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Archbishop Broglio offers prayers for 9 soldiers who died in Blackhawk helicopter accident in Kentucky

Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA praised Servant of God Vincent Capodanno at a memorial Mass marking the 55th anniversary of the death of the heroic chaplain Sept. 6, 2022. / Courtesy of Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA

Washington D.C., Mar 31, 2023 / 10:35 am (CNA).

Archbishop Timothy Broglio, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and archbishop for the Military Services, USA, offered prayers for the nine American soldiers who died in a tragic accident during a helicopter training exercise in Kentucky on Wednesday evening.

“The tragic helicopter crash in Kentucky is a grim reminder of the risks taken daily by our men and women in uniform. They put themselves in harm’s way to defend our freedom, our values, our way of life. In the process some pay the ultimate sacrifice,” Broglio said in a March 31 statement.

The nine soldiers were in the U.S. Army’s 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The accident occurred in Trigg County, Kentucky, which is about a 38-minute drive away from Fort Campbell.

“We pray for the repose of the souls of the nine soldiers who died. May Almighty God welcome them to life eternal, and may their devotion to service, God, and country stand always as an example for us all,” Broglio said.

He also offered prayers for the families of the soldiers “in this time of extreme grief.”

“May our Blessed Mother of Sorrows comfort them in this painful hour,” Broglio added.

The 101st Airborne Division said in a March 30 press release that the two helicopters were Blackhawks, the Army’s utility tactical transport helicopter. The helicopter “provide[s] air assault, general support, aeromedical evacuation, command and control, and special operations support to combat, stability, and support operations,” according to the U.S. Army.

The accident occurred at about 10 p.m., the press release said. An investigation into the crash is being conducted by an aviation safety team from Fort Rucker, Alabama, the release said.

“This is a truly tragic loss for these families, our division, and Fort Campbell. Our No. 1 priority is caring for the families and the soldiers within our combat aviation brigade,” Brig. Gen. John Lubas, the 101st Airborne Division deputy commanding general for operations, said in the release.

“Our entire Fort Campbell community is surging resources in support. Our thoughts and prayers are with these families and soldiers during this difficult time,” he added.

The identities of the nine soldiers have not been released.

Speaking at a press conference on the accident, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said that the nine soldiers are “children of God.”

“We are blessed to live in the freest country in the history of planet Earth. We must remember that freedom relies on those who are willing to serve, some of whom pay the ultimate price,” he said.

“My faith teaches me that while the body is mortal, the soul is eternal, and we will see them again,” Beshear said.

Kentucky bans sex changes for kids, blocks schools from pushing trans ideology

null / itakdalee/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Mar 31, 2023 / 10:05 am (CNA).

Kentucky lawmakers passed a comprehensive bill that prohibits doctors from providing sex changes for children, prevents schools from pushing transgender ideology onto students, and grants parents more authority and oversight over their children in the public education system.

Following Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto of the legislation, Republican lawmakers successfully overrode his veto with a 29-6 vote in the House and a 76-23 vote in the Senate. The new rules regarding health care will go into effect 90 days after the veto was overridden Wednesday, but many of the new education rules went into effect immediately. 

“It should come as no surprise that Gov. Beshear put his party’s politics over the people of Kentucky, as he has done his whole political career,” Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, who sponsored the legislation, said in a statement.

“The goal of SB 150 is to strengthen parental engagement and communication in their children’s education,” Wise added. “This bill, which passed the Senate with bipartisan support, reinforces a positive atmosphere in the classroom and removes unnecessary distractions, like woke ideology and mandating use of specific pronouns in our schools.”

Medical providers will be barred from performing sterilizing surgery on patients under the age of 18 or performing surgery to remove a child’s genitals or altering the minor’s genitals to make them appear like the genitals of the opposite sex. 

The rules prohibit doctors from removing any healthy or nondiseased body tissue. Additionally, medical providers cannot prescribe any drugs that would delay or halt normal puberty or prescribe estrogen or testosterone at levels greater than what would normally be found in a child of that sex and age. 

The legislation provides exceptions for children who have sex development disorders, such as children born with ambiguous biological sex characteristics. The legislation also specifies that the rules do not prevent surgeries or drugs necessary to treat an infection, injury, disease, or disorder. 

If a health care provider has already prescribed these drugs to a child, the law states that doctors can systematically reduce the drugs over a period of time if immediately halting the use of the drugs would be detrimental to the child’s health. 

The legislation also prohibits schools from promoting transgender ideology through lessons that encourage the student to study or explore his or her gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. It also bans schools from providing lessons on human sexuality and sexually transmitted diseases for students in the fifth grade or lower. Schools must receive written consent from parents before providing a student with lessons on human sexuality or sexually transmitted diseases in higher grades.

Per the legislation, schools must also ensure that bathrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms, and showers are reserved for students based on the student’s biological sex. This prevents a student from using a facility that is not consistent with his or her biological sex, even if that student self-identifies with the opposite gender. The legislation notes that schools can accommodate transgender students in other ways, such as by providing single-stall restrooms. 

“Parents have a reasonable expectation that schools will not allow minor children to be viewed in various states of undress by members of the opposite biological sex, nor allow minor children to view members of the opposite sex in various states of undress,” the legislation states. 

When a student enrolls in a school, the school district must provide parents with a written list of all health services and mental health services they provide concerning human sexuality, family planning, and contraception. Parents will be allowed to withhold consent for or decline any of those services. If parents allow the school to provide those services, they do not waive their rights to access education and medical records. 

Neither the Board of Education nor the local school district will be allowed to compel teachers or students to use a student’s preferred pronoun when it differs from the student’s biological sex, under these rules.

“Denying the truth that we are either male or female causes real harm to people, especially vulnerable children,” Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Matt Sharp said in a statement.

“The Kentucky Legislature enacted vital protections for young children and parents to ensure they can’t be pressured into agreeing to life-altering, so-called ‘gender transition’ procedures,” Sharp added. “Young people deserve to live in a society that doesn’t subject them to risky experiments to which they cannot effectively consent.”

Transgender activists opposed the legislation and the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky has announced it intends to file a lawsuit to block the enforcement of these new rules. 

“[The bill] was rushed through the Legislature in a deliberately secretive process at the 11th hour,” a Kentucky ACLU statement read. “Trans Kentuckians, medical and mental health professionals, and accredited professional associations pleaded with lawmakers to listen to the experts, not harmful rhetoric based in fear and hate. Their pleas fell on deaf ears as the General Assembly passed the bill in a matter of hours.”

Several states have enacted legislation over the past two years to block sex changes on children and to change education guidelines or grant parents more control. In some cases, the laws are being fought through the court system.

Pope Francis visits pediatric oncology ward at hospital, baptizes newborn baby

Pope Francis baptizes a baby at Gemelli Hospital in Rome on March 31, 2023. / Credit: Screen shot of Vatican Media video

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Mar 31, 2023 / 09:32 am (CNA).

While staying at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital where he is undergoing treatment for bronchitis, Pope Francis paid a visit Friday to the pediatric oncology ward and baptized a newborn patient.

The Holy See reported that the Holy Father spent about half an hour in the ward, where he distributed “rosaries, chocolate eggs, and copies of the book ‘Jesus Was Born in Bethlehem of Judah.’”

Pope Francis visits the pediatric oncology ward of Gemelli Hospital during his own hospital stay on March 31, 2023. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis visits the pediatric oncology ward of Gemelli Hospital during his own hospital stay on March 31, 2023. Credit: Vatican Media

Photos released by Vatican Media show the pope speaking with mothers accompanying their babies, writing a message, and baptizing a newborn baby.

“During the visit, which lasted about half an hour, the pope imparted the sacrament of baptism to a baby named Miguel Angel, who was only a few weeks old. At the end he returned to his department,” the Vatican press office said.

When Pope Francis underwent surgery for diverticulitis in July 2021, he visited the pediatric oncology ward. And in his first outing after that surgery, young cancer patients joined him as he led the Sunday Angelus from a balcony on the 10th floor of the hospital. 

The Vatican said Friday that Pope Francis may be discharged from the hospital on Saturday after responding well to treatments yesterday.

Pope Francis visits the pediatric oncology ward of Gemelli Hospital during his own hospital stay on March 31, 2023. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis visits the pediatric oncology ward of Gemelli Hospital during his own hospital stay on March 31, 2023. Credit: Vatican Media

In two brief statements in the early afternoon of March 31, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni also said Pope Francis is scheduled to be present at the Vatican’s Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square on April 2.

Pope Francis was admitted to Rome’s Gemelli Hospital on Wednesday afternoon with difficulty breathing. He was later diagnosed with bronchitis.

“Yesterday passed well, with a normal clinical progression,” Bruni said around 12:30 p.m. on Friday.

“In the evening Pope Francis had dinner, eating pizza together with those assisting him during his hospital stay,” the Holy See Press Office director said. “With the Holy Father were the doctors, nurses, assistants and Gendarmerie personnel.”

On the morning of March 31, the pope had breakfast, read the newspapers, and resumed work, he said, adding that “His Holiness is expected to return to his Santa Marta home tomorrow, upon the outcome of the results of the last tests this morning.”

Board game marketed as ‘Christian’ is actually demonic, exorcist warns

An exorcist is warning about the dangers of a Ouija-board-like product promising users that they will be able to "communicate directly with Jesus Christ." / Holy Spirit Games YouTube

Washington D.C., Mar 31, 2023 / 08:37 am (CNA).

Catholic exorcist Father Ernesto Caro is warning that what is being marketed on Amazon as a Christian “Holy Spirit” board game is “not a game” at all but instead “a trap from the devil.”

On a March 28 segment of EWTN News Nightly, Caro, an exorcist in the Diocese of Monterey, Mexico, said that “the devil is always looking for different ways that he can trap all the victims that he can take for him, and this is one.”

The board game’s packaging claims it allows people to “communicate directly with Jesus Christ” and its online advertising says it’s “perfect for churches, prayer groups, or just getting together with friends.”

The game’s layout is very similar to that of a Ouija board, but it features Christian imagery including images of God, the crucifixion, angels, and a dove. Whereas a Ouija board normally has a triangle pendant that is moved for users to communicate with spirits, the Holy Spirit Board has a golden-colored cross.

The game’s description says, “GET THE ANSWERS YOU NEED! — The Holy Spirit Board can answer all of life’s most important questions, straight from the man himself!” and assures potential buyers that “unlike other spirit boards, this one will NEVER contact evil ghosts or demons, so you can ask your questions with an assured sense of safety.”

Despite the Christian imagery, Caro says the so-called Holy Spirit Board is just a Ouija board repackaged to trick Christians into using it.

As an exorcist, Caro warns Christians to not be fooled and that using the board would be “opening a door that could be dangerous for you.”

The Catholic Church firmly condemns the use of Ouija boards as a form of occult participation and divination.

No. 2116 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “all forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to ‘unveil’ the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all … contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.”

Based on the board’s advertising, “you would probably think that it is God that is talking with you,” Caro said, “but it’s not.”

“If the [Ouija board] triangle is moving by itself, be careful, it’s not God who is moving, it’s the devil,” Caro said. “Ouija games and all this are forbidden in the Bible.”

Calling the game “disturbing” and “deceptive,” EWTN News Nightly host Tracy Sabol asked Caro what Christians who were tricked into buying the game should do.

Besides getting rid of the board immediately, Caro encouraged Christians who have bought the game to “repent and ask God for liberation” by going to confession and asking the priest to give an extra blessing for protection.

Bl. Jane of Toulouse

Bl. Jane of Toulouse

Feast date: Mar 31

Blessed Jane lived in the French town of Toulouse during the 13th century. A Carmelite monastery was founded in the same town in 1240 which exposed Jane to the Carmelite lifestyle and spirituality.

In 1265 when St. Simon Stock, a 13th century reformer of the Carmelites, was passing through Toulouse, Jane met him and requested to be affiliated with the Carmelites. Simon agreed and Jane became the first Third Order Carmelite.

Jane vowed herself to perpetual chastity and applied herself completely to the Carmelite Rule. In addition to many daily holy practices and penances, she reached out to the community and worked to help the sick and poor. One of Jane's primary missions was encouraging the boys of the town to help her serve the poor and help them discern whether or not they were called to be Carmelites. 

Blessed Jane is considered to be a founder of the Carmelite tertiary order and is considered to be its first member.

She died in 1286.

Tuesday’s Wisconsin Supreme Court election could determine future of state abortion ban

null / Credit: Aditya Romansa/Unsplash

St. Louis, Mo., Mar 31, 2023 / 06:00 am (CNA).

The 2023 Wisconsin judicial race, which might have remained obscure in other years even within Wisconsin, is garnering national media attention and record fundraising numbers for the candidates. 

Here’s what you need to know about the April 4 election, when voters will choose who will sit on the state Supreme Court for the next decade. Pro-life groups say this election could help determine whether abortion stays illegal in Wisconsin. 

Why is this election so potentially consequential?

Wisconsin is the only state in the nation with a pre-Roe v. Wade abortion ban in effect, at least on paper. Wisconsin’s ban, which is contained in Section 940.04 of the Wisconsin Statutes and dates to 1849, allows abortion only to save the life of the mother. The state’s Democratic governor and attorney general have said they will not enforce the ban and are currently suing in an attempt to have it overturned.

The law was previously unenforceable following the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, but Roe’s overturning last year allowed the statute to come into effect. So far, it has not been blocked in court, as has happened with pre-Roe bans in West Virginia and Michigan.

Pro-abortion groups within and outside Wisconsin have identified the state Supreme Court race as the key to getting 940.04 overturned. Gov. Tony Evers, along with Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, announced a lawsuit last year to attempt to overturn the law, arguing that it has been superseded by subsequent legislation and cannot be enforced.

The lawsuit is likely to be ultimately decided by the state Supreme Court, which has had a 4-3 conservative majority for the past decade and a half. Now, there is an open seat being vacated by retiring conservative justice Patience Roggensack.

Pro-life advocates worry that should the state Supreme Court obtain a pro-choice majority, the state’s pre-Roe ban could be thrown out, as happened last year in neighboring Michigan.

Who’s running in the April 4 election?

In a Feb. 21 primary, Daniel Kelly and Janet Protasiewicz emerged as the two highest vote-getters, advancing to the nonpartisan general election on April 4. Protasiewicz earned the most votes in the February primary and Kelly the second most. The ultimate winner will serve a 10-year term on the state Supreme Court.

The race is officially nonpartisan, so neither Protasiewicz nor Kelly is running as a Democrat or Republican. Donations have poured into the race from across the country, making it likely the most expensive state Supreme Court race in history. Judge Protasiewicz has spent more than $10 million on television ads while Justice Kelly has spent less than $500,000 on them, the New York Times reported. 

Kelly is a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice who served on the court from his appointment by then-Gov. Scott Walker in 2016 until he was voted out in 2020. He describes himself as a “constitutional conservative” and on his campaign website charges that his opponents are “judicial activists who seek to impose their own political agenda on our state.”

Amid a contentious campaign, Kelly has earned the endorsement of three statewide pro-life groups — Wisconsin Family Action, Pro-Life Wisconsin, and Wisconsin Right to Life.

In contrast, Protasiewicz has garnered endorsements from numerous top Democrats in Wisconsin, as well as from pro-abortion groups such as NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and EMILY’s List. Protasiewicz currently is a judge for Branch 24 of the Milwaukee County Circuit Court in Wisconsin, having been elected to that court in 2014.

Protasiewicz has also won the endorsement of Hillary Clinton. Kelly was endorsed by former president Donald Trump in his 2020 campaign, which he lost — he has not sought Trump’s endorsement in the present race. 

What have the candidates said lately?

The candidates engaged in a spirited debate March 21. During that debate, Protasiewicz pledged to recuse herself from any cases involving the Democratic Party due to the large number of donations she has received from them. She said she has been “very clear about [her] values” during the campaign, but insisted she has made “no promises” to pro-abortion groups such as Planned Parenthood and EMILY’s List. 

“My personal opinion is that [it] should be the woman’s right to make the reproductive health decisions, period,” she said during the debate.

Kelly said during the debate that he is not accepting any funds from the state Republican Party. He said his numerous endorsements from pro-life groups came about after having conversations with them about his pledge to uphold the Constitution, not because of any promise to keep the abortion ban in place. 

Following the debate, Wisconsin Right to Life took issue with Protasiewicz’s characterization of Kelly as a candidate who has “pledged” to uphold pro-life values, saying that the group’s endorsement of Kelly is “based on his judicial philosophy and not based on pledges to uphold any law or policy position.”

What has the Catholic Church in Wisconsin said?

In a Feb. 14 newsletter, the Wisconsin Catholic Conference noted the upcoming 2023 spring primary election and reminded voters that as Catholics, “we are called to form our consciences in light of Church teaching.”

“Human reason tells us that the right to life is the first and fundamental right. Without life, none of our basic human rights — such as food, shelter, liberty — can be exercised,” the conference said in the newsletter.

“In addition, our Catholic faith holds that every human being, at every stage of life, is made in the image and likeness of God. When we encounter one another, we should do so with the understanding that we are encountering someone of transcendent worth, who like us is deserving of respect and protection from conception to natural death.”

In a March 15 statement, the conference urged Wisconsin legislators to oppose legislation that would create an exception in Wisconsin’s statute that would permit children conceived in rape and incest to be killed and expand abortion access in cases of fetal abnormality or risk to the mother. 

Vatican: Pope Francis had pizza dinner, may leave hospital tomorrow

Pope Francis' General Audience in St. Peter's Square on March 29, 2023. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Rome Newsroom, Mar 31, 2023 / 05:25 am (CNA).

The Vatican said Friday that Pope Francis may be discharged from the hospital on Saturday after responding well to treatments yesterday and sharing a pizza dinner with those assisting him.

In two brief statements in the early afternoon of March 31, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni also said Pope Francis is scheduled to be present at the Vatican’s Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square on April 2.

Pope Francis was admitted to Rome’s Gemelli Hospital on Wednesday afternoon with difficulty breathing. He was later diagnosed with bronchitis.

“Yesterday passed well, with a normal clinical progression,” Bruni said around 12:30 p.m. on Friday.

“In the evening Pope Francis had dinner, eating pizza together with those assisting him during his hospital stay,” the Holy See Press Office director said. “With the Holy Father were the doctors, nurses, assistants and Gendarmerie personnel.”

On the morning of March 31, the pope had breakfast, read the newspapers, and resumed work, he said, adding that “His Holiness is expected to return to his Santa Marta home tomorrow, upon the outcome of the results of the last tests this morning.”

Around 1:15 p.m., Bruni added the information about the pope’s presence for the Palm Sunday Mass.

In the afternoon on March 29, Bruni issued a brief statement to say Francis was at Gemelli Hospital “for some previously scheduled checkups.” Later that day, he said the 86-year-old pope would remain hospitalized for “some days” after being diagnosed with a respiratory infection.

Gemelli is the same hospital where Pope Francis was hospitalized in July 2021 when he underwent surgery on his colon for diverticulitis, or inflammation of the intestinal wall.

In an interview with the Associated Press in January, Pope Francis disclosed that the diverticulitis had “returned.” At the time, the pope — who traveled to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo in late January — insisted he was in relatively good condition.

Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Reading 1 Jer 20:10-13

I hear the whisperings of many:
"Terror on every side!
Denounce! let us denounce him!"
All those who were my friends
are on the watch for any misstep of mine.
"Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail,
and take our vengeance on him."
But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion:
my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.
In their failure they will be put to utter shame,
to lasting, unforgettable confusion.
O LORD of hosts, you who test the just,
who probe mind and heart,
Let me witness the vengeance you take on them,
for to you I have entrusted my cause.
Sing to the LORD,
praise the LORD,
For he has rescued the life of the poor
from the power of the wicked!

Responsorial Psalm Ps 18:2-3a, 3bc-4, 5-6, 7

R. (see 7)  In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice.
I love you, O LORD, my strength,
O LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer.
R. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice.
My God, my rock of refuge,
my shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold!
Praised be the LORD, I exclaim,
and I am safe from my enemies.
R. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice.
The breakers of death surged round about me,
the destroying floods overwhelmed me;
The cords of the nether world enmeshed me,
the snares of death overtook me.
R. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice.
In my distress I called upon the LORD
and cried out to my God;
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.
R. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice.

Verse Before the Gospel See Jn 6:63c, 68c

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life;
you have the words of everlasting life.

Gospel Jn 10:31-42

The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus.
Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from my Father.
For which of these are you trying to stone me?"
The Jews answered him,
"We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy.
You, a man, are making yourself God."
Jesus answered them,
"Is it not written in your law, 'I said, 'You are gods"'?
If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came,
and Scripture cannot be set aside,
can you say that the one
whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world
blasphemes because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?
If I do not perform my Father's works, do not believe me;
but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me,
believe the works, so that you may realize and understand
that the Father is in me and I am in the Father."
Then they tried again to arrest him;
but he escaped from their power.

He went back across the Jordan
to the place where John first baptized, and there he remained.
Many came to him and said,
"John performed no sign,
but everything John said about this man was true."
And many there began to believe in him.
- - -

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.

Spanish bishops deliver six volumes of information on sex abuse cases to ombudsman

Cardinal Juan José Omella, the archbishop of Barcelona, Spain, and Spain's Ombudsman Ángel Gabilondo. / Credit: CEE

ACI Prensa Staff, Mar 30, 2023 / 14:30 pm (CNA).

The president of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference (CEE), Cardinal Juan José Omella, has handed over to the people’s ombudsman, Ángel Gabilondo, a total of six volumes of data on cases of sexual abuse of minors.

In Spain, the role of the ombudsman is to defend the fundamental rights and public liberties of citizens by watching over the activities of local and national governments as well as the administration of justice.

Speaking to Radio Nacional de España, Omella explained that all the data on cases collected by the Spanish dioceses has been turned in.

In total, the ombudsman has received “six volumes of reflection with all the data that we have up to now.” He stressed the Spanish prelates commitment to “put in place all means to eradicate” the abuse of minors.

The cardinal also said that these situations cause “great harm, not only to the Church but [also] to society.”

A year ago, the Congress of Deputies (the lower house of the national Legislature) entrusted the ombudsman with setting up an independent commission to report on complaints of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

A month earlier, the Spanish Bishops’ Conference made public that it had hired the law firm Cremades & Calvo Sotelo to conduct an external audit on the matter. The work was expected to take one year. Conclusions from the audit have have not yet been released.

In Spain there are more than 200 offices dedicated to the protection of minors and the prevention of abuse run by dioceses, religious congregations, and lay movements. The CEE reported that during 2022, the diocesan offices have trained more than 150,000 people, especially children and adolescents.

Throughout 2022, the CEE has received testimony on 186 new cases of abuse that occurred since 1950. The allegations involve include 74 religious order clergy, 36 diocesan clergy, 49 non-ordained consecrated persons, and 27 laymen, all male. Of them, 90 have died, 69 are alive, and in 27 cases their situation has not been confirmed, the CEE reported.

Regarding the victims, 179 were minors at the time the abuse occurred.

According to a very detailed study by the ANAR Foundation (Aid to At-Risk Chidren and Adolescents) published in 2021, priests represent a total of 0.2% of those responsible for child abuse in Spain between 2008 and 2019. Most of these situations occurred with adolescents aged 16 and over.

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

U.S. and Canadian bishops join Vatican’s condemnation of colonialist ‘doctrine of discovery’

Pope Francis address representatives of Canada's indigenous peoples at the archbishop's residence in Québec City. / Vatican Media

Washington D.C., Mar 30, 2023 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

The U.S. and Canadian bishops released statements Thursday praising the Vatican’s repudiation of the “doctrine of discovery,” which has been used in the past to justify European colonialism in the Americas and throughout the world.

The doctrine of discovery is a philosophical, political, and legal theory that posits that European colonizers have the right to expropriate indigenous lands and property.

The theory has been said to have its origin in certain 15th-century papal bulls including Dum Diversas, Romanus Pontifex, and Inter Caetera, and has been invoked by many, including the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1823 case Johnson v. McIntosh.

On Thursday, a joint statement of the Vatican’s Dicasteries for Culture and Education and for Promoting Integral Human Development formally denounced the doctrine of discovery, saying it “is not part of the teaching of the Catholic Church” and that the Church “repudiates those concepts that fail to recognize the inherent human rights of indigenous peoples.”

In an official statement, the secretary for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Archbishop Paul Coakley, responded by saying: “We welcome the [Vatican] statement’s renewed repudiation and condemnation of the violence and injustices committed against Native and Indigenous peoples as well as the Church’s ongoing support for their dignity and human rights.” 

“In the centuries that followed the papal bulls at issue, many popes boldly proclaimed the God-given rights owed to all peoples, but we must also confront those moments when individual Christians lacked such boldness or clarity,” Coakley said. “There were times when Christians, including ecclesiastical authorities, failed to fully oppose destructive and immoral actions of the competing colonial powers. In this regard, we too express deep sorrow and regret.”

“These papal bulls did not adequately reflect the equal dignity and rights of Indigenous peoples,” the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) said in an official statement, adding that the bulls “were manipulated for political purposes by competing colonial powers; and that Indigenous peoples suffered the terrible effects of the assimilation policies of colonizing nations.” 

Echoing the Vatican’s statement, the Canadian bishops recalled Pope Francis’ words during a Quebec address in which he said: “Never again can the Christian community allow itself to be infected by the idea that one culture is superior to others, or that it is legitimate to employ ways of coercing others.”  

During what he described as a “penitential pilgrimage,” Pope Francis spoke with Indigenous Canadians and listened to their complaints regarding their treatment by colonizers and the Catholic Church.

The CCCB also praised the Vatican’s recognition of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which if implemented, the CCCB says, “would help to improve the living conditions of Indigenous peoples, to protect their rights, as well as to support their self-development in continuity with their identity, language, history, and culture.”

Both the U.S. and Canadian bishops echoed the Vatican’s sentiment expressed in the joint dicastery statement, saying though the Church has defended the rights of the weak and poor throughout history, “many Christians have committed evil acts against Indigenous peoples for which recent popes have asked forgiveness on numerous occasions.”

According to both bishops’ statements, the USCCB and CCCB, with the encouragement of the Vatican, are “exploring” the establishment of an academic symposium for continued dialogue between indigenous and Catholic scholars.

“As a Church, it is important for us to fully understand how our words have been used and misused to justify acts that would be abhorrent to Jesus Christ,” Coakley said. “We hope for more dialogue among Indigenous and Catholic scholars to promote greater and wider understanding of this difficult history.”

“May God bless with healing all those who continue to suffer the legacy of colonialism, and may we all offer true aid and support,” Coakley concluded. “By God’s grace, may we never return to the way of colonization but rather walk together in the way of peace.”