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Pope appeals for unity, non-violence in Chile's torn Mapuche zone

Temuco, Chile, Jan 17, 2018 / 07:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in Chile's largely indigenous Araucania region, long divided by violent conflict. He stressed the importance of unity, which he said cannot be achieved through violence or forced uniformity.

Pointing to Jesus' prayer that “they may all be one” at the end of John's Gospel, Pope Francis noted that it is at this “crucial moment” before his death that Jesus “stops to plea for unity.”

“In his heart, he knows that one of the greatest threats for his disciples and for all mankind will be division and confrontation, the oppression of some by others,” he said, and urged those present to take Jesus' words in the prayer to heart.

We must “enter with him into this garden of sorrows with those sorrows of our own, and to ask the Father, with Jesus, that we too may be one,” Francis said, and prayed that “confrontation and division never gain the upper hand among us.”

Pope Francis spoke during his Jan. 17 Mass in Chile's Araucania region in Temuco, which for years has been torn apart by violent conflict surrounding the plight of the area's Mapuche people, an indigenous group present largely in south-central Chile and southwestern Argentina.

He traveled to the region as part of his Jan. 15-18 visit to Chile, after which he will make an official visit to Peru from Jan. 18-21.

The largest indigenous group in Chile, the Mapuche resisted Spanish conquest during colonial times by using guerrilla warfare tactics to evade soldiers and maintain control of their land.

They continued to resist after Chilean independence in 1818, however, in the 1860s the military gained control, and the majority of their land was given over to members of the military and incoming immigrants.  

Despite the launch of some initiatives aimed at restoring parts of their land and the creation of scholarships for Mapuche students, the Mapuche live in one of the poorest areas of Chile and claim to be mistreated by authorities.

Some of the Mapuche have in recent years adopted violent means of protest, and have bombed trucks and land of non-Mapuche people they say are illegally inhabiting the area.

They have also set fire to churches, burning more than two dozen in 2016 and 2017, according to the Chilean prosecutor's office. Just last Friday three more churches were firebombed in the Chilean capital Santiago in protest of the Pope's visit.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, and authorities are unsure whether Mapuche activists are to blame, however, leaflets criticizing the upcoming visit of Francis and calling for a “free” Mapuche nation were dropped at the scene.

The field attached to the Maquehue Airport, where Pope Francis landed and celebrated Mass, had once been used as a detention center where many indigenous peoples were tortured during Chile’s military government under Augusto Pinochet.

In the lead up to the Pope's trip, a number of the Mapuche had protested the use of the airport for the papal Mass given the serious human rights violations that took place there, arguing that the land belongs to them and not the government. Two more attacks on churches took place shortly before the Pope's arrival to Temuco, however, no one has claimed responsibility for these either.

In his homily, Pope Francis recognized that in the past, the airport had been the site of “grave violations of human rights,” and said he was offering the Mass for “all those who suffered and died, and for those who daily bear the burden of those many injustices.” He paused in a moment of silence for all who died.

“The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross bears all the sin and pain of our peoples, in order to redeem it,” he said, and pointed to the day's Gospel reading from John, in which Jesus prays for the unity of his disciples.

Unity is a gift which must be “persistently sought” for the good of all, and for future generations, he said, but cautioned against what he named as two temptations that can “poison the roots” of this unity.

First, Francis warned against the temptation to confuse unity with uniformity, saying “Jesus does not ask his Father that all may be equal, identical, for unity is not meant to neutralize or silence differences.”

“Unity can never be a stifling uniformity imposed by the powerful, or a segregation that does not value the goodness of others,” he said. Rather, the unity that Jesus refers to is a “reconciled diversity” which recognizes the value of the individual contribution of each tradition and culture.

This unity “will not allow personal or community wrongs to be perpetrated in its name,” the Pope said, adding that “we need the riches that each people has to offer, and we must abandon the notion that there are higher or lower cultures.”

It also requires both listening to and esteeming one another, which in turn builds solidarity. And solidarity, he said, is the most effective weapon against “the deforestation of hope.”

He also warned against the temptation to obtain unity with the use of violence, and cautioned against two forms of violence which he said stifle the growth of unity and reconciliation rather than encouraging them.

The first, he said, are the “elegant agreements that will never be put into practice.” They consist of nice words and detailed plans, and while these are needed, they end up “erasing with the elbow what was written by the hand” when they go unimplemented, he said, explaining that this is a form of violence “because it frustrates hope.”

Second are the actual acts that take place, he said, insisting that “a culture of mutual esteem may not be based on acts of violence and destruction that end up taking human lives.”

“You cannot assert yourself by destroying others, because this only leads to more violence and division,” he said. “Violence begets violence, destruction increases fragmentation and separation. Violence eventually makes a most just cause into a lie.”

Rather than using these two avenues, which are “the lava of a volcano that wipes out and burns everything in its path,” the Pope urged attendees to pursue a path of “active non-violence” as a political style, and told them to never tire of promoting true and peaceful dialogue for the sake of unity.

After Mass, Pope Francis will head to the mother house for the Sisters of the Holy Cross order, where he will each lunch with around 11 people, eight of whom will be Mapuche.

Who cheats? The demographics of faith and infidelity

Denver, Colo., Jan 17, 2018 / 04:00 am (ACI Prensa).- Last week, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens admitted to an extramarital affair with his former hairdresser, although he denied allegations that he subsequently blackmailed her.

Greitens issued a joint statement with his wife saying that they had dealt with the affair privately, while his attorney issued a statement denying the blackmail allegations.

The allegations came as a surprise to many, given Greitens’ public persona as a family man, and a devout follower of Judaism.  Critics have accused the governor of hypocrisy, and he recently cancelled a statewide tour promoting a new state tax plan.

But recent data shows that Greitens’ infidelity is not the norm among religiously active people.

According to data gathered from the recent General Social Survey (GSS) by NORC, a non-partisan research institution at the University of Chicago, people who attended religious services at least semi-regularly were less likely to cheat on their spouses than people who attended religious services once a year or less.

The data was analyzed in a blog post by Wendy Wang, director of research with the Institute for Family Studies.

Wang said that while the data didn’t indicate whether the type of religious service played a role, “it’s a fact that people who regularly attend religious services are less likely to cheat.”

“I think it’s interesting how your faith could play a role in your relationship,” Wang told CNA. “It probably has something to do with what the church or the synagogue is teaching you. A lot of religions emphasize the importance of family, marriage stability, so that’s probably why it has such an impact,” she said.

The data showed that attendance at religious services was the strongest factor among both genders that indicated a low likelihood of infidelity.

On the whole, factors that indicate chances of infidelity varied widely between the two genders, Wang noted. For example, race and age were strong determining factors of the chances of infidelity among men, while for women, political party identification and family background were significant determining factors.

However, religious service attendance remained a significant factor for both genders, even when controlling for other variables, Wang said.

Family background was also a strong determining factor in indicating whether someone might cheat, Wang said. While it was a stronger determining factor for women, family background played a significant role overall in determining whether people were likely to cheat.

“Overall, Democrats, adults who didn’t grow up in intact families, and those who rarely or never attend religious services are more likely than others to have cheated on their spouse. For example, 15% of adults who grew up with both biological parents have cheated on their spouse before, compared with 18% of those who didn’t grow up in intact families,” Wang wrote.

“I don’t know the reasons why exactly, but we do see that people who grow up with both parents married to each other, they’re less likely to cheat,” Wang told CNA. “I think it is important to see how a steady family, a stable marriage actually could help even in your children’s marriage quality.”

Wang’s research also indicated that cheaters - both men and women - are more likely to be divorced or separated than non-cheaters.

“Men who cheated are more likely than their female peers to be married. Among men who have cheated on their spouse before, 61% are currently married, while 34% are divorced or separated. However, only 44% of women who have cheated before are currently married, while 47% are divorced or separated,” Wang wrote in her post.

However, the data doesn’t indicate whether men are more likely to remain married to the spouse whom they cheated on, or to remarry after infidelity, Wang said.

“Basically the question is who’s more likely to forgive their cheating spouse? I don’t have numbers for that,” Wang said. “What I see here is we definitely see a consequence for cheating.”

Part of the reason for the discrepancy among marriage rates after infidelity could be the differing reasons why men and women cheat, Wang said. Cheating men may more often act out of physical impulses, while women who cheat may be more likely to be emotionally involved in their affairs, and more likely to divorce as a result of them, she said.

“That might explain some of the gender difference there, but it’s hard to say,” she said.

Overall, Wang said that the data and analysis are important, especially as more accusations of sexual misconduct come out against celebrities and politicians, many of whom are married.

“That’s why I was interested to take a look and see the data; it is amazing to see how things have changed in a few months,” Wang said.

Wang said what couples can take from the analysis is that “there’s consequences to cheating...I just wanted people to be aware that there’s consequences to cheating and it’s very detrimental to a relationship.”

Bishop: Congo 'gained heroes' when protesters shed blood

Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Jan 17, 2018 / 12:14 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Catholic Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo held a memorial Mass Friday for protesters killed last month while demonstrating against the presidency of Joseph Kabila.

Catholic leaders were outspoken during the Jan. 12 Mass, honoring the victims of an anti-Kabila protest held on Dec. 31. During the New Year’s Eve demonstration, six people were killed and more than 120 were arrested.  

The country’s Catholic and Protestant leaders had called for peaceful marches to protest the continued presidency of Kabila, according to the Daily Mail.

Activists and observers say that police and military forces used violence to disrupt the protests. Days after the fatal event, Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, accused security forces of opening fire on peaceful protesters, calling their actions “nothing less than barbarism.”

Cardinal Monsengwo, who has become known for public criticism of the Kabila government, celebrated the memorial Mass on Friday.

The Mass at Kinshasa Cathedral last week drew a large crowd of locals, and diplomatic representatives from the United States, Belgium, Britain, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, the EU, and the Vatican, the Daily Mail reported.

“If we have lost a brother, a sister, we have gained heroes, real ones, because they have mingled their blood with that of all those who have died for a change of power, the guarantee of democracy,” Bishop Donatien Bafuidinsoni said during the Mass on Jan. 12.

After the Mass, police fired warning shots and teargas to disband worshippers outside the cathedral, where a few people sustained injuries.

Kabila has been Congo’s president since 2001, but failed to step down at the end of his constitutionally-limited two terms of power in 2016. Congolese bishops stepped in to help broker terms with the president in which both parties agreed that new presidential elections would be held in December 2017.

However, the country’s electoral commission postponed the original date, saying an election could not be organized until December 2018. Many of the president’s opponents believe that Kabila has no intention of leaving his position of power, despite the calls for his resignation.

Political tensions have risen as Kabila continues to postpone elections. Dozens have died during protests against Kabila, and some fear the return of a civil war within the country.

“We are witnessing a campaign of propaganda, of disinformation, of libel even, orchestrated by heads of the institutions of the republic against the Catholic church and its leadership,” said Fr. Donatien Nshole, a Church spokesman.

He encouraged Catholics to “peacefully block all attempts to confiscate or seize power by non-democratic or anti-constitutional ways.”

Pope Francis meets with sex abuse victims in Chile

Santiago, Chile, Jan 16, 2018 / 08:13 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis met privately Tuesday with 6 victims of sexual abuse committed by priests in Chile, the papal spokesman has reported. The meeting had not been previously announced as a part of the Pope’s schedule.

"Today after lunch, the Holy Father met with a small group of victims of sexual abuse committed by priests, at the Apostolic Nunciature in Santiago. The meeting was strictly private, and there was no one else present: only the Pope and the victims. In this way, the were able to share their sufferings with Pope Francis, who listened to them, and prayed and cried with them," reported Greg Burke, director of the Vatican’s press office.

At a press conference from Santiago, Burke told reporters that the meeting lasted half an hour.

The Pope’s visit to Chile has been marked by protests, including some from groups who allege a bishop appointed by the Pope covered up acts of sexual abuse committed by an influential Chilean priest.

Earlier Tuesday, during a speech to Chile’s civic authorities and diplomats, the Pontiff expressed his sorrow for the cases of abuses against minors.

"I can not help but express the pain and shame I feel at the irreparable damage caused to children by Church’s ministers. I join with my brothers in the episcopate, knowing that it is a matter of justice to ask for forgiveness, and to support the victims with all our strength. At the same time we must work so that it does not happen again," he said at the event.

Later, in the afternoon, the Pontiff conveyed solidarity with priests and religious who, he said, suffer insults and misunderstandings because of the abuses committed by some ministers of the Church.

"I know that at times you have been insulted in the metro or walking on the street, and that by going around in clerical attire in many places you pay a heavy price. For this reason, I suggest that we ask God to grant us the clear-sightedness to call reality by its name, the strength to seek forgiveness and the ability to listen to what he tells us,” the Pope said.

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

 

Catholic college contingents head to the March for Life

Washington D.C., Jan 16, 2018 / 05:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The 45th annual March for Life will take place in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 19, and hundreds of thousands of people are expected to attend. Many of the marchers will be students from Catholic universities, who will, in some cases, skip class to march for an end to abortion.

Here are some of the schools that will be well-represented at Friday’s march:

Nearby Christendom College, cancels all scheduled classes on the day of the March for Life, so that all students and faculty are able to attend. Christendom is located in Front Royal, Virginia, about an 80 minute drive from the National Mall. Christendom students have attended each March for Life since the school’s founding in 1977.

Franciscan University of Steubenville, which also cancels day classes on the day of the March, will send roughly a quarter of its student body--about 500 students--to the March for Life this year. In a press release, the school said that they will be sending eight busses on the five-hour journey to DC, with additional students and alumni making the trek on their own.

The University of Notre Dame likely is the winner of the sheer numbers game. The school says it is preparing to bring over 1,000 people from the greater Notre Dame community--including students from nearby St. Mary’s College and Holy Cross College, graduate students, and faculty--to Washington, D.C. for the March. In 2017, there were about 700 Notre Dame students at the March.

North Dakota’s University of Mary, which led the marchers at the 2017 March for Life, also will send a contingent of students on the two-day drive from Bismarck to the nation’s capital. In 2016, the group from North Dakota was trapped in the snow for over 16 hours, which resulted in a “snow Mass” that went viral on the internet. About 145 students, faculty, and staff will attend this year’s march.

On the other end of the travel spectrum is the Catholic University of America, whose students will only have to take a short metro ride to go to the March for Life. CUA plays host to the Vigil for Life Mass on the eve of the March for Life, and thousands of people descend upon its campus each year in the lead-up to the March. In order to successfully handle the influx of pilgrims, the school has a pro-life hospitality ministry, staffed by student volunteers.