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August 21, 2017
Archive of August 10, 2017

Brazilian archbishop robbed at his residence

Maceio, Brazil, Aug 10, 2017 (CNA/EWTN News) - While preparing to travel to Mass on Saturday morning, Archbishop Antonio Muniz Fernandes of Maceio was robbed at gun point, along with a deacon and a caretaker at his residence.

“I was targeted by a gun, but the assailants didn't physically assault anyone. They took personal possessions and the little money that was in a wallet,” Archbishop Muniz said, according to the website of the Archdiocese of Maceio.

“I’m fine and tranquil. It is normal for anyone who goes through this to be surprised, but thanks be to God nothing serious happened.”

Archbishop Muniz was to be picked up at his house in the Farol neighborhood of the Brazilian city by Deacon Inaldo Pitta in order to celebrate Mass at Saint Goncalo parish. While the deacon was talking to the caretaker, three armed men approached them in a vehicle at around 5:40 am Aug. 5.

The robbers took the deacon and caretaker inside where the archbishop had also surrendered, and forced the caretaker onto the ground. While two men held the group at gun point, the third ran through the house looking for money and valuables.

The criminals stole scented oils, the men’s pocket money, and the archbishop’s cross and cell phone, but they broke the phone and left it in the street during their escape.

During a moment of distraction, the deacon was able to hide away in the bathroom, where he called the police. Once the robbers realized he was missing, they fled.

Security secretary Paulo Domingos Lima Junior reported the case is already under investigation, but no leads into the thieves' identity have yet been reported. Colonel Marcos Sampaio, commander of Military Police, also visited Archbishop Muniz to offer his support on behalf of Lima and Governor Renan Filho.

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Spanish court throws out 'hate crime' complaint against archbishop

Granada, Spain, Aug 10, 2017 (CNA/EWTN News) - A Spanish state prosecutor has dismissed a ‘hate crime’ complaint against the Archbishop of Granada after an LGBT activist group claimed he had preached hate against transgender people in a homily.

According to EFE news agency, the case was thrown out because the Granada prosecutor’s office could not find sufficient cause to bring legal action against Archbishop Francisco Javier Martínez of Granada.

In February, the activist group “Observatory against LGBT-phobia” filed a complaint against the archbishop, claiming that he “promoted hate speech against LGBT persons” in a homily in which he lamented the introduction of gender ideology to young children in school.

“There is a short-sightedness and lack of intelligence” in introducing this ideology to children, the archbishop said in his homily at the time.

“We are equal in dignity...but we are not interchangeable,” he said of biological differences between men and women.

In their complaint, the activist group asked the judge to prosecute the archbishop “in an express and exemplary way, in order to put an end to this unjust scourge of hate speech.”

The prosecution said the case was dismissed in part because of freedom of speech found in the Spanish constitution, according to EFE.

A similar complaint was filed against another archbishop in 2016, when feminist and LGBT activist groups accused Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, Archbishop of Valencia, of hate speech following a homily in which he warned of attacks against the family that came from “movements and actions of the gay lobby, ideologies such as radical feminism or the most insidious of all, gender ideology.”

A court in Valencia dismissed the case in September 2016, citing the cardinal’s freedom of speech.

 

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Why YouTube needs Catholics

Denver, Colo., Aug 10, 2017 (CNA/EWTN News) - Catholic YouTube junkies of the world, unite – you are needed for the New Evangelization.

That was essentially the message of the recent Catholic YouTubers Hangout, the first-of-its-kind online meeting of dozens of Catholics from around the world who met last month about bringing the Gospel to their YouTube channels.

About 50 channels logged on to take part, hailing mostly from the United States, but also with channels joining from places like Italy, Brazil and Spain.

The hangout started as the brainchild of Daniel Glaze, who is one-half of the channel “That Catholic Couple” – the other half is Daniel's wife, Ana. On their channel, they show their followers (dubbed “The Donut Squad,” a play on Glaze) all about their life as a young Catholic couple and first-time parents.

Daniel said the idea for the hangout came when he was watching a Catholic YouTube video one day and wondered whether Catholics on YouTube knew each other or ever collaborated together.  

Steve the Missionary (aka Steven Lewis) of the “Steve the Missionary” channel, and Maria Mitchell, the producer of the “Ascension Presents” channel, had similar questions. Why weren't there more Catholics on YouTube, the way there were on other social media platforms like Twitter? Why wasn't there a Catholic community on the platform?

“(We all) noticed that there really wasn't a cohesive community of people who create together, react to each other, or collaborate with each other,” Lewis told CNA.

“Daniel was the one who was smart enough to start calling his friends and asking what we wanted to do about it.”

And that's how the Catholic YouTubers Hangout was born. The free online conference was open to any channel that was in some way, shape or form, Catholic – meaning either the content explicitly talked about Catholicism and the Catholic church, or the creator of a channel is a Catholic who is letting their faith influence their work.

The goals for the hangout were twofold: to create a community of Catholic YouTubers, and to encourage further collaboration within that community.

Each host of the hangout also gave a keynote address, the main ideas of which can also mostly be found in this collaborative by Daniel, Ana and Lewis: https://www.YouTube.com/watch?v=inXOliuYdQk&t=21s  

This community of Catholic YouTubers is necessary, Lewis said, because “Catholics need to get their voice in the hyper-progressive, strictly materialistic, and atheist and agnostic conversation happening on YouTube.”

He said he wants there to be a “Catholic YouTube” of sorts – a corner within the platform dominated by explicitly Catholic conversations and creators, like there is on Twitter or Instagram.

“But I know that that's not enough,” he said.

“The second thing I want is for Catholics to be a part of every other corner of YouTube. We should be earning our rights to be heard in the conversations happening on 'Gamer YouTube,' 'Politics YouTube,' or 'Movie-Nerd YouTube,'” he said.
 
“Having both of these is important to spreading the Gospel. The first is important for answering the explicit questions of people interested in the faith, the second is important for putting the Gospel in new places among the people of the world.”

Lewis, who has been creating videos for his channel since 2013, said he was inspired to start making videos because he was already a major YouTube junkie, as well as a missionary with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) at the time. He realized there was a need for the Gospel to reach one of his favorite online platforms.

“I love trying to say old truths in new ways. I love seeing and explaining the new ways that deep truths percolate into our lives,” Lewis said.

While many of his videos could fit in a category of apologetics and faith conversations geared towards millennials, they also include things like Lewis' thoughts on the World Cup, eulogies for closing coffee shops, or his ability to eat bacon on certain Fridays in Lent when some dioceses were granted dispensations and others were not.

Daniel noted that even within his own Catholic-themed channel, the conversations are not necessarily explicitly Catholic, but are about life as a young family, informed by a Catholic view.

“We need more variety of Catholic content on YouTube, which means we need Catholic content creators living out their faith and showcasing it through video. For example, my channel 'That Catholic Couple' is a vlogging (video blogging) channel where we regularly share what it means to be a young family. Yes, we speak about our faith, but our content isn't always explicitly Catholic. Plus, we need different perspectives on the platform to put the Gospel in the niche corners of YouTube,” he said.

During the hangout, Lewis said he challenged Catholic YouTubers to do two things: first, to watch and subscribe to each other's channels, because it helps build community. Secondly, he encouraged them to keep watching their favorite secular videos on YouTube, because it can help creators to hone a more professional style.  

“Don't be afraid of the secular influences on your style,” Lewis said.

“We think of Audrey Assad (a Catholic singer/songwriter) as writing in the tradition of modern praise and worship writers. While that's true, if you ask her what her musical and lyrical interests are, she'll tell you about artists like Paul Simon: a secular artist of such quality, that anyone can learn from him,” Lewis said.

Daniel added that the community is important, because it will allow Catholics to push each other to be better. Creating great art is something that the Church used to lead the world in, but has fallen behind in recent years, especially when it comes to creating good video.

“To be frank, the time of bad Catholic video content needs to end,” he said.

And the need for good Catholic video has never been more urgent, as video streaming has exploded in recent years with the boom of smartphones, Lewis added.

“The explosion of streaming video, especially through our phones, means that people are open to the possibilities of what a video can show them. Like any media, streaming videos can be baptized and used to glorify God. Let's not waste our time!” Lewis said.

“It's tough because we are currently outnumbered on YouTube, but so were the Apostles, so we're in good company,” he added. “Also, I really like this new bromance I've got with Daniel.”

Daniel said that the hangout was only the beginning, and the he plans on continuing to look for opportunities to provide resources to foster community and collaboration among Catholic YouTubers, ultimately to help further the message of the Gospel.  

“A good friend of mine once said, ‘conversion of the heart isn't fostered by one video, but it can start one.’”

Lewis urged all Catholics to share videos and blogs that further the Gospel message. And, if they find a gap somewhere, to fill it.

“Online evangelization is not about getting famous, it's about seeing a need and addressing it,” he said.

“If you find a video/post/blog that says what you need to say right now, like and share it! If you can't find that video/post/blog, I guess it's time for you to make it yourself!”

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Pope orders Belgian religious group to stop offering euthanasia to patients

Vatican City, Aug 10, 2017 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis is cracking down on a Belgian Brothers of Charity-run organization, giving the group until the end of August to stop offering euthanasia to patients in their psychiatric centers.

In addition, each of the religious brothers serving on the board of the Brothers of Charity Group, the organization that runs the centers, has been ordered to sign a joint letter to their general superior, Br. Rene Stockman, declaring their adherence to Church teaching.

Brothers who refuse to sign the letter will face punitive action under canon law, while the group itself is expected to face legal action and could have its Catholic status revoked if it does not change its policy.

The Vatican order, sent at the beginning of August, follows several prior requests that the group drop the policy, which allows doctors to euthanize non-terminal mentally ill patients on its grounds.

In comments to CNA Aug. 10, Br. Stockman said he initially went to the Vatican for help in the spring, when the group, which is a state organization run by the order, decided to change their policy on euthanasia on the grounds that their stance was culturally abnormal.

Since the year 2000, the group has maintained a firm policy against euthanasia and how to cope with requests for it, he said, explaining that as a state organization, they take requests for euthanasia seriously, and try to help the patient regain their desire for life, “knowing of course that someone who is very depressive can have the tendency to ask for euthanasia.”

After doing everything possible to help alleviate any depression present in a patient, if the individual still requests euthanasia – which is legal in Belgium – the brothers would transfer them elsewhere.

“We don't accept that euthanasia should be done inside our institutes,” Br. Stockman said, noting that this had been the organization's firm policy until last year, when the group “started to deflect,” claiming that the Catholic position was “unique” in Belgium, where euthanasia is widely accepted, even for children.

The group argued that they had to “adapt,” and so developed a new vision that Br. Stockman said “we could not accept as a congregation.”

Despite the fact that all board members are Catholic, and some have high political profiles, in Belgium “secularization is very, very high, very strong,” Br. Stockman said, “so you have to ask yourself what is Catholic still?”

In response to the group's decision to change the policy, “we said very clearly first of all, for us respect of life must always be absolute,” the superior general said.

However, he said, the group responded that “respect of life is fundamental, but autonomy for the person is on the same level,” and once the two are placed on the same level, “then the autonomy of the patient becomes absolute, and not respect for life.”

Despite meeting resistance from Br. Stockman, the group insisted on implementing their new policy, which went into effect in June for each of the 15 psychiatric centers they run throughout Belgium.

As a response, the general superior went to the Belgian Catholic Bishops Conference and asked that they back him in the debate. When the organization continued to resist, despite pressure from the bishops conference, Br. Stockman took the issue to the Vatican.

He was eventually invited to present the issue before both the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, both of which became involved in investigating the issue.

The doctrinal congregation then promptly drafted a letter reiterating the Church's position on euthanasia and insisted that the group step back into line with doctrine. However, the letter was ignored.

Br. Stockman then received a specific mandate from the Congregation for Consecrated Life “to see that the organization can again be in line” with Church teaching.

Part of his mandate is enforcing the ultimatum and gathering the group's response by the end of August. Br. Stockman said he has not spoken with Pope Francis personally, but that it is the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life who conceived the ultimatum and presented it to the Pope, who gave it his full support.

Of the three brothers who are members of the organization's board of trustees – the majority of board consists of laypeople – Br. Stockman said he is still waiting for their answers, but is “quite positive about that, I can say that, I think the brothers will conform themselves.”

To ask the brothers to reaffirm their adherence to Church teaching is “logical,” he said, because “when you are a religious, then you have to be in line with the Church.”

“I know them and they are really under pressure from the whole mentality,” he said, but voiced confidence that they will send the letter without any problems.

As for the organization itself, the general superior said he has been in contact with the board members. “They said they received the letter and that they will discuss again in their board the situation,” he said, adding “I am waiting for the final answer.”

When asked if there was fear that even if the organization does change the policy back, they would be forced by the state to provide euthanasia, Br. Stockman said that thankfully, as of now institutions can't be forced, “so I think we also have to use this opening not to do it.”

“If the law changes and they say that institutions have to do euthanasia, then the situation becomes totally different. Then we have to ask ourselves, can we still continue as a Catholic hospital in a certain environment where we are forced to do euthanasia?”

“But until now we have the possibility to refuse euthanasia inside the walls of the institute,” he said.

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Cardinal calls eviction of Venezuela's legislature 'unacceptable'

Caracas, Venezuela, Aug 10, 2017 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas expressed Tuesday his “astonishment and rejection” of a series of measures that violate the “will of the sovereign people” in Venezuela.

In an Aug. 8 statement, the cardinal denounced the eviction of the country's legislature, the National Assembly, from the Federal Legislative Palace. The action was taken so that the constituent assembly, tasked with rewriting the constitution, could meet in the building.

“This is a measure astonishing for its violence and arbitrariness,” Cardinal Urosa said, adding that it “violates the will of the people who sovereignly elected the National Assembly in the December 2015 elections.”

The National Assembly is controlled by the opposition, while the constituent assembly was elected July 30 in a process that has been denounced as fraudulent by bishops, much of the international community, and the company in charge of the election's electronic voting system. Pope Francis had spoken against the constituent assembly's inauguration.

“In addition to being an invalidly constituted body, since it was not convened by the people, and whose election is suspected of fraud, the constituent assembly doesn't have the right to appropriate the seat of the National Assembly. That is arbitrary and violent, and, therefore, unacceptable.”

The Archbishop of Caracas also denounced that “in recent weeks, we have seen how the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice has levied very severe sanctions against several opposition mayors. Yesterday, the removal from office, imprisonment, and disqualification for the mayor of Chacao, Ramon Muchacho. And the mayor of El Hatillo, David Smolansky is summoned for tomorrow. Both, as well as the mayor of Lecheria, have been charged with contempt by the court.”

“Those sanctions go against the rights of those mayors and the will of the people who elected them to govern their towns,” he stated.

“The search for peace and understanding that President Maduro preaches is impeded by those measures. We ask that these actions be stopped and that an atmosphere of calm be created which will allow for finding solutions to the country's current political, economic and social crisis,” the cardinal concluded.

The constituent assembly approved a decree Aug. 8 that it will control all the branches of the Venezuelan government.

The decree was issued a day after the National Assembly said it will ignore the decisions of the constituent assembly, and two days after a small group of soldiers and civilians from Carabobo state declared themselves in rebellion against Maduro's government, seeking “to restore constitutional order” in the country.

Since April 1, more than 120 people have been killed in protest's against Maduro's government.

The countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for Latin America – which includes Ecuador, Bolivia, Cuba, and Nicaragua – met in Caracas recently to express their support for the constituent assembly, while another 17 nations of the Americas met in Peru to state that Maduro's government is a dictatorship.

Among the signers of the 'Lima Declaration' are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Paraguay, Canada, and Uruguay.

The declaration states that its signatories do not recognize the constituent assembly; it fully supports the democratically elected National Assembly, only recognizing the acts that this body approves and validates; and it condemns the violation of human rights, the violence, and the repression occurring in Venezuela.

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A theologian's take on how to avoid conflict with North Korea

Washington D.C., Aug 10, 2017 (CNA/EWTN News) - Dialogue and prudent actions to uphold international resolutions are key to maintaining peace amid rising tensions between North Korea and the international community, one theologian said.

“Dialogue is critical to resolving this particular issue,” Dr. Joseph Capizzi, a moral theologian at the Catholic University of America, told CNA. “We have kicked the can down the road for 50-plus years, with regard to Korea.”

“And the further we kick the can down the road, the more difficult the situation becomes, the less solvable it becomes by the use of force. So dialogue is more essential now than it ever was before.”

The Vatican has shown concern over the developing situation and has also expressed the need for dialogue between countries. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, former Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, said on Wednesday that the “way of conflict is always the wrong way.”

“The way forward is not that of having the latest military technology, but of having an approach of inclusion,” the archbishop said, as reported by Vatican Radio.

In July, North Korea successfully tested ballistic missiles that had the capability of reaching the U.S. mainland, following a series of launches of medium-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles earlier this year.

Then on Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that North Korea had produced a small-enough nuclear warhead that could be placed inside a missile, according to intelligence analysts. North Korea reportedly has as many as 60 nuclear weapons, according to one United States estimate.

On Wednesday, DPRK state media reported that the Kim Jong-Un regime was considering a strike against the island of Guam in the West Pacific, the westernmost U.S. territory and one from which B-1 bombers have flown over the Korean peninsula in military exercises. The AP followed up on Thursday by reporting that a plan for North Korea to launch four missiles aimed to land in the ocean within 25 miles of Guam, as an exercise of its threat to the U.S. territory, had been hatched and could be submitted for approval in the next week to Kim Jong Un.

Because of North Korea’s continued nuclear buildup and its ballistic missile tests, the UN Security Council unanimously voted last weekend to impose more sanctions on the Communist dictatorship.

President Donald Trump vowed on Tuesday that if North Korea continued to threaten the United States, they would “face fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at a Wednesday press conference that “what the President is doing is sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong-un can understand, because he doesn’t seem to understand diplomatic language.”

“I think the President just wanted to be clear to the North Korean regime on the U.S. unquestionable ability to defend itself, will defend itself and its allies,” he said.

The need for dialogue carries with it the importance of prudence and “sobriety” in the rhetoric of U.S. and world leaders, Capizzi said.

“We do want to engage them,” he said. “We’re trying to pull back some of the incendiary nature of the rhetoric. And then to have the President immediately follow that up with the ‘fire and fury’ comment, it makes us seem erratic. It makes us seem inconsistent,” he said.

Yet, he added, “action is much more important here than rhetoric.” The international sanctions, and the unanimous vote of UN Security Council members – including even Russia and China -- to impose them, were an important step to take, he said, “to induce North Korea to stop testing missiles.”

Also, the actions that have not been taken are important, he said, like an overly aggressive mobilization of U.S. military forces.  “You don’t see our military or our navy sort of ratcheting up right now,” he said.

“That’s what we really need to keep our eyes on, is what is our military doing? Where are our ships going in that part of the world? What is Japan doing?” he said. “And so far I think everybody recognizes there’s nothing to gain by pushing this further. What we really want to do is sit down and see if we can negotiate out of this.”

Pope Francis, in an April 29 in-flight press conference during his return from Egypt, said that regarding the escalating international tensions with North Korea, “the path is the path of negotiation, the path of diplomatic solutions.”

“This world war in pieces of which I've been talking about for two years, more or less, it's in pieces, but the pieces have gotten bigger, they are concentrated, they are focused on points that are already hot,” he said.

“Things are already hot, as the issue of missiles in North Korea has been there for more than a year, now it seems that the thing has gotten too hot.”

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, told UN News this summer “general disarmament -- that is a priority this year.”

“There is no doubt that the Catholic Church, Pope Francis now in particular, is very much against not only the use but also the possession of nuclear weapons,” he said.  

Leaders for the U.S. and European bishops also called for nuclear disarmament in a July 6 statement “Nuclear Disarmament: Seeking Human Security.” Bishop Oscar Cantu, chair of the U.S. bishops’ international justice and peace committee, signed the statement along with Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich, president of the Conference of European Justice and Peace Commissions.

“For many, the horror of a potential nuclear war receded from consciousness with the end of the Cold War, but recent geopolitical developments remind us that our world remains in grave danger,” the bishops stated.

“Even a limited nuclear exchange would have devastating consequences for people and the planet. Tragically, human error or miscalculation could lead to a humanitarian catastrophe.”

While the United Nations conference to negotiate the multi-lateral and legally-binding Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was wrapping up in July, the bishops said, the U.S. and “most European nations” were noticeably absent.

122 countries present voted in favor of the treaty, with one, the Netherlands, voting against it and Singapore abstaining, the UN reported.

“Nuclear states are making significant new investments to modernize nuclear arsenals. These costly programs will divert enormous resources from other pressing needs that build security, including achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” the bishops stated.

“The indiscriminate and disproportionate nature of nuclear weapons, compel the world to move beyond nuclear deterrence. We call upon the United States and European nations to work with other nations to map out a credible, verifiable and enforceable strategy for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.”

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Dominican Republic priest arrested on suspicion of killing teen

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Aug 10, 2017 (CNA/EWTN News) - The National Police of the Dominican Republic have arrested a priest on suspicion of killing a teenager, who was allegedly sexually abused by the cleric while serving as an altar boy.

Fernely Carrión had been missing since Aug. 4, after a taxi driver dropped the 16 year-old boy off with Father Elvin Taveras.

The boy’s body was later found along the road of Los Mina, a sector located outside of Santo Domingo Este. Reports indicate the teen was stabbed several times.

The young man had lived in El Torito and Villa Mella, where the priest said Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. Carrión began altar serving for Father Elvin at 10 years-old.

Father Elvin has also been accused of molesting Carrión, who was allegedly being paid by the priest to remain silent.

According to a Aug. 8 statement by the Archdiocese of Santo Domingo, the priest will be suspended from his duties and the church will fully cooperate with the police.

The victim's family was distraught over the news but relieved that the priest is in custody and that plans for legal action are underway, reported Hoy Digital. 

Freddy Carrión, the father of the victim, said “justice has been done, a person who does something like that is not a priest,” according to the news agency.

Prosecutor Olga Diná Llaverías said that both he and the victim’s family will be aiming for “the maximum sentence of 30 years” for the priest.

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Pioneering missionary bishop to China considered for beatification

Shanghai, China, Aug 10, 2017 (CNA/EWTN News) - A cardinal who helped change Catholic missionary work in China is now a possible candidate for beatification. 

Cardinal Celso Costantini became the first apostolic delegate to China in 1922.

The situation in China was particularly complex in the wake of European colonialism and the end of the opium trade. Christian missionaries were suspected of being foreign agents. Tens of thousands of Christian civilians, predominantly Chinese Catholics, were killed in the Boxer Rebellion of 1899-1901.

For its part, France considered the Catholic missions in the land to be under its direct protection, despite its recently approved constitution rigidly separating Church and State.

Then-Bishop Costantini was called not only to navigate the complex political situation, but also to work for a change in the mentality with which the missionary work was being carried out. 

His appointment to China came not long after Pope Benedict XV’s 1919 apostolic letter “Maximum Illud,” which many believe changed forever the idea of Catholic missions.

The novelty of the apostolic letter was that “Benedict XV underscored that mission territory was not about a place or a religion to be conquered, but rather a place to proclaim the Gospel in order to give all the people a chance to hear the Word of God,” Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of People, told CNA.

Cardinal Costantini implemented this vision in China.

In his apostolic letter, Benedict XV asked bishops and superiors in charge of Catholic missions to train, educate and ordain local clergy, and reminded missionaries that they have no other goal than the spiritual one.

Then-Bishop Costantini called the first Chinese National Council, which took place in the Xuijaui Cathedral in Shanghai from May 14 to June 12, 1924.

The council gathered 44 ordinary bishops coming from all over China. No political matters were discussed during that meeting.

The gathering approved a final document with 861 canons (paragraphs) that addressed the need to train a local Church with a local clergy. It voiced hope that Chinese-born bishops would be appointed soon, and recognized that missionaries were just transients. The document noted the importance for missionaries to learn the Chinese language and the need to respect the Chinese tradition.

Although it received little attention elsewhere, the Chinese National Council paved the way to a renewed organization of the Church in China.

According to Cardinal Costantini’s postulators, if the Church in China was able to go underground after the Communist revolution and remain strong until now, is mostly due to the work of the missionary bishop.

The opening of the diocesan phase for his beatification has consequences today: it is reviving the discussion around the difficult current situation between China and the Holy See.

The cardinal was born in 1876 and ordained a priest in 1899. He led an ordinary priestly ministry in his native region of Veneto for 14 years. Then in 1920 he was sent as apostolic delegate to Fiume, a former Italian city that came under Yugoslavia administration after the First World War.

Ordained a bishop in 1921, he was appointed the first apostolic delegate to China the next year.

His time in China witnessed continued changes.

In June 15, 1926, Pope Pius XI sent to the Church of China the letter “Ab Ipsia,” in which he emphasized that missionaries did not serve the interest of foreign nations. He announced that soon native-born bishops would be ordained. The new bishop, the Pope said, had the task to cooperate with apostolic vicars in China for the prosperity of their country.

Pius XI ordained the first six Chinese bishops Oct. 28, 1926, at St. Peter’s Basilica.

The ordination of Chinese-born bishops drew varied reactions among missionaries in China. Some of them, like Bishop Costantini, welcomed the move, while others showed some hostility to the Pope’s decision. Parts of the Diocese of China were directly entrusted to missionary orders, some of which felt they were losing “territory.”

As for the Church’s missionary vision, in February 1926, Pius XI issued the encyclical “Rerum Ecclesiae,” which confirmed the guidelines established by “Maximum Illud.”

Bishop Costantini returned to Italy in 1933, but he kept on working for the cause of the Church in China.

Appointed secretary of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, he backed the translation of the missal into Chinese in order to help faithful to understand the Mass, which at the time was said only in Latin.

After a few years, he saw the fruits of his work.

In 1941 and 1942 came two decrees of the Holy Office, now known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. These approved the use of the local language to celebrate the sacraments in New Guinea, China, Japan, Indochina, India and Africa. Then in 1949 the Holy Office approved the use of Chinese language in the celebration of the Mass.

The Holy See established the ordinary ecclesiastical hierarchy in China in 1946. The Chinese territory was divided in 20 archdioceses, 85 dioceses and 34 apostolic prefectures.

In 1953, Celso Costantini was made a cardinal by Pius XII. He passed away in 1958.
 

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UK politics put pressure on Northern Ireland pro-life laws

Belfast, Northern Ireland, Aug 10, 2017 (CNA/EWTN News) - Recent changes in U.K. politics have meant a renewed push against Northern Ireland’s pro-life laws, advocates say.

“It is so incredibly important to lobby for life at this present point in time because of the stark threat to unborn children here as Northern Ireland faces a great deal of political instability,” said the Northern Ireland pro-life group Precious Life.

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster said that Northern Ireland is under pressure to change these laws. Foster said the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) – her party, which became a key part of Northern Ireland’s governing coalition in the last U.K. elections – would do “everything in our power” to safeguard current laws. 

Speaking to Youth for Life NI, Precious Life’s youth organization, she also discussed the need to improve perinatal hospice care.

Foster’s DUP is traditionally strongly Protestant and anti-Catholic, but also opposes abortion and same-sex marriage. According to the U.K. newspaper The Catholic Herald, the party has attracted support from some Catholics.

Unlike other parts of the U.K., Northern Ireland’s laws only permit abortion in cases where a woman’s life is at risk, or where there is a permanent or serious risk to her mental or physical health.

The U.K.’s equalities minister Justine Greening has said that Northern Irish women who travel to England for abortions will be able to have them for free under the National Health Service.

Labour MP Stella Creasy of London, who was key in securing the free abortions, spoke at a Family Planning Association event in Northern Ireland Aug. 8. She has said she plans to push for funding the travel expenses of Northern Irish women seeking these abortions.

Precious Life’s Youth For Life NI group also met with leaders of the Social Democratic and Labour Party and the Ulster Unionist Party, the other pro-life parties in Ireland. The lobbying effort aimed to remind them that “without the right to life, all other rights are meaningless,” Precious Life said.

“Unborn children cannot speak for themselves so they need us to be their voice – it was vital that we made our voices heard unequivocally loud and clear to ensure that our politicians protect the right to life of all unborn children,” Precious Life said.

There is also a strong push to repeal the Republic of Ireland’s strongly pro-life Eighth Amendment of its national constitution.


 

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