Europe's bishops urge international community to support Ukraine (CCEE) “The Presidency of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences, giving voice to the Bishops of the European Continent in this dramatic moment of tension around Ukraine, wishes to express its closeness to the Churches in Ukraine and to all its people,” the continent’s bishops said in a statement. “They invite the international community to offer its support to the country in the face of the danger of a Russian military offensive.”
“We also, as shepherds of the European Continent, want to appeal to the Leaders of the Nations so that they do not forget the tragic World Wars of the last century and so that international law as well as the independence and territorial sovereignty of each country will be defended,’ the bishops added. “Together with the Holy Father, we want to call on Governments to find ‘acceptable and lasting solutions’ in Ukraine based on dialogue and negotiation and without resorting to arms. At this extremely delicate time, we ask Christians to pray for the gift of peace in Ukraine.”
Cardinal skips Vatican trial to boycott talk of rumored liaison with woman (Reuters) The Associated Press also covered the story, with the headline “Vatican cardinal complains prosecutors asked about sex life.”
The prelate is Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, who oversaw the internal affairs of the Roman Curia as Substitute (Sostituto) of the Secretariat of State from 2011 to 2018. Pope Francis created him a cardinal in the 2018 consistory and named him Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. In 2020, Becciu resigned from the “rights connected to the cardinalate,” and he is now on trial in connection with a London real estate deal.
During the January 26 hearing, Vatican prosecutors announced that they were bringing new charges against four defendants, bringing the total number of defendants to ten. The tribunal had thrown out the charges against the four in December because of procedural mistakes, telling prosecutors that they would have to re-start their investigations in those cases.
Disputes between the prosecution and defense continued at the January 25 hearing, with defense lawyers saying that they had not received material that the court had ordered prosecutors to turn over. The court set a new deadline for delivery of the material.
Knights of Malta fear direct Vatican attack on sovereignty (Pillar) Leaders of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta are voicing fears of a direct attack by the Vatican against their sovereign status, after the Pope’s appointed delegate barred a representative for the Order from discussions of a new constitution for the group.
Cardinal Silvano Tomasi, who has been given authority by Pope Francis to reform the Order’s statutes, refused to allow Marwan Sehnaoui onto a committee drafting the new constitution. Sehnaoui had been named by Albrecht Von Boeselager, the Order’s grand chancellor, after Von Boselager removed himself from the process, saying that he saw threats to the ancient group’s sovereignty.
Brazilian bishops rap resistance to Covid vaccination for children (Crux) The Catholic bishops of Brazil have decried public statements that discourage the Covid-vaccination of children, in a statement clearly aimed at President Jair Bolsonaro.
Bolsonaro has spoken against vaccinating childen, noting that young people are generally not vulnerable to Covid, and the vaccine’s effects are uncertain. The bishops’ statement condemned misleading information about the vaccines.
Pope tells parents: do not condemn homosexual children (AP) Speaking off-the-cuff during his regular weekly general audience on January 26, Pope Francis told parents, “Never condemn a child.”
The Pope spoke about parents who must care for a child who is ill or disabled, or children with other difficulties. In that context he said: “Parents who see that their children have different sexual orientations” should “accompany their children and not hide behind a condemning attitude.”
Ukrainian Catholic leader decries buildup of Russian troops on border (Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church) “The neighboring aggressor state ... sows death all about them,” said Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, in the words of the Eastern-rite church’s summary of a recent homily.
“Every time we hear that the number of troops on the borders of our country is increasing, when the whole world is worried, and some countries are even preparing to evacuate the families of their diplomats from Ukraine and tell their citizens not to go to Ukraine – it only increases fear,” he added.
'Refrain from hostilities,' Ukrainian and Polish bishops plead (Polish Bishops' Conference) “Totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century led the world to the tragic experience of war and political terror while ignoring the authority of God,ˮ Polish and Ukrainian bishops said in their statement. “In the name of false ideologies, whole nations were condemned to annihilation, respect for human dignity was violated, and the essence of the exercise of political power was reduced to violence alone. Today, too, we want to make it clear that any war is a tragedy and can never be an adequate means of solving international problems.”
Quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the bishops said that “actions deliberately contrary to the law of nations and to its universal principles are crimes, as are the orders that command such actions. Blind obedience does not suffice to excuse those who carry them out. Thus, the extermination of a people, nation, or ethnic minority must be condemned as a mortal sin.”
Without specifics, French bishops offer advice on upcoming elections (CNS) “We are going through tough and perilous times, but fear is always a bad counselor, whereas hope opens the way to courageous and healthy choices,” the leaders of the French bishops’ conference said in L’Espérance ne déçoit pas [Hope Does Not Disappoint (Romans 5:5)], a statement ahead of the April presidential election and June legislative election.
“The risk of fracturing our national community is real, as is the resurgence of international tensions,” they added. “We cannot allow ourselves to be locked into bitterness and discouragement.”
USCCB, CRS: 'Urge your reps to support vaccine equity around the world' (Catholic Relief Services) The US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services (the US bishops’ international relief and development agency) have asked Catholics to lobby Congress to “ensure the United States uses its full diplomatic and funding capabilities to push for the equitable global distribution and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines.”
During his recent Address to the Diplomatic Corps (CWN coverage), Pope Francis said that “in the end, a comprehensive commitment on the part of the international community is necessary, so that the entire world population can have equal access to essential medical care and vaccines.”
Republicans rip Biden listing of employees who seek religious exemptions (Washington Times) Republican Party leaders in the US House of Representatives have demanded that the Biden administration stop compiling a list of government workers who seek religious exemptions from a Covid-vaccine mandate.
Forty Republican lawmakers signed a statement saying that move to assemble a special data base of religious employees was “inexcusable and must be withdrawn.” They charged: “From day one, your administration has displayed a consistent attitude of contempt toward Americans who prioritize faith in their lives.”
Indian archbishop calls on leaders to respect religious freedom (AsiaNews) In an interview with AsiaNews, Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil, the retired Salesian archbishop of Guwahati, reflected on contemporary India and called for greater respect for the nation’s 1950 constitution, which recognizes the right to religious freedom.
“One of the hardest tasks for Indian authorities is to explain to global society how they can claim that freedom of religion in the country is perfect when there is official interference in citizens’ personal religious decisions,” he said. “While the constitution gives freedom to ‘propagate’, today we feel that even the right to ‘practice’ is being restricted, with prayer groups and religious gatherings being disturbed. Instances of harassments have multiplied.”
Church leaders in Paraguay highlight new law's negative effect on indigenous peoples (Crux) “A controversial private property law ratified this past September applies stiff prison sentences to parties found guilty of occupying private land,” Al Jazeera reported. “90% of the country’s territory is in the hands of just 12,000 property owners, many with ties to the dictatorial government of Alfredo Stroessner, who was in power between 1954 and 1989, which gifted public lands and Indigenous territory to allies.”
Learn to listen, Pope urges in statement for World Communications Day (Vatican Press Office) Pope Francis lamented that “we are losing our ability to listen,” in his message for the 56th annual World Communications Day.
The Pope remarked that among the five senses, “the one favored by God seems to be hearing.” He receive the faith by listening, he said. And in fact God takes the initiative when He speaks to us; “we respond by listening to him.”
Genuine listening, the Pontiff continued, involves caring about the other’s opinion, and is quite unlike “eavesdropping.” He called attention to the frequent complaints that people “talk past one another.”
“Communication does not take place if listening has not taken place,” the Pope said. He added that “there is no good journalism without the ability to listen.”
At the conclusion of his statement the Pope called attention to the preparations for the Synod on Synodality, emphasizing the importance of listening to the faithful.
125 German priests, Church employees 'come out,' demand changes (Deutsche Welle) 125 German priests and lay employees “came out” and demanded that the Church do away with “outdated statements of Church doctrine.”
“The #OutInChurch initiative demands ... to change the church’s labor law in such a way that a life in accordance with one’s own sexual orientation and gender identity, also in a partnership or civil marriage, does not lead to exclusion from tasks and offices nor to dismissal,” the group said in a statement.
Bishop Helmut Dieser of Aachen praised the initiative: “I would like to welcome this on behalf of the German Bishops’ Conference as a sign that we are working to ensure that such a climate of freedom from fear must prevail and arise in our Church.”
Pope urges Augustine canonesses to help restore young people's taste for life (Vatican News) “Faced with the challenges and dangers that threaten young people, I hope that your commitment and your enthusiasm, forged in the strength of the Gospel, may restore to them the taste for life and the desire to build a society worthy of this name,” Pope Francis said on January 24, in an audience with participants in the General Chapter of the Canonesses of St. Augustine of the Notre-Dame Congregation.
St. Peter Fourier and Blessed Alix Le Clerc founded the institute in 1597.
Mexican Court confirms ruling: cardinals guilty of influencing vote (Crux) A Mexican court has upheld the conviction of two leading Catholic prelates for having “pressured and/or induced” the faithful to vote in last year’s elections.
Cardinals Carlos Aguiar Retes of Mexico City and Juan Sandoval Iniguez, the retired Archbishop of Guadalajara, were convicted of violating Mexico’s strict legal separation between Church and state. The court explained that the law bars religious leaders from “proselytizing for or against any political party, any candidacy, or any political organization.” Two other priests were convicted of the same violation.
The cardinals had not endorsed political candidates for the June election, but had sharply criticized the current government. Cardinal Sandoval Iniguez, in a pre-election statement, said: “If those who are in power win, a dictatorship will come—that is, liberty will be lost—because we’re talking about a system that is communist, socialist, that enslaves.”