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Surprise! Giant spider atop Ottawa’s cathedral called ‘sacrilegious’

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Catholic News Service

OTTAWA, Ontario — The archbishop of Ottawa expressed regret that several Catholics were shocked at the sight of a giant robotic spider perched on Notre Dame Cathedral.

A giant mechanical spider is seen during an art performance in front of Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica in Ottawa July 27. (CNS photo/Chris Wattie, Reuters)

A giant mechanical spider is seen during an art performance in front of Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica in Ottawa July 27. (CNS photo/Chris Wattie, Reuters)

Archbishop Terrence Prendergast said he was surprised by the negative reaction to an artistic initiative after critics called the spider’s placement “sacrilegious,” “demonic,” and “disrespectful” of a sacred space.

“My cathedral staff and I anticipated that some … might object, but thought it would be minimal, as nothing demeaning was intended in the spider being near the church,” said the archbishop in an email interview with Canadian Catholic News.

“I regret that we had not sufficiently understood that others would see this event so differently. I say to those who were shocked that I understand that this would have been upsetting for them and that I regret that a well-intentioned effort to cooperate in a celebration was anything but that for them.”

The spider, named Kumo, is one of two giant robots created by a street theater company of artists, technicians and performers based in Nantes, France. The company, La Machine, was in Ottawa July 27-30 as part of celebrations marking Canada’s 150th birthday.

The spectacle of robots, music and other special effects drew tens of thousands to Ottawa’s downtown.

The show opened July 27 in the evening, with Kumo “waking up” to organ music from inside the cathedral. As the spider, suspended from cranes, climbed off its perch between the towers, “snow” fell from above as part of the event’s special effects.

“I don’t understand how allowing a mechanical spider to stand on the cathedral is anything but disturbing, disappointing and even shameful,” wrote Diane Bartlett on the archbishop’s Facebook wall.

Others defended the archbishop’s decision.

“While the viewer may find the juxtaposition jarring, I gather it’s supposed to be,” wrote Kris Dmytrenko. “But sacrilegious? C’mon, give your archbishop a break. This civic engagement with art recalls the Vatican’s Courtyard of the Gentiles project. Culture is a bridge.”

The decision to participate in the show was motivated by a desire to engage with the wider Ottawa community, said Archbishop Prendergast.

“We make use of the city to obtain permits for our events, and they are most cooperative,” he said. “The Good Friday Way of the Cross lets us have access to public venues (Supreme Court, Parliament Hill, the plaza in front of the National Gallery), and the police offer a security escort.

“We try to be good citizens, good neighbors and cooperative,” he said.

“To the extent that we did see symbolism, it was that, afterward, Our Lady would continue to reign, something I mentioned in a tweet right after the Thursday performance, as people I respect began to make their objections known.”

Organizers approached the cathedral staff last year. They wanted to position Kumo on the cathedral because it is across the street from the National Art Gallery, which features a large spider sculpture called Mama in its entrance courtyard, Archbishop Prendergast said. The idea was to make it seem as if Kumo was approaching Mama.

“Cathedral staff were shown other cathedrals and public buildings in Europe that had been involved,” the archbishop said. “It seemed innocent enough.

“I guess we thought people would see this as a sign the church is involved in Ottawa’s celebrations,” he said. “Many people, both Catholic and others, English and Francophone, remarked how pleased they were that Notre Dame was involved in our celebration of Canada 150.”

 

Gyapong is Ottawa correspondent for Canadian Catholic News.

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British baby Charlie Gard dies in hospice care

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Catholic News Service

MANCHESTER, England — Charlie Gard, the British baby whose legal battle caught the attention of the world, died July 28, just over a week before his first birthday, his family announced.

Connie Yates, the baby’s mother, issued a brief statement saying: “Our beautiful little boy has gone, we are so proud of you Charlie.”

Charlie Gard, who was born in England with mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome and was at the center of a legal battle that captured the world's attention, died July 28, just over a week before his first birthday. (CNS photo/family handout, courtesy Featureworld)

Charlie Gard, who was born in England with mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome and was at the center of a legal battle that captured the world’s attention, died July 28, just over a week before his first birthday. (CNS photo/family handout, courtesy Featureworld)

Charlie, who would have turned 1 year old Aug. 4, had been transferred to a hospice for palliative care after Yates and his father, Chris Gard, said July 24 they had decided to drop their legal battle to pursue treatment overseas.

The couple wanted to take Charlie home to die, but a High Court judge decided it was in the child’s best interest to spend his final hours in the care of a hospice. He suffered from encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome.

The situation had caught the world’s attention, including the attention of Pope Francis. The day the parents dropped their legal battle, Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, said the pope was “praying for Charlie and his parents and feels especially close to them at this time of immense suffering.”

“The Holy Father asks that we join in prayer that they may find God’s consolation and love,” Burke said.

Charlie’s parents, who live in London, had fought for eight months for medical help that might have saved the life of their son.

They raised 1.3 million pounds ($1.7 million) to take him abroad for treatment, but the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London had argued that Charlie was beyond help and that it was not in his best interests to be kept alive, triggering a protracted legal battle with the parents that led to interventions from U.S. President Donald Trump and from the pope.

At a news conference July 25 in Rome, Mariella Enoc, president of the Vatican children’s hospital, Bambino Gesu, said the hospital had partnered U.S. neurologist, Dr. Michio Hirano, to study Charlie’s case. In July, the hospital agreed with Hirano that the child’s illness had proceeded too far for treatment, which might or might not have worked six months earlier.

But “the plug was not pulled without having tried to respond to a legitimate request by the parents and without having examined fully the condition of the child and the opportunities offered by researchers on an international level,” the hospital said in a statement.

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Feminist anarchist group says it detonated explosion at Mexican bishops’ offices

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Catholic News Service

MEXICO CITY — An anarchist group calling itself “Informal Feminist Commando of Anti-Authoritarian Action Coatlicue” has claimed credit for detonating an explosive device outside the Mexican bishops’ conference offices.

The group said via an online posting in late July: “Not God nor master. For each torture and murder in the name of your God. For every child abused by pedophile priests.”

The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City is across from where an explosive device was detonated outside the offices of the Mexican bishops' conference,. (CNS photo/Sashenka Gutierrez, EPA)

The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City is across from where an explosive device was detonated outside the offices of the Mexican bishops’ conference,. (CNS photo/Sashenka Gutierrez, EPA)

Little is known about the group, though it is believed to detonated a similar devise March 17, Mexican media reported. Coatlicue is an Aztec goddess known as the mother of gods.

The group also claimed the device at the bishops’ office was made with dynamite, butane and propane. The Mexico City attorney general’s office said in a statement the device was made with a fire extinguisher, gunpowder, adhesive tape and a wick. It also said it was turning over the case to the federal attorney general’s office as the attack was on “a building administered by a religious association.”

No arrests have been made for the July 25 explosion, which occurred at offices across the street from the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the country’s most visited religious site.

The bishops’ conference declined to comment on the alleged attackers but said in a brief statement: “It will be the authorities who determine the veracity of that message and if it will be part of its investigation. We will continue working normally.”

The conference leadership said shortly after the explosion that it does not believe the incident was an attack on the church.

“This act invites us to reflect emphatically, to reconstruct our social fabric to provide better security for all citizens,” Auxiliary Bishop Alfonso Miranda Guardiola of Monterrey, conference secretary-general, told the media.

Humberto Roque Villanueva, Mexico’s undersecretary for population, migration and religious matters, called the explosion “a message of hate,” during an interview with the newspaper El Universal.

“I believe it is the regrettable need for priests to be very close to those in conflict …,” Roque said, “but I do not see that it is an orchestrated action, nor is it in itself a deliberate action or joining other actions against the Catholic Church.”

A statement provided to Catholic News Service by Armando Cavazos, bishops’ conference media director, said an explosion occurred July 25 at around 1:50 a.m. outside the main entrance to its offices in northern Mexico City.

“It appears this is not the first case that has occurred in this area of CDMX,” the statement said, using Mexico City’s abbreviation.

Bishop Ramon Castro Castro of Cuernavaca released the first images of the detonation via Twitter early July 25.

“I believe this reflects the situation in Mexico,” said Bishop Castro, who has spoken against violence affecting his diocese, just south of Mexico City.

Mexico recently suffered its most murderous month in 20 years with 2,234 homicides recorded in June. Mexico City also has experienced an upswing in crime, according to federal statistics.

The violence engulfing Mexico has not left the Catholic Church untouched, even though census data shows 83 percent of the population professing the faith. At least 18 Mexican priests have been murdered over the past five years, according to the Centro Catolico Multimedial, for reasons that confound Catholic officials.

The issue of clerical sexual abuse made headlines recently in Mexico. Two former priests filed criminal accusations against Cardinal Norberto Rivera for reporting the cases of 15 priests to the Vatican, but not the judicial authorities.

Cardinal Rivera rejected the accusations, saying he followed the law in Mexico as it was written at the time and alleging animus against him as he prepared to exit the archdiocese. The cardinal submitted his resignation June 6 upon turning 75, as required by canon law.

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Pope, others pray as parents of Charlie Gard end legal struggle

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Catholic News Service

MANCHESTER, England — Pope Francis is praying for the parents of Charlie Gard after a U.S. doctor told them nothing could be done to help their son.

Chris Gard and Connie Yates announced in London’s High Court July 24 that they had ended their legal struggle to take their baby overseas for treatment after a U.S. neurologist, Dr. Michio Hirano, said he was no longer willing to offer Charlie experimental nucleoside therapy after he examined the results of a new MRI scan.

People attach a message for Charlie Gard and his parents to the railings outside the High Court in London July 24. Pope Francis is praying for the parents of Charlie Gard after a U.S. doctor told them nothing could be done to help their son, who suffers from encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. (CNS photo/Peter Nicholls, Reuters)

People attach a message for Charlie Gard and his parents to the railings outside the High Court in London July 24. Pope Francis is praying for the parents of Charlie Gard after a U.S. doctor told them nothing could be done to help their son, who suffers from encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. (CNS photo/Peter Nicholls, Reuters)

Their decision means that the child, who suffers from encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, will receive only palliative care and most likely will die before his first birthday Aug. 4.

Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, said in a July 24 statement that Pope Francis, who had taken a personal interest in the case, “is praying for Charlie and his parents and feels especially close to them at this time of immense suffering.”

He said: “The Holy Father asks that we join in prayer that they may find God’s consolation and love.”

The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales also issued a statement July 24 in which they expressed their “deepest sympathy and compassion” for Charlie and his parents.

“It is for Charlie, his parents and family that we all pray, hoping that they are able, as a family, to be given the support and the space to find peace in the days ahead,” the statement said.

“Their farewell to their tiny and precious baby touches the hearts of all who, like Pope Francis, have followed this sad and complex story. Charlie’s life will be lovingly cherished until its natural end,” the statement continued.

A July 24 statement from the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, a bioethical institute of the Catholic Church in the U.K. and Ireland, said it was now time “to remember the preciousness of the child at the heart of this case, and to allow his parents to be with him until he passes from this life.”

“If further treatment may no longer be worthwhile, Charlie’s life is inherently worthwhile, having the dignity and irreplaceability of every human life, and this will remain so even in the coming days,” it said.

Charlie’s parents, who live in London, had fought for eight months for medical help that might have saved the life of their son.

They raised 1.3 million pounds ($1.7 million) to take him abroad for treatment, but the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London had argued that Charlie was beyond help and that it was not in his best interests to be kept alive, triggering a protracted legal battle with the parents that led to interventions from U.S. President Donald Trump and from the pope.

“We are about to do the hardest thing that we’ll ever have to do, which is to let our beautiful little Charlie go,” the parents said in their statement to the court. “Put simply, this is about a sweet, gorgeous, innocent little boy who was born with a rare disease, who had a real, genuine chance at life and a family who love him so very dearly, and that’s why we fought so hard for him.”

“Had Charlie been given the treatment sooner, he would have had the potential to be a normal, healthy little boy,” they said. “We have always believed that Charlie deserved a chance at life.”

“One thing that does give us the slightest bit of comfort is that we truly believe that Charlie may have been too special for this cruel world,” they continued.

Concluding the statement, the couple said: “Mummy and Daddy love you so much Charlie, we always have and we always will, and we are so sorry that we couldn’t save you. We had the chance but we weren’t allowed to give you that chance. Sweet dreams baby. Sleep tight our beautiful little boy.”

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Jerusalem’s Christian leaders concerned with increased tension in Old City

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Catholic News Service

JERUSALEM — The heads of Jerusalem’s Christian churches expressed “serious concern” over an escalation in tensions in Jerusalem’s Old City as hostilities remained high following the mid-July shooting deaths of two Israeli policemen and three gunmen on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

Palestinian worshipers protest in Jerusalem July 20 because they refuse to pass through new security measures imposed at the entrance to the Al-Aqsa compound. (CNS photo/Abir Sultan, EPA)

Palestinian worshipers protest in Jerusalem July 20 because they refuse to pass through new security measures imposed at the entrance to the Al-Aqsa compound. (CNS photo/Abir Sultan, EPA)

The church leaders said they were worried that any change to the status quo of the site could “easily lead to serious and unpredictable consequences.”

Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and Franciscan Father Francesco Patton, custos of the Holy Land, were among the signatories of the July 19 statement.

Police believe the gunmen, three cousins, Arab citizens of Israel who were killed by Israel police, stashed their weapons inside the compound of the holy site for use in the July 14 attack.

“We express … our grief for the loss of human life and strongly condemn any act of violence,” the Christian leaders said. “We are worried about any change to the historical situation in Al-Aqsa Mosque (Haram ash-Sharif) and its courtyard, and in the holy city of Jerusalem. … We value the continued custody of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on Al-Aqsa mosque and the holy places in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, which guarantees the right for all Muslims to free access and worship to Al-Aqsa according to the prevailing status quo.”

Israel, which maintains control to access the site and has set up metal detectors at the entrance of the compound, repeatedly has said it has no intentions of changing the status quo in the area. The Jordanian Waqf Islamic trust administers the inside of the compound. Non-Muslims are allowed to visit the site but cannot pray there.

The compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, is also considered a Jewish holy site as the historical location of the two Jewish biblical temples.

Today, Jews pray at the Western Wall, a retaining wall of the platform, below the compound. Visitors to the Western Wall plaza must go through metal detectors to enter the site.

Jerusalem Muslim leaders have called on worshippers not to go through the metal detectors, and Muslims have been converging outside the Old City’s Lion’s Gate for prayers instead.

“We renew our call that the historical status quo governing these sites be fully respected, for the sake of peace and reconciliation to the whole community, and we pray for a just and lasting peace in the whole region and all its people,” the Jerusalem church leaders said.

On July 14, the same day as the attack, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops condemned the incident as a “desecration.” The bishops said they mourned for those killed and deplored “the heightened tensions that such an attack can span.” They noted that the “path to peace, for which both Israelis and Palestinians yearn, cannot be paved with violence.”

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Investigation into German choir finds more than 500 boys were abused — Updated

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — More than 500 boys suffered abuse at the hands of dozens of teachers and priests at the school that trains the prestigious boys choir of the Regensburg Cathedral in Germany, said an independent investigator.

Peter Schmitt and Alexander Probst, representing victims who claimed abuse while members of the boys choir at the cathedral in Regensburg, Germany, are seen Oct. 12, 2016. (CNS photo/Armin Weigel, EPA)

Peter Schmitt and Alexander Probst, representing victims who claimed abuse while members of the boys choir at the cathedral in Regensburg, Germany, are seen Oct. 12, 2016. (CNS photo/Armin Weigel, EPA)

Former students of the Domspatzen choir reported that the physical, emotional and even sexual abuse at the school made life there like “a prison, hell and a concentration camp,” said Ulrich Weber, the lawyer leading the investigation of claims of abuse at the choir and two associated boarding schools.

A “culture of silence” among church leaders and members allowed such abuse to continue for decades, Weber said as he presented the final report on his findings during a press conference in Regensburg July 18.

The investigation, commissioned by the Diocese of Regensburg, found that at least 547 former members of the Regensburg Domspatzen boys choir in Germany were subjected to some form of abuse, according to Vatican Radio. Of those victims, 67 students were victims of sexual violence, the radio said.

The 440-page report, which spanned the years between 1945 and the early 1990s, found highly plausible accusations against 49 members of the church of inflicting the abuse, with nine of them accused of being sexual abusive. The Diocese of Regensburg and the Domspatzen choir supplied links to the report and related news stories or resources on their respective web sites: www.bistum-regensburg.de and www.domspatzen.de.

In the report, Weber sharply criticized Cardinal Gerhard Muller, who was bishop of Regensburg from 2002 until 2012, when Pope Benedict appointed him to head the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Then-Bishop Muller had “a clear responsibility” in the “strategic, organizational and communication weaknesses” that marked the process he launched of reviewing allegations. Cardinal Muller had ordered the creation of a commission to investigate and search through diocesan archives in the wake of the 2010 abuse crisis.

But in an interview with TV2000, the satellite television station owned by the Italian bishops’ conference, Cardinal Muller denied he had not done enough as bishop of Regensburg.

“I launched the process of investigation” when abuse claims increasingly emerged in 2010, he said in the interview, which aired July 20.

Time, resources and assistance were dedicated to “offering justice to victims,” he said, and he personally set up a team of experts and appealed to victims to come forward.

“Those responsible for abuse are relatively few and a number of them are dead,” he said, adding that “unfortunately we can’t put dead people on trial, but whatever could be done, juridically and pastorally, the diocese did, just as it does today.”

He said the elementary school where the choir boys studied was “institutionally independent from the diocese” and that, at the time, it was also very reserved, “very closed, nobody could go in.”

“Perhaps there were rumors, but they never reached the diocese,” the cardinal said.

One of the first Domspatzen student-victims to come forward in 2010 with allegations of sexual abuse, Alexander Probst, told Deutsche Welle July 18 that he had been very frustrated and angry with the way then-Bishop Muller reacted to his claims. He said the bishop accused him of denouncing the church.

In the interview, whose link could be found on the Regensburg boys’ choir website, Probst said he felt the bishop actively protected abusers, and that “it got even worse when he was appointed head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; it was like putting a fox in charge of the henhouse.”

“It was only after the new bishop of Regensburg, Rudolf Voderholzer, realized that there was much more to all this than met the eye when things began to get better. Starting in 2015, he personally wanted to cooperate with us,” Probst said.

Widespread news of the suspected abuse first emerged in 2010 as religious orders and bishops’ conferences in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands were faced with a flood new allegations of the sexual abuse of children, mainly at Catholic schools.

The boys’ choir had been led between 1964 and 1994 by Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, the older brother of retired Pope Benedict XVI.

In an interview with the German newspaper Passauer Neue Presse in 2010, Msgr. Ratzinger apologized to victims at his former school, even though he said he had been unaware of the alleged incidents.

“There was never any talk of sexual abuse problems, and I had no idea that molestation was taking place,” the priest said, as he recalled his 30 years as the school’s choirmaster.

Msgr. Ratzinger had said when he served at the school, “there was a climate of discipline and rigor … but also of human understanding, almost like a family.” He knew that the priest who headed the school from 1953 until his death in 1992 had slapped boys in the face, but said he had not considered such punishments “particularly brutal.”

“If I’d known the exaggerated vehemence with which the director acted, I would have reacted,” he said in the 2010 interview.

In his report, Weber said Msgr. Ratzinger should have known about at least some cases of physical violence, but that his role “was still not at all clear.”

Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, told Vatican Radio the new report shows how Bishop Voderholzer “has taken seriously all the allegations” and is “very courageous in taking on an issue that has been looming for many years.”

It is only now that the facts have become “plain, in the light of day” because of establishing and cooperating with a professional, independent investigation, he said.

This latest report should inspire church leaders around the world, Father Zollner said, “so that they do the same today because this will help, first of all, those who have been harmed in the past.”

 

Follow Glatz on Twitter: @CarolGlatz.

 

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Korean archbishop backs South Korea’s peace initiative

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SEOUL, South Korea — The president of the Korean bishops’ conference has welcomed President Moon Jae-in’s peace initiative, saying it matches the church’s views on how peace can be achieved on the peninsula.

A Chinese tourist looks over a barbed-wire fence near the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas in Paju, South Korea, in this 2015 file photo. (CNS photo/Kim Hong-Ji, Reuters)

A Chinese tourist looks over a barbed-wire fence near the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas in Paju, South Korea, in this 2015 file photo. (CNS photo/Kim Hong-Ji, Reuters)

“I deeply agree with President Moon’s direction for the future relations of the two Koreas,” said Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-joong of Gwangju, conference president. His remarks were reported by ucanews.com.

Since taking office, Moon has said South Korea will take the lead in the peaceful coexistence with the North and presented principles aimed toward such a goal.

Moon said his administration is planning for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula through guaranteeing North Korea’s safety and the construction of a permanent peace system. There also will be economic and expanded civil exchanges, he said.

Such measures have been given full support by the Korean bishops, ucanews.com reported.

“First, we need a peace accord with support from surrounding countries, and we should resume inter-Korean exchanges such as civil exchanges, the operation of Kaesong industrial complex and tourism to Mt. Keumkang,” both of which are in North Korea, said Archbishop Kim.

The North and the South have been divided since Korea’s liberation from the Japanese at the end of World War II. The 1950-53 Korean War made the governments bitter enemies.

In recent months, tensions have been high over North Korea’s nuclear weapon and missile development.

In June, the Korean bishops’ Committee for the Reconciliation of the Korean People held a symposium and stressed that a peace accord would help usher in better relations with the North.

“The local church has actively participated in the exchanges between (the two nations), such as sending medicines and supporting farming development in North Korea, and it will keep doing it,” said Archbishop Kim.

Father Timothy Lee Eun-hyeong, secretary of the bishops’ committee, said, “President Moon’s direction is the same as ours.”

However, Father Lee said it would not be easy.

“The way to a peaceful Korea will not be smooth with the North’s missile development and ever-changing international affairs,” Father Lee said.

“Just as the church in Germany took an important role in the reunification of East and West Germany, the Korean church will raise our voice for the peaceful co-existence of two Koreas,” Father Lee added.

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Jesuit journal decries fundamentalist tones emerging in U.S. politics

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — U.S. politics have become increasingly colored by an apocalyptic world view, promoted by certain fundamentalist Christians, that fosters hatred, fear and intolerance, said an influential Jesuit magazine.

In fact, this world view shares some similarities with Islamic fundamentalism since “at heart, the narrative of terror shapes the world views of jihadists and the new crusaders” and is drawn from wellsprings “that are not too far apart,” said La Civilta Cattolica, the Jesuit journal reviewed by the Vatican before publication. Read more »

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Have you heard? A U.N. treaty, backed by Vatican and U.S. bishops, has banned nuclear weapons

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Catholic News Service

The passage of a United Nations treaty banning the possession of nuclear weapons comes at a time when the majority of world’s nations are frustrated with the slow pace of nuclear disarmament.

Even with such a pact, years in the making, there is no timeline for total disarmament, arms control experts told Catholic News Service. Read more »

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Economic solutions need broader vision, pope tells G-20 leaders

July 8th, 2017 Posted in Featured, International News

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — World leaders attending the Group of 20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, must reflect on the repercussions their decisions may have on the entire global community and not just their own countries, Pope Francis said.

While it is reasonable that the G-20 is limited to a “small number of countries that represent 90 percent of the production of wealth and services worldwide,” a multilateral approach in solving economic problems must be made “for the benefit of all,” the pope said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at the plenary session of the the Group of 20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, July, 7. In a message sent to world leaders attending the meeting, Pope Francis said they must reflect on the repercussions their decisions may have on the entire global community, not just their own countries.(CNS photo/Felipe Tueba, EPA)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at the plenary session of the the Group of 20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, July, 7. In a message sent to world leaders attending the meeting, Pope Francis said they must reflect on the repercussions their decisions may have on the entire global community, not just their own countries.(CNS photo/Felipe Tueba, EPA)

The pope’s message to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, host of the July 7-8 leaders’ summit, was dated June 29 and released July 7 at the Vatican.

“Those states and individuals whose voice is weakest on the world political scene are precisely the ones who suffer most from the harmful effects of economic crises for which they bear little or no responsibility,” the papal message said.

“This great majority, which in economic terms counts for only 10 percent of the whole, is the portion of humanity that has the greatest potential to contribute to the progress of everyone,” he said.

The members of the G-20 are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.

Citing his apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”), Pope Francis proposed four principles “for the building of fraternal, just and peaceful societies.”

Reflecting on the principle that “time is greater than space,” the pope said the migration crisis, which is “inseparable from the issue of poverty and exacerbated by armed conflict,” requires an effective solution spread over time with a clear “final objective.”

“In the minds and hearts of government leaders, and at every phase of the enactment of political measures, there is a need to give absolute priority to the poor, refugees, the suffering, evacuees and the excluded, without distinction of nation, race, religion or culture, and to reject armed conflicts,” he said.

He also urged world leaders to promote economic policies where “unity prevails over conflict.” Economic differences, he said, cannot be resolved if leaders are not committed to “substantially reducing levels of conflict, halting the present arms race and renouncing direct or indirect involvement in conflicts.”

“There is a tragic contradiction and inconsistency in the apparent unity expressed in common forums on economic or social issues, and the acceptance, active or passive, of armed conflicts,” the pope said.

G-20 leaders, he continued, must follow the example of past world leaders who were guided by “the primacy of the human being” and turn away from “new ideologies of absolute market autonomy and financial speculation.”

“In their tragic wake, these bring exclusion, waste and even death,” the pope said.

Pope Francis said to resolve today’s economic problems and challenges, the G-20 leaders must first “consider the eventual repercussions on all countries and their citizens, while respecting the views and opinions of the latter.”

He also expressed his hope that the meeting would be led by “the spirit of responsible solidarity that guides all those taking part.”

“I ask God’s blessings upon the Hamburg meeting and on every effort of the international community to shape a new era of development that is innovative, interconnected, sustainable, environmentally respectful and inclusive of all peoples and all individuals,” the pope said.

 

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

 

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