Pope Francis issues appeal for Lebanon (Vatican Press Office) One year after the Beirut explosion caused over $15 billion in damage, Pope Francis issued an appeal for “the beloved country of Lebanon.”The Pope asked “the international community to offer Lebanon concrete assistance, not only with words but with concrete actions in undertaking a journey of ‘resurrection’. It is my hope that the current international conference hosted by France with the support of the United Nations will prove productive in this regard.”“Dear Lebanese friends,” the Pope added, “I greatly desire to visit you, and I continue to pray for you, so that Lebanon will once more be a message of peace and fraternity for the entire Middle East.”
Irish bishops, government clash over Covid restrictions (Reuters) Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Micheál Martin said that he does “not approve” of plans to hold First Communion and Confirmation ceremonies despite government lockdown restrictions. Archbishop Dermot Farrell of Dublin described the restrictions as “perplexing, as no such prohibitions are applied to other events.”According to the report, five of the nation’s 22 bishops are “set to defy” the restrictions.
Bioethicist insists: vaccines cannot be mandatory (CNA) The president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) has said that Covid vaccination should not be mandatory, and added that a Catholic can have “a very sound Catholic basis” for refusing the vaccine. Dr. Joseph Meaney added that Catholics who take a stand against vaccination “should get the support of the Church for doing so.” His stand puts him in opposition to the official policy of the New York archdiocese, which has instructed priests not to support religious exemptions for parishioners. The NCBC, which regularly advises the American bishops on bioethical issues, has posted a template that Catholic priests can use in writing to public officials to testify that a parishioner has a well-founded conscientious objection.
China tightening curbs on independent journalists (AsiaNews) The Chinese government has increased censorship of reporters, claiming that the campaign is directed against “fake news.” The latest drive—which has imposed new restrictions on independent journalists and online outlets—has seen the suppression of reports that flooding in Henan may have claimed more than 10,000 lives; the government has fixed the death toll at only about 300.
Bishops applaud expanded eligibility for Afghan refugees who assisted US forces (USCCB) As Taliban forces advance in Afghanistan, the Biden administration has expanded eligibility for refugee resettlement.Since 2006, the US bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services office has resettled over 73,000 Afghan refugees. The president of the US bishops’ conference, joined by chairman of the Committee on Migration, praised Congress “for coming to an agreement on the emergency supplemental appropriations bill to help ensure that all Afghans who are in danger because they assisted the US receive protection and welcome.”
Another lawsuit filed against McCarrick; Opus Dei priest named (MassLive.com) Theodore McCarrick, now 91, was auxiliary bishop of New York (1977-81), bishop of Metuchen, NJ (1981-86), archbishop of Newark (1986-2000), and archbishop of Washington (2000-06). Created a cardinal in 2001, he resigned from the College of Cardinals in 2018 and was laicized in 2019.In a new lawsuit, McCarrick and Father Michael Barrett, then a layman, are alleged to have committed sexual abuse in the 1970s. Ordained a priest of Opus Dei in 1985, Barrett was theological advisor to Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles from 2013 to 2016 before becoming pastor of a New York parish.
Dublin archbishop says he won't stand in the way of First Communion, Confirmation ceremonies (Irish Catholic) “Current [government] guidelines restrict celebrations of the sacraments on the apparent grounds that they may lead to family gatherings, which may breach public health guidelines on household mixing,” said Archbishop Dermot Farrell. “This is perplexing, as no such prohibitions are applied to other events. . . . Many have concluded that, in the absence of appropriate justification, these guidelines are discriminatory.”Some priests have spoken out in favor of the Irish government’s guidelines. Accusing bishops of endangering children, the co-founders of the Association of Catholic Priests strongly criticized prelates who are permitting First Communion and Confirmation ceremonies. (Founded in 2010, the organization supports women’s ordination and the “re-evaluation of Catholic sexual teaching.”)
Archbishop Gänswein says Pope is "a mystery to me" (CNS) Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who for years has been private secretary to Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI, revealed that he asked Pope Francis for guidance in December 2020, after a furor arose over the publication of a book in which the former Pontiff, along with Cardinal Robert Sarah, strongly defended priestly celibacy. Archbishop Gänswein was criticized for his role in the book’s appearance, and Pope Francis directed him to spend more time with Benedict—essentially exiling him from his role as prefect of the pontifical household. Archbishop Gänswein, not unreasonably, sees that exile as a punishment; but Pope Francis denies that. “Francis is and remains a mystery to me,” the German prelate says.
The archbishop also revealed that he was caught off guard when Pope Benedict resigned, even though he was the Pontiff’s closest aide. he said that he tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade Pope Benedict not to resign.
US bishops respond to House vote?to force taxpayers to fund?abortion?overseas? (USCCB) “While this legislation contains many positive provisions that provide assistance to the poor and vulnerable worldwide, including protection of refugees, increases to humanitarian assistance, and protection of the environment, nothing can justify subsidizing the taking of innocent human life,” said three bishops who chair committees of the bishops’ conference, in reference to HR 4373 (the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act), which passed in a 217-212 vote.