Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

Update: Bishop 'profoundly saddened' by deaths, damage from Midwest storms

IMAGE: CNS photo/Carlo Allegri, Reuters

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The chairman of the U.S. bishops' domestic policy committee May 24 called for "prayers for the victims and their grieving families and communities" affected by devastating storms from Texas to Illinois.

"I am profoundly saddened by the loss of life and the damage caused by the tornadoes and storms throughout the Midwest and related regions these past few days," said Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

"As of this writing, millions of people in at least seven states have been affected by the powerful winds, rainfall and rising water levels caused by these conditions," he said in a statement.

Bishop Dewane noted that at least seven people have been killed in Missouri, Iowa and Oklahoma. Severe weather was expected to continue "in this devastated area" in the days ahead, he added.

"We are grateful that Catholic Charities and other organizations are in place working to provide for emergency needs" and to help people rebuild their lives and homes," he said.

The Catholic Charities USA website -- https://catholiccharitiesusa.org -- has information about its efforts to help communities hit hard by the storms.

AccuWeather and other weather services said there were 33 reports of tornadoes May 22, mostly in Missouri and Kansas. A day earlier, 24 tornadoes were reported, mostly in Texas and Oklahoma.

On May 23, an AP story said, tornadoes again "strafed the middle of the country," mostly in the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles. Flooding also has been a concern in many communities, with rising rivers and streams forcing residents fleeing from their homes.

In Missouri, a violent line of thunderstorms that spawned the tornadoes killed three people in the southwest part of the state and caused minor injuries to at least 20 people in Jefferson City, authorities said. Some people in the state capital were trapped in their homes or apartments and had to be assisted by safety forces.

In a May 23 statement, Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City expressed gratitude that all residents had been accounted. Some people were forced from their homes as the storm swept through the city of 43,000 just before midnight May 22.

He said the staff of Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri were assessing the needs of residents. Diocesan offices on the west side of Jefferson City and Catholic parishes around the town were unaffected by the storm.

"Please continue to pray with us, for those who have suffered from this natural disaster and also for those who are coming to their assistance," Bishop McKnight said.

The most severe damage occurred in a three-square-mile area south and east of the central part of the Missouri capital, Jefferson City Police Lt. David Williams told reporters.

About 40 to 45 people were being housed the afternoon of May 23 in a school on the west side of the city, authorities said.

Homes, apartments and businesses lost roofs and windows. Power lines were down and trees and other debris blocked roads, hampering the initial emergency response. Some scaffolding erected around the Missouri State Capitol for renovation work was damaged, but the building escaped unscathed.

A spokeswoman for Catholic Charities USA said the agency was working with Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri to assess how to best respond to people affected by the storm.

CCUSA also was weighing its response in areas of northeast Oklahoma and elsewhere, where residents have been displaced by flooding caused by days of heavy rain.

- - -

Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

How Has Laudato si’ Changed Your Life?

A vegetarian diet to care for creation.

Update: Students plan to raise nuclear weapon dangers in fall return to campuses

IMAGE: CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- At the start of his senior year at The Catholic University of America last fall, Tim Jones never thought he'd be joining a crash course on nuclear weapons policy within days of his May 18 graduation.

What Jones, 22, said he learned was more eye-opening than he imagined. And that was only after two days.

His greatest concerns: making sure that nuclear weapons are never used and that others, especially people of his generation, better understand the grave threat to human life and dignity posed by such weapons of mass destruction.

"I felt this conference could give me the tools that maybe in the future I can rally some people on campus since we are located just down the Metro from the Capitol, and to lobby and become a force against nuclear weapons," said Jones, whose degree is in political science. He will begin graduate studies in business analysis at the university in the fall.

Jones, of Wayne, New Jersey, was one of 15 college students who participated in the weeklong program designed to develop the next generation of Catholic nuclear nonproliferation specialists and activists.

It was coordinated by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame in cooperation with the Catholic Peacebuilding Network and Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs. Notre Dame's Keogh School of Global Affairs Washington office hosted the students May 20-24.

Gerard F. Powers, director of Catholic peacebuilding studies at the Kroc institute, earlier told Catholic News Service that the need for young Catholics in particular to engage in the nuclear disarmament debate is as crucial as it has been in more than three decades. He said lay Catholic voices have played a key role in the past and that it's time for his generation to prepare new voices to enter policymaking and activist roles.

The program touched on numerous topics and gave students the opportunity to hear from some of the foremost U.S. Catholic actors who work on peacebuilding and nuclear nonproliferation policy.

Presentations explored the Catholic Church's evolving stance on nuclear weapons since St. John XXIII's 1963 encyclical, "Pacem in Terris" ("Peace on Earth"), the history of nuclear weapons development and arms control, ethical concerns posed by nuclear weapons, and the history of popular movements in calling the world toward total nuclear disarmament.

Several attendees admitted that nuclear weapons were not an oft-discussed topic on their campuses. They said student concerns focused on paying off student loans, climate change, gender issues, racism, gun violence and, in some cases, abortion.

Krystyna Kula, 19, of Smithfield, Rhode Island, who is studying mathematics at the University of Notre Dame, admitted to not knowing much about nuclear weapons but wanted to participate in the program to learn more.

"I didn't grow up with the Cold War," she said.

When classes resume in the fall, she hopes to share what she learned about the history of weapons development and citizen-initiated efforts to shrink nuclear stockpiles.

The decreasing emphasis on arms control in recent years was a concern of attendee Lauren Appel, 21, a political science major at Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia, who studied the 1962 Cuban missile crisis and the Cold War during a recent study tour in Cuba.

"Learning about the tensions of the Cold War drew my attention to nuclear weapons and how it was a really big deal and yet today the issue still continues," Appel said. "I would like to have a new knowledge of nuclear weapons on the world scale that still exist today. I would like to learn more about how to negotiate for peace and promote peace across all nations and resolve the issues that exist today."

Two attendees from South Korea said they wanted to return to Seoul, where they are graduate students at Ewha Womans University, and take what they learned to campus as well as to the Archdiocese of Seoul.

"For me it's been an eye-opening experience. In some ways, I could even say mind-blowing," said Agatha Kim, 30. "In scale and scope, I didn't know the history of nuclear weapons programs."

She said that although there has been some coverage of North Korea's efforts to develop nuclear weapons in South Korean media, wider coverage on nuclear nonproliferation is largely ignored.

"The way things are happening is not getting to the people. We have big trouble with fake news, wrong information," she said.

"Everything related to the North Korea issue is pretty much polarized or politicized," Minjeong Ko, 27, agreed. "Even the nuclear issue, with most of the people, is not really raised in detail. Everything (from North Korea) is raised as being communist propaganda."

"I'm excited to bring back some more details and additional context so we can talk about it," Ko said.

Kim is active in youth ministry in the Archdiocese of Seoul and plans to share what she learned with other young people. She also is helping translate into Korean the U.S. bishop's 1983 pastoral letter, "The Challenge of Peace: God's Promise and Our Response" so it can be widely shared in parishes.

Several students said they were inspired to act to reduce the world's nuclear weapons stockpiles after hearing from experts, college faculty and those involved in developing policy, some of whom have been involved in nuclear nonproliferation and peacebuilding for decades. They pledged to carry on the tradition of Catholic peacemaking as much as possible.

"They were against these 30-plus years ago," Jones, the CUA grad, said of the presenters. "They're still against them today."

- - -

Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski

 

- - -

Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Family portraits, mutual support part of Caritas global assembly

IMAGE: CNS photo/Robert Duncan

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Philippine Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle added a photo of his "Lolo Kim" to a mosaic of migrants, world leaders and Caritas workers to illustrate how humanity forms one family and is sharing one journey.

The mosaic, now including the cardinal's maternal grandfather who immigrated to the Philippines from China, was unveiled May 23 at a Vatican news conference kicking off the May 23-28 general assembly of Caritas Internationalis.

The assembly brought together some 450 delegates from more than 150 national Catholic charities from around the world to focus on the theme, "One Human Family. One Common Home."

Cardinal Tagle, Caritas president, told reporters the theme "isn't a slogan," but rather an affirmation of the Gospel, of Catholic social teaching, of the teaching of modern popes and, particularly, "an affirmation of the lived experience of Caritas," its staff and volunteers around the world.

"We are part of one human family," he said. "We share the same humanity and when we set off on a journey, we discover we have the same dreams, the same desire for a future for our children and for a more just world. We are a family."

Being part of one family, the cardinal said, also means sharing responsibility for the family home, which is the earth. Efforts to protect human beings and protect the environment at the same time are part of what the Catholic Church calls "integral ecology."

Michel Roy, who is completing his second four-year term as Caritas secretary-general, said the experience of Caritas Internationalis and its aid and development partners around the world is that climate change is displacing people, especially the poor, and making natural disasters more severe.

"In the coming decades, you will see millions of people who cannot survive where they live now," because they can no longer grow food or because their land is under water, Roy said.

Cardinal Tagle said that in the Philippines, the expression "June bride" was common because June was the most popular month for weddings. "No more," he said, because typhoons and monsoons have become common in June.

Traveling around the world as Caritas president, he said, skyscrapers and fancy shops and other signs of economic growth are seen in many places, but so are people who are poor.

"As wealth is produced, you wonder why the number of poor people increases," he said. Because economic growth and development projects are not keeping a middle-class strong and helping the poor, "there are a lot of angry people -- angry and suspicious" -- around the globe.

"The astute politicians and business people know that anger and so they present themselves as messiahs. And they win elections, even if they were the ones who benefited from that type of distorted development," the cardinal said.

In many parts of the world, that anger has contributed to the election of politicians promising to stop immigration, the Caritas leaders said.

Oliviero Forti, director of migration services for Caritas Italy, said his agency is one of many humanitarian agencies accused of favoring migration by Matteo Salvini, Italy's deputy prime minister, and similar politicians. At the same time, though, Salvini's government has signed an agreement to issue humanitarian visas for vulnerable migrants and refugees.

"What I can and must say on behalf of Caritas Italy is that no matter what, we will continue to work from the conviction that the human person must be the center" of concern, Forti said. The political debate over immigration can be disturbing, "but it won't move us a millimeter from welcoming, rescuing and doing anything else necessary to recognize these people as our brothers and sisters."

 

- - -

Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Foster brotherhood, solidarity, pope tells new ambassadors

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Nations, like individuals, have a "solemn duty" to care for the poor and to work together to promote development, Pope Francis told a group of ambassadors beginning their service at the Vatican.

International cooperation for development and for peacemaking tap into a common, universal desire to experience real fraternity, the pope told the new ambassadors from Thailand, Norway, New Zealand, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Luxembourg, Mozambique and Ethiopia.

The nine ambassadors, who presented their letters of credential to Pope Francis May 23, do not reside in Rome, but serve as their country's representatives to the Vatican while simultaneously holding other posts, mostly as ambassadors to other European nations.

"As we face increasingly complex global challenges," the pope told them, "it is right to underline the importance of fraternity, for striving together to ensure just and peaceful coexistence is not merely a sociopolitical strategy but is an example of that solidarity which runs deeper than a mutual desire to achieve a shared goal."

"The pressing need to be attentive to the poorest of our fellow citizens is a solemn duty," Pope Francis said, and it is "eloquently expressed when, respectful of legitimate diversity, we are united in promoting their integral human development."

While violence and armed conflict continue to sow death in multiple areas of the world, he said, peace always is possible.

"Conflict resolution and reconciliation are positive signs of the unity that is stronger than division and of the fraternity that is more powerful than hatred," Pope Francis said.

 

- - -

Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

A New Westeros and a New Jerusalem

Jon Snow, John of Patmos, and what we want the world to be.

Christopher Leadership Award goes to CEO of Tunnel to Towers Foundation

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy David Reich

By

NEW YORK (CNS) -- Frank Siller, chairman and CEO of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, is the 2019 recipient of the Christopher Leadership Award.

He is being recognized by The Christophers "for the invaluable aid he brings to catastrophically injured veterans, first responders and Gold Star families" through the charity he co-founded with his five siblings in honor of their late brother Stephen, a New York City firefighter who was killed on 9/11.

The honor for Frank Siller, announced in early May, is being presented May 23 along with Christopher Awards for winning film productions, broadcast TV and cable programs, and books for adults and children. It is the 70th anniversary of the organization's awards program.

The Christopher Leadership Award recognizes individuals "whose work, actions and example serve as a guiding light to others."

On Sept. 11, 2001, firefighter Stephen Siller got the call that a plane had hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Stationed in Brooklyn, he drove the truck to the Battery Tunnel to get into Manhattan but found the tunnel shut down for security reasons.

So after strapping 60 pounds of gear on to his back, he ran through the tunnel to join rescue efforts at the World Trade Center. The husband and father of five was killed when the center's twin towers collapsed.

His six siblings wanted not only to keep his memory alive, "but to do it in a way that would help others," according to The Christophers.

A year after the terrorist attacks, they created the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which began as a New York City-based charity run that retraced Stephen's steps on 9/11.

But with Frank Siller as chairman and CEO, the organization has grown into "a national force for good" for many groups in need. It builds specially adapted smart homes for catastrophically injured members of the military who have lost arms and legs; pays off mortgages for families of first responders who have been killed in the line of duty; and pays off mortgages for Gold Star families whose "loved ones made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country."

The foundation, which also supports a variety of community programs around the country, has raised over $125 million since it was started. Of every dollar raised, 95 cents goes to programs.

"My parents had seven kids," Frank Siller told The Christophers. "We were very poor, but we were never too poor to do something good for our neighbors."

He said his parents often quoted the words of St. Francis of Assisi: "While we have time, let us do good." Frank and his siblings adopted those words as the foundation's motto.

The Christophers noted that the Siller brothers and sisters were especially close to Stephen because he was only 10 when their parents died, "so they each had a hand in raising him."

Frank Siller said the losses that he has experienced in his life allow him to relate to the people whom the Tunnel to Towers Foundation helps.

"I understand exactly each point they're at because I lived it," he said. "After 9/11, so many people were there for our family. It lifts you to know you're not alone, and that people care and are praying for you.

"This is the message that we send to all these great families. ... We don't want to just pay off the mortgage or build them a mortgage-free home, a smart home. We want to be part of their lives," he continued. "They join us on our mission and are our greatest ambassadors because they received it and they want to pay it forward to the next person."

The more these recipients "do for somebody else, the better they're going to feel," he added. "And they do. It does lift you, it does heal you, and it does give you a great purpose that's bigger than (yourself)."

Previous winners of the Christopher Leadership Award include Capt. Scotty Smiley, the U.S. Army's first blind active-duty officer, and Patti Ann McDonald, widow of heroic Detective Steven McDonald of the New York Police Department. Her husband was shot July 12, 1986, while on duty, leaving him a quadriplegic. In the years before his death in 2017, he became an inspiration to many and may be best known for forgiving the teen who shot him.

The Christophers, founded in 1945 by Maryknoll Father James Keller, is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition of service to God and humanity, using the ancient Chinese proverb "It's better to light one candle than to curse the darkness" to guide its publishing, radio and awards programs.

- - -

Editor's Note: More information about the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation and its many programs can be found at https://tunnel2towers.org. More information about The Christophers can be found at https://www.christophers.org.

 

- - -

Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

'Game' over: the five stages of being a 'Thrones' fan

IMAGE: CNS photo/HBO

By Elizabeth Rackover Clancy

RICHMOND, Calif. (CNS) -- Eight years ago, "Game of Thrones" began on HBO and the worlds of water-cooler conversations, fire-breathing dragons and social media haven't been the same since. To say it's been a wild ride is the least of it.

Fans of the show have had to put up with crushing losses as multiple narratives careened as wildly as a dragon flying out of a sports coliseum riddled with javelins. A show this short on tender moments somehow still managed to make us care, sometimes desperately, about disparate characters so wild, unruly, crafty, sneaky, snaky, ruthless and cruel that we could not believe our own eyes as certain scenes unfolded (looking at you, Lord Walder Frey).

But why did we care so much? Why did people who drive cars, read books from glowing hand-held electronic tablets, heat their food in microwave ovens and express their every instant's thought in an Instagram or Twitter post, care about bastards, cripples, missing daughters, would-be queens -- lotta those -- your odd eunuch, incestuous twins, et al?

Because it was fantastic.

Not just as in fantasy, but as in above and beyond anything any of us will, hopefully, ever experience in real life. The exhilaration of the journeys, the battles, the blood feuds, the betrayals, the passion, the magic, all led us along the corridors of the narratives with so much assurance that it was easy to feel something deeply personal about these characters -- seething hatred, a respectful wariness, a motherly concern for the young'uns (Arya, learning how to handle her small sword, quickly dispelled the notion that she needed any mothering).

The roller coaster that these emotions took us on, then, as season after season wrapped us around its Littlefinger, left us breathless - until the eighth and final season brought us around -- with a nod to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross -- to the five stages of being a "Game of Thrones" fan.

Denial: No way they're going to kill (insert favorite character here). They would never do that. They need him/her. (Favorite character) might end up on the Iron Throne, even! And I'm going to draw in even non-watchers with this category: Cheers to the people on Twitter and Facebook who felt compelled to post "I have never watched a single episode of 'Game of Thrones' and I never intend to." Your resolve was duly noted. Nobody cared that you didn't care, but congratulations on having your say anyway.

Bargaining: I can spend countless afternoons re-watching the last seven seasons as long as I keep up on the laundry and take the dog out. Well, the dog can wait. Also, since I'm re-watching, I can fast-forward through all the gruesome Reek scenes.

Depression: See: Red Wedding; everything that happens to Sansa Stark; the scene where Jamie Lanister's hand is abruptly severed at the wrist.

Anger: In this instance, actually, anger and humor are intertwined. With so many voices on social media piling on about plot holes and raging over destinies in the final season, you really do just have to laugh. Here is a show with flying, fire-breathing dragons and not one but two men who come back to life -- one of them being a repeat offender -- and people are Stark raving mad that Jon or Arya or Sansa or Tyrion or Dany didn't end up on the Iron Throne. A little perspective comes in handy here. Quibbling with destinies and motivations is meaningless. This is just entertainment; we are cordially invited to be excessively diverted.

Which leads me to: Acceptance. I accept that there are problems with the final season. Yes, it felt rushed. A lot of characters' story lines fell apart. Dany's death was a letdown -- but the melting of the Iron Throne was cool, am I right? -- and the sudden unspoken tenet that "it doesn't matter that Jon is the rightful heir to the throne" was admittedly puzzling. But I accept that the finale brought the Stark family around full circle with each of them finding their bliss and their own acceptance.

Writing a show this good for so long could not have been easy.

We asked for perfection, and they gave us seven great seasons and The Long Night. Dayenu. It would have been enough.

- - -

Elizabeth Rackover Clancy lives in the San Francisco area with her husband Tom, two cats, and a house full of books. She has two wonderful daughters and a grand-dog, who is a Very Good Boy.

 

- - -

Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Update: Prayer not possible without Holy Spirit, pope says at audience

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Holy Spirit gives Christians the courage and the strength needed to engage in a loving dialogue with God that is like the dialogue of a child with his or her father, Pope Francis said.

"Do not forget this: The protagonist of all Christian prayer is the Holy Spirit. We can never pray without the strength of the Holy Spirit; it is he who moves us to pray well," the pope said May 22 during his weekly general audience.

Greeting an estimated 20,000 pilgrims as he toured St. Peter's Square in the popemobile, Pope Francis occasionally stopped to kiss children's foreheads and drink mate tea offered to him.

Alessandro Gisotti, interim Vatican spokesman, said in a tweet published after the audience that the pope also greeted Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecologist who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for his efforts to end the use of sexual violence against women in war and armed conflict.

In his main audience talk, the pope concluded his series of talks on the Lord's Prayer, meditating on the theme, "Wherever you are, invoke the Father."

Christian prayer, he said, "is born from the audacity of calling God by the name 'Father.'"

"This is the root of Christian prayer: to call God 'Father.' But this requires courage. It is not so much a formula as it is a filial intimacy into which we are introduced by grace," he said. "Jesus is the one who reveals the Father and gives us familiarity with him."

The "filial trust" that Jesus' exhibited toward God, especially in times of trial, is a call for Christians to embrace a "spirit of prayer" that "must be insistent and, above all, it must bear the memory of our brothers and sisters, especially when we have difficult relationships with them."

Recalling Christ's prayer of "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" as he was crucified on the cross, the pope said that even in that moment of abandonment, Jesus still remembered his heavenly Father.

"In that 'my God,' one can find the nucleus of the relationship with the Father, there the nucleus of faith and prayer can be found," Pope Francis said.

For this reason, he added, "a Christian can pray in every situation" for themselves and for others.

"Let us never cease to tell the Father about our brothers and sisters in humanity, so that none of them, especially the poor, may remain without a consolation and a portion of love," the pope said.

As he does every year, Pope Francis prayed for Catholics in China preparing to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Sheshan May 24.

Pope Francis used the occasion to express his "special closeness to and affection for all Catholics in China who, amid daily hardships and trials, continue to believe, hope and love."

The pope prayed Our Lady of Sheshan would help Chinese Catholics be "witnesses of charity and brotherhood" and always would be "united in the communion of the universal church."

- - -

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

- - -

Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Pope prays for Spanish missionary murdered in Central African Republic

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis led thousands of pilgrims in prayer for a Spanish missionary sister killed in Central African Republic.

While greeting French pilgrims attending his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square May 22, the pope said he was saddened to hear of the brutal murder of Daughter of Jesus Sister Ines Nieves Sancho, a 77-year-old Spanish missionary who was killed May 20 outside her convent in Nola, Central African Republic.

Sister Nieves, the pope said, before bowing his head in silence, "was yet another woman who gave her life for Jesus in the service of the poor."

After several minutes of silent prayer, the pope led the faithful in praying a "Hail Mary" for the slain missionary.

According to L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, the Daughter of Jesus missionary sister had dedicated her life to teaching children, especially girls, to sew in order to learn a trade and make a better life for themselves.

Authorities believe the missionary was murdered and mutilated precisely in the room where she taught the children, the Vatican newspaper reported.

In an interview May 21 with COPE, the Spanish Catholic radio station, Spanish-born Bishop Juan Aguirre Munoz of Bangassou said that Sister Nieves was "dragged out of her bed and on Monday she was found almost decapitated. We don't know why."

Authorities currently have no suspects or motive for the brutal killing but suspect that it was possibly carried out by people involved in human trafficking or searching for diamonds in a sadistic ritual meant to bring good fortune.

However, Bishop Aguirre told COPE that the political situation in Central African Republic is tense not only for Christians but for the entire population.

"It is a country where 80 percent of its territory has been conquered by 14 warlords who have trampled it underfoot," the bishop told COPE. "It is a very delicate situation."

- - -

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

- - -

Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.