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Austria’s Catholic bishops: Draft assisted suicide law ‘unacceptable’

null / Video_Creative / Shutterstock.

Vienna, Austria, Nov 12, 2021 / 06:20 am (CNA).

Austria’s Catholic bishops said on Thursday that a draft law on assisted suicide “contains shortcomings that are unacceptable.”

In a statement issued at the end of their plenary meeting in Vienna on Nov. 11, the bishops lamented the omission of a 12-week waiting period for people seeking assisted suicide.

CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, reported that the bishops are taking part in a review of the draft law but without endorsing assisted suicide.

Austria’s constitutional court ruled in December 2020 that the country’s criminal code was unconstitutional because its ban on assisted suicide violated the right to self-determination. It ordered the government to lift the ban in 2021.

At the time of the ruling, bishops’ conference president Archbishop Franz Lackner of Salzburg said that the judgment marked a fundamental “cultural breach.”

Austria is a central European country with a population of almost nine million people, around 57% of whom are baptized Catholics.

In September 2020, the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation reaffirmed the Church’s perennial teaching on the sinfulness of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Since then, supporters of the practices have made gains in several European countries.

In their statement on Thursday, Austria’s bishops said that the constitutional court’s decision had “painfully called into question” the “broad social consensus that human life is to be protected until its natural end.”

They underlined that they remained committed to “the comprehensive protection of life.”

The bishops welcomed some aspects of the draft law, submitted by the federal government last month.

The Church leaders noted that the draft banned advertising and profiteering in relation to the practice.

“Equally necessary is the draft’s provision for structured counseling and education of the suicidal person, in which all palliative medical alternatives to suicide must be presented,” it said.

But they stressed that the law should make it clearer that private organizations are free to “neither to offer nor condone assisted suicide in their homes.”

The bishops noted that in a detailed statement on the draft law in June they called for a constitutional ban on voluntary euthanasia, known in Austria as “Tötung auf Verlangen” (“killing on request.”)

“So far, there has been support for this among all the relevant political and social forces, including the medical profession,” they said.

The bishops lamented what they called “a dangerous shift in values” signaled by the use of the phrase “dying with dignity” by assisted suicide advocates.

“This manipulative speech not only ignores the fact that every suicide remains a human tragedy,” they said.

“It also does an injustice to all those who have so far made it possible to die with dignity through reliable and attentive care and who will continue to do so in the future, whether in the family environment, in hospitals, in hospice facilities, or in the many nursing and residential homes in our country.”

The bishops concluded their message by welcoming the expansion of hospice and palliative care in Austria.

“There must be a legal entitlement to them and the necessary funding must be ensured in a timely manner,” they said.

Portugal’s Catholic bishops approve independent clerical abuse commission

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal. / Kate Veik/CNA.

Fatima, Portugal, Nov 12, 2021 / 03:30 am (CNA).

Portugal’s Catholic bishops said on Thursday that they have approved the creation of an independent commission to investigate clerical sexual abuse.

The bishops announced the decision on Nov. 11 at the end of their plenary assembly at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima.

Acknowledging the work of diocesan commissions, they said they had decided to create a national commission “to strengthen and expand the care of cases and their accompaniment at the civil and canonical levels.”

The commission will also “make a study in order to establish the historical background of this serious issue.”

Bishop José Ornelas Carvalho of Setúbal, the bishops’ conference president, told journalists on Nov. 11 that the commission would have “real independence.”

“We will do everything to fully clarify this issue. So, whatever we need to do, let’s do it, I have absolutely no doubt about it," he said, according to Agência Ecclesia.

Ahead of the Nov. 8-11 bishops’ meeting, more than 200 Catholics sent a letter to the bishops’ conference (known by its Portuguese initials, CEP) calling for an independent investigation into clerical abuse.

The letter, also shared with the apostolic nuncio to Portugal, Archbishop Ivo Scapolo, said: “We strongly urge the CEP to align itself with Pope Francis’ guidelines and urgently take the decision to launch a rigorous, comprehensive and truly independent national investigation, with a time span of 50 years, by a commission of experts composed exclusively of Catholic laity, non-believers, social science and justice professionals, whose autonomy and independence are absolutely unquestionable, although it may eventually be advised by some clergy.”

The letter followed the publication last month of a landmark report by the French Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (CIASE).

The independent commission concluded that hundreds of thousands of children were abused in the Catholic Church in France over the past 70 years.

According to a 2011 census, 81% of Portugal’s 10 million population is baptized Catholic. The 2018 report “European Young Adults and Religion” found that Portugal has one of the highest levels of weekly Mass attendance among young people in Europe.

Portugal’s bishops said that they were establishing “a permanent national listening point” for abuse victims.

“The Assembly also expressed a vote of confidence in the generality of the Portuguese clergy who, with all their availability and dedication, continue to serve the Church in their pastoral ministry,” they said in their statement.

Spanish bill that would criminalize prayer near abortion clinics called a 'danger to democracy'

A 40 Days for Life prayer vigil outside an abortion clinic in Madrid. / Twitter 40 días por la vida.

Madrid, Spain, Nov 11, 2021 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

An international 40 Days for Life director has said a bill proposed by the ruling Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party that would criminalize “harassment” of women entering abortion clinics is a “threat to democracy.”

Tomislav Cunovic, director of 40 Days for Life for International Affairs, told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language sister news agency, that "it’s a fundamental right that people can go out on the street, meet and express their opinion."

“This new law criminalizes pro-life people who gather and pray peacefully in front of abortion clinics. This law interferes with these fundamental rights and freedoms that are guaranteed by the Constitution of Spain and by international conventions, such as the European Convention on Human Rights,” he pointed out.

“The people from 40 Days for Life pray peacefully, they don’t speak to pregnant women, nor to those who work in the clinics. We are outside praying, giving silent witness that each life has its dignity," he explained, and pointed out that although with this bill "it seems they want to protect pregnant women, no one talks about unborn children, who must also be protected because they have the right to life, they have dignity.”

The bill was introduced May 21 by the PSOE’s coalition. It would criminalize "harassing women going to clinics for the voluntary interruption of pregnancy." Anyone promoting, favoring, or participating in demonstrations near abortion clinics would be subject to penalties.

Penalties for what would be deemed harassment would include jail terms of three months to a year, or community service from 31 to 80 days. Depending on circumstances, an individual could also be barred from a particular location for between six months and three years.

In the exposition of motives for introducing the bill, the PSOE characterized the “harassment” of pro-life witness at abortion clinics as “approaching women with photographs, model fetuses, and proclamations against abortion … the objective is for the women to change their decision through coercion, intimidation, and harassment.”

The socialist parliamentary group said it “considers it essential to guarantee a safety zone” around abortion clinics.

Cunovic called the bill "exaggerated" because "it interferes too much with rights and it’s not clear because it doesn’t work with specific concepts, but rather leaves a lot of room.”

"It‘s not clear what is prohibited, it gives a lot of room to the police to criminalize people," he said.

In addition, Cunovic said this bill aims to "threaten people with psychological warfare" because "it’s no longer necessary to do an objectively wrong thing to be punished, but rather it enters into a subjective level where it’s sufficient for a person to feel offended for the other person to be punished.”

The 40 Days for Life Director of International Affairs pointed out that it’s "a contradiction with rational laws because room is beginning to open up for ‘I feel bad because you’re looking at me the wrong way and you can end up in jail for that’. You have to get back to an objective level, of fact. People who are praying in the street don’t touch or speak to the women.” 

‘They’re just quietly praying, but this law says that women can feel bad about their presence. So you enter into a subjective and conflictive area, because you're dealing with a fiction that your look can make me feel bad. It’s a thought crime, it’s dangerous to play that game of thinking about what you have in your head and judging you for it,” he said.

Cunovic also warned of the danger to democracy posed by laws like this, since “today the voice of pro-life people is being silenced, but tomorrow that law may prohibit something else. You could say: 'From now on we don't like this particular option.' With that we are killing democratic discourse and that’s a great danger for democracy.”

However, the 40 Days for Life leader still hopes there will be judges who "apply the law and protect citizens," because those standing outside abortion clinics "aren’t criminals, they’re citizens who pay their taxes, who work and have the right to go out and be in public space. Because in this multicultural and pluralistic society, everyone has their right and their space,” he stressed.

Finally he said that “it’s surprising that you can defend all the interests you want, but pro-lifers have to keep quiet. You can’t say this or that on this issue because someone is offended. It’s a form of persecution against the Christian voice and Christian values.”

The Congress of Deputies voted to take up consideration of the bill in September by a vote of 199 to 144, with two abstentions. Only the two largest opposition parties, the People's Party and Vox, voted against it.

Several locales have in recent years considered or adopted “buffer zones” around abortion clinics that limit free speech in the protected areas.

The Northern Ireland Assembly is considering such a proposal, and Scotland’s Green Party has urged the adoption of one.

Proposals for buffer zones around abortion clinics throughout England and Wales were rejected as disproportionate by the then-British Home Secretary in September 2018, after finding that most abortion protests are peaceful and passive.

The typical activities of those protesting outside of abortion clinics in England and Wales “include praying, displaying banners and handing out leaflets,” Sajid Javid noted.

In England, a buffer zone was imposed by Ealing Council, in west London, around a Marie Stopes abortion clinic in April 2018. The zone prevents any pro-life gathering or speech, including prayer, within about 330 feet of the clinic.

The Ealing buffer zone was cited by Javid as an example of a local government using civil legislation “to restrict harmful protest activities,” rather than a nationwide policy.

Catholics invited to make pilgrimage in Dante’s footsteps in anniversary year

A guide to Dante’s Walk, a 235-mile route from Ravenna to Florence in Italy. / Terre di Mezzo.

Ravenna, Italy, Nov 11, 2021 / 04:20 am (CNA).

The poet Dante famously traveled through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise in his masterpiece the “Divine Comedy.” Now, Catholics have a chance to follow in his footsteps — his earthly ones, that is.

Dante’s Walk is a 235-mile route that takes pilgrims from the Byzantine splendor of the city of Ravenna, northern Italy, to the Renaissance magnificence of Florence — and back again.

The pilgrim path’s 20 stages are set out in detail in a new Italian guidebook, written by Marcello Bezzi, Silvia Rossetti, and Massimiliano Venturelli, coinciding with the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death.

“Ravenna and Florence are, in fact, the two symbolic cities of Dante, of his youth, his formation, his political life, and his death,” Venturelli told ACI Stampa, CNA’s Italian-language news partner.

“It is precisely in these two cities that the deep soul of the poet is contained. We can still breathe it in some alleys and places that have remained intact over the centuries.”

“And it is in these two cities that we wanted to build two city itineraries, thanks to which it is possible to visit and admire the places that characterized the life and formation of Dante Alighieri.”

Pilgrims begin at Dante’s tomb in Ravenna, where the poet died in 1321. They then set out on foot, mountain bike, or even horseback for the next stop in Pontevico, a municipality in the province of Lombardy.

In the following days, they pass through countryside teeming with medieval villages and castles, before arriving at Dante’s House Museum in Florence, the city where the poet was born in around 1265.

The house is close to the church of Santa Margherita de’ Cerchi, where Dante first saw Beatrice Portinari, widely identified as the muse who inspired his 1294 work “La Vita Nuova” and guided the poet through Paradise in the third and final part of the “Divine Comedy.”

Pilgrims then turn back towards Ravenna, taking a different country route.

Dante portrait by Domenico di Michelino. .  Jim Forest (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).
Dante portrait by Domenico di Michelino. . Jim Forest (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

The association Il Cammino di Dante recommends that travelers prepare carefully for the journey. It encourages pilgrims to book accommodation three weeks before departure and two months ahead in the peak months of July and August.

It advises hikers to carry a backpack weighing no more than 10 kilograms (22 pounds), including a sleeping bag, camping mat, utility knife, sunscreen, water, and energy bars.

A “Year of Dante,” which lasts throughout 2021, was launched in Ravenna on Sept. 5, 2020, in the presence of Italian President Sergio Mattarella. The year is being marked by events throughout Italy.

Pope Francis said on Oct. 10, 2020, that the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death should inspire people to rediscover the “Divine Comedy.”

Speaking to a delegation from the Archdiocese of Ravenna-Cervia, the pope announced that he was preparing “a more extensive reflection” on the leading poet of the late Middle Ages to be released in 2021.

The pope said he hoped that teenagers, in particular, would engage with the “Divine Comedy,” widely regarded as the greatest poem in the Italian language.

He said: “It may seem, at times, as if these seven centuries have opened up an unbridgeable distance between us, men and women of the postmodern and secularized age, and him, the extraordinary exponent of a golden age of European civilization. And yet something tells us that it is not the case.”

“Teenagers, for instance — even those of today — if they have the opportunity to encounter Dante’s poetry in a way that is accessible to them, find, on the one hand, inevitably, a great distance from the author and his world, and yet, not the other, they perceive a surprising resonance.”

The Vatican City State Mint issued a color collector coin featuring Dante last month.

Asked to name the highlights of Dante’s Walk, Venturelli said: “Certainly not to be missed are the stages passing through the Casentino [valley], and I refer to Campaldino, Poppi, Porciano, Romena and the Hermitage of Camaldoli, inextricably linked to Dante’s life from 1289 onwards.”

Polish Catholic bishops’ leader calls for ‘fervent prayer’ for end to Belarus border crisis

Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, president of the Polish bishops’ conference, pictured in Warsaw Feb. 12, 2020. /

Warsaw, Poland, Nov 10, 2021 / 15:00 pm (CNA).

A Polish Catholic archbishop called on Wednesday for “fervent prayer” for an end to the crisis at the country’s border with Belarus.

In a Nov. 10 statement, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, the president of the Polish bishops’ conference, addressed what he described as “dramatic events” on the roughly 250-mile border between Poland and its eastern neighbor.

The Polish government, the European Union, and NATO have accused Belarus of helping thousands of mainly Middle Eastern migrants to gather at the frontier and seek to enter Poland. The Belarusian government, led by President Alexander Lukashenko, denies the claim.

“On behalf of the Polish bishops’ conference, I strongly condemn the use of human tragedies by the Belarusian side to conduct actions against Poland’s sovereignty,” the archbishop of Poznań, western Poland, said.

“Most of the migrants are victims of ruthless political action and the greed of the smuggling mafia. For this reason, I would like to repeat once again that those who suffer by this evil need our care in solidarity.”

He continued: “At the same time, I would like to express my gratitude to the people and institutions that provide such help, with respect for the law in force in Poland.”

“I would also like to express my appreciation to all state services, including the Border Guard, army, and police, for their dedicated defense of Polish borders. I assure you of my heartfelt prayers for you and your loved ones, in these difficult moments of service for the good of the homeland.”

“I am asking all the faithful and people of goodwill for fervent prayer for Poland, for the victims of this crisis, and for its peaceful resolution.”

On Wednesday, the Catholic Church in Belarus also urged prayers for migrants and refugees.

“At a time when a real humanitarian crisis is unfolding on the borders of our country, let us cover with prayer the people who belong to the most vulnerable group: migrants and refugees,” said the appeal on the Church’s website,

Poland, a central European country with a population of 38 million, sent troops to secure the border with Belarus after a record number of migrants crossed in the summer.

Polish officials argue that Belarus, a landlocked Eastern European country with a population of 9.5 million, is fomenting the crisis in response to sanctions imposed by the EU after Lukashenko declared victory in a disputed presidential election in August 2020 and cracked down on protesters.

The border crisis has also affected Latvia and Lithuania, both of which are EU member states neighboring Belarus.

Poland’s defense minister Mariusz Błaszczak said on Nov. 10 that “there were many attempts to breach the Polish border” overnight.

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Lukashenko’s ally, to intervene to end the crisis.

The Catholic Church in Poland will hold a collection this month for migrants caught in the standoff at the border.

“I turn to the faithful and all people of goodwill with a request for a nationwide fundraising — on Sunday, Nov. 21 in all churches and chapels, through Caritas Poland — for migrants from the Belarusian-Polish border,” Archbishop Gądecki said in a homily at Mass in the Polish capital, Warsaw, on Nov. 5.

Number of foreign-born Catholic priests in Italy continues to rise

Pope Francis ordains 10 men to the priesthood in St. Peter’s Basilica on May 7, 2017. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Rome, Italy, Nov 10, 2021 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

New data shows that in 2020, 8.3% of Italy’s diocesan and religious priests were not Italian, while the number of Italian Catholic priests who are missionaries in foreign countries has continued to fall.

Data from the Central Institute for the Support of Clergy, which is connected with the Italian bishops’ conference, found that the total number of priests in Italy in 2020 was 31,793.

The number is down 16.5% from 1990, with a fall of 11% in just the last decade. Meanwhile, the number of foreign-born priests serving in Italy has increased by more than tenfold in 30 years, from 204 in 1990 to 2,631 in 2020.

The average age of Italian priests has also increased slightly to 61.8, while the average age of non-Italian priests serving in Italy is 46.7.

The highest number of foreign-born priests are found in the central regions of Abruzzo and Lazio, which includes the city of Rome, as well as the north-central region of Tuscany.

In 2020, only 348 Italian priests were serving as foreign missionaries, 1.1% of the total, down by almost half from 630 in 2000.

The year 2020 also saw an increase in the mortality of priests in Italy: 958 priests died last year, while 742 died in 2019.

The increase in deaths seems likely to have been due to COVID-19, since higher than average deaths were recorded during Italy’s first and second waves of the coronavirus.

There are 25,595 Catholic parishes but only 15,133 parish pastors in Italy, which has a total population of around 60 million. There is one pastor for every 4,160 inhabitants.

“These figures should be no cause for alarm,” said Fr. Michele Gianola, under-secretary of the Italian bishops’ Conference (CEI) and director of the CEI National Office for the Pastoral Care of Vocations.

Quoted by AgenSIR, the news agency of the Italian bishops’ conference, Gianola added that the figures about priests “should be examined seriously because they touch on the issue of vocations potential in our Italian churches, on the prospects of youth and school pastoral ministry, and on the life and ministry of priests and communities of consecrated life.”

“They echo the concern expressed by Pope Francis in his address to the 71st general assembly of the Italian bishops’ conference on May 21, 2018, when he expressed his ‘concern regarding the hemorrhage of vocations,’” the priest added.

“In this respect, stopgap solutions have proved to be too precarious in terms of ensuring a proper response. Indeed, medium-term or even short-term perspectives may stifle the community’s potential to generate vocations.”

“It must be remembered that vocations are engendered by our mother Church; at times, this generative capacity is forgotten or neglected.”

The poor will be at the heart of Pope Francis’ fifth visit to Assisi

Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the tomb of St. Francis of Assisi on Oct. 3, 2020. / Vatican Media.

Rome Newsroom, Nov 10, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

Ahead of Pope Francis’ visit to Assisi on Friday, the local bishop has said that the pope’s trip serves as a reminder of the Church’s preferential option for the poor.

"With immense joy, we are preparing for the visit, albeit private, of Pope Francis, who for the fifth time comes to Assisi to shake us and remind us that the poor are part of our life and must be part of our heart,” Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino said in a statement sent to CNA on Nov. 10.

The pope will travel to the hometown of his namesake, St. Francis, on Nov. 12 for a visit devoted to spending time with a group of 500 poor people from across Europe.

Upon Pope Francis’ arrival in Assisi, a symbolic pilgrim’s cloak and staff will be given to the pope by the poor, according to the schedule released by the Vatican.

Pope Francis will begin the day at the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels at 9 a.m. local time, where he will hear the testimonies of six people living in poverty from France, Poland, Spain, and Italy.

The Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels, located in the valley below the medieval hill town of Assisi, is a large basilica encompassing a small chapel, the Portiuncula, where St. Francis lived when he began the Franciscan Order.

After hearing the testimonies, the pope will take a break to share a refreshment with the poor before returning to the basilica at 11 a.m. for a moment of prayer and to distribute gifts.

Pope Francis visits Assisi on Oct 3, 2020. Vatican Media.
Pope Francis visits Assisi on Oct 3, 2020. Vatican Media.

The pope will then return by helicopter to the Vatican, while the poor will be hosted by the bishop of Assisi for a lunch organized by the Catholic charity Caritas.

This will be Pope Francis’ fifth visit to the town of Assisi since becoming pope in 2013. His encounter with the poor will take place as part of the Catholic Church’s celebration of the fifth annual World Day of the Poor, which falls this year on Sunday, Nov. 14.

Pope Francis established the World Day of the Poor in 2016 at the end of the Church’s Jubilee Year of Mercy. The day is celebrated each year on the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, a week before the feast of Christ the King.

“At the conclusion of the Jubilee of Mercy, I wanted to offer the Church a World Day of the Poor, so that throughout the world Christian communities can become an ever greater sign of Christ’s charity for the least and those most in need,” the pope wrote in his first World Day of the Poor message in 2017.

The theme of this year’s World Day of the Poor is “The poor you will always have with you,” the words of Jesus recorded in Mark 14:7 after a woman anointed him with precious ointment.

In his message for this year’s celebration, Pope Francis described what he observed as an increasing tendency to dismiss the poor against the background of the coronavirus crisis.

“There seems to be a growing notion that the poor are not only responsible for their condition, but that they represent an intolerable burden for an economic system focused on the interests of a few privileged groups,” the pope said.

“We are now seeing the creation of new traps of poverty and exclusion, set by unscrupulous economic and financial actors lacking in a humanitarian sense and in social responsibility,” he said.

Sorrentino, the bishop of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino, said that his diocese has been recently carrying out initiatives and projects in collaboration with other dioceses in the Italian region of Umbria to place “the least ones at the center.”

“We want above all to be the voice of a social change that cannot wait and that the pope has been urging us to do for a long time,” Sorrentino said.

“Assisi is once again the message city of this renewal.”

Cardinal and police chief agree to create group reviewing last rites access for priests at crime scenes

Cardinal Vincent Nichols and London police chief Cressida Dick meet outside of Westminster Cathedral, Nov. 9, 2021. / Mazur/

London, England, Nov 10, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

An English cardinal and London’s police chief have agreed to create a joint group reviewing Catholic priests’ access to crime scenes to administer the last rites.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick took the step after reports that police turned away a Catholic priest seeking to anoint Sir David Amess after the lawmaker was stabbed during a meeting with constituents in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on Oct. 15.


Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster, announced on Nov. 9 that the group would study “the access given, or refused, to Catholic priests to scenes of traumatic violence” and consider “whether any changes are required to the guidance issued to officers faced with such situations.”

Greeting the police commissioner before the Catholic Police Guild’s annual Requiem Mass at Westminster Cathedral, London, he said: “I welcome police officers from so many different parts of the country to this Mass in which we remember and pray for your deceased colleagues.”


“I offer a particular welcome to Dame Cressida Dick, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service. I wish to thank all of you for the service you give to the people of this country, often in the most difficult of circumstances and with the many challenges facing you.”

“In recent days questions have arisen concerning the access given, or refused, to Catholic priests to scenes of traumatic violence, such as the violent death of Sir David Amess. The Metropolitan Police Commissioner and I have agreed to establish a joint group to study this issue and whether any changes are required to the guidance issued to officers faced with such a situation.”


“I am grateful to the Commissioner for this agreement and I am confident that it will help to establish a helpful way forward in this matter of considerable sensitivity and importance to the Catholic community.”

Fr. Jeff Woolnough, the pastor of St. Peter’s Catholic Church, Eastwood, in Leigh-on-Sea, said that he rushed to Belfairs Methodist Church on Oct. 15 after he heard that Amess had been attacked.


A police officer outside the church reportedly relayed his request to enter the building, but the priest was not permitted to enter. He prayed the rosary outside the police cordon instead.

Paramedics attended to Amess, who was stabbed multiple times, for more than two-and-a-half hours before an air ambulance arrived to take him to hospital.


Following Sir David’s death, Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury, western England, called for greater recognition of the last rites as an “emergency service.”

“I hope a better understanding of the eternal significance of the hour of death for Christians and the Church’s ministry as an ‘emergency service’ may result from this terrible tragedy,” he said.

U.K. lawmakers have formally proposed an “Amess amendment” to a bill going through Parliament seeking to guarantee that Catholic priests can administer the last rites at crime scenes.


The amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, was presented by four members of the House of Lords, the upper house of the U.K. Parliament.


The amendment to the bill, which is currently at the committee stage in the Lords, says: “In securing a crime scene where a person within that crime scene is severely injured, such that there is a strong likelihood that they might die, there is a presumption that the constable in charge will allow entry to the crime scene to a minister of religion in order to perform religious rituals or prayer associated with dying.”


The idea of an “Amess amendment” emerged days after Sir David Amess, a long-serving Conservative Member of Parliament, was killed.

Offering a tribute to his slain colleague in the House of Commons, the lower house of the U.K. Parliament, on Oct. 18, the Labour MP Mike Kane suggested that lawmakers pass an amendment guaranteeing priests access to those requiring last rites.


He said: “[Amess] participated fully in the liturgy of the Church. He participated fully in the sacraments of the Church.”


“While I have the attention of those on the Front Benches [government ministers], Catholics believe that extreme unction helps guide the soul to God after death, so maybe we could come up with an Amess amendment so that no matter where it is, in a care home or at a crime scene, Members, or anybody, can receive that sacrament.”

The man accused of killing Sir David — Ali Harbi Ali, 25, of Kentish Town in north London — is expected to face trial from March 7, 2022.

The British citizen of Somali descent is charged with murder and the preparation of terrorist acts.


The Catholic Police Guild’s members attend an annual Requiem Mass at Westminster Cathedral, the mother church of Catholics in England and Wales, in November, the month of the Holy Souls.

This year’s Mass was celebrated by Bishop Alan Williams of Brentwood, Essex, the guild’s new liaison to the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.


Serving and retired members of police forces from across the country, as well as Catholic Police Guild chaplains, prayed for the guild’s deceased members at the Mass.

Catholic Church in Belarus urges prayers for migrants

null / Simon Kadula via

Minsk, Belarus, Nov 10, 2021 / 06:22 am (CNA).

The Catholic Church in Belarus called Wednesday for prayers for migrants and refugees amid a growing humanitarian crisis at the country’s border with Poland.

The appeal was published Nov. 10 on the Church’s website,

“At a time when a real humanitarian crisis is unfolding on the borders of our country, let us cover with prayer the people who belong to the most vulnerable group: migrants and refugees,” the website said.

Poland, a central European country with a population of 38 million, sent troops to secure the border with Belarus after a record number of migrants, mainly from the Middle East, crossed in the summer.

The Polish government, the European Union, and NATO have accused Belarus of helping the migrants to gather at the border. The Belarusian government, led by President Alexander Lukashenko, denies the claim.

Polish officials argue that Belarus, a landlocked Eastern European country with a population of 9.5 million, is fomenting the crisis in response to sanctions imposed by the EU after Lukashenko declared victory in a disputed presidential election in August 2020.

The border crisis has also affected Latvia and Lithuania, both of which are EU member states neighboring Belarus.

Poland’s defense minister Mariusz Błaszczak said on Nov. 10 that “there were many attempts to breach the Polish border” overnight.

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has appealed to the Russian President Vladimir Putin, Lukashenko’s ally, to intervene to end the crisis.

The website of the Catholic Church in Belarus also posted a report on comments by Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s equivalent of a foreign minister, in the Russian capital, Moscow, on Nov. 9.

Speaking at a live-streamed press conference alongside Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, Gallagher said that the Vatican was taking a “pretty even-handed” approach to the border crisis.

“On the immediate crisis that is taking place, on the borders between Belarus, Lithuania, Belarus and Poland, the Holy See’s position is, I think, pretty even-handed with regard to the encouragement that we offer to authorities throughout the whole of Europe to assume their responsibilities with regard to migrants and to refugees,” he said.

“And therefore, we would encourage all to assume their responsibilities and to address what is obviously a very serious humanitarian crisis.”

He noted that the Church in Poland had been “critical of the approach by the authorities and has been trying to encourage a more humanitarian and a more flexible approach.”

“I think that the bishops of Poland, for example, have somewhat dissented from the pushback by the authorities. And I think that there there is the voice of the Church, encouraging all to regard this situation as not a question of numbers, but of people, just like the rest of us, who find themselves in a very serious position. And those obviously who are responsible for this issue obviously bear a great burden of responsibility.”

Lavrov said that the crisis should be resolved with “full respect for the principles of international humanitarian law.”

“It is important not to forget the roots of these problems. They are caused by the long-term policy of the Western countries, including NATO and EU members, as regards the Middle East and North Africa,” he commented.

“The West was trying to impose its version of a better life on these states, and its interpretation of democracy that it was pushing all over the world. When the West encountered the least bit of resistance, it launched military ventures. Iraq was bombed under a false pretext, the Libyan state was destroyed and there were attacks on Syria. These and other ventures of our Western colleagues triggered unprecedented refugee flows.”

The Catholic Church in Poland will hold a collection this month for migrants facing deteriorating conditions on the country’s border with Belarus.

The website of the Church in Belarus is encouraging Catholics to recite the following prayer:

Merciful God, let refugees and migrants,
deprived of home, family, and everything they know,
feel Your presence filled with love.
Warm the hearts of children and the elderly,
as well as of the weakest people.
Make them feel that You are near,
as You did with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,
when they were refugees in Egypt.
Help them find a new home and new hope.
Open our hearts so that we accept them
as sisters and brothers,
seeing in their faces Thy Son, Jesus.

Traditionis custodes: Rome diocese bans Traditional Latin Mass for Easter Triduum

Mass during the 10th annual Populus Summorum Pontificum pilgrimage to Rome, Oct. 29-31, 2021. / Edward Pentin.

Rome, Italy, Nov 10, 2021 / 04:20 am (CNA).

The vicar general for the Diocese of Rome has banned the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass during the Easter Triduum in his implementation of Pope Francis’ motu proprio Traditionis custodes.

In a letter dated Oct. 7, but made public on several blogs Nov. 9, Cardinal Angelo De Donatis said that Mass could continue to be celebrated according to the 1962 Roman Missal at five churches in Rome on all days except from the evening of Holy Thursday to the evening of Easter Sunday, the period known as the Triduum.

De Donatis also stated that no other sacraments or sacramentals may be celebrated according to the pre-Vatican II missal except the Mass.

The diocesan press office confirmed on Nov. 10 that the letter, addressed to the priests and faithful of the Diocese of Rome, was authentic.

As pope, Francis is also the bishop of Rome, but because the pope has many other responsibilities, the day-to-day care of the Diocese of Rome is entrusted to the vicar general, whose full title is Vicar General of His Holiness.

A vicar general is given, by canon law, executive power over the diocese in all administrative acts except those reserved to the bishop. In the Diocese of Rome, the cardinal vicar functions like a de facto diocesan bishop.

Rome diocese’s guidelines were issued in response to Pope Francis’ motu proprio Traditionis custodes, published in July, which placed tight restrictions on Mass using the 1962 Roman Missal, known variously as the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, the Tridentine Mass, and the Traditional Latin Mass.

In a letter to the world’s bishops explaining his decision, the pope said he felt compelled to act because the use of the 1962 Missal was “often characterized by a rejection not only of the liturgical reform, but of the Vatican Council II itself, claiming, with unfounded and unsustainable assertions, that it betrayed the Tradition and the ‘true Church.’”

Cardinal Angelo De Donatis. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.
Cardinal Angelo De Donatis. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Responding to the pope’s motu proprio, the cardinal vicar of Rome said “it seemed fitting to continue to exercise a lively pastoral charity towards the faithful” who wish to participate in the Traditional Latin Mass.

He said that all priests in the diocese who sought to celebrate Mass according to the 1962 Missal must be authorized in writing by the diocesan bishop, as stipulated in Traditionis custodes.

The cardinal designated the pastor of Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini, a church run by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), as responsible “pro tempore” (for the time being) for the “dignified celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy, as well as the ordinary pastoral and spiritual care of the faithful.”

The readings during Traditional Latin Masses must be proclaimed in Italian according to the 2008 translation by the Italian bishops’ conference, De Donatis’ letter said.

He added that with Pope Francis’ motu proprio, “it is no longer possible to use the Roman Ritual and the other liturgical books of the ‘ancient rite’ for the celebration of sacraments and sacramentals (e.g., not even the Ritual for the Reconciliation of Penitents according to the ancient form).”

Issued with immediate effect on July 16, Traditionis custodes (“Guardians of the tradition”) made changes to Benedict XVI’s 2007 apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum, which acknowledged the right of all priests to say Mass using the Roman Missal of 1962.

With Traditionis custodes, Pope Francis said that it is now each bishop’s “exclusive competence” to authorize the use of the Traditional Latin 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.