Salvatorians apologize for failing to protect Irish children from abusive priest

Dublin, Ireland, May 5, 2016 / 12:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Salvatorians have offered their “deepest apology” for failing to stop a priest who sexually abused children in Ireland until his 2004 arrest. “The Salvatorians express the… Read more

EWTN asks federal court to reconsider its HHS mandate case

Washington D.C., May 4, 2016 / 04:51 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) has asked a federal court to reconsider its ruling forcing the company to comply with the revised HHS mandate, based on an admission by the federal gov… Read more

Iraqi Christians grateful, yet uneasy following foiled Islamic State attack

Alqosh, Iraq, May 4, 2016 / 02:25 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- After Islamic State militants broke through Kurdish army forces Tuesday, killing one American and three Kurdish fighters, local Christians voiced gratitude that the attack failed, but remain shaken and on edge should there be another assault.   “The people of Alqosh and other cities nearby have been very afraid. But we thank God that this time the battle was won,” Fr. Ghazwan Baho told CNA. Fr. Baho is the parish priest in Alqosh – the last major Christian city on the Plain of Nineveh not taken by the Islamic State. It sits roughly ten miles north of the Christian village of Telskuf, which was invaded by Islamic State militants in the early hours of May 3. Telskuf had been seized by Islamic State in 2014, but was liberated by Kurdish army forces last year. Islamic State’s assault on the town yesterday marks the most recent attempt to gain back some of the territory lost due to the intervention of the Kurdish army, called the Peshmerga, and airstrikes from the U.S.-led coalition. Fr. Baho explained that the attack began at 3a.m., when about 20 car bombs “infiltrated beyond the line of Kurdish defense in Telskuf.” “After a hard 15 hour battle that continued with the help of the Kurdish army coalition, they managed to free the Christian city at 6:00 in the evening,” he said. Among the losses are one American soldier, Navy Seal Charles H. Keating IV, three Kurdish soldiers, and what Fr. Baho described as “dozens” of soldiers from the Islamic State. Additionally, three Christian soldiers from the Kurdish army were wounded, and are recovering in the hospital. After receiving news of the attack, Christians in Erbil rallied to offer spiritual support for the residents in the area as well as the troops fighting. Roni Marzina Momica, a young, recently ordained deacon for the Syriac Catholic Church in Iraq, led a women’s prayer gathering at Mariamana shrine in Ankawa, the Christian suburb of Erbil, just hours after hearing about the attack and the injured soldiers. He told CNA that they had prayed specifically “for the Christians soldiers who were injured today because ISIS attacked Telskuf …that God would give them strength and power to come back and give them life.” Their prayers were answered. After having surgery late Tuesday night to remove the bullets they were shot with and to cure their other injuries, Deacon Momica said that today all of the soldiers “are doing good.” Deacon Momica, who himself is displaced from Bakhdida (Qaraqosh), a city now in the hands of Islamic State, said that two of the injured soldiers are from the same city, and are friends of his. The three wounded soldiers are Fouad Masoud, 48; Rafid Kahak, 27; and Wahab Ena, 18, who is also from Bakhdida. His father is believed to still be in the city, though Islamic State militants seized it in August 2014. Ena has had no word from his father since, and doesn’t know whether or not he is alive, as Islamic State has not allowed anyone to leave since seizing the city.   Deacon Momica recounted how in a phone conversation, Kahak told him that they were already inside Telskuf when Islamic State began their early-morning assault. “He didn’t want to stay in this place because if ISIS entered and caught him they would kill him,” the deacon said, explaining that Kahak carries a cross with him at all times, and had begun praying to God for help, when a plane arrived and carried them to safety. Deacon Momica told CNA that he spoke with the soldiers after their surgery late Tuesday night “and they are good now. I even spoke with them five minutes ago, and they tell me they are good.” However, while this battle has been won, the war is far from over, and Christians, especially in Alqosh, remain uneasy about what the future holds. Since Alqosh is the only remaining Christian village on the Nineveh Plain, Fr. Baho said that if it falls, “that’s it” – Christianity in Iraq is finished. Read more

Mass in sign language? Over 20 Spanish priests celebrate it every week

Madrid, Spain, May 4, 2016 / 01:33 pm (CNA).- In the Catholic Church, the spoken language is central to the liturgy: we recite the Nicene Creed as one, we praise the Lord with the Gloria that we sing, and we bow our heads to hear the blessing we receiv… Read more

Fr. Tom still missing, but bishop hopeful about his release

Aden, Yemen, May 4, 2016 / 10:18 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Two months after being kidnapped in Yemen, Salesian priest Tom Uzhunnalil remains missing, although a bishop involved in his case remains hopeful about his timely release. “The last words, wh… Read more

South African bishops rebuke government for spending billions on weapons

Cape Town, South Africa, May 4, 2016 / 06:37 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Catholic bishops of South Africa have criticized the government for excessive weapons spending given the country’s major social problems.  “We insist that, in the a… Read more

Jesus’ closeness to sinners isn’t a scandal – it’s an example, Pope says

Vatican City, May 4, 2016 / 04:37 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday Pope Francis said the parable of the Good Shepherd is a key example of God’s mercy, because it represents the depth of the Lord’s concern in ensuring that no one is lost. The parable “represents Jesus’ solicitude toward sinners and the mercy of God which is not resigned to losing anyone,” the Pope said May 4. Jesus tells the parable in order to make the people understand that his closeness to sinners “shouldn’t scandalize, but on the contrary provoke in all a serious reflection on how we live our faith,” he said. Francis stressed that God’s mercy toward sinners is the personal style with which he acts, and “he is absolutely faithful to that mercy: nothing and no one can dissuade him from his will for salvation.” The shepherd, he said, can always be found “where the lost sheep is…the Lord is therefore to be sought there, where he wants to meet us, not where we pretend to find him!” Pope Francis spoke to the thousands of pilgrims present in St. Peter’s Square for his general audience. He focused his speech for the event on the parable of the Good Shepherd, in which the shepherd leaves the 99 in his flock and goes out in search of the one who is lost. The Pope noted that there are two perspectives in the parable, the first being that of the sinners who draw near to Jesus and listen to him, while the second is that of “the suspicious doctors of the law and scribes” who distance themselves from the Lord and his behavior. As the story unfolds, it does so around three main characters, he said, naming them as “the shepherd, the lost sheep and the rest of the flock.” The only one who to act, however, “is the shepherd, not the sheep,” the Pope said, noting that the shepherd “is the only true protagonist and everything depends on him.” However, Francis observed that “a paradox” in the parable that could cause one to doubt the shepherd’s actions is found with the question “is it wise to abandon the 99 for only one sheep? And most importantly not in the safety of the sheepfold, but in the desert?” In the bible the desert is typically a place symbolic of death in which food, water and shelter are hard to find, he said, asking “what can the 99 do to defend themselves?” The paradox continues, Pope Francis said, when, after having found the sheep, the shepherd “carries it on his shoulders, goes home, calls his friends and neighbors and says to them: ‘rejoice with me.’” Straining oneself to reach just one sheep might seem like the shepherd has forgotten the other 99, he said, but noted that “in reality it’s not like this.” What Jesus wants to teach through the parable is that that “no sheep can be lost. The Lord cannot accept the fact that even one single person can be lost,” the Pope said, adding that this is “a burning desire.” “Neither can the 99 sheep stop the shepherd and keep him closed in the flock,” he said, and spoke about the importance of “going outside of ourselves.” While looking for the lost sheep, the shepherd “provokes the 99 so that they participate in the reunification of the flock,” Francis said, adding that there is no way to reassemble the flock other than following the path outlined by the mercy of the shepherd. He encouraged pilgrims to think about the parable often, since in the Christian community there is always someone “missing who left, leaving an empty space.” Although this reality can at times be discouraging and lead us to believe that the departure of a brother or sister from the community is an inevitable, “incurable disease,” the Pope said this is not the case. Francis cautioned against running from this danger and “locking ourselves inside of the flock, where there is not the smell of the sheep, but the stench of the closed!” When this happens, he said, it is because we have lost “the missionary impulse” that leads us to encounter others. Pope Francis closed his audience by emphasizing that “no distance can keep the shepherd away, and no flock can renounce a brother.” To find one that is lost, he said, “is the joy of the shepherd and of God, but also the joy of the entire flock! We are all sheep who have been found and gathered by the mercy of the Lord, and together with him are called to gather the entire flock!” Read more

Cost and conscience – why more Christians are ditching health insurance for this alternative

Washington D.C., May 4, 2016 / 03:56 am (CNA).- The youngest of James Lansberry’s nine children almost didn’t survive his birth. Born with no heartbeat, he was resuscitated and spent 11 days in the neo-natal intensive care unit. The medical… Read more

Mercy, peace, joy to be focus of Courage apostolate’s 2016 conference

Washington D.C., May 3, 2016 / 10:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Courage apostolate to those with same-sex attraction will hold its 29th annual conference this July at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. “It’s our major eve… Read more

A pilgrimage for the poor to close out the Year of Mercy with Pope Francis

Vatican City, May 3, 2016 / 04:48 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Thousands of poor and excluded men and women from across Europe will be given a once in a lifetime opportunity this November: a chance to celebrate the Jubilee Year of Mercy in Rome with Pope Francis. Around 6,000 people will be sponsored for the Nov. 11-13 pilgrimage to Rome, according to a statement released Monday by the Fratello organization, a French group co-ordinating the event. “This time of pilgrimage and opportunity to meet Pope Francis will give people from the most vulnerable sections of society, who are often treated as outcasts, a chance to discover that their place is in the heart of God and in the heart of the Church,” the statement reads. The Fratello organization is dedicated to organizing and hosting events with and for “people in situations of exclusion,” according its website. For this event, it is collaborating with other accredited associations to help make the pilgrimage possible for these vulnerable persons. Beginning Friday morning, Nov. 11, the three-day event will include a catechesis by Pope Francis, tours of the city, a “Vigil of Mercy,” and finally Mass with the Pope on Sunday, Nov. 13. The needs of society’s poor and excluded has been a continuous theme for Pope Francis throughout his pontificate. For instance, in March 2015, the Pope invited 150 homeless people to the Sistine Chapel for dinner and a tour of the Vatican museums. “This is everyone’s house, and your house. The doors are always open for all,” he told them. More recently, in January 2016, the Roman Pontiff invited some 2,000 poor, homeless, refugees and a group of prisoners to the circus, which was organized specially for them. In addition, the last three years have seen numerous initiatives for the poor established in the Vatican, including a dormitory for the homeless, and facilities where they can take showers and receive medical treatment. November’s pilgrimage to Rome for the homeless will be one of the final events of the Jubilee of Mercy, which began Dec. 8, 2015. The Holy Year will close Nov. 20, 2016 with the Solemnity of Christ the King. Read more