– Tej Francis




(CNA) Catholic leaders released a statement this week in disagreement with the United States’ expansion of a policy that restricts asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border.  “We oppose U.S. policy requiring asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while waiting to access protection in the United States. We urge the Administration to reverse this policy, which needlessly increases the suffering of the most vulnerable and violates international protocols,” the statement read. 

Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, and Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, released the joint statement on March 13.  “We steadfastly affirm a person’s right to seek asylum and find recent efforts to curtail and deter that right deeply troubling. We must look beyond our borders; families are escaping extreme violence and poverty at home and are fleeing for their lives,” the statement read.

The Church leaders reiterated the call of Pope Francis to protect and welcome immigrants and encouraged the government to respond with policies that best promote human dignity. “Our government must adopt policies and provide more funding that address root causes of migration and promote human dignity and sustainable livelihoods,” they said.



(NCR) A witness to both of Cardinal George Pell’s trials says the prefect emeritus of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy is a victim of ‘trial by media’ and the guilty verdict is ‘utterly unfair.’ Peter Westmore, who was present at the first mistrial last September and the later retrial in November, told EWTN’s News Nightly on March 13 that having heard “all the evidence” he wondered “how a jury was able to reach this verdict is utterly incomprehensible.”

“A lot of other Australians are saying the same thing,” said Westmore, a former president of the National Civic Council in Australia, a Christian lobby group.  “It’s unbelievable this verdict has been handed down. Therefore, I think the sentence is utterly unfair given that Cardinal Pell is not guilty of what he’s been accused of.”

The 77-year old Australian cardinal was sentenced on Wednesday to six years imprisonment after being convicted in December of sexual abuse of two choirboys in 1996. He will be eligible for parole after serving three years and eight months of his sentence.  “In a sense he is undergoing a form of martyrdom,” Westmore said, “having to bear the cross for his faith.”  He said he believed Cardinal Pell “has undoubtedly been persecuted in the media because he is an outspoken and strong advocate for orthodoxy within the Catholic Church, and for a strong Christian role in a civilizing force within our society.”



(CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE) A Catholic bishop was hospitalized after a group of parishioners attacked him, a security guard and a priest in a five-decade-old land dispute in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.  Bishop Jerome Dhas Varuvel of Kuzhithurai left the hospital March 12, two days after he was attacked by a crowd of about 130 Catholic men and women, reported  The guard remains in the hospital after suffering serious injuries in his attempt to protect the bishop, Fr. Russel Raj, diocesan chancellor, told

Fr. Augustine Ponnaian, the diocesan financial administrator, suffered only minor injuries and was not hospitalized. Police have registered a case against 58 Catholics, including 16 women, accusing them of committing serious crimes such as rioting with weapons, criminal intimidation and using weapons in a manner of causing death.

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