Home » Articles posted by Jonathan Luxmoore

Belgian Brothers of Charity reject Vatican order to stop euthanizing patients

By

Catholic News Service

Belgium’s Brothers of Charity Group, which runs 15 centers for psychiatric patients, has rejected a Vatican order to stop offering euthanasia.

In a Sept. 12 statement, the organization said it had not been given a chance to explain its “vision statement and argumentation.”

Activists take part in an anti-euthanasia protest Feb. 11, 2014, in Brussels. Assisted suicide and euthanasia were legalized in traditionally Catholic Belgium in 2002 A group of psychiatric care centers run by a Catholic religious order in Belgium is rejecting a Vatican order to stop euthanizing “nonterminal” mentally ill patients on its premises. (CNS photo/Julien Warnand, EPA)

It added that it “always took into account shifts and evolutions within society,” and “emphatically believed” its euthanasia program was consistent with the doctrine of the Catholic Church.

“In our facilities, we deal with patients’ requests for euthanasia for mental suffering in a nonterminal situation with the utmost caution,” said the organization, whose board members include Herman Van Rompuy, a former European Council president and former Belgian prime minister.

“We take unbearable and hopeless suffering and patients’ requests for euthanasia seriously. On the other hand, we want to protect life and ensure euthanasia is performed only if there is no more possibility of providing a reasonable treatment perspective to the patient,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, a Sept. 12 statement from Brother Rene Stockman, superior general of the Brothers of Charity in Rome, said he “deplores the fact that there is no willingness to negotiate” the text of the vision statement on the part of the Belgian organization.

“He does not understand that a board of directors does not want to take into account experts from the field that have expressed clear objections to the text,” the statement said.

An initial deadline of the end of August to settle the disagreement was delayed until Sept. 11, the statement explained, to allow further negotiations to take place.

But it said that the scheduled talks were “shot down” because Professor Rik Torfs, a former rector of Belgium’s Catholic University of Leuven called into mediate the dispute, “could no longer put his trust in the Brothers of Charity organization in Belgium.”

The statement said: “The superior general remains open to dialogue, provided that this dialogue is about the content of the vision text, and thus whether or not to apply euthanasia within the walls of the institutions of the Brothers of Charity, and not about a ‘modus vivendi’ (agreement allowing conflicting parties to coexist until a final settlement is reached).

“He will however resubmit the current situation to the competent authorities in the Vatican before taking further action,” it said.

The Belgian church’s Cathobel news agency said Sept. 12 the Brothers of Charity Group lay chairman, Raf De Rycke, a former economics professor, had agreed euthanasia requests would now be examined “with greater circumspection than previously,” but conceded that the order’s hospitals were not yet ready to accept more restrictive guidelines.

The agency added that at least three organization members had not declared their attitude to the Sept. 12 announcement, despite “claims of unanimity.”

In August, Brother Rene Stockman told Catholic News Service that Pope Francis gave his personal approval to a Vatican demand that the Brothers of Charity reverse its policy by the end of August. He said brothers who serve on the board of the Brothers of Charity Group must each sign a joint letter to their superior general declaring that they “fully support the vision of the magisterium of the Catholic Church, which has always confirmed that human life must be respected and protected in absolute terms, from the moment of conception till its natural end.”

Brother Stockman told CNS that if the group refused to bow to the ultimatum, “then we will take juridical steps in order to force them to amend the text (of the new policy) and, if that is not possible, then we have to start the procedure to exclude the hospitals from the Brothers of Charity family and take away their Catholic identity.”

He said if any of the brothers refused to sign the letter upholding Catholic teaching against euthanasia, “then also we will start the correct procedure foreseen in canon law.”

Geert Lesarge, press secretary of the Brussels-based Belgian bishops’ conference, criticized the decision and reiterated support for the Vatican Sept. 13.

He told Catholic News Service that attempts by Torfs to mediate the dispute had failed. He said church leaders were ready to debate “matters of principle,” but not “medical practices at specific hospitals.”

Assisted suicide and euthanasia were legalized in traditionally Catholic Belgium in 2002, a year after the neighboring Netherlands, and euthanasia deaths are increasing by 27 percent annually, according to Health Ministry data.

At least a dozen patients in the Brothers of Charity care are believed to have requested euthanasia over the past year, with two transferred elsewhere to receive deadly injections.

The Brothers of Charity Group is considered the most important provider of mental health care services in the Flanders region of Belgium, where they serve 5,000 patients a year.

Besides Belgium and the Netherlands, euthanasia and assisted suicide are also legal in Luxembourg and deemed “nonpunishable” in Switzerland. Poll data suggest most Europeans favor euthanasia laws if backed with safeguards.

     Contributing to this story was Simon Caldwell in Manchester, England.

Comments Off on Belgian Brothers of Charity reject Vatican order to stop euthanizing patients

Polish archbishop says Vatican will recognize Medjugorje visions

By

Catholic News Service

WARSAW, Poland — A Polish archbishop who inspected Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Medjugorje shrine for the pope predicted the Vatican will soon recognize its Marian apparitions.

Pilgrims pray in front of a statue of Mary in 2011 on Apparition Hill in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Archbishop Henryk Hoser of Warsaw-Praga, Poland, who inspected the shrine for Pope Francis, predicts the Vatican will soon recognize its Marian apparitions. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has passed all documentation to the Secretariat of State, everything suggests the apparitions will be accepted before the year ends,” said Archbishop Henryk Hoser.

“It’s difficult to believe the six visionaries have been lying for 36 years,” the archbishop said. “What they say is coherent, and none is mentally disturbed, while the apparitions’ faithfulness to church doctrine is also a powerful argument for their authenticity.”

The archbishop spoke as he completed a report from his spring mission to the hilltop shrine, which has not been officially recognized by the church despite 2.5 million pilgrims annually.

He told Poland’s Catholic Information Agency, KAI, he had found an “exceptional atmosphere” of “spiritual creativeness” at Medjugorje, characterized by “prayer, silence, meditation, Eucharist, adoration, fasting and reconciliation.”

He added that the shrine was seeing “huge dynamic growth,” in contrast to older sanctuaries in Portugal, France and Poland and had succeeded in remaining “a true place for pilgrims” while “eliminating tourist elements.”

“Everything is moving in a good direction. My mission wasn’t aimed at closing Medjugorje down, but at evaluating whether pastoral work is being properly organized there in line with church teaching,” Archbishop Hoser said.

“My conclusions are that it is, and my impression is highly positive,” he told KAI.

Six teenagers claim to have seen the Virgin Mary June 24, 1981, near Medjugorje. Since then, they have reported more than 42,000 apparitions at the site, which was largely untouched by the 1992-95 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

 

Local bishop doesn’t agree

In April, the then-prefect of the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Muller, told KAI ageny it still could “take a long time” for the Vatican to rule on the apparitions, despite Archbishop Hoser’s pastoral visitation.

Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar-Duvno, the local ordinary, has consistently dismissed the Medjugorje apparitions as false, like his predecessor, Bishop Pavao Zanic, and appealed to bishops abroad not to support pilgrimages there.

However, in March, Cardinal Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, defended the shrine as “Europe’s largest confessional,” and said he counted on the Vatican to appreciate its evangelical potential in generating “conversions and acts of grace.”

Pope Francis told reporters traveling with him from Fatima, Portugal, in May that the most important fact about Medjugorje is “the spiritual fact, the pastoral fact” that thousands of pilgrims go to Medjugorje and are converted. “For this there is no magic wand; this spiritual-pastoral fact cannot be denied.”

The spiritual fruits of the pilgrimages, he said, are the reason why in February he appointed Archbishop Hoser to study the best ways to provide pastoral care to townspeople and the pilgrims.

Speaking to reporters May 13, Pope Francis gave no indication of when a final pronouncement about the alleged apparitions would be made. However, the said that a commission set up by then-Pope Benedict XVI had spent years investigating the phenomenon and tended to believe the apparitions in that first week of the summer of 1981 may have been real, but the continued reports of apparitions are questionable.

Furthermore, Pope Francis told the press, “personally, I am more ‘mischievous.’ I prefer Our Lady to be a mother, our mother, and not a telegraph operator who sends out a message every day at a certain time; this is not the mother of Jesus.”

Comments Off on Polish archbishop says Vatican will recognize Medjugorje visions

Pope, Catholic leaders urge prayers after terrorist attacks in Spain

By

Catholic News Service

Spanish church leaders urged prayers and national unity after two terrorist attacks left at least 19 people dead.

Pope Francis, U.S. bishops and others weighed in with prayers and rejection of the Aug. 17 attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, where cars drove into pedestrians. The Islamic State group claimed credit for the attacks. Fourteen were killed in Barcelona; one pedestrian and five suspects were killed in Cambrils.

Medics move an injured person after a van crashed into pedestrians in the Las Ramblas district of Barcelona, Spain, Aug. 17. Terrorists killed at least 12 and injured more than 50 others. (CNS photo/Quique Garcia, EPA)

“People are deeply shocked and saddened by this totally random event,” said Msgr. Josep Ramon Perez, dean of Barcelona’s Catholic cathedral. “While many are naturally asking what’s happening to the world to make such things possible, many also recognize that the most important response is to pray for peace.”

Thousands attended a midday vigil Aug. 18 in Barcelona’s Plaza de Catalunya, attended by Spanish King Felipe VI and government and political party leaders from across the country. Spanish police asked mourners not to bring bags or backpacks to the vigil, which was accompanied by parallel commemorations in Madrid and other cities, as well as at the European Union’s headquarters in Brussels.

Barcelona Cardinal Juan Jose Omella interrupted his retreat Aug. 17 to return to his city and be close to his people. The Archdiocese of Barcelona released photographs of him visiting victims of the attack at the hospital.

In a message to Cardinal Omella, Pope Francis denounced the “cruel terrorist attack” in Barcelona and said such “blind violence,” which sows death and pain, is “a great offense to the Creator.”

The papal message, sent by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, included prayers for the eternal repose of the dead, and for their families.

Pope Francis, it said, also prayed that God “would help us continue working with determination for peace and harmony in the world.”

In an interview Aug. 18, Msgr. Perez said Barcelona’s cathedral and neighboring churches had been closed after the attack as part of a security lockdown, forcing visitors and pilgrims to remain inside until late evening.

“The terrorists who carried out this action have nothing to do with ordinary people here,” Msgr. Perez said, noting that “local Muslims are just as shocked and horrified as everyone else.”

Candles, flowers and messages of solidarity were placed in memory of victims at various city locations.

Meanwhile, the Tarraconense bishops’ conference, grouping Catholic bishops from Spain’s Catalonia region, said members were “completely dismayed” by the “barbarity of the attack and the contempt it implies for human life and its dignity,” adding that Barcelona and its inhabitants had always been “committed to the cause of peace and justice.”

In an Aug. 18 interview with the Spanish church’s COPE news agency, Cardinal Ricardo Blasquez, president of the Madrid-based bishops’ conference, said Spaniards would be “especially beaten” after the Barcelona outrage, which had “inflicted a wound on everyone.” He urged citizens to remember that Muslims were “the main victims” of Islamic State and not to “criminalize” them for the attack or “identify terrorism with Islam.”

“Far from being terrorist violence, the true road to building a future of peace, now and forever, lies in respect for all people,” Cardinal Blasquez said.

Following the first attack, Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, said the bishops’ conference “unequivocally condemns this morally heinous act and places itself in solidarity with the people of the Archdiocese of Barcelona and Spain at this terrible time of loss and grief.”

“Terrorist attacks on innocent civilians can never be justified,” he said. “To directly attack innocent men, women and children is utterly reprehensible.”

The attack is the latest of several in which trucks and vans had been driven at high speed through pedestrian zones in Europe.

In an Aug. 18 message, Archbishop Georges Pontier of Marseille, president of the bishops’ conference in neighboring France, said the Barcelona atrocity was “an insult to the Creator,” and would unite Catholics in their determination that “evil will not have the last word.”

In Nice, France, in July 2016, 86 people were killed and 458 injured in a similar attack with a 19-ton truck.

The Las Ramblas attack was Spain’s worst since March 2004, when Islamist militants detonated 10 bombs on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people and injuring more than 1,800.

Comments Off on Pope, Catholic leaders urge prayers after terrorist attacks in Spain

Pierogies with the pope: World Youth Day volunteers get papal advice at lunch

By

Catholic News Service

KRAKOW, Poland — Pope Francis has a “stomach of iron” and considers the German Richard Wagner his favorite composer, said young Catholics who lunched privately with him July 30 during World Youth Day.

Pope Francis poses for a selfie with young people attending World Youth Day during a lunch in Krakow, Poland, July 30. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano, handout) .

Pope Francis poses for a selfie with young people attending World Youth Day during a lunch in Krakow, Poland, July 30. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano, handout) .

Thirteen World Youth Day organizers from a dozen countries shared the meal at the cardinal’s residence. They were chosen by lottery to attend the 80-minute encounter, during which questions were put to the pope in Italian and Spanish with simultaneous translations. Organizers said participants were notified three weeks earlier of their selection from among World Youth Day volunteers of at least three months’ standing.

Malgorzata Krupnik, who was one of two Poles at the lunch, said she had been “very nervous and unsure what to expect,” but said her stress had vanished as soon as the pope arrived.

“As we sat there, he said, ‘Speak to me; I want to talk to you.’ He was really optimistic, lighthearted and humorous, and not at all stiff and severe,” Krupnik said.

“We talked about practical things, not just philosophy. It was really like being at home and at the end, he hugged each of us, smiling, in a very Franciscan way. I felt an amazing internal peace to meet him so closely.”

Paula Mora of Colombia said Pope Francis advised them to be “guided by their hearts” when seeking to evangelize.

“We asked how he’d felt when he was elected pope, and he said he’d experienced the gift of inner peace from God, which is still with him,” said Mora said. “You can feel this peace and humility when you speak to him. It was as if we were children meeting their father over a normal family lunch.”

Quan Vu Hong, a young Vietnamese on the World Youth Day’s organization committee, said he could barely contain his emotion and disbelief at having been among those chosen to dine with the pope.

“It’s the first time I have an opportunity to have a meal with one of the most important people in the world,” he told CNS. “I was chosen from among hundreds of thousands of young people, and I will never forget this day.”

Hong said he also had asked the pope how youths could live as faithful Christians in today’s world.

He told us “the first thing to do is to accompany others to a life of faith,” Hong said. The pope, he added, impressed upon them the importance of prayer and confession, even giving them tips on how to confess to a priest.

Hong also noted Pope Francis’ easygoing nature, saying it was the most touching quality of all.

“He took a selfie with us and joked around during lunch. It made us closer to him and we did not feel he was a pope anymore. He was a father for us,” Hong said.

Fatima Leung-Wai, a 28-year-old Samoan from New Zealand, told CNS there was a “mix of emotions” at the meeting, adding that some youngsters had been moved to tears when a Ukrainian Catholic, Uliana Zurawczak, described conditions in her war-torn country.

She added that the pope declined to list his preferred reading, but said he routinely ate anything and had a “stomach of iron.”

The New Zealander, who gave up her engineer’s job to work as a World Youth Day volunteer, said Pope Francis was asked his opinion of Catholic charismatic communities and also described how he discovered his priestly vocation while making his confession at age 17. Later, she said, he again stressed the importance of regular confessions and advised young Catholics to “find another priest” if they disliked their regular confessor.

“As a young Catholic, trying my best to live the faith in today’s world, when it’s so easy not to believe, it was really important to meet an authority who was open, humble and at peace and would allow me to be myself,” she said. “If you’re going to follow the church, in all your daily struggles, you need to know its leader is genuine and can be trusted. But the pope also asked us to pray for him, since it’s not easy being the church’s leader.”

Poland’s Catholic information agency, KAI, said the youths ate a hearty traditional Polish meal with the pope, which included beef soup, rice with pieces of pork, as well as traditional dumplings, known as pierogi, and sernik, a popular Polish cheesecake made with a local curdled cheese known as twarog.

The Krakow Archdiocese’s deputy spokesman, Father Piotr Studnicki, told KAI the lunch was prepared by Sacred Heart sisters, who also had cooked for St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI during their visits to the city.

 

Contributing to this story was Junno Arocho.

Comments Off on Pierogies with the pope: World Youth Day volunteers get papal advice at lunch

‘No easy answers’ — Pope Francis visits sick children at Krakow hospital

By

Catholic News Service

KRAKOW, Poland — Questions about suffering have “no easy answers,” Pope Francis said in a visit to Children’s University Hospital.

Pope Francis blesses a girl during a visit to the Children's University Hospital in Krakow, Poland, July 29. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis blesses a girl during a visit to the Children’s University Hospital in Krakow, Poland, July 29. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

“How I would wish that we Christians could be as close to the sick as Jesus was, embracing them and willingly seeking them out,” Pope Francis said. “Sadly, our society is tainted by the culture of waste, which is the opposite of the culture of acceptance. And the victims of the culture of waste are those who are weakest and most frail; and this is indeed cruel.”

The brief ceremony in the hospital reception area, before a statue of St. John Paul II lifting a child, took place before 50 children in wheelchairs, some hairless from cancer treatment, clasping rosaries and papal flags. Addressing patients, parents and staff, Pope Francis said he was grateful for the sign of love offered by those welcoming and caring for “the smallest and most needy.”

He told those gathered: “To serve with love and tenderness persons who need our help makes all of us grow in humanity. … Those who engage in works of mercy have no fear of death.”

Looking solemn after his address, the pope recited the Hail Mary and delivered a blessing, before greeting the young patients and their parents, with the sound of crying children in the background.

Pope Francis said he wished to “draw near to all children who are sick, to stand at their bedside and embrace them,” adding that Jesus was “always attentive” and “moved by compassion” toward the sick, regarding them “in the same way that a mother looks at her sick child.”

However, he added that families sometimes felt “alone in providing care,” and said he wished to “listen to everyone here, even if for only a moment, and be still before questions that have no easy answers.”

“From this place, so full of concrete signs of love, I would like to say: Let us multiply the works of the culture of acceptance, works inspired by Christian love,” Pope Francis said.

“I encourage all those who have made the Gospel call to visit the sick a personal life decision: physicians, nurses, health care workers, chaplains and volunteers. May the Lord help you to do your work well, here as in every hospital in the world.”

He later visited the emergency unit and prayed in the chapel, accompanied by Father Lucjan Szczepaniak, one of 500 Catholic chaplains ministering full-time at Poland’s 550 state hospitals.

Dr. Maciej Kowalczyk, hospital director, said the children’s hospital represented the last chance for many severely sick children. He said he hoped the pope’s words and prayers would give patients and their parents “strength and hope to overcome their illnesses.”

Children’s University Hospital admits around 36,000 seriously ill young patients per year and treats 180,000 outpatients. It was founded in 1965 with finding from the U.S. government and Poles abroad.

Comments Off on ‘No easy answers’ — Pope Francis visits sick children at Krakow hospital

Krakow police raise security threat level at World Youth Day but say no concrete danger

By

Catholic News Service

KRAKOW, Poland — Polish police have raised the official security threat level at World Youth Day in Krakow, after an Iraqi man was arrested with traces of explosives.

Police officers stand guard during World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, July 26. Mariusz Ciarka, spokesman for Poland's Warsaw-based police headquarters, said Polish police have raised the official threat level after an Iraqi man was arrested with traces of explosives. (CNS photo/David W. Cerny, Reuters)

Police officers stand guard during World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, July 26. Mariusz Ciarka, spokesman for Poland’s Warsaw-based police headquarters, said Polish police have raised the official threat level after an Iraqi man was arrested with traces of explosives. (CNS photo/David W. Cerny, Reuters)

However, a police spokesman said the category of high, was not linked to any “concrete threat,” adding that security arrangements were “proceeding smoothly” for the expected arrival of 2 million young people in the southern city.

“We’re determined to assure maximum security for all, and our staffers are doing everything they should,” said Mariusz Ciarka, spokesman for Poland’s Warsaw-based police headquarters.

“But we’re also urging everyone to be vigilant and to inform the police or Youth Day volunteers if they see anything suspicious, such as baggage or packs left unattended, and to show understanding if we implement selective controls and movement restrictions. Safety of such a huge gathering of people is what’s most important,” Ciarka said July 26 ahead of the official opening ceremony World Youth Day.

Officials were expecting half a million young people to attend opening ceremonies from 187 countries in Krakow’s Blonia Park.

He said security services had so far noted only “minor incidents,” such as lost documents and small injuries, as well as a July 25 bus crash in which no one was reported injured.

He said police were using mobile X-ray devices and metal detectors, as well as using dogs trained to detect explosives, at railway and bus stations and major road hubs around the city, as well as anywhere crowds gathered.

Gas tankers and large trucks had been barred from Krakow, Ciarka said, after a 19-ton truck was driven into a celebration in Nice, France, July 15.

Security fears are high in Europe in the wake of the Nice outrage and a spate of Islamist-linked attacks in neighboring Germany, as well as the July 26 killing of French Father Jacques Hamel, 84, during an attack during a Mass at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, France. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for that attack.

Polish police said they had arrested a 48-year-old Iraqi man July 24 in Krakow, after explosive traces were found in his luggage and his clothes, as well as at hotels where he had stayed in Krakow and Lodz.

However, a Krakow prosecutor told journalists there were no grounds for charging the man with terrorism and said not enough explosive material had been detected to cause an explosion.

Ciarka said July 26 that 200 people had so far been barred from entering the country.

The police spokesman said drones and “unauthorized flying objects” had also been banned over a 65-mile zone around Krakow, as well as over the nearby city of Czestochowa, where Pope Francis will celebrate an open-air Mass July 29.

The carrying of arms and dangerous substances had also been outlawed, Ciarka added, as well as any objects normally not permitted aboard planes.

“From today, all movements are being limited around Krakow, as well as at Blonia and the Lagiewniki suburb, where pedestrians will have total priority,” the police official said. “The Polish government has given the police the task of serving society by ensuring this huge event passes off safely, and that’s what we will do.”

Comments Off on Krakow police raise security threat level at World Youth Day but say no concrete danger

European church leaders concerned ‘Brexit’ vote might fracture unity across continent

By

Catholic News Service

OXFORD, England — European Catholic leaders expressed concern that the decision by United Kingdom voters to leave the European Union threatened unity across the continent, but they also cautioned the EU bloc to rethink its values and priorities.

A European Union flag and British Union flag are seen at Parliament Square in London June 19. Voters in the United Kingdom voted June 23 to leave the European Union. (CNS photo/Neil Hall, Reuters)

A European Union flag and British Union flag are seen at Parliament Square in London June 19. Voters in the United Kingdom voted June 23 to leave the European Union. (CNS photo/Neil Hall, Reuters)

The concerns arose after voters decided June 23 to exit the EU by 52 percent to 48 percent. The decision led Prime Minister David Cameron to announce his resignation and sent shock waves through world financial markets.

In London, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said the vote must be respected and that the United Kingdom is setting out on a “new course that will be demanding on all.”

“Our prayer is that all will work in this task with respect and civility, despite deep differences of opinion,” he said in a statement the morning after the vote. “We pray that in this process, the most vulnerable will be supported and protected, especially those who are easy targets for unscrupulous employees and human traffickers. We pray that our nations will build on our finest traditions of generosity, of welcome for the stranger and shelter for the needy.

“We now must work hard to show ourselves to be good neighbors and resolute contributors in joint international efforts to tackle the critical problems our world today,” he added.

Anglican Archbishops Justin Welby of Canterbury and John Sentamu of York said in a joint statement that citizens must “re-imagine both what it means to be the United Kingdom in an interdependent world and what values and virtues should shape and guide our relationships with others.”

They called for society to remain “hospitable and compassionate, builders of bridges and not barriers” while expressing concern that some immigrants and residents on non-British ethnicity “will feel a deep sense of insecurity.”

The leaders called for citizens to embrace diversity across the U.K. and affirm “the unique contribution of each and every one.”

The president of the Polish bishops’ conference was similarly diplomatic. Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki of Poznan told the country’s Catholic information agency, KAI, that while the conference respects the voters’ decision, “we can’t forget unity is better than division, and that European solidarity is an achievement of many generations.”

“For Christians, the building of unity between peoples, societies and nations is a key summons, ordained by Christ himself,” he said. “We’re convinced this Christ-like unity is the true source of hope for Europe and the world.”

Cautioning that the EU’s “methods of functioning” included “many worrying features,” the archbishop said he remained hopeful “the union of European nations, built on Christ” would still prevail in a “civilization of love.”

However, retired Archbishop Henryk Muszynski of Gniezno, the former primate of Poland, criticized the outcome, warning that the EU’s “purely declaratory notion of solidarity” would have to be “rethought from the beginning.”

“’Brexit is the outcome of separatist, populist and egotistic tendencies, shown at both personal and social level, which have been discernible for a long time in Europe. I fear this decision won’t serve Great Britain, Europe or the world,” the prelate told KAI.

During his flight June 24 at the start of a three-day visit to Armenia, Pope Francis told journalists the referendum “expressed the will of the people,” and said it imposed a “great responsibility” on everyone to “ensure the well-being and coexistence of the whole European continent.”

Meanwhile, the Brussels-based of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community marked the outcome by displaying a “Prayer for Europe” on its website, which invoked God’s help “in committing ourselves to a Europe of the Spirit, founded not just on economic treaties but also on values which are human and eternal.”

In Germany, the Catholic Church’s youngest ordinary, Archbishop Stefan Hesse of Hamburg, told KNA Catholic news agency the vote was a “step backwards for a united Europe,” while in neighboring Austria Bishop Agidius Zsifkovics of Eisenstadt described it as “a wake-up call for a new European humanism.” He said he hoped the dream of European unity would not be “buried by self-serving gravediggers.”

“We must warn against the rise of provincial mentalities and group egoisms. Transnational problems and challenges cannot be solved nationally,” Bishop Zsifkovics told the Kathpress news agency.

“We’ll be exposed to numerous dangers if we don’t work together for a Europe which cares about its children, stands fraternally by its elderly, protects those seeing its help and promotes and respects the rights of individuals.”

France’s Catholic La Croix daily said the four-month campaign around the referendum had unleashed “often alarming passions.” The newspaper added that the vote would oblige Europeans “to revise their clichés” and force EU leaders to contain the possible “contagion” of parallel referendum demands in other member-states.

The Belgian church’s Cathobel news agency suggested in an online commentary the vote had “damaged the dream of Europe” enunciated by the EU’s post-World War II Catholic statesmen — Robert Schuman, Jean Monnet, Paul-Henri Spaak and Alcide de Gasperi — and would fuel “the rise of extremist party populism” visible during the refugee crisis.

“The end of an adventure also marks the beginning of a new one, if a dream is damaged, we must give birth to a new dream,” Cathobel said.

In France, Archbishop Jean-Pierre Grallet of Strasbourg said he was left with “feelings of sadness” that “what we have long fought for has been contradicted.” He said he hoped the vote would “create a clarification” rather than just “destabilizing the European project.”

“I’ve repeatedly said we should work for a future which is more European than national, but on condition this Europe is an entity we can identify with,” Archbishop Grallet said in a June 24 interview on the French bishops’ conference website.

“I don’t know what the English will say now, how they will propose to exit and what their first moves will be,” he said. “But we must be realists: we will not build Europe against its peoples, without gaining popular support and a responding properly to their anxieties. Europe may look like a beautiful project; but we should remember it’s still highly fragile.”

Comments Off on European church leaders concerned ‘Brexit’ vote might fracture unity across continent

If U.K. leaves European Union, Scotland’s independence movement revives

By

Catholic News Service

St.ANDREWS, Scotland — In a 2014 referendum, Scots narrowly voted not to press ahead with national independence, inducing sighs of relief from the rest of the United Kingdom. Read more »

Comments Off on If U.K. leaves European Union, Scotland’s independence movement revives

With ‘Brexit’ vote looming, Scottish independence remains live issue

By

Catholic News Service
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — In a 2014 referendum, Scots narrowly voted not to press ahead with national independence, inducing sighs of relief from the rest of the United Kingdom.
But if the rest of Britain votes to leave the European Union in a new referendum June 23, local politicians could demand a fresh independence ballot. Like it or not, independence looks set to remain a live issue.
“Many Catholics feel independence would free us up to be ourselves and bring out the best in us,” Peter Kearney, director of the Scottish Catholic Media Office, told Catholic News Service. “The church itself already has its own independent hierarchy, it wouldn’t necessarily make a big difference anyway. But there are clear fault lines now between what Scots think and the decisions taken by the British government in London.” Read more »

Comments Off on With ‘Brexit’ vote looming, Scottish independence remains live issue

Airport chaplain struck by ‘profound humanity’ after Brussels blasts

By

Catholic News Service

A Catholic priest who ministered to survivors of the attacks at Brussels airport said he was struck by the “profound humanity” shown by those caught up in the situation.

A man prays during a March 23 memorial gathering in Brussels following bomb attacks the previous day. Three nearly simultaneous attacks claimed the lives of dozens and injured more than 200. (CNS photo/Christian Hartmann, Reuters)

A man prays during a March 23 memorial gathering in Brussels following bomb attacks the previous day. Three nearly simultaneous attacks claimed the lives of dozens and injured more than 200. (CNS photo/Christian Hartmann, Reuters)

“I’ve heard so many stories, including testimonies from those who were 15 yards away when the bombs exploded, and who were blown off their feet and injured,” Father Michel Gaillard, chaplain of the Belgian capital’s Zaventem airport, told Catholic News Service March 24.

Father Gaillard said he had been traveling to Zaventem when the bombs exploded and had helped calm hundreds of passengers taken to a nearby sports hall. Many lost passports and luggage and were desperately seeking friends and relatives, he said.

He added that he had helped counsel numerous Catholics who sought his support, as well as American tourists, students and employees who were at the airport during the March 22 rush-hour blasts. He said Orthodox, Protestant and Jewish airport chaplains also had offered spiritual and pastoral help to those affected.

“Some people have asked me to pray with them and for them, while others have just needed to talk about what happened to them,” the Catholic chaplain said.

“In a world where finance is often considered the most important thing, this event has reminded us of our vulnerability, as well as of the bonds of profound humanity we reveal in showing care and compassion for each other. This is the great lesson I take from what’s happened.”

“We should remember the airport is a large community, all of which has been affected,” he added. “Although people are still in shock, I’m moved by how many have placed themselves at the service of the injured and traumatized.”

Father Gaillard, who has served as a chaplain at the airport for 10 years, said he was hoping to get a list of all the injured and visit each of them. Belgium’s Health Ministry said March 24 more than 60 people remained in critical condition after explosions at Zaventem and the city’s Maelbeek metro station.

“Most of those affected here were common, simple people, catching planes for holidays, to visit family members over Easter or to do their jobs,” he said.

“We’ll have to see if this dreadful event makes people more open to the values of faith, that’s a question for tomorrow, whereas what matters today is aiding friends and colleagues,” he told CNS.

Father Gaillard said he was aware media discussion had turned toward the failure of Belgium’s security services and the government of Prime Minister Charles Michel to predict the attacks, for which the Islamic State group claimed credit. However, he said police and officials at the scene should be thanked for “showing courage and doing their best.”

“Instead of making negative assessments, I think we should thank the police and medical staff who’ve done such a huge job in the face of such difficulties.”

The previous night, Father Gaillard and Auxiliary Bishop Leon Lemmens of Mechelen-Brussels joined other Christian leaders at the Catholic church in Zaventem, outside Brussels. The Belgian church’s Cathobel news agency said Bishop Lemmens had thanked airport staff and local residents for the “solidarity and closeness” shown to the 11 killed and dozens injured by the airport bomb blasts.

Comments Off on Airport chaplain struck by ‘profound humanity’ after Brussels blasts
Marquee Powered By Know How Media.