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This religious community helps impoverished children in Haiti

Sister Paësie, foundress of the Kizito Family. / EWTN News Nightly

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 6, 2022 / 14:39 pm (CNA).

After nearly 20 years as a Missionary of Charity, Sister Paësie founded the Kizito Family, a religious community that serves children in a slum in the Haitian capital.

“What inspired me to found a new community — the Kizito Family — are the words Jesus spoke to Mother Theresa,” Sister Paësie told EWTN News Nightly.

“Before she began the Missionaries of Charity, she had seen a crowd of of four children in the dark . . . [Jesus] told Mother Teresa, ‘You see those kids, they do not love me because they do not know me. Bring my life to them.’”

Sister Paësie described the harsh living conditions that the Kitizo Family sees in the communities it serves, saying,  “[When we] get up in the morning there is no food in the house, no water to take a bath, no clean clothes because there [is] no money to buy a bucket of water … I mean it's really extreme, extreme poverty.”

The ministry began by serving children on the street who were looking for a home, and it now has four to five homes where the community serves other locals as well, she said.

The ministry places a great importance on evangelization as well, providing education and access to the sacraments.

“[The third type of centers] we have are the catechism centers … We  have children [being formed in the Faith] and preparing for the sacraments,” she said. “During the years in Haiti, I realized that the poorest children do not have access to receiving the sacraments.”

Haiti has seen a surge of violence in recent years, and the number of kidnappings for ransom has increased in that time.

Haiti has also been affected by other crises, including natural disasters and a lack of health care infrastructure to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

A 2010 earthquake killed 200,000 people and left 1 million people homeless; a decade later, tens of thousands were still living in tent camps.

At least 22 killed in jihadist attack on village in Burkina Faso

Burkinabé soldiers patrol in Ouagadougou after the January 2022 coup. / VOA News (public domain)

Denver Newsroom, Jul 6, 2022 / 13:29 pm (CNA).

No fewer than 22 people were killed in an attack by suspected jihadi terrorists on a village in Burkina Faso on Sunday.

Local Church and government officials have cited 22 confirmed deaths in the July 3 attack on Bourasso, about 14 miles southeast of Nouna. 

A priest from Nouna’s cathedral parish, who said he knew nearly all the victims, told pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need that the attackers “killed 14 people in front of the church.” 

ACN wrote, “Then they went further into the centre of the village and killed 20 others, among them many Christians and followers of traditional African religion.”

One survivor of the attack told ACN that “The terrorists entered the village of Bourasso on motorbikes around 5pm on Sunday 3 July, and went off again without doing anything… But they came back during the night, threatening the villagers in the square in front of the church.”

The villagers asked to be spared, and it is then that the “doubtless several dozen” attackers began to shoot them.

The priest from Nouna said that “These people have nothing to do with politics or terrorist groups. They have nothing to defend themselves with when they are attacked. It’s absolute turmoil.”

“In spite of everything, we keep up our hope. We keep up our courage to live the days that God has given us,” he added. “Here, when you get up, you know that you are alive, but you don’t know if you will still be alive in the evening”.

AFP reported that another attack by suspected jihadists killed 12 people in Namissiguima, in Yatenga province, on July 2.

Burkina Faso, located in West Africa, has seen an increase in Islamist violence in recent years. 

A coup took place in the country in January, and the new president has emphasized the importance of restoring security.

The new head of the Burkinabé armed forces, David Kabre, said Feb. 9, “My taking over command coincides with a badly degraded security situation marked by the resurgence of terrorist attacks in several parts of the country,” AFP reported.

An American nun, Sister Suellen Tennyson, 83, was abducted from her community in Yalgo Parish of the Diocese of Kaya in April.

A minor seminary near Fada N’gourma was attacked and damaged in February.

Several churches were attacked in 2019, and last year the body of a missing priest was found in a forest.

In December 2019 Bishop Justin Kientega of Ouahigouya said one such church attack was part of an attempt by radical Islamists to "provoke a conflict between the religions in a country where Christians and Muslims have always lived peaceably side by side."

About 60 percent of the Burkinabé population is Muslim, 23 percent is Christian (most of whom are Catholic), and 15 percent follow traditional indigenous beliefs.

Human rights advocates respond after Pope Francis says Vatican-China deal ‘moving well’

null / FreshStock/Shutterstock

Rome Newsroom, Jul 6, 2022 / 10:10 am (CNA).

Human rights advocates have raised concerns about heightened restrictions on Christians in China after Pope Francis expressed hope that the Holy See’s agreement with Beijing will be renewed in the fall.

Nearly four years after the Holy See entered into an agreement with Chinese authorities in September 2018, Pope Francis told Reuters in an interview published this week that he believes “the agreement is moving well.” 

Human rights advocates disagree.

Nina Shea, the director of the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute, told CNA on July 6 that since the agreement was signed in 2018 “the CCP has all but destroyed the Catholic underground church and tightened conformity with its teachings over the patriotic church.” 

“The six new episcopal appointments used to justify the Beijing agreement are offset by the detention, arrest or disappearance of six Vatican-recognized Catholic bishops,” Shea said.

“Children are now banned from churches and exposure to religion, Bibles are tightly restricted and censored on the Internet and in app stores, churches are blanketed with high tech state surveillance, priests and Christian leaders are forced into life-long indoctrination on Christianity according to communist thought, and required to actively support CCP practices, leadership, and core values, even in their sermons,” she added.

Bishop Paul Lei Shiyin of Leshan, one of the illegitimately ordained Chinese bishops whose excommunication was lifted after the Vatican and China signed the agreement, recently celebrated the birth of the Chinese Communist Party in his local cathedral on June 29, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Catholics who attended the ceremony in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Leshan were invited to “listen to the word of the Party, feel the grace of the Party, and follow the Party,” according to Asia News.

“Since the deal was reached, things have gone from bad to worse for Catholics in China,” Reggie Littlejohn told CNA.

Littlejohn is the president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, an aid and advocacy organization that works with women on the ground in China. The organization was founded in response to forced abortion and sterilization under China’s one-child policy

She said that the “secrecy of the China-Vatican deal has been used to bludgeon faithful Chinese Catholics.”

Littlejohn called on the Vatican to release the text of the Holy See’s provisional agreement with the Chinese Communist Party government, which has been kept secret since the agreement was first signed in 2018.

“Faithful Catholics cannot defend themselves or their Church because they do not have access to this secret deal,” she said.

When discussing the Holy See’s diplomacy with China, Pope Francis said that “diplomacy is the art of the possible and of doing things to make the possible become a reality.”

Shea responded: “It’s difficult to see how the Pope can possibly succeed in the art of diplomacy when dealing with a force as evil as the CCP.”

“I think the Vatican should be energetically bolstering the underground church and speaking up for human rights, not making accommodations with the CCP and self-censoring on important moral issues,” she said.

Recent restrictions on religious groups in China

New Chinese government measures, which came into effect on June 1, also place the financial management of places of worship and religious donations under the control of the United Front Work Department.

The United Front has the task of ensuring that groups outside of the CCP, such as Xinjiang Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, Hong Kong democracy activists, and the Catholic Patriotic Association, are following the party line. Xi Jinping has called the United Front Work Department one of his "magic weapons," used to co-opt and control.

Asia News reported that under the new measures religious groups’ finances and operations will be monitored by the government. 

Catholic priests who minister in China legally are required to sign a paper in which they promise to support the Communist Party in China. They are only allowed to minister in recognized places of worship in which minors under the age of 18 are not allowed to enter.

Since March 2022 religious groups in China have been barred from conducting any religious activities online without first applying and receiving approval from the provincial Department of Religious Affairs, according to Asia News. Homilies and livestream Masses can only be posted online after obtaining a special license.

European Parliament resolution

Hong Kong’s Cardinal Joseph Zen, a vocal critic of the Vatican-China deal, will face trial in September along with four other prominent democracy advocates. 

The European Parliament is set to discuss Zen’s arrest in regard to human rights and rule of law on July 7. The resolution calls for the Hong Kong government to drop all charges against  the retired bishop of Hong Kong. 

The resolution also “calls on the Vatican to strengthen its diplomatic efforts and its leverage on Chinese authorities to demand Cardinal Zen’s unconditional release and the end of persecution and human rights violations in China.”

Nigerian bishop, a former New Yorker, calls church massacre ‘my own Sept. 11th’

Bishop Jude Arogundade in Washington, D.C., on June 30, 2022 outside the Belmont House, where he attended a breakfast social with U.S. congressmen and religious freedom advocates. / Shannon Mullen/CNA

Washington D.C., Jul 6, 2022 / 09:36 am (CNA).

Jude Arogundade was serving as a parish priest in upstate New York on Sept. 11, 2001 when a pair of hijacked airliners brought down the Twin Towers.

Along the Hudson River, a short drive from his parish, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Elmsford, a mile-square village in Westchester County, he could see the dark plume of ash and smoke rising from Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan.

Friends and family back in his native Nigeria flooded him with calls. Was he safe? What was happening? In the days and weeks that followed, priests in the Archdiocese of New York were inundated with grieving families and huge crowds at Masses. Shaken and afraid, people filled the pews and jammed the side aisles. They came seeking consolation, healing, answers, and sometimes a miracle.

In some ways, that experience nearly 21 years ago helped prepare Arogundade, now the bishop of the Diocese of Ondo in southwestern Nigeria, for what he calls his personal 9/11.

It happened this past June 5. On that Pentecost Sunday morning, a group of armed men attacked a parish in his diocese, St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, in Owo, a city of more than 200,000 people.

The assailants, some of whom sat through the Mass pretending to be worshippers, sprang into action toward the end of the service, detonating explosives and spraying bullets into the congregation. 

Some who ran from the church were cut down by gunmen waiting outside. Others trapped inside survived by lying still amid lifeless bodies, pretending to be dead.

Bishop Jude Arogundade (in white, third from right) looks on as Ondo State governor Rotimi Akeredolu (third from left) is shown the bloodstained floor after an attack by gunmen at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Owo, southwest Nigeria, on June 5, 2022. AFP via Getty Images
Bishop Jude Arogundade (in white, third from right) looks on as Ondo State governor Rotimi Akeredolu (third from left) is shown the bloodstained floor after an attack by gunmen at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Owo, southwest Nigeria, on June 5, 2022. AFP via Getty Images

At least 40 people were killed, and dozens wounded. A full month later, there is still no precise tally of the dead, partly because relatives came and retrieved their loved ones before the authorities could conduct a thorough accounting.

Arogundade, whose bishop’s residence is a half-hour’s drive from Owo in Akure, walked through the bloodstained church soon after the attack, which he believes was the work of radicalized Muslim Fulani bandits who have committed terror attacks elsewhere in Nigeria.

“The smell of the blood and everything went into my head,” he recalled. “In fact, at this moment, I can perceive the blood.”

What he witnessed inside the church that day, and later at the hospital and morgue, has set his life on a new course, thrusting the former New Yorker and Fordham graduate school alumnus into the international spotlight as an outspoken critic of President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army officer whose father was a Fulani chieftain.

Buhari’s government, in power since 2015, has been accused by Amnesty International and other human rights groups of ineptitude, indifference, and even complicity in the surge of raids, killings, kidnappings, and rapes targeting Catholics and other Christians in the African nation of more than 200 million people.

Even amid this wave of bloodshed, the Pentecost Sunday massacre stands out as an ominous outlier because it took place in the relatively peaceful southwestern part of the country that, until now, has been spared the violence destabilizing the north. Arogundade believes the attack to be part of a broader movement to establish an Islamic caliphate in Nigeria, which is roughly one-half Muslim.

As with the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the church killings called for quick action, deep reserves of compassion, and tireless pastoral leadership in the face of an overwhelming human tragedy.

“Immediately, I saw a mission entrusted to me,” Arogundade, 60, told CNA. "My first thought was, 'I can really do something about this. I can really bring a further awareness to this. I can reach out to many places, and at that point I was ready to talk to anybody what cared to listen to me."

He recognized that as a naturalized U.S. citizen with years of experience and numerous contacts in the United States, he was well positioned to raise awareness about the genocide he believes is underway in Nigeria, in hopes of enlisting the help of the U.S. government to stop it before it’s too late. Among the first to offer Arogundade his support was the leader of his former archdiocese, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York.

Climate claim ‘far-fetched’

Last week, that mission brought Arogundade to Washington, D.C., where he was a guest of the nonprofit Catholic organization Aid to the Church in Need and a featured speaker at the International Religious Freedom Summit. The three-day event shone a light on cases of religious persecution going on throughout the world.

The soft-spoken bishop delivered a blunt and sobering message. “What’s going on now is genocide,” he told CNA. “It's pure Ethno-religious cleansing. That's what it is. And it’s getting worse.”

Arogundade said the Buhari government must do more to protect innocent civilians. He said he hoped his discussions with lawmakers in Washington would raise pressure on the Nigerian leaders “to be proactive and to even seek help if they cannot manage the situation.”

Nigerian authorities have said the church attack bore the markings of a Nigerian ISIS affiliate, not Fulani herdsmen. Security experts are skeptical, however, noting that the group hasn’t claimed responsibility for the attack. No arrests have been made.

Whoever the culprits are, the attack underscores the fact that Nigeria is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a Christian. More than 4,650 Christians were killed there last year, roughly 13 per day, or about one killing every two hours, according to a report by the watchdog group Open Doors. That number represented 80% of such deaths the group recorded worldwide over a 12-month reporting period.

Yet U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, without explanation, last year removed Nigeria from a list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) so designated because of severe violations of religious freedom. The current list names Burma, People’s Republic of China, Eritrea, Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. The 2022 list is currently under review.

Arogundade also has spoken out against attempts to explain these attacks as being rooted in a clash over shrinking resources due to the effects of climate change, or to a combination of complex factors.The president of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, appeared to suggest as much when he said after the Pentecost Sunday massacre “that such an attack was made in a place of worship is a source of particular condemnation, as is any attempt to scapegoat pastoral peoples who are among the foremost victims of the consequences of climate change.”

Alerted to Higgins’ statement, Arogundade fired off one of his own.

“While thanking the Honorable Mr. Higgins for joining others to condemn the attack and offering his sympathy to the victims, his reasons for this gruesome massacre are incorrect and far-fetched,” Arogundade said in a message dated June 10.

“To suggest or make a connection between victims of terror and consequences of climate change is not only misleading but also exactly rubbing salt to the injuries of all who have suffered terrorism in Nigeria,” he said.

“The victims of terrorism are of another category to which nothing can be compared! It is very clear to anyone who has been closely following the events in Nigeria over the past years that the underpinning issues of terror attacks, banditry, and unabated onslaught in Nigeria and in the Sahel Region and climate change have nothing in common.”

‘Doing the right thing’

Born in Oka-Akoko, Nigeria, Arogundade was ordained a priest in 1990. He came to the United States in 1997 to attend graduate school at New York’s Fordham University. He earned a master’s degree in religious education and later a doctoral degree in education administration.

During his studies, he served as the parish administrator at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. "My years there were my finest years," he recalls fondly. "I still have many friends there."

“We just fell in love with him,” said Elmsford Mayor Bob Williams, a parishioner and close friend. “He’s just an amazing man.”

Parishioners were at once sad and intensely proud when Pope Benedict XVI named Arogundade the next bishop of Ondo in 2010. Before he returned to Nigeria, he vowed to come back regularly, and he’s kept his promise, returning every May to preside over the parish’s confirmations. 

Prior to being named a bishop, Jude Arogundade (right) was the parish administrator of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Elmsford, New York. “He’s just an amazing man,” says Mayor Bob Williams (left). Courtesy of Bob Williams
Prior to being named a bishop, Jude Arogundade (right) was the parish administrator of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Elmsford, New York. “He’s just an amazing man,” says Mayor Bob Williams (left). Courtesy of Bob Williams

Inspired by Arogundade, numerous parishioners have gone on mission trips to Nigeria, so they feel a personal connection to what is going on there now. When news spread about the Pentecost Sunday attack, the bishop’s phone was flooded with text messages from friends in the U.S. concerned for his safety, similar to what happened to him on 9/11.

Arogundade’s outspokenness and strong leadership since then come as little surprise to his former flock.

“He's all about doing the right thing. And he's all about, ‘No, if this is wrong, I'm going to speak out about it,’” Williams said. “And he would never, ever think about his safety.”

Arogundade’s words may be having an effect. Before he left Washington, five Republican U.S. senators signed a letter to Blinken calling on the secretary of state to re-designate Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern.

“Despite public statements from you and other State Department officials condemning the recent bloodshed in Nigeria, the fact remains that the Department still does not officially regard Nigeria as a severe violator of religious freedom,” the letter said. It was signed by Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Mike Braun of Indiana, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma.

Arogundade said he knows that continuing to speak out places him at greater personal risk back in Nigeria. “I’m not afraid,” he said. This is his mission now.

“What happened was my own September 11th. I have to bring awareness to that,” the bishop said.

“People of goodwill, people of character, must rise up and fight September 11th,” he said, “wherever it occurs.”

Bishop Arogundade's friends in New York have started a Go Fund Me drive to raise money for the needs of St. Francis Xavier Church and the victims of the Pentecost Sunday attack. To make a donation, click here, or send a contribution to P.O. Box 8, Elmsford, NY 10523, Attention: Owo Fund.

St. Maria Goretti

St. Maria Goretti

Feast date: Jul 06

July 6 marks the feast day of St. Maria Goretti, a young virgin and martyr whose life is an example of purity and mercy for all Christians.

St. Maria Goretti is best known for her commitment to purity and the courageous defence of her faith at the young age of eleven that made her willing to undergo death rather than participate in a sin against God. She is also remarkable for the forgiveness she willingly granted her attacker as she lay on her deathbed.

Maria was born in Corinaldo, Italy on October 16, 1890. Her father, a farmer, died of malaria when she was young, and her mother had to work to support their six children.

Maria took care of the younger children while her mother worked, and she prayed the Rosary every night for the repose of her father’s soul. She grew in grace and maturity, and her cheerful obedience and piety were noticed by those around her.

On July 5, 1902, a neighbouring farm hand, Alessandro Serenelli, tried to rape Maria. On several prior occasions, Alessandro had harassed Maria with impure advances, all of which she has vehemently rejected. This time, he locked her in a room and tried to force himself upon her. She fought against him, shouting, "No! It is a sin! God does not want it!" and warning him that this was the path towards hell. When Maria declared that she would rather die than submit to this sin, Alessandro angrily grabbed her and stabbed her 14 times with a knife.

Maria was found bleeding to death and rushed to the hospital. As she lay dying, she forgave Alessandro for the crime he had committed against her, saying, "Yes, for the love of Jesus I forgive him...and I want him to be with me in Paradise."

Although the doctors tried to save her, she died two agonizing days later, only eleven years old.

Alessandro was sentenced to 30 years in prison. He remained unrepentant until one night, eight years into his prison term, when Maria appeared to him, dressed in white, gathering lilies in a garden. She smiled, turned towards Alessandro, and offered him the flowers. Each lily he took transformed into a white flame. Then Maria disappeared.

From that moment, Alessandro converted and found peace. He repented of his crime and changed his life. He was released from prison three years early and begged forgiveness from Maria’s mother, which she duly granted.

Alessandro moved to a Capuchin monastery, working in the garden as a tertiary for the remainder of his life. He was one of the witnesses who testified to Maria's holiness during her cause of beatification, citing the crime and the vision in prison.

Many miracles were attributed to Maria Goretti after her death. In 1950, she was canonised by Pope Pius XII, becoming the youngest Roman Catholic saint officially recognised by name. Her feast day is celebrated by the Church on July 6, and she is the patron saint of purity, rape victims, young women, and youth in general.

On her feast day in 2003, Pope John Paul II spoke about St. Maria Goretti at his Sunday Angelus, noting that her life provides an exemplary witness of what it means to be "pure of heart."

"What does this fragile but christianly mature girl say to today's young people, through her life and above all through her heroic death?" asked the Pope.

"Marietta, as she was lovingly called, reminds the youth of the third millennium that true happiness demands courage and a spirit of sacrifice, refusing every compromise with evil and having the disposition to pay personally, even with death, faithful to God and his commandments."

"How timely this message is," the Holy Father continued. "Today, pleasure, selfishness and directly immoral actions are often exalted in the name of the false ideals of liberty and happiness. It is essential to reaffirm clearly that purity of heart and of body go together, because chastity ‘is the custodian’ of authentic love."

Pope Francis announces appointment of women to committee selecting new bishops

Sr. Alessandra Smerilli (second from left) and Sr. Nathalie Becquart (third from left) pose with Pope Francis and others during the youth synod in 2018. / Daniel Ibáñez / CNA

Vatican City, Jul 6, 2022 / 05:59 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has said he would announce the appointment of two women to the Vatican committee that elects bishops. 

In comments to Reuters published Wednesday, the pope said “two women will be appointed for the first time in the committee to elect bishops in the Congregation for Bishops."

In the July 2 interview in the Vatican, Francis did not identify the women or say when their appointment would be announced officially, instead saying he was “open to giving [women] an opportunity" and wanted to open things “up a bit.”

The Congregation of Bishops, a department of the Roman Curia, recently changed its name to the Dicastery for Bishops, in line with the new constitution that underpins the reform of the Vatican by Pope Francis. 

The new constitution, titled Praedicate evangelium (“Preach the Gospel”), provides that any member of the faithful can also lead a Vatican dicastery or other bodies, “given their particular competence, power of governance and function.”

Asked which Vatican department could perhaps be headed by a lay man or woman, Francis suggested that they could include the department for Catholic Education and Culture and the Apostolic Library, according to Reuters. 

The ultimate decision in appointing bishops rests with the pope, and he is free to select anyone he chooses. Usually, the pope’s representative in a country, the apostolic nuncio, passes on recommendations and documentation to the Vatican. The Dicastery of Bishops then discusses the appointment in a further process and takes a vote. On being presented with the recommendations, the pope finally makes the decision.

Francis has already named several women to Vatican departments. Barbara Jatta, a wife and mother of three children, was appointed director of the Vatican Museum in 2016 and took the reins in 2017. 

More recently, the pope appointed Sr. Nathalie Becquart in February 2021 as under-secretary to the Synod on Bishops. Working with and under Cardinal Mario Grech, the French religious sister has been helping prepare the Vatican's synod on synodality, scheduled for October 2022.  

According to Cardinal Grech, Becquart will vote in future synods alongside other voting members, who are bishops, priests, and some religious men.

In August 2021, Pope Francis named the Italian economist and religious sister Alessandra Smerilli as secretary of the Vatican’s social development office.

The Salesian sister is an economist and professor. She was one of the principal organizers of the 2020 Economy of Francesco event.

Since 2019, Smerilli has also served as a councilor of the Vatican City State and a consultant to the secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.

Wednesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1  HOS 10:1-3, 7-8, 12

Israel is a luxuriant vine
whose fruit matches its growth.
The more abundant his fruit,
the more altars he built;
The more productive his land,
the more sacred pillars he set up.
Their heart is false,
now they pay for their guilt;
God shall break down their altars
and destroy their sacred pillars.
If they would say,
“We have no king”—
Since they do not fear the LORD,
what can the king do for them?

The king of Samaria shall disappear,
like foam upon the waters.
The high places of Aven shall be destroyed,
the sin of Israel;
thorns and thistles shall overgrow their altars.
Then they shall cry out to the mountains, “Cover us!”
and to the hills, “Fall upon us!”

“Sow for yourselves justice,
reap the fruit of piety;
break up for yourselves a new field,
for it is time to seek the LORD,
till he come and rain down justice upon you.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 105:2-3, 4-5, 6-7

R. (4b) Seek always the face of the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
proclaim all his wondrous deeds.
Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
R. Seek always the face of the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
Look to the LORD in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly.
Recall the wondrous deeds that he has wrought,
his portents, and the judgments he has uttered.
R. Seek always the face of the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R. Seek always the face of the Lord.
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia  MK 1:15

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Kingdom of God is at hand:
repent and believe in the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  MT 10:1-7

Jesus summoned his Twelve disciples
and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out
and to cure every disease and every illness.
The names of the Twelve Apostles are these:
first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew;
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John;
Philip and Bartholomew,
Thomas and Matthew the tax collector;
James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus;
Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot
who betrayed Jesus.

Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus,
“Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town.
Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”

- - -

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Vandalism of churches, pro-life pregnancy centers continues after Dobbs

Vandalism at a Heartbeat of Miami pregnancy center in Hialeah, Florida, July 3, 2022. / Heartbeat of Miami.

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 5, 2022 / 19:00 pm (CNA).

Attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers and Catholic churches have continued, unabated, following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which returned the regulation of abortion to the states.

The South Bend Police Department in South Bend, Indiana, received a call around 7 a.m. June 30 about a possible burglary at Our Lady of Hungary Catholic Church.

Photos of the inside of the church posted by ABC 57 show objects in the church tipped over and broken. The photos also show a brick laying on shattered glass. 

South Bend police say their property crimes unit is investigating the incident. They are working with the church to identify whether anything was stolen.

First Image, a network of pro-life pregnancy centers in Oregon, said in an online post that its adminstrative offices in Portland were vandalized by rioters the night of June 27.

First Image had its windows boarded in time for the riot, the post says. However, in other parts of the building where there are other organizations, there were broken windows, according to the post. 

The post says that the whole building was written on with graffiti and First Image’s office had the most graffiti. The graffiti was cleaned off by volunteers, the post says. 

“Our office and centers are open today. The resilience and courage of our staff is inspiring. We are continuing on in a spirit of hope and courage. Please join us in that same spirit,” the post says.

The post also says that private security and Portland Police were “monitoring the situation last night and were present during the riot.” 

“We are working with the police and other authorities, who are launching a more intensive investigation,” the post says.

On June 24, just before 9 PM, a group of pro-abortion protestors gathered around Right to Life of Northeast Ohio's offices in Akron and placed pro-abortion signs on the windows and door. They also rang the office’s doorbell, which has a camera, making obscene hand gestures and holding pro-abortion signs. They hung a coat hanger on the door as well.

The signs have since been taken down, according to Allie Frazier, executive director of the pro-life group.

“Going forward, it is imperative for the pro-life movement to remain fearless,” Frazier wrote in an online post. “The battle for life in our community is only beginning, and we must not falter. This life and death struggle, so long waged on the national level, has now been handed back to individual states, and ultimately, to our own communities.”

One of Heartbeat of Miami’s pro-life pregnancy centers in Hialeah, Florida, was vandalized with pro-abortion graffiti July 3. 

Martha Avila, president and cofounder of Heartbeat of Miami, told CNA that the vandalism, which also attacked the clinic’s security system, resulted in thousands of dollars in damages. Photos of the vandalism shows the words “Janes Revenge” and “If abortions aren’t safe, the neither are you” among other pro-abortion messages and anarchist symbols all written in graffiti. 

“They have vandalized a clinic that provides free services to women and families in need,” the post says. “We know that this attack is pure evil and we are heartbroken, but we also know that God is on our side. We will overcome! Please keep us in your prayers.”

Volunteers came to clean up the vandalism the next day, Avila said. The FBI is aware of the vandalism and local police are investigating, she added.

“They tried to intimidate us so we wouldn't open today,” she said on Tuesday. “But this lobby has been packed all day. Nothing has stopped the women from coming.”

St. Bernard Catholic Church in Madison, Wisconsin, was vandalized July 2 with pro-abortion and anti-police graffiti, an incident report shows.

The graffiti was found on the church’s front door and a sign, the report says. The Madison Police Department is investigating the matter and asking anyone with information to report it to Madison Area Crime Stoppers at 608-266-6014.

In a statement, Father Michael Radowicz, pastor of the church, said that “St. Bernard Parish is saddened over the graffiti on the front of the church. We understand people’s anger over the recent ruling by the Supreme Court, but this does nothing to solve any issues. We join in prayer for those who did this, that the Lord may heal their hearts. An investigation is ongoing with Madison Police.” 

Holy Family Catholic Church in Hillsborough, North Carolina was vandalized with pro-abortion graffiti around 12:15 a.m. on July 3. 

Photos of the vandalism obtained by the Carolina Journal shows the words “F*** the church,” “I love abortion,” and an anarchist symbol in yellow graffiti. 

A July 3 Facebook post from the parish said, “Thanks to the men of our parish who helped to clean up this afternoon after our church was vandalized last night …. At approximately 12:15 am our church received some spray paint, and after Spanish Mass, a big dose of Love.”

A pro-life pregnancy center in Saint Paul, Minnesota, was vandalized overnight between July 4 and July 5, according to the Grand Forks Herald. 

The Birthright clinic had the words “Blood On Your Hands” written in black graffiti on it. The words “Abort America,” “F*** You” and “Janes Revenge,” were also written in red graffiti on the front of the clinic, the outlet reported.

The outlet reported that the St. Paul Police Department is investigating the matter.

Archbishop Gänswein moved to tears over Benedict XVI's comment about journey to heaven

Archbishop Gänswein and Pope emeritus Benedict XVI / Credit: EWTN/Paul Badde, Mazur/

Denver Newsroom, Jul 5, 2022 / 18:10 pm (CNA).

The personal secretary of Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, could not hold back tears as he recalled what the pope emeritus once told him about his journey to heaven.

The scene took place at the Nymphenburg Palace in Munich, Germany, during a June celebration organized by the Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI Foundation for the 95th birthday of the pope emeritus. The event was broadcast in German on EWTN.

Gänswein was visibly choked up as he recalled that Benedict XVI once told him that “I would never have believed that the last stretch of the journey that would take me from the Mater Ecclesiae monastery (where he currently resides) to the gates of heaven with St. Peter would be so long.”

Benedict XVI turned 95 on April 16, a little more than nine years after he resigned from the papacy on Feb. 28, 2013.

Gänswein, 65, currently prefect of the papal household, has accompanied Benedict XVI as his personal secretary since 2003, when the pope emeritus was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

The German prelate said Benedict XVI made the comment to him “a few years ago” while they were talking about “the burden and hardship of old age and the criticism of his person and his work that flares up again and again.”

“Benedict responded to the important questions and challenges of the time frankly and convincingly and always in the light of the Incarnation,” Gänswein said.

He then noted that today, “the pope emeritus is a very old man, physically frail and, thank God, still with an alert, wide-awake mind and gaze.”

Benedict’s voice, he said, “is becoming increasingly low and incomprehensible,” noting that “the last few years have sapped his strength.”

Through it all, he continued, “he has preserved the humble serenity of his heart.”

Gänswein also said Benedict’s humor “shines forth again and again” and noted “his personal meekness, which has always been a trademark of his personality.”

“He was as happy as a child when he was informed about today's ceremony. And he asked me to send all of you cordial blessings,” Gänswein concluded.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Church leaders in Mexico call for days of prayer for peace amid increasing violence

null / Credit: David Ramos / ACI Prensa

Mexico City Newsroom, Jul 5, 2022 / 17:19 pm (CNA).

With the growing violence in the country and the murder of two Jesuit priests on June 20, Catholic Church leaders in Mexico encouraged the faithful to join in days of prayer for peace during the month of July.

The Mexican Bishops’ Conference, the Conference of Major Superiors of Religious of Mexico, and the Mexican Province of the Society of Jesus said in a joint statement that “the murders and disappearances that are committed daily in the country are a call from God for us to join together to pray for peace.”

“The shed blood of these brothers and sisters is the blood of Jesus that falls to the ground to make it fertile and [encourage us to] embark on a path for peace,” they said.

The bishops, religious superiors, and Jesuit priests asked that “all the priests, religious men and women who have been murdered in the country be remembered” in all Masses on July 10.

In addition, they asked that the intention for those Masses be “for their lives, so that their suffering may accompany us on this path for peace.”

They also suggested that photographs of the men and women who died be placed in the churches at the Masses.

The bishops, religious superiors, and Jesuit priests also asked in their joint statement that Masses during July be celebrated and community prayers be held “in significant places that represent all the people who have disappeared or suffered a violent death, be they intentional homicides, femicides, social activists, or any other person in a situation of exclusion or vulnerability.”

“There is a wound to heal and there is the strength that the country needs today to build peace. Remembering the death and resurrection of Jesus in these places will transform fear into the strength to build peace,” they said in the statement.

They also encouraged the faithful that “as a prophetic sign of our Church, in the Eucharist on July 31 we pray for the victimizers, we pray for their lives and the conversion of their hearts, we extend our hand to receive them with a repentant heart into the house of God.”

“They are also our brothers and need our prayers. No more violence in our country,” they exhorted.

In addition to encouraging each diocese, religious congregation, and parish to undertake actions to pave the way for peace, such as holy hours, processions for peace, messages to the people of God, the bishops, religious superiors, and Jesuits encouraged the faithful to publicize their activities on social media.

“Today we need stories of hope, images where we see the community praying and asking for peace,” they said.

“We entrust ourselves to the Virgin of Guadalupe, who has always accompanied the people of God in the most difficult moments of their history. There is the mother who gives us an embrace of peace and sends us out to be pilgrims of hope and unity,” the statement concluded.

According to the Catholic Multimedia Center, since President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s six-year term began at the end of 2018, seven priests have been murdered in Mexico.

In just three and a half years of the López Obrador administration, more than 121,000 homicides have been recorded in the country, which is on track to exceed the more than 156,000 murders committed during the six-year term of his predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto.

According to official figures, from Jan. 1 to July 3 of this year 13,389 homicides have occurred in Mexico.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.