News Briefing: Church in the World

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

World Youth Day 2023, in Lisbon, will take place between 1 and 6 August and Pope Francis will be present for the entire event. The date was announced on Monday, the feast day of St Francis of Assisi. Originally scheduled for 2022, the WYD in Portugal was postponed one year because of the Covid-19 pandemic and is expected to attract up to 1 million young people.

News Briefing: Church in the World

World Youth Day 2023, in Lisbon, will take place between 1 and 6 August and Pope Francis will be present for the entire event. The date was announced on Monday, the feast day of St Francis of Assisi. Originally scheduled for 2022, the WYD in Portugal was postponed one year because of the Covid-19 pandemic and is expected to attract up to 1 million young people.

A battle between gangs in Litoral Penitentiary in Guayaquil, Ecuador, on Wednesday last week killed at least 116 people and injured 80 in what authorities are calling the worst penitentiary massacre in Ecuador’s history. At least five dead were reportedly beheaded. After the recitation of the Angelus prayer on Sunday, Pope Francis prayed that God may “help us to heal the wounds of crime that enslave the poorest, and to help those who work every day to make prison life more humane”.

During its 27-28 September assembly, the Pontifical Academy for Life advocated for equitable distribution of anti-Covid vaccines and to combat vaccine scepticism. Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the academy, pleaded during a 28 September press conference for Western countries to combat global disparities in vaccine access. On 27 September Pope Francis  met with the academy and again added his support for global vaccination efforts.

The Bishop of Tombura-Yambio, South Sudan, has urged the protection of priests, religious and lay staff as armed conflict in the region continues to cause widespread death and displacement. Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala last week lamented, “violence, murders, hatred, distrust, mass displacements” with skirmishes between different ethnic communities spilling over into Church work carried out by personnel from various ethnic communities.

 Cardinal Christoph Schönborn left Vienna on 1 October, for Syria, where he was to visit the Syrian-Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II and other Oriental Church leaders including the Greek-Orthodox and Melkite-Catholic Patriarchs. The main purpose of the visit is to demonstrate moral and spiritual support for Christians in the region. Meetings with politicians are not planned. Meanwhile the Syrian Catholic Patriarch, Ignace Youssef III Younan, has given instructions to exempt the families of Syrian Catholic students who attend schools in Lebanon connected to the Patriarchate from the payment of school fees for the 2021-2022 academic year, in an attempt to keep students in school amidst increasing poverty in the country.

The head of Tunisia’s Catholic Church has said the appointment of a woman as prime minister is not just an “image campaign”. Archbishop Ilario Antoniazzi of Tunis was reacting to the Tunisian President’s appointment of Professor Najla Bouden Romdhane as the first Arab female prime minister. “We have to take into account that here in Tunisia women have a meaning in social life that does not exist in other Arab countries,” the archbishop said. He hoped the appointment would be reflected in other Arab countries.

A new report by an ecumenical task force on the Christian presence in the Middle East has been described by Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako as a “road map” for revival of Christianity in the region. He said in a video, shown at a meeting in the Lebanese city of Antelias on 28 September, that the document entitled “Christians in the Middle East: Towards Renewed Theological, Social, and Political Choices” should be taken seriously by “all heads of the Eastern Churches”.

The Diocese of Wabag in Papua New Guinea is standing by victims of witchcraft accusations, including offering practical support to victims in its 2021-2025 pastoral plan. Diocesan Caritas, with the support of Bishop Arnold Orowae of Wabag, saves people targeted and works to raise awareness. Currently, 14 victims are under the care of the Diocese, including three children. 

The Catholic Bishops of Chile are “deeply disappointed” that Chile’s lower house of Congress has approved debating a bill that would expand women’s access to legal abortion. It would decriminalise abortion up to 14 weeks of pregnancy but faces a lengthy process before it could become law. Until now, abortion is allowed during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy only when the mother’s life is at risk or the foetus is unviable. 

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan has asked religious leaders to join forces with the government to raise awareness of the positive effects of getting Covid-19 jabs. Addressing clerics and bishops of the Anglican Church of Tanzania last week in Dodoma, President Samia said, “vaccine helps reduce complications as well as mortality”.  

A national survey on living conditions in Venezuela, involving a Catholic University, has revealed poverty and unemployment increasing and only 5 per cent of emigrants returning. In the last year, extreme poverty has affected two thirds of the country’s families, and formal employment has lost 1.3 million jobs according to data collected by the Economic and Social Research Institute of the Catholic University Andrés Bello (UCAB) for the survey.

Caritas Pakistan has opened two new community schools in the Archdiocese of Karachi to tackle early school dropout and child labour. The Caritas Community School project plans to provide primary level education to children who left school for financial or work-related reasons.

Speaking by video message to the UN General Assembly Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States, condemned nuclear missiles at a meeting to mark the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on 26 September.

The 90th birthday of Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on 7 October was expected to be marked with a special service and an online lecture by the Dalai Lama, Ireland’s former president Mary Robinson, rights activist Graca Machel and South Africa’s anti-corruption campaigner Thuli Madonsela. The film, Mission Joy: Finding Happiness in Troubled Times, was to be shown, where the Archbishop and the Dalai Lama celebrated their spiritual leadership and decades-long friendship.

The US city of Baltimore has refused a permit to protest requested by the group Church Militant. The protest was planned for an amphitheatre adjacent to the hotel where the US bishops will be holding their plenary session next month. City officials said they were concerned violence might erupt after Church Militant announced speakers would include former Trump adviser Steve Bannon and activist Milo Yiannopoulus, as well as suspended priest Fr James Altman. Church Militant is suing.

The conflict between San Francisco’s two most famous Catholics, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi escalated as the archbishop called on all Catholics in the city to pray and fast for Pelosi after she helped pass a bill that permits abortion-on-demand. “A conversion of heart of the majority of our congressional representatives is needed on this issue, beginning with the leader of the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi,” the archbishop said. “I am therefore inviting all Catholics to join in a massive and visible campaign of prayer and fasting for Speaker Pelosi: Commit to praying one rosary a week and fasting on Fridays for her conversion of heart.”

Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the most prominent vaccine sceptics among the Catholic clergy, released a statement last week announcing he had left the hospital after being treated for Covid-19 and had taken up residence in a home near his family in Wisconsin. The cardinal’s statement, posted on his website, said: “I cannot predict when I will be able to return to my normal activities. Seemingly, it will be several more weeks.”

In a letter to Mexico’s bishops on the 27 September celebration of the 200th anniversary of the nation’s final independence from Spain the Argentine Pope wrote: “On various occasions both my predecessors and myself have asked forgiveness for personal and social sins, for all actions or omissions that did not contribute to evangelisation”. Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the head of Madrid’s regional government criticised the Pope for apologising for the Catholic Church’s role in the conquest of Mexico 500 years ago. “I am surprised that a Catholic who speaks Spanish speaks like that about a legacy like ours, which was to bring the Spanish language – and through missions – Catholicism and, therefore, civilisation and freedom to the American continent,” she said.

The diocese of Ragusa in Sicily reported on an off-the-cuff remark by Pope Francis after the diocesan bishop Giuseppe La Placa invited him to visit a ceremony it is planning for its 75th anniversary year in 2025. Bishop La Placa, who extended the invitation to the Pope in Rome, reported on the diocese’s website that “the Holy Father gave a smile and a nod of assent and … with a joke he replied saying that in 2025 it will be John XXIV who will make that visit.”

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