Posted on 06/7/2023 23:00 PM (CNA Daily News)
ACI Prensa Staff, Jun 7, 2023 / 16:00 pm (CNA).
A priest rescued three abandoned children in a Mexican town following a confrontation between crime gangs that left one dead and a Catholic church riddled with bullets.
The church in the small settlement of Santa Anita (population 84) in the Diocese of Tarahumara in Chihuahua state was the scene of the confrontation between the rival gangs. The settlement is located fewer than 125 miles south of Cerocahui, also in Chihuahua, where almost a year ago two Jesuit priests were murdered inside a Catholic church.
Así quedó baleado el templo de la comunidad de Santa Anita, en el municipio de Guachochi, Chihuahua. #AtandoCabos pic.twitter.com/4MtGbrVAsW— Denise Maerker (@DeniseMaerker) June 6, 2023
According to the Chihuahua state attorney general’s office, at the scene more than 700 bullet casings, a grenade, 19 cartridges, and a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, “completely charred,” were found.
The attorney general’s office also said that “on the outskirts of the community’s church, a lifeless body of an unidentified male, approximately 35 years old, was located.”
The man, who was wearing green military-style clothing, had been decapitated.
Santa Anita is located just nine miles from the city of Guachochi, where the Diocese of Tarahumara is headquartered.
Father Enrique Urzúa, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe cathedral in Guachochi, arrived in Santa Anita on June 6. In a statement to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, he shared that what he found was “a heartbreaking situation.”
“They completely blasted the [church]” as well as the small room that served to welcome the missionaries who came to evangelize the town.
However, the human drama was even more overwhelming. “I came across three children who are without their parents and who were there, abandoned,” the priest said.
The youngest of the minors he rescued was just 1 year old, while the other two were 9 and 11.
He said he found them without food and took them to the parish “to provide them with food and see what to do” in order to help them.
The Mexican priest said that the criminals “directly blasted the church, because there are too many bullets inside and out” to just be stray shots.
Por amor de Dios y en nombre de nuestras comunidades lastimadas les pido a quienes provocan sufrimiento y muerte que se...Posted by Enrique Urzúa on Tuesday, June 6, 2023
“I don’t think that an armed gang can have something against us, against the Church. I don’t want to think that, but this is the fact,” he said.
After noting that June 21 will mark one year since the murder of the Jesuit priests Javier Campos Morales and Joaquín César Mora Salazar, Urzúa lamented that in the Diocese of Tarahumara in Chihuahua they are “in an area where criminal presence is permanent.”
“It’s sad what we are experiencing, where we are living. It is not something passing, it’s something permanent,” he said.
Mexico is experiencing the most violent period in its modern history, and the homicide figures for the current six-year term of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador have surpassed those of his predecessors, totaling more than 156,136 as of May 31.
López Obrador acknowledged the historic record in his morning press conference on June 1 but attributed it to “a poor security legacy” from previous governments.
Through April in the state of Chihuahua, 567 first-degree murders were recorded.
From Jan. 1 to June 5 of this year, 11,475 homicides have been recorded throughout Mexico.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Posted on 06/7/2023 22:30 PM (CNA Daily News)
ACI Prensa Staff, Jun 7, 2023 / 15:30 pm (CNA).
A recent investigation by the Nicaraguan newspaper El Confidencial revealed that the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega has withheld more than half a million dollars that was donated to the Church in Estelí by the U.S. bishops’ humanitarian aid agency Catholic Relief Services (CRS).
The independent media reported June 2 that according to sources with ties to the diocese, the donation of $563,206 was legally made on June 14, 2012, to Estelí Caritas when Abelardo Mata was diocesan bishop.
The charity, whose legal personhood was canceled on Feb. 7, 2022, by the National Assembly, agreed to a “total donation” of the money to the Diocese of Estelí, whose apostolic administrator is currently Bishop Rolando Álvarez. The prelate was unjustly sentenced in February to 26 years and four months in prison, charged with treason by the regime.
The money, the news outlet said, was the remainder of a donation that CRS had earmarked for the construction of a hospital.
“The accusation of money laundering is unfounded, because the funds are clean, the money belongs to the Diocese of Estelí, and the diocese decides what is most appropriate to guarantee its proper use,” a source told El Confidencial.
The newspaper also reported that in addition to the regime withholding the money, eight people from the diocese were arrested “under an alleged investigation for money laundering” in the case.
Those arrested are priests Rodríguez Benavides and Leonardo Guevara Gutiérrez, and laypersons Julio Sevilla, Julio Berríos, Bladimir Pallés, María Verónica Herrera Galeano, Freydell Andino, and Mariví Andino.
The arrests came after the Nicaraguan Police blocked the Church’s bank accounts in the country on May 27 and later accused it of money laundering. The regime claimed to have found hundreds of thousands of dollars hidden in the facilities of various dioceses including Matagalpa and Estelí where the imprisoned Álvarez is bishop and apostolic administrator respectively.
However, human rights defenders said the accusation would not be substantiated.
“We hope that the corresponding authorities, once this situation is clarified, will suspend the precautionary measures, those affected will get back to their respective tasks and continue working for the progress and development of our beloved Nicaragua,” the sources within the diocese told the outlet.
On June 6, Félix Maradiaga, a Nicaraguan political activist and former political prisoner told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, that the data from the El Confidencial investigation “are correct” and have been verified “with sources within the country.”
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Posted on 06/7/2023 22:00 PM (CNA Daily News)
ACI Prensa Staff, Jun 7, 2023 / 15:00 pm (CNA).
In addition to allegations of the sexual abuse of minors by a number of deceased Jesuits in Bolivia, six others, including the current provincial superior, are now reportedly under investigation for cover-up.
In a statement to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, Gabriel Chávez, external communications consultant for the Jesuits in Bolivia, said that as of the end of May the order was aware of allegations of abuse against four deceased Jesuits: Alfonso Pedrajas Moreno, Alejandro Mestre Descals, Luis María Roma Padrosa, and Jorge Vila Despujol.
However, according to an article published June 5 by the newspaper La Razón, there are four more religious who have been accused: Antonio “Tuco” Gausset, Francisco “Pifa” Pifarré, Carlos “Vicu” Villamil, and Francesco “Chesco” Peris.
In addition, there are reportedly six Jesuits who are being investigated “as accused for alleged cover-up of abusers,” including the current superior in Bolivia, Father Bernardo Mercado, as well as Oswaldo Chirveches, Marco Recolons, Ignacio Suñol, Ramon Alaix, and Arturo Moscoso.
However, it hasn’t been determined whether these religious are part of the group of eight former provincial superiors who were suspended by the order at the beginning of May as part of the internal investigations of the order.
On May 31, Mercado, a Jesuit provincial, along with Chirveches, a former provincial, appeared before the La Paz prosecutor’s office as part of the investigation against them for alleged cover-up.
According to the newspaper Página Siete, Mercado emphasized at the end of his statement that he had committed “the Society of Jesus to contribute with everything necessary to clarify these cases that have come to light and that have caused and are causing so much pain to Bolivian society.”
ACI Prensa contacted the Jesuits’ lawyer in La Paz, Audalia Zurita, to learn more about the complaints against the religious and how the community is supporting the investigations but did not receive an answer by press time.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Posted on 06/7/2023 21:15 PM (CNA Daily News)
Baltimore, Md., Jun 7, 2023 / 14:15 pm (CNA).
Less than a week after a violent attack against two elderly pro-life activists outside of a Baltimore Planned Parenthood, both men returned to the abortion facility to continue their work as sidewalk counselors promoting life.
The two senior citizens were brutally assaulted in front of the clinic on May 26 by an assailant who remains at large. The unidentified suspect attacked two elderly men after engaging in a “debate” with one of the pro-life activists about abortion.
Dick Schafer, 80, who was knocked to the ground and kicked, left the scene, bleeding from his head, with cuts, scrapes, and body aches.
The second man, 73-year-old Mark Crosby, who was badly beaten and kicked, was taken to the hospital in an ambulance and treated for external and internal bleeding that will require multiple surgeries.
Despite the severity of the attack, both men were not deterred from returning to the Planned Parenthood clinic on Tuesday, May 30, the next day the facility was open. Schafer and other members of the pro-life community were also there on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
“I’m not well,” Crosby told CNA. “But I’m better off than a baby that’s been butchered.”
Schafer, whose injuries were less severe, said he didn’t think twice about returning.
“I think [Crosby] might have taken a few more blows that I might have gotten,” he said. “After Mark [Crosby] did that, I had no choice but to go down there again.”
“It’s not for everybody, but I like being there, that’s for sure,” Schafer said.
Schafer provides sidewalk counseling, in which he engages with men and women who are walking into an abortion facility. He hands out literature, tries to converse with them about choosing life, and directs them to resources that can help them with the pregnancy.
“I talk to people going in there and I offer some help,” Schafer said. “I ask them to choose life.”
The Planned Parenthood facility is in downtown Baltimore on North Howard Street, across from several vacant buildings and a day care center. Next door to the abortion facility is a pregnancy resource center called Options, which provides women with non-abortive pregnancy services as an alternative to Planned Parenthood’s services.
Last Friday, Planned Parenthood had one security guard and four volunteer escorts stationed at the door of the clinic. That morning at least five pro-life activists were trying to engage men and women who walked toward the facility. One of the men also handed pamphlets to people who were stopped at red lights in their cars. A sixth man paced the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood while praying the rosary.
Brenda Bicksey, who was there to assist with the pro-life activists’ efforts on Friday with her young daughter, told CNA she comes to the clinic to show parents there are alternatives to abortion.
Bicksey said she wants to “let these parents know there’s help and they don’t have to murder their baby” and to “help find them whatever they need.”
“We’re sort of the last line of hope,” she said.
The Planned Parenthood escorts, wearing rainbow-colored vests with the words “CLINIC ESCORT” on them, were observed trying to prevent Schafer and other pro-life sidewalk counselors from talking to anyone who planned to enter the facility. They also tried to stop the activists from handing out pamphlets about alternatives to abortion.
In one instance, an escort forced himself in between a counselor and a woman who was walking toward the facility and physically boxed him out while trying to prevent her from receiving a pamphlet.
“Don’t take anything from them,” the escort implored the woman. “Those are protesters.”
Some of the literature included information about the number of Black babies killed by abortions in the United States, the emotional and physical risks of having an abortion, stories about mothers who chose to keep their babies after contemplating abortion, and information about resources that could help them through their pregnancy. One of the pamphlets geared toward men asks the father of the unborn child to step up and encourage the mother to choose life.
Most of the people entering the abortion facility refused to engage with the sidewalk counselors; one woman just shouted “bye” multiple times as she walked past them and entered the Planned Parenthood clinic.
Crosby, the activist who was more severely injured, told CNA that he takes a different approach than that of sidewalk counselors.
“I always have my rosary in my hand,” he told CNA, adding that he sprinkles blessed salt and holy water outside the clinic’s entrance. He prepares baggies with rosaries, prayer cards, and a prayer book, which he said he offers to those he encounters at the clinic.
“I don’t counsel people,” Crosby said. “I’m not a protestor. … I walk around in front of Planned Parenthood. I’m usually out in the street and I pray the rosary, and I don’t counsel people unless they come over to me.”
Crosby said he is “not forcing anything on anyone.”
On the morning of the May 26 attack, Schafer and Crosby were engaged in their normal routine outside of the Baltimore Planned Parenthood abortion facility. Schafer was counseling people near the building and Crosby was out in the street.
Schafer told CNA he was having “a little chat” that was “kind of cordial” with an advocate for abortion who had expressed disagreements with his pro-life views.
“We had two or three back and forths,” he said before he told the man that he needed to get back to work.
When Schafer turned away from the man, he bent down to replenish some of the material he was handing out. At this moment, the man struck him. Schafer initially thought he was hit by the train that runs parallel to the road.
“As I’m leaning over: ‘Boom!’” Schafer said. “I thought the train hit me. I thought ‘I never felt anything like that.’”
Witnesses saw Schafer lying on the ground unconscious, but he said he did not immediately realize he had been knocked out.
“I thought I instantly hit the sidewalk with my back and I [looked] up and it was sunny and blue skies and I kind of thought a little bit about what just happened,” he told CNA. “I got up and I noticed that the back of my right hand was bleeding a little bit.”
Crosby said when he was out in the street, just before the attack, the man had pointed at him and told him, “You stay out in the street.” He said he saw the man hand his drink to a Planned Parenthood escort right before he attacked Schafer.
“This person gets in a football rushing position and now Dick’s got his back to him, [he] hits him hard up into the plate glass [and then] he went through this big huge planter,” Crosby said. “Dick hits the ground [and] the guy kicks him.”
Crosby rushed over to help Schafer, but the man then turned on Crosby.
“This guy grabs my chain around my neck with crosses and medals,” Crosby said.
“[Then] he hits me in the face, I hit the ground, [and] he kicks me,” Crosby added.
Crosby lost consciousness for a brief period but eventually got back up and was “staggering around the sidewalk” until he walked into Options, the pregnancy health center next door, to sit down and wait for an ambulance to arrive.
After the man kicked Crosby in the head, the man left the scene. He was not apprehended by police, and the Baltimore County Police Department is still searching for him. Metro Crime Stoppers released a photo of the accused man on Wednesday and is offering a $2,000 reward. They are asking anyone with information to call Metro Crime Stoppers at 866-7LOCKUP.
“So within a minute, this guy does all that destruction and he’s out of there,” Crosby said.
“If they’re killing babies, well, what’s the big deal [to them] about beating up an old man?” John Roswell, who runs Baltimore Sidewalk Advocates for Life and arrived shortly after the attack, told CNA.
“It wasn’t a fight,” Roswell added. “Nobody in our group had their dukes up.”
Roswell said the investigating officer spent about two hours on the scene. He told CNA he wasn’t optimistic that the Baltimore County Police would put in the effort to find the attacker, saying “they don’t want to make Planned Parenthood look bad.”
Crosby told CNA he had a “severe concussion” and two fractured fingers that probably need surgery. He said he lost sight in one of his eyes, which is bleeding internally, and will likely require surgery. He added that “my knees are killing me” and “my head is still pounding right now.”
Schafer was not taken to the hospital but instead decided to drive home. At first, he planned “to go to a rosary and then Mass and Communion,” which he does daily after spending the morning at Planned Parenthood. However, on his drive, he said, “I touch my head and I look and my head’s bloody.”
Schafer decided to visit a doctor to get cleaned up and checked out but still has aches and pains. He said that Crosby’s intervention may have saved him from being injured worse.
Several pro-life activists outside of the Baltimore Planned Parenthood told CNA that the escorts and pro-abortion advocates entering the facility or simply passing by are often hostile to the pro-life activists.
“We are threatened on a very regular basis,” Roswell told CNA.
In one instance, Roswell said a man tried to hit him with his car after Roswell convinced the woman he was with to go into the pregnancy resource center rather than abort her child at the Planned Parenthood clinic.
Because of the frequent threats, Roswell began to carry pepper spray for self-defense purposes. He said he’s never needed to use it, but once pulled it out when a man shoved him and “[pulled] out a pipe wrench.”
In that instance, Roswell said the Planned Parenthood escorts “hustled [the man] out of there.”
Roswell said the escorts “create this atmosphere that emboldens people” and “they stand there and smirk if somebody’s threatening us.” He also said the police have mostly been unhelpful and, in one instance, encouraged him to walk away from the person when he called to report a threat.
“If I walk away from here every time there’s a threat, I wouldn’t be here,” Roswell said.
Crosby said that the escorts also become physical, stating that one of them “tries to get in our way and knock us down because we’re seniors.”
Bicksey, who was at the clinic on Friday, also said threats happen “all the time here” and that she has “been pushed around.”
“We need more hands on deck here. We need Christians here,” Bicksey said. “We need church leaders. … We need more people.”
Schafer recounted that people “threaten to kill me” at times, but “I always have a smile on my face.”
Given the brutality of the attack, Crosby and Schafer are pursuing legal action and are being represented by American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative nonprofit legal team.
“This is horrific, and we’re appalled that it happened,” Olivia Summers, senior litigation counsel for ACLJ, told CNA.
“There’s been an escalating violence against the pro-life community … since Dobbs,” Summers added.
Summers said the ACLJ is still in the fact-gathering stage and is in contact with the police about finding out who the man responsible is.
She said the ACLJ is looking into tort claims and civil claims as well as determining whether the assailant violated any federal laws, such as the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. She added that ACLJ is also trying to find out whether the man is “known to anybody [or] had any connection to Planned Parenthood.”
“[We need to] take a stand and make sure people know this isn’t going to be tolerated,” Summers said.
Posted on 06/7/2023 20:45 PM (CNA Daily News)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 7, 2023 / 13:45 pm (CNA).
The one-year-old “What Is a Woman?” documentary has amassed more than 177 million views in less than a week on Twitter. Despite pushback from transgender activists, the documentary has had enormous success since the film was offered on Twitter at the beginning of June. CNA took a look at what the film is about and why it’s amassed so many views recently.
The documentary, which stars popular culture and political commentator Matt Walsh and is distributed by The Daily Wire, tackles questions related to the transgender movement, specifically delving into the question posed in the title, “What is a woman?”
Walsh interviews a variety of people, including politicians, doctors, a professor, and a therapist, asking them whether they can explain what a woman is. When met with unclear and nonspecific answers, Walsh presses the question further.
At one point, he asks Dr. Patrick Grzanka, a professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies at the University of Tennessee, to explain the differences between sex and gender. When Walsh presses Grzanka about wanting to know the truth and the reality of whether someone is a man or a woman, the professor expresses that he is uncomfortable.
“I’m really uncomfortable with that language of like ‘getting to the truth,’” Grzanka said during the interview. “It sounds actually deeply transphobic to me and if you keep probing, we’re going to stop the interview.”
During the documentary, Walsh also speaks with women who have been forced to compete with biologically male athletes who identify as women. This includes women who placed behind their transgender competitors in both swimming and track and field and believe wins and better finishes were taken from them.
The film is a year old and was initially released by The Daily Wire to its paid subscribers on June 1, 2022. To celebrate the one-year anniversary, The Daily Wire made the film free on Twitter for a limited time, which began on June 1, 2023.
“What Is A Woman?” has amassed about 177.2 million views on The Daily Wire’s Twitter post since it was released for free. The film has received a lot of publicity and positive feedback from conservatives but a lot of hostility from transgender activists.
Because the film deals with the highly contentious issue of gender identity and gender ideology, it has gained publicity from both sides of the issue.
The documentary has not received many reviews from movie critics, but it received an 83% approval rating from six movie critics listed on Rotten Tomatoes and an 86% approval rating from more than 10,000 users rating the film.
“Our film has been banned from most platforms,” Walsh said in a Tweet. “Mainstream movie critics refused to even review it. It’s been blacklisted and suppressed and yet still reached a massive audience. But how many more could we have reached without the deck stacked completely against us? It’s no use lamenting these things.”
Twitter initially entered into a deal with The Daily Wire to help broadcast the documentary but ultimately backed out of the deal and began suppressing the film as soon as it was posted on the social media platform.
When the documentary initially aired on Twitter, it was given a content warning, which flagged the video as “hate speech” and limited its visibility based on accusations that it was transphobic.
Walsh and other members of The Daily Wire’s team sparred with Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal on Twitter about the restrictions. They also directly appealed to Twitter owner Elon Musk by tweeting at his account.
Musk ultimately intervened and put a stop to the suppression efforts, which included getting rid of the “hate speech” warning. He then tweeted out the documentary, saying “every parent should watch this.” He pinned the tweet for a brief period.
Walsh is a practicing Catholic and the film was well received by some Catholic viewers.
CatholicVote, a Catholic political advocacy group, recommended the film for viewers aged 16 and older and suggested that high school students should discuss it with a trusted adult.
“The question ‘What is Woman?’ is a hook — to catch a bigger fish, as it were,” Erika Ahern of CatholicVote wrote on June 2, 2022.
“Yes, it’s one important question that trans ideologues have refused to tackle,” she continued. “(We hear multiple interviewees replying the Walsh with, ‘Why are you asking that question?’) But there are a number of other questions that could be posed. What is a man? What is gender? What is sex? But the central question is much deeper. Fisherman Walsh tackles it even before he lands his first interview: ‘What is truth?’”
Ann Schneible, a freelance journalist writing a review for National Catholic Register, gave the film a B+. She said it is a good starting point for this issue but would not recommend it as a tool for understanding someone with gender dysphoria.
“While it may not be persuasive to anyone who does not generally agree with Walsh, it may still be a valuable starting point for anyone who wants to delve deeper into an issue that is affecting an increasing number of individuals and families,” Schneible wrote. “From this perspective, I would recommend this film.”
Mary Rice Hasson, the director of the Person and Identity Project at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, tweeted out her support for the film and criticism of the initial restrictions.
“Matt Walsh’s documentary has had a powerful impact, sharing the truth on an incredibly important issue,” Hasson said.
Oli London, a man who formerly identified as a gender-fluid trans woman but has since detransitioned and converted to Catholicism, also tweeted about the film and the previous censorship.
“Despite Twitter censoring [Matt Walsh’s] ‘What is a Woman?’ [The Daily Wire’s] documentary this evening and Elon issuing several tweets adding to the confusion he has now tweeted that the censorship will create ‘The Streisand effect,’” London tweeted. “The Streisand effect is an unintended consequence of attempts to hide, remove, or censor information where it instead leads to increased awareness of that information.”
Sachin Jose, a Catholic journalist and social media influencer, encouraged others to step up and discuss this issue.
“Matt Walsh is one the greatest evangelizers in the West and Catholic Church today,” Jose said on Twitter. “He is able to save the lives of thousands of kids. We need priests, bishops, and laypeople who are not afraid to speak the truth.”
Posted on 06/7/2023 20:15 PM (CNA Daily News)
Rome Newsroom, Jun 7, 2023 / 13:15 pm (CNA).
Pope Francis is awake after reacting well to both surgery and general anesthetic, an Italian surgeon said Wednesday afternoon.
Pope Francis “is well, awake, alert, and already made his first joke 10 minutes ago,” Dr. Sergio Alfieri said June 7 during a brief press conference at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, where Pope Francis is recovering following abdominal surgery.
Alfieri, director of the hospital’s abdominal surgery department, is the same surgeon who removed part of Pope Francis’ colon during an operation to treat diverticulitis in July 2021.
The surgeon told journalists that from a medical point of view, there would be nothing preventing the pope from continuing with his planned travels to Portugal and Mongolia in August after his recovery.
The conditions treated by the surgery on June 7 and the prior operation of July 2021 were both benign and have been resolved, the surgeon said in response to questions.
“The pope does not have other illnesses,” he underlined.
Alfieri noted that Francis had been experiencing pain for several months due to an incisional hernia and decided June 6 to undergo the surgery to correct it.
An incisional hernia is a type of abdominal wall hernia at the site of a previous surgical incision. The surgeon said the hernia may have come about following past operations Francis underwent in Argentina, including for peritonitis, a redness or swelling of the lining of the abdomen often caused by appendicitis.
Alfieri said Francis was already cracking jokes and had asked him when the next surgery would be.
In a statement issued late Wednesday, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said “Pope Francis is alert and conscious and thankful for the many messages of closeness and prayer that have immediately reached him.”
Alfieri was assisted by Drs. Valerio Papa, Roberta Menghi, Antonio Tortorelli, and Giuseppe Quero. The anesthetist was Dr. Massimo Antonelli, who was assisted by Drs. Teresa Sacco, Paola Aceto, Maurizio Soave, and Giuseppina Annetta.
The head physician of the Vatican’s health and hygiene office, Dr. Luigi Carbone, was also present in the operating room.
Pope Francis left for the hospital immediately after greeting pilgrims at his Wednesday general audience June 7.
At the start of the audience, he had prayed before a relic of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
The pope was taken to Gemelli Hospital in a white Fiat 500 with tinted windows with a police escort.
The operation took place in the early afternoon and lasted three hours, the Vatican said.
Posted on 06/7/2023 19:25 PM (CNA Daily News)
Washington D.C., Jun 7, 2023 / 12:25 pm (CNA).
Michael Williams, who goes by the name “Sister Roma” and is a member of the San Francisco chapter of an anti-Catholic drag group known as the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence,” was honored by the California state Legislature on Monday.
Outside the capitol, hundreds of Catholics and other Christians held a prayer vigil, and several members of the California Republican Caucus walked out of the capitol in protest while Williams was honored.
The prayer vigil outside ends as a group of nuns, priests, monks and ordained pastors lead the crowd in reciting the "Lord's Prayer." A few hundred people showed up to protest the #PrideMonth event inside the Capitol. pic.twitter.com/vWsXLNANMF— Dustin Gardiner (@dustingardiner) June 5, 2023
Inside the capitol, Williams received a standing ovation on the assembly floor, and several lawmakers posed for photos with Williams, who was wearing a black gown, heavy white makeup, and a large purple-blue wig.
After Republicans criticized Sister Roma’s invitation to participate at the Capitol’s pride ceremonies, she gets a standing ovation and loudest applause on the Assembly floor. pic.twitter.com/HUTyAwB117— Ashley Zavala (@ZavalaA) June 5, 2023
California Senate Minority Leader Brian Jones issued a statement calling the decision to honor “Sister Roma” at the capitol a “slap in the face to Catholics who cherish their faith and hold it as a cornerstone of their identity.”
“By inviting a prominent leader of this hateful group, Senate Democrats have shown a blatant disregard for the 10 million Catholic Californians in our state,” Jones said. “Were this group to spread hateful messages about Jews, Muslims, Hindus, or any other religion, Senate Democrats would certainly not extend this invitation.”
A national drag group, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence uses Catholic religious imagery and themes in protests and sexualized performances to raise awareness and money for LGBTQ+ causes. The performers call themselves nuns and regularly use the images of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and women religious.
A member of the drag group since 1987, Williams is an activist, pornography filmmaker, and one of the most well-known Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
Williams was honored along with other prominent LGBTQ+ figures and was invited by state Sen. Scott Wiener, who is also a well-known LGBTQ+ activist.
Before Williams was honored, the California Senate Republican Caucus sent a letter to the Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins requesting she retract the invitation to “Sister Roma.” Atkins refused, calling the request a “misguided distraction on the first day of Pride month.”
The California Legislature’s decision to honor the drag queen activist comes amid controversy over the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence being honored by the Los Angeles Dodgers at a Major League Baseball game on June 16. The team’s decision to honor the group has been decried by prominent Catholics and Christians, including Dodgers pitcher Blake Treinen, who said it “disenfranchises a large community and promotes hate of Christians and people of faith.”
Posted on 06/7/2023 17:50 PM (CNA Daily News)
Rome Newsroom, Jun 7, 2023 / 10:50 am (CNA).
The Vatican said Wednesday evening that Pope Francis is out of surgery and that the abdominal operation he underwent “took place without complications.”
The 86-year-old pope will remain in Rome’s Gemelli Hospital for several days to recover after the surgery, according to the Vatican’s spokesman.
In a surgery lasting three hours, Pope Francis underwent a laparotomy and abdominal wall reconstruction using prosthetic materials in the early afternoon of June 7.
The operation under general anesthesia was planned by the pope’s medical team in recent days after it became necessary due to a hernia that was causing recurrent, painful, and worsening symptoms, according to Matteo Bruni, the director of the Holy See Press Office.
The surgery attempted to repair an incisional hernia, a type of abdominal wall hernia at the site of a previous surgical incision. In the pope’s case, this could be the result of the scarring caused by the pope’s colon surgery in July 2021.
The Italian newspaper Il Messaggero reported that the surgeon in charge of the pope’s operation was Sergio Alfieri, the same surgeon who operated on Pope Francis in July 2021 when the pope had part of his colon removed due to diverticulitis.
Pope Francis left for the hospital immediately after greeting pilgrims at his Wednesday general audience, where the pope prayed before a relic of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
The pope was taken to Gemelli Hospital in a white Fiat 500 with tinted windows with a police escort.
Once news of the pope’s surgery broke, people began to gather in front of the hospital where he was being treated.
“We follow him with our affection. We follow him with our prayers, hoping that everything will be resolved as soon as possible and he will return to the exercise of his ministry,” Cardinal Pietro Parolin told journalists when asked about the pope’s health.
The cardinal added that he expects that Pope Francis will continue to work from his hospital bed as he recovers.
“Even if from a hospital bed, he will resume the exercise of his ministry. So if there are things that need to be decided, urgently, they will be brought to him at the Gemelli hospital,” Parolin said, according to Sky News.
Pope Francis has been hospitalized three times in the past two years. The pope was hospitalized for four days in March for a lung infection and has also dealt this year with a recurrence of diverticulitis, a painful inflammation of bulges in the large intestine following his operation in July 2021.
Since early 2022 the pope has suffered from knee pain. He started to have difficulty standing and walking and has been using a cane and wheelchair for more than a year.
Pope Francis told the Italian bishops in May last year that he did not want to have his knee operated on because he did not want to recover from general anesthesia again following his last surgery.
An Italian diocese noted in a press release on June 7 that it had been notified by the Prefecture of the Papal Household that all of Pope Francis’ audiences, including general audiences, have been canceled until June 18 due to the pope’s surgery.
Posted on 06/7/2023 17:15 PM (CNA Daily News)
Rome Newsroom, Jun 7, 2023 / 10:15 am (CNA).
Pope Francis’ audiences have been canceled until June 18, an Italian Catholic diocese said Wednesday, citing the Prefecture of the Papal Household.
The communications office of the Diocese of Teramo-Atri sent a press release June 7 expressing the bishop’s closeness to Francis after the pope was hospitalized to undergo abdominal surgery Wednesday afternoon.
According to a tweet posted by Vatican News, Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni also told journalists the pope’s audiences were suspended until June 18 “as a precautionary measure.”
Catholics of the Diocese of Teramo-Atri, which is in central Italy’s Abruzzo region, were scheduled to meet Pope Francis in Rome in St. Peter’s Square on the morning of Saturday, June 17.
Bishop Lorenzo Leuzzi invited Catholics to unite in prayer for Pope Francis’ healing, especially on the solemnity of Corpus Christi, which will be celebrated on Sunday.
The Fratelli Tutti Foundation, which had organized an event with Pope Francis and Nobel laureates to take place in St. Peter’s Square on June 10, has said the gathering will go on as planned, at the pope’s request.
Pope Francis was taken to Rome’s Gemelli Hospital shortly after 11 a.m. on June 7 for a surgery under general anesthesia, the Vatican said.
The hospitalization followed Francis’ participation in the usual Wednesday general audience, at which he venerated a relic of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
According to spokesman Matteo Bruni, Francis on Wednesday is undergoing an operation to repair a hernia through a laparotomy and abdominal wall reconstruction with prosthetic material.
The Vatican said the 86-year-old pope would spend “several days” in the hospital post-surgery.
Pope Francis visited the same hospital Tuesday for less than an hour, the Vatican confirmed June 6, following the publication of Italian media reports.
The pope’s surgery may be to repair a hernia that formed in the scar of the incision following his colon operation in July 2021 for diverticulitis.
Francis recovered in a hospital wing reserved for papal medical emergencies for 11 days following the July 4, 2021, surgery.
It is the same medical suite at Gemelli Hospital where St. John Paul II stayed for treatment at different points in his pontificate.
Posted on 06/7/2023 11:37 AM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, Jun 7, 2023 / 04:37 am (CNA).
One of Pope Francis’ last gestures before undergoing abdominal surgery on Wednesday was to pray before a relic of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
A relic of the French Carmelite nun, also known as St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, was present on the platform in front of St. Peter’s Basilica during the pope’s weekly general audience June 7.
Before beginning the audience, Francis venerated the relics of St. Thérèse in a moment of silent prayer. He also placed a single, white rose on the table in front of the reliquary.
Pope Francis was taken to Rome’s Gemelli Hospital for abdominal surgery under general anesthesia at the end of the morning audience, shortly after 11 a.m. Rome time, the Vatican said.
Relics of St. Thérèse’s parents, Sts. Louis and Zélie Guérin Martin, were also present at the meeting with the public June 7. The relics of all three saints will visit different churches in Rome through June 16.
Pope Francis said Wednesday he intends to publish an apostolic letter on St. Thérèse of Lisieux, “patroness of the missions,” to mark the 150th anniversary of her birth.
“She was a Carmelite nun who lived her life according to the way of littleness and weakness: She defined herself as ‘a small grain of sand,’” he said in St. Peter’s Square.
“Having poor health, she died at the age of only 24,” he added. “But though her body was sickly, her heart was vibrant, missionary.”
“Here before us are the relics of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, universal patroness of missions,” he said. “It is good that this happens while we are reflecting on the passion for evangelization, on apostolic zeal. Today, then, let us allow the witness of St. Thérèse to help us. She was born 150 years ago, and I plan to dedicate an apostolic letter to her on this anniversary.”
🎥HIGHLIGHTS | Before commencing the General Audience in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis shared a beautiful moment of prayer before the sacred relics of St. Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church and Patroness of the Missions. As a symbol of his devotion, the Holy Father… pic.twitter.com/lRJeWuSx8n— EWTN Vatican (@EWTNVatican) June 7, 2023
St. Thérèse of Lisieux was born on Jan. 2, 1873, in Alençon, France. Her mother died when she was 4, leaving her father and older sisters to raise her. She received papal permission to enter the Carmelite Monastery at the young age of 15, where she lived until her death from tuberculosis at the age of 24.
She was proclaimed a doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II in 1997 and is the patron saint of missions.
Pope Francis reflected on the saint’s life as part of a series of lessons on evangelical zeal.
“She is patroness of the missions, but she was never sent on mission,” Francis explained in his catechesis. “She recounts in her ‘diary’ that her desire was that of being a missionary and that she wanted to be one not just for a few years, but for the rest of her life, even until the end of the world.”
St. Thérèse did this, he said, by becoming a spiritual sister to several missionaries, whom she accompanied through her prayers, letters, and sacrifices from within the monastery walls.
“Without being visible, she interceded for the missions, like an engine that, although hidden, gives a vehicle the power to move forward,” the pope said.
“Missionaries, in fact — of whom Thérèse is patroness — are not only those who travel long distances, learn new languages, do good works, and are good at proclamation,” he added. “No, a missionary is anyone who lives as an instrument of God’s love where they are.”
Pope Francis recounted two episodes from St. Thérèse’s life that help to explain the source of her zeal and missionary strength.
The first happened during Christmas 1886, when Thérèse was almost 14 years old.
St. Thérèse was pampered as the youngest child of the family, he explained. But her father was tired after midnight Mass for Christmas and did not feel like being present when his daughter opened her gifts, so he said he was glad it was the last year she would receive gifts.
“Thérèse, who was very sensitive and easily moved to tears, was hurt, and went up to her room and cried,” the pope said.
“But she quickly suppressed her tears, went downstairs and, full of joy, she was the one who cheered her father,” he said. “What had happened? On that night, when Jesus had made himself weak out of love, her soul became strong: In just a few moments, she had come out of the prison of her selfishness and self-pity; she began to feel that ‘charity entered her heart’ — so she said — ‘with the need to forget herself’ (cf. Manuscript A, 133-134).”
“From then on, she directed her zeal toward others, that they might find God.”
The second event happened after St. Thérèse became a Carmelite. Pope Francis said the nun became aware of a hardened criminal, Enrico Pranzini, who was sentenced to death by guillotine for having murdered three people.
Thérèse had a special zeal for saving sinners, and so “she took him into her heart and did all she could: She prayed in every way for his conversion, so that he, whom, with brotherly compassion she called ‘poor wretched Pranzini,’ might demonstrate a small sign of repentance and make room for God’s mercy,” Francis said.
The day after his execution, she read in the newspaper that before laying his head on the chopping block, Pranzini had, “‘all of a sudden, seized by a sudden inspiration, turned around, grabbed a crucifix that the priest handed to him and kissed three times the sacred wounds’ of Jesus,” he continued.
“Then his soul,” St. Thérèse wrote, “went to receive the merciful sentence of the One who declared that in heaven there will be more joy for a single sinner who repents than for the 99 righteous who have no need of repentance!”
Pope Francis said: “With so many means, methods, and structures available, which sometimes distract from what is essential, the Church needs hearts like Thérèse’s, hearts that draw people to love and bring people closer to God.”
“Let us today ask this saint, whose relics we have here,” he added, “let us ask this saint for the grace to overcome our selfishness and for the passion to intercede that Jesus might be known and loved.”