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Catholic News

A Mass in honor of Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, Warsaw, Poland, Oct. 19. 2021. / Muzeum, Osrodka Dokumentacji Zycia i Kultu oraz Sanktuarium, Blogoslawionego Ks. Jerzego Popieluszki.Warsaw, Poland, Oct 20, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).Catholics in Poland have commemorated the martyrdom of Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko, the priest killed for his defiance of the communist authorities.The focal point of the nationwide observance on Oct. 19 was a Mass at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in the capital, Warsaw, where the blessed's tomb is located.Muzeum, Osrodka Dokumentacji Zycia i Kultu oraz Sanktuarium, Blogoslawionego Ks. Jerzego Popieluszki.Preaching at the Mass, the former Warsaw auxiliary Bishop Tadeusz Pikus said: "In his teaching, he was guided above all by the argument of faith. He was convinced that he did not have to give way either to the argument of dictatorial ideological violence or to the argument of brute force."The anniversary had an added significan...

A Mass in honor of Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, Warsaw, Poland, Oct. 19. 2021. / Muzeum, Osrodka Dokumentacji Zycia i Kultu oraz Sanktuarium, Blogoslawionego Ks. Jerzego Popieluszki.

Warsaw, Poland, Oct 20, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

Catholics in Poland have commemorated the martyrdom of Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko, the priest killed for his defiance of the communist authorities.

The focal point of the nationwide observance on Oct. 19 was a Mass at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in the capital, Warsaw, where the blessed's tomb is located.

Muzeum, Osrodka Dokumentacji Zycia i Kultu oraz Sanktuarium, Blogoslawionego Ks. Jerzego Popieluszki.
Muzeum, Osrodka Dokumentacji Zycia i Kultu oraz Sanktuarium, Blogoslawionego Ks. Jerzego Popieluszki.

Preaching at the Mass, the former Warsaw auxiliary Bishop Tadeusz Pikus said: "In his teaching, he was guided above all by the argument of faith. He was convinced that he did not have to give way either to the argument of dictatorial ideological violence or to the argument of brute force."

The anniversary had an added significance this year because it fell shortly after the beatification of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, the Primate of Poland who led the Church during the most challenging years under communism.

Muzeum, Osrodka Dokumentacji Zycia i Kultu oraz Sanktuarium, Blogoslawionego Ks. Jerzego Popieluszki.
Muzeum, Osrodka Dokumentacji Zycia i Kultu oraz Sanktuarium, Blogoslawionego Ks. Jerzego Popieluszki.

Wyszynski guided Popieluszko's formation as a priest and ordained him on May 28, 1972, when he was 24 years old.

The live-streamed Mass began with a solemn procession to the martyr's tomb to the sound of the bell "Jerzy," consecrated in 1987 by Pope John Paul II.

Muzeum, Osrodka Dokumentacji Zycia i Kultu oraz Sanktuarium, Blogoslawionego Ks. Jerzego Popieluszki.
Muzeum, Osrodka Dokumentacji Zycia i Kultu oraz Sanktuarium, Blogoslawionego Ks. Jerzego Popieluszki.

The ceremony was attended by representatives of the Popieluszko family, senior government officials, workers' groups, members of the uniformed services, and the late priest's friends.

Oct. 19, the day that Popieluszko was murdered in 1984 aged 37, is marked in Poland as the National Day of Remembrance for Steadfast Clergy.

Muzeum, Osrodka Dokumentacji Zycia i Kultu oraz Sanktuarium, Blogoslawionego Ks. Jerzego Popieluszki.
Muzeum, Osrodka Dokumentacji Zycia i Kultu oraz Sanktuarium, Blogoslawionego Ks. Jerzego Popieluszki.

The observance was adopted by the Sejm, the lower house of Poland's parliament, in 2018 as a public holiday in honor of "heroes, steadfast defenders of faith and independent Poland."

Lawmakers chose Oct. 19 for the annual event in honor of Popieluszko, who was close to the Solidarity movement and was kidnapped and beaten to death by communist Security Service agents.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Muzeum, Osrodka Dokumentacji Zycia i Kultu oraz Sanktuarium, Blogoslawionego Ks. Jerzego Popieluszki.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Muzeum, Osrodka Dokumentacji Zycia i Kultu oraz Sanktuarium, Blogoslawionego Ks. Jerzego Popieluszki.

On the 37th anniversary of Popieluszko's death, a chapel was opened to the public containing relics including his cassock, shirt, and objects that he had with him at the time of his death.

On Oct. 18, an open-air exhibit called "The Decalogue of Fr. Jerzy" was opened on the church premises. The exhibit, previously displayed at Rome's Pontifical Urban University, consists of 22 panels describing the most important values that guided the blessed's life.

Popieluszko was born in 1947 in Okopy, a village located more than 120 miles northeast of Warsaw. Inspired by Cardinal Wyszynski's implacable opposition to communism, he was determined to serve as a priest in the Warsaw archdiocese.

Muzeum, Osrodka Dokumentacji Zycia i Kultu oraz Sanktuarium, Blogoslawionego Ks. Jerzego Popieluszki.
Muzeum, Osrodka Dokumentacji Zycia i Kultu oraz Sanktuarium, Blogoslawionego Ks. Jerzego Popieluszki.

He entered seminary in 1965 amid heightened tensions between the Church and the communist regime over celebrations of the millennium of Poland's baptism.

Muzeum, Osrodka Dokumentacji Zycia i Kultu oraz Sanktuarium, Blogoslawionego Ks. Jerzego Popieluszki.
Muzeum, Osrodka Dokumentacji Zycia i Kultu oraz Sanktuarium, Blogoslawionego Ks. Jerzego Popieluszki.

Wyszynski became known as the "Primate of the Millennium" because he oversaw a nine-year program of preparation culminating in a nationwide celebration of the milestone in 1966.

The cardinal not only ordained Popieluszko but also played an important role in his priestly life. In his electrifying sermons, which were broadcast by Radio Free Europe, Popieluszko often cited Wyszynski as well as the Polish pope John Paul II, underlining that he was preaching the same message as them.

Muzeum, Osrodka Dokumentacji Zycia i Kultu oraz Sanktuarium, Blogoslawionego Ks. Jerzego Popieluszki.
Muzeum, Osrodka Dokumentacji Zycia i Kultu oraz Sanktuarium, Blogoslawionego Ks. Jerzego Popieluszki.

His last journey, on Oct. 19, 1984, was to the Church of Polish Martyr Brothers in Bydgoszcz, northern Poland. Returning home, he was stopped by three agents, beaten, tied up, and placed in the trunk of a car. They later attached a stone to his feet and threw him into the Vistula Water Reservoir, near Wloclawek, where his body was recovered on Oct. 30.

A crowd of almost a million people gathered for his funeral on Nov. 3, 1984. Since then, around 23 million people have visited his tomb in Warsaw's Zoliborz district.

Muzeum, Osrodka Dokumentacji Zycia i Kultu oraz Sanktuarium, Blogoslawionego Ks. Jerzego Popieluszki.
Muzeum, Osrodka Dokumentacji Zycia i Kultu oraz Sanktuarium, Blogoslawionego Ks. Jerzego Popieluszki.

Popieluszko was beatified on June 6, 2010. His canonization process was opened in September 2014 in the French diocese of Créteil, following the reported miraculous healing of a man with cancer due to the blessed's intercession.

The diocesan stage of the process ended in September 2015 and the documents have been forwarded to the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Full Article

Baptism. / Josh Applegate via Unsplash.com.Rome Newsroom, Oct 20, 2021 / 06:10 am (CNA).There will be no godfathers named in the Sicilian archdiocese of Catania for the next three years due to a decree issued by the archbishop that came into full effect this month.Archbishop Salvatore Gristina of Catania has said that he decided to temporarily suspend the naming of godparents and Confirmation sponsors because the tradition had become a "social custom in which the dimension of faith is hardly visible."Catania is the Italian island of Sicily's second-largest city, located on the base of the active volcano, Mount Etna. The city has a long Catholic history, tracing its first bishop back to the first-century St. Birillus, whom local tradition holds was ordained by St. Peter himself.But the archbishop said that in today's "socio-ecclesial context" in Catania, particularly with "the irregular family situation of so many people," often those who were selected by families to be the godpa...

Baptism. / Josh Applegate via Unsplash.com.

Rome Newsroom, Oct 20, 2021 / 06:10 am (CNA).

There will be no godfathers named in the Sicilian archdiocese of Catania for the next three years due to a decree issued by the archbishop that came into full effect this month.

Archbishop Salvatore Gristina of Catania has said that he decided to temporarily suspend the naming of godparents and Confirmation sponsors because the tradition had become a "social custom in which the dimension of faith is hardly visible."

Catania is the Italian island of Sicily's second-largest city, located on the base of the active volcano, Mount Etna. The city has a long Catholic history, tracing its first bishop back to the first-century St. Birillus, whom local tradition holds was ordained by St. Peter himself.

But the archbishop said that in today's "socio-ecclesial context" in Catania, particularly with "the irregular family situation of so many people," often those who were selected by families to be the godparents or Confirmation sponsors do not meet the canonical requirements for the role.

"The centuries-old tradition of the Church has it that the godfather or godmother accompany the person being baptized or confirmed, so that they can help him or her on the journey of faith," Gristina wrote in the decree issued "ad experimentum e ad triennium" (for an experimental three-year period.)

Gristina said that what is more important than the presence of godparents at the baptism itself is that they fulfill their "true ecclesial function."

According to Book IV of the Catholic Church's Code of Canon Law, baptismal sponsors, or godparents, are required to be a fully initiated Catholic in good standing "who leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on."

The role of a godparent is to help "the baptized person to lead a Christian life in keeping with baptism and to fulfill faithfully the obligations inherent in it."

The law does not stipulate that godparents are required for the sacrament, only that "insofar as possible, a person to be baptized is to be given a sponsor."

A Confirmation sponsor is also not absolutely required by canon law, but should be given "insofar as possible" to fulfill the role of taking care that "the confirmed person behaves as a true witness of Christ and faithfully fulfills the obligations inherent in this sacrament."

The decree, which was first issued in March, came into full effect on Oct. 1 after an interim period from May 25 to Sept. 30 which allowed already scheduled baptisms with selected godparents — many postponed due to prior COVID-19 lockdown restrictions — to take place.

Gristina said that his decision to issue the decree was made in consultation with members of the diocesan presbyteral council, the majority of whom expressed a favorable opinion of the action in 2019.

Msgr. Salvatore Genchi, Catania's vicar general, expressed hope in an interview with the Italian magazine Famiglia Cristiana that the three-year temporary suspension on baptismal sponsors would be an occasion of renewal in which Catholics come to a better understanding of the Church's expectations of godparents.

"We hope that things will change, and whoever is about to become godfather or godmother will really do so because they intend to be a witness of a journey of faith," Genchi said.

The godfather ban was featured in a New York Times article on Oct. 16, which said that Italian prosecutors have used baptisms as a metric to map out the influence of mafia bosses.

It cited a priest in Catania who said that in some instances "threats against the parish priest" had been made to pressure the cleric into allowing some "spiritually questionable characters" to be named as godfathers.

The Vatican created a working group earlier this year to study how best to separate criminal organizations like the mafia from Catholic traditions.

The eight-member group dedicated to study the "excommunication of the mafia" is an initiative of the Vatican's Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development.

During a visit to southern Italy in September 2020, the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said that Marian devotion in particular must be safeguarded from mafia exploitation.

"Popular piety is a great treasure that the Church cannot do without precisely because it supports faith in all situations. But it also needs to be purified from some elements that are not appropriate, all the more so if they are underworld or criminal elements," Parolin said at a Mass in Calabria, the region that is home to the 'Ndrangheta organized crime syndicate, one of the most powerful mafia groups in Italy.

"There is a lot of work to be done to which pastors dedicate themselves with great attention ... We must be careful not to throw away the baby with the bathwater," the cardinal said.

Full Article

null / alphaspirit via Shutterstock.com.Vatican City, Oct 20, 2021 / 08:00 am (CNA).Pope Francis has shared a letter written by a clerical sexual abuse survivor with candidates preparing for the Catholic priesthood."For years I was mistreated by a priest who I should have called 'little brother,' and I was his 'little sister,'" the letter writer said. "If we want to live the truth, we cannot close our eyes!" Addressing priests, the abuse survivor wrote: "Please realize that you have received a huge gift. The gift of being an 'alter Christus,' of being the incarnation of Christ here in the world. People, and especially children, do not see a person in you, but Christ Jesus, in whom they trust without limits.""It is something HUGE and STRONG, but also very FRAGILE and VULNERABLE. PLEASE BE A GOOD PRIEST!" she said. The letter, with the survivor's name removed, was published on the website of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) on Oct. 18.In a brief introd...

null / alphaspirit via Shutterstock.com.

Vatican City, Oct 20, 2021 / 08:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has shared a letter written by a clerical sexual abuse survivor with candidates preparing for the Catholic priesthood.

"For years I was mistreated by a priest who I should have called 'little brother,' and I was his 'little sister,'" the letter writer said. "If we want to live the truth, we cannot close our eyes!"

Addressing priests, the abuse survivor wrote: "Please realize that you have received a huge gift. The gift of being an 'alter Christus,' of being the incarnation of Christ here in the world. People, and especially children, do not see a person in you, but Christ Jesus, in whom they trust without limits."

"It is something HUGE and STRONG, but also very FRAGILE and VULNERABLE. PLEASE BE A GOOD PRIEST!" she said.

The letter, with the survivor's name removed, was published on the website of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) on Oct. 18.

In a brief introduction to the letter, PCPM president Cardinal Seán O'Malley said that "in this time of renewal and pastoral conversion, when the Church faces the scandal and wounds of sexual abuse inflicted on so many of God's children everywhere, our Holy Father has received a courageous witness offered to all priests by a survivor."

By sharing this testimony from a victim of abuse, he continued, Pope Francis "wants to welcome the voice of all wounded people and show all priests who announce the Gospel the way that leads to authentic service of God for the benefit of all the vulnerable."

The abuse victim wrote that she was sharing her story because she would like to see "lovable truth" win out.

She said that she spoke in the name of victims, "of children who have been deeply hurt, who have had their childhood, purity, and respect stolen from them... who were betrayed and had their boundless trust taken advantage of... the children whose hearts beat, who breathe, live, but were killed once (twice, more times)... their souls made into little bloody pieces."

"I am here because the Church is my Mother and it hurts me so much when she is hurt, when she is dirty," the survivor said.

She wrote that adults who experienced this kind of hypocrisy in the Catholic Church as children can never erase it. They may try to forget and live a full life, but the scars remain.

The author of the letter described some of her experiences after being sexually abused by a priest. She said that she has dissociative identity disorder, severe complex post-traumatic disorder, depression, and anxiety. She added that she has difficulty sleeping and when she does, she has nightmares.

She also said that she has out-of-body experiences in which she loses awareness of the reality around her, that her body remembers experiencing the abuse, and that she is afraid to be near priests.

"I haven't been able to go to Holy Mass lately. It hurts me a lot... Church, that sacred space, was my second home... and he took it away from me. I have a great desire to feel safe in church, to be able to not be afraid, but my body, emotions react in a completely different way," she wrote.

She asked priests and seminarians "to protect the Church, the body of Christ."

"God has called you to be his instrument among men. You have a GREAT RESPONSIBILITY! A responsibility that is not a burden, but a GIFT! Please treat it according to the example of Jesus... with HUMILITY and LOVE!" she urged.

The woman said that problems cannot be swept under the carpet and left to smell and rot. Hiding these facts makes one a cooperator, she underlined.

"Living in the truth is living according to Jesus, seeing things through his eyes," she said. "And he did not close his eyes before sin, before sin and the sinner, but lived the TRUTH with LOVE... With the lovable truth, he revealed the sin and the sinner."

Full Article

Archbishop Wolfgang Haas of Vaduz, Liechtenstein. / Monegasque2 via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0).Vaduz, Liechtenstein, Oct 20, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).A Catholic leader has said that his archdiocese won't take part in the two-year global synodal process, saying that it would run "the risk of becoming ideological."Archbishop Wolfgang Haas of Vaduz, Liechtenstein, announced his decision on Oct. 15, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA's German-language news partner."I am of the opinion that in our small archdiocese it is possible for good reasons to refrain from carrying out such a complex and sometimes even complicated procedure, which in our parts runs the risk of becoming ideological," the 73-year-old archbishop wrote.The archdiocese is based in the capital of Liechtenstein, a German-speaking microstate located in the Alps between Austria and Switzerland. The wealthy tax haven, which is smaller than Washington, D.C., has a population of 38,000 people, around 73% of whom are Catholic.Haas, who w...

Archbishop Wolfgang Haas of Vaduz, Liechtenstein. / Monegasque2 via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Vaduz, Liechtenstein, Oct 20, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).

A Catholic leader has said that his archdiocese won't take part in the two-year global synodal process, saying that it would run "the risk of becoming ideological."

Archbishop Wolfgang Haas of Vaduz, Liechtenstein, announced his decision on Oct. 15, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA's German-language news partner.

"I am of the opinion that in our small archdiocese it is possible for good reasons to refrain from carrying out such a complex and sometimes even complicated procedure, which in our parts runs the risk of becoming ideological," the 73-year-old archbishop wrote.

The archdiocese is based in the capital of Liechtenstein, a German-speaking microstate located in the Alps between Austria and Switzerland. The wealthy tax haven, which is smaller than Washington, D.C., has a population of 38,000 people, around 73% of whom are Catholic.

Haas, who was born in Vaduz, previously served as bishop of the Swiss diocese of Chur. Amid internal tensions, he was appointed in 1997 as the first archbishop of Vaduz, which was previously part of the Chur diocese.

The archdiocese, which emcompasses the whole Principality of Liechtenstein and whose website lists just 12 parishes, does not belong to a national bishops' conference and has no suffragan sees.

Explaining why he felt that the archdiocese did not need to take part in the global process, Haas said: "On the one hand, the close relationships in our parishes allow for quick and uncomplicated mutual contact between pastors and laity, so that an intellectual and spiritual exchange has always been, and still is, possible."

"All those who wish to do so can enter into dialogue with one another, listen to one another, and maintain personal communication about suggestions, wishes, and ideas in everyday Church life."

"In parish and church councils, as well as in school, social, and charitable institutions and in educational establishments, there are constant relationships among interested people in which a responsible, tactful, sensitive interaction can take place."

He went on: "On the other hand, it is true anyway that consultations take place on different levels, namely also on the diocesan level, although at present — due to the pandemic — not everything is possible through personal encounters."

"Those who wish to express in writing their wishes, concerns, and suggestions for the shaping of ecclesial life in our diocese can still do so by contacting the archbishop or the vicar general's office directly."

The Vatican announced in May that the synod on synodality would open with a diocesan phase lasting from October 2021 to April 2022.

A second, continental phase will take place from September 2022 to March 2023.

The third, universal phase will begin with the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, dedicated to the theme "For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission," at the Vatican in October 2023.

Pope Francis formally launched the process at a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on Oct. 10 with a call to "look others in the eye and listen to what they have to say."

Referring to a handbook released by the Vatican last month to help guide the process leading to the 2023 synod on synodality, the archbishop said: "In the vademecum for the synod on synodality as an official manual for the deliberations in the local churches, the main task of the bishop is seen in listening, not in great discussions and long debates. It is about listening to what the Holy Spirit wants to tell us."

"This listening presupposes our prayer for the spiritual gift of discernment. Above all, I would like to encourage prayer for this special gift and ask God's blessing on everyone."

Full Article

A website and smartphone app to help Catholics pray for the synod on synodality was launched Oct. 19, 2021. / Click to Pray 2.0.Vatican City, Oct 20, 2021 / 05:03 am (CNA).The Vatican on Tuesday launched a website and smartphone app to help Catholics pray for the success of the two-year process culminating in the 2023 synod on synodality.At prayforthesynod.va, Catholics can find information in English, Spanish, and other languages about how to support the synod through prayer."This website, together with the app Click To Pray, aims to accompany the synodal way for prayer," the website says on its "About us" page."In order to 'walk together' and listen to the Holy Spirit we need to pray. There can be no synodal way without personal and community prayer. Prayer prepares our hearts to listen carefully to others and helps us to discern the action of the Holy Spirit throughout the world."One way the Vatican has suggested that Catholics and their communities can pray for the synod is ...

A website and smartphone app to help Catholics pray for the synod on synodality was launched Oct. 19, 2021. / Click to Pray 2.0.

Vatican City, Oct 20, 2021 / 05:03 am (CNA).

The Vatican on Tuesday launched a website and smartphone app to help Catholics pray for the success of the two-year process culminating in the 2023 synod on synodality.

At prayforthesynod.va, Catholics can find information in English, Spanish, and other languages about how to support the synod through prayer.

"This website, together with the app Click To Pray, aims to accompany the synodal way for prayer," the website says on its "About us" page.

"In order to 'walk together' and listen to the Holy Spirit we need to pray. There can be no synodal way without personal and community prayer. Prayer prepares our hearts to listen carefully to others and helps us to discern the action of the Holy Spirit throughout the world."

One way the Vatican has suggested that Catholics and their communities can pray for the synod is by reciting a prayer to the Holy Spirit, a simplified version of the "Adsumus, Sancte Spiritus."

The "Adsumus, Sancte Spiritus," according to the "Pray for the Synod" website, was prayed at the beginning of every session during the Second Vatican Council.

The prayer was revised "so that any group or liturgical assembly can pray more easily," the website states.

The synodal process, launched by Pope Francis earlier this month, is a two-year, worldwide undertaking during which Catholics will be encouraged to submit feedback to their local dioceses.

A synod is a meeting of bishops gathered to discuss a topic of theological or pastoral significance, to prepare a document of advice or counsel to the pope.

The Vatican has also unveiled version 2.0 of the Click To Pray app, first launched in 2019.

The app connects Catholics to a global network to share prayer intentions via their smartphones — and will be another way to pray with others during the synodal process.

Speaking at a presentation on Oct. 19, Msgr. Lucio Adrián Ruiz, an official of the Vatican communications dicastery, said: "The novelties of the new platform propose a greater interaction with various networks and ecclesial communities, a new possibility for accompanying each other in a personalized way in our spiritual life."

The Click To Pray network also has a website and is present on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Using media and technology to live stream Masses and other prayers during the coronavirus pandemic showed us it can be a tool for unity, Ruiz added. "It's a good and opportune instrument for this communion, because it offers a space of community and support in and for prayer."

"It's a great joy to be able to present on this day not only the new version of Click To Pray, but its dynamic opening to the process that the Church has begun to follow with the synod," he said.

Bettina Raed, the international coordinator of Click To Pray, said on Oct. 19 that "Click To Pray is a community of prayer which helps us pray for the challenges of the world."

"Click To Pray accompanies users in their personal and community prayer proposing a daily rhythm of prayer in three moments of the day: morning, afternoon, and evening," she said.

Raed is also the regional director in Argentina and Uruguay of the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network, which is a sponsor of the app and prayer website for the synod, together with the International Union of Superiors General.

"The proposals are simple, concrete, and well adapted to daily life, in a way that people can pray for the necessities of the world in the middle of their everyday activities," she said.

She added: "To help pray for the intentions of the Holy Father does not mean to only pray for his monthly intentions, but for all of the requests for which the Holy Father asks us to pray, and which are presented in his profile of prayer."

Full Article

Video_Creative / Shutterstock.Edinburgh, Scotland, Oct 19, 2021 / 18:00 pm (CNA).Videophone evaluations are no way to assess someone for assisted suicide, critics have said, also warning that cost-based analyses which claim legal assisted suicide saves money show "callous indifference." Some Scottish lawmakers are again advocating the legalization of assisted suicide and have now suggested that online consultations with doctors could help fulfil purported safeguard requirements."How can a medic make a decision on the state of mind of an individual on a remote internet connection without being in the physical presence of that person to try and make a measured judgement?" Gordon Macdonald, the chief executive of Care Not Killing, told the Scottish newspaper The Herald.The legislative consultation for the Proposed Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) Bill has suggested purported safeguards like requiring two doctors to confirm a diagnosis of terminal illness and...

Video_Creative / Shutterstock.

Edinburgh, Scotland, Oct 19, 2021 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

Videophone evaluations are no way to assess someone for assisted suicide, critics have said, also warning that cost-based analyses which claim legal assisted suicide saves money show "callous indifference." 

Some Scottish lawmakers are again advocating the legalization of assisted suicide and have now suggested that online consultations with doctors could help fulfil purported safeguard requirements.

"How can a medic make a decision on the state of mind of an individual on a remote internet connection without being in the physical presence of that person to try and make a measured judgement?" Gordon Macdonald, the chief executive of Care Not Killing, told the Scottish newspaper The Herald.

The legislative consultation for the Proposed Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) Bill has suggested purported safeguards like requiring two doctors to confirm a diagnosis of terminal illness and to confirm the person seeking assisted suicide is mentally competent. The person would have to sign a written request, witnessed and signed by both doctors.

The consultation noted possible difficulties for people "in small and remote communities, including island communities – particularly as travelling is likely to be particularly difficult for people with a terminal illness." Access to assisting doctors may be more difficult "if the only local doctor declines to assist on grounds of conscience."

A footnote to this legislative consultation said that research into jurisdictions that permit assisted suicide "shows that assessments can be undertaken via videolink with the doctor and the patient in exceptional circumstances." It noted that remote assessments have generally become more common due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Macdonald reacted with disbelief to this proposal. Many healthcare experts are "vehemently opposed" to the bill that would allow assisted suicide.

"Legalizing assisted suicide would put immeasurable pressure on vulnerable people including those with disabilities to end their lives prematurely, for fear of being a financial, emotional or care burden on others," he said.

Liam McArthur, a Liberal Democrat MSP from Orkney, is a backer of legal assisted suicide. He said the online consultation proposals "take into account the very real challenges of delivering aspects of healthcare in rural and remote communities," The Herald reports.

Legalization would "give dying people who are suffering unbearably, more choice at the end of their life and the peace of mind that they do not need to suffer against their will," he said. The bill would require doctors to outline alternative treatment and care options for someone seeking assisted suicide, McArthur added.

Two previous proposals to legalize assisted suicide in Scotland have failed. The proposal was last debated by the Scottish Parliament in 2015, when it was rejected by 82 votes to 36.

McArthur said there is "strong public support" to change the law. He accused critics of engaging in "scaremongering" and of offering "no real options, precious few safeguards and all too often only dreadful decisions."

In his view, the proposal for remote consultation for assisted suicide takes into account "the very real challenges of delivering aspects of healthcare in rural and remote communities." McArthur characterized remote consultations for assisted suicide as a way to "reduce inequalities and barriers to access for individuals."

He said he wants to "give dying people who are suffering unbearably more choice at the end of their life and the peace of mind that they do not need to suffer against their will."

The consultation cited Canadian findings which estimated that expanding assisted suicide in Canada would save millions of dollars per year. It would free hospital beds and medical resources for others, advocates said.

Canada's Parliamentary Budget Officer in an October 2020 report projected that the then-existing assisted suicide law would result in some 6,400 deaths and $66.14 million in U.S. dollars saved. A proposed expansion of legal assisted suicide, later passed in March 2021, would result in $46.8 million in savings in 2021 from about 1,100 more deaths by suicide. The Canadian report noted that this latter figure represented a very small percentage of total provincial health care, about 0.08%.

The Canadian report was written simply as an economic and financial analysis. The authors said the report "should in no way be interpreted as suggesting that (medical aid-in-dying) be used to reduce health care costs."

However, McArthur has said savings in Scotland from legalizing assisted suicide could be invested in better palliative care.

Macdonald was deeply critical of the cost analysis.

"These are utterly sinister revelations and show a callous indifference for the value of human life," he told The Times. "We have warned for years about the dangers of assisted suicide legislation and these proposals really do let the cat out of the bag. The ordinary men and women of this country will be astounded by the stark and uncaring reality of such legislation."

"The emphasis of these brutal proposals is on telling people that they are costing too much to stay alive and would save the country substantial amounts by being put to death," he said. "To add insult to injury they do not even merit a face-to-face consultation with a doctor who will decide by Zoom or something similar that individuals should be given the go-ahead for assisted suicide and then pop some deadly drugs in the post to enable them to do so."

Scotland's Catholic bishops are urging opposition, warning that the government ought to "prevent suicide, not assist it."

"Over the last eighteen months society has been reoriented to protect the most ill and vulnerable in response to the pandemic," Anthony Horan, Director of the Catholic Parliamentary Office, an agency of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland, said Sept. 22. "Legalizing assisted suicide moves in the opposite direction."

The Church of Scotland, an ecclesial community, also opposes assisted suicide.

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Pedro Sánchez, prime minister of Spain, speaks at a press conference in Madrid, April 13, 2021. / La Moncloa - Gobierno de España via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)Madrid, Spain, Oct 19, 2021 / 15:01 pm (CNA).Spain's prime minister has vowed to end the practice of prostitution in the country, saying it enslaves women. Pedro Sánchez, of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, made the pledge at the end of a party congress in Valencia. Sánchez, a self-described atheist who took office in January 2020, has yet to draft legislation on the matter.Spain is estimated to be one of the largest markets for prostitution in Europe. According to a 2009 survey by a Spanish state agency, one in three men in the historically Catholic country has paid for sex. While prostitution has been decriminalized and unregulated in Spain since 1995, sexual exploitation and pimping are illegal. Brothels in the country shut down in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic. The BBC reported that Spanish poli...

Pedro Sánchez, prime minister of Spain, speaks at a press conference in Madrid, April 13, 2021. / La Moncloa - Gobierno de España via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Madrid, Spain, Oct 19, 2021 / 15:01 pm (CNA).

Spain's prime minister has vowed to end the practice of prostitution in the country, saying it enslaves women. 

Pedro Sánchez, of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, made the pledge at the end of a party congress in Valencia. Sánchez, a self-described atheist who took office in January 2020, has yet to draft legislation on the matter.

Spain is estimated to be one of the largest markets for prostitution in Europe. According to a 2009 survey by a Spanish state agency, one in three men in the historically Catholic country has paid for sex. 

While prostitution has been decriminalized and unregulated in Spain since 1995, sexual exploitation and pimping are illegal. Brothels in the country shut down in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The BBC reported that Spanish police freed nearly 900 women being exploited as sex workers in 2019, and estimate that over 80% of those working as prostitutes are victims of mafias. 

An April 2019 manifesto published by Sánchez's party called prostitution "one of the cruelest aspects of the feminisation of poverty and one of the worst forms of violence against women," AFP reported.

In the United States, prostitution is legal only in 10 rural Nevada counties.

Pope Francis has repeatedly spoken out against mafias, as well as against prostitution, warning that it is part of a "throwaway culture" that treats women as second-rate.

Sánchez has previously clashed with the Church in Spain over religious instruction in schools, the legalization of abortion, pro-life protests, and euthanasia, among other issues. 

Bishop Luis Argüello, secretary general for the Spanish bishops' conference, said in a Saturday tweet that he hopes those in the Socialist Workers' Party who oppose practices such as surrogacy and prostitution would apply the same logic to abortion, which he called "contrary to the right to make decisions about one's own body."

In July 2020, Sánchez claimed that Pope Francis had intervened to help the government carry out the controversial exhumation of the body of Francisco Franco, Spain's ruler from 1939 to 1975, from the Valley of the Fallen on Oct. 24, 2019.

This prompted the Holy See to issue a statement insisting that it had never "made any declaration on either the exhumation or the place of burial, because it is not part of its competency."

Sánchez met with Pope Francis at the Vatican in October 2020.

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Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) / Office of Rep. Jeff FortenberryWashington D.C., Oct 19, 2021 / 15:20 pm (CNA).Catholic congressman Jeff Fortenberry on Tuesday was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of making false statements to federal investigators. The Twitter account for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California announced Oct. 19 the indictment charges. Fortenberry is charged with one count of "scheming to falsify and conceal material facts," and two counts of "making false statements to federal investigators looking into illegal contributions to his 2016 campaign," the account stated.In an unlisted video on a YouTube page in his name, Fortenberry explained on Monday that he was visited at his home by FBI agents "about two and a half years ago" regarding contributions illegally made to his campaign by a foreign national. The contributions had been made "about five and a half years ago," he said."They were FBI agents from California. I le...

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) / Office of Rep. Jeff Fortenberry

Washington D.C., Oct 19, 2021 / 15:20 pm (CNA).

Catholic congressman Jeff Fortenberry on Tuesday was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of making false statements to federal investigators. 

The Twitter account for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California announced Oct. 19 the indictment charges. Fortenberry is charged with one count of "scheming to falsify and conceal material facts," and two counts of "making false statements to federal investigators looking into illegal contributions to his 2016 campaign," the account stated.

In an unlisted video on a YouTube page in his name, Fortenberry explained on Monday that he was visited at his home by FBI agents "about two and a half years ago" regarding contributions illegally made to his campaign by a foreign national. The contributions had been made "about five and a half years ago," he said.

"They were FBI agents from California. I let them in my house, I answered their questions. Later, we went back and answered further questions," Fortenberry recounted of his meetings. "I told them what I knew and what I understood."

"They've accused me of lying to them, and are charging me with this," he added.

He denied having lied to the FBI agents. "I did not lie to them, I told them what I knew," he said. "We're shocked. We're stunned. I feel so personally betrayed. We thought we were trying to help. And so now we'll have to fight."

Under federal law, making false statements to federal investigators carries with it a sentence of up to five years in prison.

Fortenberry's campaign office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNA on Tuesday afternoon.

Fortenberry is currently serving his ninth term in the U.S. House. A Catholic and a Republican, he has been outspoken on pro-life issues and on persecution of Middle Eastern Christians.

Earlier in October, Axios reported that a fundraising webpage had been created for Fortenberry's legal defense fund. A spokesperson for Fortenberry's office told Axios that the matter had to do with illegal contributions to his campaign orchestrated by a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire, Gilbert Chagoury.

Over the course of three election cycles, Chagoury made a number of illegal contributions to four federal campaigns, according to the website OpenSecrets.

As a foreign national, he is prohibited from contributing to U.S. elections, but he used U.S. citizens as conduits for his money to reach campaigns and political groups, including Fortenberry's campaign, as well as those of congressional candidates Lee Terry and Darrell Issa, and the Romney 2012 presidential campaign.

Chagoury paid $1.8 million to resolve allegations that he "provided approximately $180,000 to individuals in the United States" to contribute to four campaigns, the U.S. Attorney's office for the Central District of California reported in March 2021.

According to the attorney's office, Chagoury was assisted by Toufic Joseph Baaklini in making the illegal contributions. 

In a signed deferred prosecution agreement, Baaklini in March 2021 "admitted to giving $30,000 in cash provided by Chagoury to an individual at a restaurant in Los Angeles who, along with others, later made campaign contributions to the 2016 campaign of a U.S. congressman," the attorney's office stated. The Omaha World-Herald reported that Baaklini acted as a conduit for $30,000 in Chagoury's donations to Fortenberry's campaign in 2016.

According to Justice Department documents, Baaklini provided the $30,000 in Chagoury's cash to an individual at a Los Angeles restaurant in January 2016; the individual hosted a fundraiser for "Federal Candidate D," and at the event, recruited other individuals to make contributions to the candidate's campaign in February 2016, totaling $30,200.

Baaklini talked to the candidate in February 2016, according to the Justice Department documents, where the candidate asked if "anything was wrong" with the fundraiser. After Baaklini replied "no," the candidate said that "it all came from the same family."

Chagoury was a major donor to the Clinton Foundation and helped finance the inaugural summit of In Defense of Christians in September 2014, according to the Washington Free Beacon. He was denied entry into the United States in 2016 by the State Department, reportedly for his ties to Hezbollah, which is listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States.

"To be accused of this is extremely painful, and we are suffering greatly. We will fight these charges," Fortenberry said, asking for prayers.

"Hopefully this all ends happily, for the sake of justice, for the sake of my own integrity, and for the sake of the American system. This is wrong at so many levels," he said. 

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Sister Gloria Cecilia Narváez / CECRome, Italy, Oct 19, 2021 / 16:39 pm (CNA).Sister Gloria Cecilia Narváez Argoti, a missionary who was abducted in Mali in February 2017 and held for nearly five years, posted Sunday on Twitter thanking God and all those who made possible her liberation.In her Oct. 17 message, Sr. Gloria said, "I want to lift up my thanksgiving to God on this day because I have felt him close to me during this captivity.""My thanks to His Holiness Pope Francis, to the Italian government, to the Italian intelligence agencies, to the Malian authorities, to Cardinal Zerbo," the nun said.After she was released, Jean Cardinal Zerbo of Bamako told AFP, "We  prayed a lot for her release. I thank the Malian authorities and the people of goodwill which made this release possible." Sr. Gloria also thanked "Dr. Iván Duque, President of Colombia, and the entire Colombian government, the Colombian ambassador to Italy, Dr. Jorge Mario, GAULA, the Bishops'  Conf...

Sister Gloria Cecilia Narváez / CEC

Rome, Italy, Oct 19, 2021 / 16:39 pm (CNA).

Sister Gloria Cecilia Narváez Argoti, a missionary who was abducted in Mali in February 2017 and held for nearly five years, posted Sunday on Twitter thanking God and all those who made possible her liberation.

In her Oct. 17 message, Sr. Gloria said, "I want to lift up my thanksgiving to God on this day because I have felt him close to me during this captivity."

"My thanks to His Holiness Pope Francis, to the Italian government, to the Italian intelligence agencies, to the Malian authorities, to Cardinal Zerbo," the nun said.

After she was released, Jean Cardinal Zerbo of Bamako told AFP, "We  prayed a lot for her release. I thank the Malian authorities and the people of goodwill which made this release possible." 

Sr. Gloria also thanked "Dr. Iván Duque, President of Colombia, and the entire Colombian government, the Colombian ambassador to Italy, Dr. Jorge Mario, GAULA, the Bishops'  Conference, the bishops and priests, the mean and women religious, parish groups, committed laity, prayer groups "

The nun also thanked "the educational institutions, teaching and administrative staff, students and alumni, the congregation of Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate, my family, all those people who prayed for me and made my liberation possible, and those who have strengthened me and have welcomed me with their kind gestures of fraternity, a sincere 'May God reward you.'"

Armed men kidnapped Sister Cecilia, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate and a Colombia native, in Karangasso, about 90 miles south of San, Feb. 7, 2017. The men forced Sister Cecilia to hand over the keys to the community's ambulance. The vehicle was later found abandoned. Three other sisters were present at their house but escaped.

According to the Associated Press, a judge in the country charged four individuals in relation to the kidnapping in April 2017.

Sr. Cecilia had served in Mali for 12 years before her abduction. Her community administers a large health center in the country, as well as a home where they care for some 30 orphans between one and two years of age.

The religious sisters teach literacy to some 700 Muslim women. They are working on a barn project for times of food shortages, as many mothers in the region die from malnutrition.

In July Sr. Cecilia identified the group then holding her as Jama'at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin, a militant Islamist group in West Africa and the Maghreb.

She was released Oct. 9.

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Cathédrale Notre-Dame de l'Assomption in Cap-Haitien, Haiti / Rotorhead 30A Productions/ShutterstockWashington D.C., Oct 19, 2021 / 17:01 pm (CNA).The gang responsible for the kidnapping of 17 missionaries in Haiti is demanding a $17 million ransom for their safe release, as the organization behind their trip is requesting prayers for their safety."Many people, including CAM management and Haitian and U.S. authorities, are working diligently to bring our loved ones home safely," said an update posted on the Christian Aid Ministries website on Tuesday, Oct, 19. Christian Aid Ministries is the Ohio-based organization that organized the trip. "Today, we again commit our workers to God's care," said the statement, which added that the adults who were kidnapped are between the ages of 18 to 48, and that the kidnapped children range in age from eight months to 15 years. "Pray that our workers could respond to hatred with Jesus' love, overcome the spirit of fear with faith, a...

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de l'Assomption in Cap-Haitien, Haiti / Rotorhead 30A Productions/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Oct 19, 2021 / 17:01 pm (CNA).

The gang responsible for the kidnapping of 17 missionaries in Haiti is demanding a $17 million ransom for their safe release, as the organization behind their trip is requesting prayers for their safety.

"Many people, including CAM management and Haitian and U.S. authorities, are working diligently to bring our loved ones home safely," said an update posted on the Christian Aid Ministries website on Tuesday, Oct, 19. Christian Aid Ministries is the Ohio-based organization that organized the trip. 

"Today, we again commit our workers to God's care," said the statement, which added that the adults who were kidnapped are between the ages of 18 to 48, and that the kidnapped children range in age from eight months to 15 years. 

"Pray that our workers could respond to hatred with Jesus' love, overcome the spirit of fear with faith, and face violence with a genuine desire to bless their oppressors," they said. 

The kidnapped missionaries include six women, six men, and five children. All but one are U.S. citizens; the other is a citizen of Canada. 

Per CNN and the Associated Press, the kidnappers, who are part of the gang 400 Mawozo, have been in contact with Christian Aid Ministries. They first made their ransom demand on Saturday, the same day as the kidnapping. 

Haiti's Justice Minister Liszt Quitel told news outlets that the Haitian police, as well as the FBI, are providing assistance with the negotiations and with the group of missionaries. The FBI has not spoken to the kidnappers directly, however, but they are on the ground in Haiti. 

The missionaries were based in the town of Titanyen, and were returning from building an orphanage in Fond Parisien at the time of their kidnapping. 

In addition to requesting prayers for the kidnapped, Christian Aid Ministries is asking for people to pray for the civil authorities who are working on rescuing the group. 

"This group of workers has been committed to minister throughout poverty-stricken Haiti. Their heart-felt desire is to share the love of Jesus," they said. "Before the kidnapping, their work throughout Haiti included supporting thousands of needy school children, distributing Bibles and Christian literature, supplying medicines for numerous clinics, teaching Haitian pastors, and providing food for the elderly and vulnerable."

"In recent months, they were actively involved in coordinating a rebuilding project for those who lost their homes in the August 2021 earthquake," said Tuesday's statement. "When kidnapped, the group was returning from a visit to an orphanage that receives support from Christian Aid Ministries."

The 400 Mawozo gang responsible for the most recent kidnapping is the same criminal gang behind the kidnapping of Catholic priests and religious in April. All of those kidnapped in April were released within several weeks; ransom was paid for just two of the kidnapped priests, according to Quitel. 

The website of Christian Aid Ministries states that it serves as a "channel for Amish, Mennonite, and other conservative Anabaptist groups and individuals" to provide aid to those in need around the world. 

It supports aid and anti-poverty efforts in countries such as Haiti and Kazakhstan, but also promotes billboard evangelism in the United States and advertises assistance for any conscientious objectors in the event of a U.S military draft.

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