– Tej Francis

Vatican City

Cardinal Sarah: Ideological push in Amazon synod an ‘insult to God’

(CNA) The push by some Westerners to use the Vatican’s Amazon synod to advance their personal agendas is an insult to God and his plan for the Church, Cardinal Robert Sarah said in an interview published this week. “This synod has a specific and local objective: the evangelization of the Amazon. I fear that some Westerners are seizing this assembly to advance their plans,” Sarah told Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera Oct. 7. The cardinal mentioned in particular synod discussion of the ordination of married men, the creation of women’s ministries, and the jurisdiction of the laity.

“These points touch the structure of the universal Church. Taking advantage to introduce ideological plans would be an unworthy manipulation, a dishonest deception, an insult to God who guides his Church and entrusts to it his plan of salvation,” he stated.  Sarah, who is participating in the Amazon synod in his capacity as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, noted that he has heard that some people want this synod assembly to be a “laboratory” for the universal Church, and others think after the meeting everything will have changed.

“If this is true, this is dishonest and misleading,” the cardinal commented.  He added that he was “shocked and indignant that the spiritual distress of the poor in the Amazon was used as an excuse to support typical projects of bourgeois and worldly Christianity. It is abominable.” The proposal of combating priest shortages in the Amazon by ordaining married, respected men — so-called viri probati, Sarah called “theologically absurd” and implying “a functionalist concession of the priesthood…”

The proposal contradicts the Second Vatican Council’s teaching, he said, by seeming to separate within the priesthood participation in Christ’s identity as priest, prophet, and king. He added that to ordain married men “would mean in practice to question the obligatory nature of celibacy as such.”  Sarah said no one fears the viri probati proposal, but the synod will study it and Pope Francis will draw his conclusions, though he noted Francis’ use of a quote from St. Pope Paul VI in a speech in January: “I prefer to give my life before changing the law of Celibacy.”


Nun’s canonisation delays major congressional vote in Brazil

(Catholic Herald) The canonization of the first Brazilian-born female saint is making headlines across the country, putting news coverage of the country’s current political and economic difficulties on the backburner.  The canonization has even delayed approval of the government’s most important Congressional bill, the social security reform. Brazil’s Senate has delayed the final vote until October 22, because many senators are chartering a flight to Rome for the ceremony.

On October 13, Blessed Maria Rita Lopes Pontes, known to Catholics around Brazil as Sister Dulce, will be canonized by Pope Francis at the Vatican. The canonization is expected to be transmitted live on TV to the entire country.  Born in 1914 in the northeastern state of Bahia, Sister Dulce is revered for having given up the comforts that come with being brought up in a middle-class family to devote herself to the homeless and the sick. She was a member of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. 

She founded the first Catholic workers’ organization in the state of Bahia, but she is best known for her work with the sick and disabled. One of the most popular religious figures in Brazil, she is still seen today by many as “the mother of the poor.” She died in 1992 at the age of 77, with tens of thousands attending her funeral and even more gathering for her beatification in 2011.  Sister Dulce will be the second Brazilian religious to be canonized. The first Brazilian-born saint to be canonized was Friar Galvao in May 2007, by then-Pope Benedict XVI.


Bishop urges protesters ‘stop destroying the country’

(Independent Catholic News) Haiti “is dying” – according to a leading bishop – who has called on protestors to stop violent demonstrations, which have brought the country to a standstill.  Echoing calls by other Church leaders for the government to act, Bishop Désinord Jean of Hinche spoke out against demonstrators who, he said, were making a bad situation worse. Speaking to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Bishop Jean urged restraint after protests reportedly left 17 dead and nearly 200 injured.

He said: “Destroying the country it not a solution. It is probably a way to express frustration but it is not a solution. We have to find the way to talk. People cannot go out. We are enclosed in our homes. All the roads are blocked. Even in urgent cases ambulances or emergency cars cannot move. We don’t have fuel. Markets are not functioning. Schools have been closed throughout the country. The situation affects the whole nation.”  He added: “Please pray for us. This country is dying.”

Protests reignited in February and again in September, with demonstrators demanding the resignation of President Jovenal Moïse after accusations of corruption dogged his time in office, which has seen massive inflation and scarcity of goods and other resources.  Bishop Jean said: “80 percent of people in the country are unemployed – and this in a country where 65 percent of the population is young. The extreme poverty takes away all hope from people”.

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