NEWS BRIEFS

– Tej Francis

LEICESTER, UNITED KINGDOM

EUCHARISTIC CONGRESS CHANCE TO ‘REJUVENATE’ CHURCH IN ENGLAND AND WALES

(Crux News) Over 10,000 people are expected to descend on Liverpool this weekend for the first National Eucharistic Congress in the history of the Church in England and Wales. The Sep. 7-9 congress is called ‘Adoremus’ – Latin for “We adore you” – and is the first such gathering in England since the 19th International Eucharistic Congress took place in London in 1908.

“It is a way to encourage and rejuvenate our faith and to renew our devotion to the presence of Christ in the Eucharist through adoration,” said Bishop Robert Byrne, auxiliary of Birmingham, and one of the organizers of the event.

The Catholic Church is facing different challenges than it did in 1908, when the Protestant establishment objected to a Eucharistic procession through the streets of the capital. Now the Church is facing a rising tide of secularism in society and a lack of religious practice from her own members.

According to the Religion Media Center, there are about 5 million Catholics in England and Wales, but on any given Sunday, less than 900,000 are at Mass. The situation is worse for the dominant Anglican Church of England: Less than 5 percent of its members attend Sunday services each week.

According to the latest polls, more than half of the people in England and Wales say they have no religion. “It is a complete abandonment of our Christian heritage in this country,” Byrne told Crux. The bishop said the Church is not facing hostility in the country, as much as indifference.

Byrne said the Congress will be “an impetus” for people to go back to their parishes and dioceses “rejuvenated in their faith” and ready to share it with the world. “It will be a two-edge thing: A personal renewal and a renewal of the Church’s life and mission.”

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA

CHURCH HAS KEY ROLE IN QUEST FOR COLOMBIAN RECONCILIATION TO KEEP PEACE

(Crux News) A year after Pope Francis urged Colombians to build unity and a nation for all after more than half a century of conflict, the country’s Catholic Church continues to play a key role in the quest for reconciliation.

Dioceses throughout the country celebrated Peace Week Sept. 2-9. The event began 25 years ago to underscore the Church’s commitment to a negotiated solution to the long-running armed conflict between government security forces and armed guerrilla groups.

In addition, Church leaders participate in national councils for implementing the peace agreements signed nearly two years ago with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, the largest rebel group.

A slim majority of voters opposed the peace accords in a referendum held shortly after they were signed. President Ivan Duque, who has taken a harder line than his predecessor, has said he might make “adjustments” to the accords.

The program, called Barometer, is sponsored by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.  Barometer has identified 578 specific provisions that could be monitored. A team that has grown from five to about 40 people in Colombia and at the university in South Bend, Indiana, scours news reports, conducts interviews and gathers other information about progress on the provisions and tracks them using an online database.

The program collaborates closely with the Colombian bishops’ social ministry office, which works in every region of the country and is widely trusted, Paladini said.

The Church continues to work with both top government officials and victims in remote communities that were shattered by the conflict, “especially helping to ensure that the programs implemented after the signing of the accords take an approach based on reconciliation,” Henao said.

GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA

TENS OF THOUSANDS MARCH FOR LIFE AND FAMILY IN GUATEMALA 

(ACI Prensa) Thousands of people marched September 2 in defense of life and family in the capital of Guatemala, protesting legislation that would incorporate gender ideology and legal abortion into the country’s laws.

The “Great Guatemala National March for Life and the Family” was organized by the “Let’s Transform Guatemala” (Transformemos Guate) citizens’ movement to promote “full respect for the right to life and the express prohibition of abortion in any of its forms throughout the entire territory of the Republic of Guatemala.”

The organization also called for “maintaining in the law the original design of the family on the legal basis of marriage between one man and one woman to live together, have children, nourish and educate them and help one another.”

Sunday’s march was held in opposition to Bill 5376, which would legalize abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy for victims of rape. However, Let’s Transform Guatemala warned that the legislation treats abortion as the ultimate answer, without providing “a real solution so that violence, sexual exploitation and human trafficking may be eradicated.”

Tens of thousands from across the country attended the march, including Catholic, Evangelical, and Jewish leaders. Representing the Catholic Church was Archbishop Raúl Martínez, apostolic administrator of Santiago de Guatemala.

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