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Overcrowed prisons unfit for human life, pope says after riot in Brazil

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VATICAN CITY — In the wake of a deadly riot in a Brazilian jail, Pope Francis called for all prisons to offer dignified living conditions and be places for true rehabilitation.

A woman is seen crying outside the Medical Legal Institute in Manaus, Brazil, Jan. 3 after receiving the information that her brother was one of the inmates who died during a prison riot at the Manaus detention facility. In the wake of the deadly riot, Pope Francis called for all prisons to offer dignified living conditions and be places for true rehabilitation. (CNS photo/Ueslei Marcelino, Reuters)

A woman is seen crying outside the Medical Legal Institute in Manaus, Brazil, Jan. 3 after receiving the information that her brother was one of the inmates who died during a prison riot at the Manaus detention facility. In the wake of the deadly riot, Pope Francis called for all prisons to offer dignified living conditions and be places for true rehabilitation. (CNS photo/Ueslei Marcelino, Reuters)

He expressed his sorrow and concern over the “massacre” in the Amazon city of Manaus, “where a very violent clash between rival gangs” resulted in at least 56 deaths.

The riot began Jan. 1 and authorities regained control early Jan. 2. Prison gang members took other prisoners and some guards hostage, decapitated or mutilated some of their victims and shot at police, according to early reports.

During his weekly general audience at the Vatican Jan. 4, the pope asked people to pray for those who were killed, for their families and for all inmates and employees at the Manaus detention facility.

“I renew my appeal that penitential institutions be places of re-education and social reintegration and living conditions for inmates be fit for the human person,” he said.

He invited everyone to pray for all prisoners in the world, and that prisons not be overcrowded, but about rehabilitation.

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Pope accepts resignation of Brazilian archbishop

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Catholic News Service

SAO PAULO — Catholics in the northeastern Brazilian state of Paraiba woke July 6 to find that Archbishop Aldo di Cillo Pagotto was stepping down after having his resignation accepted by Pope Francis.

The Vatican said the pope accepted his resignation in accordance with Canon 401.2 of the Code of Canon Law, which covers “ill health or some other grave cause.”

In a letter about his resignation, the archbishop said he always tried to give the best of himself and admitted he made mistakes.

“I gave shelter to priests and seminarians, in order to offer them new chances in life. Among those were some who were later suspected of committing serious derelictions. I made the mistake of being too trusting,” stated the letter.

Some of the priests taken in by Archbishop Pagotto have been accused of pedophilia. In June, Pope Francis warned that bishops guilty of looking the other way or covering up child abuse by priests within their congregations could be removed from their duties.

In his letter, Archbishop Pagotto, who headed the Archdiocese of Paraiba for the past 12 years, said he took tough and urgent measures regarding the reorganization of the administration and recovery of the archdiocese’s assets, displeasing many people along the way. And for those actions, he said, there was retaliation.

He said that in addition to internal and external retaliation, there was an effort to destabilize the archdiocese by pressure groups, including those labeled “anonymous priests” who received wide media coverage.

With the pressure, the archbishop said, his power of coordination was lost, and the church became divided. He said he thought it was best “for the church as a whole and in particular for the church of Paraiba” to offer his resignation.

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Abortion is not the answer for the Zika virus, archbishop says

February 18th, 2016 Posted in Senior / Health Tags: , , ,

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Catholic News Service

 

SAO PAULO — The president of the Brazilian bishops’ conference criticized a proposal by the U.N. Human Rights Commission that countries allow abortion in cases in which the mother was infected with the Zika virus.

“Abortion is not the answer for the Zika virus,” Archbishop Sergio da Rocha of Brasilia told reporters during a Feb. 10 news conference to announce the bishops’ Lenten Fraternity Campaign. “We need to value life in any situation or condition. Less quality of life does not mean less rights to live or less human dignity.” Read more »

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Church and evangelizing are impossible without joy of knowing Christ, Pope Francis says

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Catholic News Service

ROME — The Catholic Church cannot be built and the Christian faith cannot be spread without the contagious joy of knowing Christ, Pope Francis said.

The joy that Christ proclaims is what lays the foundations: “Without this joy, without this happiness you can’t build a church. You can’t establish a Christian community,” he said in a homily April 24.

Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives to celebrate Mass at the Church of St. Ignatius in Rome April 24. The Mass was in thanksgiving for the canonization of Brazilian St. Jose de Anchieta. At right is Cardinal Agostino Vallini, papal vicar for Rome. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The pope presided over a Mass at the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola in Rome for a celebration of thanksgiving for the canonization of St. Jose de Anchieta, a Spanish-born Jesuit who traveled to Brazil in 1553 and became known as the Apostle of Brazil. Pope Francis declared the new saint April 3 without requiring the verification of a miracle through the blessed’s intercession or holding a canonization ceremony.

The pope praised the new saint, who was one of the pioneers of the Catholic Church in Brazil. Along with another Jesuit priest, St. de Anchieta was one of the first Jesuits that St. Ignatius of Loyola sent to the Americas.

Sent to Brazil at 19, the young man had not studied theology or philosophy like many priests; instead he was someone who had experienced Jesus and “let himself be filled with joy” and radiate God’s light, the pope said.

“This was and is his holiness. He wasn’t afraid of joy” and he knew how to communicate it, he said.

Paraphrasing Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis said, “The church doesn’t grow through proselytism, but by attraction” through people living and witnessing the joy Christ proclaims.

Like the crippled beggar who publicly, freely and joyfully praised God in the temple after his healing through St. Peter, that vivid and sincere show of happiness “is contagious” and “this is how the church grows,” Pope Francis said.

Sometimes it’s difficult for people to believe such immense joy from encountering Christ is possible, the pope said.

“It seems risky to us and we feel tempted to take shelter in skepticism, to ‘not exaggerate,’” he said.

Just as the disciples who encountered the risen Christ in Jerusalem found it more likely they were seeing a ghost rather than the living Christ, people today are more likely to turn to and believe a fortune teller or a tarot card reader “than have faith in the hope of a victorious Christ, a Christ who conquered death.”

This tendency to believe the imaginary more than the living reality of Jesus is a “process of relativizing the faith” and prevents people from ever encountering God and experiencing his presence, he said.

 

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Analysis: Latin America’s indigenous want voice in use of their land

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LIMA, Peru — Most of the environmental battles Brother Paul McAuley fights seem endless, mainly conflicts between indigenous communities and loggers operating on their lands or oil companies that have spilled toxic substances into their waterways.

Sometimes, however, there’s a victory. In mid-October, the Peruvian government overturned a law that would have allowed water from one of the main tributaries of the Amazon River to be diverted to irrigate export agriculture operations on Peru’s desert coast, a measure critics called a political-patronage boondoggle.

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Disarmament drive in Sao Paulo churches yields 271 firearms

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SAO PAULO — Nineteen parishes in Sao Paulo, Brazil, opened their doors to collect guns and ammunition as part of the city-wide Religions United for Disarmament campaign that collected 271 firearms and 173 rounds of ammunition during nine days.

The weapons were collected during the World Week for Disarmament in late October under the direction of the Sao Paulo Metropolitan Civil Guard, the city’s police force.

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