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Christian leaders in N. Ireland call for ‘unified’ negotiations, peaceful solutions

Nationalists attack police on April 8, 2021 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. / Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.

CNA Staff, Apr 13, 2021 / 14:10 pm (CNA).

The Catholic archbishop of Northern Ireland on Tuesday joined with other Christian leaders in calling for a “unified” response to recent unrest and street riots, and highlighting the importance of preserving Northern Ireland’s “fragile peace.”

“Church representatives and other community leaders working on the ground in affected communities have spoken to us of their frustration at seeing another generation of young people risk their lives and their futures because repeated warnings about the need to treat our fragile peace with care went unheeded,” the April 13 letter reads. 

The signers included Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland. The letter was addressed to Northern Irish ministers, the British and Irish governments, and to the European Union.

The current unrest in Northern Ireland began in late March, and has taken the form mainly of young people throwing bricks, fireworks, and other projectiles at police. 

According to the BBC, the unrest largely erupted as a result of police in March choosing not to prosecute members of the left-leaning Sinn Fein party for violating coronavirus restrictions last year, as well as continued tensions over a new sea border between Northern Ireland and Ireland imposed as a result of Brexit. 

Nearly a dozen people have been arrested and at least 90 police officers have been injured so far in the riots, though recent nights have been quieter, likely because of the April 9 death of Prince Philip. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. 

Though the conflict in Northern Ireland dates back centuries, the Good Friday Agreement of April 10, 1998— 23 years ago this month— largely brokered peace on the island. 

The faith leaders in their letter noted the importance of negotiating agreements that serve the common good. 

“We are conscious too that Churches are only a small part of the wider civic leadership in our society, and that all civic leaders have a responsibility to support our elected representatives as they seek to negotiate difficult compromises and find new accommodations for the common good,” they wrote. 

“At the same time, we have a responsibility to hold them to account, and the persistent levels of socio-economic inequality in the areas worst impacted by violence, over two decades after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, demand more sustained attention and meaningful intervention by political leaders.”

Various political leaders in Northern Ireland have condemned the current violence but have disagreed about its causes and solutions. 

The Northern Ireland Protocol, which came into force in January, requires certain goods such as meat and eggs coming from Britain to be inspected at Northern Irish ports, the implementation of which has caused some disruption to food supplies. Unionist groups in Northern Ireland oppose the inspections because they do not want Northern Ireland to be treated differently than the rest of the UK. 

The UK is now negotiating with the EU over the dispute. 

The faith leaders encouraged Northern Ireland’s leaders, as well as those of the UK government, to present a unified front, especially in negotiations with the European Union. 

“As Christian Church leaders from across the island of Ireland, we appeal to our political leaders to come together in a unified response to the heartbreaking scenes witnessed on our streets last week and renew their commitment to peace, reconciliation and the protection of the most vulnerable,” they wrote. 

They also urged support for the police in the face of the violence directed against them. 

“All of us in Northern Ireland have created a society in which even-handed policing requires the wisdom of Solomon combined with the patience of Job...It is vital that we address concerns in a way that strengthens our democratic processes rather than undermining them,” they wrote. 

The conflict’s 20th century framework was set in 1921-22 with a treaty that partitioned the island of Ireland into the six counties of Northern Ireland and the 26 counties of the Irish Free State. Irish nationalists were themselves riven by bitter civil war after the treaty and the partitioning, though the 26 counties later became fully independent in the late 1940s as the Republic of Ireland.

In Northern Ireland, differences between nationalists who backed a unified Ireland and unionists who supported the United Kingdom split strongly along religious lines, and Protestants tended occupy a place of social and economic privilege. In the 1960s, Catholics began to push strongly for civil rights, voting rights, police reform, and an end to discrimination. Tensions turned violent in 1968, after civil rights demonstrators faced violent opposition from their opponents and police inaction.

The period known as The Troubles featured riots, violent attacks, bombings and retaliation from Protestant and Catholic paramilitary groups, as well as involvement from the Royal Ulster Constabulary police, intervention from the British military, and mass internment of civilians.

Along with controversy surrounding treatment of Northern Ireland amid Brexit, in recent years the UK parliament has sought to impose largely unpopular legislation on Northern Ireland, including measures to legalize abortion and same-sex marriage.

Following Supreme Court ruling, California lifts capacity limits on religious gatherings

Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church, Los Angeles / Leonid Andronov/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Apr 13, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

California lifted all capacity restrictions on religious gatherings on Monday, following the Supreme Court’s ruling over the weekend that the state’s restrictions were too harsh. 

“In response to recent judicial rulings, effective immediately, location and capacity limits on places of worship are not mandatory but are strongly recommended,” the state announced on Monday.

The state’s guidelines still recommend that worship services be held outside in counties with the most severe spread of COVID-19. For other counties at lesser risk of COVID-19 transmission, the state recommends that indoor religious services be limited to 25% capacity or 50% capacity. 

Other health restrictions, such as masking and social distancing, still apply to gatherings. Singing and chanting is permitted, but performers are subject to mask and distancing restrictions; the severity of the restrictions depends on the local level of COVID-19 risk.

According to California’s color-coding system for COVID-19 risk in counties, “purple” counties are determined to be at “widespread” risk of the virus; “red” counties are at “substantial” risk, “orange” counties at “moderate” risk, and “yellow” counties at “minimal” risk. Two counties are coded purple and two are yellow, with 22 counties labeled red and 32 counties labeled orange. 

The California Department of Public Health guidance on preventing virus transmission at gatherings, updated in November 2020, now adds that “limits will not be enforced to the extent that they have been enjoined by a court.”

In February, the Supreme Court ruled against the state’s near-total ban on indoor religious services, saying that the state could at most limit such services to 25% capacity.

Previously, the state limited indoor gatherings at homes to a maximum of three households. After residents sued to overturn the capacity limits for private Bible studies, the Supreme Court ruled on April 9 that the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court should have granted an injunction blocking the policy. 

The court majority noted in an unsigned order that the state’s “three households” rule did not apply as strictly to secular indoor gatherings - such as indoor shopping or businesses such as nail salons - as it did to private religious gatherings at homes.

“Where the government permits other activities to proceed with precautions, it must show that the religious exercise at issue is more dangerous than those activities even when the same precautions are applied,” said the court’s majority opinion in the 5-4 decision. “Otherwise, precautions that suffice for other activities suffice for religious exercise too.”

Chief Justice John Roberts, along with Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor, dissented from the majority opinion. 

Justice Kagan, writing a dissenting opinion joined by Justices Breyer and Sotomayor, stated that the state had treated religious and secular gatherings fairly.

“California limits religious gatherings in homes to three households. If the State also limits all secular gatherings in homes to three households, it has complied with the First Amendment,” Kagan said. “And the State does exactly that: It has adopted a blanket restriction on at-home gatherings of all kinds, religious and secular alike.”

Christian leaders in Nigeria allege Islamization attempt after recent judicial appointments

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari addresses the UN General Assembly, Sept. 28, 2015. / UN Photo/Amanda Voisard.

Abuja, Nigeria, Apr 13, 2021 / 12:15 pm (CNA).

Christian leaders in Nigeria claimed Sunday that Muhammadu Buhari's government is keen on Islamizing the West African nation, following the recent appointments of Court of Appeal judges.

In their April 11 statement obtained by ACI Africa, the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria called for “serious adjustments” on already executed appointments, and a “paradigm shift” in future appointments.

“Under the watch of President Buhari, especially throughout his first term, the Judiciary was literally an appendage of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) because its members were in charge of its affairs,” CAN’s officials said.

Making reference to the country’s former Chief Justice being banned from holding public office for ten years, they added, “We all know how they removed Justice Walter Onnoghen from office without following due process.”

“The grand plan of subtle Islamization is to make a Muslim the head of every key board, committee, parastatal and put Christians under without much influence in the decision-making process in the establishment (irrespective of their number),” the Christian leaders said.

The reaction of the officials of the ecumenical body, whose membership includes representatives of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, have “been recently strengthened by the ‘2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Nigeria’ of the U. S. Department of State,” they said.

“In the report, it was stated that, ‘traditional relationships were used to pressure government officials to favor particular ethnic groups in the distribution of important positions and other patronage.'”

The claims of Islamization were stirred by the March 19 recommendation of Nigeria’s National Judicial Council for the appointment of Court of Appeal judges.

Following the appointments the president of CAN, Supo Ayokunle accused the country’s leadership of sidelining Christians and cautioned, “If you don’t take the religious, ethnic diversities into consideration, then it will be to your tents, oh Israel.”

“I challenged the NJC recently on the new Appeal Court judges they appointed. I said that out of the 20 judges you appointed, 13 are from the North while seven are from the South,” Ayokunle was quoted in Vanguard as saying March 28.

He went on to ask, “How come that all the 13 judges from the North are all Muslims. Does that mean all Christians in the North are dullards? Does that mean there is no single Christian who is educated enough to qualify for that position?”

The claims of the CAN official attracted a reaction from their counterparts at NSCIA, who in a March 29 statement accused the Christian leaders of undertaking a “campaign of calumny” over the judicial appointments.

The Muslim leaders offered a breakdown of the religious affiliations of all the country’s 70 appellate judges and vowed not to “allow the serial falsehood of CAN and its propensity for character assassination of people on the basis of their religious identity to stand.”

In their April 11 statement, CAN representatives note that the leadership of the Muslim Council was, in its statement, “smart by half when it picked an example of just one arm of Government without addressing the totality of fundamental questions on all the arms of government.”

“Should it not have been better for the Council to have been bold enough to examine the entirety of appointments made by President Muhammadu Buhari as serially referenced by CAN?” officials of the Christian body asked.

According to the Christian leaders, “The NSCIA evaded those troubling issues that are well known not only to Nigerians but members of the international community; those knotty issues that have pushed our country on the edge of a precipice.”

Members of the Christian body said that the past imbalance in Nigeria’s public service “is different from what is happening today when those in power are deliberately overlooking the qualified Christians who should be in different positions.”

As a way forward regarding hiring by government, Nigeria’s Christian leaders “demand some serious adjustments forthwith on the appointments already done, and henceforth desire a paradigm shift in the ways and manners the affairs of this country are run, and appointments are done from time to time as to be clearly reflecting that this country, Nigeria, is not owned by Muslims, but a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country.”

In their April 11 statement, CAN officials also responded to claims by the Muslim leaders that the Central Bank of Nigeria is bankrolling the Christian body, terming the allegations as a “wicked lie and dubious attempt ... to mislead the public.”

Representatives of the ecumenical entity further express displeasure at the “vulgar, immature language and unprintable words” that NSCIA leaders used in their March 29 statement to address their Christian counterparts.

“We are disappointed with the tone of the highest Islamic body in the country for the abysmal and tragic condescension knowing that the Council is made up of eminent and highly respected personalities,” Nigeria’s Christian leaders said.

They added, “This country is greater than anybody or association for that matter. We shall come and go, but the country will outlive all of us. We should therefore avoid both political and religious war and live in peace as one with the understanding that what you do not want others to do to you do not do it unto others.”

“May God help Nigeria to rise above mediocrity, spiraling challenges, and be prosperous in Jesus’ name,” the leadership of CAN implored.

Pope Francis hails St. Teresa of Ávila as exemplar of courage and spiritual motherhood

Pope Francis and St. Teresa of Avila / Public domain/ACI Prensa.

Rome Newsroom, Apr 13, 2021 / 11:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has hailed St. Teresa of Ávila as exemplar of courage and spiritual motherhood in a letter marking fifty years since the 16th century Spanish mystic was declared the first female Doctor of the Church.

“Despite the five centuries that separate us from her earthly existence, the flame that Jesus lit within Teresa continues to shine in this world that is always in need of brave witnesses, capable of breaking any barrier, be it physical, existential or cultural,” Pope Francis wrote in the letter.

The pope’s letter to Bishop José María Gil Tamayo of Ávila was read aloud at the inaugural Mass for an international congress on St. Teresa that is taking place in Ávila, Spain and virtually via livestream April 12-15.

St. Teresa of Ávila was “‘an exceptional woman,’ as Saint Paul VI defined her,” Pope Francis said.

“Her courage, her intelligence, and her tenacity to which she united a sensitivity for the beautiful and a spiritual motherhood toward all those who approached her work, are an exemplary example of the extraordinary role that women have played throughout history in the Church and society.”

Pope Paul VI declared St. Teresa of Jesus a Doctor of the Church on Sept. 27, 1970. The title Doctor of the Church denotes recognition of the importance of a saint’s writings and teachings for Catholic theology.

Since St. Teresa, three other female saints have been declared Doctors of the Church. St. Catherine of Siena was recognized with the title one week after St. Teresa. And St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Hildegard of Bingen were declared Church doctors by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI respectively.

In his letter, Pope Francis said St. Teresa of Ávila “continues to speak to us today through her writings and her message is open to all.”

“Having her as a friend, companion and guide in our earthly pilgrimage confers security and peace to the soul,” he added.

St. Teresa was a Spanish Carmelite reformer and mystic. She was born in the Castilian city of Ávila during the year 1515, the third child in a family descended from Jewish merchants who had converted to Christianity during the reign of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.

When she was nearly 40, Teresa experienced profound changes within her own soul in contemplative prayer, and remarkable visions that seemed to come from God. Under the direction of her confessors, Teresa wrote about some of these experiences in an autobiography that she completed in 1565.

This revolution in her spiritual life enabled Teresa to play a significant role in the renewal of the Church that followed the Council of Trent. She proposed a return of the Carmelites to their original rule of life, a simple and austere form of monasticism – founded on silence and solitude – that had received papal approval in the 12th century and was believed to date back to the Old Testament prophet Elijah.

Together with her close collaborator, the priest and writer later canonized as Saint John of the Cross, she founded what is known today as the Order of Discalced Carmelites – “discalced,” meaning barefoot, symbolizing the simplicity to which they chose to return the order after a period of corruption. The reform met with fierce opposition, but resulted in the founding of 30 monasteries before her death in 1582.

St. Teresa of Ávila was canonized on March 22, 1622, along with St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, and St. Philip Neri.

In his letter, Pope Francis encouraged the priests, religious, and laity involved in the international congress on St. Teresa to continue spreading her teaching.

The international congress is the joint effort of the Catholic University of St. Teresa of Ávila, the Discalced Carmelites, the local diocese, and the “Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt” in Germany. Speakers at the conference include Cardinal Aquilino Bocos Merino and Cardinal Ricardo Blázquez Pérez, the archbishop of Valladolid.

Pope Francis signed his letter to the congress on March 19, the feast of St. Joseph, and noted that St. Teresa of Ávila had a great devotion to St. Joseph.

“She took him as a teacher, advocate, and intercessor. She entrusted herself to him, having certainty that she would receive the graces that she asked for. From this experience, she encouraged others to do the same,” the pope said.

“The saints always go hand in hand, and they sustain us by the trust placed in their intercession. May they intercede for you,” Pope Francis said.

Cardinal Bo: 'We need the light of God’s mercy in Myanmar'

Charles Maung Bo pictured during a visit to Rome in 2017. / ACI Stampa

Rome Newsroom, Apr 13, 2021 / 06:00 am (CNA).

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo has urged Catholics in Burma to share God’s mercy amid the suffering caused by the military coup in their country by visiting the mourning, sharing food with the starving, and praying unceasingly for peace.

“Today, more than ever, our community stands in need of mercy. Millions are starving. Before they could come out of that disaster, the coup came. Most of our people are starving. We need to share our resources. However poor we are, we could share something. That is the sign of Divine Mercy,” Cardinal Bo said in his homily on April 11.

“Hunger is not only the problem our people face: they are afraid, they are traumatized, their spirit is broken by street violence. They need Words. Words of comfort. We need to visit people who have lost their dear ones to the hatred … They all need the soothing words, like Jesus soothed his disciples: ‘Do Not be Afraid; I am with you always,’” he said.

Bo, the archbishop of Yangon and president of the Burmese bishops’ conference, made a pastoral visit on Divine Mercy Sunday to Myitkyina in the northern region of Kachin, which has experienced some of the worst violence as security forces crack down on protesters of the Feb. 1 military coup.

“Myitkyina has been in the news for sad reasons and reasons of faith and sacrifice. Sad reason because of the great tragedy of killing the innocents in the streets, especially in front of the church. The Church was drawn into the struggle of our people, called to accompany our people in their blood and tears,” the cardinal said.

“For many of you, the thirteenth station of the Cross, of Our Mother crying over the dead body of her Son, became real. We live in a country where hundreds of mothers live with inconsolable tears and their hearts wounded, like our Mother Mary, with the sight of their sons and daughters tortured and killed,” he said. “To all those mothers and all of you directly involved, we pray with grace flowing from the heart of Jesus.”

His visit came days after media reports that more than 80 people were killed by heavy artillery fire on protests in the town of Bago on April 9. 

Hundreds of civilians, including 44 children, have been killed in the violence in Burma since February, according to the United Nations. 

The UN World Food Programme has warned that rising food prices pose a significant threat to the poor and vulnerable in the country, including the thousands of people who have been displaced by the violence.

Churches and Buddhist temples in the Kachin region have also been subjected to military raids and searches, according to Agenzia Fides.

“We need the light of God’s mercy in Myanmar,” Cardinal Bo said, urging Catholics to practice works of mercy with good deeds and continued prayers for peace.

“Let us not repay inhumanity with inhumanity. Let us not repay brutality with brutality. Civil war would wound every one and will take decades to heal. Let us not take that path of self-destruction,” he said.

Cardinal Bo pointed in particular to St. Faustina Kowalska’s witness to God’s Divine Mercy. He invited Catholics to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet and to recall the good news of the Lord’s resurrection.

“We have seen so many wounds, so much blood, so much atrocity against innocent people: We find it difficult to believe that God is present amid this darkness. Yes. Amid all this darkness, my brothers and sisters, it is important to believe that God will ultimately triumph over evil,” Bo said.

“Jesus is the wounded healer. His wounds wash away our pain today,” he said. “We pray to Jesus: Help us Lord, when our land is wounded and bleeding with hatred, let us become the wounded healer. Let us have the grace and courage to forgive and reconcile our worst enemies and give him the benefit of Love.”

Pope Francis accepts resignation of Crookston’s Bp Hoeppner after Vatican-ordered investigations

Bishop Michael Hoeppner. / CNA file photo.

Vatican City, Apr 13, 2021 / 05:15 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Tuesday accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael Hoeppner of Crookston, Minnesota, who was the subject of two Church investigations after he was accused of mishandling cases of priests accused of sexual misconduct.

Hoeppner, 71, was the first U.S. bishop to be investigated under Vos estis lux mundi, Pope Francis’ 2019 norms on investigating bishops accused of mishandling or obstructing allegations of clerical sexual abuse.

Pope Francis appointed Bishop Richard Edmund Pates, bishop emeritus of Des Moines, Iowa, to lead the Crookston diocese as apostolic administrator “sede vacante” until a new bishop is named.

Hoeppner is reported to have pressured an alleged victim to drop his allegation of abuse against a priest, failed to follow mandatory reporting laws, and neglected to follow protocols designed to monitor priests accused of misconduct.

A report on the Vos estis investigation of Hoeppner was sent to Rome in late October 2019, and in February 2020, the Diocese of Crookston announced that the Vatican had ordered an additional investigation into the bishop.

Both investigations were conducted by Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

Hoeppner was not permitted to oversee sexual abuse cases in his diocese during the second investigation.

In depositions released Nov. 5, 2019, as part of a legal settlement, Hoeppner is seen to admit to several of the charges against him. In those depositions, Hoeppner also defended a diocesan decision to allow a priest to remain in ministry, without notifying parents or parishioners, after the priest admitted that while he was teenager he had sexually abused a younger child.

The announcement in early 2020 about a second investigation into Hoeppner followed several months in which local Catholics called for Hoeppner’s resignation, and accused him of mistreating a popular priest removed from ministry under vague terms.

Priests in the diocese told CNA at the time that they expected Hoeppner to be removed from office, and that given the bishop’s record, the credibility of the Vos estis procedures could be called into question if he is eventually permitted to remain in office.

Vos estis lux mundi allows the Vatican “to provide for a supplementary investigation” after initial steps are taken, if Vatican officials deem it necessary.

There are currently several Vos estis investigations going on in dioceses in the U.S.

In 2021, announcements were made about new Vos estis investigations into Bishop John Brungardt of Dodge City and former Albany bishop Howard Hubbard.

Priest who served at Franciscan University of Steubenville indicted on rape allegations

The Portiuncula Chapel on the campus of the Franciscan University of Steubenville. / Robert Pernett via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0).

Tacna, Peru, Apr 12, 2021 / 19:08 pm (CNA).

A Franciscan priest who once worked in campus ministry at Franciscan University of Steubenville has been indicted in Ohio for the alleged rape of a female patient who was mentally or physically impaired.


On April 7, Father David Morrier, T.O.R., was indicted in Ohio by the Jefferson County Grand Jury on two charges of sexual battery and a single charge of rape. He was removed from active ministry in 2015 on unspecified sexual misconduct charges, his Franciscan province has said.


The 59-year-old priest is a mental health professional. He allegedly maintained a three-year sexual relationship with a patient the indictment described as “substantially impaired because of a mental or physical condition,” the Steubenville newspaper The Herald Star reports. He allegedly falsely represented to her that sexual conduct was “necessary for mental health treatment purposes.”


An April 9 statement from the Office of the Minister Provincial of the Third Order Regular Franciscans’ Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus said that the alleged charges took place between November 2010 and spring 2013.


“Fr. Morrier was removed from public ministry in 2015 due to allegations of sexual misconduct,” the provincial’s office said. “He has not exercised public ministry since that time. Being removed from public ministry means that he has not publicly celebrated Mass or any sacraments. The province has cooperated fully with the investigation into this matter.”


“The province takes all allegations of sexual misconduct seriously and urges anyone who has been a victim of sexual misconduct to call law enforcement officials immediately,” the statement continued.


In an April 8 statement the Diocese of Steubenville said it first became aware of the case “when the alleged victim presented the allegations to the diocese in November 2018.”


“Although Father Morrier is not a priest of the Steubenville Diocese, the diocese began an immediate preliminary investigation with the alleged victim and officers with the Steubenville police department,” the statement said.


“The Diocese of Steubenville submitted a report to the Minister General of the T.O.R.’s in Rome as well as to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Holy See on December 11, 2018. Since that time, the diocese has continued to work with the Steubenville police department and has provided updates on the investigation to the Holy See,” the statement added. The Steubenville diocese said it takes abuse allegations “most seriously” and “encourages victims of abuse to contact the local police department in whose jurisdiction the abuse occurred.”


Morrier was ordained a priest for the Franciscan province in 1997. The charges against him overlap his time as a campus minister at Franciscan University of Steubenville, a position he held through 2014.


An April 8 statement from the Franciscan University of Steubenville said “the university has cooperated and will continue to cooperate fully with authorities concerning the conduct of Father David Morrier, T.O.R., prior to 2014.”


“Franciscan University removed him permanently from campus ministry, and he was also prohibited from returning to campus,” said the university. It did not clarify the timing of the removal.


“Sexual assault is not only a crime but a serious sin,” it added, saying all sexual misconduct complaints face action under the university’s Policy on Discrimination, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct.


“Anyone who may have been harmed while at Franciscan University is offered counseling and other appropriate services,” said the university. “Anyone who experienced or is aware of sexual misconduct at Franciscan University is encouraged to make a report to the University and/or the Steubenville Police Department.”


After Morrier’s time at Steubenville, he appears to have served at a Franciscan church in Arlington, Texas in the Diocese of Fort Worth. According to a cached version of the St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church and School website, Morrier was announced as the new parochial vicar of the parish on May 1, 2014, with his duties beginning June 3 of that year. The parish is run by the Franciscan Friars, Third Order Regular.

Archbishop Cordileone calls for ‘inoculation against racism’

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone speaks at the San Francisco for Unity prayer service against racism. / Dennis Callahan/Archdiocese of San Francisco.

CNA Staff, Apr 12, 2021 / 17:51 pm (CNA).

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco last week condemned violence against Asian people in the United States, drawing comparisons between the COVID-19 vaccine and standing against racism.


“Inoculation against racism can be summed up in one word: virtue,” Cordileone said April 10 at the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption.


The archbishop’s remarks were made at a prayer service “for an end to violence and racism particularly against Asians, for healing for our nation, and for the flourishing of peace and justice in our land.”


The event was held amid recent reports of rising violence against the Asian community in the United States.


The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 36% of people in San Francisco County are of Asian descent. Cordileone noted that immigration from China has been a constant in the city from its beginning, and immigration from other Asian countries is also common in the area. He called it “very disturbing” that “racial violence would rear its ugly head here.”


The archbishop cited Pope Francis, who described racism as “a virus that quickly mutates and, instead of disappearing, goes into hiding, and lurks in waiting.”


Cordileone said “the virus of racism” is a lot like COVID-19. “It never goes away, but there are ways to inoculate oneself against it, even if one has to be always vigilant to protect oneself from being infected.”


He noted that a vaccine will not kill the virus, but instead prevents a person from being harmed if exposed to it.


“But what is our inoculation against racism?” the archbishop questioned. He highlighted the early Christian communities depicted in the Acts of the Apostles as a “good start in answering that question.”


“We see here,” said the bishop, “the qualities that make such a peaceful and harmonious common life possible: each one looked out first and foremost for the good of the other, not what they were going to get out of it.”


Cordileone challenged the congregation to live out the Christian “mission of mercy.” He concluded by listing virtues he thought best acted as the “inoculation against racism” – specifically, “generosity, selflessness, trust and trustworthiness, humility, courage, conviction, forgiveness, and, of course, mercy itself.”


The archbishop encouraged San Franciscans to lead by example and “make our Golden Gate an authentic symbol of a city that will let no stranger wait outside its door.”

After school shooting, Knoxville bishop asks for 'positive solutions' to gun violence

Bishop Richard Stika of Knoxville / Catholic News Agency

Washington D.C., Apr 12, 2021 / 17:22 pm (CNA).

Bishop Richard Stika of the Diocese of Knoxville demanded “positive solutions” to gun violence after a fatal shooting at an area high school on Monday. 

“Once again and regrettably, I am asking for prayers for the victims of another terrible shooting in Knoxville,” Bishop Stika wrote in a statement on Monday. “I have been monitoring today’s unfortunate and violent incident and offer my personal prayers for all of the victims, including a law-enforcement officer.”

According to local authorities, one person was killed and a police officer was injured Monday during a shooting at Knoxville’s Austin-East High School. Knoxville police said that officers had responded to reports of an armed male at the school, who was subsequently killed in a shooting when confronted by police, according to ABC 8 News.

One police officer was injured and is recovering at a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. 

Bishop Stika on Monday decried ongoing acts of violence and called for prayers and “positive solutions.”

“The series of tragic events that has taken place in recent weeks in Knoxville, especially involving the Austin-East community, and those that have taken place throughout the United States, demonstrate that violence in our society remains a serious, almost daily occurrence and that it claims victims in many different ways,” the bishop wrote.

Four teenagers in Knoxville had already been killed by gun violence since Jan. 27, according to the. Knoxville News Sentinel.

“As a nation, we must commit ourselves to work to turn away from violence and find real solutions that lead us to love, compassion, and decency,” he stated. 

“As Bishop of the Diocese of Knoxville, I pledge to do what I can to help. Prayers are important, but communities must come together to find positive solutions to this ongoing problem in our country.”

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigations is reviewing the incident and the circumstances that led to the shooting, the Knoxville Police Department said on Monday.

The department said that on Monday afternoon around 3:15 p.m., it received reports of a male armed with a gun at the school. Officers responded and found the suspect in a bathroom. After they ordered the suspect to come out, he fired gunshots, injuring one officer. An officer returned fire, and the suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.

This story was updated on April 13.

St Paul-Minneapolis archbishop prays for peace, caution after Daunte Wright shooting

A protester argues with a Minnesota State Patrol outside the Brooklyn Center Police Station after a police officer shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minn., April 12, 2021. Credit: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images.

St. Paul, Minn., Apr 12, 2021 / 17:09 pm (CNA).

On Monday, Archbishop Bernard Hebda of Saint Paul and Minneapolis prayed for all parties involved in the police shooting of Daunte Wright. 

“I have been praying for [Wright’s] eternal repose, for his family and for all those who loved him,” Archbishop Hebda said April 12. He added he was “also praying for the Brooklyn Center Police officer involved in the shooting, and for her family and friends. I suspect that they are grieving in a different way.”

At a traffic stop April 11 in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis-Saint Paul, police officers attempted to arrest Wright, a black man, for what they said was an outstanding arrest warrant. After Wright resisted arrest to escape in his car, one of the officers shot him. Wright drove several blocks before crashing. He died on the scene of the crash. 

Referencing body camera video footage, the chief of police said he believed the shooting was an accident, as the officer intended to tase Wright. The officer was placed on administrative leave. 

The shooting of Wright occurred during the nationally heated trial of Derek Chauvin, a Minnesota police officer who is accused of killing George Floyd. The coupling of events has sparked protests, rioting, and looting across Minneapolis. The National Guard was deployed and a curfew was imposed.

“While early indications point towards the shooting being accidental” the archbishop said, “I encourage allowing investigators from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to complete a thorough investigation before coming to any personal judgments as to what occurred.”

Hebda called on the community to “pause and pray, particularly during this time of already heightened tension due to the Chauvin trial.” The archbishop also mentioned that he was “encouraged and inspired by the pleas for peace that have continued to come from the family of George Floyd.”

He concluded by asking that “all of us take time daily to pray for justice, but also for peace in our families and in our communities.”