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Pope Francis accepts resignation of Indian bishop cleared of rape charge in civil trial
Posted on 06/1/2023 12:36 PM (CNA Daily News)
Rome Newsroom, Jun 1, 2023 / 05:36 am (CNA).
Pope Francis on Thursday accepted the resignation of an Indian bishop cleared in early 2022 of charges of raping a religious sister in his diocese.
The resignation of the 59-year-old Bishop Franco Mulakkal as head of the Diocese of Jalandhar comes more than 16 months after his acquittal by a court in India’s Kerala state in January 2022.
The judge in the case found that “the prosecution failed to prove all the charges against the accused.”
The Vatican did not indicate whether it carried out its own investigation into the accusations against Mulakkal, who has denied the claims and contends he was falsely accused after he questioned alleged financial irregularities at the accuser’s convent.
A religious sister with the Missionaries of Jesus accused the bishop of raping her during his May 2014 visit to her convent in Kuravilangad, in Kerala. In a 72-page complaint to police, filed in June 2018, she alleged that the bishop sexually abused her more than a dozen times over two years.
The Missionaries of Jesus is based in the Jalandhar Diocese, and Bishop Mulakkal was its patron.
Malukkal was arrested in September 2018 amid protests calling for a police investigation into the allegation. He was subsequently released on bail.
The bishop was charged in April 2019 with rape, unnatural sex, wrongful confinement, and criminal intimidation. After Malukkal tried to get the charges dropped pretrial, the Kerala High Court found there was enough evidence to proceed.
He was cleared of all charges by the Kottayam court on Jan. 14, 2022.
Malukkal had also claimed the allegations were made in retaliation against him because he had acted against the sister’s sexual misconduct. He said the sister was alleged to be having an affair with her cousin’s husband.
Mulakkal was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Jalandhar in 1990. In 2009, he was appointed an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Delhi.
He became bishop of the Diocese of Jalandhar in June 2013.
Why is June the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus?
Posted on 06/1/2023 09:00 AM (CNA Daily News)
Denver Newsroom, Jun 1, 2023 / 02:00 am (CNA).
June is known as the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus most simply because the solemnity of the Sacred Heart is celebrated during this month. This year, the solemnity falls on June 16. The date changes each year because it is celebrated on the Friday after the Corpus Christi octave, or the Friday after the second Sunday after Pentecost.
However, other reasons exist as to why June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart.
The feast dates back to 1673, when a French nun who belonged to the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary (Visitandines) in eastern France began to receive visions about the Sacred Heart.
Jesus appeared to Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque and revealed ways to venerate his Sacred Heart and explained the immense love he has for humanity, appearing with his heart visible outside his chest, on fire, and surrounded by a crown of thorns.
These different ways include partaking in a holy hour on Thursdays and the reception of the Eucharist on the first Friday of every month.
Jesus told Sister Margaret Mary: “My Sacred Heart is so intense in its love for men, and for you in particular, that not being able to contain within it the flames of its ardent charity, they must be transmitted through all means.”
These visions continued for 18 months.
On June 16, 1675, Jesus told Sister Margaret Mary to promote a feast that honored his Sacred Heart. He also gave Sister Margaret Mary 12 promises made to all who venerate and promote the devotion of the Sacred Heart.
He said: “I ask of you that the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi be set apart for a special feast to honor my heart, by communicating on that day, and making reparation to it by a solemn act, in order to make amends for the indignities which it has received during the time it has been exposed on the altars. I promise you that my heart shall expand itself to shed in abundance the influence of its divine love upon those who shall thus honor it, and cause it to be honored.”
Sister Margaret Mary died in 1690 and was canonized by Pope Benedict XV on May 13, 1920.
The Vatican was hesitant to declare a feast to the Sacred Heart, but as the devotion spread throughout France, the Vatican granted the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to France in 1765.
In 1856, Pope Pius IX designated the Friday following the feast of Corpus Christi as the feast of the Sacred Heart for the universal Church. Ever since, the month of June has been devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and his immense love for us all.
On the current calendar, the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a solemnity, the highest-ranking feast in the liturgical calendar, although it is not a holy day of obligation.
These are the promises the Sacred Heart of Jesus made to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque:
I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
I will give peace in their families.
I will console them in all their troubles.
I will be their refuge in life and especially in death.
I will abundantly bless all their undertakings.
Sinners shall find in my heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
Tepid souls shall become fervent.
Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.
I will bless those places wherein the image of my Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated.
I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.
Persons who propagate this devotion shall have their names eternally written in my heart.
In the excess of the mercy of my heart, I promise you that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the first Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.
This story was originally published on June 19, 2022, and was updated on May 31, 2023.
Fort Worth Diocese: Vatican says bishop has authority over Carmelite monastery amid investigation
Posted on 06/1/2023 00:00 AM (CNA Daily News)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 31, 2023 / 17:00 pm (CNA).
Amid an ongoing legal dispute between the Diocese of Fort Worth and a Carmelite monastery, the diocese announced that the Vatican formally recognized Bishop Michael Olson as having authority over the nuns.
A diocesan statement said that the Vatican appointed the bishop as the pontifical commissary, which makes him “the pope’s representative in this matter.” The statement said the May 31 decree was issued through the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
The dispute began in late April when the diocese launched an investigation into whether the Reverend Mother Superior Teresa Agnes Gerlach had an affair with a priest. The reverend mother and the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity in Arlington, Texas, filed a lawsuit against the bishop and the diocese, which accused the bishop of confiscating the reverend mother’s computer, cellphone, and laptop and subjecting nuns to lengthy questioning.
According to the diocesan statement, the Holy See’s decree recognizes the bishop’s authority in the investigation and over the monastery.
“The Dicastery recognized and acknowledged that Bishop Olson has been, and continues to be, entrusted with full governing responsibility for the Monastery,” the statement reads. “This decree is in response to the challenge to Bishop Olson’s authority to conduct an investigation into the admitted-to violations of the sixth commandment of the Decalogue and the vow of chastity by the Reverend Mother Teresa Agnes (Gerlach).”
A spokesperson for the diocese declined to comment further on the matter.
The decree comes four days after Olson sent a letter to the Carmelite monastery, which accuses the nuns of inciting “hatred and animosity” toward him and the diocese. He also refused to reinstate daily Mass and regular confession at the monastery.
Amid the investigation, the bishop banned the monastery from celebrating daily Mass and blocked access to regular confessions. He has also prohibited lay participation in the Mass. The nuns now only have access to Mass on Sundays and are only guaranteed the right to access confession once per year.
The monastery requested that its access to daily Mass, lay participation in the Mass, and regular confession be reinstated, but Olson sent them a letter in which he denied the request and accused them of hindering his investigation.
Olson said neither daily Mass nor confessions can be “conveniently provided for the members of the monastery” and Mass participation cannot be “extended to the lay faithful” because the monastery “lodged a civil lawsuit, together with a request for a protection order, against me and the Diocese of Fort Worth, containing a false narrative to the pending investigation.”
“[This] has led to local, national, and international media coverage and has incited hatred and animosity against me because of my initiation of the investigation and has hindered the freedom of my ecclesiastical power to conduct that investigation,” Olson continued. “Further obstruction of the investigation has occurred since you and certain members of the Monastery have refused to cooperate with the investigation.”
Olson told the monastery that these restrictions will stay in place until the nuns “cease this behavior which is contrary to and unbecoming of their religious state and demonstrate love for and obedience to [the] Holy Church and to her holy Pastors … and until completion of the pending civil lawsuit or its withdrawal.”
The monastery accuses the bishop and the diocese of violating both civil and canon law through his conduct related to the investigation. The lawsuit seeks $1 million in civil damages and asks the court to block the bishop’s and the diocese’s access to any records obtained by confiscating the reverend mother’s property. The diocese argued that the dispute is an ecclesiastical matter and should not be heard in a civil court.
Matthew Bobo, a civil lawyer representing the monastery and Mother Gerlach, said the bishop’s restrictions are a display of vengeance.
“This latest salvo from Bishop Olson is an unbelievably extreme display of arrogance, vengeance and hard-heartedness directed toward Sister Francis Therese and the other cloistered sisters whose religious order, daily since the 1950s, have joyfully and tirelessly prayed the Divine Office (universal prayer of the Catholic Church) for the Church and the world,” Bobo said in a statement.
Although the diocese contends that the reverend mother admitted to violating the Sixth Commandment, which prohibits adultery, with a priest, Bobo has said that she was under the influence of pain medication related to a surgery and “has not admitted to any grave misconduct that would warrant his extreme and emotionally damaging measures.”
“I cannot imagine the heartbreak and psychological suffering these prayerful women — set apart from the world to pray for it — are experiencing at the hands of their God-given shepherd,” Bobo said.
After the monastery filed the lawsuit, Olson also denied Gerlach’s ability to choose her own canon lawyer to represent her in the ecclesiastical investigation. Instead, he appointed a canon lawyer to represent her. Although the canon lawyer has already filed paperwork on her behalf, the reverend mother rejects the legitimacy of his claim that he represents her in these matters.
Dodgers pitcher denounces team’s decision to honor anti-Catholic group: ‘God cannot be mocked’
Posted on 05/31/2023 22:45 PM (CNA Daily News)
Washington D.C., May 31, 2023 / 15:45 pm (CNA).
A Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher became the latest Major League Baseball player to publicly condemn the Dodgers’ decision to honor an anti-Catholic drag group known as the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.”
Blake Treinen issued a statement Monday night in which he said: “I am disappointed to see the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence being honored as heroes at Dodger Stadium. Many of their performances are blasphemous, and their work only displays hate and mockery of Catholics and the Christian faith.”
Treinen released his statement via a friend’s Twitter account.
My friend and @MLB pitcher Blake Treinen asked that I post this statement for him in regards to the @Dodgers honoring of the sisters of perpetual indulgence. #HoldTheLine pic.twitter.com/jIDeDJF8ke— Sean Feucht (@seanfeucht) May 30, 2023
“This group openly mocks Jesus Christ, the cornerstone of my faith, and I want to make it clear that I do not agree with nor support the decision,” Treinen wrote.
“I understand that playing baseball is a privilege, and not a right,” he said, noting “my convictions in Jesus Christ will always come first.”
“Inviting the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to perform disenfranchises a large community and promotes hate of Christians and people of faith. This single event alienates the fans and supporters of the Dodgers, Major League Baseball, and professional sports,” Treinen said.
“I believe the word of God is true, and in Galatians 6:7 it says, ‘do not be deceived, God cannot be mocked; a man reaps what he sows,’” Treinen said.
The controversy erupted last week after the Dodgers announced that they would honor the Los Angeles chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a group known for mocking Catholicism, during their Pride Night at Dodger Stadium event on June 16.
The national drag group uses Catholic religious imagery and themes in protests and sexualized performances to raise awareness and money for LGBTQ+ causes. The performers call themselves nuns and regularly use the images of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and women religious.
The Dodgers will be giving the group a “Community Hero Award” before the June 16 game against the San Francisco Giants.
After initially receiving blowback from the Christian community, the Dodgers revoked their invitation to the drag group, only to reinstate it with an apology days later.
Dodgers ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw, one of the MLB’s most successful pitchers, told the Los Angeles Times on Monday that he disagreed but did not go so far as to condemn the team’s decision.
“I don’t agree with making fun of other people’s religions,” Kershaw told the L.A. Times. “It has nothing to do with anything other than that. I just don’t think that no matter what religion you are, you should make fun of somebody else’s religion. So that’s something that I definitely don’t agree with.”
Kershaw said that a Dodgers Christian Faith & Family Day event to take place the month after the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are honored was the right response.
“For us, we felt like the best thing to do in response was, instead of maybe making a statement condemning or anything like that, would be just to instead try to show what we do support, as opposed to maybe what we don’t,” Kershaw said. “And that was Jesus. So to make Christian Faith Day our response is what we felt like was the best decision.”
According to the L.A. Times, Kershaw said watching video of the group’s portrayal of Christianity was “tough,” but he is not planning on boycotting the event honoring the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
Another Catholics MLB player, Washington Nationals pitcher Trevor Williams, also condemned the Dodgers’ decision and called for a boycott of the team Tuesday.
“To invite and honor a group that makes a blatant and deeply offensive mockery of my religion, and the religion of over 4 million people in Los Angeles county alone, undermines the values of respect and inclusivity that should be upheld by any organization,” Williams said. “I also encourage my fellow Catholics to reconsider their support of an organization that allows this type of mockery of its fans to occur.”
May 30, 2023
In a Tuesday press release, Williams’ press manager Zach Morley said that “his Catholic faith is the most important part of his life.”
“This is why he chose to post on his social media accounts Tuesday, while the Nationals were in Los Angeles, that he was upset by the Los Angeles Dodgers decision to re-invite and honor a fringe group calling themselves, ‘The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence,’” the release said.
On Tuesday, Anthony Bass, a pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays and a Christian, issued a public apology just a day after sharing a video to his social media that advocated for boycotts of Target and Bud Light for their support of transgender ideology.
“I recognize yesterday that I made a post that was hurtful to the Pride community, which includes friends of mine and close family members of mine, and I am truly sorry for that,” Bass said. “I just spoke with my teammates and shared with them my actions yesterday. I apologized with them and, as of right now, I am using the Blue Jays’ resources to better educate myself to make better decisions moving forward. The ballpark is for everybody. We include all fans at the ballpark, and we want to welcome everybody.”
The video shared by Bass was of Christian preacher Ryan Miller, who goes by the social media moniker “dude with good news,” advocating on a biblical basis for a boycott of Target and Bud Light.
Despite his apology, Bass has continued to take heavy criticism on social media for his biblical stance against LGBTQ+ ideology.
LGBTQ+ group “It Gets Better Canada” said in a tweet Tuesday that the organization was receiving donations “in recognition of Anthony Bass’ anti 2SLGBTQ+ stance.”
“Keep them coming! To our caring community — thank you for reminding us that hate has no space in baseball or in any other sport,” the group said.
Cuban priest: 64 years is enough to prove the Cuban revolution didn’t work
Posted on 05/31/2023 21:25 PM (CNA Daily News)
ACI Prensa Staff, May 31, 2023 / 14:25 pm (CNA).
Father Alberto Reyes of the Archdiocese of Camagüey in Cuba said the 64 years that have elapsed since Fidel Castro seized power in 1959 “is more than enough time to realize that the project called the ‘Cuban Revolution’ didn’t work, because it didn’t bring progress, nor did it achieve its ideal of the ‘new man.’”
In a May 26 post on Facebook, Reyes pointed out that during these decades what has happened in Cuba is a precariousness of life and an increase in “the desire to escape.”
In addition, he pointed out, the six decades that have elapsed are “more than enough time to prove that, in reality, power over this people has been maintained through fear, mistrust ... repression that knows no limits and that is capable of going beyond what’s human.”
The priest asked those who run the country and “all those who, in one way or another, are involved in the mechanisms that maintain the power structures” if they don’t see what’s happening in Cuba.
“Is it that you’re not suffering? Is it that you don’t have family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances ... who tell you over and over again ‘I can’t take it anymore’ or ‘How long is this going to be?’” he asked.
Reyes, who reflects on the reality in Cuba on social media, also noted that in the Caribbean country, “any area of citizens’ lives falls into the category of being ‘a problem,’” whether it’s getting food or medicine, transportation, an education, or care for the elderly.
“Is it that you don’t see how the precarious situation has been breaking up that ‘basic cell of society’ called the family, continually split up by emigration, by ‘international (medical) missions,’ by the wars we have waged and which it seems we will continue to wage in geographic locations totally unrelated?” he challenged.
Cuba intervened militarily in Algeria (1963), Syria (1973), Angola (1975), and Ethiopia (1977), and other countries.
“If you don’t see it,” Reyes asked, “it’s time for you to wake up and look at the reality in front of you. And if you see it, but you think that we are like this through no fault of our own, it’s time for you to decide to face the truth.”
“And if you see it and don’t question yourself, and don’t do anything, or don’t even begin to ask yourself what you could do to bring about real change, then you’ve not just chosen the condition of being a slave, but you’ve decided to build your life on the painful suffering of your own people,” the Cuban priest concluded.
The situation in Cuba is far from improving. One example is the constant power outages throughout the island, such as the one on May 28, despite the promises of the minister of energy and mines, Vicente de la O Levy, to have “better conditions.”
According to the report published in April by DatoWorld, Cuba leads the “Poverty Index in Latin America,” with approximately 72% of its population below the extreme poverty line, established by the World Bank at a daily income of less than $1.90.
Because the communist regime does not publish figures on the level of poverty, DatoWorld took the October 2022 report of the Cuban Observatory for Human Rights as a reference.
This means that thousands of Cubans continue to see emigration as a way out of poverty. According to the United States Customs and Border Protection Office, in the month of April, 9,008 people from the island tried to enter the country, totaling 143,926 Cubans since October 2022.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.