Browsing News Entries

Pope Francis announces appointment of women to committee selecting new bishops

Sr. Alessandra Smerilli (second from left) and Sr. Nathalie Becquart (third from left) pose with Pope Francis and others during the youth synod in 2018. / Daniel Ibáñez / CNA

Vatican City, Jul 6, 2022 / 05:59 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has said he would announce the appointment of two women to the Vatican committee that elects bishops. 

In comments to Reuters published Wednesday, the pope said “two women will be appointed for the first time in the committee to elect bishops in the Congregation for Bishops."

In the July 2 interview in the Vatican, Francis did not identify the women or say when their appointment would be announced officially, instead saying he was “open to giving [women] an opportunity" and wanted to open things “up a bit.”

The Congregation of Bishops, a department of the Roman Curia, recently changed its name to the Dicastery for Bishops, in line with the new constitution that underpins the reform of the Vatican by Pope Francis. 

The new constitution, titled Praedicate evangelium (“Preach the Gospel”), provides that any member of the faithful can also lead a Vatican dicastery or other bodies, “given their particular competence, power of governance and function.”

Asked which Vatican department could perhaps be headed by a lay man or woman, Francis suggested that they could include the department for Catholic Education and Culture and the Apostolic Library, according to Reuters. 

The ultimate decision in appointing bishops rests with the pope, and he is free to select anyone he chooses. Usually, the pope’s representative in a country, the apostolic nuncio, passes on recommendations and documentation to the Vatican. The Dicastery of Bishops then discusses the appointment in a further process and takes a vote. On being presented with the recommendations, the pope finally makes the decision.

Francis has already named several women to Vatican departments. Barbara Jatta, a wife and mother of three children, was appointed director of the Vatican Museum in 2016 and took the reins in 2017. 

More recently, the pope appointed Sr. Nathalie Becquart in February 2021 as under-secretary to the Synod on Bishops. Working with and under Cardinal Mario Grech, the French religious sister has been helping prepare the Vatican's synod on synodality, scheduled for October 2022.  

According to Cardinal Grech, Becquart will vote in future synods alongside other voting members, who are bishops, priests, and some religious men.

In August 2021, Pope Francis named the Italian economist and religious sister Alessandra Smerilli as secretary of the Vatican’s social development office.

The Salesian sister is an economist and professor. She was one of the principal organizers of the 2020 Economy of Francesco event.

Since 2019, Smerilli has also served as a councilor of the Vatican City State and a consultant to the secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.

Vandalism of churches, pro-life pregnancy centers continues after Dobbs

Vandalism at a Heartbeat of Miami pregnancy center in Hialeah, Florida, July 3, 2022. / Heartbeat of Miami.

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 5, 2022 / 19:00 pm (CNA).

Attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers and Catholic churches have continued, unabated, following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which returned the regulation of abortion to the states.

The South Bend Police Department in South Bend, Indiana, received a call around 7 a.m. June 30 about a possible burglary at Our Lady of Hungary Catholic Church.

Photos of the inside of the church posted by ABC 57 show objects in the church tipped over and broken. The photos also show a brick laying on shattered glass. 

South Bend police say their property crimes unit is investigating the incident. They are working with the church to identify whether anything was stolen.

First Image, a network of pro-life pregnancy centers in Oregon, said in an online post that its adminstrative offices in Portland were vandalized by rioters the night of June 27.

First Image had its windows boarded in time for the riot, the post says. However, in other parts of the building where there are other organizations, there were broken windows, according to the post. 

The post says that the whole building was written on with graffiti and First Image’s office had the most graffiti. The graffiti was cleaned off by volunteers, the post says. 

“Our office and centers are open today. The resilience and courage of our staff is inspiring. We are continuing on in a spirit of hope and courage. Please join us in that same spirit,” the post says.

The post also says that private security and Portland Police were “monitoring the situation last night and were present during the riot.” 

“We are working with the police and other authorities, who are launching a more intensive investigation,” the post says.

On June 24, just before 9 PM, a group of pro-abortion protestors gathered around Right to Life of Northeast Ohio's offices in Akron and placed pro-abortion signs on the windows and door. They also rang the office’s doorbell, which has a camera, making obscene hand gestures and holding pro-abortion signs. They hung a coat hanger on the door as well.

The signs have since been taken down, according to Allie Frazier, executive director of the pro-life group.

“Going forward, it is imperative for the pro-life movement to remain fearless,” Frazier wrote in an online post. “The battle for life in our community is only beginning, and we must not falter. This life and death struggle, so long waged on the national level, has now been handed back to individual states, and ultimately, to our own communities.”

One of Heartbeat of Miami’s pro-life pregnancy centers in Hialeah, Florida, was vandalized with pro-abortion graffiti July 3. 

Martha Avila, president and cofounder of Heartbeat of Miami, told CNA that the vandalism, which also attacked the clinic’s security system, resulted in thousands of dollars in damages. Photos of the vandalism shows the words “Janes Revenge” and “If abortions aren’t safe, the neither are you” among other pro-abortion messages and anarchist symbols all written in graffiti. 

“They have vandalized a clinic that provides free services to women and families in need,” the post says. “We know that this attack is pure evil and we are heartbroken, but we also know that God is on our side. We will overcome! Please keep us in your prayers.”

Volunteers came to clean up the vandalism the next day, Avila said. The FBI is aware of the vandalism and local police are investigating, she added.

“They tried to intimidate us so we wouldn't open today,” she said on Tuesday. “But this lobby has been packed all day. Nothing has stopped the women from coming.”

St. Bernard Catholic Church in Madison, Wisconsin, was vandalized July 2 with pro-abortion and anti-police graffiti, an incident report shows.

The graffiti was found on the church’s front door and a sign, the report says. The Madison Police Department is investigating the matter and asking anyone with information to report it to Madison Area Crime Stoppers at 608-266-6014.

In a statement, Father Michael Radowicz, pastor of the church, said that “St. Bernard Parish is saddened over the graffiti on the front of the church. We understand people’s anger over the recent ruling by the Supreme Court, but this does nothing to solve any issues. We join in prayer for those who did this, that the Lord may heal their hearts. An investigation is ongoing with Madison Police.” 

Holy Family Catholic Church in Hillsborough, North Carolina was vandalized with pro-abortion graffiti around 12:15 a.m. on July 3. 

Photos of the vandalism obtained by the Carolina Journal shows the words “F*** the church,” “I love abortion,” and an anarchist symbol in yellow graffiti. 

A July 3 Facebook post from the parish said, “Thanks to the men of our parish who helped to clean up this afternoon after our church was vandalized last night …. At approximately 12:15 am our church received some spray paint, and after Spanish Mass, a big dose of Love.”

A pro-life pregnancy center in Saint Paul, Minnesota, was vandalized overnight between July 4 and July 5, according to the Grand Forks Herald. 

The Birthright clinic had the words “Blood On Your Hands” written in black graffiti on it. The words “Abort America,” “F*** You” and “Janes Revenge,” were also written in red graffiti on the front of the clinic, the outlet reported.

The outlet reported that the St. Paul Police Department is investigating the matter.

Archbishop Gänswein moved to tears over Benedict XVI's comment about journey to heaven

Archbishop Gänswein and Pope emeritus Benedict XVI / Credit: EWTN/Paul Badde, Mazur/

Denver Newsroom, Jul 5, 2022 / 18:10 pm (CNA).

The personal secretary of Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, could not hold back tears as he recalled what the pope emeritus once told him about his journey to heaven.

The scene took place at the Nymphenburg Palace in Munich, Germany, during a June celebration organized by the Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI Foundation for the 95th birthday of the pope emeritus. The event was broadcast in German on EWTN.

Gänswein was visibly choked up as he recalled that Benedict XVI once told him that “I would never have believed that the last stretch of the journey that would take me from the Mater Ecclesiae monastery (where he currently resides) to the gates of heaven with St. Peter would be so long.”

Benedict XVI turned 95 on April 16, a little more than nine years after he resigned from the papacy on Feb. 28, 2013.

Gänswein, 65, currently prefect of the papal household, has accompanied Benedict XVI as his personal secretary since 2003, when the pope emeritus was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

The German prelate said Benedict XVI made the comment to him “a few years ago” while they were talking about “the burden and hardship of old age and the criticism of his person and his work that flares up again and again.”

“Benedict responded to the important questions and challenges of the time frankly and convincingly and always in the light of the Incarnation,” Gänswein said.

He then noted that today, “the pope emeritus is a very old man, physically frail and, thank God, still with an alert, wide-awake mind and gaze.”

Benedict’s voice, he said, “is becoming increasingly low and incomprehensible,” noting that “the last few years have sapped his strength.”

Through it all, he continued, “he has preserved the humble serenity of his heart.”

Gänswein also said Benedict’s humor “shines forth again and again” and noted “his personal meekness, which has always been a trademark of his personality.”

“He was as happy as a child when he was informed about today's ceremony. And he asked me to send all of you cordial blessings,” Gänswein concluded.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Church leaders in Mexico call for days of prayer for peace amid increasing violence

null / Credit: David Ramos / ACI Prensa

Mexico City Newsroom, Jul 5, 2022 / 17:19 pm (CNA).

With the growing violence in the country and the murder of two Jesuit priests on June 20, Catholic Church leaders in Mexico encouraged the faithful to join in days of prayer for peace during the month of July.

The Mexican Bishops’ Conference, the Conference of Major Superiors of Religious of Mexico, and the Mexican Province of the Society of Jesus said in a joint statement that “the murders and disappearances that are committed daily in the country are a call from God for us to join together to pray for peace.”

“The shed blood of these brothers and sisters is the blood of Jesus that falls to the ground to make it fertile and [encourage us to] embark on a path for peace,” they said.

The bishops, religious superiors, and Jesuit priests asked that “all the priests, religious men and women who have been murdered in the country be remembered” in all Masses on July 10.

In addition, they asked that the intention for those Masses be “for their lives, so that their suffering may accompany us on this path for peace.”

They also suggested that photographs of the men and women who died be placed in the churches at the Masses.

The bishops, religious superiors, and Jesuit priests also asked in their joint statement that Masses during July be celebrated and community prayers be held “in significant places that represent all the people who have disappeared or suffered a violent death, be they intentional homicides, femicides, social activists, or any other person in a situation of exclusion or vulnerability.”

“There is a wound to heal and there is the strength that the country needs today to build peace. Remembering the death and resurrection of Jesus in these places will transform fear into the strength to build peace,” they said in the statement.

They also encouraged the faithful that “as a prophetic sign of our Church, in the Eucharist on July 31 we pray for the victimizers, we pray for their lives and the conversion of their hearts, we extend our hand to receive them with a repentant heart into the house of God.”

“They are also our brothers and need our prayers. No more violence in our country,” they exhorted.

In addition to encouraging each diocese, religious congregation, and parish to undertake actions to pave the way for peace, such as holy hours, processions for peace, messages to the people of God, the bishops, religious superiors, and Jesuits encouraged the faithful to publicize their activities on social media.

“Today we need stories of hope, images where we see the community praying and asking for peace,” they said.

“We entrust ourselves to the Virgin of Guadalupe, who has always accompanied the people of God in the most difficult moments of their history. There is the mother who gives us an embrace of peace and sends us out to be pilgrims of hope and unity,” the statement concluded.

According to the Catholic Multimedia Center, since President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s six-year term began at the end of 2018, seven priests have been murdered in Mexico.

In just three and a half years of the López Obrador administration, more than 121,000 homicides have been recorded in the country, which is on track to exceed the more than 156,000 murders committed during the six-year term of his predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto.

According to official figures, from Jan. 1 to July 3 of this year 13,389 homicides have occurred in Mexico.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Hong Kong missionary head reportedly warned Chinese repression could worsen

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Hong Kong. Credit: Volodymyr Dvornyk/Shutterstock / null

Denver Newsroom, Jul 5, 2022 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

A Catholic priest overseeing missionaries serving in Hong Kong reportedly told the missionaries that they should prepare for a much more difficult future, as the Chinese government tightens control over the exercise of religion in Hong Kong. 

Archbishop Javier Herrera Corona is the outgoing head of the Holy See Study Mission in Hong Kong, a low-key presence on the island which represents the Vatican’s only outpost in China, and from which Vatican diplomacy observes the mainland. In 2016, the Pontifical Yearbook reported in a footnote the address and telephone number of the Study Mission for the first time, which also oversees more than 50 missionary societies in Hong Kong. 

According to a report by Reuters, in four meetings held over several months starting in October 2021, Herrera Corona urged his colleagues to protect their missions’ property, files, and funds, according to four people familiar with the private sessions. Herrera Corona reportedly warned that closer integration with China in coming years could lead to mainland-style restrictions on religious groups, Reuters said.

Herrera Corona was head of the Holy See Study Mission in Hong Kong from January 2020, and in February 2022, Pope Francis named him apostolic nuncio to the Republic of the Congo and Gabon. The new head of the Holy See Study Mission has not yet been announced. 

During the meetings he held, Herrera Corona reportedly expressed fear that the Catholic Church could be targeted in part because Chinese authorities had identified several prominent Catholics as leading figures in the pro-democracy demonstrations in 2019, and as critics of the national security law. Catholic pro-democracy figures such as Cardinal Joseph Zen, Jimmy Lai, and Martin Lee have all garnered media attention for their arrests at the hands of Chinese authorities. 

The Vatican has not had a nunciature — essentially an embassy — in mainland China since the 1950s, when the Chinese government expelled the Vatican’s representatives. Herrera Corona has reportedly started discreetly moving cases of archives overseas for safekeeping, though the Vatican has not officially confirmed this. 

Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China, whose citizens historically enjoyed freedom of religion, while on the Chinese mainland religious believers of all stripes are routinely restricted, surveilled, and oppressed by the Chinese Communist Party. Since 2019, the CCP has intensified efforts to curtail free speech in Hong Kong, including in 2020 by bypassing Hong Kong’s legislature to impose new National Security laws on the territory that gives China greater power to prosecute those who criticize the government. Millions of citizens of Hong Kong, including many Catholics, have in recent years participated in large-scale pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, which came to a head during summer 2019.

In mainland China, there exists an underground Catholic Church, which is persecuted and loyal to Rome. Government-approved Catholic Churches, on the other hand, have comparatively more freedom of worship, but face other challenges, including pressure from the government to censor parts of Catholic teaching, while including Chinese nationalism and love for the party in preaching.

A Hong Kong priest told EWTN in April that the CCP is using ideological tactics such as re-education and propaganda to chip away at the freedom of religion in Hong Kong. A Reuters report from late December documented an October 2021 meeting at which Chinese bishops and religious leaders briefed senior Hong Kong Catholic clergymen on President Xi Jinping's vision of religion with "Chinese characteristics.” 

Speaking on an April 21 episode of EWTN’s “The World Over,” Father Vincent Woo, a priest of the Diocese of Hong Kong and a canon lawyer, said that because the CCP wants to control every aspect of society, that naturally includes the practice of religion. 

Woo said that he has observed that many Christian leaders are reluctant to speak out against the CCP’s actions, for fear of being detained, or worse, by civil authorities. 

Hong Kong’s National Security Law has been criticized as being overly broad on its definitions of terrorism, sedition, and foreign collusion. Some Catholic missionary societies have reportedly made moves to transfer large assets such as schools and hospitals to local ownership in Hong Kong in an attempt to avoid China’s heightened scrutiny on foreigners, Reuters reports.

St. Maria Goretti: Remembering one of the youngest Catholic saints

A painting of St. Maria Goretti by Giuseppe Brovelli-Soffredini / YouTube screenshot via EWTN

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 5, 2022 / 15:00 pm (CNA).

Catholics worldwide celebrate the feast day of one of the youngest saints on July 6: St. Maria Goretti. At just 11 years old, she died a martyr after being fatally stabbed. Today, the Church recognizes her example of purity — and forgiveness.

Goretti was born into poverty in 1890 in Corinaldo, Italy. When she was nine years old, her father died from malaria. An example of piety and virtue from a young age, she prayed the rosary every night in repose for her father’s soul. Goretti also took on many responsibilities — caring for her younger siblings and performing household chores — so that her mother could take her father’s place working in the fields as a farmer.

On July 5, 1902, a 20-year-old neighboring farmhand, Alessandro Serenelli, attempted to rape Goretti. While Serenelli had made sexual advances before, she rejected him each time in the name of God. This time, she rejected him again, shouting, “No! It is a sin! God does not want it!" When Goretti declared that she would rather die, Serenelli stabbed her 14 times.

After being rushed to a hospital, she underwent surgery without anesthesia. She died the following day. Before going to heaven, she forgave her murderer, declaring, “Yes, for the love of Jesus I forgive him...and I want him to be with me in Paradise."

While serving his 30-year prison sentence, Serenelli repented for his sins after Goretti appeared to him in a vision and offered him 14 lilies representing her 14 stab wounds. 

Serenelli later asked for and received forgiveness from Goretti’s mother.

He went on to live a life of rediscovered dignity and joy in forgiveness. He became a Third Order Franciscan lay brother and, among other things, tended to the monastery grounds. 

“At the age of 20, I committed a crime of passion, the memory of which still horrifies me today,” he wrote in a letter, dated May 5, 1961. “Maria Goretti, now a saint, was my good angel whom God placed in my path to save me. Her words both of rebuke and forgiveness are still imprinted in my heart. She prayed for me, interceding for her killer.”

In the letter, discovered by his fellow brothers after his death, he added, “Little Maria was truly my light, my protectress.” 

In 1950, Goretti was canonized by Pope Pius XII, becoming the youngest recognized Roman Catholic saint at the time. 

“So let us all, with God’s grace, strive to reach the goal that the example of the virgin martyr, Saint Maria Goretti, sets before us,” the pope said in a homily during her canonization. “Through her prayers to the Redeemer may all of us, each in his own way, joyfully try to follow the inspiring example of Maria Goretti who now enjoys eternal happiness in heaven.”

Goretti is the patron saint of purity, rape victims, young women, and youth. 

In one quote, Goretti stresses God’s forgiveness for all: “He loves, He hopes, He waits. Our Lord prefers to wait Himself for the sinner for years rather than keep us waiting an instant.”

Texas Supreme Court allows enforcement of abortion ban

null /

Denver Newsroom, Jul 5, 2022 / 14:12 pm (CNA).

The Supreme Court of Texas on Friday ruled that the state may enforce its 1925 law banning abortion, reversing the decision of a district judge.

The July 1 decision “does not permit prosecutors to bring criminal cases against abortion providers, but it exposes anyone who assists in the procurement of an abortion to fines and lawsuits,” The Texas Tribune reported.

Jonathan Covey, policy director for Texas Values, a religious freedom organization, said July 2 that “We are grateful the Texas Supreme Court blocked this temporary restraining order that clinics were using as an excuse to kill pre-born babies. No matter how hard abortionists try to perpetuate murder, we know that life is a human right.”

The president of Whole Woman’s Health, an abortion provider in the state, said July 2, “With the pre-Roe ban reinstated, Whole Woman’s Health is forced to cease providing abortion in our 4 Texas clinics. This morning, our clinic staff embarked on the heartbreaking conversations with the patients whose appointments must be cancelled, and our clinics have started the wind down process.”

Judge Christine Weems in Harris County had granted a temporary restraining order against the law’s enforcement June 28.

The law punishes performing an abortion with two to 10 years imprisonment.

Texas also adopted a “trigger law”, signed in June 2021, making it illegal for anyone to “knowingly perform, induce, or attempt an abortion,” with exceptions for situations where the life of the mother would be at risk in continuing the pregnancy.

That law will take effect 30 days after the judgement in the Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade and returned the regulation of abortion to the states. 

Women who have abortions will not be held liable or penalized under the trigger law. Abortionists could be fined $100,000 for illegal abortions.

The state’s law banning abortion from about six weeks into pregnancy has been enforced since the Dobbs decision.

Will Mexico have to wait a half-century for legal abortion to be overturned?

null / Credit: Mon Petit Chou Photography / Unsplash

Mexico City Newsroom, Jul 5, 2022 / 12:19 pm (CNA).

Will Mexico have to wait — as the United States did — a half-century to overturn its high court’s rulings on legal abortion?

The recent landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion throughout the United States, has inspired all of Latin America in its fight to defend the lives of unborn babies.

However, the continuous rulings that legitimize abortion by higher courts in Mexico, including the country’s Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN), present significant challenges for the pro-life cause in Mexico.

Beginning in September 2021, the Mexican Supreme Court has issued a series of rulings upholding abortion and undermining conscientious objection rights by health care professionals.

The SCJN determined that sections of the Coahuila state penal code that criminalized abortion as well as the protection of life from conception in the Sinaloa state constitution were unconstitutional.

In addition, the court invalidated an article in the country’s General Health Law that protected conscientious objection by health care workers and ordered Congress to write and pass a new, more restrictive one to the court’s liking.

Among other rulings in favor of abortion, on May 24 the SJCN upheld Official Mexican Norm 046, which deals with sexual violence and medical care, thus allowing girls as young as 12 — on their word only and without the need to report being raped to the police — to get an abortion without parental consent.

The president of the Supreme Court, Arturo Zaldívar Lelo de Larrea, has repeatedly spoken in favor of abortion, and in an article published in September 2021 he said that “for a decade, I have defended time and time again the right to the interruption of pregnancy.”

In addition, eight states have decriminalized abortion on demand up to 12 or 13 weeks: Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Baja California, Sinaloa, Colima, Veracruz, Guerrero, and Baja California Sur. In addition, Mexico CIty, which has a special status in the Mexican federal system, has also legalized abortion in the first trimester.

Given this scenario, what can Mexico expect?

‘Between 30 and 50 years’

Juan Carlos Leal, a well-known politician who advocates for life and family in Mexico, said that “unfortunately, if we don’t see a change in Mexican politics with a pro-life and pro-family candidacy for the presidency, it will take between 30 and 50 years [to overturn abortion law], since there would have to be changes in Supreme Court justices.”

The former state representative and president of CREEMOS (We Believe), Nuevo León, told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language sister news agency, that “the outlook for 2024 is very complicated.”

“I don’t see a public figure who could run as a candidate for the presidency, as a pro-life and pro-family politician, so yes, we may have to wait between 30 and 50 years to reverse the issue of decriminalizing abortion by the Supreme Court of Justice,” he said.

The SJCN consists of 11 justices who are elected for 15-year terms. The candidates are nominated by the country’s president and are approved by the Senate.

Four of the current Supreme Court justices were nominated by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Two others were nominated by his predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto, and five by former president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa.

In June 2024, a new president of Mexico will be elected and on Dec. 1, 2024, two seats on the Supreme Court of Justice will be vacant — those of Zaldívar Lelo de Larrea and Luis María Aguilar Morales.

‘We can stop this normalization of abortion’

Pilar Rebollo, director of Steps for Life, an organization that brings together tens of thousands of people every year for the March for Life in Mexico City, pointed out that “with the precedent in the United States, we can stop this normalization of abortion, stop the abuse of powers.”

Rebollo said pro-lifers can work to “influence the next generation of justices. Because today we have some justices who are very convinced of an ideology and an agenda that no longer responds to justice and respect for the Constitution.”

For the director of Steps for Life, since the United States is a “big brother in terms of trends,” the recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court could favor the pro-life cause in Mexico.

“We still have time to not let it be normalized, for Mexican society to not become lukewarm,” she said.

However, she acknowledged that “this is a medium-range project, because as we know, Supreme Courts don’t change constantly.”

Which is why, she continued, it’s important “to not just focus on the Court but on all the powers that have influence, and to learn from the United States.”

‘We must start now and act as soon as possible’

Marcial Padilla, director of the pro-life organization ConParticipación, told ACI Prensa that “the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on abortion is a great sign for Mexico.”

“It confirms that it’s possible to correct the course that a court has taken and recognize the right to life of the child and his or her mother equally,” he stressed.

For Padilla, in Mexico “we can’t take 50 years. We must start now and act as soon as possible.”

“We must look at the path that has been traveled, learn from its lessons, and work along three lines,” he said.

The first of these lines, Padilla said, is “citizen awareness and participation,” because “we have to sensitize society so that it always keeps in mind the urgency of defending motherhood and protecting the child and the mother equally.”

“There must be formation for youth groups, there must be marches, the ongoing presence of the cause in favor of women and life on social networks and in the media must be maintained,” he said.

A second line of action, he continued, is that pro-lifers must “influence decision makers.”

“Society must elect government officials and legislators who take seriously the cause in favor of life and motherhood,” he said, stressing that “when there are officials like that, then judges are appointed who do their work based on science and ethics and that protect the right to life without discrimination.”

A third line of action, Padilla said, is that “we must always promote the dignity of human life, not just before birth.”

“Pro-life groups, in addition to fighting tirelessly so that no woman thinks of abortion, must also address the other problems that exist in society,” he said.

“Human life must be lived with dignity, with health, with education, with food, with united and stable families. This shouldn’t wait,” he said.

“Today is Day One; let’s do what we have to do starting today,” Padilla said.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

New bishop named for U.S. Syro-Malabar eparchy

Bishop Joy Alappatt, who was appointed Bishop of the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Saint Thomas the Apostle of Chicago July 3, 2022. / Phillypaboy123 via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Denver Newsroom, Jul 5, 2022 / 11:00 am (CNA).

On Sunday Pope Francis accepted the resignation of the bishop of the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Saint Thomas the Apostle of Chicago, and appointed his auxiliary, Bishop Joy Alappatt, as his successor.

The resignation of Bishop Jacob Angadiath, 76, was accepted July 3.

The eparchy serves the faithful of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in the U.S. The Church is an India-based Eastern Catholic Church. It is of the East Syrian rite, and most closely related to the Chaldean Catholic Church.

Alappatt, 65, was born in Parappukara, in the Indian state of Kerala, in 1956. He attended St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary in Vadavathoor and was ordained a priest of the Syro-Malabar Diocese of Irinjalakuda in 1981.

He undertook graduate studies at St. Joseph's Pontifical Institute in Aluva and at Adheva University in Wattair. He then did pastoral work in Chalkudy, Mala and at the Irinjalakuda cathedral.

He was a chaplain in Chennai before he was transferred to the U.S. in 1993.

Alappatt served as a chaplain at  Georgetown University Medical Center from 1999-2002, where he completed the university's clinical pastoral education program. He served in several parishes in the U.S., and was vicar of Mar Thoma Sleeha Cathedral in Bellwood, Illinois.

Alappatt was appointed auxiliary bishop of the St. Thomas eparchy in 2014, and was consecrated a bishop Sept. 27 of that year.

The bishop knows English, Malayalam, Hindi, and Tamil.

There are some 4 million Syro-Malabar Catholics in the world, mainly in India, making it the second largest Eastern Catholic Church.

According to the U.S. bishops’ conference, the St. Thomas eparchy ministers to 49,000 persons.

Marriage after tragedy: The key is forgiveness, couple says

Danny and Leila Abdallah with children Liana, Alex, Michael, and Selina spoke to CNA at the Vatican on June 23, 2022. / Daniel Ibáñez / CNA

Vatican City, Jul 5, 2022 / 10:07 am (CNA).

“Forgiveness allowed my marriage to survive,” Leila Abdallah said 28 months after three of her and husband Danny’s six children were killed by a drunk and drug-influenced driver near Sydney, Australia.

Forgiveness “taught Danny and I to look at each other with eyes of compassion and empathy. Forgiveness has begun the healing process in all of us,” she said at the Vatican, where the family traveled with their three surviving children and 12-week old baby girl for the World Meeting of Families 2022.

The Abdallahs were invited to speak at the Vatican event about the tragic accident in which they lost their 11-year old niece and three children — 13-year-old Antony, 12-year-old Angelina, and nine-year-old Sienna — as they were walking to buy ice cream following a birthday party.

The couple shocked the news media when just days after the Feb. 1, 2020 tragedy, they publicly forgave the 29-year-old man who drove his speeding car over the curb, and onto the sidewalk, killing the four children and injuring three others.

Danny and Leila Abdallah and their six children in 2019. Courtesy photo
Danny and Leila Abdallah and their six children in 2019. Courtesy photo

Danny and Leila Abdallah told their family’s story to EWTN in a 2021 TV interview.

One year later, on June 23, they spoke to CNA about the effect trauma can have on a husband and wife’s relationship, and how the two of them continue to get through their sorrow and anger together.

“What does marriage look like after grief? Marriage becomes a lot different,” Danny said. “I think if you embrace the pain and suffering, And you do it with prayer, it’s like you’ve gone through a hot furnace and it’s like a purification.”

Leila said “marriage does become challenging after grief because each one of us is grieving.”

“So you go through the cycle... He might be angry, or I might be angry at a different time from each other. But me and Danny were fortunate, because of the forgiveness and because of our faith, our love has become deeper,” she said.  

“When I look at my husband, I see Antony, Angelina, Sienna, I see a piece of them, because they were the fruit of our love.”

She said they have learned to be more patient with each other, to have fewer silly arguments. When one of them is frustrated, they try to listen, knowing the frustration is not with them.

“We’re more compassionate. We have more empathy,” she said. “We look at each other... with a different set of eyes,” Danny finished Leila’s sentence. 

Both parents pointed to the strength of their faith and prayer life before the accident as something which has helped during this time of suffering.

Danny and Leila, who are part of the Lebanese Maronite Church, had started going to Mass together during the week, not only on Sunday. Danny would also take their older kids to Mass before school.

They prayed with their children regularly and recited the rosary. On Fridays, Danny brought their oldest daughters and son to feed the homeless at a local shelter. 

“I wouldn’t let them have dinner [before], so they could feel and experience a bit of hunger before they would come,” he said. “I’d say no, no feed them first and then we’ll go out for dinner.”

The Abdallahs said the biggest change to their prayer life, since losing their three children, has been a deeper understanding and experience of the suffering of Christ.

Danny criticized an overemphasis in some Christian circles on the glorious, resurrected Jesus without any focus on what came before.

“That’s one thing I love about the Catholic Church, they really talk about the suffering Jesus and apply it to our lives,” he said. “With or without Christ, we’re all going to suffer.”

“This grief and trauma that we’ve experienced, it’s actually taught us [about] … the suffering Jesus, the theology behind it, and how we can apply it to our lives, because no one has done it better than Christ in his suffering. He’s the one that showed us what to do,” Danny continued.

Both spouses emphasized the importance of forgiveness in marriage.

“A lot of people end up divorcing because they don’t know how to let go of their anger or they don’t know how to put their guards [down],” Leila observed. “But... forgiveness is the key to a long-lasting relationship, it is what keeps your marriage together.”

“Run to each other and try and understand each other,” Danny added. “The wide path is running away, but go to the narrow path. It’s a lot harder, but it’s more rewarding … You know, we forgave and we chose to forgive and everything like that, but the pain hasn’t left us. We’re still experiencing the pain daily, but [forgiveness] gets us into a better place.”

Leila and Danny said they cannot wait to be reunited one day with all their children in heaven —  that has become, more than ever, their purpose in life.

“Death can’t be avoided, it is part of life. So we might as well be prepared and ready and embrace it because, if we are ready to meet the Lord, it is going to be one of the most amazing moments in our life,” Leila said with a smile on her face.

“Can you imagine the presence of Jesus? And God is so real. If anything, nothing is more real than God and Jesus on this earth.”