Catholic News

Catholic News

As the US bishops held their National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington on the evening of January 20, the pro-abortion organization Catholics for Choice projected messages onto the basilica’s bell tower and facade.

At a January 20 audience with members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Pope Francis said that “a faith that does not raise questions is a faith that has to be questioned.” The Pope recommended that the CDF focus its work on human dignity, discernment, and faith. He decried the “growing temptation to consider the other as a stranger or enemy,” which threatens respect for human dignity. Discernment is especially necessary, he continued, at a time when “on the one hand believers find themselves faced with unprecedented and complex questions, on the other, there is an increasing need for spirituality that does not always find its point of reference in the Gospel. The Pontiff said that he had given greater authority to the CDF in cases involving abuse, urging “more incisive” action. As an example of discernment, he said that when he uses his authority to dissolve a marriage, “I always intend to foster the Catholic faith… in the new union and in the family of which this new marriage will be the nucleus.” Pope Francis concluded his talk by discussing preparation for the Synod on Synodality, saying: “A synodal journey without discernment is not a synodal journey.”

At a January 20 audience with members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Pope Francis said that “a faith that does not raise questions is a faith that has to be questioned.” The Pope recommended that the CDF focus its work on human dignity, discernment, and faith. He decried the “growing temptation to consider the other as a stranger or enemy,” which threatens respect for human dignity. Discernment is especially necessary, he continued, at a time when “on the one hand believers find themselves faced with unprecedented and complex questions, on the other, there is an increasing need for spirituality that does not always find its point of reference in the Gospel. The Pontiff said that he had given greater authority to the CDF in cases involving abuse, urging “more incisive” action. As an example of discernment, he said that when he uses his authority to dissolve a marriage, “I always intend to foster the Catholic faith… in the new union and in the family of which this new marriage will be the nucleus.” Pope Francis concluded his talk by discussing preparation for the Synod on Synodality, saying: “A synodal journey without discernment is not a synodal journey.”

Pope Francis has issued a decree naming St. Irenaeus a Doctor of the Church. On January 20 the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which the Pontiff had consulted about the move, approved the designation; the Pope’s decree formally completes the process. In the decree Pope Francis remarks that the Irenaeus “expresses that peace which comes from the Lord and which reconciles, restoring unity.” He repeats his earlier statement that St. Irenaeus “was a spiritual and theologican bridge between Eastern and Western Christians.”

In 2020, Pope Francis named Cardinal Silvano Maria Tomasi as his special delegate to the Knights of Malta. Albrecht von Boeselager, the Grand Chancellor of the Knights of Malta, recently warned that a Vatican move to rewrite the group’s constitution could threaten the sovereignty of the ancient order.

With three dissenting votes, the Supreme Court on January 20 allowed the Texas Heartbeat Act to remain in effect while legal challenges proceed through the court system.

“Violence against Christian women is a weapon being used to wage war against religious minorities,” said Michele Clark, coauthor of the report. “This also has something to do with the structure of Islamic law. “If a Christian woman is forced to convert or is forcibly married to a Muslim, it is impossible for her to return to her Christian faith—even if she can free herself or is released from the marriage,” Clark continued. “If the woman has children, these children will always remain Muslim.”

Rawalpindi, a city of 2.1 million, is Pakistan’s fourth-largest city. Aneeqa Atiq was arrested in 2020 for posting ‘blasphemous material’ (sketches of Muslim religious figures) on WhatsApp,” according to the report. She has been “sentenced to death by hanging, plus 24 years in prison and a fine.”

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, preached the homily (full text) at the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. During the Mass, a pro-abortion advocacy group projected messages onto the National Shrine’s facade and bell tower. A spokesman for the organization said it had secured a city permit to do so.

“The stampede erupted when a gang of thugs armed with knives attacked some of the hundreds attending the ceremony,” according to the report. Liberia, a West African nation of 5.2 million (map), is 41% Christian, 40% ethnic religionist, and 16% Muslim.

Colombo is the largest city in Sri Lanka and the site of the 2019 Easter bombings that killed 269 people and injured over 500. Buddhism is the official religion of the South Asian nation of 23 million (map). Sri Lanka is 68% Buddhist, 13% Hindu, 9% Muslim, and 9% Christian.

Former Senator Joe Donnelly has been confirmed by the US Senate to be the new ambassador to the Holy See. Donnelly, an Indiana Democrat, had a mixed voting record on pro-life issues; in 2013 he voted in favor of legal recognition for same-sex marriage. Donnelly will be the 12th American ambassador since the formal diplomatic relations between the US and the Holy See were established in 1984. He will succeed Callista Gingrich, who served from 2017 through 2021.

Two years before Paris is scheduled to host the Summer Olympics, the French Senate voted 160-143 to ban “the wearing of the veil in sports competitions.” Other “conspicuous religious symbols” will also be forbidden if the bill becomes law. “The vote came a year after lawmakers in the French parliament’s lower house approved a bill to strengthen oversight of mosques, schools and sports clubs in a bid to safeguard France from radical Islamists,” the Associated Press reported.

The abbot of historic Esphigmenou, an Eastern Orthodox monastery on Mount Athos, said that 40 unvaccinated monks have died of Covid. The abbot strongly criticized the “fanaticism” of the monks and said that “they have turned our faith into a religion dominated by terror towards Christians for a stern God who is punishing.” Nonetheless, he said he would not order them to be vaccinated: “in the name of obedience that exists in a monastery, I cannot impose myself on matters other than spiritual matters.”

Pope Francis received Qu Dongyu, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, on January 20. “Thank you for your continued passion & fraternity with FAO’s mandate,” Qu tweeted. “We are united in the commitment to work towards more efficient, inclusive, resilient & sustainable agrifood systems to achieve SDGs [ Sustainable Development Goals], leaving no one behind.”

Amid a Russian military buildup on Ukraine’s border, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church warned that Russia should be perceived as a bulwark of Christian values. Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk said, “If we delve into the postulates that underlie Russia’s geopolitical considerations and movements, these postulates are quite different from those of Christian values. What is really happening is the instrumentalization of so-called Christian values for political purposes and, obviously, this is motivated by certain political goals.”

Pope Francis will formally name St. Irenaeus, the 2nd-century bishop and martyr, a Doctor of the Universal Church, the Vatican has announced. At an audience on January 20, Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, reported to the Pontiff that the Congregation had approved the title for St. Irenaeus. The Pope himself had said last October that he wished to honor St. Irenaeus as the “Doctor of Unity,” describing him as “a great spiritual and theological bridge between Eastern and Western Christianity.” St. Irenaeus was the author of many influential works, many of which are now lost, but his work Against Heresies remains a popular study. He will be the 37th Doctor of the Church, and the first who is also recognized as a martyr.

Citing Open Doors’ World Watch List 2022, Forbes reported that “across 76 countries, more than 360 million Christians suffer high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith—an increase of 20 million since last year … One in every seven Christians live under at least high levels of persecution or discrimination for their faith.” The report was the most prominent story in the Vatican newspaper’s January 20 Italian edition.

Citing the continuing Covid epidemic, Pope Francis has cancelled plans for the leaders of the Roman Curia to join him at a retreat house outside Rome for the annual spiritual exercises during Lent. Last year, similarly, the Pontiff set aside plans for the Lenten Retreat, which was to take place in Ariccia. Instead of gathering for the spiritual exercises, the Pope has asked Vatican officials to “make their own personal arrangements, withdrawing in prayer,” from Sunday, March 6 through Friday, March 11. During that week no papal audiences will be held.

In 2020, Archbishop Stefan Hesse of Hamburg asked the Vatican to investigate his handling of sex-abuse cases during his tenure as vicar general of the Cologne archdiocese. Last September, Pope Francis declined his resignation. Archbishop Hesse has now offered “the first testimony ever given by a German Catholic bishop in a court case on abuse,” according to the report. In 2011, the prelate allowed a suspended priest accused of abusing a minor to concelebrate Masses.