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Ganadora de premio de justicia ambiental: 'Tenemos el derecho de vivir en un territorio que para nosotras es sagrado'

Aura Lolita Chávez Ixcaquic es maestra y lideresa maya k'iche de Guatemala. Habló con EarthBeat de su labor en defensa del medio ambiente y la persecución que sufre por mantener para su pueblo un modelo de vida vinculado a la tierra.

Colorado bishops to restore Sunday Mass obligation on Pentecost

Elena Dijour/Shutterstock.

CNA Staff, Apr 11, 2021 / 16:50 pm (CNA).

The Sunday Mass obligation will be restored for Catholics in the state of Colorado next month, unless sickness or another grave reason prevents them from being able to attend Mass.  

A joint statement from the bishops of Denver, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo on April 6 announced that the Sunday and Holy Day Mass obligation will be restored on Pentecost, May 23. 

The bishops urged all Catholics without significant health risks or other serious obstacles to attend Mass every Sunday and to use this Easter season to reflect on the importance of Mass and the Church’s teaching surrounding it.

“As Catholics, we are invited by God to gather together in community, and participate fully in the Sunday Eucharist, which is the ‘source and summit of the Christian life,’” the bishops said.

“The Sunday and Holy Day obligation is not something God asks of us out of his own necessity or need to be worshipped, but rather a gift to the faithful for our own spiritual nourishment, happiness, and eternal salvation.”

As the coronavirus pandemic swept through the United States last spring, every Catholic diocese in the country suspended the public celebration of Masses. In many areas, public Masses were restored several months later, with restrictions in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

Dioceses have gradually begun reinstating the Sunday Mass obligation in recent months.

“While entering into any public space over the last year has included some risk, the safety and health protocols implemented at our parishes have proven to be extremely effective, and we are unaware of any issues of community spread happening at a public Mass,” the Colorado bishops said in their statement.

“Prudent health precautions will still be taken by every parish, but as the worst of the pandemic seems to be behind us, and access to COVID-19 vaccines for those who desire to receive it has increased, the time has come that the general dispensation is no longer necessary.”

The bishops noted that the Church has always permitted those with “serious reasons” to be exempted from the obligation to attend Mass. Such serious reasons, they said, could include sickness, exposure to the coronavirus, or being or caring for someone who is high risk and unable to enter public areas. In addition, they clarified, the obligation does not apply for someone who is unable to attend Mass due to ongoing capacity limits on religious services during the pandemic.

“Anyone who isn’t able to go to Mass should continue to keep the Sabbath holy with intentional time in prayer including engagement in the readings for the day, which may be enhanced through watching a pre-recorded or livestreamed Mass and making a spiritual communion,” they said. 

The bishops encouraged Catholics to pray for an end to the pandemic, for those who have suffered a loss, and for a rejuvenated faith, especially for those who have drifted from their faith during this time. 

“Let us ask the Lord for a renewed spirit in every one of us: that we can emerge from this pandemic stronger and with an increased commitment to sharing the Good News and building up Christ’s Church,” they said.

Born again

Pencil Preaching for Monday, April 12, 2021

As St. Vincent volcano erupts, Catholics ask for prayers

St. Vincent Flag. / Lee Coursey via Flickr (CC BY 2.0) / Lee Coursey via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Denver Newsroom, Apr 11, 2021 / 11:50 am (CNA).

A major volcanic eruption in the Eastern Caribbean has prompted thousands to evacuate parts of the main island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Catholics are asking for prayers and for assistance.

“While we continue to pray for our nation we ask that you especially remember those who have been displaced,” the Diocese of Kingstown said in a Facebook post on Saturday morning.

The La Soufrire volcano on St. Vincent first erupted at 8:41 a.m. Friday. It covered the island with ash It last erupted in 1979. A 1902 eruption killed about 1,600 people, the Associated Press reports.

Over 100,000 people live across the nine inhabited islands of the country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The island of St. Vincent is about twice the area of the District of Columbia.

About 16,000 people live in the “red zone” on the north of the island of St. Vincent, an area considered the most at risk from volcanic activity. Most of these residents evacuated.

A second explosion on Sunday caused a massive power outage and cut off water supplies. The eruptions could continue for days or weeks.

The ash and rock have made road travel difficult. The ash has hurt visibility and can cause respiratory problems.

Evacuees have taken refuge in emergency shelters, but there are concerns that such conditions could spread the coronavirus.

Residents of St. Lucia, about 47 miles north of St. Vincent, have been warned that air quality will be affected. In Barbados, about 124 miles east, residents have been warned to stay inside, BBC News reports.

Some Catholic schools and churches are serving as shelters for evacuees. The Kingstown diocese said there is an “urgent need” for mattresses, bed linens and pillows. It asked local donors to drop off donations at Assumption Cathedral in Kingstown.

Pope Francis: Christ’s wounds shower ‘mercy upon our misery’

Pope Francis before the image of Jesus of Divine Mercy April 8, 2018. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Vatican City, Apr 11, 2021 / 05:48 am (CNA).

At every Mass we adore and kiss Christ’s wounded and risen body in the Eucharist, a channel of his mercy, Pope Francis said on Divine Mercy Sunday.

Offering Mass at the Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia April 11, the pope reflected on Jesus’ appearances to his disciples between his resurrection and his ascension, explaining that the disciples received the mercy of Jesus Christ through the gifts of his peace, forgiveness, and wounds.

“His wounds are open channels between him and us, shedding mercy upon our misery,” Francis said. “His wounds are the pathways that God has opened up for us to enter into his tender love and actually ‘touch’ who he is. Let us never again doubt his mercy.”

“In adoring and kissing his wounds, we come to realize that in his tender love all our weaknesses are accepted,” the pope continued. “This happens at every Mass, where Jesus offers us his wounded and risen Body. We touch him and he touches our lives. He makes heaven come down to us. His radiant wounds dispel the darkness we carry within.”

He said: “Like Thomas, we discover God; we realize how close he is to us and we are moved to exclaim, ‘My Lord and my God!’ (John 20:28). Everything comes from this, from the grace of receiving mercy.”

Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Divine Mercy Sunday together with several priests who were designated “Missionaries of Mercy” during the Jubilee Year of Mercy in 2016.

Around 80 people were invited to attend the pope’s Mass, including a group of inmates from three Rome prisons: Regina Caeli, Rebibbia female, and Casal del Marmo.

Nurses from the nearby Hospital of S. Spirito in Sassia were also present, as well as people with disabilities, a family of migrants from Argentina, and young refugees from Syria, Nigeria, and Egypt.

Religious sisters of the Hospitaller Sisters of Mercy, and Civil Protection volunteers also attended the pope’s Mass.

“I address a special greeting to you, present here in the Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia, the Shrine of Divine Mercy,” the pope said at the end of Mass.

“You represent some of the situations in which mercy is made tangible; it becomes closeness, service, care for those in difficulty,” he said. “I hope you will always feel you have been granted mercy, so as to be merciful to others in turn.”

Before reciting the Regina Coeli, a Marian antiphon prayed during the Easter season, Francis said: “May the Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, obtain this grace for us all.”

Afterward, Pope Francis greeted each person individually before returning to the Vatican.

Located down the street from St. Peter’s Basilica, Santo Spirito in Sassia is Rome’s official Divine Mercy shrine.

Originally built as a hospital chapel, the 16th-century church was transformed into a center of Divine Mercy spirituality at the request of St. Pope John Paul II in 1994. In a side chapel, the church has a large copy of the Divine Mercy painting of Christ, and relics of St. Faustina Kowalska and St. Pope John Paul II.

A side chapel dedicated to Divine Mercy in the Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia.  /  ACI Stampa.
A side chapel dedicated to Divine Mercy in the Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia. / ACI Stampa.

In his homily on Sunday, Pope Francis said because we have been forgiven by God in his abundant mercy, we must show the same mercy to others.

“Do you want proof that God has touched your life? See if you can stoop to bind the wounds of others,” the pope said in a homily April 11.

“Today is the day to ask, ‘Am I, who have so often received God’s peace, his mercy, merciful to others? Do I, who have so often been fed by the Body of Jesus, make any effort to relieve the hunger of the poor?’”

“Let us not remain indifferent,” Pope Francis urged, stating that a faith which receives but does not give becomes arid, barren, and sentimental.

“Having received mercy, let us now become merciful,” he said, “let us be renewed by the peace, forgiveness and wounds of the merciful Jesus. Let us ask for the grace to become witnesses of mercy. Only in this way will our faith be alive and our lives unified. Only in this way will we proclaim the Gospel of God, which is the Gospel of mercy.”

The pope also spoke about the Sacrament of Reconciliation, also called confession.

“Let us ask for the grace to accept that gift, to embrace the Sacrament of forgiveness,” he said. “And to understand that confession is not about ourselves and our sins, but about God and his mercy. Let us not confess to abase ourselves, but to be raised up. We, all of us, need this badly.”

“Like little children who, whenever they fall, need to be picked up by their fathers, we need this,” he stated.

“We too fall frequently. And the hand of our Father is ready to set us on our feet again and to make us keep walking. That sure and trustworthy hand is confession.”

He recalled that the disciples, after receiving Christ’s mercy, in turn became merciful. In the Acts of the Apostles, it says “no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common,” he said.

“This is not communism,” Francis underlined, “but pure Christianity.” The same disciples who had earlier argued about who was the greatest among them now share everything.

“How did they change like that? They now saw in others the same mercy that had changed their own lives,” he said. “They discovered that they shared the mission, the forgiveness and the Body of Jesus, and so it seemed natural to share their earthly possessions.”

Francis pointed to the verse that says: “There was not a needy person among them.”

“Their fears had been dispelled by touching the Lord’s wounds, and now they are unafraid to heal the wounds of those in need,” he stated. “Because there they see Jesus. Because Jesus is there, in the wounds of those in need.”

Feds allege ex-executive embezzled children’s services non-profit for personal spending

Andy via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Lansing, Mich., Apr 10, 2021 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

Alleging embezzlement of over $200,000, federal prosecutors have filed charges against John Lynch, a former executive of the historically Catholic Michigan non-profit Holy Cross Children’s Services .

 

“In 2017, Holy Cross Services’ management discovered  financial irregularities indicative of possible embezzlement activity,” the nonprofit organization said in a statement. The organization initiated an audit performed by an outside accounting firm and notified its insurance carriers, and reported the matter to law enforcement, including the FBI.

 

The investigation was prompted when an employee noticed apparent personal expenses in Lynch’s use of the Holy Cross credit card. Lynch was fired in April 2017.

 

Holy Cross reached an “amicable resolution” with its insurance carriers and has “worked closely with the FBI” regarding the case.

 

“We want to assure all our donors, stakeholders, clients and partners, that Holy Cross fully cooperated throughout the investigation, and that the organization has implemented best practices and safeguards to prevent this from ever happening again,” the nonprofit said.  

 

The charity’s former CEO and chief financial officer, 56-year-old Lynch, is accused of stealing more than $240,000 from the charity and allegedly spent it on shopping sprees, vacations, expensive dinners, personal credit card and mortgage debt, and relatives who kicked back money to him, The Detroit News reports.

 

If convicted, he faces federal charges of mail and wire fraud, crimes both punishable by up to 20 years in prison. He is also accused of stealing money from an organization that receives federal funds, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

 

Holy Cross Children's Services is based in Clinton, Mich. It was founded as Boysville of Michigan in 1948 by the Catholic bishops of Michigan. In 2019, Boysville of Michigan became Holy Cross Services and is not under the auspices of any diocese, the organization said.

 

Holy Cross Children's Services serves abused and neglected children, youth and young adults with substance abuse and mental health problems, as well as homeless children and adults. Its statewide work includes financial support, welfare and behavioral health care for children and their families in need. It also operates Samaritan Center, which provides community resources and health care on Detroit’s East Side.

 

Lynch had a salary of $200,000 per year.

 

Prosecutors accused him of using stolen money to pay for car repairs, a new roof, and mortgage and credit card payments. He used the charity’s money to pay his own consultant company and to pay for security services, secretly controlled through a relative.

 

Over $39,000 in 14 checks were paid to a relative of Lynch in 2014-2015. Prosecutors allege he described the money as “profit sharing” and suggested to the relative they split the cash. The relative transferred some $21,000 of that money back to Lynch.

 

He allegedly spent his employer’s credit card on about $36,500 in unauthorized charges.

 

Prosecutors allege he tried to cover up the embezzlement by submitting bogus invoices. He allegedly controlled the companies he paid.

 

Lynch was released on a $10,000 unsecured bond.

 

He had begun working at the charity in March 2012. Later that year he filed for bankruptcy in U.S. District Court, claiming he was over $10 million in debt. This included credit card debt, student loan debt for his children, business loans, and a debt related to a bankruptcy proceeding for a collision company, the Detroit Free Press reports. At the time, he claimed $400,000 in assets and $18,000 in monthly expenses, with an income of only $16,500.

 

Holly Fournier, associate communications director for the Detroit archdiocese, told CNA that although all Michigan dioceses once had a role in supporting the nonprofit, it has been 20 to 25 years since the Detroit archdiocese had any direct involvement.  

 

“In more recent years, the Archbishop has had the ability to appoint someone to the 20- to 30-person Board of Directors,” Fournier said. “That‘s not uncommon among independent organizations that choose to operate within the principles of Catholic teaching — like private schools run by religious orders, for example. We don’t currently have anyone active on the board, as the last individual to be appointed has been serving in unrelated ministry out of the country for several years.”

The Body of Christ

Pencil Preaching for Sunday, April 11, 2021

Australian Cardinal Edward Cassidy, Vatican official and diplomat, dies at 96

A view of St. Peter's Basilica from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. / Alexey Gotovskiy/CNA.

Rome Newsroom, Apr 10, 2021 / 08:26 am (CNA).

Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, a longtime Vatican diplomat and official, has died in Newcastle, Australia, at the age of 96.

Cassidy was president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity from 1989 until his retirement in 2001, when he returned to Australia after more than 30 years as a Vatican nuncio and curial official.

As head of the Holy See's office of Christian unity, Cassidy, together with the Lutheran World Federation, was responsible for the drafting and signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in 1999.

He served as the sostituto, the second-ranking official, at the Secretariat of State for 21 months in 1988 and 1989.

His appointment to the Roman Curia ended almost 18 years as an apostolic pro-nuncio to the countries of China, Bangladesh, Lesotho, and the Netherlands. He was also apostolic delegate to South Africa for over five years while under apartheid.

St. Pope John Paul II made Cassidy a cardinal in 1991, but he missed voting in the conclave which elected Benedict XVI in 2005, because he had aged out of voting privileges just nine months prior.

Cassidy was born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on July 5, 1924. When his family had financial difficulties after the death of his grandfather, Cassidy dropped out of high school to work as a junior clerk at the Department of Road Transport.

In 1942 he convinced his bishop to let him study for the priesthood and he entered the seminary the following year. Cassidy was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Sydney in 1949 at the age of 25.

Not long afterward he was transferred to the Diocese of Wagga Wagga, a suffragan of the now-Archdiocese of Sydney.

He moved to Rome to study canon law in 1952, completing his doctorate at the Pontifical Lateran University in 1955. Cassidy also received a diploma in diplomatic studies from the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy.

As a priest, Cassidy served in the nunciatures in India, Ireland, and Portugal. He was named counselor of the apostolic delegation in the United States in 1967, but the transfer of Ireland's nuncio to Portugal kept him in Dublin for some months before he was then named counselor of the nunciature in El Salvador.

He also served as counselor of the Nunciature in Argentina, before being named apostolic pro-nuncio to the Republic of China in 1970.

After his 2001 retirement, Cassidy wrote the book "Rediscovering Vatican II - Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue."

Supreme Court halts California virus rules limiting home worship

The Supreme Court is telling California that it can't enforce coronavirus-related restrictions that have limited home-based religious worship including Bible studies and prayer meetings.

Pope Francis sends condolences to Queen Elizabeth for death of Prince Philip

Pope Francis prays with journalists on the papal flight en route to South Korea, August 14, 2014. / Alan Holdren/CNA

Vatican City, Apr 10, 2021 / 05:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Saturday expressed his sorrow at the death of Prince Philip in a letter to Queen Elizabeth II, his wife of 73 years.

"Saddened to learn of the death of your husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, His Holiness Pope Francis offers heartfelt condolences to your majesty and the members of the Royal Family," stated an April 10 telegram signed by Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

The death of Prince Philip, at the age of 99, was announced by Buckingham Palace April 9.

“It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,” the palace said.

“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.”

Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II have four children, eight grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren. Prince Philip is the longest-serving consort of any British monarch.

The Vatican telegram April 10 said, "Recalling Prince Philip's devotion to his marriage and family, his distinguished record of public service and his commitment to the education and advancement of future generations, His Holiness commends him to the merciful love of Christ our Redeemer."

"Upon you and upon all who grieve his loss in the sure hope of the resurrection, the Holy Father invokes the Lord's blessings of consolation and peace," it closed.