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August 22, 2017
Archive of June 17, 2017

UK party leader steps down, citing Christian faith

London, England, Jun 17, 2017 (CNA/EWTN News) - After facing backlash for his Christian faith, the head of the UK’s Liberal Democratic Party announced his resignation on Wednesday, claiming that leading the party was becoming incompatible with living his faith.

“To be a political leader – especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 – and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible's teaching, has felt impossible for me,” said Tim Farron, noting he would hold his position until the parliamentary recess begins next month.

Farron’s announcement follows significant media attention surrounding his answers to press questions on abortion and homosexuality.

During the recent election, Farron had been asked repeatedly by reporters about his views on the morality of homosexual acts.

Earlier this week, the party's home affairs spokesman Brian Paddick – a prominent gay politician – resigned abruptly, citing concerns over opinions held by the party’s leadership.

Despite the Liberal Democrats gaining several parliamentary seats under Farron, he faced opposition from within his own party.

According to the Telegraph, one senior Liberal Democrat said Farron was “unhelpful during the campaign.”

He also said Farron’s “views [were] not compatible with being the leader of the Liberal Democrats.”

Simon Hughes, formerly the party’s deputy leader, said “it became unfairly difficult that Tim was put in the firing line and felt that he couldn’t adequately do justice to his faith while upholding the liberal values that he has argued for all his life.”

“It would be the same for people of other faiths who have strong faith views, where there are issues that are very controversial within that faith community,” he told the BBC.

Farron noted the “scrutiny” he faced when “asked about matters to do with my faith,” claiming he felt unable to remain Christian in the current environment and could not benefit the party in its mission of upholding everyone’s rights.

He said journalist had the right to question him as they saw fit, but that the scrutiny of his faith in the public eye drew away attention from the message of the Liberal Democratic Party.

“I felt guilty that this focus was distracting attention from our campaign, obscuring our message,” he said, identifying a major aspect of that mission as “defending the rights and liberties of people who believe different things to me.”

“In which case we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society,” he said.

He clarified that he disagrees with “Christians in politics who take the view that they should impose the tenets of faith on society,” saying that this is “counterproductive when it comes to advancing the gospel.”

Farron ended his address stating that he loved his party – a party he joined when he was 16 – and encouraged his successor to “fight for a Britain that is confident, generous and compassionate.”

“My successor will inherit a party that is needed now more than ever before. Our future as an open, tolerant and united country is at stake.”

 

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Pope Francis expresses sorrow for victims of London Grenfell Tower fire

Vatican City, Jun 17, 2017 (CNA/EWTN News) - On Saturday Pope Francis expressed his sorrow for the victims of a devastating fire at Grenfell Tower in London, offering his condolences for the families of those who have died.

A June 17 telegram sent to Cardinal Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster, stated that Pope Francis "was saddened to learn of the devastating fire in London and of the tragic loss of life and injury."

The Pope “entrusts the souls of those who have died to the Lord's loving mercy and offers his heartfelt condolences to their families,” it stated.

Signed by Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the telegram went on to express the Pope's appreciation "for the brave efforts of the emergency service personnel and all committed to supporting those who have lost their homes."

Concluding, Francis also invoked upon the whole local community "God's blessings of strength and peace."  

On June 14, just after midnight, a fire began on the fourth floor of Grenfell Tower located in north Kensington, a district of west London. The 24-story building is home to hundreds of people, and the fire blazed until early in the morning.

The cause of the fire is still unknown. A fire investigation report will not be released publicly until the opening of full inquests into those who have died, which could take years, the Guardian reports.

So far, 30 people are confirmed dead, while more than 70 people remain unaccounted for, and friends and family are scrambling to connect with their loved ones. As of Wednesday, some 70 people had been hospitalized for injuries sustained in the incident, including 20 people whose condition is critical.

Hundreds of others who escaped the flames have still lost their homes and all of their belongings, but Catholic parishes in the surrounding area have quickly begun receiving donations of food, clothes, and water to be distributed.

Saint Clemente, one nearby church, has seen such an outpouring that it has asked for future donations to be given to a church a few blocks away.

In the wake of the tragedy, grief has also led to anger at what has been perceived as a failure by authorities to take seriously the concerns of Grenfell residents prior to the fire, as well as a lack of official presence and coordination in the hours following.

Protests have gathered steam and on Friday demonstrators stormed Kensington town hall calling on authorities to provide financial support for victims and to rehouse residents within the borough.

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Pope Francis, German Chancellor discuss need to fight poverty, hunger

Vatican City, Jun 17, 2017 (CNA/EWTN News) - Saturday, Pope Francis and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met at the Vatican, agreeing on the need to dedicate special attention to the responsibility of the international community in addressing issues of poverty and hunger.

According to a brief June 17 Vatican communique, the “cordial discussions” also included a conversation on the upcoming G20 meeting in Hamburg, as well as concern for the global threats of terrorism and climate change.  

The fourth formal meeting of the leaders, the exchange was friendly, the communique stating that the “good relations and fruitful collaboration between the Holy See and Germany were evoked.”

In a press conference following the audience, Merkel said that their conversation included a discussion of their unified desire that the world tear down walls and fight for international treaties, with a special emphasis on the plight in Africa.

Speaking of international treaties, in the press conference Merkel also expressed her disappointment at the United States’ departure from the Paris climate agreement.

In the meeting, Pope Francis expressed his condolences for the death of former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who died on Friday. In a message to Merkel, the Pope said that he learned of the news of his death “with emotion.”

“I would like to express my condolences to your family members and to you and to all the German people who empathize with the ‘Chancellor of the Unity,’” he said. “Chancellor Kohl, who is a great and trusted European man, has worked with foresight and dedication for the good of people in Germany and in the neighboring European countries.”

Written in German, the telegram also stated the Pope’s wish that the “Merciful God” will reward him “for his tireless efforts in favor of unity of Germany and the union of Europe, as well as for his commitment to peace and reconciliation.”

The Lord gives eternal joy and life in heaven to those who have died, Francis said, imploring the consolation and blessing of God on the Kohl’s family and all who mourn him.

Near the end of their meeting, the Pope gifted Merkel a small bronze sculpture of an olive branch, symbolizing peace.

He also gave her the customary gift of copies of his environmental encyclical Laudato Si, his 2015 Apostolic Exhortation on the family “Amoris Laetitia,” and his 2013 exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium,” all in German.

For her part, Merkel gave the Pope a gift of three jars of the Argentinian dessert, Dulce de leche, along with a CD set of symphonic works by Beethoven.

Afterward, Merkel met with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher.

The Pope and Merkel have met for formal audiences at the Vatican three other times: in 2013, 2015 and 2016. Their first encounter was exchanged in St. Peter’s Basilica May 19, 2013, for the occasion of the Pope’s official installation Mass as Bishop of Rome.

June 16, the evening prior to the audience, Merkel met at the German Embassy with Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner, head of the Center for Child Protection (CCP) at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and a member of the Vatican's Commission for the Protection of Minors.

According to a tweet by Fr. Zollner, the two discussed the topic of the safeguarding of minors.

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Sainthood causes advance, including layman who resisted fascism

Vatican City, Jun 17, 2017 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis on Friday recognized the heroic virtue of six persons on the path to canonization, as well as the martyrdom of an Italian man who died from injuries of a beating he received while imprisoned in a concentration camp for resisting fascism.

The Pope met June 16 with the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, giving his approval for the causes to move forward.

He recognized the martyrdom of Venerable Teresio Olivelli, a layman "killed in hatred of the Faith" Jan. 17, 1945, at the age of 29.

Venerable Olivelli was born in 1916. He graduated with a degree in law and went on to comment in papers on legal and social issues of the time before becoming a volunteer soldier in the Spanish Civil War and in World War II.

During the war, his views towards the Italian fascist regime of Benito Mussolini soured. He founded a newspaper dedicated to promoting the Christian message and tried to infuse a Christian message into the regime.

He later broke from it entirely after seeing the reality of the deportation of Jewish people as per racial laws. He became part of the Italian Resistance movement in Milan.

He was apprehended on April 27, 1944 and taken to a prison where he was tortured and beaten before being moved to another prison. On July 11 his name was added to a list of 70 inmates to be shot, but he fled and hid in a field until he was recaptured.

He was then transferred to a concentration camp in northern Italy before being moved to the Flossenburg and Hersbruck camps in Germany. While there he shared food rations with inmates and treated their injuries.

He died from injuries he received after defending a Ukrainian inmate from being attacked. He was kicked in the stomach and intestines and struck 25 times.

Olivelli's beatification process began in 1988. Originally sought as a martyrdom, this was rejected because of doubts, though he was found to have lived a life of heroic virtue and was named 'Venerable' by Pope Francis in 2015.

Officials of the cause remained adamant that Olivelli was killed in hatred of his faith and therefore re-submitted a “positio” – a collection of documents submitted for sainthood causes – in 2016, hoping it would lead to his beatification without the usual required miracle.

Based on new findings it was approved by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and now by Pope Francis, affirming that he was killed “in hatred of the faith,” paving the way for his beatification.

Another cause moving forward is that of Sr. Maria degli Angeli, born Giuseppa Margherita Operte in Turin in 1871.

Born into a wealthy family, she experienced loss at the young age of 14 when her father and brother died within three months of each other. Left alone with her mother, they entered more deeply into the Christian life, becoming Third Order lay Carmelites.

When Giuseppa heard that a priest in a neighboring parish was circulating the rumor that she would open an institute for poor young girls, she took it as a sign of her calling and in 1894 opened the Institute of St. Joseph in a palace inherited from her parents.

She began a religious community of Third Order Carmelites who live an active apostolate according to the spirituality of the great reformers of Carmel, which since 1970 is called the Carmelite Sisters of Saint Teresa of Turin, and has two branches, one contemplative and one active.

She died in the monastery of Cascine Vica on Oct. 7, 1949, having lived an active life centered on contemplation.

The other persons declared ‘Venerable’ are: Bishop Antonio Jose de Souza Barroso of Porto (1854-1918); Bishop Jose de Jesus López y González of Aguascalientes, founder of the Congregation of the Maestro Catholic Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (1872-1950); Bishop Agostino Ernesto Castrillo, OFM, of San Marco and Bisignano, (1904-1955); Fr. Giacomo da Balduina, OFM Cap., (1900-1948); and Sr. Umiltà Patlán Sánchez of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (1895-1970).

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