Tag Archives: Catholics

AMERICA/UNITED STATES – Bishops on the end of DACA: “A decision that is reprehensible and heartbreaking”

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Washington – The US Episcopal Conference quickly responded to the Trump administration’s decision to put an end to a program implemented under President Barack Obama which aimed at protecting the so-called young “dreamers” from expulsion, defining the move as “reprehensible” and “heartbreaking”.
The program called “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – DACA” had created a temporary shield for nearly 800,000 undocumented youngsters and young adults who had come to the United States as a child and who, thanks to the DACA program, managed to complete higher education and work legally.
Responding to the decision to put an end to the program, the Bishops wrote: “Today, our nation has done the opposite of how Scripture calls us to respond. It is a step back from the progress that we need to make as a country”.
The statement was signed by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president; Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gómez, USCCB vice president; Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the Committee on Migration; and Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, Washington, chairman of the Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees, and Travelers.
The Bishops said that the decision by the Trump administration announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a “heartbreaking moment in our history that shows the absence of mercy and goodwill, and a short-sighted vision for the future”.

ASIA/HOLY LAND – Bethlehem calling Lourdes: partnership between towns supports Palestinian Christians

Bethlehem – Lourdes and Bethlehem share a “common destiny”, because “without pilgrimages, Bethlehem, like Lourdes, would be a small forgotten village”. With these words charged with realism the mayoress of Lourdes, Madame Josette Bourdeu, connoted the special bond which unites the town where Jesus was born with the French village-shrine in the Pyrenees. Madame Bourdeu said this recently when she led a French delegation to visit the Holy Land and to sign a partnership between the two French and Palestinian municipalities, establishing concrete and active cooperation between the towns.

The agreement – according to the Official Communications media of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem – was completed on 1 March this year and aims particularly to create jobs in the field of tourism also through commerce of religious articles made by Palestinian Christian artisans. This form collaboration will help launch projects in the field of social economy, promoting the sale of Palestinian handicraft through the network of places of pilgrimage most visited by Christians all over the world including the shrines of Fatima, Czestochowa, Guadalupe and Aparecida. In 2012 the Marian Shrine of Lourdes adopted as its “official Rosary” beads carved from olive wood by a family in Bethlehem, and about 25,000 of them are sold every year. .

AMERICA/COSTA RICA – Bishops denounce: violence on children has doubled

San José – “Mercy or Violence?” is the title of a message issued by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Costa Rica, at the end of a recent assembly: “With deep sorrow we present information supplied by the national Judicial Research Office – we read in the first lines of the report sent to Fides -: In 2015 our country registered 560 murders, the highest number in recent years according to the United Nations Organisation “. Although lower compared with neighbouring countries, ithe figure is nevertheless a cause of concern also because “a quarter of these crimes are connected with episodes of drug trafficking ” say the Bishops.
“Profoundly shocking, the numbers of acts violence on children, which have doubled in less than a decade . In 2014 the National Children’s Hospital assisted 2,400 children victims of violence, in 2015 the number rose to 3,100 “. The bishops denounce widespread domestic violence and gang bullying and aggression.
In this situation the Bishops’ Conference complains of scarce control regarding violence, recalling that the country chose to do without commitment by the army in order release more resources for social policies. They add: “Every form of injustice is an act of violence. In our country ihunger, lack of decent homes and medical care etc….are acts of violence on 317,660 families, over one million men women and children live in poverty, and for another 374,185 poverty is extreme”.
Prompted by Pope Francis’ call to give central place to mercy and reconciliation, the Bishops conclude : “We have in our hands the possibility of restoring to Costa Rica a society shining with peace and full respect for human life”.

AFRICA/EGYPT – Copt Organisation asks President al Sisi to grant an amnesty to Copt youths wrongly condemned for offending Islam

Cairo – Karim Kamal, founder of the Union General of Copts for the Motherland, has asked the President of Egypt Abdel Fattah al Sisi to intervene regarding the case of a group of Copt youths recently accused of verbally offending Islam and sentenced to five years in prison. Kamal urges Egypt’s Head of State to grant amnesty to the young men in question. But the request, made public in the Egyptian media, also expresses harsh criticism of the law on blasphemy and offence to religion, misused to persecute innocent people, while extremists and fomenters of religious hatred go unpunished.
The case in question in the appeal addressed to al Sisi involves four Copt students charged with offending the Islamic religion, by sharing in the Spring of 2015 a video-clip of a few seconds, recorded on a mobile phone, in which they mime the scene of the slitting of the throat of a Muslim in prayer, imitating the horrendous executions carried out by Jihadists of the self-proclaimed Islamic State . At the end of February the Egyptian court in Minya issued a heavy sentence to the young men: three will serve five years in prison, and the fourth, not yet eighteen years old, will be sent to a guarded residence for minor offenders. .

Mother of Murder Victim: “The Death Penalty Would Inflict Additional Pain on Us”

Duval County, Florida prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for the 2013 murder of Shelby Farah (pictured), over the objections of Ms. Farah’s family. After unsuccessful attempts to persuade prosecutors to non-capitally resolve the case, Darlene Farah, Ms. Farah’s mother, publicly expressed her views in a recent column in TIME. Farah said, “I do not want my family to go through the years of trials and appeals that come with death-penalty cases.” Instead, she wants her family to be able to, “celebrate [Shelby’s] life, honor her memory and begin the lengthy healing process.” Darlene Farah says her daughter would not have wanted the death penalty to be sought on her behalf, and “more killing in no way honors my daughter’s memory or provides solace to my family.” Duval County is among the 2% of U.S. counties that are responsible for a majority of U.S. death sentences and is represented by a prosecutor’s office that has sent more people to death row since 2009 than any other prosecutor’s office in the state. Farah has asked prosecutors to accept the defense offer to plead guilty to all charges, but she says “[prosecutors’] desire for the death penalty in my daughter’s case seems so strong that they are ignoring the wishes of my family in their pursuit of it.” Farah said the use of the death penalty is impeding the healing process: “Death-penalty cases are incredibly complex and drawn-out. It’s been two and a half years since my daughter’s murder, and the trial hasn’t even started…[W]e can’t start to heal and move beyond the legal process, which never seems to end.” “I have seen my family torn apart since my daughter’s murder, and the idea of having to face the lengthy legal process associated with a death-penalty case is unbearable. We have endured enough pain and tragedy already.”

(D. Farah, “My Daughter’s Killer Should Not Get the Death Penalty,” TIME, February 19, 2016; L. Robbins, “Victim’s mother urges State Attorney Angela Corey to take death penalty off the table,” WTLV First Coast News, February 24, 2016; Image by Darlene Farah, via WOKV News.) See Victims and New Voices.

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AMERICA/VENEZUELA – Zika virus throughout Latin America

Caracas – The World Health Organization has launched a global alert on the spread of the zika virus. Currently, America is the most affected continent . In Venezuela, there are between 6 and 10 thousand symptomatic cases of the disease, to which are added 30 to 40% of asymptomatic cases. The Minister of Health has confirmed the state of alert and the monitoring of 4700 suspected cases.

STUDIES: Ohio Executions Reveal Vast Racial, Gender, and Geographic Inequities

“Ohio’s death penalty is plagued by vast inequities” grounded in race, gender, and geography, according to a new University of North Carolina study. UNC-Chapel Hill political science professor Frank Baumgartner examined the 53 executions Ohio has conducted since resuming capital punishment in the 1970s. His study found “quite significant” racial, gender, and geographic disparities in Ohio’s executions that, Baumgartner said, “undermine public confidence in the state’s ability to carry out the death penalty in a fair and impartial manner.” The data showed that Ohio was 6 times more likely to execute a prisoner convicted of killing a white female victim than if the victim was a black male. Although 43% of Ohio murder victims are white, 65% of Ohio executions involved the murder of white victims. Similarly, while only 27% of Ohio murder victims are female, 52% of all executions involved cases with female victims. The study also discovered significant geographic disparities in Ohio executions. More that half of the state’s executions were concentrated in just 4 counties, while more than 3/4 of Ohio counties have not produced any executions. Lake County had an execution rate that was 11 times the statewide average. Although the state’s three most populous counties (Cuyahoga, Franklin, and Hamilton) have similar murder rates, Hamilton’s .60 executions per 100 homicides was more than double the rate in Cuyahoga and nearly 9 times that in Franklin. Sharon L. Davies, Executive Director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University, said that the “race or gender of a victim, and the county of the crime, should not influence who is sentenced to die” and urged “Ohio citizens and lawmakers[to] review the findings of this important research.” (Click image to enlarge.)

(F. Baumgartner, “The Impact of Race, Gender, and Geography on Ohio Executions,” University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, January 28, 2016; A. Johnson, “Study finds racial, gender bias in Ohio executions,” The Columbus Dispatch, January 28, 2016.) See Studies and Arbitrariness.

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AMERICA/ARGENTINA – Dengue continues to spread: prevention and health monitoring

Posadas – The outbreak of dengue fever, that was proliferating in the Country, has been declared an epidemic and there is a greater spread of cases in various provinces. The infections started from Misiones province, where 36 cases were confirmed and about 800 considered suspect cases. Health services in Misiones are responding well, through actions of rapid rehydration for patients who have symptoms. According to the Ministry of Health, there are outbreaks of dengue in six locations in the province of Misiones and a total of 173 positive cases, plus others scattered in different cities for a total of 379 cases.
The Ministry has sent economic aid in the provinces where carriers of the virus have been identified and has strengthened the prevention campaign. In areas affected by dengue the health office is providing the distribution of insecticides and repellents for fumigation.

VATICAN – To Fides readers

Vatican City – At the beginning of the new year, our Agency presents its new website, which aims to make information more accessible and useful to those who want to expand their interests on the wide horizons of humanity.
This was a need much felt by the entire editorial staff, in order to reach a vast category of men and women from all continents, in eight languages in which the Agency publishes its news.
We are aware that ours is a service goes beyond the vast confines of the Church, and that affects humanity, because all that is human – said Blessed Paul VI – interests us.

ASIA/LEBANON – The President of Caritas Lebanon: the Maronite Church supports any serious attempt to get out of the institutional crisis

Beirut – The Maronite Church “does not support a presidential candidate over another, but is in favor of any serious solution to enable the Country to emerge from the institutional paralysis and finally elect a new President. In this perspective, the news of an agreement between Geagea and Aoun is seen as positive”. This is how Fr. Paul Karam, President of Caritas Lebanon, outlines the attitude of the Maronite Church community in front of the new political scenario in the Country after the leader of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea, announced the availability of his political formation to support the candidacy of former General Michel Aoun, his longtime rival, at the office of President of the Lebanese Republic .
Geagea’s political move is revolutionizing the system of alliances and conflicts that have long characterized the political landscape of Lebanon, and brought the Country to the institutional paralysis that has blocked the election of a new President for 18 months. “Of course”, adds Fr. Karam “the Church positively looks at the fact that forces and Christian political leaders in contrast agree to reconstruct the political framework and solve the Country’s problems. We now need to see if this attempt will produce concrete results or find insurmountable opposition. But overall, the rapprochement between Geagea and Aoun has spread a sense of novelty throughout the Country, in the hope that it will help bring the Country out of serious institutional crisis”.
Michel Aoun is 82 years old. In the delicate institutional system of Lebanon, the President of the Republic is reserved to a Maronite Christian. Maronite Patriarch Boutros Bechara Rai is now in Italy, where he continues to closely follow the developments of the political situation in Lebanon.