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Catholic social teaching is 'fundamental' to tackling world issues, Pope Francis says

Vatican City, Aug 5, 2020 / 05:04 am (CNA).- Pope Francis said Wednesday the Church is not an expert in the global health crisis, but Catholic social teaching is fundamental to healing the issues faced by the world today.

“Although the Church administers the healing grace of Christ through the sacraments, and although she provides health services in the most remote corners of the planet, she is not an expert in the prevention or treatment of the pandemic,” Pope Francis said at his general audience Aug. 5.

Speaking via livestream from the library of the Vatican’s apostolic palace, the pope stated that the Church “helps with the sick, but she is not an expert. Nor does she give specific socio-political indications.”

“However, over the centuries, and in the light of the Gospel, the Church has developed some social principles that are fundamental principles that can help us move forward, which we need to prepare the future,” he continued.

Pope Francis also spoke about the importance of faith in Jesus Christ, who heals not only physical ailments, but also spiritual.

He pointed to the Gospel’s many accounts of miraculous healings performed by Jesus during his public ministry, including the healing of the paralytic at Capernaum, who had to be lowered through a hole in the roof by his friends.

Quoting the Gospel of Mark, Francis said: “Jesus, having regard to their faith, said to the paralytic: Son, your sins are forgiven.”

“And therefore, Jesus heals,” he noted, “but does not simply heal paralysis: Jesus quashes everything, forgives sins, renews the life of the paralytic and his friends.”

“So, we ask ourselves: how can we help heal our world today? As disciples of the Lord Jesus, physician of souls and bodies, we are called to continue ‘his work, a work of healing and salvation’ in a physical, social and spiritual sense,” Francis said, citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The pope said this work of healing is facilitated through the closely related principles found in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church; he listed the principles of the dignity of the person, the common good, the preferential option for the poor, the universal destination of goods, solidarity, subsidiarity, and care for the earth.

“All these principles express, in different ways, the virtues of faith, hope and love,” he explained.

“In the coming weeks, I invite you to tackle together the pressing issues that the pandemic has highlighted, especially social diseases,” he said.

“And we will do it in the light of the Gospel, the theological virtues, and the principles of the Church’s social doctrine. We will explore together how our Catholic social tradition can help the human family heal this world that suffers from serious diseases.”

 

Pope Francis prays for victims of 'tragic' Beirut explosion as death toll climbs

Vatican City, Aug 5, 2020 / 03:48 am (CNA).- Pope Francis has asked for prayers for Lebanon and for the victims of yesterday's Beirut explosions, which have killed over a hundred people and caused serious destruction to the city.

Speaking after his general audience address on Wednesday, the pope noted the “massive explosions” which occurred near the port in Beirut Aug. 4.

“Let us pray for the victims, for their families; and let us pray for Lebanon, so that, through the dedication of all its social, political, and religious elements, it might face this extremely tragic and painful moment and, with the help of the international community, overcome the grave crisis they are experiencing,” he said via livestream from the Vatican.

The blast, which occurred at a warehouse at Beirut’s port, has killed at least 100 and injured thousands, flooding hospitals. The death toll is expected to climb further as emergency personnel search for an unknown number of people still missing in the rubble.

The explosion ignited fires and most of the city is without electricity. Sections of the city, including the popular waterfront area, were flattened in the blast. Crowded residential neighborhoods in eastern Beirut, which is predominately Christian, also sustained severe damage from the explosion, which was felt as far as 150 miles away in Cyprus.

Officials said it appears the explosion may have been caused when a fire detonated more than 2,700 tons of the chemical ammonium nitrate, which had been stored in a warehouse on the docks since 2014 after being confiscated from a cargo ship, the New York Times reports.

A Lebanese Catholic priest asked believers around the world to pray for the people of his country after the blasts.

“We ask your nation to carry Lebanon in its hearts at this difficult stage and we place great trust in you and in your prayers, and that the Lord will protect Lebanon from evil through your prayers,” Fr. Miled el-Skayyem of the Chapel of St. John Paul II in Keserwan, Lebanon, said in a statement to EWTN News Aug. 4.

 

Loyola quiet on Flannery O’Connor residence hall controversy

Denver Newsroom, Aug 5, 2020 / 02:55 am (CNA).- After controversy surrounding the removal of American Catholic author Flannery O’Connor’s name from a residence hall, Loyola University Maryland has not said whether it will reconsider its decision.

A petition asking the university to reverse the decision came in the form of a letter, written by Angela Alaimo O’Donnell, a former Loyola professor and a Flannery O’Connor scholar who is the associate director of the Curran Center for American Catholic Studies at Fordham University.

Signed by O’Donnell, as well as more than 80 other authors, scholars and leaders, the letter defended O’Connor’s work and asked the university to reconsider its decision. Among the signatories are Alice Walker, a Black author who grew up down the road from the O’Connor farm, and Bishop Robert Barron.

The letter was presented to Fr. Brian Linnane, S.J., president of Loyola University Maryland, on July 31.

“O’Connor believes in the Imago Dei, the fact that every human being is beloved of God and made in God’s image. Her stories champion the despised, the outcast, and the other, demonstrating their humanity, and call to account people who try to deny their God-given sacred nature,” the letter states. “Among the despised in her stories are African Americans, and the primary objects of her satire are most often racist whites.”

“It is no small thing to remove Flannery O’Connor from the pantheon of Catholic writers and intellectuals honored on your campus. We urge you to reconsider this decision,” the letter states.

According to Baltimore’s archdiocesan newspaper the Catholic Review, Loyola “is undergoing a larger review of all the names of its buildings and a university committee advised [Linnane] on the renaming proposal” that called for the removal of O’Connor’s name.

When asked, a Loyola University Maryland spokesperson did not say whether the petition was being considered, or whether a different building on campus would be named for O’Connor in the future.

“Our president has received the petition. The residence hall has already been renamed for Sister Thea Bowman. I do not know what work will come out of the presidential renaming committee,” Rita Buettner, director of university communications for Loyola University Maryland, told CNA Aug. 4.

Attention was drawn to apparent racism in O’Connor’s personal writings by “How Racist Was Flannery O’Connor?”, a piece that appeared in the New Yorker in June. There, Paul Elie wrote that “letters and postcards she sent home from the North in 1943 were made available to scholars only in 2014, and they show O’Connor as a bigoted young woman.”

O'Connor was a short story writer, novelist, and essayist, as well as a devout Catholic who attended daily Mass. She died of lupus in 1964, at the age of 39.

The residence hall that had borne the name of Flannery O’Connor for more than 10 years was renamed Thea Bowman Hall, after Sr. Thea Bowman, an African-American religious sister and civil rights activist whose cause for canonization is being considered.

Linnane told the Catholic Review that the decision was made in light of student concerns over some of racist comments written by O’Connor in her personal correspondence.

“A residence hall is supposed to be the students’ home,” Linnane said. “If some of the students who live in that building find it to be unwelcoming and unsettling, that has to be taken seriously.”

Linnane added that this did not mean that the school had banned the study of O’Connor’s work, and that the study of her works would still be assigned by professors if they so choose.

 

 

 

Citing COVID and bushfires, Australian bishops urge focus on mental health

CNA Staff, Aug 5, 2020 / 12:05 am (CNA).- In the latter half of 2019 and the first few months of 2020, Australia contended with massive, devastating bushfires that burned more than 45 millions of acres of land and directly killed 34 people, with an estimated 400 or more additional people killed due to smoke inhalation.

In March, like the rest of the world, states and cities in Australia enforced strict lockdowns in an effort to “flatten the curve” of the coronavirus pandemic, sending people into uncertain isolation and causing some to lose their jobs.

These “tumultuous upheavals, unprecedented in our lifetimes” are a large part of the reasons the Australian Catholic bishops have chosen mental health as their social justice focus of the upcoming year.

“We want to say clearly that mental ill-health is not a moral failure, the result of a lack of faith, or of weak will. Jesus himself was labelled mad and, like us, he suffered psychological distress,” Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, wrote in the opening of the conference’s 2020-2021 Social Justice Statement.

“People experiencing mental ill-health are not some ‘other’ people, they are ‘us’. People in our families, faith communities, workplaces and society are suffering mental ill-health – and they can be of any age or socioeconomic background. Whoever and whatever they are, they need our understanding and support,” Coleridge added.

The 20-page statement was entitled “To Live Life to the Full,” which the bishops noted is a reference to John 10:10, in which Jesus said: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

“Mental health is not simply the absence of illnesses, but having the capacity and opportunity to thrive – that is, to participate in the fullness of life to which Jesus invites us,” the bishops said.

In the statement, the bishops outlined areas of risk for mental illness among people of different ages, and called for better mental health services that serve a broader range of people.

Mental illness often first appears before a person turns 25, the bishops noted, and there are a variety of pressures on young people that can exacerbate mental illness, such as “pressure to succeed at school, to start university or find work. Lack of affordable housing, significant debt early in life, and the ‘gig economy’ can cause huge pressures.”

The bishops said they were “deeply saddened” by the high suicide rate of people ages 15-24 in their country. Orygen, an Australian organization that works to improve the mental health of young people, reported that indigenous Australians are particularly at risk for suicide: the suicide rate “for indigenous Australians aged 15-24 is 40.5 per 100,000; more than three times the rate of non-indigenous young people (11.7),” the group reported last year.

“This is a growing problem,” the bishops said. “(Suicide) accounts for around one third of deaths among people in this age group, with around 90 percent of victims experiencing mental ill-health.”

The bishops also noted that people over the age of 75 are also at increased risk for mental illnesses such as depression, as their overall health declines and social isolation increases. They also acknowledged postpartum depression and financial and relational stressors as other factors that can worsen mental health within families.

Devastating bushfires and widespread drought in recent years have also “led to resignation and loss of hope. Sadly, that loss of hope has seen some take their own lives. Suicide rates in rural and remote communities are 66 per cent higher than in major cities,” they said.

“The recent bushfires wiped out entire communities. Lives were lost, communities displaced, homes and businesses were destroyed. The greater frequency and intensity of weather-related disasters amplify the impact climate change is having on mental health,” the bishops added.

The forced isolation and disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, including economic hardships and job loss, are also adding to the mental health burdens of the country, they said, though they expressed hope that the universal “experience of anxiety and distress will help us to remove the stigma and discrimination that has surrounded mental illness over the centuries.”

Churches and related organizations “should be places of acceptance, care and healing, not places of rejection or judgement,” the bishops said. “Furthermore, as Pope Francis constantly reminds us, we have to take the initiative to go out to those pushed to the edges, rather than waiting for them to come to us seeking welcome.”

Better mental health services and greater access to them are needed throughout Australian communities, the bishops noted, particularly among at-risk populations, and for those in rural and remote areas, and for the working-class and poor, who need access to after-hours and more affordable care.

The bishops also called on parishes to increase mental health awareness among their people, to work to reduce the stigma around seeking mental health care, and to connect with mental health networks in their local area.

“We are called to restore the Body of Christ by making mental health a key priority, acknowledging and including people living with mental ill-heath within our communion and the heart of Australian society.”

 

Blessed Frederic Janssoone

The greatest desire and prayer of Blessed Frederic Janssoone was to help others come closer to God. His ministry as a Franciscan help him to do that, and took him to many places, from Europe, to the Holy Land and then to North America, where he died.He was born in Flanders in 1838 as the youngest of 13 children in a wealthy farming family. Frederic was nine when his father died, and he dropped out of school to work as a traveling salesman in order to help support his family. His mother died when he was 23. He completed his studies and then entered the Franciscans. He was ordained in 1870, and served as a military chaplain during the Franco-Prussian War. He was then sent to the Holy Land, where he reinstated the Stations of the Cross in the streets of Jerusalem, built a church in Bethlehem, and negotiated an accord among the Roman, Greek and Armenian Christian churches concerning the sanctuaries of Bethlehem.He first came to Canada in 1881 on a fundraising tour, but eventually moved permanently to the country seven years later. He helped to develop the popular shrine of Our Lady at Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec. He wrote biographies of the saints, newspaper articles and sold religious books door to door.He died of stomach cancer in Montreal in 1916 and is buried in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, a city close to the Marian shrine he helped to develop. Pope John Paul II beatified Frederic in 1988.

Catholic University of America offers coronavirus tuition adjustments

CNA Staff, Aug 4, 2020 / 05:19 pm (CNA).- As the coronavirus pandemic limits class schedules and sizes, the Catholic University of America announced its plan to return to some students a portion of their tuition for the upcoming semester.

John Garvey, president of the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., noted the adjustments for the fall 2020 semester.

“Last May, we committed to fully reopening our campus at the earliest possible opportunity. Since that time we have been carefully gauging the trajectory of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” he said July 31.

“I am very sorry to report that developments in public health conditions over the past few weeks have forced us to conclude that it is simply too early to bring everyone back to campus.”

When classes begin in August, the number of students who may reside on campus will be limited to freshman and transfers students with fewer than 30 college credits. As required by the District of Columbia, students arriving on campus from one of the 27 states designated as “high risk” will be required to quarantine for 14 days. The university’s orientation and the first two weeks of classes will then be held online to comply with the requirements.

A majority of sophomore, junior, and senior students are not permitted to live on campus but will instead conduct all of their classes online. Exceptions will be made for some international students, residents assistants, and students who are unable to pursue studies at their permanent address.

“I understand this is disappointing news, because it is disappointing to us. But the large and sustained increase in infections nationwide poses a serious risk that we will be unable to provide the care necessary for a full complement of our student population,” said Garvey.

“We remain confident that we can attend properly to a smaller cohort, while providing our freshmen with the best possible transition to college.”

The CUA president issued a statement Aug. 3 outlining the refunds and tuition decreases that will be provided to those students who will not attend the university as they expected.

Students will receive a 10% refund for this semester’s tuition costs if they planned to attend at least some of their classes in-person and are now forced to attend these classes online. There is no tuition reduction for classes that are traditionally taken online.

Also, those students who planned to stay on campus but are no longer eligible will receive a full refund for on-campus room and board. The students off-campus who purchased a meal plan will have that plan honored and additional dining plans will be available for these students.

The refunds will be processed around the time that the semester begins, Aug. 17. Students who wish to roll over their credit balance for the spring semester should notify Enrollment Services.

Garvey also encouraged students struggling financially under the pandemic to reach out to the school to see about other financial opportunities.

“Finally, undergraduate students who have suffered economic distress specifically related to the pandemic are encouraged to appeal for additional financial assistance. Through the generosity of University benefactors, the Office of Student Financial Assistance continues to make one-time emergency tuition grants to students directly impacted by the pandemic.”

Garvey said the university will continue to monitor the situation of coronavirus at the school and determine when more in-person courses and other activities may begin. He said the university will continue to follow CDC and D.C. guidelines, and applauded the efforts the school has taken to keep everyone safe.

“Let me offer my thanks to each of our students, our faculty and staff, and our community of parents and alumni. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic we have worked together to deal with this crisis,” he said.

“It’s worth repeating that this is a disappointment for all of us. But it is only a temporary one. We will continue moving forward through this pandemic together.”

Transcript of EWTN News Nightly interview with President Donald Trump

Washington D.C., Aug 4, 2020 / 04:15 pm (CNA).- EWTN News Nightly’s lead anchor Tracy Sabol conducted a White House interview with President Donald Trump Aug. 4. Below is a transcript of that interview provided by EWTN News Nightly.

EWTN News Nightly said it has also reached out for an interview to Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.

Catholic News Agency is a service of EWTN News.

 



Tracy Sabol: Thank you so much, Mr. President, for speaking with us today. We appreciate it.

President Trump: Thank you.

Tracy Sabol: We have a lot to get to. But I first want to talk about the economy. Where we are right now, of course, we're starting with another round of stimulus. Can you talk about that and what's needed for Republicans and Democrats to meet in the middle?

President Trump: So we had the greatest economy in the history of the world, not only in our country, in every country. We were beating China, beating everybody. They were having the worst economy they've had in over 67 years. So we were doing with the tariffs and all the things that I was doing. And then we had to close it up. It came from China. They should have stopped it. They could have stopped it, but they didn't. They stopped it from going into their country, but they didn't stop it from here, Europe, or the rest of the world. And we had to close it up and we did that. And now we're coming back and we're doing stimulus. We've already done it, as you know, very successfully. And we'll probably have something worked out. We'll see what happens. The problem with the Democrats, as you know, they want bailout money for their states and cities that have done so poorly under Democrat leadership. And I'm not happy with that. It's not appropriate. This is having to do with the corona, I call it the "China-virus." And so I think we're doing very well. We had the best job numbers we've ever had, percentage-wise. You take a look at what happened, [indiscernible] close to seven million jobs over the last two months. New numbers are going to be coming out very soon. We're back. We're doing very well. I think next year is going to be one of the best years we've ever had. And it looks very, very strong.

Tracy Sabol: Looking forward to the third quarter: How do you anticipate that looking?

President Trump: I think the third quarter is going to be good. I think it's going to be good. I think the fourth quarter is going to be very, very good. But we're just coming out of something that we had no choice. We saved millions of lives by closing. If we didn't close it up, you would have lost millions of lives. And by closing it, I mean, we've done a really good job. The ban on China was very important. We banned people coming in, highly infected, and we banned people from coming in from China and then from Europe. We did the ban on Europe, very important. It really, I think, is going to be, I think we're going to have a very special economy in about...for next year. But I think third quarter actually is going to be very good.

Tracy Sabol: A lot of things shut down, including churches. Let's talk about that and the importance of reopening churches. I know you've talked about that.

President Trump: I think they should open the churches. It's up to the governors. But, I think, and I’m recommending it, you open the churches. They'll spread, they'll be socially spread, they'll have masks and they'll do what they have to do, you know, the hygiene and everything else that we know. It's a very simple list, but I think it's very unfair that they have-- I saw Jim Jordan the other day talking about it very well, that they have 50,000 people protesting and they're standing on top of each other practically, and yet you're not allowed to go to church. You don't go to schools. We want to open our churches. We want to open our schools. And everybody wants to be safe. They know what to do. They'll stay away. And, you know, we'll be the same way. Maybe you'll have an extra service or two or three. But they have to let the churches open. They want to put, the Democrats want to put them out of business. They want to put the churches out of business. And it's very unfair. So they don't complain about the protests, which are horrible in many cases. You look at Portland, it's a disaster, but they don't want the churches open, they don't want the schools open, they don't want offices open. So it's a very, very unfair situation to a lot of people.

Tracy Sabol: Mr. President, is there a way to deem churches as essential businesses? How can we do that?

President Trump: I am looking at that because I think it's enough already. You have some states, I think they never want them open. They don't want churches open. Look, the Democrats, frankly, if you look at the radical left, Democrats, which are radical left now, they've gone radical left. Whether you're talking about life or whether you're talking about almost anything, they're not liking it. They're not liking it.

Tracy Sabol: I know that you've heard about the vandalism, the horrific vandalism. Many, many churches have been vandalized over the past recent weeks. When you heard about that, what did you think?

President Trump: I think it's a disgrace. And I think it's partially because they're not allowed to function, they're not allowed to really function. And I think it's disgraceful that it can happen. And, you know, they want to defund the police. They want to stop the police. They want to have them at least to a minimum. And we're just the opposite. I just got endorsed by Texas law enforcement, by Florida, all of the sheriffs and the law enforcement. I think, I can't imagine them ever, I can't imagine law enforcement ever endorsing Biden. He's got a hard time in a lot of ways, let's face it, but I can't imagine that ever happening. So we just about have everybody endorsing us in terms of law enforcement. And, you know, with the churches, you need some law enforcement to help you out also. But it's the fact that they're closed and they you know, bad things happen when they're closed. It's a very terrible situation, what they're doing to churches and these are governors that are radical left or Democrat, it's almost becoming the same thing. And I don't think they want churches open.

Tracy Sabol: What can be done to stop this vandalism? What do you think?

President Trump: Well, what you need is you need the law enforcement. It's areas usually run by radical left Democrats. I mean, where you have Republican leadership, where you have Republican governors and mayors, you don't have this problem. You have this problem where you have radical left Democrats in virtually every instance. So what you have to do is elect Republicans. And if you had a Republican, as an example, if Biden got in, you'd have Portland all over our country. It would be like Portland. These people are agitators. They're anarchists. You'd have that all over our country. You know, we stopped it, we stepped in and a lot of people said we were early. Well, let us let us be early. Better early than late. But we did a good job there. We did a great job in Seattle that would have been burned to the ground, frankly. But with Portland, and we didn't do our big job, we did a much smaller job. We had to protect our building, and our buildings, actually, a number of buildings. But the courthouse would have been burned down. The courthouse would have been destroyed if we didn't step in. People said, "Oh, we went early." Well, if we didn't go then, the courthouse would have been destroyed because Seattle was not protecting it. So you would have that situation all over the United States. And that's unacceptable.

Tracy Sabol: And, Mr. President, on top of mind for a lot of parents, including myself: the reopening of schools. I know you just tweeted about that. Can you talk about that?

President Trump: I want the schools open. First of all, children are unbelievably strong, right? Their immune system. Something's going on because out of thousands of deaths in New Jersey, thousands, because I just saw the statistics, many thousands of people died, one person under the age of 18. And that was a person I believe had diabetes on top of everything. So children just are, I guess I heard one doctor say, virtually they're immune from it. They have a strong, they have a very strong something, and they are not affected. And we have to open our schools. You know, there's a big danger to keeping people locked in. And they're also finding it's wonderful to use computers, but it's not a great way of learning. They now know that it's much better to be with a teacher on campus or in a school, that's much better than looking at a computer all day long. So we have to get our schools open. We have to get them open soon.

Tracy Sabol: And if there was one message you wanted to say to our viewers, what would it be right now?

President Trump: Well, I think anybody having to do with, frankly, religion, but certainly the Catholic Church, you have to be with President Trump when it comes to pro-life, when it comes to all of the things, these people are going to take all of your rights away, including Second Amendment, because, you know, Catholics like their Second Amendment. So I saved the Second Amendment. If I wasn't here, you wouldn't have a Second Amendment. And pro-life is your big thing and you won't be on that side of the issue, I guarantee, if the radical left, because they're going to take over, they're going to push him around like he was nothing.

Tracy Sabol: Well, thank you so much, Mr. President, for the time today.

 

Maronite Catholic priest concerned by potential shortages after Beirut blast

CNA Staff, Aug 4, 2020 / 04:01 pm (CNA).- A Maronite priest from Lebanon has expressed concern that the country may face food shortages in the wake of Tuesday’s explosion at Beirut’s port.

The explosion “happened at the biggest docks in Lebanon and they also have big reservoirs of wheat, the central reservoirs are there, and these have gone, have gone to ashes. That's another tragedy in the making because they will have shortages,” Fr. Maxim Baz, who is serving in Rome, told CNA Aug. 4.

The blast killed at least 50, and injured thousands more. Officials have not yet determined the cause of the explosions, but investigators believe they may have started with a fire in a warehouse that stored explosive materials. Lebanon’s security service warned against speculations of terrorism before investigators could assess the situation.

Fr. Baz said that “the most important thing is for people to pray for everybody who has been hurt in Lebanon.”

He said his country “has been undergoing for the past decades one tragedy after another, really suffering in silence,” citing a financial crisis, the coronavirus, and the civil war of 1975-90.

“It seems that this country is just trying to come out of the darkness and every time it does it receives another blow,” he lamented.

“A Catholic is always close to those who suffer. That's the distinctive trait of a Catholic and that is a distinctive trait of the Church,” Fr. Baz noted. “Wherever there is suffering, or wherever there is extreme, extreme vulnerability, there the Church is because there God is, actually. So a Catholic can not not be there, at least with their hearts, with their prayers, with their moral support.”

The explosion ignited fires and destroyed buildings in the city’s port area, caused damage across the city, and has flooded hospitals with casualties.

The Custody of the Holy Land tweeted showing damage to its monastery in Beirut, adding that none of its friars were injured and urging prayer for Lebanon.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Footage from our monastery in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Beirut?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Beirut</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Lebanon?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Lebanon</a> after the explosion occurred in that area. <br><br>No one of the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Franciscans?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Franciscans</a> living there were injured. <br><br>Let us pray for Lebanon. <a href="https://t.co/GpFZgM5mUA">pic.twitter.com/GpFZgM5mUA</a></p>&mdash; Custodia Terrae Sanctae (@custodiaTS) <a href="https://twitter.com/custodiaTS/status/1290716481014112264?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 4, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Raymond Nader, a Maronite in Lebanon, told CNA: “I just ask for prayers now from everyone around the world. We badly need prayers.”

 

Hannah Brockhaus contributed to this report.

Boston archdiocese pushes back after Trump says Boston bomber ‘deserves death’

CNA Staff, Aug 4, 2020 / 02:35 pm (CNA).-  

After President Donald Trump said Sunday that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, perpetrator of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, should be put to death, the Archdiocese of Boston said justice calls for life in prison, not the death penalty.

 “Catholic teaching does not support the taking of life as a means of achieving justice,” in Tsarnaev’s case, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston said.

“The incomprehensible suffering of so many caused by this heinous crime should appropriately be met with a sentence of imprisonment for life with no possibility of parole,” Terrence Donilon, a spokesman for the Boston archdiocese, told CNA Tuesday.

Donilon also acknowledged that the ongoing Tsarnaev appeal “has brought considerable further pain to the families and loved ones of those lost in the Marathon bombing and all the victims of that deliberate attack on innocent people.”

Remarks from the archdiocese came after Trump on Sunday tweeted that “rarely has anybody deserved the death penalty more than the Boston Bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.”

“The Federal Government must again seek the Death Penalty in a do-over of that chapter of the original trial. Our Country cannot let the appellate decision stand.” the president added.

 

....and ruined. The Federal Government must again seek the Death Penalty in a do-over of that chapter of the original trial. Our Country cannot let the appellate decision stand. Also, it is ridiculous that this process is taking so long!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 2, 2020 Tsarnaev, 27, was in April 2015 convicted of using pressure cooker bombs to kill three people and injure nearly 300 more during the 2013 Boston marathon. His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, perpetrated the bombing along with him, but was killed by police during the ensuing manhunt.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death, but that sentence was vacated by a federal appeals court July 30, because of concerns about juror impartiality. A new sentencing phase, with a new jury, has been ordered.

In his Aug. 2 tweets, the president noted that the court had said the Boston bombing was one of the worst domestic terrorist attacks since the September 11, 2001 bombings, and said “it is ridiculous that this process is taking so long!”

During Tsarnaev’s 2015 trial, the Catholic bishops of Massachusetts, including Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, opposed the possibility of Tsarnaev’s execution.

“The defendant in this case has been neutralized and will never again have the ability to cause harm. Because of this, we, the Catholic Bishops of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, believe that society can do better than the death penalty,” the bishops said in a statement.

“The Church has taught that the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are ‘rare, if not practically nonexistent.’ The Church’s teaching is further developing in recognition of the inherent dignity of all life as a gift from God. As Pope Francis has recently stated, ‘[The death penalty] is an offense against the inviolability of life and the dignity of the human person. When the death penalty is applied, it is not for a current act of oppression, but rather for an act committed in the past. It is also applied to persons whose current ability to cause harm is not current, as it has been neutralized – they are already deprived of their liberty.’”

In a June interview, Trump said that he is “totally in favor of the death penalty for heinous crimes, ok? That’s the way it is.”

Earlier this summer, the federal government resumed the execution of prisoners condemned to death, after a 17-year moratorium on federal executions.

On July 7, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Bishop William Medley of Owensboro, Kentucky, Bishop Oscar Solis of Salt Lake City, Bishop Thomas Zinkula of Davenport, Iowa, and Bishop Richard Pates who is the apostolic administrator of Joliet, Illinois, all joined more than 1,000 faith leaders in calling for a stop to scheduled executions of four federal death row inmates.

“As our country grapples with the COVID 19 pandemic, an economic crisis, and systemic racism in the criminal legal system, we should be focused on protecting and preserving life, not carrying out executions,” the faith leaders said.

On Tuesday, the Boston archdiocese told CNA it would pursue peace after the violence of the Boston bombings.

“We will continue to honor the memory of Martin Richard, Krystle Marie Campbell, Lü Lingzi, Sean A. Collier and Dennis Simmonds and the hundreds who suffered devastating injuries by a renewed commitment to root out violence and evil in our society by way of solidarity with Jesus’ call to love one another.”

 

Chinese bishop denies government has plans to demolish cathedral

CNA Staff, Aug 4, 2020 / 02:10 pm (CNA).- A Catholic bishop in China has denied that the government plans to tear down his cathedral, after local Catholics expressed concern at Communist authorities taking over land belonging to the diocese.

Bishop Anthony Dang Minyan of the Diocese of Xi’an, which is located in the province of Shaanxi, reassured local Catholics this week that there are no plans to demolish St. Francis Cathedral, and that the building is in fact a “provincial heritage.”

The cathedral dates back to the early 18th century, when it was constructed by Italian missionaries. 

Reports of plans to destroy the historic church circulated on Chinese social media after it emerged that local government officials intend to seize Church lands on either side of the cathedral. Houses rented on the land, purchased by the previous bishop, Anthony Li Du'an, are key source of income for the local Church. The houses are set to be demolished to create a public park.

UCA News reported August 4 that Bishop Dang issued the clarification to stop Catholics protesting against a non-existent plan to demolish the cathedral.

"We are in contact with the government. They want to beautify the streets to upgrade the city's image. We are negotiating with the government to see how we can cooperate with the move," the bishop told UCA.

In response to the rumors, some Catholics had gathered to protest in front of the cathedral with signs begging the government not tear the building down. 

Bishop Dang has led the Diocese of Xi'an since 2006. He previously served as auxiliary bishop in the diocese, having been consecrated a bishop in 2005 with both Communist and Vatican approval.

Throughout China, churches have been instructed to remove crosses and other religious symbols from both the inside and outside of the buildings. Other churches have been seized by the government and transformed into secular community centers. 

The expected seizure of Church lands in Xi’an come as the Holy See continues talks with the Chinese government to renew the controversial 2018 provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops in China. More than 50 mainland dioceses are currently without a leader.

Last week, a congressional hearing in Washington highlighted the unknown fate of another Catholic bishop in China: Bishop James Su Zhimin of the Diocese of Baoding, in China’s Hebei province, who was arrested by Chinese authorities in 1997. He was last seen by family at a hospital in 2003 while he was in government custody.

According to Bishop Su’s nephew, Chinese officials have reportedly asked the Vatican to appoint a new bishop of Baoding, fueling fears that Su may have died in government custody. 

The government’s preferred candidate is the diocesan coadjutor Bishop Francis An Shuxi, a member of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, the state-sanctioned church.