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Harrison Butker supported by Kansas City bishop, prominent Catholics amid speech backlash

Kansas City Chiefs’ placekicker Harrison Butker speaks to college graduates in his commencement address at Benedictine College on Saturday, May 11, 2024. / Credit: Benedictine College

CNA Staff, May 16, 2024 / 18:37 pm (CNA).

Prominent Catholics are voicing their support for Kansas City Chiefs’ kicker Harrison Butker after he delivered a commencement address to graduating students at Benedictine College on May 11 that touched on hot-button issues, causing outrage among the left-leaning media and commentators.

Butker, 28, who has been outspoken about his Catholic faith during his career, received backlash for sharing his views on gender, abortion, euthanasia, and IVF.

He also took aim at several high-profile Catholics such as President Joe Biden and the former head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci. He chided certain unnamed bishops who were “motivated by fear” during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

In the speech at the Atchison, Kansas-based Catholic liberal arts college, he denounced “people pushing dangerous gender ideologies onto the youth of America” while calling on graduates to live out their vocation to “ensure that God’s Church continues and the world is enlightened by your example.”

“Our own nation is led by a man who publicly and proudly proclaims his Catholic faith, but at the same time is delusional enough to make the sign of the cross during a pro-abortion rally. He has been so vocal in his support for the murder of innocent babies that I’m sure to many people it appears that you can be both Catholic and pro-choice,” Butker said. 

Butker’s local ordinary, Bishop James Johnston of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, told CNA Thursday in a statement that “Harrison Butker’s passion for his Catholic faith and his family are beautiful and well known. And like most people, he also has strong opinions on where we are as a Church and as a nation.”

“The Catholic Church believes that God calls everyone to pursue holiness no matter what path they take. As St. Paul notes, that diversity of callings and vocations is essential to the life and mission of the Church. I support Mr. Butker’s right to share his faith and express his opinions — including those that are critical of bishops,” he said.

Johnston wasn’t the only one who spoke out in support of Butker. 

In a statement to CNA Thursday, another high-profile Catholic, Marian priest and author of “Consecration to St. Joseph” Father Donald Calloway, MIC, said: “I loved the speech!”

“His speech was inspiring and what the woke culture needs to hear. He exhibited real, authentic Catholic manhood. Good for him. I have no problem with anything he said. I wish more said it, especially clergy. God bless him. I look forward to meeting him. I loved it so much I went out and bought his jersey!"

Bishop Joseph Strickland thanked Butker for “speaking truth” in a post he shared Thursday on X. 

Strickland said that “it is no surprise that some are reacting with extreme negativity, too many today hate the truth and merely want ‘their’ truth, which is not truth at all. You are in my prayers.”

President of the Catholic League Bill Donohue wrote in a statement on Thursday that Butker “nailed it” during comments in his speech. 

“His courage and his commitment to Catholicism is laudatory,” Donohue wrote. “A heralded Catholic football player defends traditional moral values at a Catholic college — how novel — and within no time he’s being bashed all over the place. Had he endorsed transgenderism, or Hamas, he would now be praised to high heaven.”

Kristan Hawkins, a Catholic and president of the pro-life group Students for Life of America, wrote of the speech online: “If you watch one video today, this should be it.”

Hawkins shared a clip of Butker’s criticism of Biden, quoting Butker: “This is an important reminder that ‘being Catholic’ alone doesn’t cut it.”

CNA reached out to Benedictine College for comment but did not receive a response. 

Former Notre Dame football coach and Hall of Famer Lou Holtz publicly thanked Butker on Twitter Thursday for his speech.

“Thank you @buttkicker7 for standing strong in your faith values. Your commencement speech at Benedictine College showed courage and conviction and I admire that. Don’t give in,” he wrote.

In Holtz’s post on X, he linked to a petition in support of Butker, calling him “a true man of God.”

A separate petition by critics of Butker’s speech has made waves in the media calling for his Super Bowl-winning team, the Kansas City Chiefs, to fire him. The petition has already amassed over 100,000 signatures.

Additionally, Butker has been targeted by the city of Kansas City, Missouri, which shared a now-deleted post on X announcing what city Butker lives in, a form of harassment known as “doxxing.”

Kansas City’s X account later said: “We apologies [sic] for our previous tweet. It was shared in error.”

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas shared a follow-up post that said: “A message appeared earlier this evening from a city public account. The message was clearly inappropriate for a public account. The city has correctly apologized for the error, will review account access, and ensure nothing like it is shared in the future from public channels.”

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey said on X Thursday that his office would be taking legal action to protect the free speech of Butker and Missourians.

“BREAKING: My office is demanding accountability after @KansasCity doxxed @buttkicker7 last night for daring to express his religious beliefs. I will enforce the Missouri Human Rights Act to ensure Missourians are not targeted for their free exercise of religion. Stay tuned,” he wrote.

Much of the criticism of Butker’s speech focused on Butker’s comments addressed to the women among the graduates. 

Butker congratulated the female graduates but added: “I think it is you, the women, who have had the most diabolical lies told to you.”

“How many of you are sitting here now about to cross this stage and are thinking about all the promotions and titles you are going to get in your career? Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world, but I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world,” Butker said.

“I can tell you that my beautiful wife, Isabelle, would be the first to say that her life truly started when she began living her vocation as a wife and as a mother,” he said.

“I’m on the stage today and able to be the man I am because I have a wife who leans into her vocation. I’m beyond blessed with the many talents God has given me, but it cannot be overstated that all of my success is made possible because a girl I met in band class back in middle school would convert to the faith, become my wife, and embrace one of the most important titles of all: homemaker,” he said.

His comments were followed by an almost 20-second applause from the audience.

In a statement shared with the media, the NFL condemned Butker’s comments, saying that he “gave a speech in his personal capacity.”

“His views are not those of the NFL as an organization. The NFL is steadfast in our commitment to inclusion, which only makes our league stronger,” said Jonathan Beane, the NFL’s senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer.

The Catholic advocacy organization CatholicVote penned a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell criticizing Beane’s statement, saying that it “calls into question your commitment to genuine diversity and inclusion.”

“Indeed, the NFL proudly boasts that it ‘honors and celebrates the broad ranges of human difference among us, while also embracing the commonalities we share, and to provide each individual with the opportunity to achieve their full potential.’ Does this inclusion include Catholics, pro-life Americans, mothers, and those who hold to traditional moral beliefs?” the May 16 letter said.

California teacher fired for religious beliefs gets six-figure payout in court

Jessica Tapia displays a sign outside the Garden Grove Unified School District board meeting on behalf of the Teachers Don’t Lie program. / Credit: Photo courtesy of Advocates for Faith and Freedom and Jessica Tapia

CNA Staff, May 16, 2024 / 18:04 pm (CNA).

A Christian teacher settled in court for $360,000 earlier this week after suing a California school district board for firing her after she refused to comply with gender ideology rules that went against her religious beliefs.

After refusing to comply with a preferred pronoun rule, Jessica Tapia was fired by the Jurupa Unified School District from her job as a physical education teacher.

“It ultimately really does come down to my faith and how I believe that it’s always worth it to stand for righteousness and fight for truth,” Tapia told CNA in a phone call. “And ultimately, I believe the word of God is that truth and is the instructions we’ve been given to live our life upon. There’s really nothing else or no one else that I lean on for that.”

After students reported Tapia’s private social media account to the school district, an account where she shared her views, the school district placed her on administrative leave and investigated her in 2022.  

“When I came to this position in my workplace and as a teacher where I was now being asked to do things that would go directly against what is the truth and what I am confident is best for children that I’m educating — and best for parents and best for myself — I knew it was time to speak up and not just bow down and go along with it like so many are feeling pressured and compelled to do,” she continued. 

The district asked Tapia to comply with a new rule that would require that she use students’ preferred pronouns, not tell parents if students were identifying as a gender different than their biological sex, and allow students to use their preferred bathroom regardless of their biological sex. She sought religious accommodations, but the board refused, firing her rather than accommodating her religious beliefs. 

Tapia said it was “scary” to be in that position, but she believed it would go against biblical teaching to “cave to the fear.”

“It really stretched me, and I had to really, really lean on the Lord like never before and look at what his word says and what the best thing for me to do in this situation — even if it was going to be the sacrificial thing, even if it was going to turn my life upside down,” she said.

Tapia said it wasn’t easy to take the risk, but the “timing” worked out, and now she gets to home-school her young children — ages 6, 4, and 2 — while heading the “Teachers Don’t Lie” program, encouraging teachers “not be compelled to lie in any way.” 

“We shouldn’t be lying to students about who God made them to be, male or female; we shouldn’t lie to their parents or withhold that information from their parents. If their own child is beginning to experience some confusion around their identity, that’s never something to be kept from their own parents — but that’s what school districts are asking teachers to do,” she explained. “Then thirdly, we shouldn’t have to be pressured to lie to ourselves about our own morals and beliefs and convictions — and that’s what I was being asked to do by my school district.”

Bethany Onishenko, legal counsel for Advocates for Freedom and Faith, the nonprofit law firm that defended Tapia, said they’ve seen “a huge influx” of cases of this nature over the last few years. 

“I don’t think we’re done yet. I think that this is only getting worse in our public school system right now,” Onishenko said. “But as we have more teachers like Jessica and more school districts stand up to these ideologies, well, I hope we start to see these cases lessen. But for now, they are raging on.”

When asked what she would say to concerned parents, Tapia said that while she personally doesn’t “typically advise people to put their kids in public school,” she’s “here for” those who do.

“I stand with them,” she said, adding: “I’m there for the parents who are choosing public school. I still think if there [are] children there, I believe Christians need to be there, too: people of morals, people of values, need to be wherever children are, protecting them.” 

Onishenko noted that parents don’t lose their rights when they place their children in public school.

Onishenko noted that “regardless of where you decide to send your child,” parents are still the primary caregivers for their children and have the right to be involved in the welfare and education of their children. 

“Parents absolutely have a constitutionally protected right to direct the care of upbringing and control of their children, and they don’t shed those rights if they do choose to send their children to public schools,” Onishenko noted.

Tapia said she has received a “truly overwhelming” amount of support from people, locally and worldwide.

But in a statement shared with CNA, a spokesperson for the school district said the settlement “is not a win for Ms. Tapia but is in compromise of a disputed claim.” 

“The district continues to deny any illegal action or discrimination against Ms. Tapia,” the statement continued. “As is clear from the settlement agreement, the district has not admitted any fault or wrongdoing against Ms. Tapia.”

Onishenko called it “a huge legal victory” in spite of this. 

“The district did not claim liability when they entered into the settlement, but we still see this as a big legal victory,” Onishenko told CNA in a phone call. “It serves as a reminder to everybody that religious freedom is protected no matter what career you’re in or what job you’re in.” 

“The settlement is just confirmation and a reminder that when teachers stand up for their rights or when anybody of faith stands up for their constitutional God-protected rights, they will be victorious when they stand up in faith … for the things that they believe in and stand up for the word of God,” she said.

Church members help people displaced by Brazil floods, form solidarity networks for assistance

The unprecedented storms devastating vast areas in Brazil since the end of April have displaced more than half a million people. Members of the Catholic Church are calling on government authorities to develop policies to rebuild destroyed communities and family farms.

Pope Francis says conservative critics have a ‘suicidal attitude’

In an interview with 60 Minutes' Norah O'Donnell, airing this Sunday, Pope Francis took aim at his “conservative critics” in the United States. / Credit: CBS News/Adam Verdugo

CNA Staff, May 16, 2024 / 16:58 pm (CNA).

In an interview with “60 Minutes” airing this Sunday, Pope Francis takes aim at his “conservative critics” in the United States, reportedly saying a conservative is someone who “clings to something and does not want to see beyond that.”

“It is a suicidal attitude,” the pope said as reported by “60 Minutes,” which released a brief clip of the upcoming interview conducted by CBS’ Nora O’Donnell. 

“Because one thing is to take tradition into account, to consider situations from the past, but quite another is to be closed up inside a dogmatic box.”

Francis has occasionally addressed criticism leveled against him during his more than 10 years as pontiff, saying in August 2023 that the U.S. Catholic Church is characterized by “a very strong reactionary attitude.” He has taken actions recently to limit the influence of some of his most prominent clerical critics in the U.S., reportedly taking some Vatican privileges from Cardinal Raymond Burke and removing Bishop Joseph Strickland, a frequent online critic of the pope, from his post as bishop of Tyler, Texas. 

According to CBS, the pope in the recent interview “spoke candidly with O’Donnell about the wars in Israel and Gaza, Ukraine, and the migration crises around the world and on the U.S. southern border.” 

“The wide-ranging conversation also touches upon the Church’s handling of its own sexual abuse scandals; Francis’ deep commitment to inclusiveness within the Church; the backlash against his papacy from certain corners of U.S. Catholicism; and an exploration of his thinking on surrogate parenthood,” the network says, adding that the interview marks “the first time a pope has given an in-depth, one-on-one interview to a U.S. broadcast network.”

The full interview, conducted April 24, will air as part of “60 Minutes” on May 19 from 7-8 p.m. ET on CBS and will be available on Paramount+. More of the interview will air in an hourlong prime-time special on Monday, May 20, at 10 p.m. ET on CBS and Paramount+.

The interview comes ahead of the first-ever World Children’s Day, May 25–26, a new initiative by Pope Francis sponsored by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Culture and Education in collaboration with the Catholic community of Sant’Egidio, the Auxilium Cooperative, and the Italian Football Federation. The Vatican is expecting children from more than 100 countries to travel to Rome for the weekend event with the pope.

Pope Francis: Young people ‘can break the chains of antagonism’ between Catholics, Orthodox

Pope Francis converses with Metropolitan Agathangelos, director general of the Apostolikí Diakonía of the Greek Orthodox Church, at the Vatican on May 16, 2024. / Credit: Vatican Media

ACI Prensa Staff, May 16, 2024 / 16:18 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis has placed in young people his hope that Catholics and Orthodox may be “united in diversity” and “break the chains” of antagonism, misunderstanding, and prejudice that have kept them prisoners for centuries.

In a Thursday audience, the Holy Father received the director-general of the Apostolikí Diakonía of the Orthodox Church of Greece, Metropolitan Agathangelos, and a delegation from the Theological College of Athens.

The Apostolikí Diakonía is the official publishing house and missionary arm of the Orthodox Christian Church of Greece. Since 1936 it has published hundreds of books on Christian theology and tradition, Orthodox spirituality, and biblical studies.

At the beginning of his talk given at the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican, the Holy Father expressed his gratitude for the collaboration between Apostolikí Diakonía and the Dicastery for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

He also addressed a particular greeting to the archbishop of Athens and all Greece, His Beatitude Ieronymos II, who was present at the audience and whom the pontiff described as “a man of deep faith and a wise pastor.”

Pope Francis highlighted that during these last 20 years, “despite times of difficulty, for example, the economic crisis in Greece and the pandemic, the Apostolikí Diakonía and the Catholic Committee for Cultural Collaboration have worked together in promoting projects of common interest on the cultural and educational level.”

He also stressed the need to provide cultural, theological, and ecumenical formation for new generations.

According to the Holy Father, “it is the young, sustained by the hope founded on faith, who can break the chains of antagonism, misunderstanding, and prejudice that for centuries held Catholics and Orthodox back from acknowledging one another as brothers and sisters, united in diversity and capable of bearing witness to the love of Christ, especially in a world so divided and riven by conflict.”

Pope Francis noted that next summer a group of Catholic students will be welcomed at the Theological College of Athens, where they will be “introduced to knowledge of the modern Greek language and the Orthodox Church.”

“By journeying together, working together, and praying together, we prepare ourselves to receive from God the gift of unity that, as a fruit of the Holy Spirit, will be a communion and harmony in legitimate diversity,” the Holy Father concluded.

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

Thomas Aquinas College goes off the grid with green power plan

Mark Kretschmer, vice president for operations at Thomas Aquinas College (TAC), pictured with Thomas Kaiser, a biologist and researcher, and Lawerence Youngblood, an electrical engineer and director of Brompton Energy. / Credit: Thomas Aquinas College

CNA Staff, May 16, 2024 / 15:24 pm (CNA).

A sequestered Catholic college in the foothills of California launched an energy program that has nearly eliminated the college’s carbon footprint while saving $600,000 a year, giving the school more reliable energy than the state power grid. 

Thomas Aquinas College (TAC), a campus of more than 500 students, sits northwest of Los Angeles but offers something very different than the bustle and traffic of city life. Sitting on 845 acres, TAC’s discussion-based model of education is designed for a small, tight-knit community of students and “tutors,” who gather for class around round tables rather than desks.

“We are in the business of analytical thinking, of asking questions, of learning from and working with nature,” President Paul O’Reilly said of TAC in a May 7 press release. “And as a Catholic institution, we are very much in the business of shepherding our resources responsibly, partnering with our neighbors, and being good stewards of creation. Our new energy independence program reflects all these qualities.”

Thomas Aquinas College (TAC), a campus of more than 500 students, sits northwest of Los Angeles, but offers something very different than the bustle and traffic of city life. Credit: Thomas Aquinas College
Thomas Aquinas College (TAC), a campus of more than 500 students, sits northwest of Los Angeles, but offers something very different than the bustle and traffic of city life. Credit: Thomas Aquinas College

After a wildfire encircled the California campus in 2017, TAC’s energy was forever altered. High winds had sparked a fire from a high-voltage power line, turning a spark into one of the worst fires in California state history.  

Since the disaster, the state took precautions by cutting power whenever there were high winds, resulting in routine campus blackouts, while utility costs only increased.

Determined to avoid two acres of solar fields on campus, Senior Tutor Thomas Kaiser, a biologist and researcher, knew that solar panels would “despoil the campus,” but he thought he could work with the campus’ neighbor — an oil and gas field company. 

Working with electrical engineer and Brompton Energy Director Lawerence Youngblood, the two determined that a contract for free natural gas would be “a very economical decision.” 

The neighboring company, Carbon California, agreed to the proposal. 

“We knew that providing the natural gas to TAC, free of charge, was the only way for the system to be economically feasible,” said Jane Farkas, Carbon California’s vice president of land and regulatory affairs. “And we wanted to be a good neighbor.”  

Together, they found a way to reduce Carbon California’s flaring and generate efficient and green energy for the campus. 

“We have a gas stream that comes out of the wells near the campus, and we’ve allowed the college to tap into that line,” Scott Price, president of Carbon California, said in the press release.

The college installed the Capstone turbine on the lower campus and adjusted the electrical infrastructure of the upper campus during last summer and the beginning of the fall. 

“We had never done anything like this before,” Mark Kretschmer, TAC vice president for operations, said in the press release. “There’s no way we could have completed this project, let alone so quickly, were it not for the countless hours of technical support and manpower that Carbon California provided throughout the installation, and which it continues to provide as we work through all the engineering and technical challenges.” 

A sequestered Catholic college in the foothills of California launched an energy program that has nearly eliminated the college’s carbon footprint while saving $600,000 a year, giving the school more reliable energy than the state power grid. Credit: Thomas Aquinas College
A sequestered Catholic college in the foothills of California launched an energy program that has nearly eliminated the college’s carbon footprint while saving $600,000 a year, giving the school more reliable energy than the state power grid. Credit: Thomas Aquinas College

While the high-capacity Tesla battery used in the project was obtained for free through a state government program, the turbine installation cost $4.5 million. But according to the college, the project will pay for itself within six years due to tax incentives and energy savings.  

“According to the Air Quality Management District, the Capstone turbine uses the most recent, best available control technology on the market,” Youngblood said. “Rather than flaring at high emissions, we can burn gas using that turbine’s efficient combustion technology at much lower emissions.” 

“This energy-management plan and technology portfolio will put the college on such a high level that it will lead other universities throughout the United States,” Youngblood added. 

Youngblood hopes to develop a similar system at TAC’s recently established New England campus

“Why can’t TAC — which leads the way in Catholic liberal education — not also be the leader in implementing green technology as good stewards of God’s creation?” he noted.  

“While the college is not in the business of technological innovation, this sort of innovation flows naturally from what we do,” O’Reilly added.

Pro-lifers imprisoned under FACE Act speak out

Washington Surgi-Clinic on F St. NW in Washington, D.C., on April 7, 2022. / Credit: Katie Yoder/CNA

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 16, 2024 / 14:48 pm (CNA).

After seven pro-life activists were sentenced to years in prison for a “rescue” attempt at a Washington, D.C., abortion clinic, some of the activists are now speaking out. 

Joan Andrews Bell, a 76-year-old Catholic and pro-life activist who was sentenced to two years and three months in prison, shared a statement in which she vowed to continue advocating for the unborn and called on others to join her in prayer. 

“The rougher it gets for us the more we can rejoice that we are succeeding; no longer are we being treated so much as the privileged born, but as the discriminated against conceived child,” Bell said in a statement obtained by CNA. “We do not expect justice in the courts. Furthermore, we do not seek it for ourselves when it is being denied [to] our beloved brothers and sisters.”

She said that she views her prison sentence as “a time of prayer and reparation” for “the sin of abortion in America.”

“God’s timing is perfect,” she concluded. “I may not see any fruits of these simple prayers and acts, but the Lord of all will do what is best. Please pray and do what God wants you to do.”

What is happening? 

Bell and six other pro-lifers were sentenced this week for felony crimes involving conspiracy against rights and violating the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, also known as the FACE Act. 

Signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994, the FACE Act prohibits obstructing access to or destruction of abortion clinics, pregnancy centers, or church property. The law has been criticized by several lawmakers for being unevenly applied against pro-life activists.

The activists sentenced to prison this week are Bell, Lauren Handy, 30, John Hinshaw, 69, William Goodman, 54, Herb Geraghty, 27, Jonathan Darnel, 42, and Jean Marshall, 74. The sentences were given by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly. 

According to the Department of Justice, the seven activists engaged in a conspiracy to create a blockade of the Washington Surgi-Clinic operated by Dr. Cesare Santangelo, an abortionist who has been accused of infanticide.

What are the imprisoned pro-lifers saying? 

Handy, who is the director of activism at the Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU), received the harshest sentence, four years and nine months, because of her role as the demonstration’s organizer.

Following her sentencing, Handy also vowed to continue her pro-life activism, saying: “I reject the use of fear and shame from outside and inside forces as a means to hold us back from loving preborn people as our equals. I reject calls to temper passionate responses to egregious acts of violence.”

“I embrace courage over comfort and right over easy. I embrace the uncertainty in a future full of hope. I embrace tenderness, joy, and love for my preborn neighbors,” Handy continued.

Hinshaw, 69, who has been sentenced to one year and nine months in prison, also issued a statement in which he referenced “the D.C. five,” five late-term babies whose mutilated bodies were found by PAAU outside the Washington Surgi-Clinic. 

He asked why his granddaughter who was born at 32 weeks could be treasured while babies at the same stage are killed and left in the trash. 

“There is a reason why today’s Gospel reading is to lay down one’s life for his friends. This is not a coincidence,” he went on. “I stand convicted, though guiltless. I take on the guilt of this judge. Accept my love for you, judge, as expiation for your guilt.”

‘A type of Lent’

Chris Bell, Joan Andrews Bell’s husband of 32 years, told CNA that he has not been able to see his wife since she was convicted and imprisoned in August 2023. 

According to Chris, while incarcerated at the Alexandria Detention Center in Northern Virginia, Joan has been kept away from her family. He said that despite her imprisonment, she is in “very good” spirits and is viewing her sentence as “a type of Lent.” 

Now that she has been sentenced, he expects she will be moved to another prison, but he has no idea where she will be sent. In the meantime, he said that her entire family is offering up their suffering for the unborn alongside her. 

“We have seven children, seven born grandchildren, and one grandchild about to be born. They are all deeply missing her,” he explained. “It’s really hard to know that your mother, your grandmother is in prison because she did something good. It’s just hard to know that she is separated from them. So, it’s hard. That’s part of our offering up to God.”  

Chris Bell said they are praying not only for the unborn but also for the judge, the abortionist, and all those advancing a pro-abortion agenda. 

“She knows that she’s doing this for our sins and the sins of abortion, so that keeps her focused and allows her to, even in this predicament, find God’s will and feel supported by that,” he explained. 

“When you’re doing God’s will, no matter how difficult the circumstances are, you find a deep peace. It can be challenging, but there’s a deep peace.” 

Pope urges global leaders, U.S. governors to take urgent climate action

Pope Francis urged three U.S. governors and a group of mayors from around the world to work with international partners in developing a "holistic" approach to climate action that reduces emissions and combats inequality.

Cardinal Pizzaballa visits Gaza in show of support, solidarity with ‘suffering population’

Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa gives the homily at a Mass in which he took possession of his titular church, St. Onuphrius, in Rome on May 1, 2024. / Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/ACI Prensa

Rome Newsroom, May 16, 2024 / 13:48 pm (CNA).

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa on Wednesday visited Holy Family Parish in Gaza, with the prelate making the trip for the first time since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war in a show of solidarity and support for the small but resilient community.

Pizzaballa “entered Gaza and reached the Parish of the Holy Family for a pastoral visit,” said a press release issued by the patriarchate on Thursday.

Pizzaballa was joined by a small delegation composed of Fra’ Alessandro de Franciscis, the grand hospitaller of the Sovereign Order of Malta, as well as Father Gabriel Romanelli, the parish priest of Holy Family Church. 

The clergy traveled to meet “the suffering population” and to bring a message of “hope, solidarity, and support,” the statement added. 

“The purpose of my visit first of all was to be with them, to embrace them,” Pizzaballa said in a video message published on Thursday by the patriarchate.  

He added that the visit was made in order to “to verify their conditions” and “to see what we can do to improve their conditions.”

During his visit, the cardinal celebrated Mass and paid a visit to the Greek Orthodox Church of St. Porphyrius in Gaza City, where 18 Palestinians lost their lives in an Oct. 18, 2023, Israeli missile strike

“The visit is also the first stage of a joint humanitarian mission of the Latin Patriarchate and the Sovereign Order of Malta, in collaboration with Malteser International and other partners, aiming at the delivery of lifesaving food and medical help to the population in Gaza,” the patriarchate said. 

A statement issued by the Order of Malta on Thursday noted that “a memorandum of understanding establishing the joint mission was signed between the parties on May 14.”

Since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war last October, Holy Family Parish — the only Catholic church in the Gaza Strip — has played a crucial role in providing spiritual and humanitarian support to the local war-torn population.

Hundreds of Palestinians have taken refuge in the church since the war began.

On Dec. 16, 2023, two women were killed outside the parish, which the patriarchate attributed to an Israeli sniper. The Israeli Defense Forces denied responsibility for the attack.

Slovak bishops call for peace after assassination attempt on prime minister

Archbishop Bernard Bober of Košice, chairman of the Slovak Bishops’ Conference, expressed deep regret over the violent incident and condemned what authorities are now treating as an act of attempted murder. / Credit: Marek Mucha/Slovakian Bishops’ Conference

CNA Newsroom, May 16, 2024 / 13:24 pm (CNA).

Following the assassination attempt on Prime Minister Robert Fico on Wednesday, Slovakian bishops have called for peace and unity.

“We must actively work for peace,” Archbishop Bernard Bober of Košice, chairman of the Slovak Bishops’ Conference, said in a statement on May 15.

“It is important that we respect each other and strengthen the good in each of us,” he said, calling on the public to reject all forms of violence and promote the good in people instead.

Bober expressed his deep regret over the violent incident and condemned what authorities are now treating as an act of attempted murder.

The gunman was described as a “lone wolf” who acted out of political hatred against Fico, Slovak news agency SITA reported. The attacker expressed his dissatisfaction with government policy in a video published online before the assassination attempt. He now faces attempted murder charges and life in prison.

On Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Robert Kalinak said Fico’s condition was still severe and that it was too early to tell if he would recover, Reuters reported.

Bober said in his statement: “I wish the prime minister a speedy recovery and ask the faithful to pray for peace in our homeland and for all citizens of the Slovak Republic,” Bober said in his statement. 

Archbishop Stanislav Zvolensky of Bratislava posted a statement on social media expressing his prayer for Fico’s recovery and healing.

The statement stressed that Zvolensky was appalled by the tragic incident and announced that the archbishop would celebrate Mass at the country’s national shrine in Šaštín.

The basilica in Šaštín was built to honor the image of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows, a figure so important to the people of Slovakia that Pope Pius XI declared her the country’s patroness in 1927.

The assassination attempt on 59-year-old Fico — who was raised and has described himself as Catholic — has shaken the Catholic-majority country visited by Pope Francis in 2021. 

The prayers and appeals from Slovakian prelates come at a critical time for the country — and wider Europe: The assassination attempt on Fico represents the first public assassination attempt on a European politician in more than 20 years.

The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, told journalists in an initial reaction on May 15 that he was “truly concerned about what has happened.” Parolin pointed to an apparent increase in politically motivated violence.

Slovakia’s President-elect, Peter Pellegrini, called on political parties to tone down their campaigning before next month’s European Parliament elections, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.