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Seeking to build on papal visit, Canada’s bishops stress indigenous reconciliation

Pope Francis meets with clerics, consecrated persons, seminarians and pastoral workers of Canada at the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec in Quebec City, July 28, 2022. / Vatican Media

Denver Newsroom, Sep 30, 2022 / 19:00 pm (CNA).

Indigenous issues were at the forefront when about 90 Catholic bishops met in Cornwall, Ontario for the Canadian bishops’ 2022 plenary assembly.

“2022 has been a historic year for listening, learning and working to rebuild longstanding relationships that have been profoundly damaged by the legacy of residential schools,” Bishop Raymond Poisson, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Sept. 29.

“Pope Francis apologized on behalf of the Church for the sins of her children, acknowledged the catastrophic impact of the residential school system and called on us to promote the rights of Indigenous Peoples and to favor processes of healing and reconciliation,” said Poisson, who heads Quebec’s Diocese of Saint-Jérôme - Mont-Laurier.

The residential school system was set up by the Canadian government, beginning in the 1870s, as a means to forcibly assimilate indigenous children and strip them of familial and cultural ties. Both Catholic and Protestant groups ran the schools, with Catholics responsible for the majority of them. 

The schools were poorly supervised and funded. The students received a poor education and lived in substandard housing. Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in a 2015 report estimated that 4,100 to 6,000 students died as a result of disease, injury, neglect, or abuse over the decades. Tuberculosis was a major killer, as was influenza. As late as 1945, the death rate among indigenous children at the schools was almost five times the death rate of other Canadian children the same age.

The Canadian bishops’ conference president emphasized the need for continued action.

“We know that this is a journey that requires long-term commitment, dialogue and consultation, and we pray that our discussions at this plenary have been a meaningful step towards a more hopeful future,” Poisson commented.

Canadian bishops pledged continued dialogue and relationship-building with Canada’s indigenous people, known as First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. Indigenous delegations to Rome in March and the papal visit in July saw “respectful collaboration” between the Catholic Church and local, regional, and national indigenous leaders. The bishops hope to make this kind of collaboration more effective and permanent.

Poisson, writing on behalf of the Canadian bishops, sent a Sept. 26 letter thanking Pope Francis for his visit to Canada.

“There can be no question that it has left a profound and lasting mark on Canada, Indigenous Peoples, and the local and universal Church,” said the letter. He said the Roman Pontiff’s presence and his words of healing and reconciliation have helped the bishops take steps toward “a more hopeful future.”

The bishops’ meeting pledged to continue providing documentation and records to help residential school survivors and researchers find the truth, in the face of cumbersome processes to identify and request records. They have approved guidelines for dioceses across Canada, emphasizing “transparency and simplicity.”

While the historic injustices against indigenous people have been discussed for decades, the residential schools again became a major issue in Canada in mid-2021 when researchers reported preliminary findings of what appeared to be graves of students near former residential schools. 

News reports erroneously depicted the possible graves as “mass graves” and often failed to clarify that the findings had not been confirmed by exhumation and other analysis. It is also possible that any graves are from community graveyards and include remains of non-students and non-indigenous peoples of the area, including residential school staff and their families.

The reaction to the reports helped inspire a wave of vandalism and arson against Catholic churches, including some churches on indigenous land which still serve indigenous Catholics. The attacks drew condemnation from indigenous leaders. Canada’s national statistical office, Canada Statistics, reported a 260% spike in anti-Catholic hate crimes in 2021.

Catholic outreach efforts continue. 

The Canadian bishops’ meeting pledged continued support for Catholic institutions, seminaries, and religious communities that foster a greater understanding of indigenous culture, language and spiritual traditions and values. They hoped that this support would lead to more direct encounters with indigenous communities and help non-indigenous clergy and laity hear indigenous perspectives, “with attention to the issues of colonization and residential schools.”

The bishops voiced recognition for “the contribution of Indigenous culture and wisdom to our future life in Canada.” They will stand in solidarity with indigenous peoples in “their stewardship of the land and the goods of Creation, the gifts of the Creator.” They will work with local community leaders to support the spiritual well-being of young people and to address social challenges like poverty, suicide, violence, and incarceration.

They reiterated support for the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund, which accepts donations from 73 Catholic dioceses across Canada to support reconciliation initiatives. The fund has raised $5.5 million and is “on track” to exceed its $30 million goal over five years.

The bishops said they would continue dialogue with the Vatican on issues indigenous delegates and representatives have identified. They are actively working with the Vatican to issue a new statement on the “Doctrine of Discovery,” principles of sovereignty and conquest found in some papal documents dating to the expeditions of European exploration in the 15th century, especially disputes between Spain and Portugal.

The bishops’ conference website provides documents on this subject, including the April 27, 2010 remarks of Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the apostolic nuncio leading the Holy See’s permanent observer mission to the United Nations. 

Migliore said that the documents supposedly behind the “Doctrine of Discovery” were rendered irrelevant by successive documents or changing circumstances only a few years after they were issued.  He emphasized papal teaching in support of indigenous people, including the 1537 papal bull Sublimis Deus.

“Canada’s Bishops continue to reject and resist ideas associated with the Doctrine of Discovery in the strongest way possible,” the bishops’ conference said Sept. 29. They pledged continued support for the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The gathering was the first in-person plenary meeting since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Bishop Poisson, in his report to the bishops, discussed ongoing child abuse prevention efforts and the Synod on Synodality. He also noted that the new French-language version of the Roman Missal was implemented across the country. The bishops’ new National Program for Priestly Formation has been published and implemented. His report anticipated new resources to help dioceses form lay ministers of catechist, lector, and acolyte in keeping with Pope Francis’ apostolic letters.

Catholics converge on DC for a week of prayer and fasting

The International Week of Prayer and Fasting kicks off on Saturday, Oct. 1 at the National Basilica in Washington, DC. / The International Week of Prayer and Fasting (IWOPF)

Denver, Colo., Sep 30, 2022 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

On Saturday, Oct. 1, Catholics from around the world will once again kick off a week of prayer and fasting at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. 

Prayer and fasting are needed now more than ever, Maureen Flynn, founder of The International Week of Prayer and Fasting (IWOPF) told CNA. 

“It seems to be a real battle between the forces of darkness and the forces of light,” she said. 

The IWOPF is a grassroots movement made up of churches, schools, communities, and clergy who come together to pray and fast. In 2022, for the 30th IWOPF, Catholics everywhere are invited to pray for five intentions: the conversion of all peoples, to build a culture of life, defend the sanctity of marriage, for God’s mercy, and for all priests and vocations. 

The week of prayer and fasting will culminate in the National Rosary Rally at the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 9. The events cap a 54-day rosary novena prayed by Catholics around the country, which begins each year on Aug. 15, the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and ends on Oct. 7, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

Catholics joining in prayer for the 2019 IWOPF. IWOPF
Catholics joining in prayer for the 2019 IWOPF. IWOPF

Speakers at this year’s event include Bishop Joseph Coffey, who will offer the opening Mass on Oct. 1. Also speaking are Father Francis Peffley; Dave and Joan Maroney, founders of MOMM, a Divine Mercy apostolate; Father Robert Altier; and Ted and Maureen Flynn, the founders of IWOPF, and several others. 

In an interview with CNA, Maureen Flynn talked about the moment she decided to take action and get others to join in prayer and fasting. She recalled that in 1989 she was reading a newspaper article about some grandmothers who said they were for abortion.

“I was appalled,” she said. Soon after, she called a good friend and brought up the idea of starting a day of prayer. 

“Because this is ridiculous. These are grandmothers and they’re thinking it’s fine to kill children,” she remembers telling him.

However, instead of a single day of prayer, he suggested an entire week. The following year, the first conference was held in front of the U.S. Capitol. Approximately 500 people attended.

In 1997, the event was moved to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. That was also the year Mother Teresa was scheduled to be the keynote speaker. The event would be held on Oct. 5, 1997. However, Mother Teresa would not be in attendance. The now-saint died one month before, on Sept. 5. 

Flynn recalled that Mother Teresa had been very enthusiastic about the project.

“I remember at one point, she said, ‘My daughter, you must do this. God wants this. Prayer is the answer to the world's problems.’ I'll never forget what she said. So I think that gave us encouragement,” she said.

St. John Paul II also gave the organization two apostolic blessings, one in 1997 and the other in 2001. Pope Francis also gave his apostolic blessing to participants at the 22nd conference.

EWTN’s foundress, Mother Angelica, was the keynote speaker in 2000 and gave a talk on the Lord in the Eucharist. Jim Caviezel joined the conference in 2003 as the keynote speaker after finishing the filming of “The Passion of the Christ.” 

Flynn told CNA that she is encouraged by how much more receptive Catholics are to prayer and fasting now. 

“Years ago it was like pulling teeth to try to get people to see the importance of the rosary and fasting. Now I hear people saying, ‘Tell me how to fast, and could you recommend some good books on fasting,’” she said.

Flynn feels optimistic about other aspects of the Church as well.

“There are prayer networks everywhere now, compared with 30 years ago. The prayer networks are amazing. They give me great hope,” she added. 

“There’s a lot of great ministries out there compared with 30 years ago; there are many Marian groups, many pro-life groups, a lot of publishers; there are just tremendous ministries out there now that weren’t there before,” she said. “So although the battle seems to be intensifying, you see the great goodness going on.”

This year’s conference will also be held virtually in addition to in person. The week’s events will be live-streamed on the IWOPF website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel beginning Oct. 1. 

LGBT organizations in Spain are pressuring the government to pass the ‘trans law’

null / Juanje Garrido/Shutterstock

Denver Newsroom, Sep 30, 2022 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

Three LGBT organizations have met with the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), the main party of the governing coalition in Spain, seeking the passage of the “trans law” before the close of the legislature at the end of next year.

The State Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Trans, Bisexuals, Intersexuals, and more (FELTBI+); the Triangle Foundation; and the Chrysallis association, made up of families of minors who have declared themselves transgender, have put pressure on the PSOE due to the division in the socialist ranks on the proposed law.

LGBT organizations fear that the debate between the feminists inside and outside the PSOE — those who deny that any man can define himself as a woman by his own volition and those who think it’s possible — will end up scuttling the law.

There are also members of Podemos, the party of the governing coalition, who oppose the law.

These members point out that they reached an agreement with the government on this law, “so there is no possibility that its going through the legislative process will be delayed or drawn out” as pro-family organizations have requested through a campaign.

Changing one’s sex in the Civil Registry

The Council of Ministers approved June 29 the bill titled “For the Real and Effective Equality of Trans People and for the Guarantee of LGTBI Rights,” known as the “trans law,” promoted by the Ministry of Equality. The council’s approval has allowed the bill to go through the legislative process, which has now begun.

The law provides that one can change one’s name and sex in the Civil Registry by submitting a statement, without providing medical reports, having started cross-sex hormonal treatments, or needing judicial authorization.

In the case of minors, a judge’s approval would be mandatory from the age of 12 and parental permission is required between the ages of 14 and 16. Those over 16 years but not yet 18 are considered to have reached the age of majority — the age when one is considered an adult as recognized by law — so they would be able to make the change upon request.

The General Council of the Judiciary, the governing body of judges, questioned various aspects of the law. On the registry issue, it issued a report that calls for the limit to claim a change of sex in the Civil Registry  upon request to be raised to at least 18 years of age.

Thus, the procedure requiring the approval of a judge who has to determine at least level of maturity or the stability of the person’s will in order to proceed with the change of sex in the Civil Registry would be extended until the age of majority, which is 18 in Spain.

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

Catholic organizations in Colombia call Bogotá cathedral attack by militants ‘terrorism’

The Primatial Cathedral of Bogotá. / Bernard Gagnon via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Denver Newsroom, Sep 30, 2022 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

Catholic organizations joined the chorus of condemnation of the Wednesday night attack by abortion militants on the Bogotá cathedral and demanded that the Colombian authorities arrest those involved in this act of “terrorism.”

The night of Sept. 28, a group of feminists with their faces covered tried to burn down the main doors of the Bogotá cathedral while others tagged the wall with pro-abortion graffiti to the astonishment of passers-by and the inaction of the officials present from the Bogotá Mayor’s Office.

The attackers were part of demonstration for the Day for the Decriminalization and Legalization of Abortion. In their speeches, the feminists demanded that “legal and safe” abortion be allowed in Colombia.

Abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy was decriminalized by the Constitutional Court in February.

In a Sept. 29 statement, the Archdiocese of Bogotá said: “We reject all forms of violence in actions and words, we demand civility on the part of the promoters and participants of marches and protests, we ask the authorities to guarantee the life, honor, and property of citizens.”

The newly formed Pro-Life Caucus of the Colombian Congress stated Sept. 29: “We reject the acts of violence and intolerance that occurred yesterday by a group of marchers in defense of abortion. The attacks against believers and the attempted incineration of the doors of the Primatial Cathedral of Colombia are unacceptable.”

The citizen platform United for Life and the Catholic Solidarity Movement joined pro-life members of Congress and the Archdiocese of Bogotá in condemning the arson and vandalism. 

In a statement issued Sept. 29, the Catholic Solidarity Movement accused the mayor of Bogotá, Claudia López, of having “dismantled the reaction capacity of the police,” which allowed the attack to take place.

“When a crime such as murder by abortion, which is in the Penal Code, is legitimized, these young women believe that they can commit any other crime,” the group said in reference to the feminists.

The president of the Catholic Solidarity Movement, Samuel Ángel, announced that they will file a complain against “these terrorists” so that they take responsibility “for the alleged crimes of damage to the property of others, rioting, damage to the public good, disrespect for beliefs, vandalism, terrorism, attempted murder, [and] conspiracy to commit a crime.”

The United for Life platform demanded that the National Prosecutor’s Office locate and capture “this group of abortionists.”

“We demand disciplinary sanctions from the mayor’s office of the city of Bogotá for the officers of the peace who did nothing to prevent this aggression by the abortionist advocates,” the organization stated.

United for Life said “it is not possible for the homicidal violence of the abortion movement to turn into terrorist actions that attack churches and people and institutions that do not want to be part of the genocidal crime of abortion.”

Not only have abortion proponents worked for “the decriminalization of abortion by prevaricating judges of the Constitutional Court, but now these abortion advocates intend to terrorize anyone who doesn’t actively cooperate to carry out this crime against Colombian unborn babies and their parents,” the platform said.

The people’s ombudsman, Carlos Camargo Assis, also condemned the attack and pointed out that “freedom of expression or the right to peaceful public demonstration cannot be understood as letters of marque to attack the exercise of worship by citizens” or to destroy the religious heritage, “which is considered sacred by millions of people.”

Camargo noted in an official statement posted online that freedom of worship is a fundamental right recognized by the Constitution and Statutory Law 133 of 1994, which impose on the authorities the obligation to guarantee it.

The ombudsman called for investigations to be conducted “that allow punishing, if appropriate, those who may have committed crimes against this fundamental right.”

The director of the National Police, General Henry Sanabria, told a local radio station that four women involved in this incident have been taken into custody.

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

Caritas Algeria closes at government’s behest

null / Caritas Algeria

Denver Newsroom, Sep 30, 2022 / 15:00 pm (CNA).

The Church in Algeria announced Sunday that the country has ordered the Church’s aid organization Caritas Algeria to cease its operations.

“The Catholic Church in Algeria regrets to announce the complete and definitive closure of its service called ‘Caritas Algeria,’ from 1 October 2022, in conformity with the request of the public authorities,” read a Sept. 25 letter signed by Archbishop Paul Desfarges, archbishop emeritus of Algiers and president of the Diocesan Association of Algeria, and by Archbishop Jean-Paul Vesco of Algiers.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has in recent years recommended that the State Department put Algeria on its “special watch list” for “engaging in or tolerating severe violations of religious freedom.”

AFP reported that a 2012 law “required all registered nonprofits to submit new documentation.”

Vesco told the French news agency that the public authorities had judged Caritas Algeria “an unauthorized organization.”

In their letter, Desfarges and Vesco wrote that “naturally, the Catholic Church remains faithful to its charitable mission in the service of brotherhood, in partnership with all people of goodwill.”

They quoted from the 2019 document on human fraternity signed by Pope Francis and Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of al-Azhar, which says, “believers are called to express this human fraternity by safeguarding creation and the entire universe and supporting all persons, especially the poorest and those most in need.”

The bishops concluded their letter: “The Catholic Church would like to thank all those who, over the years and in different ways, have contributed to the realization of this work at the service of the most vulnerable and the Algerian people.”

Agenzia Fides, a news service of the Pontifical Mission Societies, reported that “Caritas was probably the subject of these restrictive measures because it is considered a foreign nongovernmental organization.”

It added that “representatives of the local Catholic community rule out that the measures imposed by the Algerian authorities are fueled by feelings of hostility towards the Catholic Church and its presence in the country. Rather, they see a connection with the general policy of restrictions that have recently been imposed on foreign and multinational NGOs.”

Caritas Algeria was founded in June 1962, days before Algeria gained independence from France.

In June 2021 USCIRF’s chair, Nadine Maenza, commented that “recent decisions by Algerian courts to sentence Christians accused of blasphemy and proselytizing to multiyear prison sentences and to seal Protestant churches that have been forcibly closed demonstrates the country is headed in the wrong direction.”

Catholic bishops’ pro-life chair supports 15-week abortion ban nationwide

Archbishop Lori delivers the homily at Mass for the bicentennial of the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary / © 2021 Catholic Review Media. Photo: Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 30, 2022 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore is expressing support for a nationwide abortion ban aimed at protecting unborn babies after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

As chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Lori recently thanked Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey — both Republicans — for introducing the “Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act.”

“Although we will never cease working for laws that protect human life from its beginning and supporting mothers in need, we think that this proposed legislation is a place to begin uniting Americans regardless of their views on abortion,” Lori wrote in a Sept. 19 letter. “Further, we strongly agree that there is a federal role for protecting unborn human life.”

The legislation, proposed by Graham in the Senate and Smith in the House on Sept. 13, would ban abortion after 15 weeks, except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger.

“I support your efforts with the ‘Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act’ to protect the right to life of unborn babies from 15 weeks’ gestation,” Lori said. “All elected officials, including federally elected members of Congress, now have the opportunity to protect unborn human life and should rise to the occasion.”

He added: “It is long past time to end the barbaric practice of abortion and to provide life-affirming alternatives that support and protect both mother and child.”

The new legislation follows the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June with the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. That decision found that the constitution does not grant a right to abortion and leaves abortion up to the people and their elected represenatives. 

Earlier this month, in anticipation of Respect Life Month in October, Lori called the Supreme Court’s decision an “answer to prayer” — and an opportunity to build a culture of life by practicing “radical solidarity and unconditional love.”

Recent research has revealed much that was previously unknown about babies in the womb, Lori said.

“Science continues to reveal the amazing development and characteristics of babies in utero, such as their ability to respond to music, to their mother’s voice, and to other stimuli,” he wrote. “Furthermore, there is significant scientific evidence that babies can feel pain as early as 12 weeks’ gestation.”

He cited the study, “Reconsidering Fetal Pain,” published by J Med Ethics in 2020.

In his Sept. 19 letter, Lori stressed that abortion puts mothers at risk.

“Finally,” he added, “not only does abortion end the life of the unborn child, but it is frequently harmful to the mother, emotionally and physically.” 

Citing additional sources, he urged: “Late-term abortions, such as those performed when the unborn child is 15 weeks or older, pose significant physical, and potential fatal, risks to the mother.”

The Catholic Church, he said, is committed to accompanying moms in need and providing life-affirming alternatives to abortion.

“The Catholic Church remains clear and consistent in asserting that true justice demands the right to life, the most basic human and civil right, for every child, from conception onward,” Lori wrote. “No person or government has the right to take the life of any innocent human being, regardless of its stage of development.”

Catholic Charities helps to pick up the pieces after Hurricane Ian

A woman looks over her apartment after floodwater inundated it when Hurricane Ian passed through the area on Sept. 29, 2022 in Fort Myers, Florida. The hurricane brought high winds, storm surge, and rain to the area, causing severe damage. / Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 30, 2022 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

Local and national Catholic Charities agencies are working to assess needs and provide aid after Hurricane Ian devastated Florida’s Gulf Coast this week, leading to what will likely be billions of dollars in damage and several confirmed deaths.

In an interview with EWTN News Nightly, Eddie Gloria, CEO of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Venice, said that it was still too early to assess the extent of the hurricane’s damage but that “the diocese was hit hard and directly.”

“It’s safe to say that the recovery effort will be extensive,” Gloria said.

Catholic Charities has deployed teams on the ground to assess the damage and where their efforts are most needed. Most of the diocese, which includes the cities of Cape Coral and Fort Myers, is still without power — across the state, some 1.9 million customers remain without power.

The Diocese of Venice’s pastoral center was closed Friday and is expected to reopen Oct. 3. Bishop Frank Dewane posted a statement on the diocesan Facebook page Sept. 30.

“Thank you for your continued prayers for the Diocese of Venice and all those affected by Hurricane Ian. Damage is still being assessed, but it is clear that the devastation in the diocese is widespread,” Dewane wrote.

“There are several crews already at work throughout the diocese, and Catholic Charities is putting their local team into action. We are grateful for all those who have helped, and continue to help, during this difficult time.”

Gloria, the Catholic Charities CEO, said that communication was still a big challenge due to cell phone towers being downed in the storm. Various parts of the diocese, such as DeSoto County, Sanibel Island, Fort Myers Beach, and Naples, have been completely cut off due to roads and bridges being submerged under water.

Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) has launched a dedicated disaster donation page with 100 percent of the funds raised going to support people impacted by Hurricane Ian and served by their local Catholic Charities agencies. Funds raised through CCUSA will be used for basic necessities such as food, water, and shelter. The Florida Catholic Conference urged donations to CCUSA in a Friday tweet. 

Gloria said Catholic Charities set up several relief sites before the storm, which they plan to activate soon based on their assessments of the sites. They plan to continue to work together with the diocese and parishes to reach people in need of basic necessities like emergency housing, food, and water.

“We’re walking through this cautiously and carefully … wherever we allocate our resources, that is where we are having the greatest impact,” Gloria said.

He also urged prayers to help them through the process.

Hurricane Ian made landfall on Wednesday as a Category 4 storm, pummeling Florida’s Gulf Coast with storm surges and heavy wind. Central Florida received 17 inches of rain as Ian passed overhead. Hurricane Ian has continued on and is expected to slam the South Carolina coast imminently.

A handful of Catholic parishes in the Fort Myers area have announced online that they have reopened. St. Cecilia parish in Fort Myers has power and Wi-Fi, but no water, according to a Thursday Facebook post. As of Thursday, there will be regularly scheduled Masses at St. Cecilia Catholic Community, the post says.

St. John XXIII Catholic Church in Fort Myers said in a Facebook post that its high school youth group will be gathering at the parish for Mass at 11:15 a.m. on Sunday and then going out into the community to try to help people in need.

“If you have power at your house… offer to launder someone’s salt water-drenched clothes and linens before the mold sets in. If you are strong… offer to pull out drenched carpet and baseboards in someone’s house. If you are in an area where there is no flooding… go bag up debris and save homes from future floods to clear the drains. Kids, let’s get to work and help our neighbor… it is exactly what Jesus would do,” the Sept. 30 post from the church reads. 

All Saints Byzantine Church in southwest Florida set up a separate webpage where the parish has been monitoring conditions and updating parishioners. As of the most recent update on Sept. 30, all services at the church had been canceled and the parish priest, Father Steven Galuschik, had evacuated. The church has asked for parishioners to contact the parish office with their safety status and to request any needs in the aftermath of the storm.

All Saints was not immediately available for a comment.

Ave Maria University, which is located south of where the direct path of the storm hit, issued an update on Thursday evening saying that power and air conditioning had fully been restored to the university and town.

Ave Maria is not in the floodplain zone but received small amounts of damage and power outages that were quickly resolved by generators. The university said that classes would resume today, Friday, Sept. 30, with an online option. Classes will resume fully in-person by Monday and campus Masses have fully resumed.

Ave Maria is engaging in various volunteer efforts to support relief for storm victims, including hosting families of first responders in the area because the school is considered a “shelter-in-place” location.

UK doctor investigated for praying with patients calls on Christians to ‘stand up and fight’

Dr. Richard Scott / Photo Courtesy of Christian Concern

CNA Newsroom, Sep 30, 2022 / 10:00 am (CNA).

A Christian doctor from Kent, United Kingdom, has appealed to Christians in professional life to “stand up and fight” after he faced investigation for offering his patients “spiritual care.”

A tribunal between the National Health Service (NHS) England and Dr. Richard Scott, who is based at the Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate, Kent, was canceled earlier this week after it was agreed that Scott would instead attend a one-day course on “professional boundaries” because a number of patients had complained about him offering spiritual support.

Scott told CNA that he agreed to the course as a “goodwill gesture” and that it was crucial for him that it was understood that there was “no guilt attached” on the grounds that he had been acting within the guidelines of the General Medical Council and according to the European Convention on Human Rights and religious expression.

Following the resolution, Scott said that he was pleased with the outcome, which held “huge significance” for religious freedom, and added: “I want Christians to toughen up in this country because prayer is hugely beneficial and makes a huge difference to people’s health, and it shouldn’t be controversial. We need to stand up and fight.”

He went on to say that Christians were increasingly being “marginalized for their faith.”

“I fought this case because I want to encourage other Christians to share their faith in the workplace when it is relevant and not to be cowed by professional organizations. We have good news that we should be able to speak into, which is in line with the GMC guidelines and the ECHR Articles 9 and 10, to manifest your religion.”

Scott went on to say that the complaints about his approach had come after patients had consented to a conversation about faith and that he always followed an established process, ensuring that patients consented first to discussions concerning spiritual care.

A spokesperson for NHS England in the South East told ITV News: “NHS England has reached an agreement with Scott for his appeal to be withdrawn without an admission of liability. Any spiritual care in Scott’s consultations must be in accordance with GMC guidance, and Dr. Scott has agreed to attend a one-day Professional Boundaries Course within three months.”

When asked if he would continue to offer his patients spiritual care, Scott told CNA that he would.

Let your beauty shine, Pope Francis tells young people

Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square, Sept. 28, 2022 / Pablo Esparza / CNA

CNA Newsroom, Sep 30, 2022 / 09:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Friday told young people to let their true beauty shine, the beauty that is a reflection of divine beauty. 

In a message to participants in the Ursuline Global Education Compact, the pope said Sept. 30 that one could not educate “without leading a person to beauty, without leading the heart to beauty.” 

“The beauty we are talking about is not turned in on itself like that of Narcissus, who fell in love with his own image and drowned in the lake in which he saw himself mirrored.”

Instead, Pope Francis told students he was speaking of the beauty that never fades because it is a reflection of divine beauty. 

“The beauty that Jesus revealed to us is a splendor that communicates itself through action; a beauty that is embodied in order to be shared; a beauty that is not afraid of getting its hands dirty, of becoming disfigured in order to be faithful to the love of which it is made.” 

Pope Francis told the students he wished them “a healthy restlessness” to be open and courageous like St. Ursula, the “little bear,” who dared to embark on a long journey with her companions and fearlessly faced attacks to the point of martyrdom.

Finally, Pope Francis said he hoped to see participants at next year’s World Youth Day in Lisbon, “which promises to be a great sign of hope and beauty for all the young people of the world.”

Prosecution calls witnesses as Vatican finance trial resumes

null / Vatican Media.

Rome Newsroom, Sep 30, 2022 / 08:37 am (CNA).

After a break of over two months, the Vatican trial on financial corruption in the Secretariat of State continued this week with the interrogation of witnesses for the prosecution.

The court reconvened Sept. 28, 29, and 30 to begin the questioning of the first of what the prosecution expects to be a total of 41 witnesses it will call.

The witness list includes Vatican gendarme Stefano De Santis, who assisted the Vatican’s now chief prosecutor Alessandro Diddi during the trial’s preliminary investigation; he is expected to testify at the next scheduled hearing on Oct. 12. 

A British-Italian architect, Luciano Capaldo, has been called to testify by the prosecution the same week. Capaldo was the registered director of the holding company London 60 SA Ltd, through which the Secretariat of State controlled the London property after its purchase.

The building at 60 Sloane Avenue in London is at the center of the Vatican’s historic corruption trial, which began at the end of July 2021.

The Vatican has charged 10 people with crimes, including Cardinal Angelo Becciu, the former second-ranking official at the Secretariat of State. Becciu was questioned in May.

The London investment property was purchased by the secretariat in stages over several years for a reported £350 million pounds.

In July, the Vatican confirmed the London building had been sold to Bain Capital for £186 million ($223.6 million).

The Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) reported that the losses from the sale were absorbed by the savings of the Secretariat of State and therefore did not touch the pope’s charitable fund, Peter’s Pence.

The hearing on Wednesday consisted of the second half of the questioning of defendant Fabrizio Tirabassi, a former official at the Secretariat of State.

Thursday’s audience opened with the questioning of defendant Nicola Squillace, the lawyer of businessman and fellow defendant Gianluigi Torzi.

In the course of the trial, the only defendants who have not taken the stand are Gianluigi Torzi and Cecilia Marogna.

The Sept. 29 hearing then continued with the first witness, Roberto Lolato, who was called to testify for the prosecution as an expert witness.  

Prosecutors asked Lolato to examine the financial operations carried out by the Secretariat of State in relation to the purchase of the London building as a technical consultant.

On Friday, the Vatican’s auditor general, Alessandro Cassinis Righini, testified.

Righini had been acting auditor general since June 2017 and full auditor since May 2021.

He succeeded Libero Milone, who served as auditor general from 2015 until he was dismissed in 2017, just two years into a five-year mandate.

Milone was hired as the Vatican’s first auditor general in a move to introduce more financial transparency in the Vatican City State. 

Three months after stepping down, Milone claimed that he was “threatened” into resignation by an “old guard” opposed to his work and accused Cardinal Becciu of targeting him after he launched an investigation into a possible conflict of interest.

A Sept. 30 statement from Becciu’s lawyer, Fabio Viglione, claimed the suspension of the PricewaterhouseCoopers audit in April 2016 “was not an autonomous choice of the then-sostituto Monsignor Becciu, but a position taken by the Secretariat of State.”

Righini was questioned Sept. 30 about the external audit ordered by Cardinal George Pell, then prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, and reportedly opposed by Becciu. 

He also answered questions about meetings he took part in with secretariat officials regarding financial investments.

Righini said he was surprised that the Secretariat of State considered making an investment in an oil company in Angola given its evident conflict with the teachings of Pope Francis in his environmental encyclical Laudato si (the investment eventually fell through).

Funds originally earmarked for the Angola investment were reportedly rerouted into the London building purchase.

The auditor general said Pope Francis did not know anything about the London investment. But later, under additional questioning, he revised his statement to say he could not be 100% certain the pope knew nothing.