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– Tej Francis



(CNA/EWTN News) A Catholic church in Northern Ireland was vandalized Tuesday morning with sectarian graffiti, upsetting parishioners and local leaders. “We never had a problem like this before. There was something very minor about five or six years ago but this is completely new to us,” Msgr. Bryan McCanny, pastor of St. Mary’s in Limavady, fewer than 20 miles east of Derry, told BBC News NI.

“Parishioners are very upset about it. It’s depressing that things like this should happen when we are enjoying peace. The two police officers who arrived this morning helped to clean the paint off the door,” he added. Paramilitary slogans from an anti-Catholic group marked a door and some of the walls of St Mary’s July 31. A large crucifix outside of the church was also painted on.

The graffiti read UDA and UFF. The Ulster Defence Association is an Ulster loyalist vigilante group founded in 1971 whose paramilitary front organization is the Ulster Freedom Fighters. The UDA is considered a terrorist organization by the United Kingdom, and between the late 1960s and 2007 it carried out more than 250 killings, with most of the victims Catholic civilians.

The Northern Irish police are treating the incident as a sectarian hate crime.  Caoimhe Archibald, Member of the Legislative Assembly for East Londonderry, called the incident a “disgraceful attack.”

Religious disputes have long been part of the history of Northern Ireland, which is predominantly Protestant and is part of the United Kingdom, while the majority-Catholic Republic of Ireland gained its independence in 1916.



(CNS) Building on the development of Catholic Church teaching against capital punishment, Pope Francis has ordered a revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to assert “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person” and to commit the church to working toward its abolition worldwide.

The catechism’s paragraph on capital punishment, 2267, already had been updated by St. John Paul II in 1997 to strengthen its skepticism about the need to use the death penalty in the modern world and, particularly, to affirm the importance of protecting all human life.

Announcing the change Aug. 2, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said, “The new text, following in the footsteps of the teaching of John Paul II in ‘Evangelium Vitae,’ affirms that ending the life of a criminal as punishment for a crime is inadmissible because it attacks the dignity of the person, a dignity that is not lost even after having committed the most serious crimes.”

The catechism now will read: “Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.

“Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption,” the new section continues.

Pope Francis’ change to the text concludes: “Consequently, the church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that ‘the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,’ and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.”

Pope Francis specifically requested the change to the catechism in October during a speech at the Vatican commemorating the 25th anniversary of the text’s promulgation.



(Vatican News) The Catholic Church of India has expressed shock that the government’s National Commission for Women (NCW) has called for abolishing the Sacrament of Confession, saying it is undue interference in a sacred an vital issue of Christian life.

The NCW made the demand to the government of India following a scandal that surfaced last month in southern India’s Kerala state involving 4 priests of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church who are accused of using a married woman’s confession to blackmail and sexually abuse her. Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) issued a press release on July 27 saying the demand by the commission is absurd.

Speaking to Vatican News on Monday, the cardinal, who also president of Conference of the Catholic Bishops’ of India (CCBI), which comprises India’s Latin bishops, as well as the president of the Federation of the Asian Bishops’ Conference (FABC), repeated his press statement saying the “demand by the commission betrays a total lack of understanding of the nature, meaning, sanctity and importance of this Sacrament for our people.”

NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma recommended that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and some of his cabinet ministers take steps to abolish the practice of confession in Christian Churches. Cardinal Gracias said the Catholic Church is “careful and has strict laws to prevent any abuse of the sacrament.”  Such a ban, he said, will be a direct infringement on the religious freedom which guaranteed by the constitution.  “I feel it is an infringement of our human rights.”

Calling it an “absurd demand”, Cardinal Gracias hopes the government will surely reject it.


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