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Do we have a Traditional Latin Mass? US bishops continue to respond to Traditionis custodes

Priest celebrating the traditional Latin Mass at the church of St Pancratius, Rome / Thoom/Shutterstock

Denver Newsroom, Jul 21, 2021 / 17:30 pm (CNA).

Bishops throughout the United States have continued to respond to Pope Francis’ motu proprio on traditional liturgies, addressing the impact the letter will have on their respective dioceses.

Pope Francis’ July 16 motu proprio Traditionis custodes (“Guardians of the tradition”), concerning liturgies prior to the 1970 reform, restricted the use of the Traditional Latin Mass. It states that it is a bishop’s “exclusive competence” to authorize the use of the Latin Mass according to the 1962 Missal in his diocese. 

For many episcopal sees of the United States, nothing will change in the near future regarding celebration of the traditional Latin Mass. These jurisdictions include the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA and Archdiocese of Milwaukee, as well as the dioceses of Cleveland, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Knoxville, and Lincoln.

The bishops of those dioceses have all issued statements granting temporary permission for priests who offer Latin Masses according to the 1962 Missal to continue doing so. The bishops said they would be reviewing the motu proprio and consulting with advisors on the document, in the meantime.

Bishop James Conley of Lincoln wrote July 21 that "In light of Pope Francis' motu proprio Traditiones custodes, I have spoken to the priests of the Diocese of Lincoln who celebrate Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal and I authorize them to continue to do so. Many Catholics are drawn close to Jesus through the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite and so I desire for it to remain present in the diocese."

Bishop Edward Malesic of Cleveland wrote on July 19, “I will be consulting with my advisors and those currently responsible for the celebration of the Eucharist according to what has been termed the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.” 

“At this time, I grant temporary permission for those priests competent in celebrating the Eucharist according to the 1962 Missal to continue to do so in private and in churches that as of July 16, 2021 have publicly scheduled these Masses,” he stated.

Traditionis custodes revoked the previous faculty granted to priests to offer the traditional Latin Mass without the permission of their local ordinaries; rather, it stated the bishops’ authority to authorize the traditional liturgies in their respective dioceses.

Furthermore, for bishops who authorize the celebration of the traditional Mass, they are to designate locations for the liturgies - but may not designate a “parochial church.”

In Milwaukee, Bishop Jerome Listecki has announced that the Latin Mass will continue as scheduled at St. Stanislaus, a church administered by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest; the institute is a society of apostolic life with an emphasis on the traditional Latin Mass. 

Listecki said that any other priest who celebrates the Latin Mass will have to inform him that they will continue to do so, and “explain the circumstances under which they will celebrate.” 

Archbishop Alexander Sample from the Archdiocese of Portland has yet to reveal his plans regarding the motu proprio. On Twitter, following the release of Traditionis custodes on Friday, Sample said that he did not have a comment yet. 

“I know that many of you will want me to comment on the Holy Father’s new legislation regarding the traditional Latin Mass,” said Sample on July 16. “I never respond precipitously to things like this. I need time to pray, reflect and study this new law so that I can respond in mercy, charity and truth.” 

Sample is a proponent of the Latin Mass, and in 2013 he said that, in his view, “the 2007 motu proprio of Pope Benedict XVI, Summorum Pontificum, is one of the greatest gifts that could be given to the Church in the service of liturgical renewal and reform.”

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati announced that a priest had been selected as a “delegate” to assist with the implementation of the motu proprio. The archbishop did not elaborate on any of the changes that would be coming to his territory. 

The traditional Latin Mass will continue to be available at two churches in the Cincinnati area, as well as at one church in Dayton and a to-be-determined location in the northern part of the diocese. 

“Priests assigned to these designated locations – as well as other priests who have the requisite faculty along with the permission of the pastor, rector, or chaplain of the respective place – may celebrate Mass ad libitum according to the Missal of 1962 at these locations for the satisfaction of the needs of the faithful,” said a document from the archdiocese. 

Priests are permitted to celebrate “non-scheduled and non-publicized Masses in a sacred place, or at least a decent place, with the Archbishop’s permission,” the document said. “These Masses may admit a minister to make the necessary responses and otherwise assist the celebrant during Mass.” 

In New Orleans, Archbishop Gregory Aymond said on July 16 that he is “in consultation” with the priests of his diocese who celebrate the Latin Mass, as well as the Director of the Office of Worship and “canonists whose opinion I respect.” 

Aymond said that his “first priority is the spiritual welfare of the people of the Archdiocese, particularly, in this case, those who find sustenance in this form of the Mass.” 

The Archdiocese of New Orleans says it intends to release more information “in the upcoming weeks.” People in the archdiocese “who have some connection” to the Latin Mass, said Aymond, will continue to have their spiritual needs met. 

The Diocese of Providence updated its initial statement on the motu proprio from July 16, saying on July 19 that while priests in the diocese who celebrate the Latin Mass will be given permission to do so, the authorization is not permanent. 

“​​However, at some point in the future we will need to begin the implementation of the requirements of the new instruction,” said Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence. 

“We will strive to do so with patience and prudence, and with sensitivity to the legitimate spiritual needs of the faithful. Clergy and lay faithful who are accustomed to the usus antiquior form of the liturgy should be prepared – spiritually, personally and pastorally – to accept and implement any changes that may be required.”

Mary Magdalene: The first witness to the Resurrection

"The Appearance of Christ to Mary Magdalene" by Alexander Ivanov, 1834-1836. / Wikimedia Commons.

Denver Newsroom, Jul 21, 2021 / 16:48 pm (CNA).

July 22nd is the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene.

Not much is known about Mary Magdalene. She first appears in the Gospel of Luke as a follower of Christ from whom 7 demons have been cast out. In the Gospels, she is sometimes associated with two other women in Scripture: the woman who washes Jesus’ feet with oil and Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. 

Her most prominent position in scripture occurs in the Gospel of John, where she remains with Jesus at the crucifixion, keeps vigil at the tomb, and is the first to see him on Easter morning. Differing traditions have her evangelizing in Ephesus, while others place her in Marseille, France. 

Her body has never been found. 

Apart from the Blessed Virgin Mary, perhaps no other saint alive during the time of Christ appears to have been as deeply moved by Jesus’ death as today’s saint.  

“How beautiful to think that the first appearance of the Risen One took place in such a personal way! That there is someone who knows us, who sees our suffering and delusion, who is moved by us, and who calls us by name,” said Pope Francis of the encounter in a general audience the year after upgrading her memorial to a feast day.

After this shocking encounter, the joy of Christ’s Resurrection imbued her with the courage to spread this good news joyfully. “I have seen the Lord!” she proclaimed to the apostles and the whole world. Once known as a sinful woman, Mary Magdalene becomes the Apostle to the Apostles, the first witness to the Resurrection, and the model of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ risen from the grave.

“God surprises her in the most unexpected way,” opined Pope Francis, “So that woman, who is the first to encounter Jesus...now has become an apostle of the new and greatest hope.”

New Hampshire moves to restrict late-term abortions

New Hampshire state house / Wangkun Jia/Shutterstock

Denver Newsroom, Jul 21, 2021 / 16:01 pm (CNA).

New Hampshire’s 2021 budget includes a limit on late-term abortions, a significant change from current policy which allows abortions up to the point of birth.

The Fetal Life Protection Act limits abortions in the state to the first 24 weeks of pregnancy, unless the life, health, or well-being of the mother is endangered. The act makes performing an unauthorized abortion a class B felony, with fines ranging from $10,000 to $100,000. New Hampshire currently has no gestational age limit on abortions.

The $13.5 billion state budget bill, which includes the Fetal Life Protection Act, was signed into law by Gov. Chris Sununu (R) on June 25. The pro-life provisions go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022. 

The two Republican state senators who introduced the act, Regina Birdsell and Sharon Carson, explained the rationale behind the provisions in a July 20 op-ed in the Portsmouth Herald

“For too long, we were among a small group of states that provided no protection for unborn children until the moment of birth,” the senators wrote. 

Under the bill, anyone seeking an abortion would be required to have an ultrasound first. The senators defended that provision as “routine,” and argued that most abortion clinics already perform ultrasounds to determine an unborn baby’s age. 

In addition, the bill requires medical providers to file a report to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services each time an abortion is performed after 24 weeks due to a medical emergency. 

New Hampshire is currently one of seven states that has no gestational limit on abortions, New Hampshire Public Radio reported. 

“We are proud that New Hampshire has finally become the 44th state to finally protect infants in the 7th, 8th, and 9th month of pregnancy. This is long overdue,” Birdsell and Carson wrote. 

“Voters have consistently and overwhelmingly supported limits on abortions in the third trimester. They oppose an extreme pro-abortion agenda without any limits up to the moment of birth,” they said. 

A poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research suggested that a majority of Americans believe that abortion should be illegal in most or all cases after the first trimester. 

Notably, only 19% of respondents said abortion in the third trimester - roughly months seven through nine of a pregnancy - should be legal in most or all cases, while 81% responded that it should be illegal in most or all cases. 

Most states limit abortions at 18 to 22 weeks gestation, the senators noted. 

“Those who support abortion until birth object to any and all protections for the unborn...we’re hearing that this late-term abortion law is extreme, even though it’s already in place in 43 other states,” the senators wrote. 

Some of the those states with no gestational limits, such as Colorado, have become havens for late-term abortion doctors who accept patients from all over the world. Data from a prolific late-term abortion doctor in Boulder, Colorado suggest that many abortions performed late in pregnancy - some of which are performed as late as 38 or 39 weeks - are due to conditions such as Down syndrome. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in its most recent report on abortion in the United States, estimated that 92% of abortions in 2018 were performed within the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. 

The CDC data suggests that abortions after 21 weeks gestation make up only 1.2% of all abortions performed in the United States, and are thus “extremely rare.” However, that CDC data excludes information from some states such as California, Illinois, New York, and the District of Columbia.

More than six-in-ten, 61%, Americans believe that abortion should be legal in most or all circumstances in the first trimester of pregnancy, according to the AP/NORC poll.

The percentage of Americans who believe abortion should be illegal in all cases in the first trimester was 16%, according to the poll. Meanwhile, 35% said abortion should be illegal in all cases during the second trimester, and 54% answered that way for abortion during the third trimester. 

However, when asked about the legality of abortion overall, 56% said they believed abortion should be legal in most or all cases, while 43% said it should be illegal in most or all cases.

US bishops' petition to preserve Hyde Amendment surpasses 130,000 signatures

The March for Life in Washington, D.C., Jan. 19, 2018. / Jonah McKeown/CNA

Washington D.C., Jul 21, 2021 / 15:01 pm (CNA).

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is encouraging Americans to sign their petition to save the Hyde Amendment from being eliminated in congressional legislation.

“We are trying to get Catholics, pro-lifers, and all people of goodwill to contact Congress and to let them know that taxpayer funded abortion is unacceptable,” the USCCB’s Assistant Director for Pro-Life Communications, Kat Talalas, told CNA July 21.

The USCCB’s petition, which launched in early May, calls for stopping “billions of taxpayer dollars could be used to pay for abortion.” The petition also discusses the history of the Hyde Amendment, consequences of its elimination, and provides other links and resources related to the amendment.

President Joe Biden, a Catholic, excluded the Hyde Amendment from his budget request to Congress for the 2022 fiscal year. The amendment prohibits funding of elective abortions in Medicaid; according to one estimate, it has resulted in around 60,000 fewer abortions per year. Democratic leadership in both the House and the Senate are pushing for a repeal of the policy.

The Hyde Amendment was first introduced in 1976, and has been part of federal budgets every year since. It must be attached each year to federal budget bills.

The current Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, H.R. 4502, does not include the Hyde Amendment.

The USCCB has collected about 133,000 signatures for their petition, although Talalas told CNA the signatures are “increasing by the minute.”

After the LHHS appropriations bill was introduced last week, the House Appropriations Committee approved the bill July 15. An amendment to include the Hyde Amendment in the appropriations bill failed at the markup hearing in a 27-32 vote. The legislation ultimately passed the committee by a vote of 33-25.

Both chambers of Congress have to approve the bill before it can be sent to Biden’s desk for signing.

The USCCB will be sending the petition to each representative and senator in cCngress early next week. Talalas told CNA bishops around the country have been advertising the petition in their dioceses.

The Hyde Amendment has historically received staunch opposition by some in Congress and the White House, with President Bill Clinton excluding the policy from his budget request to Congress in 1993 and some House Democrats working to keep it out of budget legislation that year.

However, an amended version of the policy passed Congress and was signed into law by Clinton. Members of Congress from both parties have over the years voted for budget bills including Hyde Amendment language, and presidents of both parties have signed the bills.

Biden once supported the Hyde Amendment as a U.S. senator, even explaining his support for it in a letter to a constituent in 1994. However, as a 2020 presidential candidate, Biden reversed his support for the policy in June 2019 amid pressure from pro-abortion groups.

The 2016 Democratic Party platform included, for the first time, a call to repeal the Hyde Amendment. The party again called for its repeal in 2020.

New bill would defund public universities that provide on-campus abortions  

Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) at a July 21, 2021 press conference introducing the Protecting Life on College Campus Act of 2021, outside the U.S. Capitol building / Office of Sen. Steve Daines

Washington D.C., Jul 21, 2021 / 14:05 pm (CNA).

Pro-life lawmakers introduced a bill Wednesday to defund public colleges and universities that perform abortions or offer the abortion pill to students or staff. 

Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), the founder and chairman of the Senate Pro-Life Caucus, on Wednesday introduced the Protecting Life on College Campus Act of 2021 in the Senate, while Reps. Chip Roy (R-Texas) and Mary Miller (R-Ill.) introduced a version of the bill in the House. The bills would stop federal funding of public colleges and universities that offer abortions or abortion pills at campus health clinics.

The lawmakers said the bill is a response to a new California law requiring campus health clinics at state colleges and universities to make abortion pills available to students on-campus starting in 2023. 

Pro-life activists have criticized the California law, arguing that an estimated 7% of women who undergo a chemical abortion experience complications afterward which require surgery.

In remarks to reporters on Wednesday morning, Daines said that chemical abortions “are dangerous, and target vulnerable young women.” 

“We can’t let our campus clinics become abortion clinics,” he said, adding that “the craziness in California” shouldn’t become “the mainstream in America.”

“What is on the fringe of a far-left position suddenly can become mainstream in this country and we’ve got to stop it,” he said. 

Jeanne Mancini, the president of March for Life, told reporters that “access to abortion does not equate to women’s health.” 

“This abortion regime is dangerous for women,” Mancini said, adding there are “psychological ramifications” to “being your own abortionist.” 

With a pro-abortion majority in the House, and Democrats enjoying a tiebreaker majority in the Senate, a vote on the bill appears unlikely in the current Congress.

In 2019 California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed the bill into law requiring 34 state university campuses to provide free access to chemical abortions, as well as abortion counseling services. The law also set up a fund to pay for the cost of chemical abortions at the campus clinics, providing a $200,000 grant to each clinic.

The California Catholic Conference opposed the legislation as “unprecedented and unnecessary,” arguing that it would force state universities into “promoting, facilitating and potentially funding only abortions.” The law’s abortion counseling requirement was written in such a way as to exclude pro-life counseling, the conference added.

On Wednesday, Roy said his bill in the U.S. House “is the next logical step in our quest to protect life.” He noted that the legislation should coincide with a defense of the Hyde Amendment, which bars the use of federal funds for most elective abortions. 

“Here today, we are united in standing up to ensure that taxpayer dollars don’t go to institutions, to states, carrying out the horrific practice of chemically induced abortions,” Roy said. 

Judge temporarily blocks Arkansas ban on most abortions

Pregnancy Test. / Flickr/Ernesto Andrade.

Little Rock, Ark., Jul 21, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

A federal judge on Tuesday blocked an Arkansas law banning almost all abortions, while the court considers whether it is constitutional.

US District Judge Kristine Baker issued a preliminary injunction against the Arkansas Unborn Child Protection Act July 20. The law, adopted March 9, was to have taken effect July 28.

The law bans abortions except when medically necessary to save the life of the mother.

It provides for an “unclassified felony” for anyone who performs an abortion in the state except in a medical emergency, with a fine of up to $100,000, ten years in prison, or both. The law does not carry charges or convictions for mothers of unlawfully aborted children.

Baker said the law is “categorically unconstitutional” and that “since the record at this stage of the proceedings indicates that women seeking abortions in Arkansas face an imminent threat to their constitutional rights, the court concludes that they will suffer irreparable harm without injunctive relief.”

Catherine Phillips, Respect Life Director for the Diocese of Little Rock, noted that the diocese has supported the legislation, and Bishop Anthony Taylor released a statement supporting it earlier this year.

When the law was adopted, Phillips told CNA that the Arkansas Unborn Child Protection Act, SB6, helps move the state in a pro-life direction by protecting the rights of innocent, unborn babies.

She also noted that the law has received attention for its lack of exception for rape and incest. “Women or children who are victims of these deplorable and violent acts must be given compassionate care and support,” she said, while adding that “it is a grave moral evil to kill the child” who was conceived as a result.

The state has already passed a law outlawing abortion if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, a so-called “trigger ban” that has also been adopted by several other states. Arkansas also already has a 20-week abortion ban, enacted in 2013, which has yet to be challenged in court.

The office of Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said in a statement that the Arkansas Unborn Child Protection Act has the explicit goal of challenging Roe v. Wade.

“SB6 is in contradiction of binding precedents of the U.S. Supreme Court, but it is the intent of the legislation to set the stage for the Supreme Court overturning current case law,” the statement read.

“I would have preferred the legislation to include the exceptions for rape and incest, which has been my consistent view, and such exceptions would increase the chances for a review by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Courts have struck down similar laws in other states in recent years. A similar measure in Alabama was struck down by a federal district court during October 2019.

A federal appeals court upheld certain Arkansas state abortion restrictions during August 2020. The Eighth Circuit court briefly allowed a 2017 state law to go into effect, which banned sex-selective abortions and dilation and evacuation abortions.

However, in January 2021, the same Eighth Circuit upheld or imposed injunctions on several pro-life laws in the state, including the sex-selective abortion law and the dilation and evacuation abortion ban.

A law banning abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases of rape, incest, and medical emergency was blocked, as well as another that would have prohibited abortions based solely on a Down syndrome diagnosis for the baby.

Those regulations had been set to go into effect July 2019 before injunctions blocked them.

On Jan. 7, Baker issued a preliminary injunction against the ban on abortions based solely on the sex of the baby, including requirements that doctors seek the medical records of any woman seeking an abortion who knows the sex of her unborn child.

Another of the enjoined laws regulates the preservation and disposal of tissue from aborted babies, while another requires doctors performing abortions on patients under 16 years old to inform police of the situation.

Traditionis custodes: Cardinal Zen reacts to restrictions on Traditional Latin Masses

Cardinal Joseph Zen. Courtesy Photo.

Rome Newsroom, Jul 21, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

Cardinal Joseph Zen published a statement on Wednesday, saying that new restrictions on the celebration of Traditional Latin Masses are a “blow,” even if they were expected.

“Many tendentious generalizations in the documents [of the motu proprio] have hurt the hearts of many good people more than expected,” the retired bishop of Hong Kong wrote on his personal blog.

Zen added that he thought many people hurt by the restrictions “have never given the smallest reason to be suspected of not accepting the liturgical reform of the [Second Vatican Council].”

On July 16, Pope Francis issued the motu proprio Traditionis custodes (“Guardians of the tradition”), making changes to his predecessor Benedict XVI’s 2007 apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum, which acknowledged the right of all priests to say Mass using the Roman Missal of 1962, which is in Latin.

Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal is also referred to as the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, the Tridentine Mass, and the Traditional Latin Mass.

With Traditionis custodes, Pope Francis said that it is now each bishop’s “exclusive competence” to authorize the use of the extraordinary form of the Mass in his diocese.

Since the motu proprio’s promulgation, some bishops have said that priests may continue to offer the Traditional Latin Mass in their dioceses, while others have banned it.

Last year, the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation asked the world’s bishops to report on how Summorum Pontificum was being applied in their dioceses through a nine-point survey.

In June, Zen described rumors about possible developments to Summorum Pontificum as “worrying news.”

Zen wrote on his personal blog on June 12 that “I am not considered an extremist of this liturgical form and that I worked actively, as a priest and as a bishop, for the liturgical reform after Vatican II, also trying to curb the excesses and abuses.”

“But I cannot deny, in my experience of Hong Kong, the very good that came from the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum and from the celebration of the Tridentine Mass.”

In his new statement on July 21, Zen said that he had no knowledge of either the questionnaire about Summorum Pontificum or of bishops’ responses to it, which came as a “bitter surprise” since he was bishop of Hong Kong during the period in which Summorum Pontificum was being implemented.

“I cannot judge [the questionnaire], but only suspect that there was considerable misunderstanding (or perhaps even manipulation) in the process,” he said.

Zen also said that when reading the pope’s motu proprio and letter to bishops, he thought it conveyed an “ease” or “tendentiousness” to link a desire to use the extraordinary form of the Mass with a negative judgment on the ordinary form of the Mass, or a tendency to link a refusal to accept liturgical reform with a “total and profound rejection” of the Second Vatican Council.

“The Vatican authorities should ask themselves (and perhaps even make a thorough investigation) about why the second phenomenon has persisted, and perhaps (recently) worsened,” he said.

According to the cardinal, “the problem is not ‘which rite do people prefer?’ but ‘why don’t they go to Mass anymore?’ Certain surveys show that half of the Christian population in Europe no longer believes in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, no longer believes in eternal life!”

“Certainly we do not blame the liturgical reform, but we just want to say that the problem is much deeper,” he continued. “We cannot evade the question: ‘Hasn’t formation in the faith perhaps been lacking? Hasn’t the great work of the Council perhaps been wasted?’”

Zen said that part of the motu proprio appeared to “clearly hope for the death” of groups devoted to the extraordinary form of the Mass.

“But, even with that, can’t the Vatican’s anti-Ratzinger men patiently wait for the Tridentine Mass to die together with the death of Benedict XVI, instead of humiliating the venerable Pope Emeritus in this way?” the cardinal asked.

‘Do not abandon Mozambique’: Catholics appeal for help amid jihadist attacks

Flag of mozambique in the world map. / hyotographics/Shutterstock

Rome Newsroom, Jul 21, 2021 / 08:30 am (CNA).

Islamist terrorism threatens the future of Mozambique, according to a Catholic community aiding hundreds of thousands of refugees driven out by attacks.

“Do not abandon the people of Mozambique,” Fr. Angelo Romano urged at a press conference in Rome on July 21.

“The future prospects of the country are in fact now in danger because of the terrorist onslaught that began in 2017 that is endangering peace throughout the country,” he said.

The priest is a member of the Catholic community of Sant’Egidio, a group that has been active in Mozambique for more than three decades and helped broker a peace agreement in the country in Southeastern Africa in 1992.

Nine members of Sant’Egidio have been killed in Islamist attacks in Mozambique since 2019.

Recent attacks in northern Mozambique have been carried out by the homegrown Ansar al-Sunna group, which the U.S. State Department recently labeled as “ISIS-Mozambique.”

Multiple churches have been burnt, people beheaded, young girls kidnapped, and hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the violence.

“The Islamist guerrillas have set as their goal the creation of an Islamic state. And it has started in the north, but … they want to conquer the whole country,” Fr. Romano said.

“In the province called Cabo Delgado, the goal is to destroy the existing social fabric in order to be able to then rebuild it according to their designs.”

Nearly 800,000 people have been displaced by the violence in Mozambique, according to the United Nations’ Refugee Agency.

“In recent months, Sant’Egidio has tried to cope with the growing demand of internally displaced persons,” Romano explained.

The community, which is present in every province of Mozambique, has been distributing food and medicine to these internally displaced persons, only about 10% of which are in government refugee camps, according to the priest.

“The overwhelming majority of internally displaced persons are welcomed by the population itself, often by relatives, but in other cases by people who have decided to give their support to these, their brothers in difficulty,” he said.

Fr. Romano praised the Mozambican people for showing “great solidarity” with those affected by the violence. But he said that there were issues emerging because most of the displaced are not registered.

He noted that the Catholic community is particularly concerned about the disruption of education for the children displaced by the violence because unregistered internal refugees cannot go to school or access state services.

“We have many projects underway that we would like to carry out such as the one for the construction of some schools,” the priest said.

The Catholic group already has a program in place to register minors in Mozambique.

“We would also like to create scholarships for high school students who are present in refugee camps today and who have had to interrupt their studies,” he said.

The most recent religious freedom report from Aid to the Church in Need documented a “dramatic increase” in the presence of jihadist groups, some aligned with the Islamic State, in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Both Rwanda and South Africa announced last week that they would deploy troops to the Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique to help the country combat the escalating insurgency.

“An awareness of the gravity of the situation is needed,” Romano said.

Vatican unveils program of Pope Francis’ 7-hour trip to Hungary

Heroes’ Square (Hősök tere), Budapest, Hungary. / Andrew Shiva / Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 4.0.

Vatican City, Jul 21, 2021 / 06:35 am (CNA).

The Vatican unveiled on Wednesday an intensive program for Pope Francis’ trip to Hungary on Sept. 12.

The pope is scheduled to spend just under seven hours in the country before embarking on a three-day visit to neighboring Slovakia.

A program released by the Vatican on July 21 confirmed that the pope would meet with Viktor Orbán during his whirlwind visit, following speculation that he would snub the Hungarian prime minister.

Pope Francis is traveling to Hungary to celebrate the closing Mass of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress in Budapest.

The last time a pope took part in an International Eucharistic Congress was in the year 2000, when John Paul II attended the event in Rome.

Pope Francis will depart for Hungary from Rome’s Fiumicino International Airport at 6 a.m. on Sept. 12, arriving at Budapest International Airport at 7:45 a.m.

After an official welcome, he will meet for half an hour with Orbán and Hungarian President János Áder at the Museum of Fine Arts, located in Budapest’s Heroes’ Square.

The Museum of Fine Arts, in Budapest’s Heroes’ Square. / Lóránd Péter via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).
The Museum of Fine Arts, in Budapest’s Heroes’ Square. / Lóránd Péter via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Earlier this month, the Vatican’s “foreign minister” rejected suggestions that Pope Francis’ decision to make just a brief trip to Hungary was connected with the policies of the country’s government.

“No, it’s not any judgment on a government or authorities in Hungary,” Archbishop Paul Gallagher told an interviewer. “The pope was very clear right from the beginning that he was going to Budapest exclusively to celebrate the concluding Mass of the International Eucharistic Congress.”

After meeting with the prime minister and president, the pope will give a speech to the country’s Catholic bishops, followed by another address to representatives of the Ecumenical Council of Churches and Jewish communities.

He will then leave the Museum of Fine Arts to celebrate the closing Mass in Heroes’ Square at 11:30 a.m.

Afterwards, he will return to the airport for a farewell ceremony, leaving for the Slovakian capital, Bratislava, at 2:30 p.m.

Pope Francis formally announced on July 4 that he would travel to Hungary and Slovakia in September.

He had previously mentioned the possibility of visiting the neighboring central European countries during an in-flight press conference in March.

The week-long International Eucharist Congress was originally scheduled to take place in 2020 but was postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hungary has a population of 9.8 million people, 62% of whom are Catholic. The country, which borders Austria, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Romania, Ukraine, and Slovakia, last hosted the Eucharistic Congress in 1938.

St. John Paul II was the last pope to travel to Hungary, visiting Pannonhalma and Győr 25 years ago in 1996.

Cardinal Péter Erdő has said that Catholics in Hungary are looking forward to the papal visit, which he will host as the archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest.

“The Catholic community is waiting for the arrival of the Holy Father in great joy and love. We are praying for his visit to be the sign of hope and a new beginning after the abatement of the pandemic,” he said on July 4.

Pro-life group ‘ready to go to court’ over new government intervention on N Ireland abortion law

Eleonora_os/Shutterstock.

Belfast, Northern Ireland, Jul 21, 2021 / 06:00 am (CNA).

A pro-life group said on Tuesday that it is “ready to go to court within hours” over the commissioning of abortion services in Northern Ireland.

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) indicated on July 20 that it was prepared to take legal action if the U.K. government took a further step to expand abortion services in the region.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis is expected to make an announcement on July 22.

SPUC is currently seeking a judicial review of the implementation of abortion regulations approved by the Westminster parliament during the absence of devolution.

“The legal action is scheduled to take place in October, but SPUC, the world’s oldest pro-life group, is ready to go to court within hours in a bid to stop Mr. Lewis from issuing directions before the case can be heard,” the pro-life group said.

Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, but abortion law is considered to be a devolved issue under the control of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

But due to the suspension of the regional government, the British parliament in October 2019 decriminalized abortion in Northern Ireland and obliged the U.K. government to create legal access to abortion in the region.

Before March 31, 2020, abortion was legally permitted in Northern Ireland only if the mother’s life was at risk or if there was a risk of long-term or permanent, serious damage to mental or physical health.

Northern Ireland’s abortion law now allows elective abortions up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. Abortions up to 24 weeks are legal when the mother’s physical or mental health is determined to be at risk. Abortions up until the point of birth are legal in cases of severe fetal impairment or fetal abnormality.

In March 2021, the U.K. government signaled its intention to unveil new regulations enabling Lewis to direct the Northern Ireland Department of Health to commission more widespread abortion services -- prompting criticism from Catholic bishops.

It set out the measures in a statutory instrument known as the Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2021. A statutory instrument is a form of secondary legislation allowing government ministers to legislate on day-to-day matters.

SPUC is seeking to have the regulations quashed, arguing that Lewis had no power to make them under the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019, which contained an amendment legalizing abortion in the region.

SPUC’s lawyers have written to Northern Ireland health minister Robin Swann urging him not to act on any direction from Lewis ahead of the judicial review.

Swann has said previously that he is unable to commission services centrally without the backing of the five-party coalition in the Northern Irish Assembly.

Although Northern Ireland’s Department of Health has not commissioned services centrally, local health trusts are offering abortions.

According to the Department of Health, 1,556 abortions have taken place in Northern Ireland since March 2020, when the law changed.

Liam Gibson, SPUC’s NI political officer, said: “If this power grab by the Westminster Government is allowed to stand it will condemn to death an untold number of unborn babies and also fatally undermine the devolution settlement.”

“London is stripping locally elected ministers of power and denying the people an accountable government with a democratic mandate.”

“The situation means that enormous powers have been vested in a politician who is not answerable to the people of Northern Ireland.”

John Deighan, SPUC’s deputy CEO, said: “These are the most challenging times the pro-life movement has ever faced in Northern Ireland.”

“We need the prayers of pro-life supporters and their financial assistance too as we seek to raise the funds required to finance these court cases.”