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Priest in N Ireland cancels Sinn Féin meeting at parish hall over abortion

Armagh, Northern Ireland, Jan 27, 2020 / 04:01 pm (CNA).- A pastor in Northern Ireland barred earlier this month the Irish nationalist party Sinn Féin from holding a meeting at a church-owned hall over its support for abortion rights.

The party has historically enjoyed significant Catholic support.

The Irish News reported Jan. 17 that Fr. Eugene O'Neill, parish priest in Coalisland, 15 miles north of Armagh, cancelled a Sinn Féin meeting at St. Patrick's Hall “after being contacted by pro-life campaigners.”

In 2018 party members endorsed the repeal of the Eighth Amendment in the Republic of Ireland, which protected unborn children. The party has endorsed legalized abortion in cases of rape, fetal abnormality, and where a woman’s mental or physical health faces serious threat, and it supported the liberalization of abortion laws in Northern Ireland imposed by the British parliament.

The party also demanded the recognition of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland in 2017.

According to The Irish News, Fr. O'Neill wrote to pro-lifers saying that he had not been involved in the hall's booking by Sinn Féin, but that he contacted the party “to cancel it immediately” once he learned of it.

“In light of their recent behaviour regarding the abortion debate and due to their long-running policy on pro-life matters I would not entertain the use of church property for any such meeting,” he stated.

The priest was lauded by pro-lifers for his decision.

Bernadette Smyth, spokeswoman for Precious Life, said that “Fr. Eugene O'Neill has stood up for the faithful and strongly reaffirmed church teaching. He has informed us he was not aware of this meeting, but that he contacted Sinn Fein, who have a radical pro-abortion position, to cancel this meeting as soon as people responded to our action alert.”

“Fr Eugene must be commended for taking a strong stand for life, and standing up against Sinn Féin's radical and cruel abortion agenda,” she told The Catholic Universe.

Francie Brolly, a former Sinn Féin politician who resigned the party in 2018 for its abortion support, said Fr. O'Neill had “led the way” by his decision.

According to Mid-Ulster Mail, he said that “all the churches should be more vocal in supporting the right of the unborn to live.”

Brolly added that he anticipates that Catholics in Northern Ireland will “go against their religious beliefs to vote for Sinn Fein for various other reasons... fundamentally to keep the [Democratic Unionist Party] down.”

Catherine Sewell, spokeswoman for Tyrone Pro-Life Network, said: “No pro-abortion outfit should be allowed to use Catholic Church property. We determined to stop them and immediately began a mobilisation of activists.”

Sinn Féin's abortion policy has allowed for some political realignments among Catholics in Ireland.

Michael Kelly, editor of The Irish Catholic, told CNA in 2018 that pro-life voters “have been left unrepresented by the mainstream political establishment” and that “Ireland is crying out for a new political movement.”

Kelly noted that “many pro-life voters remain reluctant voters for their traditional political party,” but that “there is some evidence that this is changing and that people are willing to set aside old tribal loyalties.”

In the Republic of Ireland, the legislator Carol Nolan resigned from Sinn Féin in June 2018 over the party's abortion policy. She had earlier been suspended from the party for voting against a bill allowing a referendum to be held on repealing the Eighth Amendment. She now sits as an independent in Dáil Éireann.

Peadar Tóibín, another deputy to the Dáil, was twice suspended from Sinn Féin for breaking with the party's platform on legalized abortion. He resigned the party in 2018, and launched Aontú as a pro-life, nationalist party last year. He is Aontú's sole member in the Dáil.

“Aontú want to make sure that there is a real voice and a real alternative for many people who feel that they have no-one to vote for,” Tóibín said at the party's launch. “We are simply saying that this is a core value for ourselves, and we won't let you down on this issue.”

Aontú members are standing for 26 constituencies in the 2020 Irish general election, being held Feb 8. The party contested seven of the 18 Northern Irelands seats in last year's UK general election, but won none.

In October 2019, ahead of the 2019 UK general election, a parish priest in Northern Ireland exhorted pro-choice politicians not to receive Holy Communion, and Catholic voters not to vote for pro-choice candidates or parties.

Legislation expanding abortion access in Northern Ireland had taken effect shortly before because the Northern Ireland Assembly, which had been suspended the prior two years due to a dispute between the two major governing parties, was not able to do business by Oct. 21.

Pro-life members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, largely comprised of members of the DUP, recalled the assembly in order to block the relaxed abortion restrictions, but members of the assembly from Sinn Fein, the Green Party, and People Before Profit did not participate.

“For Catholics and nationalists/republicans, in particular, Sinn Féin and the SDLP have betrayed us in a most hideous fashion,” Fr. Patrick McCafferty, parish priest at Corpus Christi in Belfast, wrote on Facebook Oct. 21, noting that “Sinn Féin is avowedly pro abortion.”

“The collapse of the Northern Ireland Assembly, due to the RHI Scandal, has left the door wide open for a phalanx of determined and fanatical pro abortion MPs in Westminster, led by Stella Creasy - unelected by the people of Northern Ireland - but aided and abetted by pro abortion-choice politicians in Sinn Féin, the SDLP, Alliance, PBP and the Green Party - to railroad through, at Midnight last night, one of the most extreme abortion regimes in the world,” the priest lamented.

The DUP have emerged as a leading pro-life party in Northern Ireland. However, the unionist party has had links to a the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, an ecclesial community particularly hostile to the Catholic Church; the community's website lauds the leaders of the Protestant reformation for “their militant witness against the antichristian system of the Papacy.”

Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP, wrote in September 2019 that the party's “position on abortion remains resolute and unchanged since the Party’s inception. We are a pro-life party and will continue to support the rights of both the mother and the unborn child.”

She noted that “the DUP is the only pro-life party in the [Northern Ireland] Assembly”, besides Jim Allister, the Traditional Unionist Voice's sole member of the legislative body.

At Kobe and Gianna Bryant's parish, prayer and Masses for crash victims

Newport Beach, CA, Jan 27, 2020 / 03:25 pm (CNA).- Hours before he died Sunday, basketball superstar Kobe Bryant attended Mass at Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Newport Beach, California. His parish is now praying for his soul.

Holy Mass was offered Monday at the parish for the souls of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other victims of the Jan. 26 helicopter crash that took their lives, according to NBC 4 Los Angeles.

NBC also reported that parishioners have gathered to pray the rosary for the Bryants, and for the other victims of the crash.

Parishioners said Bryant was a regular part of their parish community.

Heny Russell, an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion at the parish, remembered that Bryant presented a bit of a challenge to her.

"When I give him communion I have to put my arm and feet up like that so I can reach him," Russell said, demonstrating a stretch on the tip of her toes.

“They are very humble people, you know,” Russell told NBC of her fellow parishioners.

Kobe Bryant, 41, was the father of four. Gianna Bryant, 13, was an upcoming basketball player in her own right, who had said she hoped to play for the University of Connecticut. They were killed Sunday, along with seven other people, while en route via helicopter to a youth basketball tournament.

Bryant, his wife, and children, are reported to be regular parishioners at Our Lady Queen of Angels Parish.

After his death was announced, Catholics reported their experiences of seeing Bryant at Sunday and weekday Mass in other parts of California, and other parts of the country. Some reported seeing him at Mass in their cities whenever the Los Angeles Lakers, the team for which Bryant played for 20 years, were in town.

Singer Cristina Ballestero posted on Instagram Jan. 26 a story of her encounter with Bryant at Holy Family Cathedral in Orange, California at a weekday Mass.

“As we went up to communion, [Bryant] waited for me to go. If you grew up in the Catholic Church, you understand this is a respectful thing men do in church as a sign of respect to women. He said I have a beautiful voice.”

“His most inspiring trait was his decision to turn to his faith in God and receive God’s mercy and to be a better man after a regretful decision,” Ballestero added.

       

Ver esta publicación en Instagram                   I wanna tell a story about the time I met Kobe Bryant. I was sitting in the very back of Holy Family Cathedral in Orange, CA, on a WEEKDAY mass. At the time I was very into wearing veils and on this particular day I had a scarf I used as veil. Right as mass begins I see a huge shadow in my right peripheral vision and hear a decently loud creak from probably a big man. I double took to see... it was KOBE BRYANT IN THE SAME PEW AS ME ON THE OTHER END! I just went about my normal praying and singing as usual cause he like all of us came to pray. Thank God I had the veil so I could stay focused on Jesus not this insanely talented Basketball player my whole family has looked up to and watched our whole lives. As we went up to communion, he waited for me to go. If you grew up in the Catholic Church, you understand this is a respectful thing men do in church as a sign of respect to women. He said I have a beautiful voice. I said thank you and went up to communion. @marydallal @mandymissyturkey and a couple other friends saw him standing behind me going to receive Jesus. And we talked about it after mass and freaked out together. It was such a cool experience to receive Jesus right before him, and also, to walk up to receive Jesus together. It was also cool to see him come for a weekday mass. He said in his GQ interview how a Catholic Priest helped him through the tough time he went through in the media. He also talks about how his faith is important. His most inspiring trait was his decision to turn to his faith in God and receive God’s mercy and to be a better man after a regretful decision. Him and his wife do so much great work with their foundation. I’m heartbroken at the news of his death, alongside his daughter Gianna. My prayers go out to his Family, friends and loved ones. Eternal rest grant unto him, and her oh Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they Rest In Peace, Amen. We love you Kobe & Gianna. ? . . . . #kobebryant

Una publicación compartida por Cristina Ballestero (@cristinaballestero) el 26 de Ene de 2020 a las 12:44 PST


After Bryant’s death was reported, but before news emerged that his daughter Gianna had also been killed, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez tweeted his condolences.

So very sad to hear the news of #KobeBryant’s tragic death this morning. I am praying for him and his family. May he rest in peace and may our Blessed Mother Mary bring comfort to his loved ones. #KobeBryantRIP pic.twitter.com/QYMRL7RvCL

— Abp. José H. Gomez (@ArchbishopGomez) January 26, 2020 An auxiliary bishop in Los Angeles, Bishop Robert Barron, also tweeted his condolences.

Friends, I just learned of the shocking death of Kobe Bryant, the legendary basketball icon here in Los Angeles. We pray for the repose of his soul, along with the others killed in the helicopter crash. May the Lord grant them his mercy and welcome them into his heavenly kingdom. pic.twitter.com/3ngYRC0zZn

— Bishop Robert Barron (@BishopBarron) January 26, 2020 Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange, Bryant’s bishop, also tweeted a message of prayer.

A message from @OCBishop pic.twitter.com/h13LJpjSWl

— Diocese of Orange (@OrangeDiocese) January 26, 2020 Bryant credited his Catholic faith with helping him move past a challenging period in his own life and the life of his family.

In 2003, Bryant was arrested after he was accused of raping a woman in a Colorado hotel room.

Bryant admitted a sexual encounter with the woman, but denied that he had committed sexual assault. When the allegation became public, Bryant lost sponsors and faced criminal charges, which were eventually dropped.

Bryant issued an apology to his accuser, with whom he also reached a settlement in a civil lawsuit.

“Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did. After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter,” Bryant said in his 2004 apology.

In 2015, the basketball player told GQ that after the matter was resolved, he decided to shed some superficiality he felt he had built up in his public persona.

“What I came to understand, coming out of Colorado, is that I had to be me, in the place where I was at that moment.”

Bryant said it was a priest who helped him to make some important personal realizations during the ordeal.

Describing his fear of being sent to prison for a crime he believed he had not committed, Bryant told GQ that “The one thing that really helped me during that process—I’m Catholic, I grew up Catholic, my kids are Catholic—was talking to a priest.”

“It was actually kind of funny: He looks at me and says, ’Did you do it?’ And I say, ’Of course not.’ Then he asks, ’Do you have a good lawyer?’ And I’m like, ’Uh, yeah, he’s phenomenal.’ So then he just said, ’Let it go. Move on. God’s not going to give you anything you can’t handle, and it’s in his hands now. This is something you can’t control. So let it go.’ And that was the turning point,” Bryant said.

Bryant’s Catholic faith is also reported to have helped the basketball superstar renew his marriage. His wife Vanessa filed for divorce in 2011.

But Bryant said he decided not to give up on his marriage, and two years later, his wife withdrew her divorce petition.

“I’m not going to say our marriage is perfect, by any stretch of the imagination,” Bryant told GQ in 2015.

“We still fight, just like every married couple. But you know, my reputation as an athlete is that I’m extremely determined, and that I will work my ass off. How could I do that in my professional life if I wasn’t like that in my personal life, when it affects my kids? It wouldn’t make any sense.”

Bryant’s longtime teammate and sometime rival, Shaquille O’Neal, tweeted Sunday that Bryant was “a family man.”

Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. That was what we had most in common. I would hug his children like they were my own and he would embrace my kids like they were his. His baby girl Gigi was born on the same day as my youngest daughter Me’Arah. pic.twitter.com/BHBPN5Wq8V

— SHAQ (@SHAQ) January 26, 2020 Funeral plans for Bryant and his daughter Gianna have not yet been announced.

At Kobe and Gianna Bryant's parish, prayer and Masses for crash victims

Newport Beach, CA, Jan 27, 2020 / 03:25 pm (CNA).- Hours before he died Sunday, basketball superstar Kobe Bryant attended Mass at Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Newport Beach, California. His parish is now praying for his soul.

Holy Mass was offered Monday at the parish for the souls of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other victims of the Jan. 26 helicopter crash that took their lives, according to NBC 4 Los Angeles.

NBC also reported that parishioners have gathered to pray the rosary for the Bryants, and for the other victims of the crash.

Parishioners said Bryant was a regular part of their parish community.

Heny Russell, an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion at the parish, remembered that Bryant presented a bit of a challenge to her.

"When I give him communion I have to put my arm and feet up like that so I can reach him," Russell said, demonstrating a stretch on the tip of her toes.

“They are very humble people, you know,” Russell told NBC of her fellow parishioners.

Kobe Bryant, 41, was the father of four. Gianna Bryant, 13, was an upcoming basketball player in her own right, who had said she hoped to play for the University of Connecticut. They were killed Sunday, along with seven other people, while en route via helicopter to a youth basketball tournament.

Bryant, his wife, and children, are reported to be regular parishioners at Our Lady Queen of Angels Parish.

After his death was announced, Catholics reported their experiences of seeing Bryant at Sunday and weekday Mass in other parts of California, and other parts of the country. Some reported seeing him at Mass in their cities whenever the Los Angeles Lakers, the team for which Bryant played for 20 years, were in town.

Singer Cristina Ballestero posted on Instagram Jan. 26 a story of her encounter with Bryant at Holy Family Cathedral in Orange, California at a weekday Mass.

“As we went up to communion, [Bryant] waited for me to go. If you grew up in the Catholic Church, you understand this is a respectful thing men do in church as a sign of respect to women. He said I have a beautiful voice.”

“His most inspiring trait was his decision to turn to his faith in God and receive God’s mercy and to be a better man after a regretful decision,” Ballestero added.

       

Ver esta publicación en Instagram                   I wanna tell a story about the time I met Kobe Bryant. I was sitting in the very back of Holy Family Cathedral in Orange, CA, on a WEEKDAY mass. At the time I was very into wearing veils and on this particular day I had a scarf I used as veil. Right as mass begins I see a huge shadow in my right peripheral vision and hear a decently loud creak from probably a big man. I double took to see... it was KOBE BRYANT IN THE SAME PEW AS ME ON THE OTHER END! I just went about my normal praying and singing as usual cause he like all of us came to pray. Thank God I had the veil so I could stay focused on Jesus not this insanely talented Basketball player my whole family has looked up to and watched our whole lives. As we went up to communion, he waited for me to go. If you grew up in the Catholic Church, you understand this is a respectful thing men do in church as a sign of respect to women. He said I have a beautiful voice. I said thank you and went up to communion. @marydallal @mandymissyturkey and a couple other friends saw him standing behind me going to receive Jesus. And we talked about it after mass and freaked out together. It was such a cool experience to receive Jesus right before him, and also, to walk up to receive Jesus together. It was also cool to see him come for a weekday mass. He said in his GQ interview how a Catholic Priest helped him through the tough time he went through in the media. He also talks about how his faith is important. His most inspiring trait was his decision to turn to his faith in God and receive God’s mercy and to be a better man after a regretful decision. Him and his wife do so much great work with their foundation. I’m heartbroken at the news of his death, alongside his daughter Gianna. My prayers go out to his Family, friends and loved ones. Eternal rest grant unto him, and her oh Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they Rest In Peace, Amen. We love you Kobe & Gianna. ? . . . . #kobebryant

Una publicación compartida por Cristina Ballestero (@cristinaballestero) el 26 de Ene de 2020 a las 12:44 PST


After Bryant’s death was reported, but before news emerged that his daughter Gianna had also been killed, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez tweeted his condolences.

So very sad to hear the news of #KobeBryant’s tragic death this morning. I am praying for him and his family. May he rest in peace and may our Blessed Mother Mary bring comfort to his loved ones. #KobeBryantRIP pic.twitter.com/QYMRL7RvCL

— Abp. José H. Gomez (@ArchbishopGomez) January 26, 2020 An auxiliary bishop in Los Angeles, Bishop Robert Barron, also tweeted his condolences.

Friends, I just learned of the shocking death of Kobe Bryant, the legendary basketball icon here in Los Angeles. We pray for the repose of his soul, along with the others killed in the helicopter crash. May the Lord grant them his mercy and welcome them into his heavenly kingdom. pic.twitter.com/3ngYRC0zZn

— Bishop Robert Barron (@BishopBarron) January 26, 2020 Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange, Bryant’s bishop, also tweeted a message of prayer.

A message from @OCBishop pic.twitter.com/h13LJpjSWl

— Diocese of Orange (@OrangeDiocese) January 26, 2020 Bryant credited his Catholic faith with helping him move past a challenging period in his own life and the life of his family.

In 2003, Bryant was arrested after he was accused of raping a woman in a Colorado hotel room.

Bryant admitted a sexual encounter with the woman, but denied that he had committed sexual assault. When the allegation became public, Bryant lost sponsors and faced criminal charges, which were eventually dropped.

Bryant issued an apology to his accuser, with whom he also reached a settlement in a civil lawsuit.

“Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did. After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter,” Bryant said in his 2004 apology.

In 2015, the basketball player told GQ that after the matter was resolved, he decided to shed some superficiality he felt he had built up in his public persona.

“What I came to understand, coming out of Colorado, is that I had to be me, in the place where I was at that moment.”

Bryant said it was a priest who helped him to make some important personal realizations during the ordeal.

Describing his fear of being sent to prison for a crime he believed he had not committed, Bryant told GQ that “The one thing that really helped me during that process—I’m Catholic, I grew up Catholic, my kids are Catholic—was talking to a priest.”

“It was actually kind of funny: He looks at me and says, ’Did you do it?’ And I say, ’Of course not.’ Then he asks, ’Do you have a good lawyer?’ And I’m like, ’Uh, yeah, he’s phenomenal.’ So then he just said, ’Let it go. Move on. God’s not going to give you anything you can’t handle, and it’s in his hands now. This is something you can’t control. So let it go.’ And that was the turning point,” Bryant said.

Bryant’s Catholic faith is also reported to have helped the basketball superstar renew his marriage. His wife Vanessa filed for divorce in 2011.

But Bryant said he decided not to give up on his marriage, and two years later, his wife withdrew her divorce petition.

“I’m not going to say our marriage is perfect, by any stretch of the imagination,” Bryant told GQ in 2015.

“We still fight, just like every married couple. But you know, my reputation as an athlete is that I’m extremely determined, and that I will work my ass off. How could I do that in my professional life if I wasn’t like that in my personal life, when it affects my kids? It wouldn’t make any sense.”

Bryant’s longtime teammate and sometime rival, Shaquille O’Neal, tweeted Sunday that Bryant was “a family man.”

Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. That was what we had most in common. I would hug his children like they were my own and he would embrace my kids like they were his. His baby girl Gigi was born on the same day as my youngest daughter Me’Arah. pic.twitter.com/BHBPN5Wq8V

— SHAQ (@SHAQ) January 26, 2020 Funeral plans for Bryant and his daughter Gianna have not yet been announced.

No reform possible without new leaders in Legionaries of Christ, advocates and survivors say

Vatican City, Jan 27, 2020 / 02:05 pm (CNA).- Advocates and survivors of abuse perpetrated by priests of the Legionaries of Christ say that the religious order has no hope of authentic reform without wholesale replacement of the Legion’s leadership figures.

“As long as the same people are in power, there will continue to be manipulation, authoritarianism and cover up,” Adriana Lozano, a consecrated lay woman in the Legion's Regnum Christi apostolate, told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. 

She told ACI Prensa that although she reported for years to Legionaries leadership abuse allegations about a now laicized priest, Fernando Martínez, her allegations went unheard, even by current leaders of the religious institute.

“Nevertheless, I continued to inform each director in turn about the case, without getting a response,” she said.

“As for the Legion. most of the time they ignored my messages or told me 'thanks, we'll take action on the matter,' because I began to inform them about other cases or situations that I saw,” she added.

Martinez abused at least six girls, ages 6 to 11, between 1991 and 1993 when he directed the Cumbres Institute in Cancún, Mexico. He is also accused of other acts of abuse, including that of a boy between the ages of 4 and 6 at the Cumbres Lomas Institute in Mexico City in 1969.

The priest was dismissed from the clerical state earlier this month. While the Legion of Christ had received allegations against him at least as early as 2014, it did not act to investigate them until May 2019, after Ana Lucía Salazar, a Mexican television personality, went public with accusations of sexual abuse and cover-up involving the now-laiciized priest.

One woman abused by the priest when she was a child, Belén Márquez, told ACI Prensa that the Legionaries of Christ neglected their responsibilities for years.

In particular she said that one priest in the religious order, Fr. Eloy Bedia, knew about abuse allegations against Martinez Suarez as early as 1993, and did nothing.

Marquez also criticized the current superior of the religious community, Fr. Eduardo Robles-Gil, noting “he acknowledged that in 2014 he knew about it and did nothing.”

“There hardly can be a renewal of the congregation with the same people” in leadership, she said.

Asked by ACI Prensa why allegations against Martinez were seemingly ignored until 2019, a spokesman for the order referred to a letter written to victims by Robles-Gil.

'The inadequate attention given when your parents presented their complaints also pains me...I could have remedied it, beginning in 2014, but I followed the decisions that had been made in past decades and we did not re-examine the case. Today I am sorry I did not do it,’' Robles-Gil wrote in that letter.

In 2014, Robles-Gil was directed to implement changes in the group's formation process and to implement safe environment policies for the care and protection of minors.

The spokesman explained that recent reforms to the Legionaries of Christ religious order are intended to build a structure of accountability, and avoid the centralization of authority that characterized the Legion’s early years, although those reforms did not lead to a change in the way allegations against Martinez were handled.

The Legion of Christ, founded in 1941 by Marcial Macial, was the subject of controversy in the Church long before it was rocked by the Vatican’s acknowledgment that its charismatic founder lived a double life, sexually abused seminarians, and fathered children.

In 2006 the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith removed Maciel from public ministry and ordered him to spend the rest of his life in prayer and penance. The congregation decided not to subject him to a canonical process because of his advanced age.

In 2010, Pope Benedict appointed then-Archbishop Velasio de Paolis as the papal delegate to the Legion of Christ to oversee its reform. De Paolis, who died in 2017, has been accused of refusing to punish or even investigate Martinez or the superiors who covered up his crimes, according to reporting from the Associated Press.

Martinez had himself been abused by Fr. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ, in Ontaneda and Rome in 1954, when Martinez was 15.

The Legionaries of Christ order is now meeting in its general chapter. The meeting is the first such chapter since Pope Francis approved new constitutions for the troubled congregation in Nov. 2014, following an extraordinary general chapter earlier that year. At that meeting, Robles-Gil was entrusted with implementing reform measures. The priest has since admitted initiating no new no process to recieve or review allegations of abuse.

In addition to assessing the last six years, the 2020 General Chapter will elect the new general director, six councilors, and a general administrator.

 

A version of this story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

 

 

No reform possible without new leaders in Legionaries of Christ, advocates and survivors say

Vatican City, Jan 27, 2020 / 02:05 pm (CNA).- Advocates and survivors of abuse perpetrated by priests of the Legionaries of Christ say that the religious order has no hope of authentic reform without wholesale replacement of the Legion’s leadership figures.

“As long as the same people are in power, there will continue to be manipulation, authoritarianism and cover up,” Adriana Lozano, a consecrated lay woman in the Legion's Regnum Christi apostolate, told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. 

She told ACI Prensa that although she reported for years to Legionaries leadership abuse allegations about a now laicized priest, Fernando Martínez, her allegations went unheard, even by current leaders of the religious institute.

“Nevertheless, I continued to inform each director in turn about the case, without getting a response,” she said.

“As for the Legion. most of the time they ignored my messages or told me 'thanks, we'll take action on the matter,' because I began to inform them about other cases or situations that I saw,” she added.

Martinez abused at least six girls, ages 6 to 11, between 1991 and 1993 when he directed the Cumbres Institute in Cancún, Mexico. He is also accused of other acts of abuse, including that of a boy between the ages of 4 and 6 at the Cumbres Lomas Institute in Mexico City in 1969.

The priest was dismissed from the clerical state earlier this month. While the Legion of Christ had received allegations against him at least as early as 2014, it did not act to investigate them until May 2019, after Ana Lucía Salazar, a Mexican television personality, went public with accusations of sexual abuse and cover-up involving the now-laiciized priest.

One woman abused by the priest when she was a child, Belén Márquez, told ACI Prensa that the Legionaries of Christ neglected their responsibilities for years.

In particular she said that one priest in the religious order, Fr. Eloy Bedia, knew about abuse allegations against Martinez Suarez as early as 1993, and did nothing.

Marquez also criticized the current superior of the religious community, Fr. Eduardo Robles-Gil, noting “he acknowledged that in 2014 he knew about it and did nothing.”

“There hardly can be a renewal of the congregation with the same people” in leadership, she said.

Asked by ACI Prensa why allegations against Martinez were seemingly ignored until 2019, a spokesman for the order referred to a letter written to victims by Robles-Gil.

'The inadequate attention given when your parents presented their complaints also pains me...I could have remedied it, beginning in 2014, but I followed the decisions that had been made in past decades and we did not re-examine the case. Today I am sorry I did not do it,’' Robles-Gil wrote in that letter.

In 2014, Robles-Gil was directed to implement changes in the group's formation process and to implement safe environment policies for the care and protection of minors.

The spokesman explained that recent reforms to the Legionaries of Christ religious order are intended to build a structure of accountability, and avoid the centralization of authority that characterized the Legion’s early years, although those reforms did not lead to a change in the way allegations against Martinez were handled.

The Legion of Christ, founded in 1941 by Marcial Macial, was the subject of controversy in the Church long before it was rocked by the Vatican’s acknowledgment that its charismatic founder lived a double life, sexually abused seminarians, and fathered children.

In 2006 the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith removed Maciel from public ministry and ordered him to spend the rest of his life in prayer and penance. The congregation decided not to subject him to a canonical process because of his advanced age.

In 2010, Pope Benedict appointed then-Archbishop Velasio de Paolis as the papal delegate to the Legion of Christ to oversee its reform. De Paolis, who died in 2017, has been accused of refusing to punish or even investigate Martinez or the superiors who covered up his crimes, according to reporting from the Associated Press.

Martinez had himself been abused by Fr. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ, in Ontaneda and Rome in 1954, when Martinez was 15.

The Legionaries of Christ order is now meeting in its general chapter. The meeting is the first such chapter since Pope Francis approved new constitutions for the troubled congregation in Nov. 2014, following an extraordinary general chapter earlier that year. At that meeting, Robles-Gil was entrusted with implementing reform measures. The priest has since admitted initiating no new no process to recieve or review allegations of abuse.

In addition to assessing the last six years, the 2020 General Chapter will elect the new general director, six councilors, and a general administrator.

 

A version of this story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

 

 

Pope's new personal secretary ran a ministry for street children

Vatican City, Jan 27, 2020 / 10:51 am (CNA).- The Vatican announced Sunday that Pope Francis has a new personal secretary, Fr. Gonzalo Aemilius, a priest from Uruguay known for his ministry with children on the streets.

Pope Francis first met Aemilius in 2006 when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

In one of his first Masses after becoming pope, on March 17, 2013, Francis recognized Fr. Aemilius in the crowd at the Church of Santa Anna in the Vatican and said: “I want to introduce you to a priest who comes from afar, he has come, a priest who has been working with street children for a long time, with drug addicts. He opened a school for them, he did many things to make Jesus known, and all these street boys and girls today work with the study they have done, have work skills, believe and love Jesus.”

Aemilius replaces Fr. Fabian Pedacchio, who served as the pope’s secretary from 2013 to 2019. Pedacchio returned to his position in the Congregation for Bishops in December. The new secretary will support Fr.Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, the pope’s personal secretary.

Born in Montevide in 1979 into a family without faith, Aemilius converted to Catholicism in high school, inspired by the witness of joy in the priests he encountered who served the poor, according to Vatican News.

He felt called to the priesthood to dedicate his life to the poor and abandoned children in Uruguay, and was ordained a priest in 2006. Aemilius studied theology in Rome, and directed Jubilar John Paul II High School in Uruguay.

Aemilius told L’Osservatore Romano in 2013 that Pope Francis’ witness as Archbishop of Buenos Aires was “decisive in my life.”

“It struck me greatly when, during Holy Thursday Mass celebrated in a neighborhood similar to a Brazilian favela, where a lot of drugs circulated, he did the washing of the feet for drug addicts and sick people of AIDS with a shocking tenderness. And with his gesture he redeemed many inhabitants of the neighborhood, prisoners of that tremendous mechanism that are drugs and his way,” the priest said.

“He taught me to get the best out of each individual, however different he may be from all the others, and to put it to good use for the good of all,” Fr. Aemilius said.

Pope's new personal secretary ran a ministry for street children

Vatican City, Jan 27, 2020 / 10:51 am (CNA).- The Vatican announced Sunday that Pope Francis has a new personal secretary, Fr. Gonzalo Aemilius, a priest from Uruguay known for his ministry with children on the streets.

Pope Francis first met Aemilius in 2006 when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

In one of his first Masses after becoming pope, on March 17, 2013, Francis recognized Fr. Aemilius in the crowd at the Church of Santa Anna in the Vatican and said: “I want to introduce you to a priest who comes from afar, he has come, a priest who has been working with street children for a long time, with drug addicts. He opened a school for them, he did many things to make Jesus known, and all these street boys and girls today work with the study they have done, have work skills, believe and love Jesus.”

Aemilius replaces Fr. Fabian Pedacchio, who served as the pope’s secretary from 2013 to 2019. Pedacchio returned to his position in the Congregation for Bishops in December. The new secretary will support Fr.Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, the pope’s personal secretary.

Born in Montevide in 1979 into a family without faith, Aemilius converted to Catholicism in high school, inspired by the witness of joy in the priests he encountered who served the poor, according to Vatican News.

He felt called to the priesthood to dedicate his life to the poor and abandoned children in Uruguay, and was ordained a priest in 2006. Aemilius studied theology in Rome, and directed Jubilar John Paul II High School in Uruguay.

Aemilius told L’Osservatore Romano in 2013 that Pope Francis’ witness as Archbishop of Buenos Aires was “decisive in my life.”

“It struck me greatly when, during Holy Thursday Mass celebrated in a neighborhood similar to a Brazilian favela, where a lot of drugs circulated, he did the washing of the feet for drug addicts and sick people of AIDS with a shocking tenderness. And with his gesture he redeemed many inhabitants of the neighborhood, prisoners of that tremendous mechanism that are drugs and his way,” the priest said.

“He taught me to get the best out of each individual, however different he may be from all the others, and to put it to good use for the good of all,” Fr. Aemilius said.

'We’ve had enough': Pro-life Democrat blasts Mayor Pete

Washington D.C., Jan 27, 2020 / 10:30 am (CNA).- Pro-life Democrats are “fed up” over the party’s staunch support of abortion and need to let the presidential candidates know it, the leader of Democrats for Life of America said on Monday.

“We’ve had enough,” Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America, told CNA. 

Day spoke to CNA after Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg told her at an Iowa townhall event on Sunday that he would forego the support of pro-life voters to maintain his absolute support for legal abortion.

Pro-abortion presidential candidates “are so afraid of the abortion lobby, and even making any inroads to Democrats for Life, pro-life Democrats, they’re afraid that they’re going to lose all their money and support,” Day said.

Pro-life Democrats throughout the country are frustrated over the party leadership’s increasingly staunch support of abortion, she told CNA.

“We need pro-life Democrats all over the country to go to these [presidential] candidates and ask the question: Do you want pro-life Democrats in the party? Because if not, we won’t vote for you,” Day said.

On Sunday evening, Day asked Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, about the party’s tolerance for pro-life Democrats, at a Des Moines, Iowa, townhall event moderated by Fox News’ Chris Wallace.

“I am a proud pro-life Democrat. So, do you want the support of pro-life Democrats—pro-life Democratic voters?” Day asked. “And if so, would you support more moderate platform language in the Democratic Party, to ensure that the party of diversity, of inclusion, really does include everybody?”

Buttigieg responded that “I am pro-choice. And I believe that a woman ought to be able to make that decision [on abortion],” to applause from the audience.

He said that public officials should not be making decisions for women on abortion, and that if Democratic voters would not support him for his stance, “I understand.”

“The best I can offer is that if we can’t agree on where to draw the line, the next best thing we can do is agree on who should draw the line. And in my view, it’s the woman who’s faced with that decision in her own life,” he said.

Day told CNA on Monday that she hadn’t actually asked Buttigieg about his abortion stance because “I know where he stands.”

In May 2019, when asked by Fox News’ Chris Wallace if there should be any limits on abortion at any stage of pregnancy, Buttigieg responded “I trust women to draw the line.”

Day said on Monday that “I just wanted to know if he [Buttigieg] thought there was room for us in the party. And he doesn’t.”

She told CNA that pro-life Democrats have been asking his campaign staff since December for a meeting, but no meeting has been offered. Instead, she decided to ask him in person at the townhall.

Buttigieg’s comments came two months after Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was asked at a Nov. 20 debate if there is room in the Democratic Party for a pro-life politician.

Warren said the party is “fundamentally” about preserving abortion access and that “abortion rights are human rights,” but added that “I’m not here to try to drive anyone out of this party.”

Day followed up her first question on Sunday evening by asking if Buttigieg if he would at least support language in the Democratic National Committee platform for 2020 that would recognize “diversity of views” on abortion within the party.

“Would you be open to language like that in the Democratic platform that really did say that our party is diverse, and inclusive, and we want everybody?” she asked the candidate on Sunday.

Buttigieg declined to support that language, instead calling abortion “medical care” that should be universally available.

“I support the position of my party, that this kind of medical care [abortion] needs to be available to everyone,” he said.

While he said earlier Sunday evening that abortion should be left up to women, Buttigieg eventually said he did back limits on late-term abortions in line with the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe decision.

“I support the Roe v. Wade framework that holds that early in pregnancy there are very few restrictions, and late in pregnancy there are very few exceptions,” he said.

He expressed his hope that pro-life Democrats will be willing to support him despite their disagreement on abortion.

“And again, the best I can offer is that we may disagree on that very important issue, and hopefully, we will be able to partner on other issues,” he said.

“I cannot imagine that a decision that a woman confronts is going to ever be better, medically or morally, because it’s being dictated by any government official,” Buttigieg said.

The president of the National Abortion Rights Action League, Ilyse Hogue, tweeted on Sunday evening that Day’s question and the applause Buttigieg received for his answer “is a good reminder to differentiate between people who feel personally pro-life and those who are anti-choice like Kristen Day.”

“The latter category believes it’s fine to force their beliefs on others through law. The former does not,” Hogue said.

Day told CNA that despite the applause for Buttigieg’s answer, people sitting around her at the event supported her question to him and expressed disappointment in his response.

A 2019 CNN poll of likely Iowa Democratic Caucus attendees showed around 80% of respondents saying that a candidate’s support for a “woman’s right to abortion” was a “must-have.”

Day said that support for abortion increases among Democratic activists, and that pro-life Democrats need to become more active within the party.

Many voters, Day told CNA, say they support a woman’s choice for abortion, but when it comes to the details of abortion policy, they can not be classified as "pro-abortion."

“A lot of people think that that [abortion] choice should still be there,” but when they learn of detailed policy positions such as legal abortion for all nine months of pregnancy, or the removal of safety regulations of abortion clinics, “when it comes right down to it, most people agree with me,” Day said.

“The abortion extremism,” she said, “this is not going to be a good long-term strategy for them.”

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, on Monday pointed to a recent Knights of Columbus/Marist poll showing “44% of rank-and-file Democrats want to vote for a candidate who supports common-ground limits on abortion.”

Dannenfelser is also the co-chair of “Pro-Life Voices for Trump,” the campaign’s outreach to pro-life voters.

“The modern Democratic Party is the party of abortion on demand through birth, paid for by taxpayers, and even infanticide. President Trump, in stark contrast, has championed popular legislation to stop late-term abortion and protect babies who survive abortions,” Dannenfelser said. 

'We’ve had enough': Pro-life Democrat blasts Mayor Pete

Washington D.C., Jan 27, 2020 / 10:30 am (CNA).- Pro-life Democrats are “fed up” over the party’s staunch support of abortion and need to let the presidential candidates know it, the leader of Democrats for Life of America said on Monday.

“We’ve had enough,” Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America, told CNA. 

Day spoke to CNA after Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg told her at an Iowa townhall event on Sunday that he would forego the support of pro-life voters to maintain his absolute support for legal abortion.

Pro-abortion presidential candidates “are so afraid of the abortion lobby, and even making any inroads to Democrats for Life, pro-life Democrats, they’re afraid that they’re going to lose all their money and support,” Day said.

Pro-life Democrats throughout the country are frustrated over the party leadership’s increasingly staunch support of abortion, she told CNA.

“We need pro-life Democrats all over the country to go to these [presidential] candidates and ask the question: Do you want pro-life Democrats in the party? Because if not, we won’t vote for you,” Day said.

On Sunday evening, Day asked Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, about the party’s tolerance for pro-life Democrats, at a Des Moines, Iowa, townhall event moderated by Fox News’ Chris Wallace.

“I am a proud pro-life Democrat. So, do you want the support of pro-life Democrats—pro-life Democratic voters?” Day asked. “And if so, would you support more moderate platform language in the Democratic Party, to ensure that the party of diversity, of inclusion, really does include everybody?”

Buttigieg responded that “I am pro-choice. And I believe that a woman ought to be able to make that decision [on abortion],” to applause from the audience.

He said that public officials should not be making decisions for women on abortion, and that if Democratic voters would not support him for his stance, “I understand.”

“The best I can offer is that if we can’t agree on where to draw the line, the next best thing we can do is agree on who should draw the line. And in my view, it’s the woman who’s faced with that decision in her own life,” he said.

Day told CNA on Monday that she hadn’t actually asked Buttigieg about his abortion stance because “I know where he stands.”

In May 2019, when asked by Fox News’ Chris Wallace if there should be any limits on abortion at any stage of pregnancy, Buttigieg responded “I trust women to draw the line.”

Day said on Monday that “I just wanted to know if he [Buttigieg] thought there was room for us in the party. And he doesn’t.”

She told CNA that pro-life Democrats have been asking his campaign staff since December for a meeting, but no meeting has been offered. Instead, she decided to ask him in person at the townhall.

Buttigieg’s comments came two months after Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was asked at a Nov. 20 debate if there is room in the Democratic Party for a pro-life politician.

Warren said the party is “fundamentally” about preserving abortion access and that “abortion rights are human rights,” but added that “I’m not here to try to drive anyone out of this party.”

Day followed up her first question on Sunday evening by asking if Buttigieg if he would at least support language in the Democratic National Committee platform for 2020 that would recognize “diversity of views” on abortion within the party.

“Would you be open to language like that in the Democratic platform that really did say that our party is diverse, and inclusive, and we want everybody?” she asked the candidate on Sunday.

Buttigieg declined to support that language, instead calling abortion “medical care” that should be universally available.

“I support the position of my party, that this kind of medical care [abortion] needs to be available to everyone,” he said.

While he said earlier Sunday evening that abortion should be left up to women, Buttigieg eventually said he did back limits on late-term abortions in line with the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe decision.

“I support the Roe v. Wade framework that holds that early in pregnancy there are very few restrictions, and late in pregnancy there are very few exceptions,” he said.

He expressed his hope that pro-life Democrats will be willing to support him despite their disagreement on abortion.

“And again, the best I can offer is that we may disagree on that very important issue, and hopefully, we will be able to partner on other issues,” he said.

“I cannot imagine that a decision that a woman confronts is going to ever be better, medically or morally, because it’s being dictated by any government official,” Buttigieg said.

The president of the National Abortion Rights Action League, Ilyse Hogue, tweeted on Sunday evening that Day’s question and the applause Buttigieg received for his answer “is a good reminder to differentiate between people who feel personally pro-life and those who are anti-choice like Kristen Day.”

“The latter category believes it’s fine to force their beliefs on others through law. The former does not,” Hogue said.

Day told CNA that despite the applause for Buttigieg’s answer, people sitting around her at the event supported her question to him and expressed disappointment in his response.

A 2019 CNN poll of likely Iowa Democratic Caucus attendees showed around 80% of respondents saying that a candidate’s support for a “woman’s right to abortion” was a “must-have.”

Day said that support for abortion increases among Democratic activists, and that pro-life Democrats need to become more active within the party.

Many voters, Day told CNA, say they support a woman’s choice for abortion, but when it comes to the details of abortion policy, they can not be classified as "pro-abortion."

“A lot of people think that that [abortion] choice should still be there,” but when they learn of detailed policy positions such as legal abortion for all nine months of pregnancy, or the removal of safety regulations of abortion clinics, “when it comes right down to it, most people agree with me,” Day said.

“The abortion extremism,” she said, “this is not going to be a good long-term strategy for them.”

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, on Monday pointed to a recent Knights of Columbus/Marist poll showing “44% of rank-and-file Democrats want to vote for a candidate who supports common-ground limits on abortion.”

Dannenfelser is also the co-chair of “Pro-Life Voices for Trump,” the campaign’s outreach to pro-life voters.

“The modern Democratic Party is the party of abortion on demand through birth, paid for by taxpayers, and even infanticide. President Trump, in stark contrast, has championed popular legislation to stop late-term abortion and protect babies who survive abortions,” Dannenfelser said. 

'Never again': Pope Francis calls for prayer on Holocaust Remembrance Day

Vatican City, Jan 27, 2020 / 04:30 am (CNA).- Pope Francis has asked for people to spend a moment in prayer and recollection on Monday for International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

January 27 marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

Between 1940 and 1945, the Nazi regime murdered 1.1 million people in Auschwitz, many killed in the gas chambers immediately upon arrival at the camp. Six million Jews died in the Holocaust.

“In the face of this huge tragedy, this atrocity, indifference is not admissible and memory is a must,” Pope Francis said Jan. 26 in his Angelus address.

The pope invited each person to spend a moment on the anniversary in prayer and recollection with  “each person saying in his own heart: ‘never again, never again!’”

In a meeting with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization, last week Pope Francis recalled his visit to the Nazi concentration camp in Poland in 2016:

“I went there to reflect and to pray in silence. In our world, with its whirlwind of activity, we find it hard to pause, to look within and to listen in silence to the plea of suffering humanity.”

“If we lose our memory, we destroy our future. May the anniversary of the unspeakable cruelty that humanity learned of 75 years ago serve as a summons to pause, to be still and to remember. We need to do this, lest we become indifferent,” Pope Francis said.

The pope also condemned the “barbaric resurgence” of cases of anti-Semitism in the world, and urged the need to respect each person’s human dignity.

“It is troubling to see, in many parts of the world, an increase in selfishness and indifference, lack of concern for others and the attitude that says life is good as long as it is good for me, and when things go wrong, anger and malice are unleashed,” Pope Francis said Jan. 20.

“This creates a fertile ground for the forms of factionalism and populism we see around us, where hatred quickly springs up,” he said. “Even recently, we have witnessed a barbaric resurgence of cases of anti-Semitism. Once more I firmly condemn every form of anti-Semitism.”

The Council of European Bishops’ Conferences and the Commission of the Bishops’ Conference of the European Union also denounced anti-Semitism, racism, and xenophobia in a Jan. 25 statement marking the anniversary.

“At the hour of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, let us light candles and say a prayer for people murdered in death camps of all nationalities and religions and for their relatives. Let our prayers broaden the reconciliation and brotherhood, of which the opposite is hostility, destructive conflicts and fueled misunderstandings,” the bishops encouraged.

“Cruel wars, genocide, persecution, and different forms of fanaticism are still taking place, although history teaches us that violence never leads to peace but, on the contrary, breeds more violence and death,” they added. “May the power of Christ’s love prevail in us.”