Browsing News Entries

Pope Francis warns against preachers who sow division online

Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Jun 23, 2021 / 06:35 am (CNA).

At his general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis warned against preachers who sow division and mistrust online.

“There is no shortage of preachers who, especially through the new means of communication, can disturb communities. They present themselves not primarily to announce the Gospel of God who loves man in Jesus, Crucified and Risen, but to insist, as true ‘keepers of the truth,’ ... what is the best way to be Christians,” the pope said June 23.

/ Pablo Esparza/CNA.
/ Pablo Esparza/CNA.

“And they strongly affirm that the true Christianity is the one they adhere to, often identified with certain forms of the past, and that the solution to the crises of today is to go back so as not to lose the genuineness of the faith. Today too, as then, there is a temptation to close oneself up in some of the certainties acquired in past traditions.”

Pope Francis said that these “new preachers” can be recognized by their “rigidity,” which contrasts with “preaching the Gospel that makes us free, makes us joyful.”

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

“The new preachers know neither meekness nor obedience,” he said.

The pope began a new cycle of catechesis this week on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, which, he suggested, “seems written for our times.”

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

“It is a very important letter, I would say decisive, not only to get to know the Apostle better, but above all to consider some topics that he deals with in depth, showing the beauty of the Gospel,” the pope said.

Paul “addresses some very important themes for the faith, such as those of freedom, grace, and the Christian way of life, which are extremely current because they touch many aspects of the life of the Church of our day. This is a very current letter,” he added.

/ Pablo Esparza/CNA.
/ Pablo Esparza/CNA.

In particular, the pope highlighted how St. Paul responds to a pastoral concern in his Letter to the Galatians: Opponents of Paul had argued that he was not a true Apostle and therefore had no authority to preach the Gospel.

“Indeed, some Christians who had come from Judaism had infiltrated these churches, and began to sow theories contrary to the Apostle’s teaching, even going so far as to denigrate him. They began with doctrine -- ‘No to this, yes to that,’ and then they denigrated the Apostle,” he said.

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

“It is the usual method: undermining the authority of the Apostle. As we can see, it is an ancient practice to present oneself at times as the sole possessor of the truth, the pure, and to aim at belittling the work of others, even with slander.”

Pope Francis said that this is exactly the way that “the evil one” seeks to divide Christian communities today.

“Let us think about how some Christian communities or dioceses first begin with stories, and then they end by discrediting the priest or the bishop. It is precisely the way of the evil one, of these people who divide, who do not know how to build. And in this Letter to the Galatians, we see this process,” he said.

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

Paul’s Letter to the Galatians also provides a model of missionary evangelization, the pope said.

“In his indefatigable work of evangelization, the Apostle succeeded in founding several small communities scattered throughout the region of Galatia. Paul, when he arrived in a city, in a region, did not construct a great cathedral immediately, no. He created small communities that are the leaven of our Christian culture today,” he said.

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

Pope Francis added: “Today, too, this pastoral method is used in every missionary region. I received a letter last week, from a missionary in Papua New Guinea, telling me that he is preaching the Gospel in the forest, to people who do not even know who Jesus Christ was. It is beautiful! One begins by forming small communities.”

At the beginning of the general audience in San Damaso Courtyard, the pope spent nearly 40 minutes greeting pilgrims. He gave blessings, signed prayer cards, greeted infants, and playfully switched his white zucchetto with one held up from the crowd by a young man.

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

Among the pilgrims gathered in the San Damaso Courtyard, was a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

Mattia Villardita volunteers in his free time by dressing up as Spider-Man to visit sick children in hospitals. After meeting the pope in full costume, he told CNA that Pope Francis told him to “take a lot of selfies with the kids in the square.”

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

“The path indicated by the Apostle is the liberating and ever-new path of Jesus, Crucified and Risen; it is the path of proclamation, which is achieved through humility and fraternity,” the pope said.

“It is the path of meek and obedient trust ... And this meek and obedient way leads forward in the certainty that the Holy Spirit works in the Church in every age. Ultimately, faith in the Holy Spirit present in the Church carries us forward and will save us,” he said.

Five Quotes to Bring you Closer to Saint John the Baptist

Close up from "The Baptism of Christ" (c. 1482) by Pietro Perugino. / Wikipedia.

Denver Newsroom, Jun 23, 2021 / 06:30 am (CNA).

Saint John the Baptist finds himself in elite company. Together with St. Joseph he is one of only two saints besides the Blessed Virgin Mary to have more than one feast day and he and the Blessed Virgin Mary are the only saints to have a feast day celebrating their birth.

June 24th is the solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.  Here are five quotes to help you get to know the man of whom Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.”

  1. “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."

Bible scholar John Bergsma recently discussed John the Baptist’s formative years with the Essene movement. The Essenes intimately connected the Holy Spirit with water. John the Baptist went even further, connecting the baptism of the Messiah not just with water and the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit and fire. Bring on the heat!

  1. “He must increase; I must decrease.”


John’s birth is celebrated near the pinnacle of light in the northern hemisphere, the summer solstice. The liturgical calendar reveals something of the reality of John’s mission as a precursor to the Messiah, the Incarnate Son of God who is “the Light that shines in the darkness.” After the summer solstice each year, the amount of sunlight begins to decrease, just as John began to decrease in anticipation of the Messiah’s coming. It reaches its lowest ebb just before Christmas, when the Light of Lights descends from heaven and physical light itself begins to increase.  

  1. “Repent, the Kingdom of God is near.”

A true mystic, John’s interior life and supernatural vision of reality allowed him to lead others to the conviction that they must change their way of life to see Heaven. Baptized by the Holy Spirit in the womb of his mother, John’s life was marked by in-breaking of the Kingdom of Heaven from his earliest days. His words captured reality so clearly they became the first words of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark: “Repent, the Kingdom of God is at hand.”

  1. “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee before the coming wrath?”

John the Baptist wasn’t much for hypocrisy, as evidenced by his choice words for the Pharisees and Sadducees. He spoke kindly of tax collectors and prostitutes who repented, however. His words are a not so gentle reminder that humble acknowledgment of our sins is more important than keeping up appearances.

  1. “Behold, the Lamb of God!”

John the Baptist was among the first to recognize the divinity of Jesus. Not only does he leap in the womb, he instructs his own disciples Andrew and John to follow Jesus, calling him the Lamb of God. The priest repeats this startling recognition of Jesus’ identity at every Mass: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.”

May the words of John the Baptist kindle the fire of love within you on this solemnity so that you may decrease, see Heaven in the midst of everyday life, live with integrity, and behold the Lamb of God.

Why was Spider-Man at Pope Francis’ general audience?

Mattia Villardita, a 28-year-old Italian who dresses up as Spider-Man, attends the general audience at the Vatican, June 23, 2021. / Pablo Esparza/CNA.

Vatican City, Jun 23, 2021 / 05:35 am (CNA).

People attending Pope Francis’ weekly audience on Wednesday, and those following via livestream, were surprised to see sitting among the crowd a man dressed head-to-toe in tight red and blue garb decorated with a silver web.

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

Why was Spider-Man at the Vatican?

The man inside the costume is Mattia Villardita, a 28-year-old Italian who dresses up as the comic-book character to visit sick children in hospitals across the country.

“I try to alleviate some of the suffering of hospital patients,” he told CNA.

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

Villardita was at the June 23 general audience, held inside San Damaso Courtyard, to meet Pope Francis and to give him his very own Spider-Man mask.

“I’m Catholic and I’m very happy about this experience,” Villardita said afterward, noting that Pope Francis already knew who he was and about his “mission.”

“He told me to take a lot of selfies with the kids in the square,” he said.

/ Hannah Brockhaus/CNA.
/ Hannah Brockhaus/CNA.

Last year, Villardita was made a Cavalier of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, an honor conferred on him by the Italian president for his actions as an “everyday hero.”

The real-life Peter Parker told CNA that he has a day job, but he uses his free time to dress up and visit hospitals.

/ Hannah Brockhaus/CNA.
/ Hannah Brockhaus/CNA.

And why Spider-Man?

“It’s my favorite character from when I was a kid,” he explained.

“This all came about from a personal story,” he said. “I was a patient for 19 years at the Gaslini Pediatric Hospital in Genoa, because I was born with a congenital malformation.”

/ Hannah Brockhaus/CNA.
/ Hannah Brockhaus/CNA.

As a child, Villardita underwent multiple surgeries and spent months recovering in hospital rooms.

“And that experience has helped me to help these patients and their families,” he explained.

Villardita launched his project, “Superheroes in the Ward,” two years ago. Some of his friends volunteer with him, also dressed up as popular characters.

/ Hannah Brockhaus/CNA.
/ Hannah Brockhaus/CNA.

And the Spider-Man fan did not let last year’s COVID-19 outbreak slow him down. When Italy went into a strict lockdown, he created a video call service to let children still meet and talk to their favorite superhero.

He made more than 1,400 video calls before returning to the hospitals in person in December.

When he shook hands with Pope Francis, the part-time Spider-Man told him about the suffering of the kids and their families that he sees every day.

The moment “was really, really moving,” he said.

Catholic priest among five people kidnapped in Mali

The flag of Mali. / Railway fx via Shutterstock.

Bamako, Mali, Jun 23, 2021 / 05:00 am (CNA).

A Catholic priest is among five people kidnapped on Monday in the West African nation of Mali.

ACI Africa, CNA’s African news partner, reported that Fr. Léon Douyon, a priest serving in the Diocese of Mopti, was abducted alongside four others by gunmen on the morning of June 21.

The Malian priest Fr. Alexis Dembélé said June 22 that “the group disappeared on Monday while traveling from Ségué, in the center of the country, to the funeral of Fr. Oscar Thera in the town of San.”

He continued: “We have confirmation that it was a kidnapping by armed men. It is a great concern for the Catholic community in Mali.”

“The poor road network requires one to go up north and then back down to the south to the town of San.”

The group was abducted about 20 miles north of Ségué, in the vicinity of Ouo.

“The group was made up of Fr. Léon Douyon, the parish priest of Ségué, Thimothé Somboro, the village chief of Ségué, Pascal Somboro, deputy mayor, and two other members of the community, Emmanuel Somboro and Boutié Tolofoudié,” Dembélé said.

Major Abass Dembélé, the governor of Central Mali’s Mopti region, confirmed the abduction but did not offer further details.

Mali, a predominantly Muslim country with a population of 19.66 million people, has experienced a surge in violence involving both civilians and the military since 2012.

Kidnappings have become common, with militants seeking either to obtain ransom money or exert political pressure.

The country has seen clashes between the Malian army and a group fighting for independence, as well as jihadist insurgencies led by groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. It has also witnessed inter-communal violence. The fighting has left thousands dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.

The violence has spread to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Sr. Gloria Cecilia Narváez Argoti, a member of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate who was kidnapped in southern Mali in 2017, is believed to be in the hands of jihadists linked to al-Qaeda.

Mali is currently under the leadership of Colonel Assimi Goïta who led two coups in a span of nine months, first ousting the country’s democratically elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta last August and, in May, the interim leaders who were to head the country’s transitional government.

Following the May 24 coup, Mali’s constitutional court named Goïta as transitional president of Mali until the country holds elections.

The move has attracted criticism, with Catholic leaders in the country calling it a “seizure of power outside the legal process.”

The members of the Episcopal Conference of Mali said that they were following “with great concern and sadness” the events that took place in the country following the establishment of a new government last month.

They said: “The bishops in Mali, conscious of the need for a strong executive and a reconciled and reinforced army, strongly condemn the seizure of power outside the legal process.”

“We firmly condemn the current crisis resulting from personal calculations far from the concerns of the people and the interests of Mali.”

A version of this story was first published by ACI Africa, CNA's African news partner, written by Jude Atemanke. It has been adapted by CNA.

Polish Catholic archbishop urges European Parliament to reject abortion report

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

Warsaw, Poland, Jun 23, 2021 / 03:30 am (CNA).

A Polish Catholic archbishop urged members of the European Parliament on Tuesday to reject a report describing abortion as “essential healthcare” and redefining conscientious objection as a “denial of medical care.”

Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, the president of the Polish bishops’ conference, made the appeal on June 22 as the European Union’s law-making body prepared to vote on the report calling on all EU member states to allow access to abortion.

“Abortion is always a violation of the fundamental human right to life, a violation even more abhorrent because it concerns the life of the weakest and completely defenseless human being. It is, therefore, a manifestation of the most unjust discrimination,” the archbishop of Poznań said.

The European Parliament is due to debate the “Report on the situation of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU, in the frame of women’s health” -- known as the Matić Report -- on Wednesday and vote on it on Thursday.

Gądecki underlined that Catholic members of the European Parliament should “unequivocally” reject the report and not compromise on the right to life.

He said that “in a situation where the documents to be voted on target fundamental human rights and values that are non-negotiable, they cannot accept any compromise, but should unequivocally combat such initiatives.”

The archbishop said that the report -- presented to the European Parliament by Croatian politician Predrag Fred Matić -- amounted to a breach of EU law, as abortion laws fall within the competence of the EU’s 27 member states, rather than of EU institutions.

He also said that the text contained “false information” about Poland’s pro-life laws.

He pointed out that, while the report asserts a “right to abortion,” no international human rights document recognizes the existence of such a right. On the contrary, he said, “these documents guarantee the right to life, without mentioning the right to kill.”

“Abortion is always a violation of the fundamental human right to life, a violation even more abhorrent because it concerns the life of the weakest and completely defenseless human being,” he said.

“It is, therefore, a manifestation of the most unjust discrimination. The legal authorization of abortion profoundly distorts social life, let alone its recognition as an ‘essential health service.’”

Ahead of the debate, the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (EPF) issued a report claiming that wealthy “religious extremists” were seeking “to roll back human rights in sexuality and reproduction.”

The European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ) said that “the timing of this report is significant as it has been released in view of the upcoming vote at the European Parliament dedicated to sexual and reproductive rights.”

A commission of European bishops said last week that it was “very concerned” about the Matić Report.

The Secretariat of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) said that it was “ethically untenable” to classify abortion as an “essential” health service.

“A medical intervention of such magnitude cannot and must not become a normal practice; its qualification as an essential service degrades the unborn child,” it said.

In his statement, Gądecki expressed alarm at the Matić Report’s attempt to redefine conscientious objection to abortion.

“The European Union in the Charter of Fundamental Rights explicitly mentions the right to conscientious objection, which is a special characteristic of this organization,” said the archbishop, who is vice-president of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE).

“The right to conscientious objection, including for medical workers, is explicitly guaranteed in the constitutions of many member states. The adoption of the resolution could, therefore, also be seen as an attack on the constitutions of many member states.”

Catholic teen works toward Gold Award by serving single mothers 

Donation drive for Mary's Homes of Hope / Ciara Leal

Denver Newsroom, Jun 22, 2021 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

A Catholic teen in Colorado is hoping to earn the Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can earn, by serving at a Catholic home for single mothers. 

Since 2019, Ciara Marie Leal has organized countless donation drives for Mary’s Homes of Hope, a Catholic ministry to women who have experienced homelessness, based in a Denver suburb. She also helped design a website for the organization. 

Statistics show that in Colorado, nearly 6% of households with children under the age of 18 are led by a single mother. 

However, Leal’s inspiration for her project was more personal. Her own sister is raising two children as a single mother. 

“I was close with her when I was younger, but once I got older we kind of drifted apart,” Leal said of her sister. “In 2019, she started coming back into my life, and I noticed the struggles that she's had as a single mother, who doesn't have any support or resources.”

Years earlier, Leal had done similar work with Catholic Charities of Denver’s Marisol Homes and Gabriel House - ministries for single mothers and young families - to earn her Bronze Award with the Girl Scouts of America. 

She learned about Mary’s Homes of Hope through Lynn Reid, OFS, who previously worked at Marisol Homes and Gabriel House.

Leal held several interviews with Reid, and began organizing donation drives in late 2019 and early 2020. Leal had to suspend her donation drives when the coronavirus pandemic started, but she wanted to find a way to continue spreading the word about Mary’s Homes of Hope’s mission.

“That's when I started thinking of the idea of a website, because I needed the message of Mary's Homes of Hope to basically get out there, to the media and to the world,” Leal said. 

Leal said the project has revitalized her Catholic faith. She held her donation drives at her parish, and spoke with countless parishioners about Mary’s Homes of Hope. 

“Once I reached high school, I kind of drifted away from my faith and I really needed a stepping stone to bring me back into my faith,” Leal said. “That's where my Gold Award plays in, in that it brought me back into my faith, to serve God and help his children in need.”

She has also grown closer to her sister through the project. 

“Once she realized that I was doing this as my Gold Award, she was so happy because she doesn't want other single mothers and women to face what she has faced in the past,” Leal said of her sister. 

Leal will deliver her final presentation for the Gold Award in mid-July. She is now a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts, and will no longer be eligible for further awards or badges. She said she is grateful for the 13 years she spent in Girl Scouts. 

“It definitely has shaped how I see the world,” she said. “It's taught me goal setting, math and money management, business, ethics, people skills and other  basic life needs that I need to work on throughout my development and growth.” 

“It has given me so many opportunities that I'm very grateful for.” 

To donate to Leal’s drive for Mary’s Homes of Hope, visit https://www.maryshomesofhope.com/ and click the donation tab. 

Now agreeing with former priest’s victim, Kansas City archdiocese says abuse claim was substantiated

Cathedral of St. Peter in Kansas City, Kansas / Mwkruse, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Denver Newsroom, Jun 22, 2021 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

Crediting a sex abuse victim for his challenge of a review board’s ruling in 2002, the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas says an allegation that a now-laicized priest abused a minor was, in fact, able to be substantiated. 

“The archdiocese is particularly grateful for this survivor’s courage and strength in coming forward to challenge the decision,” the archdiocese said in a June 18 statement in the case involving former priest William Haegelin.

“Due to this persistence, we are now able to acknowledge more fully the harm to the survivor and to better assist and support their healing,” the archdiocese said. “Archbishop Naumann offers his sincere apology to the survivor, their family and community.”

Voicing “deep sorrow for the suffering of victims and survivors of abuse,” the archdiocese said that former priest William Haegelin was in fact the subject of “a substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.”

Haegelin was removed from ministry in 2002 and laicized in 2004. The archdiocese said an investigation in 2002 “led to an inaccurate determination and announcement that he did not sexually abuse a minor.”

The archdiocese’s statement did not explain the reasons for reversing the announcement.

A man who said the priest sexually abused him as a minor in the 1980s had written a two-page letter documenting his allegations to the archdiocese in 2002.

After receiving the letter, the archdiocese put Haegelin on administrative paid leave. The archdiocese’s independent review board then ruled there was no evidence that Haegelin had sexual relations with his accuser when the latter was a minor. There was, however, evidence that he did have relations when the accuser was a legal adult, the review board found.

Some 19 years later, the archdiocese has now added Haegelin’s name to its list of credibly accused priests, published on the archdiocese website. He had been listed before in the category “Previously Publicized Allegations Not Able to Be Substantiated.”

“Archbishop Naumann urges anyone harmed by William Haegelin to contact both law enforcement and the archdiocese,” the archdiocese said. 

“The archdiocese takes very seriously its obligation to address any allegation of abuse or misconduct by church personnel.”

The archdiocese encouraged any new allegation of abuse to be reported to the Kansas Protection Report Center. Those who suspect abuse or misconduct by an archdiocesan cleric, employee or volunteer should also contact the archdiocese’s confidential report line.

Haegelin’s last assignment was at St. Ann Catholic Church in Prairie Village, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City. 

In 2002, the archdiocese’s then-vicar general Msgr. Charles McGlinn said then-Archbishop James P. Keleher hoped that Haegelin would return to service in the archdiocese after taking a sabbatical and undergoing spiritual counseling, the Kansas City Star reports.

In November 2002, Haegelin said in a statement that he thought the review board had conducted a “full and fair investigation.”

“I look forward to the coming time granted to me for spiritual renewal ... and ask for your continued prayers,” the priest stated at the time.

While incidents of Catholic sex abuse by clergy appear to have peaked in the U.S. in the mid-1970s, victims of abuse often take years to come forward. Only in 2002 did the Catholic Church come under massive external criticism, resulting in ongoing efforts by the U.S. bishops and other Catholic institutions to better address abuse, respond to and assist survivors, and mandate training to help prevent abuse.

Clergy sex abuse victimized tens of thousands of people in the U.S. and Catholic institutions have spent billions of dollars in legal judgments and other agreements.

Breaking: Soros and IPPF-funded EU parliamentarians aim to blacklist reputable Christian groups

The European Parliament. / Alan Holdren/CNA.

Brussels, Belgium, Jun 22, 2021 / 16:57 pm (CNA).

The European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (EPF) a group of European parliamentarians committed to compelling the recognition of abortion as a “human right” world-wide, is preparing a major political coup aimed at discrediting reputable Christian and human rights organizations which the group describes as “religious extremists” allegedly committed “to roll back human rights in sexuality and reproduction.”

Last week, EPF presented an “investigative report” called “Tip of the Iceberg: Religious Extremist Funders against Human Rights for Sexuality and Reproductive Health in Europe 2009 – 2018,” with the intention to influence a vote that would openly denounce pro-life organizations in the European Parliament. The EP vote is scheduled to take place in Brussels, at the EU headquarters, on Thursday, June 24th.

The document, signed by Neil Datta, Secretary of the EPF, claims to be an exposé of “54 anti-gender funding actors active in Europe as well as the main channels through which the religious extremists generate funding and how it circulates.”

According to the report, “the picture that emerges is of a transnational community of likeminded religious extremists and related alt- and far-right actors making strategic funding decisions across international borders.”

The long document lists countless organizations and individuals who they shame as "anti-gender" with little or no proof. In the chapter dedicated to the Catholic Church, the document criticizes the Vatican, some European Cardinals like Christoph Schönborn, the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) and several other organizations and individuals in no particular order.

According to the document, "here are several Catholic religious communities which advance anti-gender objectives and equally have financial weight;" they proceed to mention the Italian lay movement Communion and Liberation, Luca Volontè of the Novae Terrae Foundation, the US-based Knights of Columbus, the Chiaroscuro Fund, the Legionaries of Christ, "the Slim family of Mexico," Opus Dei, the Lejeune Foundation, Spain's Fundación Valores y Sociedad, Italy's Movimento Per la Vita and Polish Redemptorist priest Tadeusz Rydzyk; CitizenGO, and finally, as a major revelation, "several Vatican officials" who "play direct roles in anti-gender initiatives."

Other well established and reputable pro human rights organizations are also painted as "alt-right" institutions funneling millions of Euros into a pro-life, pro-family agenda.

Ironically, EPF is supported by the wealthiest organizations in the planet. EPF has an almost endless list of billion-dollar organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, IPPF, the European Commission, George Soros’ Open Society Foundation, the Wallace Global Found, the MacArthur Foundation, the Summit Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation (one of the owners of Hewlett-Packard)

According to an early analysis of “Tip of the Iceberg” by the European Center for Law and Justice, “the report is long and very detailed. Among a mishmash of conservative US think tanks and Russian oligarchs it targets solid pro-life and pro-family groups, pro-life politicians (Gudrun Kugler and Anna Záborská), European Catholic families, think tanks (Hudson Institute, ECLJ, and Alliance Defending Freedom - ADF) and broadly the Catholic Church.”

The Center also points out that “the timing of this report is significant as it has been released in view of the upcoming vote at the European Parliament dedicated to sexual and reproductive rights.”

EPF has proposed an amendment stating that the EU: “…is concerned about the inclusion in the EU transparency register of organizations such as Ordo Iuris, ADF International, Alliance VITA, European Dignity Watch, the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe (FAFCE), the One of Us European Federation for Life and Human Dignity, Profesionales por la Ética and World Youth Alliance Europe, which are thereby authorized to work openly with public institutions for the decline of women’s rights and SRHR (Note: Sexual and reproductive health and rights).”

If passed, the resolution would be the first massive blacklisting of human rights and Christian organizations in the European Union.

Oakland bishop: Unmasked Massgoers should not be ‘policed’

Bishop Michael Barber of Oakland / Diocese of Oakland

Denver Newsroom, Jun 22, 2021 / 16:01 pm (CNA).

The bishop of Oakland, California on Monday said that Catholics fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not have to wear masks at Mass, adding that those not vaccinated will not be forced to wear a mask.

“The mask rules for offices, schools, travel, public transportation and businesses are still being worked out by government health officials. But churchgoers may dispense with the mask if they have been vaccinated,” Bishop Michael Barber, SJ wrote in a June 21 column. He added that no one should be “forced or requested to prove their vaccination status to participate in worship.”

Those who are not yet vaccinated against COVID-19 are asked to continue to wear masks at Mass, Barber said, but the new protocols are based on the “honor system.” He cautioned that “no one should be criticized if they choose not to be vaccinated, and/or wear a mask inside our churches.” 

“Our ushers and greeters should extend a warm welcome and answer questions about the new policy, but they should never be used as ‘mask police,’” the bishop wrote. 

Dioceses across the country are continuing to lift the general dispensations from the Sunday Mass obligation, put in place last year due to the pandemic. The dispensation in the diocese of Oakland will end on Sunday, Aug. 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption.

“I extend a warm ‘welcome home’ to our parishioners, who have been starving spiritually during this pandemic,” Barber concluded.

“The Lord has given us ‘Bread from heaven, containing all sweetness within it.’ Let us do what the Good Shepherd commands us and open wide our doors to ‘Feed His lambs, feed His sheep’,” he said. 

California’s Alameda County, which includes the city of Oakland, has recorded about 90,000 total cases of COVID-19. 

Other dioceses have similarly discouraged “policing” of the vaccination status of Mass attendees. 

The Diocese of LaCrosse, Wisconsin announced on Tuesday the reinstatement of the Sunday obligation on the weekend of June 26-27. Bishop William Callahan noted that “vaccinated-only” Masses are not allowed, and that “checking vaccination status of Mass attendees is also not permitted.”

The ecclesiastical provinces of Baltimore and Washington - which include the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the dioceses of Wilmington, Arlington, Richmond, and Wheeling-Charleston - will lift the dispensation that same weekend. Fully vaccinated people will not need to wear a mask at Mass, and “do not need to supply proof of vaccination,” the dioceses announced recently, adding that “parishes should not ask to see or check vaccination cards.”

Vatican economy secretariat issues regulations on new norms for awarding public contracts

Fr. Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves. / Office of Communication Society of Jesus.

Vatican City, Jun 22, 2021 / 15:00 pm (CNA).

The Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy issued on Tuesday a set of regulations related to new norms for awarding public contracts unveiled by Pope Francis last year.

The regulations are contained in a decree signed by Fr. Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, S.J., the Pontifical Delegate and prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.

The decree, consisting of 49 articles, concerns the pope’s apostolic letter, “Norms on transparency, control and competition in the procedures for awarding public contracts of the Holy See and Vatican City State,” dated May 19, 2020.

The apostolic letter, issued motu proprio (“on his own impulse”), outlined new procedures for awarding public contracts that aim to increase oversight and accountability, and ensure the Vatican and Holy See work only with vetted financial partners.

The decree says that the new regulations “apply to all purchases of services, supplies, and works.”

It states that “economic operators” under investigation for crimes are excluded “from participation in procedures for direct awarding of contracts and being registered in the list of authorized vendors.”

It rules that “subcontracting may be permitted to the maximum extent of 30% of the contract value.”

It also covers the procedures to be followed in cases of urgency.

Alongside the decree, the Secretariat for the Economy also released a 91-page document containing seven annexes to the new regulations, published on the website of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

A note introducing the decree and the annexes on the website said: “The choices made combine the need for operational efficiency with the highest standards of transparency and the principles of legality and fair competition.”

“This is, therefore, a further concrete step on the path of the Holy See's economic reforms.”

ACI Stampa, CNA’s Italian-language news partner, noted that the decree does not extend to real estate transactions, which it said would be the subject of further regulations issued before the end of 2021.

Last October, Pope Francis named Cardinal Kevin Farrell president of a committee monitoring internal Vatican financial decisions which fall outside of the new accountability norms.

The five-member group is called the “Commission for Reserved Matters.”