News Brief


Pope’s charity helps transgender prostitutes in Rome amid coronavirus fallout

Among the beneficiaries of the pope’s charity during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak are a small number of transgender prostitutes in Rome, who found themselves on the verge of homelessness and knocked on the door of their local parish for help.

It was the parish priest, Father Andrea Conocchia, pastor of the Beata Vergine Immacolata church in Torvaianica, about 45 minutes southwest of Rome, who helped put them in touch with the papal almoner, Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewski.

Krajewski, who oversees the pope’s charity funds and who throughout the coronavirus outbreak has been driving around Rome distributing food and medical supplies to the poor, then sent them enough money to cover their rent and bills until the nationwide lockdown ends.

Krajewski told Crux that after Conocchia distributed the money, “one of the people that was helped came to this parish church in tears thanking (God) for saving her.”

“This is also the face of the Church,” the cardinal said, stressing the need to think outside the box, because “our Church is not only for the faithful. Jesus washed the feet of everyone. This is the Gospel, it’s enough to read it to find answers of how to help.”

“For me what was important was to remember that they are people, they are people with a life that deserves attention, listening, welcome, and they also deserve respect and recognition as human beings,” he said in comments to Crux.


Vatican donates ventilators to hospitals in Syria, sets up emergency fund

(CNS)  In the name of Pope Francis, the Congregation for Eastern Churches said it is sending 10 ventilators to Syria and three to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Jerusalem to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

The donations were among the first items announced by the congregation as it launched an emergency fund in response to the pandemic.

The congregation’s announcement April 18 said the 10 ventilators sent to Syria would be shared by three hospitals run by Catholic orders of women religious: the Salesians in Damascus, the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition in Aleppo and the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul in Damascus.

In addition to the ventilators for the Jerusalem hospital — also run by the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition — the congregation said it would purchase and supply diagnostic kits for people in Gaza and would make an “extraordinary contribution” to Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem, West Bank, which specializes in maternity and neonatal critical care.

The Congregation for Eastern Churches supports the Eastern Catholic churches throughout the world and also looks after the needs of Catholics of all rites in Egypt, Eritrea and northern Ethiopia, southern Albania and Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Turkey.


Little Sisters of the Poor make third appearance before Supreme Court

(Aleteia) One of the first oral arguments the Supreme Court has heard by teleconference, and one in which one justice participated from a hospital room, involved the Catholic religious order the Little Sisters of the Poor and their ongoing fight in a religious liberty case.

“The Little Sisters of the Poor again find themselves in court defending their community against attempts to force Catholic religious to violate their conscience,” the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement ahead of oral arguments Wednesday morning.

Originally, the case arose from the controversial implementation of a rule that grew out of the Affordable Care Act. That 2010 law included a section that requires coverage of preventive health services and screenings for women. The following year, the Obama administration required employers and insurers to provide women with coverage at no cost for all methods of contraception approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The so-called “contraceptive mandate” carried an exemption for houses of worship, but not faith-based institutions.

“The Court has ruled in the Little Sister’s favor twice before, recognizing what was obvious from the very beginning — that the federal government doesn’t need nuns to help it distribute contraceptives and that forcing them to participate is plainly unconstitutional,” said Mark Rienzi, president of Becket. “We hope that the Supreme Court ends this litigation once and for all.”

Tej Francis