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Pope Francis: Treat others with dignity, not as objects

Young people from around the world held hands in St. Peter's Square during the #NotAlone human fraternity event June 10, 2023. / Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Jun 10, 2023 / 11:43 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said in a message Saturday that others should be treated with dignity and respect, not as objects to exploit or throw away.

The pope’s speech was read aloud at a live-streamed event on human fraternity, sponsored by the Fratelli Tutti Foundation, held in St. Peter’s Square June 10. Pope Francis was scheduled to attend before being hospitalized on Wednesday for an abdominal surgery.

“Even though I am unable to greet you in person, I would like to welcome and thank you wholeheartedly for coming,” Francis said in the message, read by Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica and president of the Fratelli Tutti Foundation.

“In the encyclical Fratelli tutti,” the pope said, “I wrote: ‘Fraternity necessarily calls for something greater, which in turn enhances freedom and equality,’ since the one who sees the other as a brother or sister sees in him or her a face, not a number.”

“The other is always ‘someone’ who has dignity and merits respect, and not ‘something’ to be used, exploited or thrown away,” he added.

The June 10 event, called “#Not Alone,” was centered on the signing of a declaration on human fraternity drafted by a dozen Nobel Peace Prize winners together with representatives of former Nobel Prize-winning organizations.

“United with Pope Francis, we want to reaffirm that ‘authentic reconciliation does not flee from conflict, but is achieved in conflict, resolving it through dialogue and open, honest and patient negotiation’ (Fratelli Tutti, n. 244). All this within the context of the human rights framework,” the declaration says.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, secretary of state, signed the document in Pope Francis’ place June 10.

After the signing of the document, young people representing different countries formed “a symbolic embrace” by joining hands in a ring around St. Peter’s Square.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin signs a declaration on human fraternity on behalf of Pope Francis while Muhammad Yunus, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, and other Nobel laureates, look on, during the #NotAlone human fraternity event in St. Peter's Square June 10, 2023. Vatican Media.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin signs a declaration on human fraternity on behalf of Pope Francis while Muhammad Yunus, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, and other Nobel laureates, look on, during the #NotAlone human fraternity event in St. Peter's Square June 10, 2023. Vatican Media.

The six-hour event included speeches, testimonies, performances by Italian music artists — including Grammy-winner Andrea Bocelli — and circus performers.

Nobel laureates in attendance included Iraqi human rights advocate Nadia Murad, Congolese gynecologist Denis Mukwege, and Yemeni Arab Spring leader Tawakkol Karman.

The former presidents of Colombia, Costa Rica, Poland, and Democratic Republic of East Timor — all peace prize winners — also participated, as well as representatives of several U.N. organizations that have been past recipients.

“In our world torn apart by violence and war, tweaks and adjustments are not enough,” Pope Francis said in his message. “Only a great spiritual and social covenant born from the heart and centered on fraternity can restore the sacredness and inviolability of human dignity as the core of relationships.”

“This does not require theories on fraternity but concrete gestures and shared decisions that make it a culture of peace,” he continued. “The question to ask ourselves is not what society and the world can give me, but what can I give to my brothers and sisters.”

“When we return home, let us think of some concrete gesture of fraternity that we can make: reconciling with family members, friends and neighbors, praying for those who hurt us, recognizing and helping those in need, speaking words of peace at school, university or in society, ‘anointing’ with closeness those who feel alone,” he said.

Sacred Heart flags on Twitter and other ways to celebrate Jesus’ Sacred Heart this month

Apparition of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque of the Sacred Heart of Jesus / CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Chicago, Ill., Jun 10, 2023 / 07:00 am (CNA).

The month of June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a devotion that began in the 12th century and became more popular after Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in the 1670s, revealing to her the image of his Sacred Heart.

The solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is a moveable feast, meaning the exact date changes each year. This year, the solemnity falls on June 16. 

How is the date determined?

In 1675, Jesus told St. Margaret Mary that he wanted the feast of the Sacred Heart to be celebrated on the Friday after the Corpus Christi octave. In 1856, the feast of the Sacred Heart became a universal feast. 

St. John Paul II, who was deeply devoted to the Sacred Heart, said: “This feast reminds us of the mystery of the love of God for the people of all times.”

Many Catholics desire to take the opportunity this month to publicly and joyfully share their devotion to Jesus’ Sacred Heart. 

Here are five meaningful ways to celebrate a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in June. 

1. Display a Sacred Heart flag or image.

On Twitter, users have been sharing images of Sacred Heart flags to mark this month. An image of Jesus’ Most Sacred Heart can be shared on social media networks.

One Twitter user, Sachin Jose, wrote: “I am just suggesting an idea to all Catholics on Twitter. Can we display this [the Sacred Heart of Jesus flag] outside our homes this month. If you are ready, please comment yes.”

Whether posted on social media or not, flags can be ordered and hung outside homes or businesses.

2. Enthrone the Sacred Heart in homes and schools.

There is a growing revival of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Many Catholics are enthroning an image of the Sacred Heart in their homes, parishes, schools, and workplaces. This enthronement is a way of making visible a consecration to the Sacred Heart and is a powerful reminder of God’s presence in every moment. 

Helpful how-to and other resources are available at the Sacred Heart Enthronement Network, which was established to help those who want to live out and actively promote devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 

Those who enthrone the Sacred Heart can register the enthronement at that network to join the Sacred Heart Revival, which is described as a 2023 campaign to “fan the flames of love for the Sacred Heart and spread the devotion far and wide so that He may once again reign from pole to pole in our hearts and in our homes.” 

The steps to follow for enthronement of the Sacred Heart can be found here.

3. Pray to the Sacred Heart.

Catholics pray in a special way this month for Christ’s love and truth to spread throughout the world so that someday, all the world will honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

While appropriately prayed in the nine days leading up to the solemnity of the Sacred Heart on June 16, the novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus can be prayed at any time in June. 

Many other prayers to the Sacred Heart are particularly meaningful this month. There are a number of beloved aspirations that can be said throughout the day to connect quickly with Christ:

“Sacred Heart of Jesus, make my heart like yours.” 

“Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in you.” 

“Sacred Heart of Jesus, I believe in your love for me.” 

“Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, grant that I may love you more and more.”

“Sacred Heart of Jesus, protect my family and have mercy on us.”

4. Seek out the Sacred Heart.

A special visit or pilgrimage to a parish or chapel dedicated to the Sacred Heart is fitting this month. If there is a statue or image of the Sacred Heart at a church near you, bring flowers to lay before it, or bring loved ones there for prayer.

5. Share the love of Christ’s Sacred Heart.

Devotion to Jesus’ Sacred Heart is a celebration of the reign of Christ’s infinite love. Sharing the love of Christ this month might include doing acts of kindness for friends or family members, spending extra time in prayer, or helping someone in need. Visiting Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament seems especially appropriate this month.

The devotion to the Sacred Heart can be shared with loved ones and friends, including grandchildren and students. Some families may use a Holy Hearts pop-it or Sacred Heart coloring pages as fun and engaging entry points to explain why this month is dedicated to honoring Christ’s Sacred Heart and the mystery of his love.

There are a number of books about the Sacred Heart perfect for reading and sharing this month, such as “Holy Habits from the Sacred Heart” and Behold This Heart.” Children will enjoy reading about St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, who promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart, in this special biography for children.

Legacy of Irish teenager who inspired a nation lives on 10 years after his death

Only a few weeks before he died, 16-year-old Donal Walsh went on national television in Ireland to remind people of the value of life. He passed away on May 12, 2013. Today the Donal Walsh Live Life Foundation continues to promote life. / Credit: EWTN News

Denver, Colo., Jun 10, 2023 / 06:00 am (CNA).

Donal Walsh was tired of seeing young people end their lives while he was fighting each day for his.

Born and raised in County Kerry, Ireland, Walsh was diagnosed with bone cancer in his tibia at the age of 12. He endured nine months of chemotherapy and an operation to give him a prosthetic knee. After two years the cancer returned, this time to his lung. The young boy underwent surgery again to have half of his lung removed and endured more chemotherapy.

In October 2012, Walsh was diagnosed for a third — and final — time with tumors in five different locations in his body.

During his final months, Walsh took to writing about his battle with cancer and how his faith allowed him to persevere in what he called “climbing God’s mountains.” He also wrote about his frustration at seeing a rise in teenage suicide.

It was then that he decided to go on national television to encourage young people to value life.

With only a few weeks left to live, Walsh went on the Irish talk show “The Saturday Night Show” with Brendan O’Connor hoping to emphasize the value of life by sharing his own story.

“If I’m meant to be a symbol for people to appreciate life — it might not be just suicide — but just to appreciate life more in general, then I’d be happy to die if that’s what I’m dying for,” Walsh said during his television appearance.

Walsh passed away four weeks later on May 12, 2013, at the age of 16.

He spoke for 19 minutes, and those 19 minutes inspired a country. Months later, the coroner of County Kerry reported a decrease in suicides after Walsh spoke out.

Ten years later, his legacy lives on.

On May 11 of this year, more than 2,000 Irish students gathered at the Knock Basilica and Shrine in County Mayo, Ireland, to honor Walsh’s memory. The students listened to several speakers who spoke about different issues that affect the world today, especially mental health.

On May 11, 2023, more than 2,000 Irish students gathered at the Knock Basilica and Shrine in County Mayo, Ireland, to honor Donal Walsh’s memory. The students listened to several speakers who spoke about different issues that affect the world today, especially mental health. Credit: EWTN News
On May 11, 2023, more than 2,000 Irish students gathered at the Knock Basilica and Shrine in County Mayo, Ireland, to honor Donal Walsh’s memory. The students listened to several speakers who spoke about different issues that affect the world today, especially mental health. Credit: EWTN News

Walsh’s parents, Elma and Fionnbar, were also in attendance.

“When we were told he was terminal, we turned around and started to say, ‘Why us?’ And he [Donal] changed his question to, ‘Why not me?’” Fionnbar Walsh recalled in an interview at the event with EWTN News In Depth, which aired June 2. 

“Donal was very upset for the first few days, but it only lasted a few days,” Elma Walsh added. “And he decided he wasn’t going to let cancer dictate. Whatever was left of his life, he wanted to do something.”

His mother shared that he had a “remarkable” faith. He loved to pray the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Walsh asked his mother to ensure he received holy Communion every day and that he die with a “clean spirit.”

“It [his faith] was kind of innate to him. It was just in him … It’s hard to explain. It was just in him. It was just part of Donal,” she explained.

On May 11 of this year, more than 2,000 Irish students gathered at the Knock Basilica and Shrine in County Mayo, Ireland, to honor Donal Walsh’s memory. Credit: EWTN News
On May 11 of this year, more than 2,000 Irish students gathered at the Knock Basilica and Shrine in County Mayo, Ireland, to honor Donal Walsh’s memory. Credit: EWTN News

After Walsh’s death, his parents started the Donal Walsh Live Life Foundation, which has raised more than half a million euros to date for various charities, all of which promote life. And once a year, students meet at the Basilica of Knock to celebrate Mass, to be inspired and encouraged by guest speakers, and to be reminded of the value of life.

“I think a lot of people would be very afraid of the idea of terminal illness, but his bravery — he was able to endure through so much hardship and still have faith, and that’s inspiring to people,” said Adam Walsh (no relation), a student in attendance.

Another student, Anastasia Mullen, added: “I think that it is very inspirational. He really creates this beacon of hope for the youth — just keeps hope alive.”

Elma Walsh shared that she hopes the students in attendance will leave knowing “that they’re loved. To know that their lives are precious and delicate and nobody knows what tomorrow will bring but just to appreciate things they have in life.”

Watch the full EWTN News In Depth segment below.

Pope Francis will not pray public Angelus from hospital on Sunday

null / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Jun 10, 2023 / 05:05 am (CNA).

At the recommendation of his doctors, Pope Francis will not pray the Sunday Angelus in public, the Vatican said Saturday.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said at a press conference June 10 the pope would pray the Angelus in private at noon from within his hospital room.

Dr. Sergio Alfieri, the pope’s surgeon, said he and the other medical professionals, for “prudence,” had advised the pope against giving a public Angelus address from the window of his hospital room, as he has done in the past, to avoid unnecessary strain to his abdominal muscles.

In July 2021, Pope Francis prayed the Angelus from a balcony of Gemelli Hospital one week after intestinal surgery, while June 11 he will only be four days’ postoperative, the surgeon said.

The surgeon Alfieri said Pope Francis “is well” and his recovery is proceeding normally. He recalled that since the day prior, the pope is no longer connected to IVs, and from Saturday, he had moved from an all-liquid to a semi-liquid diet.

Post-operative blood tests and X-ray of the abdomen were “absolutely normal,” he added, noting that they would encourage Francis to remain in the hospital through next week.

Dr. Sergio Alfieri, the lead surgeon for Pope Francis' abdominal surgery, speaks at a press conference at Gemelli Hospital on June 7, 2023. Andreas Thonhauser/EWTN
Dr. Sergio Alfieri, the lead surgeon for Pope Francis' abdominal surgery, speaks at a press conference at Gemelli Hospital on June 7, 2023. Andreas Thonhauser/EWTN

Alfieri also clarified, in response to questions from journalists, that Pope Francis does not currently have, nor has ever had, cardiac problems.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, secretary of state, told journalists on the morning of June 10 that Pope Francis was already expressing a desire to get back to work “and this is a good sign.”

Francis underwent a three-hour surgery for an incisional hernia on June 7. A team of surgeons removed scar tissue and operated on a hernia in the pope’s abdominal wall at the site of a previous surgical incision.

The Vatican said June 9 the pope was “steadily improving” two days after the surgery.

“The medical team reports that the clinical picture is steadily improving and the postoperative progress is normal,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a brief statement.

In another June 9 update on the pope, the Vatican said “Pope Francis is touched by the many messages he continues to receive in these hours; in particular, he intends to address his thoughts and thanks to the children currently hospitalized, for the affection and love received through their drawings and messages. To them, as well as to the medical staff, nurses, social-health workers, and spiritual assistants who daily touch pain with their hands, relieving its burden, he expresses his gratitude for their closeness and prayer.“

Alfieri, the pope’s main surgeon, said at a press conference shortly after the operation that Francis had been experiencing increasing pain for several months due to the hernia and decided on June 6 to undergo the surgery to correct it.

It was the 86-year-old Francis’ fifth operation, the second as pope. The first took place in 1957 and involved the removal of a part of his right lung, which had developed cysts following an illness. He also had an appendectomy in the past, according to Alfieri.

The second surgery, on the pope’s abdomen in 1980, removed his gallbladder, according to Vatican News, which referenced the 2021 book “La Salute dei Papi” (“The Health of the Popes”) by Nelson Castro.

Alfieri said June 7 that Pope Francis’ incisional hernia was likely from the incision of the 1980 abdominal surgery to remove his gallbladder, not his July 2021 intestinal surgery.

The gallbladder surgery involved an incision from the upper abdomen to the groin, according to the doctor who performed it. He found a gallbladder stone embedded in a cystic duct, which had caused Pope Francis — then Jesuit provincial superior — to have a gangrenous gallbladder.

This is Pope Francis’ third hospitalization in the past two years.

He was hospitalized for four days in March for a lung infection and had part of his large intestine removed in July 2021 due to diverticulitis.

This story was updated at 10:02 a.m. MDT to correct a statement about Cardinal Mauro Gambetti possibly reading an Angelus message from the pope. The message referred to was a message for an event June 10.

New guide to novenas aims to inspire Catholics to rediscover this traditional form of prayer

The new “Pocket Guide to Novenas” book is written by Annie and John-Paul Deddens of PrayMoreNovenas.com. / Photos courtesy of Ascension

Denver, Colo., Jun 10, 2023 / 05:00 am (CNA).

A new book from Ascension is inspiring Catholics to experience the power of novenas with a pocket guide to dive deeper into this traditional form of prayer. 

“Pocket Guide to Novenas” by Annie and John-Paul Deddens offers readers a look into where these 9-day prayers came from, how to pray them, and what to expect when praying them.

The new pocket guide includes 20 novenas, 14 of which are newly written, an introduction to each novena, sacred art, inspirational stories from Catholics who have had their prayers answered through a novena, and a schedule for when to pray these particular novenas throughout the year.

First-time authors and married couple Annie and John-Paul Deddens spoke with CNA about their personal experiences seeing the power of novenas at work in their marriage and daily lives. A novena even played a part in bringing the two together.

Annie explained that the novena to St. Anne – the name given to the Virgin Mary’s mother in the Catholic tradition – was the first novena she ever prayed. She heard several women say they met their fiances after praying for St. Anne’s intercession for a spouse. This moved Annie to find a novena to the saint. She began to pray it every morning at a local chapel.

“While I left that chapel every morning, I remember noticing a guy praying in one of the last pews in the back, and I thought to myself, "I'd like to meet someone like him, who is also starting his day in prayer," she recalled.

“Very shortly after finishing the St. Anne Novena, I met John-Paul, and it turned out that he was the guy I had been seeing all along in the very back of the chapel while praying the novena,” she added. “So we attribute St. Anne's intercession to us meeting one another.”

In addition to being authors, the Deddens’ are also the creators of the popular website and social media platform PrayMoreNovenas, an online ministry that helps people rediscover the beauty of praying novenas and sends daily emails to participants so that they can stay up-to-date on their chosen novena.

John-Paul shared how the site came to fruition saying, “While we were dating, Annie asked me to pray a novena with her. I turned her down. You see, my experience with novenas wasn't great. I started several but I had never finished one!”

“I realized that I was constantly checking my email throughout the day and that if I had the prayers right there in front of me that I would probably finally finish a novena,” he said. “I created the website PrayMoreNovenas.com to help others who had the same difficulty and we've since received thousands of messages from people who finally finished their first novena using Pray More Novenas!”

Now, they hope to continue to encourage Catholics around the world to spend more time in prayer through their “Pocket Guide to Novenas.”

“Helping people pray novenas has been the heart of our ministry…for many years,” Annie said. “We wrote the [the book] to further help people pray novenas and hopefully grow closer to the Lord through each prayer. We love novenas and we hope they will become a beloved devotion for others in their prayer lives.”

She continued, “While novenas aren't a required devotion in the Faith, they're a simple and beautiful way to spend just a little more time in prayer each day. The daily novena prayer might take just a couple of minutes a day, and it can help us to reflect on the lives of the saints or the life of Christ or our Blessed Mother, and to ask for their intercession in our lives.”

Some of the new novenas included in the book are the Novena to St. John Paul II, the Novena to St. Louis and Zelie Martin, the Novena to Christ the King, as well as several traditional novenas including the Divine Mercy Novena and the Surrender Novena.

John-Paul added that he hopes their book “will bring people closer to Christ, leading them in conversation and relationship with the Lord.”

Saint John Damascene

Icon of Saint John Damaskinos
Image: Saint John Damaskinos | unknown

Saint of the Day for December 4

(c. 676 -749)
Click here to listen

Saint John Damascene’s Story

John spent most of his life in the Monastery of Saint Sabas near Jerusalem, and all of his life under Muslim rule, indeed protected by it.

He was born in Damascus, received a classical and theological education, and followed his father in a government position under the Arabs. After a few years, he resigned and went to the Monastery of Saint Sabas.

He is famous in three areas:

First, he is known for his writings against the iconoclasts, who opposed the veneration of images. Paradoxically, it was the Eastern Christian emperor Leo who forbade the practice, and it was because John lived in Muslim territory that his enemies could not silence him.

Second, he is famous for his treatise, Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, a summary of the Greek Fathers, of which he became the last. It is said that this book is for Eastern schools what the Summa of Aquinas became for the West.

Third, he is known as a poet, one of the two greatest of the Eastern Church, the other being Romanus the Melodist. His devotion to the Blessed Mother and his sermons on her feasts are well known.

Saint John Damascene's liturgical feast is celebrated on April 30.


John defended the Church’s understanding of the veneration of images and explained the faith of the Church in several other controversies. For over 30 years, he combined a life of prayer with these defenses and his other writings. His holiness expressed itself in putting his literary and preaching talents at the service of the Lord.

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Priest calls to conversion criminals who shot up church in Mexico

Sacred images that were damaged by bullets in the church in Santa Anita were placed at the foot of the altar of the cathedral in Guachochi. / Guachochi Cathedral Facebook

ACI Prensa Staff, Jun 9, 2023 / 16:10 pm (CNA).

The pastor of a church riddled with bullets in an armed confrontation between crime gangs in the border state of Chihuahua in northern Mexico called on the criminals involved to listen to “the voice of God” and to “turn their weapons into plows to till the earth, into instruments to sing and rejoice.”

In a letter shared with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, Father Enrique Urzúa, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Cathedral in Guachochi in the Diocese of Tarahumara, addressed the criminals who had clashed on June 5 in the small settlement of Santa Anita, “causing suffering and death.”

“Brothers, listen to the voice of God! I am sure that the vast majority of you are baptized; we are brothers, and even though you are within the ranks of death, our Father and your Father offers you life,” he said.

“We have you in our hearts, yesterday, Wednesday, we prayed for you, for the conversion of your hearts. Turn your weapons into plows to till the land, into instruments to sing and rejoice,” he said.

“How sad to see you among the mountains looking after everything and suffering from hunger and cold. The Lord offers you freedom. My embrace and my prayer for you,” he added.

The confrontation caused destruction both outside and inside the church, with images of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and St. Anne damaged by bullets. Outside the church, authorities found the body of a decapitated man.

Urzúa was able to rescue three abandoned children from the place after the shooting. The youngest is only 1 year old.

The Mass was attended by the victim’s mother, whom the priest identified as a woman from the Rarámuri indigenous community, also known as the Tarahumara.

They damaged ‘the most sacred’

Urzúa also pointed out that, by shooting up the church with bullets, the criminals damaged “what is most sacred to a people that is deeply religious” as well as “the community meeting place, the place where a community lives its history, its depth of life.”

The priest later lamented that “these events are among many others that have not been made public but that have these communities in fear, so we cannot say that this is an isolated event.”

“I ask for help to guarantee peace and freedom for these peoples,” he said.

After thanking people for “their expressions of solidarity” that the Church in the region has received, the Mexican priest asked the faithful to continue “praying for the peace that we so long for; it’s everyone’s duty to find ways that lead us to live in freedom.”

‘When will we be able to return to our homes?’

The priest also recounted the pain manifested by the residents who had to flee Santa Anita fearing for their lives.

“With tears in their eyes and their voices cracking they told me: Father, I have no words to express so much pain; they have hurt us, they have destroyed our towns, our houses; Father, our animals are going to starve, when will we be able to [return to] our homes?” he shared.

Urzúa also prayed to God on the day (June 8) when the Catholic Church celebrates Corpus Christi, for the “civil authorities, so that the Lord may grant them the necessary wisdom in their security strategies.”

Mexico is experiencing the most violent period in its modern history, and the homicide figures for the current six-year term of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador have surpassed those of his predecessors, totaling more than 156,136 by the end of May 2023.

López Obrador acknowledged the historic record in his morning press conference on June 1 but attributed it to “a poor security legacy” from previous governments.

Up to April of this year in the state of Chihuahua, 567 first-degree murders were recorded.

From Jan. 1 to June 7 of this year, 11,637 homicides have been recorded throughout Mexico.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Jesuits in Spain hire law firm to address alleged sexual abuse of minors in schools

Cross in the square of the church of San Martín, in Callosa de Segura, Spain. / Credit: Citizen Platform in Defense of the Cross

ACI Prensa Staff, Jun 9, 2023 / 15:40 pm (CNA).

The Society of Jesus (Jesuits) has announced it has hired a law firm and a specialized association to clarify the alleged cases of abuse that occurred in its schools in Catalonia, Spain, and to accompany the complainants.

The Jesuit delegate in Catalonia, Enric Puiggròs, has announced that the congregation has taken action in relation to the alleged cases of sexual abuse that may have been perpetrated in schools.

In order to clarify the allegations, determine how they were handled, and identify those responsible for what reportedly took place, the Roca Junyent law firm has been hired.

For the pastoral care and accompaniment of the alleged victims, the Jesuits have turned to the Association for Mediation, Encounter, and Listening (AMEE), an organization that specializes in this area and that facilitates restorative justice processes.

In a statement, the Jesuits noted that “with this initiative we want to respond to all those victims for whom it is difficult to turn to the institution where they suffered these abuses.”

The Society of Jesus has also made itself available to the region’s Ombudsman for Grievances to “verify this process and the planned actions and explore ways of collaboration.”

The congregation founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola has faced various complaints of abuse in Catalonia since 2018.

“The appearance of new complaints and the fact that not all the victims turn to the institution shows that the steps taken are not enough, which is why these new external actions are now being undertaken” related to these cases, the order explained.

The Jesuits also pointed to the work that has been carried out for years in the schools of their network in Catalonia, which proceed “in accordance with the action protocols” of the regional government.

“All these actions are included in the program called Safe Environment in which we have the collaboration and advice of the Vicki Bernadet Foundation,” the Jesuits said in a statement.

‘To shed light’

Last week the Spanish Bishops’ Conference presented the report “To shed light,” which compiled 927 complaints of alleged sexual abuse of minors under 18 years of age or vulnerable people reportedly committed in Spain between 1945 and 2022.

The report does not include situations involving abuse of conscience and power or committed against adults.

Those responsible for the study stress that there may be duplicate cases and that their inclusion in the report is done “without presuming or proving innocence or guilt.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Catholic pilgrim goes viral as ‘backpack hero’ after stopping mass stabbing in France

Paris, France / Pedro Lastra / Unsplash (CC0)

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 9, 2023 / 15:10 pm (CNA).

A 24-year-old Catholic Frenchman named Henri went viral Thursday as the “backpack hero” after he stopped a potentially deadly knife attack at a playground in southeastern France by chasing away the attacker with a backpack.

French newspaper 20 Minutes reported on Henri’s heroic response to the shocking attack.

The perpetrator, only partially identified by French authorities as Abdalmasih H., is a 31-year-old Syrian refugee. On June 8 he unleashed a sudden stabbing attack on children and adults at a playground in the town of Annecy.

Two adults, men over 70, and four children, all 3 years old and younger, were seriously injured and later hospitalized due to the attack.

Henri, who did not give his last name to the media, told reporters he was in the town of Annecy as part of a nine-month pilgrimage to visit France’s cathedrals on foot.

When he saw the attack begin to unfold, Henri sprung into action.

“That’s when your brain turns off and you act like an animal, by instinct,” Henri told reporters. “I didn’t even think.”

Video taken by bystanders during the attack shows Henri repeatedly swinging his backpack and running after Abdalmasih, which prompts the attacker to flee the scene. 

“You try to act as you can, with what you have available to you,” Henri said. 

According to the New York Times, Henri told reporters that a city employee with a shovel joined his efforts and assisted him in drawing the attacker away from the children. 

Abdalmasih was subsequently arrested by French authorities.

Henri has since been widely hailed as a hero for disregarding his own safety in his attempt to stop the attacker. French media believes he most likely prevented the injury or even deaths of many more children and adults at the park.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who visited the victims in the hospital, called the attack on the children “the most barbaric act possible” and expressed his “gratitude and pride” to those who responded, including Henri.

A tweet by French journalist Hugo Clement praises Henri for risking his life to protect the children, concluding: “You are a hero and the whole of France says to you: THANK YOU.” 

Henri stayed at the park after the attack to pray for the victims, according to the New York Times.

20 Minutes reported Henri humbly saying that he “acted like any Frenchman would have done.”

Maryland to stockpile $1.3 million in abortion drugs

null / ivanko80/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jun 9, 2023 / 14:40 pm (CNA).

The Maryland Board of Public Works approved nearly $1.3 million in emergency spending to pay for a stockpile of two abortion drugs in response to a lawsuit that could take one of the drugs off the market.

Most of the spending will support two contracts to purchase 30,000 doses of mifepristone, which can kill an unborn child up to 10 weeks’ gestation.

Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine challenged the Food and Drug Administration’s 2000 approval of the drug and subsequent deregulation in court, claiming that the agency failed to follow proper protocol and ignored potential health risks.

A Texas judge suspended the FDA’s approval of the drug, but the agency appealed the ruling. The Supreme Court ruled that the drug will remain on the market, pending the outcome of the appeal.

Just over $10,000 of Maryland’s emergency funding plan will support one contract to purchase 5,000 doses of misoprostol, which is commonly taken with mifepristone to induce the chemical abortion. This drug is not a subject of the lawsuit.

“Reproductive freedom is nonnegotiable,” Democratic Gov. Wes Moore, who serves on the three-member board, said during the meeting. “My administration will continue to defend and protect women’s reproductive freedom and access to essential health care here in the state of Maryland.”

The Maryland Department of Health initially entered into all three contracts in mid-April after the Texas judge suspended the FDA’s approval of mifepristone. In late April, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the drug can stay on the market while the FDA appeals that ruling.

The department filed its report and its request for the funding approval late “due to insufficient procurement staff,” according to an explanation published in the meeting’s agenda.

Moore said the department needed to move quickly to secure mifepristone because the Texas ruling created an “unnecessary and misguided crisis.” He said the ruling “jeopardized access to this critical drug for women and families here and across the nation” despite being available for decades.

Laura Bogley, the executive director of Maryland Right to Life, told CNA that taxpayers should not be forced to pay for abortion drugs.

“By stockpiling this dangerous drug and forcing taxpayers to subsidize abortion drug manufacturers, Gov. Moore is reducing Maryland to a mere drug pusher for the abortion industry,” Bogley said. “Tragically, we will see many more injuries and deaths in Maryland due to the politicization of the FDA and the statehouse.”

At this time, mifepristone is still available when prescribed and a person can receive the drug in person or through the mail. A woman who plans to use the drug does not need to see a doctor in person before receiving it.

Several Catholic and pro-life organizations have voiced their support for the lawsuit, which could take the drug completely off the market.