he said. “The direction of the blood flow is affected by the position of the body and of course by gravity, because of course, any liquids or solids move according to gravity, so they have to follow the law of gravity.”

This “is why we realized there was an inconsistency in some of the stains, because some of the stains apparently did not follow gravity.” For example, Borrini said some of the results showed that the man whose image is imprinted on the shroud would have had to be standing vertical, rather than horizontal, for the blood flow patterns to make sense.

“For me the shroud is not authentic,” he said, but stressed that he is a Catholic who has taught at several pontifical universities, “and I maintain that we do not need the shroud in order to be Christians, to be Catholic.”

“I did this study, I reached this conclusion, and I feel absolutely in line with the thought of the Catholic Church, and I continue to be strong in my Catholic faith.”

“If someone thinks that I did this work because I am an atheist, it is absolutely untrue,” he said, explaining that the study was balanced, because while he is Catholic, Garlaschelli, his research partner, is an atheist.

However, despite Borrini’s insistence on the validity of his scientific research, the results of his study were met with criticism.

Di Lazzaro noted that studies with live human volunteers usually take place on people who are healthy and clean, he said, noting that blood might flow differently on someone who is dirty and who has been sweating, or who has been dehydrated.

“It is not possible to think of reproducing realistic conditions of the way blood drips on the body of a crucifix without considering all of these factors, which influence in a strong way how blood drips,” he said.

Archbishop Nosiglia said numerous studies have been done which either prove or disprove the authenticity of the shroud. However, regardless of the outcome, the archbishop said the guiding principle of any research ought to be “neutrality.”

“If one begins with a preconception and directs the research toward proving it, then it will easily be confirmed”, he said, adding that operating on the basis of a preconception “nullifies the neutrality proper to science with respect to personal convictions.”

“The shroud, which is an object of faith, helps faith itself because it opens the hearts of those who approach and contemplate it to be aware of what was the Passion of Jesus on the cross and therefore of the greatest love that he showed us by suffering terrible physical and moral violence for the salvation of the whole world.”

This, he said, is the reason that millions of people, both now and in the past, have to the shroud from all over the world to venerate it and to pray, in order to “draw hope for their everyday life.

 

[…]