Category Archives: Justice and Peace

In new book on clergy and religious life, Pope Francis addresses homosexuality

Pope Francis 2

Pope Francis. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City:In a book-length interview to be published next week, Pope Francis addressed gifts and challenges for clerical and religious vocations, among them the challenge of homosexuality in the clergy.

“The issue of homosexuality is a very serious issue that must be adequately discerned from the beginning with the candidates, if that is the case. We have to be exacting. In our societies it even seems that homosexuality is fashionable and that mentality, in some way, also influences the life of the Church,” the pope says in the book “The Strength of a Vocation,” set to be released Dec. 3 in ten languages.

In an excerpt from the book, released Friday by Religión Digital, the pope said he is concerned about the issue of evaluating and forming people with homosexual tendencies in the clergy and consecrated life.

“This is something I am concerned about, because perhaps at one time it did not receive much attention,” he said.
Francis said that with candidates for the priesthood or religious life “we have to take great care during formation in the human and affective maturity. We have to seriously discern, and listen to the voice of experience that the Church also has. When care is not taken in discerning all of this, problems increase. As I said before, it can happen that at the time perhaps they didn’t exhibit [that tendency], but later on it comes out.”

“The issue of homosexuality is a very serious issue that must be adequately discerned from the beginning with the candidates, if that is the case,” the pope reiterated.

Francis recalled that one time “I had a somewhat scandalized bishop here who told me that he had found out that in his diocese, a very large diocese, there were several homosexual priests and that he had to deal with all that, intervening, above all, in the formation process, to form a different group of clergy.”

“It’s a reality we can’t deny. There is no lack of cases in the consecrated life either. A religious told me that, on a canonical visit to one of the provinces in his congregation, he was surprised. He saw that there were good young students and even some already professed religious who were gay,” he related.

The pope said that the religious “wondered if it were an issue and asked me if there was something wrong with that. Francis said he was told by one religious superior that the issue was not “that serious, it’s just an expression of an affection.”

“That’s a mistake,” Francis warned. “It’s not just an expression of an affection. In consecrated and priestly life, there’s no room for that kind of affection. Therefore, the Church recommends that people with that kind of ingrained tendency should not be accepted into the ministry or consecrated life. The ministry or the consecrated life is not his place.”
We “have to urge homosexual priests, and men and women religious to live celibacy with integrity, and above all, that they be impeccably responsible, trying to never scandalize either their communities or the faithful holy people of God by living a double life. It’s better for them to leave the ministry or the consecrated life rather than to live a double life.”

The pope was asked in the book if there are limits to what can be tolerated in formation.

“Of course. When there are candidates with neurosis, marked imbalances, difficult to channel not even with therapeutic help, they shouldn’t be accepted to either the priesthood or the religious life, They should be helped to take another direction (but they should not be abandoned. They should be guided, but they should not be admitted. Let us always bear in mind that they are persons who are going to live in the service of the Church, of the Christian community, of the people of God. Let’s not forget that perspective. We have to care for them so they are psychologically and affectively healthy,” the pope replied.

The book is the transcript of an interview conducted by Fr. Fernando Prado, director of the Claretian publishing house in Madrid.

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/in-new-book-on-clergy-and-religious-life-pope-francis-addresses-homosexuality-27409

Arrest warrant issued for alleged killer of Saint Oscar Romero

Saint Oscar Romero St. Oscar Romero. Courtesy photo, office of canonization

A court in San Salvador issued an arrest warrant for the man suspected of the March 24, 1980 killing of Saint Oscar Romero, who was canonized on October 14, 2018 by Pope Francis.

The suspect is Álvaro Rafael Saravia, a 78 year old former army officer.
Charges against Saravia were dismissed in 1993 after an amnesty law prohibited criminal trials related to the country’s civil war.
In 2017, however, Judge Rigoberto Chicas reopened the case, after the amnesty law was rescinded.

Now the National Police and Interpol are charged with finding the former soldier so he can be tried for aggravated homicide.
No one else has been charged in connection with Romero’s death.
Romero was shot while he celebrated Mass at a hospital chapel, amid the civil war between leftists guerrillas and the right-wing government that left about 75,000 dead between 1980 and 1992.

Several investigations have concluded that the murder was carried out by a death squad linked to the military dictatorship, who falsely believed that Archbishop Romero was supporting Marxist guerrillas because of his concern for the poor of his country.
In his work with the poor and in his denunciations against the dictatorship, the archbishop was supported by Pope Saint Paul VI and Pope Saint John Paul II during their pontificates.

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com
This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

The Nicaraguan students who became reluctant rebels: “I’m no longer the same.”

by Tom Phillips (in Managua)
The Guardian

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Lesther Alemán, Valeska Valle and Douglas Costa. Photograph: Tom Phillips

“Nicaragua’s upheaval has claimed hundreds of lives and changed everything for Valesk a Valle, Lesther Alemán and Douglas Costa.” – Tom Costa

Three months ago, Valeska Valle was a church-going dance freak whose best friend was her dog.

Douglas Costa plotted to take a master’s at the University of Oxford.

And Lesther Alemán was a communications student who harboured not-so-secret dreams of donning his country’s blue-and-white presidential sash.

Then came the outbreak of what some call the Nicaraguan spring on 18 April – and everything changed.

“I’m no longer the same Valeska I was on 17 April,” said Valle, during an interview at the Managua hideout to which she and her fellow student protest leaders have retreated since their uprising against Daniel Ortega began almost 12 weeks ago.

The upheaval – which has so far claimed more than 300 lives and looks set to intensify this week with three-days of protests and a nationwide strike – has transformed Valle, Costa and Alemán into reluctant renegades and, in doing so, turned their lives upside down.

Valle, who is 22, said relatives had shunned her since she announced she was popping out to buy Coca-Cola on 18 April but instead slipped off to take a front-line role in the struggle against the man she calls “el Tirano”.

“Most of my siblings have turned their backs on me,” said Valle, a final year accounting student who was born and raised in Masaya, a one-time Sandinista stronghold that has become one of the key focuses of resistance. “Of my seven brothers and sisters, five told me it would be better if I said I was an only child. Most of us here have been rejected by our families.”

Read more the full article in the Guardian.

End of Hondurans’ protected status endangers 57,000 immigrants, advocates say

by Maria Benvento
NCR

 

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People hold a Honduran flag while sitting on the border fence between Mexico and the United States, April 29, in Tijuana, Mexico. (CNS/Jorge Duenes, Reuters)

 

May 9, 2018: Catholic groups who are tracking the current situation in Honduras said the Trump administration’s May 4 decision to terminate the country’s temporary protected status and send back 57,000 immigrants disregards extremely dangerous conditions in the Central American country.

“You could not look at those conditions and make that judgment call. That’s not what was primary in their decision, in my opinion,” said Jean Stokan, justice coordinator of the Institute Justice Team for the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. “There’s absolutely no conditions to go back … it’s a furnace of violence.”

When Honduras’ status last came up for review six months earlier, advocates for its extension cited gang violence, displacement, lack of housing and jobs, disease outbreaks and subsequent natural disasters that have made the country unsafe and impeded recovery from the hurricane that prompted its designation.

Since then, conditions have worsened after a highly contested November election led to widespread civil unrest; dozens of protesters were killed, hundreds were injured and thousands were jailed after demonstrations were met with violence from military police, said Stokan.

Stokan most recently visited Honduras in late January as part of an ecumenical delegation to observe and accompany the protesters and faith leaders who had been threatened, such as Jesuit Fr. Ismael “Melo” Moreno Coto. She witnessed militarization and instability and heard about extreme gang violence from Sisters of Mercy in the country.

Lawrence Couch, director of the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, who also have sisters and affiliates in the country, was part of the same delegation. Couch said he saw “chaos and unrest” and “widespread discontent” in the country. “It was in this context that President [Donald] Trump has chosen to send back 57,000 Hondurans.”

Hondurans have been covered under temporary protected status, which grants them work authorization and protection from deportation, since early 1999, shortly after Hurricane Mitch devastated the country in October 1998. The hurricane left one fifth of the population homeless, killed over 5,600 and destroyed infrastructure.

By law, the Department of Homeland Security is required to review conditions and renew a country’s temporary protected status in six-, 12- or 18-month increments as many times as necessary if dangerous conditions persist.

“The disruption of living conditions in Honduras from Hurricane Mitch … has decreased to a degree that it should no longer be regarded as substantial,” said a May 4 statement from Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. “Thus, as required under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be terminated.”

But many advocates said the opposite was true. “As CLINIC laid out along with 640 different interfaith organizations, we believe that under the law the secretary was compelled to extend TPS for Honduras for 18 months,” said Lisa Parisio, an advocacy attorney for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, or CLINIC.

“The TPS program is designed to protect people from being returned to harm,” the Leadership Conference of Women Religious said in a May 8 statement. “That is precisely what Hondurans will face if they are forced to return.”

A May 4 statement from Alianza Americas, a network of immigrant organizations, pointed out that this January, the State Department warned that Honduras was unsafe for travel due to “violent crime and gang activity.” The determination that Hondurans can return “runs counter to both the haunting realities in Honduras and to Americans’ purported values of decency, compassion and humanity.”

Advocates who urged extension also noted effects on the approximately 53,000 U.S. citizen children of Honduran protected status holders, who could be separated from parents who don’t want to bring them to a dangerous country, and noted that status holders have jobs, businesses and homes that tie them to U.S. communities.

To be eligible for temporary protected status, immigrants must have continuously resided in the U.S. since their country was designated as protected. That means any Honduran immigrants who are covered by the status have been living in the U.S. since Jan. 5, 1999 — over 19 years.

These deep U.S. roots could put temporary protected status holders in even more danger when they are required to return to Honduras Jan. 5, 2020, Parisio said. Returners with few connections in Honduras, who are perceived to have “American wealth” and U.S. relatives, “would be prime targets for those looking to extort and do harm to them.”

Expelling the status holders could also further destabilize Honduras because one in six Hondurans depend on remittances sent from the U.S., Parisio added, resulting in “more people coming to the U.S. border seeking safety.”

Exacerbating problems in Honduras, then refusing to help those who flee from them, is a pattern in U.S. policy, said Stokan.

“It isn’t just that people are fleeing poverty or they’re fleeing violence, or even that they’re fleeing political chaos,” she said. “How did U.S. policies contribute to those very conditions of why there is violence?”

 “Of course we need borders. Of course we need to prevent criminals from coming in, but we’re talking about families that are fleeing a country that’s on fire.”
—Jean Stokan

Stokan pointed out that the U.S. recognized Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez’s government after a coup in which he took power in 2009, and again recognized the election results in 2017 despite suspicious circumstances.

Also concerning for Stokan are Trump’s disparaging comments about migrants who come to the U.S. seeking refuge, including a mostly Honduran caravan that recently traveled to the U.S. border to seek asylum.

“This is not about protecting U.S. people from some threat,” Stokan said. “Of course we need borders. Of course we need to prevent criminals from coming in, but we’re talking about families that are fleeing a country that’s on fire.”

This kind of rhetoric and action from Trump and his administration contributes to suspicions that temporary protected status decisions are being made on the basis of anti-immigrant sentiment rather than an analysis of country conditions.

“There’s no rhyme or reason to it that I can tell besides this anti-immigrant posture,” said Couch.

Honduras had received 18-month extensions each time its status came up for review under both Democratic and Republic administrations until the Trump administration disrupted that pattern six months ago. Then-acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke declined to make a renewal decision, resulting in an automatic 6-month extension.

Some advocates theorized that Duke recognized dangerous county conditions but was pressured by the Trump administration to end the status.

The Trump administration has also terminated the status for Nicaragua, Sudan, El Salvador, Haiti and Nepal, affecting about 310,540 people, while only extending it for 7,070 migrants from South Sudan and Syria. Decisions for 1,250 Somalian and Yemeni migrants are expected this July.

In many of its press releases announcing cancellations, although not in the most recent, the administration has called on Congress to legislate a pathway to legal status for temporary protected status holders, a call that advocates echo even as they doubt its sincerity.

“It’s fine to say that; weigh in and help make that happen,” said Stokan. She suggests advocates take a three-pronged approach to supporting temporary protected status holders: promoting legislative solutions, addressing root causes of migrants, and helping recipients regularize their status through other means if possible.

Advocates also called for a return to more welcoming values.

“To show a total disregard for the welfare of these people after they’ve been in our country for so long is unforgiveable,” Couch said. “We were built on welcoming people, trusting people.” To suddenly think of foreigners as evil or detrimental people who must be expelled is “not who we are as a people and we have to get beyond this current administration and get back to our values.”

[Maria Benevento is an NCR Bertelsen intern. Her email address is mbenevento@ncronline.org.]

Source: https://www.ncronline.org/news/justice/end-hondurans-protected-status-endangers-57000-immigrants-advocates-say

 

 

Nicaragua abandons social security changes after dozens killed in riots

with Nicaragua
A security guard outside a supermarket after protests against the Nicaraguan government’s social security reforms, which have now been dropped. Photograph: Inti Ocon/AFP/Getty Images

The Guardian
Source: Associated Press
22 April 2018

 

President Daniel Ortega says changes implemented on 16 April have been cancelled.

Nicaragua’s president has withdrawn changes to the social security system that triggered deadly protests and looting.

President Daniel Ortega said in a message to the nation that the social security board of directors had cancelled the changes implemented on 16 April. The overhaul was intended to shore up Nicaragua’s troubled social security system by both reducing benefits and increasing taxes.

The changes touched off protests across the Central American nation that escalated into clashes with police as well as looting. The demonstrations appeared to expand to include broader anti-government grievances.

Human rights groups said at least 26 people were killed in several days of clashes. Dozens of shops in the Nicaraguan capital of Managua were looted during unrest that extended into Sunday.

Unlike his appearance on Saturday with the police chief, Ortega announced the cancellation of the overhaul accompanied by business executives who account for about 130,000 jobs and millions of dollars in exports.

Earlier in the day, Pope Francis said at the Vatican that he was “very worried” about the situation in Nicaragua and echoed the call of local bishops for an end to all violence.

Images broadcast by local news media showed looted shops in the capital’s sprawling Oriental Market district and at least one Walmart.

Police apparently did not intervene on Sunday, in contrast to what had been a strong response to earlier demonstrations in which dozens were injured or arrested.

“We are seeing social chaos in Nicaragua provoked by the absence of government leadership, and the crisis has been combined with poverty, and that in any society is a time bomb,” sociologist and analyst Cirilo Otero said.

Ortega had said on Saturday he was willing to negotiate on the social security overhaul, but said the talks would be only with business leaders.

He seemed to try to justify the tough response against protesters by the government and allied groups, accusing demonstrators, most of them university students, of being manipulated by unspecified “minority” political interests and of being infiltrated by gangsters.

Nicaragua has been one of the more stable countries in Central America, largely avoiding the turmoil caused by gang violence or political upheaval that has at times plagued Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala in recent years.

But top Nicaraguan business lobby COSEP has backed peaceful protests against the government, and said it would not enter talks with Ortega to review the social security plan until he had ended police repression and restored freedom of expression.

A former Marxist guerrilla and Cold War antagonist of the United States, Ortega has presided over a period of stable growth with a blend of socialist policies and capitalism.

But critics accuse Ortega and his wife, Vice-President Rosario Murillo, of trying to establish a family dictatorship. The country remains one of the poorest in the Americas.

Priest campaigning for Brazil’s Amazon arrested for sex crimes and extortion

Karla Mendes

March 29, 2018 | RIO DE JANEIRO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A Brazilian priest who risked his life campaigning for the landless has been arrested for sexual harassment and extortion but his lawyer said the charges are a ruse to stop his work.

Jose Amaro Lopes de Sousa, known as Padre Amaro, is regarded as the successor to American nun and environmental activist Dorothy Stang, who was murdered in 2005, an emblematic case for the many conflicts over land use in resource-rich Brazil.

A police statement said that Amaro was arrested on Tuesday in the city of Anapu in northern Para state, home to a vast Amazon rainforest reserve, following a court order and eight months of investigations.

“For us, there is no doubt that behind this investigation there is a ranchers’ conspiracy aiming to make Padre Amaro’s work unfeasible,” the priest’s lawyer, Jose Batista Afonso, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone on Wednesday.

“Padre Amaro personifies nun Dorothy’s work … He has been receiving death threats for a long time.”

Stang often criticized cattle ranchers for seizing land illegally and destroying the rainforest, highlighting tensions between farmers and environmentalists in the top global beef exporter. Local landowners were jailed for ordering her death.

The ranchers’ union in Anapu said they had nothing to do with Amaro’s arrest, adding that about 400 police reports, including videos and witness testimonies, support the charges.

“(Amaro) held meetings in the dead of night, encouraging people to invade land and then had an illegal trade in these invaded lands,” Silverio Albano Fernandes, head of Anapu’s ranchers union, said by phone.

“He was making profit from these sales as he kept a percentage. Everybody knows it here.”

London-based campaign group Global Witness said that Brazil was the world’s most dangerous nation for land rights activists in 2016, with about 50 people killed.

About a dozen land activists have been murdered since 2005 in Anapu, where Amaro is based, according to the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), set up by the Catholic Church to combat violence against the rural poor.

Amaro’s opponents could not kill him because of the international outcry following Stang’s shooting, and because some are still in jail, said Afonso, who works for CPT.

“Of course, the way chosen to try to nullify the priest’s work would be different,” he said.

Afonso said he will file for habeas corpus, which requires Amaro be brought to court and released unless lawful grounds can be shown for his detention.

“We hope the arrest will be revoked,” he said.


Reporting by Karla Mendes; Editing by Katy Migiro; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-brazil-landrights-arrests/priest-campaigning-for-brazils-amazon-arrested-for-sex-crimes-and-extortion-idUSKBN1H52H6

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Forty arrested at Catholic-led DACA Protest

Catholic News Agency
By Christine Rousselle

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Catholic-led DACA protest in Washington, DC, Feb. 27, 2018. Credit: Jonah McKeown, CNA

Washington D.C., Feb 27, 2018 / 04:20 pm (CNA).- A group of about 100 people–including Franciscan friars, religious sisters, and laity–gathered in the rotunda of the Russell Senate Building in Washington on Tuesday, and were led away in flex cuffs in a planned act of civil disobedience.

The protest was intended to pressure Congress to take action on “Dreamers,” or people who were brought to the United States illegally as children. It was organized as part of the Catholic Day of Action with Dreamers, an event planned by Catholic social advocacy groups.

One of those arrested was Sr. Tracy Kemme, a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati. Prior to her arrest, Kemme told CNA that she considered her actions to be worthwhile to help protect the immigrant community.

“Myself, two of my sisters, and one of our associates will be doing civil disobedience,” said Kemme. She continued, “It’s a moral moment of truth and it’s worth it to us to try to raise the consciousness of our legislators.”

Registered “Dreamers” are afforded renewable protection from deportation under an Obama-era policy called the “Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals” (DACA). President Donald Trump sought to end DACA in September of 2017 and gave Congress a six-month period to come up with a solution before the protections would expire on March 5.

Two federal courts have issued injunctions preventing the President from ending DACA.

On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to consider the Administration’s expedited appeal of those injunctions, ensuring that the program will remain as-is until a final court decision is made later this year.

Congressional legislators have been unable to pass compromise bills that would have codified parts of DACA into law. On Monday, the USCCB urged Catholics to call their Congressmen as part of the “National Call-in Day for the Protection of Dreamers.”

The PICO National Network, along with Faith in Public Life and the DC Catholic Coalition, organized Tuesday’s “day of action.” The day featured a prayer rally and peaceful civil disobedience, culminating with the arrests.

Kemme told CNA that she hopes Congress is able to pass a DREAM Act unconnected to other proposed immigration reforms, and that her faith inspires her passion of working with the immigrant community.

“As a Catholic, my end goal would be comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship that keeps families together,” she said.

Kemme’s desires were echoed by Sr. Elise Garcia, O.P., from the Dominican sisters in Adrian, Michigan. Garcia said she was in D.C. on Tuesday to pray for the Dreamers as well as for elected leaders, and she too would like to see comprehensive immigration reform.

“Ideally, I would like to see an entire comprehensive package of immigration reform. That’s the ideal. Short of that, I’d like to see justice for Dreamers,” who have only known the United States as their home.

Before the Capitol Police attempted to disperse the protest, Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv., Bishop of Lexington, addressed the crowd. Once the crowd began loudly praying a decade of the rosary, the police started to make arrests.

A total of 40 people were arrested and charged with “Crowding, Obstructing, or Incommoding.”