February 18, 2018 // National

News Briefs: February 18, 2019

A young woman prays on the second evening of an African-American Catholic revival celebration Feb. 6 at St. Rita’s Catholic Church in San Diego. The revival was organized by San Diego’s Diocesan Commission for African American Catholics as part of Black History Month, observed every February. (CNS photo/David Maung)

Two Mexican priests killed in ambush

MEXICO CITY — Two priests were gunned down as they returned from Candlemas celebrations in a corner of Mexico rife with drug cartel violence and increasingly lethal for prelates. Fathers Ivan Anorve Jaimes and Germain Muniz Garcia were killed early Feb. 5 as they drove between the cities of Taxco and Iguala in Guerrero state, some 100 miles south of Mexico City. Guerrero state officials said later that day that an armed group blocked the priests’ vehicle and opened fire. The priests were traveling with four other passengers, all of whom were injured. A local bishop disputed an account by State Prosecutor Xavier Olea, who said Feb. 6 that a photo of Father Muniz, holding an assault rife and posing with masked individuals at the Candlemas celebrations, triggered the attack, as the gunmen suspected the vehicle was carrying enemies from a rival cartel. Olea also said the priests were “drinking” at a celebration attended by armed narcotics traffickers from three states — an explanation Bishop Salvador Rangel Mendoza of Chilpancingo-Chilapa called “fictional.” 

People need to recognize ways they tolerate human trafficking, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Few people have considered how communities and nations actually tolerate and encourage human trafficking, particularly as it relates to prostitution, Pope Francis said. Modern forms of slavery “are far more widespread than previously imagined, even — to our scandal and shame — within the most prosperous of our societies,” the pope said Feb. 9 during a meeting with an international group of law enforcement and Church workers. “God’s cry to Cain, found in the first pages of the Bible — ‘Where is your brother?’ — challenges us to examine seriously the various forms of complicity by which society tolerates, and encourages, particularly with regard to the sex trade, the exploitation of vulnerable men, women and children,” the pope told the Santa Marta Group. The Santa Marta Group is an anti-trafficking initiative organized by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales to bring together representatives of bishops’ conferences and top national and international law enforcement officials to promote cooperation, particularly in identifying victims of trafficking and caring for them once they are rescued. British Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, introducing the group to the pope, described human trafficking as “the darkest face of globalization.” 

Pope sends condolences to Taiwan after earthquakes

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis expressed his solidarity with the people of Taiwan after two high-magnitude earthquakes devastated the island nation, killing at least nine people and injuring hundreds more. The pope “offers the assurance of his prayers for those who have lost their lives and for those who have been injured,” read a telegram sent by the Vatican following the earthquakes Feb. 6 and 7. “As he encourages the civil authorities and emergency personnel engaged in the rescue efforts, His Holiness willingly invokes upon all the Taiwanese people the divine blessings of strength and peace,” said the telegram, signed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state. A magnitude 6.4 earthquake rocked the east coast of Taiwan late Feb. 6. This initial earthquake caused immense destruction in Hualien, a coastal city, destroying smaller buildings and walls. It even left some skyscrapers and larger buildings leaning at sharp angles. But almost before anything could be done, a second earthquake slammed the region. The magnitude 5.7 quake was centered in roughly the same area. The Associated Press reported Feb. 8 that more than 260 people were injured and 10 people remained unaccounted for in Hualien County. 

Grisez called ‘remarkable man’ whose work was ‘utterly true to the faith’

EMMITSBURG, Md. (CNS) — The late Germain Grisez, an influential Catholic philosopher, ethicist and moral theologian, was “a remarkable man” and a “very firm believer” whose faith “was unswervingly orthodox,” Jesuit Father Peter Ryan said Feb. 6. “He defended it with great lucidity,” the priest said about the faith of a man he considered “a great mentor and collaborator.” Father Ryan made the comments in a phone interview with Catholic News Service shortly before celebrating the funeral Mass for Grisez at St. Anthony Shrine Catholic Church in Emmitsburg, which was followed by interment in St. Anthony Cemetery. Grisez, who died Feb. 1 at age 88, was a retired professor of Christian ethics at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg. He was on the faculty there from 1979 until his retirement in 2009. Grisez was “profoundly influential,” said Father Ryan, former executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat of Doctrine and Canonical Affairs, who is now on the faculty of Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. “His work is utterly true to the faith and strikingly creative.” 

Conference examines challenges facing Catholic higher education in U.S.

WASHINGTON (CNS) — An emphasis on online learning, increasingly stressed endowments and questions over how to best connect with students’ wants and needs are among challenges facing Catholic higher education. These were some of the lessons of the annual meeting of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities Feb. 3-5 in Washington. The theme of the meeting was “Rethinking Catholic Higher Education in a Transformed Landscape.” Other takeaways were that the number of Catholic institutions in America is likely to decline and that an effective way to maintain a Catholic identity on campuses is to have chapels in dormitories and priests in residence halls. On top of the financial and faith challenges, all higher education institutions must struggle with a growing public perception questioning the value of college. A recent New America Foundation poll on higher education showed that 51 percent of adults “agree that there are lots of well-paying jobs that do not require college attendance,” although 75 percent thought it “is easier to be successful with a degree than without.” 

Therapy, Retrouvaille and the sacraments offer hope to failing marriages

PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) — The marriage appeared severed. It was a mess of miscommunication, heartbreak and a broken vow. They’d contacted divorce lawyers and he’d moved out. Her friends encouraged her to dump him. “Our marriage was in a crisis that we couldn’t overcome ourselves,” said Carol McMenamin, 63. Twenty years later, Carol and her husband sit side by side holding hands in their living room. Kevin McMenamin, 66, looks tenderly at Carol. She laughs and smiles. The couple, members of All Saints Parish in Northeast Portland, will celebrate their 42nd wedding anniversary in April. “I didn’t think it was possible,” said Kevin of avoiding divorce. Figures vary, but the chance that a marriage in the United States will end in divorce is likely somewhere between 42 and 45 percent based on a 2017 assessment of research published in Psychology Today. The divorce rate for American Catholic adults is an estimated 28 percent, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. 

4.5 million displaced in Congo ‘struggling to survive,’ says aid worker

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Just as people are “struggling to survive” in Congo, aid agencies are struggling to meet their needs, said one aid worker. Political unrest in and around the capital, Kinshasa, is just the latest malady to afflict the Congolese citizens, said Chiara Nava, an adviser to the AVSI Foundation, an aid agency focusing on education and child protection and inspired by Catholic social teaching. She worked in the country for two-and-a-half years before taking on an advisory role. Still, the difference between the country she worked in and the country she visited in January is noticeable to Nava. “The political situation is not good at all,” she told Catholic News Service in a Feb. 9 telephone interview from her home in Raleigh, North Carolina. “There are lots of public demonstrations, especially in the capital.” 

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