19 July 2018, The Tablet

News Briefing: the Church in the World

News Briefing: the Church in the World

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s cardinal says he does not fear death but is careful about what he eats, as he continues to challenge the government to hold overdue elections. Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa (pictured) said this week that he is on “a mission to defend the faith, to the cost of shedding one’s blood, and I’m not afraid to do that”. His criticisms of President Joseph Kabila have put him in danger, but he reports taking measures to stay safe. “Naturally, I am prudent,” he said on 9 July. “I don’t eat just anything; I don’t drink just anything.” His food is prepared by two nieces.

The US bishops’ conference’s Committee on Migration and Refugee Services teamed up with Catholic Charities USA and other church agencies to help reunite some two dozen of the 2,342 immigrant children separated from their parents as part of the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on immigration enforcement. President Donald Trump has since stopped the separation of children from their parents and the administration is under a court order to reunite the families by the end of July. 



The general postulator of the Society of Jesus has said he has begun compiling all the writings of Jesuit Fr Pedro Arrupe and is seeking eyewitnesses who can attest to the holiness of the order’s late superior general. The task should “be finished in about a year”, the postulator, Fr Pascual Cebollada, told Catholic News Service on 13 July.

During a meeting in Bilbao, Spain, with Jesuits on 11 July, Fr Arturo Sosa Abascal, superior general of the Society of Jesus, announced: “We have seriously begun the process for the beatification of Fr Pedro Arrupe”. Fr Arrupe was elected superior general of the Society of Jesus in 1965 and resigned in 1983. He died in 1991. Fr Cebollada told CNS that Pope Francis and countless other Jesuits continue to be inspired by his life and spirituality.


Catholic gets top Malaysia job

A Catholic has been appointed chief justice in Malaysia, a country in which Muslim ethnic Malays dominate politics and are the majority community. Richard Malanjum is the first non-Malay Malaysian from the two mainly Christian states on the island of Borneo to hold the country’s highest judicial post. The 65-year-old Catholic from the Kadazandusun community in Sabah state was educated by the La Salle brothers in Sabah. He acted as the chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak after being elevated to the Federal Court in 2005. “He has done a lot of work on trying to bring justice to the poor,” said a source. “The native courts that are based in the rural areas of Borneo are his brainchild.”


Priest charged with rape

A priest who served in the chancery of the Archdiocese of Santiago de Chile for 15 years was arrested on 12 July and accused of abuse and rape involving minors. Fr Óscar Muñoz Toledo, 56, was charged with seven counts of the repeated sexual abuse of minors and statutory rape. The archdiocesan office was also raided for evidence of a culture of cover-up. Muñoz had been the archdiocesan official charged with producing documentation and receiving the testimony of abuse victims. Earlier this year, he reported himself for one count of abuse and was removed as chancellor and as a parish priest. In June, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of five Chilean bishops who had been accused of covering up abuse.



Zimbabwe’s Catholic bishops have issued a pastoral letter, entitled “Opening a New Door”, in which they “believe, hope and pray” that the upcoming elections will be “an opportunity to build a new Zimbabwe”. They urge the faithful to vote on 30 July for leaders “who truly serve the people” and condemn violence and coercion, a constant feature of elections under former president Robert Mugabe who was forced to step down in November 2017.

Emmerson Mnangagwa became interim president in November 2017 to serve out Mr Mugabe’s term until elections at the end of this month. “All Zimbabweans must put any fear and disillusionment of previous elections behind them and prepare carefully for generous participation in the electoral process that is central to our democracy,” the bishops said.


Church sales guidelines

The Vatican is drafting guidelines to help Catholic dioceses find ways to decommission churches that are not needed, so they do not end up as “inappropriate” venues.

The Pontifical Council for Culture, the Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University and the Italian bishops’ conference will host an international conference on 29-30 November entitled: “Doesn’t God Dwell Here Anymore?” on managing sales of churches and the handling of their assets.


Catholic and other leaders in India have urged that a bishop accused of raping a Catholic nun be removed from his position. Ucanews reported that in a 12 July letter to Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, and another of the same date to Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, apostolic nuncio to India, 168 people called for action against Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar. The bishop denies the allegations.


The bishops’ conference of Nicaragua stated on 14 July that the government lacks the political will to engage in negotiations. “It is our responsibility to inform the nation that, during these months, we have been witnesses to the lack of political will from the government to sincerely dialogue and seek out real processes that can lead us to a true democracy,” the bishops wrote. The clampdown by the government of Daniel Ortega on three months of protests has left more than 200 dead, while many senior church figures have been assaulted.


Haiti’s Prime Minister, Jack Guy Lafontant, stepped down last Saturday, following protests in the capital, Port-au-Prince, after the government removed fuel subsidies, leading to a price rise of 38 per cent for petrol and of 47 per cent for diesel. Although the decision was reversed, protesters continued to express discontent. On 10 July, the bishops’ conference issued a statement denouncing the violence but also the irresponsibility of Haitian politicians. “The people are in misery, they are exhausted, they cannot take it any more,” the bishops wrote.

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