NEWS BRIEFS

– Tej Francis

DUBLIN, IRELAND

RIGHT TO LIFE A ‘CORE VALUE’ OF NEWLY-LAUNCHED IRISH POLITICAL PARTY

(CNA)The leader of a new political party that spans both Ireland and Northern Ireland promised to uphold the right to life as a key value at the party’s launch on Tuesday. The new party, Aontú, is headed by PeadarToibin, an Irish politician who was suspended from the Sinn Fein party two times for breaking with the party line on legalized abortion, which it favoured. “It is unbelievable that Aontú is the only party that stands up for the human right to life,” Tóibín said at the launch of his party’s manifesto, according to the BBC.

Abortion was legalized in the Republic of Ireland just last year. Abortion remains illegal in Northern Ireland, which is a part of the UK, except in cases where a mother’s life is in danger.“Aontú want to make sure that there is a real voice and a real alternative for many people who feel that they have no-one to vote for,” Tóibín added at the launch. “We are simply saying that this is a core value for ourselves, and we won’t let you down on this issue.”Toibin told reporters in November that he wanted to give a voice to the 34% of people who voted to keep abortion illegal in the Republic of Ireland, and to make sure that pro-life people were not marginalized. 

VATICAN CITY

CHURCH ATTACKED BY MADURO LOYALISTS AFTER MASS, VENEZUELAN BISHOP SAYS

(CNS) While protests against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro raged across the country, National Guard forces loyal to the embattled head of state launched tear gas at churchgoers attending Mass at a local parish.In a letter published May 2 by Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Bishop Mario del Valle Moronta Rodriguez of San Cristobal said chaos erupted in Our Lady of Fatima Church when two National Guard members entered the parish on motorcycles as Mass was concluding.The bishop said that subsequently, “a horde of 40 Bolivarian National Guard members,” led by a general known as Ochoa, tried to enter the church and berated the pastor, Father Jairo Clavijo, after he forbid them from entering.

“Not pleased with that, the members of the Bolivarian National Guard launched tear-gas bombs in the church, causing an immediate evacuation of the sacred place where there was a good number of faithful, including many elderly people,” Bishop Moronta said. In the ensuing chaos, he added, a religious sister in the church fainted.”This event is very serious, and it is an attack against the Catholic Church. I hold General Ochoa and the military authorities in the region responsible for this vile event that speaks to the will of the attackers who do not respect human dignity nor fear God,” Bishop Moronta said.

Expressing solidarity with Father Clavijo and the parish community, the bishop said the diocese will “make decisions accordingly and promote actions that they deem relevant.”News of the attack comes on the heels of massive nationwide protests after Juan Guaido, the opposition leader who declared himself interim president, rallied supporters April 30 to protest Maduro’s government.

PHOENIX, ARIZONA

ST. JOSEPH CATHOLIC CHURCH IN PHOENIX DESTROYED BY FIRE, CAUSE UNKNOWN

(CNA) An extensive fire destroyed St. Joseph Catholic Church in north Phoenix during the early morning hours of May 1. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined. No one was injured in the blaze, which began sometime after midnight and was not fully extinguished until after 6 a.m., ABC 15 Arizona reported.“This morning we awoke to the tragic news of the fire at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Phoenix,” said the Diocese of Phoenix in a May 1 statement.“We are heartbroken for the St. Joseph Catholic community and we are grateful for the bravery of the fire fighters and first responders.”

“The Phoenix Fire Department is investigating the fire. The church building was destroyed and there were no injuries. We will have more to share as it becomes available,” the diocese said. It noted that there are tentative plans to celebrate this weekend’s Masses somewhere on parish property.“Today on this feast day of St. Joseph the Worker, we ask the community to join us in prayer,” its statement concluded.

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