Browsing News Entries

Brazilian bishop: Yes, Amazon people can understand celibacy

Breves, Brazil, Oct 17, 2019 / 03:12 am (CNA).- A retired bishop from Brazil has spoken out against the claim that married priests are necessary in the Amazon region because the indigenous people do not understand celibacy.

“It’s not the indigenous culture that finds insurmountable difficulties in understanding celibacy. It's that there was not a real inculturation of the Gospel among them,” said Bishop emeritus José Luis Azcona of Marajó, Brazil.

“For many reasons, there has been a transmission of the faith that was not transformed into culture, a faith that was not completely received, not thought out completely, not lived faithfully.”

Therefore, he said, “the first step in solving the problem of celibacy is not the abolition of it” but to work toward a more authentic incultration of the Gospel.

In an article sent to ACI Digital, CNA’s Portuguese language sister agency, Azcona commented on the Synod of Bishops on the Amazon, an Oct. 6-27 meeting on the Church’s life and ministry in the region.

Bishop Erwin Kräutler, the retired head of the Xingu prelature in Amazonian Brazil and a contributor to the synod’s working document, said last week that married priests are the only option in the region because “the indigenous people do not understand celibacy.”

Azcona, who led the Amazonian diocese from 1987-2016, rejected this argument, noting that cultures throughout history have had to learn truths about sexuality and celibacy, and saying this learning process does not post “an insurmountable hindrance.”

The Greeks, Romans, and Jews, he said, “all had the same difficulty in understanding, but at the same time they experienced the unbridled joy of 'glorifying Christ in their bodies.'”

“It’s not an indigenous world-vision that determines evangelization and establishes what can or cannot be accepted of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he stressed. Doing so would create a pseudo-Gospel, based not on the person of Christ and on his Church, but instead “arising from the indigenous, from their cultures or from their analysis.”

“The evangelization of the Amazon cannot arise from the desire to please men, or to win their favor,” he stressed.

“It's Jesus Christ and his Spirit that transcends all culture, but at the same time he is incarnated in the values and deepest expressions of each culture. He is the beginning, the middle and the end of all inculturation.”

The bishop argued that elements of the synod’s working document reflect a secular worldview and lacks the joy and hope that come from authentic Christian witness. He added that celibacy in the priesthood allows for an undivided focus on the work of God.

Abandonment to the will of God will create the environment in which priestly celibacy can be joyfully understood and experienced, Azcona said.

“It is exclusively God who gives the gift of celibacy. Man is incapable of achieving it with his own efforts,” he said.

Rather than abandoning celibacy, the bishop urged the Church to renew its prayers to Christ for strength to carry out his will.

“The time has come to reaffirm in the Amazon the importance of prayer in face of the activism and secularism that threatens many Christians in evangelization.”

 

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

Copy Desk Daily, Oct. 17, 2019

NCR Today: The Copy Desk Daily highlights the latest news and opinion that have crossed copy editors' desks on the way to readers.

Links for 10/17/19

Roundup of political news and commentary: Democratic presidential hopefuls and funds; Xavier Rynne II is getting picked up; women wanted in elected office; Puerto Rico gets a finance deal; PovertyUSA public relations

Francis, the comic strip

Francis, the comic strip: The synod for the Amazon brings the people of the Amazon region to Rome.

In Manhattan, a parish where people 'want to be'

The Field Hospital: For decades, the Church of St. Francis Xavier has intentionally wanted everyone to feel welcome — and it shows in the pews. "People will go out of their way to come here for the liturgy, for the community, for preaching that's not afraid to engage the issues at hand," says its new Jesuit pastor. 

'What Do You Believe Now?' Film follows up with millennials 17 years later

In 2002, filmmaker Sarah Feinbloom interviewed six millennial teenagers about their faith traditions for a documentary titled "What Do You Believe?"

Beyond fear: Befriending the saguaro

Young Voices: In my first solo hike during a retreat at the Desert House of Prayer in Arizona, I noticed that an uneasiness hampered my normally rapid pace. So many spiky things lined the narrow path.

Gonzaga, Catholic Charities team up to offer immigration legal assistance

Spokane, Wash., Oct 17, 2019 / 12:08 am (CNA).- Gonzaga University Law School in Spokane is partnering with Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington to offer immigration legal assistance to low-income individuals, as well as training in immigration law for students.

Second- and third-year law students under faculty supervision will assist clients pro bono in the “Catholic Charities Immigration Clinic at Gonzaga Law School” starting this fall.

“We're viewing this almost like a joint venture between the two of us,” Jacob Rooksby, dean of Gonzaga Law School, told CNA.

“The attorney in charge has a vast network through her time at Catholic Charities. We envision the students and the attorney going on-site to different areas of the state to provide walk-up assistance, and that's going to start as we get further into the project,” Rooksby said.

The law school has several pro bono clinics already, including Indian Law, Elder Law, and Business Law. The students will work with Megan Case, an attorney who formerly worked with Catholic Charities.

Case told CNA that the center has a significant caseload at the moment, mostly on family reunification cases, whereby legal immigrants can petition for other family members to come and join them in the United States.

The center will also work with individuals seeking asylum. Additionally, they have an immigration court hearing scheduled for January in a deportation case.

Case noted that immigration law is one of the broadest and most complicated areas of U.S. law. She said during her time at Catholic Charities, she oversaw a number of naturalization cases, family reunification cases, and green cards, among others. They also helped individuals who qualified for victim-based visas.

She noted that the center assists both documented and undocumented individuals.

“There's definitely a need for attorneys to assist people in these types of cases, and there's a lot of work,” Case told CNA.

Rooksby said there is already student interest and client need for the program.

“As a Jesuit institution, I think we're taking seriously the Catholic Church's position on immigration as being one of the signature issues of our time,” he said. “So we see this as very consistent with our mission...the need is already there.”

Truth to power

Pencil Preaching for Thursday, October 17, 2019

Catholic snakebite clinic in India saves thousands of lives each year

Patna, India, Oct 16, 2019 / 05:01 pm (CNA).- In most religious orders’ novitiate year, prospective sisters study and pray. Sister Crescencia Sun, however, had another habit to acquire: killing venomous snakes.

In rural Bihar, about 4,500 people die of venomous snake bites each year. When the Sisters of Our Lady of Missions arrived in the Indian state in the 1990s to educate young girls, the sisters realized that God was calling them to another mission – a medical snakebite clinic.

“Initially, we didn't have in mind to open the snakebite clinic, but because the people, so many of them suffered from snakebites and … many people were dying, we trained our sisters to learn this because they are nurses already,” Sister Crescencia Sun told CNA.

During the hot summer, the sisters treat 40-50 patients per day at their snakebite clinic, saving the lives of thousands of snakebite victims each year.

“In this place, many people are bitten by snakes … such as cobra, vipers, russell vipers, and krait to name a few,” Sr. Sun shared at the “Women on the Frontlines” symposium in Rome Oct. 16.

The symposium – hosted by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See – highlighted religious sisters’ work in some of the most dangerous parts of the world.

“Women religious are among the most effective and vital partners we have on the frontlines in fragile communities around the world,” Callista Gingrich, US ambassador to the Holy See, said at the symposium.

“Women religious are often the last beacons of hope for millions of people who otherwise would not have a voice. They serve the displaced and the desperate, frequently at the risk of personal harm, in places where governments have failed and humanitarian organizations struggle to operate,” Gingrich said.

Sister Sun told CNA that, at first, she found the work at the snakebite clinic to be very emotionally draining.

“The first three months that I stayed there, I saw very many people dying of snake bites. I was very sad, and I said: 'Maybe this is not the mission for me,'” Sun shared.

“But, you know, when you see the people keep coming, then you get the courage, and I prayed to God everyday 'Lord, if this is what you want me to do, you are the one to give me the courage and the strength,’” she said.

Apart from treatment, the sisters work in preventative education, explaining to people in the surrounding villages the danger and how to protect themselves from the snakes.

“Hindus worship snakes, so they do not kill them, even when they become victims of snakebites. So during summer, we work 24/7 day and night,” she said.

Because of poverty, many of the patients they see live in huts made of bamboo and grass with a type of mud floor that can attract venomous creatures, particularly in the summer and rainy seasons.

“We have many stories of people telling us that when they get up in the morning, they just put their foot down from their bed and that is where they were bitten by a snake,” Sun said.

To keep themselves safe, the sisters have also trained dogs to detect the presence of snakes.

“I was very much afraid of snakes. But, being in Bangalore for my novitiate, training to become a religious, in that area we also have plenty of snakes and cobras. That is where I learned how to deal and even have killed a number of snakes, so when I came here, that was a kind of preparation for me,” she said.

In 2018, the Congregation of the Sisters of the Our Lady of the Missions treated more than 6,000 snakebite patients at their snakebite clinic in Kanti, Bihar.

“I believe that God uses us religious as instruments and miracles take place because God heals,” Sister Sun said.