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Each of Louisiana’s abortion clinics are leaving the state

Pro-lifers rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., Dec. 1, 2021. / Rena Schild via Shutterstock.

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Aug 17, 2022 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

The three abortion clinics in Louisiana are leaving the state following the state’s Supreme Court Aug. 12 decision that an abortion ban will remain in effect while it is being challenged in the judiciary.

It is unclear when the clinics will have finished the process of leaving and where they will relocate, per a report from WWNO.

Under Louisiana’s trigger laws, abortions may be provided only when "necessary in reasonable medical judgment to prevent the death or substantial risk of death due to a physical condition, or to prevent the serious, permanent impairment of a life-sustaining organ of a pregnant woman.”

The laws will continue to be challenged by the state’s three abortion clinics: Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, Women’s Health Care Center in New Orleans, and Delta Clinic of Baton Rouge.

The abortion providers have argued the laws violate their due process and lack “required safeguards to prevent arbitrary enforcement,” according to Fox News.

Once the clinics leave the state, Louisiana will have no abortion clinics for the first time since 1974, WWNO reported.

Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, said Aug. 16 that the news of the clinics leaving the state marked a historic day.

“For the first time in almost 50 years, Louisiana will be free from businesses that exist to end the lives of precious unborn babies,” he said. “These businesses will also no longer inflict emotional and physical damage on women in Louisiana.”

“As they depart,” Clapper added, “numerous other Louisiana public and private agencies will remain open to offer help to women and families both before and after birth. As these abortion facilities relocate, we are dedicated to helping other states in the Gulf Coast and across America defend life."

UN: China’s mistreatment of the Uyghurs amounts to modern-day slavery

Uyghur women work in a cloth factory in Hotan county, Xinjiang province, China. / Azamat Imanaliev/Shutterstock

St. Louis, Mo., Aug 17, 2022 / 14:54 pm (CNA).

A new report from the United Nations on modern slavery provides further documentation of China’s mistreatment of the Uyghur ethnic group, a Muslim minority that according to some human rights groups is suffering genocide. 

The U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, Dr. Tomoya Obokata, wrote that it is “reasonable to conclude” that forced labor among ethnic minorities, including the Uyghurs, “in sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing has been occurring in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of China.”

Obokata identified two state-mandated systems that have contributed to the forced labor of the Uyghurs, one of which is a system that detains minorities and subjects them to work placements, while the other system shifts rural laborers into other forms of low-skilled, low-paid work. While the Chinese government claims that the programs provide work opportunities for minorities, the report found that “indicators of forced labor pointing to the involuntary nature of work rendered by affected communities have been present in many cases.”

“Further, given the nature and extent of powers exercised over affected workers during forced labor, including excessive surveillance, abusive living and working conditions, restriction of movement through internment, threats, physical and/or sexual violence and other inhuman or degrading treatment, some instances may amount to enslavement as a crime against humanity, meriting a further independent analysis,” the report reads. 

In recent years, Uyghurs — with estimates ranging as high as 1.8 million — have been detained in hundreds of “reeducation camps” in China’s Xinjiang, a sparsely populated autonomous region in the far west of the country. Inside the camps, the Uyghurs are reportedly subjected to torture and political indoctrination. Outside the camps, Uyghurs are monitored by pervasive police forces and facial recognition technology.

China has for years conflated the Uyghurs’ culture and religious activities with extremism and separatism. The government at one time denied the camps even existed but has since shifted to defending its actions as a reasonable response to a national security threat.

The United States formally labeled China’s actions in Xinjiang a genocide in Jan. 2021. 

China’s crackdown on Xinjiang also includes alleged coercion to have contraception devices inserted, and even full sterilization, along with systematic rape. Hospitals in the province have reportedly committed forced late-term abortions on Uyghur women and killed newborn Uyghur babies to enforce China's family planning policies, according to a former hospital worker in the region. Uyghur women, who used to have among the highest fertility rates in the country, have seen precipitous drops in fertility in recent years. 

The Vatican has remained largely silent on the persecution of the Uyghurs, though Pope Francis did describe the Uyghurs as a persecuted people in a book published in 2021. The Chinese foreign ministry responded by saying that the claim was groundless.

Catholic leaders have condemned China’s actions in Xinjiang, with two Asian cardinals and 74 other religious leaders releasing a statement in Aug. 2020 calling the Chinese government's treatment of Uyghurs "one of the most egregious human tragedies since the Holocaust.”

The U.N. report documented several other forms of modern-day slavery in the report, including sexual slavery perpetrated by groups like ISIS and Boko Haram in the Middle East and Nigeria, and the plight of minority women and girls in the Tigray, Amhara, and Afar regions of Ethiopia who have been “subjected to rape, sexual mutilation and other forms of sexual violence by parties to the armed conflict.”

Arlington bishop offers path forward after implementing Traditional Latin Mass restrictions

A Traditional Latin Mass. / Andrew Gardner via Wikimedia (CC BY 4.0).

Boston, Mass., Aug 17, 2022 / 07:20 am (CNA).

Bishop Michael Burbidge offered some additional thoughts on the recent guidelines he issued restricting the Traditional Latin Mass in the Diocese of Arlington. The new restrictions were imposed following liturgical directives given by Pope Francis in July 2021.

“I think we accomplished our goals of showing fidelity to the Holy Father, to the Holy See, and [were] also mindful that we are still providing the celebration of this Mass throughout our diocese,” Burbidge said on the diocese’s “Walk Humbly Podcast” on Aug. 10.

Effective September 8, Burbidge’s directives allow eight parishes to continue offering the Latin Mass. But only three of those parishes are allowed to continue offering the Extraordinary Form in their main church. The other five parishes may only celebrate the Latin Mass in other designated locations. 

The eight parishes are not allowed to publish Latin Mass times in their bulletins, on their parish websites, or their social media channels, per the Vatican’s requirements. Priests are allowed to continue celebrating the Mass ad orientem, which consists of facing the altar. This is not the case in the neighboring Archdiocese of Washington. 

Burbidge recognized that there was disappointment and disagreement in response to his implementation plan. He added that he is grateful to the priests of the diocese who have promised respect and obedience to him.

Burbidge offered a “respectful challenge as a spiritual father” and said that there are two different paths that can be followed when change occurs that one disagrees with. 

“One is that of anger and writing or calling or emailing without really thinking of the weight of the words that became somewhat hurtful, not only to me but to my staff who had to read such a tone,” he said. 

The other path, he added, is to say, “'Wow. The Lord is giving me an opportunity to grow in holiness. Because I am letting go of my will here. I'm trusting that the Lord is at work in his church [and] that the Holy Spirit is guiding his church. It's not what I would do if I was the pope. It's not what I would do if I was the bishop. But I'm a faithful follower of Christ. And I trust that he is acting always through his church.’”

The second path leads to peace, he said.

The rules are meant to conform to the mandates Pope Francis published a little over a year ago in his motu proprio Traditionis custodes, as well as more specific restrictions the Vatican issued in December.

There are few exceptions to the rule, established in Traditionis Custodes, that bishops must designate non-parish churches where the Extraordinary Form may be celebrated. But Burbridge said that he requested that three churches be able to host the Latin Mass within the main parish church and called the Holy See “very gracious” in its decision to approve.

Burbidge said that he intended to choose geographically convenient locations where the Traditional Latin Mass is celebrated so that it wouldn’t be a hardship for Latin Mass-goers to attend. He added that the diocese is fortunate to have priests who are trained in celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass and noted that when assistance is needed to cover Mass times, those priests will be called upon to fill in.

Burbidge said that he hopes the faithful in the diocese understand that the process of implementation was purposely not rushed.

“Don't forget,” he said, “the motu proprio was a year ago,” adding that the pope’s July 2021 directives were effective immediately and were followed by further guidelines in December.

“So, the Holy See was very patient, I think, with bishops saying, ‘well, we need more time to get a better understanding of the use of the extraordinary form, Traditional Latin Mass, in our diocese to hear from the faithful, to hear from their pastors, to read both documents,” he said. 

Burbidge said that his promise of fidelity and loyalty to the Holy Father was “key” when implementing the restrictions, but also mentioned that he prioritized being “mindful of those who find spiritual nourishment in the Traditional Latin Mass.”

He also recommended reading the motu proprio, Traditionis Custodes, the further guidance issued in December, and Pope Francis' most recent apostolic letter on the liturgical formation of the people of God, Desiderio Desideravi.

Arlington is the latest reported diocese to implement Traditionis Custodes. Other dioceses and archdioceses that have recently done so are the Diocese of Savannah, the Archdiocese of Chicago, and the Archdiocese of Washington.

Pope Francis: An alliance between old and young will save the family

Pope Francis with a surprise visitor on stage at the General Audience in the Vatican on Aug. 17, 2022 / Pablo Esparza / CNA

Rome Newsroom, Aug 17, 2022 / 06:19 am (CNA).

Pope Francis Wednesday emphasized the family’s need for healthy relationships and dialogue between the young and the elderly.

“The alliance — and I am saying alliance — the alliance between the elderly and children will save the human family,” the pope said at his weekly audience Aug. 17. “If this dialogue does not take place between the elderly and the young, the future cannot be clearly seen.”

Near the end of the pope’s general audience, which took place in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, a young boy approached Francis while sitting on the stage.

An unknown little boy approached Pope Francis near the end of the audience Aug. 17, 2022. Pablo Esparza/CNA
An unknown little boy approached Pope Francis near the end of the audience Aug. 17, 2022. Pablo Esparza/CNA

Pope Francis spoke to him in Italian, greeting him and asking his name, though the little boy did not respond. “During the audience, we spoke of the dialogue between the elderly and the young,” the pope said to those watching, as he gestured to the boy. “He was courageous, this one.”

The sandy-haired child stood next to Francis for the remainder of the audience, including the singing of the Our Father in Latin and the pope’s final blessing. Afterward, Francis traced a cross on the boy’s forehead.

Pope Francis called the little boy who approached him during the general audience Aug. 17, 2022, "courageous.". Pablo Esparza/CNA
Pope Francis called the little boy who approached him during the general audience Aug. 17, 2022, "courageous.". Pablo Esparza/CNA

The 85-year-old Pope Francis, who usually stands for the prayer and blessing, remained seated on Aug. 17. He has been suffering from a knee injury forcing him to use a wheelchair or walk with a cane for several months.

While the pope was greeting the different language groups toward the end of the audience, one of two Swiss Guards on stage with him appeared to lose his balance and fall toward the floor momentarily. The Swiss Guard immediately got back up, according to photographer Pablo Esparza, who witnessed the event.

A Swiss Guard appeared to lose his balance, or faint, and fell to the ground toward the end of the general audience Aug. 17, 2022. Pablo Esparza/CNA
A Swiss Guard appeared to lose his balance, or faint, and fell to the ground toward the end of the general audience Aug. 17, 2022. Pablo Esparza/CNA
A Swiss Guard fell during the pope's general audience Aug. 17, 2022, but immediately got back up, according to a witness. Pablo Esparza/CNA
A Swiss Guard fell during the pope's general audience Aug. 17, 2022, but immediately got back up, according to a witness. Pablo Esparza/CNA

In his address, the pope said “it is painful — and harmful — to see that the ages of life are conceived of as separate worlds, in competition among themselves, each one seeking to live at the expense of the other: this is not right.”

“Old age,” he said, “must bear witness — for me, this is the core, the most central aspect of old age — old age must bear witness to children that they are a blessing.”

“This witness consists in their initiation — beautiful and difficult — into the mystery of our destination in life that no one can annihilate, not even death. To bring the witness of faith before a child is to sow that life. To bear the witness of humanity too, and of faith, is the vocation of the elderly.”

According to the pope, “the witness of the elderly is credible to children,” and “young people and adults are not capable of bearing witness in such an authentic, tender, poignant way, as elderly people can.”

Pope Francis greets pilgrims from a wheelchair after the general audience Aug. 17, 2022. Pablo Esparza/CNA
Pope Francis greets pilgrims from a wheelchair after the general audience Aug. 17, 2022. Pablo Esparza/CNA

He praised when an old person can lay aside any resentment he or she feels at growing old in order to bless life as it comes.

“There is no bitterness because time is passing by, and he or she is about to move on. No. There is that joy of good wine, of wine that has aged well with the years. The witness of the elderly unites the generations of life,” he said.

“May the elderly have the joy of speaking, of expressing themselves with the young, and may the young seek out the elderly to receive the wisdom of life from them,” the pope wished.

Reform and obedience to the Pope: How two crucial meetings will shape the future of the Order of Malta

null / Giorgio Minguzzi via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Rome Newsroom, Aug 17, 2022 / 05:45 am (CNA).

The debate on the reform of the Order of Malta is entering a crucial phase on Wednesday: Two meetings are scheduled to help shape the future of the unique if troubled Catholic institution.

On one side of the table on Aug. 17 are two key protagonists: Cardinal Silvano Maria Tomasi, the Pope's special delegate for the Order of Malta, and Fra 'John Dunlap, Lieutenant of the Grand Master of the Order of Malta. On the other side of the table, they are first facing the Sovereign Council of the Order of Malta — and then the Governing Council.

The latter comes to the meeting with a document that CNA today is publishing in full. The paper was delivered on Aug. 12 to the High Charges of the Order of Malta and caused a harsh reaction from the Lieutenant of the Grand Master.

Before considering the document and further reactions, however, a little background is needed. First of all, why are these meetings today important?

According to the Order of Malta website, "the Sovereign Council is the government of the Order. It comprises the Grand Master, the holders of the four High Offices (Grand Commander, Grand Chancellor, Grand Hospitaller, and Receiver of the Common Treasure), and six other members. Apart from the Grand Master, they are elected by the Chapter General, by a majority of the Knights present".

The Government Council is "the advisory board to the Sovereign Council in charge of studying political, religious, humanitarian assistance, and international issues. It is convened and chaired by the Grand Master. It comprises six Councilors from various geographical regions elected by the Chapter General among Knights in the three Classes of the Order. It meets at least twice a year.

The topic of the discussion will be the debate following the dissemination of a letter sent to Pope Francis by the presidents of various associations linked to the Order of Malta, which claim to represent 90 percent of the works of the Order.

The reform, the associations noted, would compromise their work, which affects, among other things, 80,000 volunteers and 42,000 employees. The reform of the Order of Malta is still under discussion, and it has been argued several times that how the Order of Malta will be represented risks diluting its sovereignty.

Some actions of the Pope have already questioned the sovereignty of the Order. 

In his latest move, Pope Francis appointed Fra 'John Dunlap as Lieutenant of the Grand Master after the sudden death of his predecessor Fra' Marco Luzzago, thus avoiding the electoral process that should have taken place. 

Before that, Pope Francis had extended the mandate of Fra 'Marco Luzzago himself until the end of the reform process, bypassing the procedures that provided for a new election at the end of the term of the Lieutenant, which lasts one year. 

In addition, Pope Francis has given extensive powers to his delegate, Cardinal Silvano Maria Tomasi, effectively taking the reform into his own hands.

Precisely these extensive powers given to Cardinal Tomasi can impact today's meetings. For example, the Cardinal could try to calm the situation but decide to fire the Sovereign Council and make personal appointments.

In fact, on Aug. 16, Fra 'John Dunlap sent a letter to the Grand Priors and Procurator of the Grand Priories, the Regents of the Sub-Priories — the Presidents — of the National Associations.

In the letter, Fra 'Dunlap complained that three sets of draft documents had been sent to the pope but that any had not seen these of those challenging them to the pope. Fra' Dunlap recalled a specific duty of obedience to the pope and underlined the extensive special powers given to Cardinal Tomasi in this reform process.

There is, therefore, a profound fracture within the Order of Malta. Today's discussions will help to understand which path they will take in the future.

This is the background information on the meetings taking place today.

CNA is publishing the statement of the Government Council, which will be one of the topics of discussion. 

What you need to know about Pope Francis’ next consistory

A consistory for the creation of new cardinals in St. Peter’s Basilica Nov. 28, 2020. / Vatican Media.

Rome Newsroom, Aug 17, 2022 / 05:31 am (CNA).

On Saturday, Aug. 27, Pope Francis will place a red biretta on the heads of 18 bishops and two priests, declaring them to be cardinals “to the glory of almighty God and the honor of the Apostolic See.”

Here’s what you need to know:

What is a consistory?

A consistory is a formal meeting of the College of Cardinals. The pope can convene them for several different reasons.

One of the most common reasons for a consistory is to create new cardinals. The ceremony in which the pope makes cardinals is an ordinary public consistory.

In addition to the red biretta, at the Aug. 27 ceremony, Pope Francis will also place a ring on the hand of each new cardinal while saying: “Receive this ring from the hand of Peter and know that, with the love of the Prince of the Apostles, your love for the Church is strengthened.”

The pope will also assign each new cardinal a church in the Diocese of Rome, called a “titular church.” This further links the cardinal to Rome and to the pope, who is the Bishop of Rome.

The other members of the College of Cardinals, clergy, Catholics, and members of the public may all attend a consistory to create cardinals.

Another consistory the pope may convene is an ordinary consistory to vote on the causes of new saints, the last step before a formal canonization can take place.

There are also extraordinary consistories, which every cardinal is expected to take part in, barring a serious reason.

The three consistories of August

The consistory to create cardinals on Aug. 27 will be an ordinary consistory, open to the public.

A second public ordinary consistory will immediately follow it for cardinals to give their approval for the canonizations of two blesseds: Giovanni Battista Scalabrini, an Italian bishop and founder of the Missionaries of St. Charles, and Artemide Zatti, an Italian immigrant to Argentina who was a nurse and Salesian Coadjutor Brother.

Pope Francis has also called for an extraordinary consistory to take place Aug. 29-30.

With this third consistory, the pope has asked the world's cardinals to come to Rome to discuss the new constitution of the Roman Curia, Praedicate evangelium.

This will be only the third extraordinary consistory of Francis’ pontificate and the first to take place in seven years.

At the end of the two-day meeting, in the afternoon of Aug. 30, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass with the new cardinals and the entire College of Cardinals in St. Peter’s Basilica.

A trip in the middle

In between all of these consistories, on Aug. 28, Pope Francis will travel for half a day to the central Italian city of L’Aquila for an important annual event, the Celestinian Forgiveness.

The Celestinian Forgiveness (Perdonanza Celestiniana in Italian) is a legacy of Pope Celestine V, who reigned from July 5, 1294, to Dec. 13 of the same year, when he resigned.

Both a controversial and revolutionary figure, Celestine V established the Celestinian Forgiveness, which offers a plenary indulgence to all who, having confessed and repented of their sins, go to the Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio in L’Aquila from Vespers on Aug. 28 to sunset on Aug. 29.

In L’Aquila, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass outside the Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio before opening the church’s Holy Door.

He will also make a private visit to the city’s cathedral, which is still in disrepair after sustaining severe damage in a 2009 earthquake that killed more than 300 people in L’Aquila and the surrounding area. Following the visit, he will greet the family members of people who died in the quake.  

132 cardinal electors

With the August consistory, the College of Cardinals will have 132 cardinal electors — that is, cardinals under the age of 80 and thus eligible to vote for a new pope in a conclave.

Of these 132 cardinals, Pope Francis will have chosen 83, 62% of cardinal electors. By the end of 2022, when six more cardinals will have turned 80 years old, this percentage will be 65.

The quorum for the election of a pope is two-thirds or 84 cardinals. At the end of 2022, the cardinals created by Pope Francis will only be two less than the quota necessary to elect a successor.

In the Aug. 27 consistory, Pope Francis will also create four new cardinal non-electors, men over the age of 80. Pope Francis had initially named five but later accepted a Belgian Catholic bishop’s request not to be made a cardinal.   

An unconventional date

This will be Pope Francis’ eighth consistory to create new cardinals, but the first time the ceremony has been held in August, typically a time of rest in Rome and the Roman Curia due to the intense summer heat.

The last time a cardinal was created in August was over 200 years ago, in 1807, when Pope Pius VII made Francesco Guidobono Cavalchini a cardinal “in pectore,” or in secret. The new cardinal’s name was not announced until the following year.  

Sri Lankan priest involved in protests granted bail

Father Jeewantha Peiris / Diocese of Ratnapura, Sri Lanka / Facebook

CNA Newsroom, Aug 17, 2022 / 04:04 am (CNA).

A priest involved in the recent protests in Sri Lanka has been granted bail after being accused of several criminal offenses.

Father Amila Jeewantha Peiris appeared in the Colombo Fort Magistrate's Court on Aug. 12 and was granted bail thanks to two personal sureties of 500,000 Sri Lankan rupees (around $1,375).

The 45-year-old priest, serving in Ratnapura diocese, was driven by the country's economic crisis to join protesters in Colombo, Sri Lanka's capital city.

Police searched for him at his parents' home and St Joseph's Church in Balangoda — 89 miles from Colombo — on July 27, UCA news reported.

Fr Peiris subsequently filed a Fundamental Rights petition with the Supreme Court to prevent his arrest. A hearing was held on Aug. 9.

Claims were made during the hearing that Fr Peiris was guilty of criminal offenses, including being part of an unlawful assembly, obstructing public employees from performing duties, and criminal assault.

While government lawyers claimed that he was in defiance of a court order, Fr Peiris argued that he had not received any such court order.

Protests against the Sri Lankan government began in March 2022. Citizens of Sri Lanka have been protesting the economic crisis in the country, which they say is caused by government mismanagement of funds.

In April, the bishops of Sri Lanka urged the government to act to protect the country from becoming a "failed state."

"All successive governments to date are responsible in varying degrees for the present state of affairs," the bishops said.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, resigned on May 9 in response to the protests. On May 12, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister.

On July 9, tens of thousands of protesters stormed the presidential palace buildings in Colombo, demanding that Gotabaya Rajapaksa step down as President. Rajapaksa later fled, and Wickremesinghe was appointed as acting president.

Although protesters subsequently agreed to stop the occupation of official buildings, protests and outbreaks of violence continue as the economic crisis persists.

Amnesty International has commented on the continuing tension in Sri Lanka, saying: "The protesters have a right to demonstrate peacefully."

"Excessive use of force, intimidation and unlawful arrests seem to be an endlessly repetitive pattern in which the Sri Lankan authorities respond to dissent and peaceful assembly."

Speaking to the BBC, Fr Peiris echoed these sentiments.

"My only worry is that, with these innocent protests, many youths are brutally arrested and being replaced. For that, I really worry, as I'm worried about the lives of our youth and our people, and they are crying for justice, so for that, I'm worried."

Twenty years ago John Paul II entrusted the world to Divine Mercy with this prayer

Original painting of the Divine Mercy, by Eugeniusz Kazimirowski in 1934 | Pope John Paul II in 1996. / Wikimedia Commons 4.0. | Vatican Media

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Aug 17, 2022 / 04:00 am (CNA).

On Aug. 17, 2002, twenty years ago today, Pope John Paul II entrusted the world to Divine Mercy as he consecrated the International Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Lagiewniki, Poland.

Standing before the image of Divine Mercy, the pope said, “I wish solemnly to entrust the world to Divine Mercy. I do so with the burning desire that the message of God’s merciful love, proclaimed here through Saint Faustina, may be made known to all the peoples of the earth and fill their hearts with hope.” 

He finished his homily with this prayer:

God, merciful Father,

in your Son, Jesus Christ, you have revealed your love

and poured it out upon us in the Holy Spirit, the Comforter,

We entrust to you today the destiny of the world and of every man and woman.

Bend down to us sinners,

heal our weakness,

conquer all evil,

and grant that all the peoples of the earth

may experience your mercy.

In You, the Triune God,

may they ever find the source of hope.

Eternal Father,

by the Passion and Resurrection of your Son,

have mercy on us and upon the whole world!

The consecration and entrustment of the world to Divine Mercy represented the fulfillment of a mission for Maria Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938). Faustina, a poor, young Polish nun experienced visions of Jesus in which he asked her to make his message of infinite love and mercy known to the world. At the request of her spiritual director, she made a record of the visions in her diary.

In his visitations, Jesus asked her to have a painting made portraying him as he appeared to her. In her diary she recorded the vision:

“Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: ‘Jesus, I trust in You.’ I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and then throughout the world. I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish.”

In another visitation, he asked the nun that she help establish Divine Mercy Sunday on the first Sunday after Easter, to offer the world salvation. 

Faustina recorded Jesus’ words: “This Feast emerged from the very depths of My mercy, and it is confirmed in the vast depths of my tender mercies. Every soul believing and trusting in My mercy will obtain it.”

It was the mission that Pope John Paul II also felt called to help complete. 

If St. Faustina was the initial receptacle for the message of Divine Mercy, her Polish compatriot saw to it that the requests Jesus made of the nun were fulfilled, and the devotion spread throughout the world.

As a young seminarian in Krakow in 1940, Karol Wojtyla first learned of St. Faustina’s revelations and the message of Divine Mercy. Later as a priest, he was a frequent visitor to the convent where Faustina lived, stopping by to pray, and hold retreats. When he became Archbishop of Krakow, he led the effort to put Faustina’s name before the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and defended her when the validity of her claims was questioned in Rome. 

As pope, he published his second encyclical, Dives in misericordia (Rich in mercy), on Nov. 30, 1980. 

The following year, while recovering from an assassination attempt, Pope John Paul II traveled to The Shrine of Merciful Love in Collevalenza, Italy, where he revealed that he felt spreading the message of Divine mercy to be his greatest calling.

”Right from the beginning of my ministry in St. Peter's See in Rome, I considered this message my special task. Providence has assigned it to me in the present situation of man, the Church, and the world. It could be said that precisely this situation assigned that message to me as my task before God,” he said.

At the beatification of Saint Faustina on April 18, 1993, the pope spoke of his delight at witnessing the popularity of the devotion to Divine Mercy.

“Her mission continues and is yielding astonishing fruit. It is truly marvelous how her devotion to the merciful Jesus is spreading in our contemporary world and gaining so many human hearts!” said the pope.

Yet there was more to be done. On Divine Mercy Sunday, April 30, 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized Saint Faustina Kowalska, and declared the Second Sunday of Easter as "Divine Mercy Sunday.” 

Twenty years ago today, when Pope John Paul II entrusted the world to Divine Mercy, he shared his hope that the world would hear the message that God is merciful. Quoting from Faustina's diary, he said:

“May this message radiate from this place to our beloved homeland and throughout the world. May the binding promise of the Lord Jesus be fulfilled: from here there must go forth ‘the spark which will prepare the world for his final coming (cf. Diary, 1732)’.”

“This spark needs to be lighted by the grace of God. This fire of mercy needs to be passed on to the world. In the mercy of God the world will find peace and mankind will find happiness! I entrust this task to you, dear Brothers and Sisters, to the Church in Kraków and Poland, and to all the votaries of Divine Mercy who will come here from Poland and from throughout the world. May you be witnesses to mercy!” he said.

Today, devotion to Divine Mercy is popular among Catholics around the world. Churches and shrines and religious orders have dedicated themselves to sharing the message received by St. Faustina and which St. Pope John Paul II considered his “task before God."

To learn more about the Divine Mercy devotion, visit the website for the Divine Mercy shrine in Poland or the National Divine Mercy Shrine in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Archbishop condemns attacks by organized crime in US-Mexico border area

Firefighters work at the scene of a burnt collective transport vehicle after it was set on fire by unidentified individuals in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, on Aug. 12, 2022. / Photo by GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP via Getty Images

Denver Newsroom, Aug 16, 2022 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

Francisco Moreno Barrón, the archbishop of Tijuana, Mexico, across the border from metro San Diego in the United States, condemned the 20 attacks carried out in several towns in the state of Baja California.

The archbishop issued an Aug. 13 statement regarding the public transportation vehicles set on fire by armed men on the afternoon and night of Aug. 12 in Tijuana, Tecate, Ensenada, Mexicali, and Rosarito, towns on or not far from the U.S. border.

“I condemn this painful scenario that harms the entire society, which is suffering the consequences of problems that must find other ways of being solved, never with the violence that always causes more violence,” the archbishop stressed.

According to the newspaper El Universal, witnesses to some of the incidents said that the armed men stopped the vehicles, threatened the drivers, forced them to get off with all their passengers, and then poured on fuel and set the public transport vehicles on fire.

The motive for the attacks is unclear, but the senseless violence may be related to turf wars between rival cartels.

On Twitter, the governor of Baja California, Marina del Pilar Ávila Olvera, condemned the violence and said that some individuals responsible for the incidents that occurred “have already been arrested. It’s important to remain calm, we will keep you informed.”

Moreno also asked people to “stay calm” and “be informed through official or reliable means of communication, avoid false or alarmist messages and create networks of true information and social support.”

“With thousands of people without public transport on the streets and trying to get home,” the archbishop said he appreciated and was thankful for the efforts made in solidarity with the stranded passengers to help them.

The attacks took place one day after the day of violence in Ciudad Juárez, situated across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, which left at least 11 dead.

After assuring that he is closely monitoring information from state and city officials on public safety conditions, the archbishop of Tijuana invited the faithful to pray the following prayer for peace in Mexico and in the state of Baja California:

Lord Jesus, you are our peace.

Look at our homeland harmed by violence

and dispersed by fear and insecurity. 

Comfort the pain of those who suffer.

Give success to the decisions of those who govern us.

Touch the hearts of those who forget that

we are brothers and cause suffering and death;

give them the gift of conversion.

Protect families, our children,

adolescents and young people, our towns and communities.

That as your missionary disciples, responsible citizens,

we may know how to be promoters of justice and peace,

so that in you, our peoples may have a decent life.

Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us.

Amen.

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

Cardinal Ouellet named in Canadian sex abuse lawsuit

Cardinal Marc Ouellet takes part in the Pontifical Council for Culture's Plenary Assembly on Women's Cultures in Rome, Feb. 6, 2015. / Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

Denver Newsroom, Aug 16, 2022 / 16:04 pm (CNA).

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops, was accused of sexual assault in a civil suit filed against the Archdiocese of Quebec.

AFP reported that the class action suit, filed Aug. 16, includes the testimony of 101 people who say they were sexually assaulted by clerics or Church staff from 1940 to the present. Eighty-eight clerics face accusations in the suit.

Ouellet is accused by a woman who says that he assaulted her multiple times while she worked as a pastoral intern for the Quebec archdiocese between 2008 and 2010, while he was Archbishop of Quebec. She described him kissing her and sliding his hand down her back to her buttock.

According to the CBC, the alleged incidents involving Ouellet occurred at public events.

The suit says that the alleged victim wrote to Pope Francis about Ouellet in January 2021, and she received an email Feb. 23, 2021 had appointed Father Jacques Servais to investigate the cardinal. Her last communication with Servais was the following month, and as of now “no conclusion concerning the complaints against Cardinal Marc Ouellet has been sent” to her.

Another class action suit was filed against the Brothers of the Christian Schools. In that case, 193 alleged victims have accused 116 De La Salle Brothers of sexual assault.

Ouellet, 78, was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Amos in 1968, at age 23. He joined the Sulpicians in 1972. In 2001 he was appointed secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and consecrated a bishop.

He served as Archbishop of Quebec from 2002 to 2010, when he was appointed prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

Ouellet has been outspoken about sex abuse, and priestly formation.

At a 2018 meeting of the Presidents of the Bishops' Conferences of Europe, he said that “We would need participation of more women in (training) of priests” to prevent abuse.

He reiterated this point in a 2020 interview with Donne Chiesa Mondo, saying, “for the priest, learning to relate to women in the context of formation is a humanizing factor which promotes the balance of man's personality and affectivity.”

The cardinal said he thought the Church would benefit greatly from an increased presence of women on seminary formation teams, as theology, philosophy, and spirituality teachers, and "in particular in vocational discernment."

Ouellet verbally sparred with Archbishop Vigano as details of Vatican knowledge of Theodore McCarrick emerged in recent years. 

In an October 2018 letter, Ouellet said it was communicated to Vigano in 2011 that McCarrick “had to obey certain conditions and restrictions because of rumors about his behavior in the past,” and that he “was strongly urged not to travel and not to appear in public, in order not to provoke further rumours about him. It is false to present the measures taken against him as 'sanctions' decreed by Pope Benedict XVI and annulled by Pope Francis.”

And in January 2019, Ouellet wrote that his congregation had blocked the U.S. bishops from voting on proposals to address the sex abuse crisis in November because it believed more time was needed to discuss the measures.