Pope pleads for peace at Mass in Congo (Vatican News) Celebrating Mass for an estimated 1 million people in Kinshasa on the 2nd day of his visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pope Francis made a plea for peace in the war-torn country.
In his homily the Pope encouraged the country’s people to maintain their hope for peace, assuring them that “evil never wins; evil never has the last word.” He reminded them of the bitter sorrow that Christ’s followers felt as they saw Him crucified. Their greatest joy came, he said, after “everything seemed to be over for them, without even a glimmer of peace.”
The Pope made a special appeal to “all of you in this country who call yourselves Christians but engage in violence.” To them, he said: “The Lord is telling you: ‘Lay down your arms; embrace mercy.’”
President Biden accused of twisting Pope's words on abortion; 'fake Catholicism' (Fox News) On January 30, a reporter said to President Biden, “Catholic bishops are demanding that federal tax dollars not fund abortions ...”; the president responded, “No, they are not all doing that, nor is the Pope doing that.”
Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler (TX) tweeted, “Mr Biden can’t be allowed to twist the words of Pope Francis in this way. I implore the Vatican press office to emphatically clarify that Pope Francis rightly calls abortion murder. It is time to denounce Biden’s fake Catholicism.”
Cardinal Zen hospitalized after Vatican trip (South China Morning Post) Cardinal Joseph Zen has been hospitalized with breathing difficulties.
The 91-year-old retired Bishop of Hong Kong, who remains a leading figure in the human-rights struggle, said that his health declined after he returned from a trip to Rome for the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI.
Cardinal Zen, who has been found guilty of failing to register a charity, still faces more serious charges under China’s tough national-security law.
Pope arrives in Congo to begin African visit (Vatican News) Pope Francis arrived in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in the afternoon of January 31, beginning a five-day African voyage that will also take him to South Sudan.
After a welcoming ceremony at the airport, the Pope met on Tuesday afternoon with President Felix Tshisekedi. Later he was scheduled to address a meeting of the nation’s political leaders.
Commission report: Jean Vanier violated at least 25 women (Christianity Today) Jean Vanier, winner of the Templeton Prize and founder of the L’Arche community for the mentally disabled, died in 2019. The following year, investigators found that he initiated relations with six non-disabled women.
After a two-year investigation, an independent commission reported that Vanier “violated at least 25 women—all of them adults without disabilities—during prayer and spiritual devotion.”
Pope clarifies homosexuality and sin comments in note (AP) In a recent AP interview (CWN analysis), Pope Francis made comments on homosexuality.
Outreach, a Jesuit LGBTQ Catholic resource edited by Father James Martin, SJ, sought clarification from the Pope, who replied in a handwritten letter.
“When I said it is a sin, I was simply referring to Catholic moral teaching, which says that every sexual act outside of marriage is a sin,” the Pope wrote in his reply to Father Martin. “Of course, one must also consider the circumstances, which may decrease or eliminate fault. As you can see, I was repeating something in general.”
“I should have said ‘It is a sin, as is any sexual act outside of marriage,’” the Pope continued. “This is to speak of ‘the matter’ of sin, but we know well that Catholic morality not only takes into consideration the matter, but also evaluates freedom and intention; and this, for every kind of sin.”
Bishop Stika faces new charges in lawsuit (Pillar) The Pillar reports confirmation of charges that Bishop Rick Stika of Knoxville, Tennessee, accused a seminarian of making false abuse charges against a parish organizer—thus protecting the alleged abuser and punishing the victim.
Bishop Stika—who is already the subject of a Vatican investigation into complaints of abuse cover-ups—faces a civil lawsuit brought by the former seminarian as well.
Can Pope Francis' Africa trip really bring peace? (Pillar) “Local Catholics have high hopes” for the Pope’s apostolic journey to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan, the Pillar notes. “But how reasonable are expectations for the trip? Can local Catholics hope for more than some words of consolation and appeals for peace, or will the Pope’s pleas be ignored by political and military leaders?”
In flight over Sahara, Pope leads prayers for migrants (Vatican Press Office) As he flew over the Sahara desert on his January 31 trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pope Francis asked journalists to join him in prayer for the migrants who brave the desert.
The Pontiff said:
Let us spare a little thought, in silence, a prayer for all the people who in search of a little comfort, a little freedom, have crossed it and have not made it. So many suffering people who arrive at the Mediterranean and after crossing the desert are caught in the lagers and suffer there. Let us pray for all those people.
Chinese 'underground' bishop detained again (AsiaNews) Bishop Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou has been detained by Chinese authorities, along with Father Jiang Sunian, the chancellor of his diocese.
Bishop Shao, who is not recognized by the Beijing regime, has been taken into custody numerous times in the past several years, with authorities saying that he is engaged in tourism, and Catholics of the ‘underground’ Church reporting that he is subjected to “re-education” sessions. Usually he is held for 10-15 days and then released, although in 2017 he was in custody for seven months.