El Paso bishop defends migrant shelter facing state lawsuit (Crux) Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, Texas, has strongly defended Church efforts to help migrants, in the face of a lawsuit brought by the state’s attorney general against a Catholic shelter.
Although he did not specifically mention the charges brought by Attorney General Ken Paxton—who has charged Annunciation House with “legal violations such as facilitating legal entry to the United States, alien harboring, human smuggling, and operating a stash house”—the bishops said that we “owe Annunciation House a deep debt of gratitude.”
Bishop Seitz said that the effort by Catholic institutions to bring relief to migrants is a necessary response to “federal neglect to provide a safe, orderly and humane response to migration at our southern border.” He denounced “an escalating campaign of intimidation, fear and dehumanization in the State of Texas, one characterized by barbed wire, harsh new laws penalizing the act of seeking safety at our border, and the targeting of those who would offer aid as a response of faith.”
Kenyan archbishop sees 'unprecedented' attack on family life (CISA) The vice-president of the Kenyan bishops’ conference warned against “the trivialization of the traditional understanding of the Christian marriage,” in a February 22 address to a meeting of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences of the Eastern Africa region (AMECEA).
“The challenges to Christian marriage and family have never been unrelenting as in our time,” said Archbishop Maurice Muhatia Makumba of Kisumu. He recalled the statement of Pope John Paul II, in his apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in Africa, that “the future of the world and the Church passes through the family.” The crisis in family life will inevitably bring harm to the Church, the archbishop said.
Archbishop Makumba also recalled that during the Synod on Africa, the participating prelates warned: “Do not allow the African family to be ridiculed on its own soil.” That plea went unheeded, he continued, when the UN population conference in Cairo, in 1994, “clearly sealed the wish to adopt resolutions clearly contradicting the values of the African family. It was literally a slap in the face.”
New Secretary named for Christian unity dicastery (Vatican Press Office) Pope Francis has named Father Flavio Pace, the Undersecretary of the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches, as the new Secretary, or no. 2 official, of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity. The Pontiff also bestowed the personal title of archbishop on the 46-year-old Milan priest.Archbishop-designate Pace succeeds Bishop Brian Farrell, LC, 80, who was appointed to the position by St. John Paul II in 2002. Oddly, the Holy See Press Office did not concurrently announce Bishop Farrell’s resignation.
In rare move, Pope names coadjutor for leading Argentine bishop, who is past retirement age (Vatican Press Office) In a rare move, Pope Francis has appointed a coadjutor bishop to assist, and then succeed, a leading Argentine prelate who is already past retirement age.Bishop Óscar Vicente Quintana of San Isidro, Argentina, submitted his resignation to Pope Francis in October 2021, when he turned 75. Rather than accept his resignation, as is customary, Pope Francis has left him in office, naming Auxiliary Bishop Guillermo Caride, a priest of the diocese, as his coadjutor.The Pope’s decision to leave Bishop Quintana in office is a sign of the Pope’s confidence in him. Bishop Quintana is the current president of the Argentine Episcopal Conference and has held that position since 2017.In a 2019 interview, Pope Francis revealed that he had asked Bishop Quintana to choose the investigator in the initial canonical inquiry into allegations against Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta. “I made him choose,” the Pope said.
Greece's minority Catholic Church condemns Parliament's same-sex marriage vote (Our Sunday Visitor) The Catholic bishops of Greece have condemned the Greek parliament’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage.“Our reaction is clear — the Church doesn’t accept same-sex marriage, and we’re surprised the government pressed ahead so quicky with this measure,” said Archbishop Josif Printezis, secretary-general of Greece’s Catholic bishops’ conference.“I don’t know whether there was some great demand from people in metropolitan Athens,” he added. “But those living elsewhere in Greece aren’t comfortable with it, and it will cause us a lot of problems when it comes to baptisms and access to sacraments.”
USCCB criticizes Biden administration's proposed expansion of abortion funding for Native Americans (USCCB) In a five-page letter, the general counsel and legal director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops took issue with the Biden administration’s proposal to rescind current regulations on abortion funding for Native Americans.“As a policy matter, the federal government should not fund the direct taking of innocent human life, even in the most difficult of circumstances,” William Quinn and Michael Moses wrote in their February 21 letter. “What is needed is not a revised policy expanding abortion funding among indigenous populations, but steps to improve their maternal and infant health and to support their well-being.”
Papal preacher takes to social media during Lent (CNS) The Vatican, on its social media accounts, has been releasing two-minute Lenten reflections in Italian and Spanish by Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap, the preacher of the papal household since 1980,“In the world there are few words capable of being said in one minute that are enough to fill a day and, in fact, a life: those that come from the mouth of Jesus,” Cardinal Cantalamessa said in the first video.For decades, Cardinal Cantalamessa has customarily preached sermons to the Pope and members of the Roman Curia on Fridays during Advent and Lent, with one exception. On Friday of the First Week of Lent in 2020, Father Marko Rupnik substituted for Cantalamessa, even though judges in a canonical proceeding, just two months earlier, had unanimously found Rupnik guilty of absolving an accomplice in a sin against the Sixth Commandment.
Catholic group seeks hate-crime investigation after New York cathedral funeral (National Review) A Catholic advocacy group is calling upon public officials in New York to pursue hate-crime charges against the transgender activists who organized a riotous funeral in St. Patrick’s cathedral.
Brian Burch, the president of Catholic Vote, called on New York’s attorney general, Letitia James; and district attorney Alvin Bragg, to investigate the activists who “mocked the Catholic religion” during the funeral.
Vatican newspaper rues damage to ocean from Ghana's dumping of used clothes (L'Osservatore Romano (Italian)) With the headline “L’altra faccia della moda” [The other face of fashion], the Vatican newspaper devoted the most prominent front-page coverage in its February 22 edition to the ecological consequences of used clothing that is washed away from Ghana’s landfills into the ocean.In her article—whose placement overshadowed the newspaper’s special coverage of the second anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine—Isabella Piro retold a February 7 AFP article, “Ghana struggling with tsunami of secondhand clothes.” The Vatican newspaper, like AFP, discussed how the dumping of used clothes affects the lives of fishermen.
Australian bishop arrested (Pillar) Bishop Christopher Saunders, the focus of sex-abuse investigations by both the Vatican and Australian prosecutors, was taken into custody by police on February 21.
Australian officials had closed an investigation of Bishop Saunders in 2021, citing a lack of evidence of criminal activity. But a subsequent Vatican inquiry, conducted under the terms of Vos Estis, produced a lengthy report of alleged abuses. When Australian officials requested and received a copy of that report, they renewed their inquiry, and in January and again in February raided his residence and questioned him.
Bishop Saunders resigned from the leadership of the Broome diocese in 2021, citing ill health. Following the Vos Estis investigation he was ordered by the Vatican to leave the diocese, but he did not.
Papal basilicas launch 'From Tourist to Pilgrim' minisite as Jubilee guide (Vatican News) Rome’s four papal basilicas—the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, St. Peter’s, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul Outside the Walls—have created a minisite, From Tourist to Pilgrim.The site seeks to introduce the basilicas “to younger audiences through content geared to their tastes,” according to Vatican News, the agency of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication.
Leading Vatican cardinals: German vote in favor of synodal council would be null and void (Vatican News) Vatican News, the news agency of the Dicastery for Communication, has published its own account of the Vatican’s request to German bishops not to vote on a proposed synodal council of bishops and laity. The request led a removal of the item from the agenda of this week’s meeting of the German Bishops’ Conference.The letter, signed by Cardinals Pietro Parolin (Secretary of State), Víctor Manuel Fernández (prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith), and Robert Prevost (prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops), “points out that such a Council is not contemplated by current Canon Law; therefore, a decision adopted by the Bishops’ Conference on such a Council would also be null and void because it would have no authority to approve its Statute,” according to Vatican News.
Even as he postponed the vote on the synodal council, the president of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing, dismissed the concerns of the cardinals—and by implication, the concerns of the Pope, who wrote in November that a synodal council “cannot be harmonized with the sacramental structure of the Catholic Church.”
“We do not want to limit the authority of the bishop or bishops in any way,” Bishop Bätzing said at a press conference. “We want to place them on new ground because this authority has been undermined by the abuse and scandal we have experienced... And that’s why we need new, binding and transparent advice that really flows into decisions. This is the path we are looking for.”
Australian bishop faces multiple criminal charges (Vatican News) Australian prosecutors have charged Bishop Christopher Saunders with 19 criminal charges, including two charges of rape and fourteen charges of indecent assault.
The retired Bishop of Broome was arrested on February 21, after a long investigation that was given new life when authorities received the results of the Vatican’s inquiry into abuse charges. He was released on bail the next day, but ordered not to leave his home before a hearing in June.
The Australian bishops’ conference promised full cooperation with the prosecution. Archbishop Timothy Costelloe, the president of the conference, said: “It is right and proper, and indeed necessary, that all such allegations be thoroughly investigated.”
Texas attorney general files suit against Catholic migrant shelter (Crux) Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that he has filed suit against Annunciation House, a Catholic migrant ministry in El Paso.The attorney general cited “significant public record information strongly suggesting Annunciation House is engaged in legal violations such as facilitating illegal entry to the United States, alien harboring, human smuggling, and operating a stash house.”Paxton “considers it a crime for a Catholic organization to provide shelter to refugees,” Annunciation House said in response. “The attorney general’s illegal, immoral and anti-faith position to shut down Annunciation House is unfounded.”
Russian Orthodox reject Fiducia Supplicans (Russian Orthodox patriarchate (Russian)) Evaluating Fiducia Supplicans at the request of Patriarch Kirill, a panel of Russian Orthodox theologians has concluded that the Vatican directive “reflected a sharp departure from Christian moral teaching.”
The judgment was made by the Synodal Biblical-Theological Commission and announced at a February 20 meeting. The commission is chaired by Metropolitan Hilarion, who for more than a decade was the most prominent and visible Russian Orthodox official in relations with the Catholic Church.
'Opium' of new ministries erodes credibility of Catholicism, priest tells Nigeria's bishops (Crux) In an address to Nigerian bishops at their February meeting, Father Anthony Akinwale warned that “we have witnessed an explosion of new religious communities, some with little or nothing in terms of spirituality and charism of consecrated life.”Father Akinwale, a professor at Augustine University Ilara-Epe, said that “the populism of these ministries, the advertisement of un-authenticated miracles and prophecies, the opium these ministries administer on our people, erode the credibility of Christianity, of Catholicism in particular, in our country.”The priest warned of a future in which people are “unable to see the difference between the Pentecostal pastor and a Catholic priest.”
End to celibacy could attract more men to priesthood: Cardinal Hollerich (Katholisch) Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg has suggested that an end to the discipline of priestly celibacy could attract more men to the priesthood.
“There are people who find it difficult to live a celibate life,” the cardinal told the daily L’Essentiel. While he acknowledged that a change might draw only a few more vocations, he said: “In Europe, those ‘few’ could make a difference.”
Cardinal Hollerich—who has been chosen by Pope Francis to fill the key role of relator general at the Synod on Synodality—also told his interviewer that he is “absolutely in line with the Pope” on allowing blessings for same-sex couples.
Ukrainian bishops reject compromise with Russia (Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (Ukrainian)) The bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church have issued a statement charging that the Russian military campaign in their country “has all the hallmarks of neocolonial war on the European continent with clear signs of genocide.”
Saying that “modern Russian tyranny” is a form of “postmodern totalitarianism,” the Ukrainian bishops reject appeals for a compromise that would end the fighting but concede territory to Russia. Arguing that Russia has a history of suppressing Ukrainian identity—a history marred by racism—they say that Ukraine today has no choice but to defend itself:
This war is a national liberation struggle of the Ukrainian civil nation for the right to its own existence and future, for the independence, freedom and dignity of our citizens.
The Ukrainian bishops’ statement also sharply criticize the Russian Orthodox Church, which they say has “supported and blessed Russia’s criminal war against the Ukrainian people.”