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Ortega dictatorship expels another religious congregation from Nicaragua

null / Image credit: James (Unsplash)

Denver Newsroom, Sep 22, 2022 / 16:30 pm (CNA).

The dictatorship of President Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua has expelled the Religious Sisters of the Cross, thus continuing its attacks against the Catholic Church in Nicaragua.

“Today, victims of the harassment and threats of the dictatorship, the Religious Sisters of the Cross (founded in Mexico) who had been in Matagalpa for years doing spiritual work left the country,” Nicaragua Informa reported Sept. 18 on Facebook.

The nuns of this congregation describe themselves on their website as “eucharistic contemplative women.”

The nuns served in the Diocese of Matagalpa — whose bishop, Rolando Álvarez, is under house arrest in Managua — and dedicated themselves to praying the rosary in the cathedral and promoting adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

The Mexico-based congregation reported yesterday on Facebook that the last nuns had arrived from Nicaragua.

A source close to the congregation, who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons, said that “their departure was due to the pressure exerted by government workers to know where each contribution the sisters received came from, even the smallest small donations.”

The source said the demand was absurd, because the nuns, like the parishes, subsisted “from the offerings that our faithful give.”

In addition, “the residence permit of the foreign sisters was not renewed and they had to leave the country” before the rest of the sisters.

The source explained that “the religious community, which leads a semi-contemplative life, couldn’t sustain itself with just three sisters, since their charism is to maintain constant adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. For this reason, their superiors saw that it was best to close the house they had here in Matagalpa.” 

The source said that “the only three sisters that remained are the three in the photo that was uploaded a short time ago.”

“There were always between six or more nuns. They had begun leaving months before, especially those whose residence permits were not renewed,” the source added.

This is the second religious congregation expelled by Ortega. In July, the Missionaries of Charity were forced to leave Nicaragua.

In March of this year, the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, was expelled.

The former auxiliary bishop of Managua, Silvio Baez, has been living in exile in the United States after it became known that Ortega’s government had very probably ordered his assassination.

In recent months, several priests have been arrested and others continue to be harassed by the regime, which hasn’t hesitated to ban religious processions.

The outrages of former guerrilla fighter Ortega were condemned in a resolution approved Aug. 12 by the Organization of American States. The Ortega regime withdrew from the OAS in April.

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

Florida priest and parish administrator embezzled $1.5 million from parish, police say

Deborah True was investigated on suspicion of embezzling church funds at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Vero Beach, Florida. Police say the former pastor, Father Richard “Dick” Murphy, who died on March 22, 2020, was also involved in funneling money from the parish. / Indian River County Jail/ YouTube screenshot of Murphy

Boston, Mass., Sep 22, 2022 / 15:30 pm (CNA).

A priest along with the former parish administrator of a Catholic church in Florida funneled nearly $1.5 million in parishioners’ donations into a secret bank account for personal use, Vero Beach police said Tuesday.

The former pastor of Holy Cross Catholic Church in Vero Beach, Father Richard “Dick” Murphy, died on March 22, 2020, at the age of 80. The administrator, 69-year-old Deborah True, “turned herself in” to the Indian River County Jail in Vero Beach on Sept. 19, police said in a statement posted on the Vero Beach Police Department’s Facebook page

The Diocese of Palm Beach contacted the police department in December 2021, raising concerns about a fraudulent bank account and the misappropriation of church funds that took place over the course of five years.

After a nine-month investigation, police concluded that from 2015–2020, $1.5 million in parishioner donations was funneled into a bank account called “Holy Cross Catholic Church” that was opened by Murphy and True in 2012. The account was hidden from the Diocese of Palm Beach, police said. 

Between 2015 and 2020, True paid off her personal debts with over $500,000 of the funds, police said. True transferred an additional $147,000 from the fake account into her checking account, police added.

According to the police statement, the late priest “personally benefited from the funds in the account.” It is unclear whether the entire $1.5 million in the fake account was spent. Police did not respond to a phone call inquiry on Thursday afternoon.

Police said that a criminal investigation has not been opened against Murphy because of his death. True “turned herself in at the Indian River County Jail on one count of Organized Fraud over $50,000,” and was released the same day on bond for $25,000, according to the police statement. According to veronews.com, True is scheduled for arraignment on Nov. 3 at 8:45 a.m.

In a statement to CNA, the Diocese of Palm Beach said: “Criminal charges were recently filed by the state attorney’s office related to financial irregularities discovered last year by the Diocese of Palm Beach at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Vero Beach.”

“The Diocese of Palm Beach reported concerns to local law enforcement after discovering these irregularities and has fully cooperated throughout their investigation. The diocese understands that an arrest has been made of a former employee,” the statement said. 

“The Diocese of Palm Beach is committed to financial accountability in all of its parishes and entities and will continue to cooperate in this process,” the statement said. “This matter does not involve the current pastor at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Vero Beach.”

According to Murphy’s obituary, True was his “longtime” secretary and his caregiver. Murphy was the pastor at Holy Cross for almost 23 years, from 1997 to 2020, True told veronews.com at the time of Murphy’s death. 

True told the outlet that Murphy was a “fantastic leader” and that “he cared about the parishioners and they cared about him.”

“He believed we needed to reach out to people in the community whenever there was a need,” True said.

True added that “he really cared about Vero Beach” and said that “he was a private person who didn’t like accolades or awards. He did stuff from the heart.”

According to Murphy’s obituary, he was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1939 and was ordained in Ireland. He then served as a priest in Miami and at various parishes in South Florida, including St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Pompano Beach, Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Lake Worth, St. Brendan Catholic Church in Miami, and Sts. Peter and Paul in Miami. 

Murphy then served as the pastor of Ascension Catholic Church in Boca Raton, St. Joseph Catholic Church in Stuart, and finally Holy Cross in Vero Beach.

Murphy served as the bishops’ delegate in the building and real estate development department for the diocese and as president of the affordable housing for seniors at Catholic Charities, the obituary said.

“He always relished being a pastoral priest,” the obituary said.

Methodist-linked university’s Christian conduct code under fire from LGBT advocates

Hand wearing gay pride rainbow wristband making a power fist gesture in front of the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Via Shutterstock / null

Denver Newsroom, Sep 22, 2022 / 14:30 pm (CNA).

Do church-affiliated universities and Christian moral codes have a place in higher ed?

Critics of the Methodist-linked Seattle Pacific University, it seems, think the answer is no. They have filed a lawsuit against the university’s board of trustees after it reaffirmed that full-time employees may not be in same-sex relationships.

The controversy could have broad implications: Catholic and other Christian educational institutions have faced similar lawsuits over their religious identities and expectations for faculty and staff.

“Seattle Pacific is fighting to protect its freedom, as a religious university, to have religious standards in hiring,” said Lori Windham, vice president and senior counsel at the Becket legal group, which is representing the school in a separate, related legal dispute over the university’s conduct code with the state attorney general.

“The First Amendment protects the right of churches and other religious institutions to decide what they believe and who should lead them,” she told CNA. “If Seattle Pacific loses that right, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and other faith groups will lose it, too.”

Multiple undergraduate and graduate students, alumni, and faculty and staff of Seattle Pacific University filed a lawsuit against the university’s trustees on Sept. 11 in Washington state superior court.

Their complaint is pointed in its criticisms of the trustees and the university’s affiliation with the Free Methodist Church, whose members founded the school in 1891. It alleged that the reaffirmation of the conduct code is a breach of fiduciary duty.

The lawsuit accused the trustees of “placing their personal religious beliefs above their fiduciary duty” to the university and its people. It claimed that the board is “rogue” for various actions, including its consultations with the Free Methodist Church, and demanded the appointment of a new board.

“These men treat the university and its assets like a personal weapon and war chest to fight the sectarian battles of the Free Methodist Church USA,” said the lawsuit.

The Free Methodist Church USA, headquartered in Indianapolis, has about 68,000 members in under 850 churches in the U.S. However, the Protestant denomination has more than 1.2 million adherents globally, with its largest church membership in India and Burundi. The denomination has five other universities and a seminary in the U.S.

The lawsuit characterized the church as “a denomination with a small domestic constituency” that is “openly hostile to the LGBTQ+ community.” The lawsuit claimed the trustees have “pledged their primary allegiance” to the Methodist denomination. The lawsuit characterizes the link between the university and the denomination as “voluntary” and “informal.” 

The lawsuit objected that the university’s hiring policies “advance the interests of a religious denomination at the expense of the students, alumni, staff, and faculty of the university.”

Some trustees leave, but board stands firm

The university’s board of trustees reaffirmed the conduct code in May, in part due to concerns about preserving its affiliation with the Free Methodist Church USA. In reaction, some students and staff held protests and called for the board to be removed. About 80% of the faculty voted to back the employment of people in same-sex marriages.

The university’s bylaws require the president and at least one-third of all trustees to be members of the church, according to Becket. Each year, each trustee must reaffirm his or her commitment to the university’s mission and faith statement.

The six trustees named as defendants include Dr. Matthew Whitehead, currently the lead bishop of the Free Methodist Church who oversees the denomination in the Western U.S., Africa, and Asia. Another defendant is Mark Mason, who serves with Whitehead on the Free Methodist Church Board of Accountability. Seven of the board’s 14 trustees have resigned since last year, with some voicing objections to the conduct code.

“Seattle Pacific University is aware of the lawsuit and will respond in due course,” Tracy Norlen, director of public information at the university’s Office of Communications, told CNA Sept. 19.

The lawsuit against the trustees has a financial aspect. It contends that the board “derives power from its ability to control the highly valuable assets of both the university and its foundation.” The complaint claimed that the university is “financially and structurally imploding” and that these assets will go to the Free Methodist Church if the university dissolves. University assets, land, and buildings exceed $500 million in value, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleged that the board of trustees now lacks the minimum number of members required by its bylaws. It asked the court to remove the trustees and university officers and put the university into receivership so that new trustees can be elected.

The university faces a $10 million deficit and an enrollment decline since 2015 from 4,175 students to 3,400 last fall. Cedric Davis, a former chair of the board of trustees who resigned over his disagreement with the sexual conduct statement, told the Seattle Times some of the enrollment decline is due to broader trends in higher education. He disagreed with the lawsuit’s claim that the university is “imploding.” Rather, he suggested the school will become smaller and more conservative.

Paul Southwick, the attorney representing the student and faculty plaintiffs, is director of the Portland, Oregon-based Religious Exemption Accountability Project. The project is sponsored by Soulforce, an LGBT advocacy group that has for more than a decade rallied opposition against sexual conduct codes at religious colleges and universities, including Seattle Pacific University.

Soulforce also backs a federal lawsuit that seeks to end federal funding of “any university that discriminates and abuses LGBTQI people.” 

University pressured by attorney general

The office of Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson also is involved in the legal controversy.

After receiving complaints from students and faculty about the conduct code, Ferguson’s office sent a letter to the university in June saying the policies may violate state anti-discrimination law. The letter sought detailed information about how the university applies the policies. Additionally, it sought contact information for those affected by the policies and job descriptions of every position at the school.

Ferguson’s involvement prompted the Becket legal group’s federal lawsuit, filed July 27 in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, challenging the attorney general’s actions.

“If the university changed its employment policies to permit employment of Christians in same-sex marriages, the university would be automatically disaffiliated from the Free Methodist Church. The university would no longer be a denominational institution,” Becket’s lawsuit states.

The university can fulfill its mission, it adds, “only with a faculty of Christians who affirm the university’s Statement of Faith, who affirm the university’s mission, who live out their Christian faith, and who bring their faith into all aspects of their lives, including their teaching and scholarship.”

The U.S. Constitution protects the university’s right “to decide matters of faith and doctrine, to hire employees who share its religious beliefs, and to select and retain ministers free from government interference,” the Becket lawsuit states.

It accuses the attorney general’s probe of violating the constitution’s “clear prohibition on interference in matters of church governance, including entangling investigations of religious employment decisions and the selection of ministers.”

The probe “inquires into confidential religious matters and is beyond the scope of authority granted under state law and the federal constitution,” the lawsuit argues. It alleges that Ferguson is “wielding state power to interfere with the religious beliefs of a religious university, and a church, whose beliefs he disagrees with.”

Just days after Becket filed the lawsuit, Ferguson announced on July 29 that his office was investigating alleged discrimination charges against the university. He characterized the religious freedom lawsuit as a demonstration “that the university believes it is above the law to such an extraordinary degree that it is shielded from answering basic questions from my office regarding the university’s compliance with state law.”

“Seattle Pacific University’s attempt to obstruct our lawful investigation will not succeed,” Ferguson said. “My office protects the civil rights of Washingtonians who have historically faced harmful discrimination. That’s our job — we uphold Washington’s law prohibiting discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation.”

“My office respects the religious views of all Washingtonians and the constitutional rights afforded to religious institutions,” Ferguson said. “As a person of faith, I share that view. My office did not prejudge whether Seattle Pacific University’s employment policies or its actions are illegal.”

Ferguson’s biography on his office’s website notes his personal involvement in successfully suing a florist who declined to serve a same-sex wedding ceremony on religious grounds.

Other legal cases in the state could have an impact. Last year the Washington Supreme Court allowed a bisexual lawyer to proceed with a discrimination lawsuit against a Christian nonprofit that serves the homeless. The organization had declined to offer him a job because he was in a same-sex relationship and rejected its Christian code of conduct.

While the U.S. Supreme Court has a “ministerial exception” for many religious nonprofits’ employee policies, the state Supreme Court said a trial court must answer the “open question” of whether a staff attorney for the nonprofit qualifies as a minister.

Another Methodist body, the United Methodist Church, agreed to split over disagreement on LGBT issues, though plans for the separation have fallen through after delays from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Blessed Sacrament found intact in tabernacle of church burned by armed men in Cameroon

null / Sidney de Almeida/Shutterstock

Denver Newsroom, Sep 22, 2022 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

In the aftermath of the fire that gutted a church in Cameroon, Bishop Aloysius Fondong of the Diocese of Mamfé entered the ruins to retrieve the Blessed Sacrament and found the sacred Hosts and the ciborium containing them to be intact.

On the night of Sept. 16, armed men set fire to St. Mary’s church in the town of Nchang, located in the Diocese of Mamfé, and kidnapped five priests, a nun, and three lay people.

In a video released Sept. 21 by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Fondong is seen entering the burned-out church and making his way through the rubble until he reaches the tabernacle, placed on a wall next to a cross.

After opening the tabernacle, the prelate genuflects and proceeds to remove the ciborium containing the consecrated Hosts from the tabernacle.

“What happened is abominable. They are testing the patience of God,” the bishop said, according to a tweet from ACN.

A Vatican News article said that Radio Evangelium of the Diocese of Mamfé reported that some 60 armed men attacked the Catholic community in Nchang the night of Sept. 16 and kidnapped five priests, a nun, a cook, a catechist, and a 15-year-old girl living with the nuns.

According to the Vatican news agency Fides, the archbishop of Bamenda, Andrew Nkea Fuanya, said that the kidnappers have demanded a ransom. The prelate commented that there are groups that see the Church as an “easy target to make money.”

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

Leading theologian sees a ‘rise in interest in Aquinas’ among young Catholics

Father Thomas Joseph White, O.P. / Pontificia Università di San Tommaso d’Aquino via Flickr.

Vatican City, Sep 22, 2022 / 12:15 pm (CNA).

A new generation of young people are deeply invested in the study of St. Thomas Aquinas, according to Father Thomas Joseph White.

The Dominican theologian and rector of the Angelicum in Rome said that he has witnessed both a new academic emphasis on historical accuracy regarding the 13th-century saint and attention to his potential contemporary relevance.

“We’re seeing a modest renaissance of Thomism in the Church, particularly in the English-speaking world,” White told CNA on Sept. 22.

“And this is something that people are now paying more attention to in the academic world because we’re seeing that there is a rise in interest in Aquinas that is not related to past ideas of magisterial homogeneity. It’s really more about people on the grassroots level, trying to think through the doctrine of the faith and bring theology to their local communities and to the broader Church through rigorous investigation and responsible reflection.”

White spoke as the 11th International Thomistic Congress is taking place in Rome Sept. 19–24.

“I think it’s the most important Thomistic conference internationally to take place in decades,” he commented.

Featuring more than 130 speakers, including Father Simon Gaine, Father Wojciech Giertych, and Father Gilles Emery, the congress has covered a wide range of topics from historical reflections on St. Thomas Aquinas to contemporary philosophical topics in metaphysics and ethics.

“It’s been an amazing last few days because we have had speakers from all over the world, from the Far East, from the United States, a healthy representation from Central and South America, Africa, India, and of course, Europe. It shows the kind of catholicity of engagement in Aquinas as a common doctor for Catholic thought,” White said.

Pope Francis received participants from the International Thomistic Congress in an audience in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace on Sept. 22.

Speaking entirely off the cuff, the pope underscored the importance of contemplation in intellectual life.

Pope Francis greets participants in the 11th International Thomistic Congress on Sept. 22, 2022. Photo credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis greets participants in the 11th International Thomistic Congress on Sept. 22, 2022. Photo credit: Vatican Media

“Before talking about St. Thomas, before talking about Thomism, before teaching, we must contemplate,” Pope Francis told the Thomists.

In a written reflection distributed to the congress participants, Pope Francis wrote that St. Thomas Aquinas’ “search for the truth about God was impelled and permeated by love.”

Ahead of the papal audience, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, the prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, offered Mass for the congress participants in St. Peter’s Basilica. A schola made up of students from the pontifical university sang for the liturgy.

The 11th International Thomistic Congress, jointly organized by the Thomistic Institute and the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, is the first congress of its kind to be hosted by the pontifical university in Rome in nearly 20 years.

Father Dominic Holtz, the vice dean of philosophy at the university, told CNA that the congress has addressed new questions on “Thomistic engagement with neo-Confucian philosophers and transhumanism — sorts of things that we probably would not have even thought of asking 20 years ago.”

Father Dominic Holtz. Photo credit: Courtney Mares
Father Dominic Holtz. Photo credit: Courtney Mares

Holtz added that “a hallmark of Thomism is that it remains both able to engage new situations and retains a life in the classic perennial questions that every generation has to wrestle with.”

“For instance,” he continued, “there was a talk yesterday about how we understand Revelation. What does Revelation mean and how does it work when we engage the Sacred Scriptures? … And philosophical questions, like just what is the state of the human soul after death?”

“Those sorts of questions will always remain with us and they are being asked with new and interesting perspectives in light of what has been looked at before,” he said.

Pope Francis asks financial consultants to put people before business

Pope Francis speaks with Punit Renjen, an Indian-American businessman and CEO of the multinational professional services firm Deloitte, during an audience to the participants of the Deloitte Global meeting on Sept. 22, 2022, at Paul VI Hall in the Vatican. / Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images

Vatican City, Sep 22, 2022 / 11:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has encouraged financial advisers and consultants to make decisions that put the good of individuals and communities before that of businesses.

The pope spoke about the role of integral human development in the financial sector during a Sept. 22 meeting at the Vatican with consultants for Deloitte, a global auditing firm.

Deloitte provides services including auditing, consulting, financial advising, and risk advisory to nearly 90% of the Fortune Global 500® companies and thousands of other private companies. It employs approximately 350,000 people around the world.

During his encounter with the firm, Pope Francis suggested three ways financial professionals can make the world more humane, just, and fraternal.

The first was to be aware of the power they hold and the ways they can encourage the entrepreneurs, bankers, managers, and public administrators they advise to make decisions that will have a positive impact and grow integral human development.

The pope’s second suggestion was that the financial professionals fulfill their responsibility by ensuring adequate professional, anthropological, and ethical standards “consistent with an evangelical vision of the economy and society; in other words, with Catholic social doctrine.”

To do this, he said, requires assessing both the direct and indirect effect of decisions and considering a decision’s impact on communities, people, and the environment before its impact on businesses.

Francis also encouraged Deloitte Global to enhance diversity, saying “entrepreneurial biodiversity” is “a guarantee of freedom of enterprise and freedom of choice for customers, consumers, savers, and investors” and “an indispensable condition of stability, equilibrium, and human prosperity.”

The pope drew attention to worsening environmental conditions and the undignified living conditions of many people who lack access to nutrition, health care, and education.

“While our human family is globalized and interconnected, poverty, injustice, and inequalities remain,” he said, pointing out that consultants and managers are in a position to if not reverse the situation, at least to help correct it.

“Today’s consultants, aware of their role, are called to propose and discuss new directions for new challenges,” he underlined. “The old schemes worked only partially, in different contexts. I would call this new generation of consultants ‘integral consultants’: experts and professionals who take into account the connections between problems and their respective solutions and who embrace the concept of relational anthropology.”

“Such an anthropology,” he said, quoting a 2018 document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: “‘helps the human person to recognize the validity of economic strategies that aim above all to promote the global quality of life that, before the indiscriminate expansion of profits, leads the way toward the integral well-being of the entire person and of every person. No profit is in fact legitimate when it falls short of the objective of the integral promotion of the human person, the universal destination of goods, and the preferential option for the poor,’ and, we can add, the care of our common home.”

US bishops’ pro-life chair asks Catholics to practice ‘unconditional love’ after Roe

null / Thanatip S/Shutterstock.

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 22, 2022 / 09:50 am (CNA).

In anticipation of Respect Life Month in October, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore is encouraging Catholics to practice “radical solidarity and unconditional love” for pregnant and parenting mothers.

In a new statement issued Wednesday, Lori, the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, called the Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade an “answer to prayer” — and an opportunity to build a culture of life.

The decision that leaves abortion up to the states ended the court’s “nearly fifty-year nationwide regime of abortion on demand,” Lori stressed.

He called it a “victory for justice, the rule of law, and self-governance” as well as a “time for a renewal and rededication of our efforts to build a culture of life and civilization of love.”

“Justice is, of course, essential to this end. But it is not sufficient,” he commented. “To build a world in which all are welcome requires not only justice, but compassion, healing, and above all, unconditional love.”

In a post-Roe world, he called on the faithful to “shift the paradigm” to what St. John Paul II described as “radical solidarity” — or “making the good of others our own good, including especially mothers, babies (born and preborn), and families throughout the entire human lifespan.”

Lori added: “It is a call to friendship and compassion rooted in the truth that we are made to love our neighbor as ourselves.”

To practice radical solidarity and unconditional love, the bishop called on the faithful to take certain steps.

“First, by speaking the truth that abortion not only unjustly kills a preborn child, but also gravely wounds women, men, families, and the nation as a whole,” he wrote. “We must speak these truths with compassion, and we must live these truths with compassion.”

Next, he asked the faithful to have the “courage to love — to act and bear witness by caring for the least among us, without condition or expectation of recompense.”

Lori pointed to the work that Catholics are already doing on a personal level to help those in need.

“Many are engaged in parish and community initiatives such as pregnancy resource centers, post-abortion counseling and more recently Walking with Moms in Need,” he said, referring to the USCCB’s parish-based pro-life ministry.

On a larger level, he recognized the Catholic Church as the largest charitable provider of social services to women, children, and families in the United States.

“Catholics have already done much at both the institutional and personal level to help address the problems of poverty, healthcare, education, housing, employment, addiction, criminal justice, domestic violence, and the like that push women towards abortion,” he confimed. “Our Church understands that parents, children, and families need help not just during pregnancy, but throughout the whole of life’s journey because millions of Catholics already accompany their neighbors in such circumstances.”

That includes, he said, accompanying parents during adoption or offering mercy and healing to women and men suffering after abortion.

He concluded by calling for a “new politics” through radical solidarity.

“Those who disagree on the morality or justice of abortion should nonetheless come together to pursue common-ground solutions to provide care and support to mothers, children, and families in need,” he wrote. “Public officials can stake out new ground, to move beyond the political divisions of Left and Right and build a new coalition of people of good will that will focus on the best outcomes for those in need by whatever means — public or private — that prove to be most effective.”

He emphasized that “we belong to each other, and each of us was made for love and friendship.”

“Accordingly, we must live and act in radical solidarity with mothers, children, and families in need,” he urged. “That means doing whatever we can through law, policy, politics, and culture to provide them with the care and support necessary for their flourishing throughout the entire arc of life’s journey.”

“Through our collective and individual actions, we can build a culture of life and civilization of love in America,” he added. “Let us begin.”

In November, Lori told CNA that if the overturning of Roe translated into an increase of mothers giving birth, the Church must “step up to the plate and be there,” with its Catholic health care institutions, Catholic charities, and Catholic parishes.

For Catholics, he said, “The duty to cherish and foster human life is always going to be part of who we are.”

Maryknoll nun helps New Mexico’s tribal peoples deal with uranium legacy

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German bishop says he won’t resign after report he mishandled abuse cases

Bishop Franz-Josef Bode speaks during a press conference on Sept. 22, 2022, following the release of a report that said he mishandled abuse cases in the Diocese of Osnabrück, in northwestern Germany, which he has led since 1995. / Screenshot of YouTube video

Rome Newsroom, Sep 22, 2022 / 06:22 am (CNA).

The vice president of the German bishops’ conference said Thursday he had thought about resigning after the publication of a report claiming he mishandled abuse cases, but that he had ultimately decided against it.

A report published Sept. 20 said Bishop Franz-Josef Bode mishandled abuse cases in the Diocese of Osnabrück, in northwestern Germany, which he has led since 1995.

The 600-page interim report is titled “Sexual violence against minors and vulnerable by clergy in the Diocese of Osnabrück since 1945.”

The report said in the first decades of his term, Bode “repeatedly” kept people accused of abuse in office or appointed them to other positions, including management tasks in youth pastoral care.

“I bear responsibility for this, also for the system in the diocese,” Bode said in a statement Tuesday

“I had wanted this interim report so that the truth would also come to light as quickly as possible,” he said. “Now I am very concerned about how blind we have actually been and how blind I have been for the suffering and the perspectives of those affected.”

At a press conference on Thursday, Bode said he consulted with those he works with and, rather than resign, “decided to do my best for the rest of my term of office and to take on the tasks and duties to follow up, which the interim report already shows, and also to face the results of the final report,” CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, reported.

The 71-year-old bishop has been vice president of the German bishops’ conference since 2017. He is also vice president of the German Synodal Way.

He has publically supported women deacons and the development of a Church ceremony for blessing same-sex unions.

The final report of the abuse study, which is being conducted by the University of Osnabrück on behalf of the diocese, is expected to be made public in September 2024.

San Juan archbishop struggles with slow communications following Fiona

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