January 21, 2018 // World News

News Briefs: January 21, 2018

Catholic school founder among mudslides’ fatalities in California

MONTECITO, Calif. (CNS) — The founder of a Catholic school in Ventura is among the fatalities caused by mudslides in Southern California, which have left at least 17 people dead and many others missing or injured in Montecito. About 100 homes were destroyed and hundreds of others were severely damaged in the coastal enclave of about 9,000 people northwest of Los Angeles. Several news accounts said that a mudslide swept Roy Rohter, who founded St. Augustine Academy in Ventura, and his wife, Theresa, from their home in Montecito early Jan. 9. Theresa was rescued and said to be in stable condition, but Roy did not survive. “Roy’s life has been in service to his good, loving and ever-forgiving God,” said Michael Van Hecke, St. Augustine’s headmaster. “He has done so much for so many people and pro-life and Catholic education causes. … Thousands have been blessed by the Rohters’ friendship and generosity.” Heavy rains trigged the mudslides in an area ravaged a month before by wildfires. The Associated Press described a “torrent of mud, trees and boulders that flowed down a fire-scarred mountain and slammed” into Montecito in Santa Barbara County Jan. 9. 

Don’t rush through silence at Mass, pope says at general audience

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The silence that precedes the opening prayer at Mass is an opportunity for Christians to commend to God the fate of the Church and the world, Pope Francis said. Departing from his prepared text at his weekly general audience Jan. 10, the pope urged priests “to observe this brief silence and not hurry. I recommend this to the priests. Without this silence, we risk neglecting the reflection of the soul,” he said. Continuing his series of audience talks on the Mass, Pope Francis spoke about the Gloria and the opening prayer. After the encounter between “human misery and divine mercy” experienced in the penitential rite, the faithful are invited to sing the ancient hymn of praise that was sung by the angels after Christ’s birth, the pope said. 

Catholics urged to ignore rhetoric, help immigrants facing deportation

NEW YORK (CNS) — Catholics have a responsibility to look past the noisy rhetoric of the current debate on immigration and answer the “cry of the poor” by engaging with individuals facing deportation. That was the focus of a National Migration Week discussion Jan. 11 at the Church of St. Francis Assisi in New York examining the plight of individuals affected by President Donald Trump’s Jan. 25, executive order on deportation. Presenters discussed practical actions to extend Christian charity and seek justice. National Migration Week began Jan. 7 and ends with the World Day of Migrants and Refugees Jan. 14. “We’re talking about being correct with our faith response as Christians. Are detention and deportation the right solutions?” Franciscan Father Julian Jagudilla asked the participants. “Are we here for our interests or the interests of the people we serve?” Father Jagudilla, director of the Migrant Center at St. Francis of Assisi since 2012, detailed routes to legal immigration and said there are more than 12 million people who face removal from the United States because of an irregular or precarious immigration status.

Belgian Catholics concerned about abuse of euthanasia law

OXFORD, England (CNS) — Catholics in Belgium are concerned the country’s euthanasia law is being abused to kill patients without legal checks and safeguards. Auxiliary Bishop Jean Kockerols of Mechelen-Brussels said “not just the Church’s hierarchy, but doctors and medical professionals as well” were concerned. On Jan. 9, the Belgian church’s Cathobel news agency published an article saying the Federal Euthanasia Control and Evaluation Commission violated its statutes by failing to refer suspected legal abuses for investigation. “It’s shocking that, 15 years since its creation, this commission has not referred a single file to prosecutors or condemned a single doctor,” the Catholic report said. “It is acting as judge and jury, and not fulfilling its role. It isn’t broadening application of the law, but violating it.” Bishop Kockerols told Catholic News Service Jan. 11 that the church had long been aware the commission was “not working as it should.” He said the bishops would support any investigation into its activities or “any steps to ensure it functions as it’s supposed to.” 

Canada: Groups fight policy that bases job grants on abortion support

OTTAWA, Ontario (CNS) — Faith-based groups and pro-life organizations are mobilizing to fight a new federal government policy that allows summer job grants only for employers who endorse abortion. The Toronto Right to Life Association has sued the federal government over the policy, announced just before Christmas. The policy requires all applicants to the Canada Summer Jobs program to sign a statement attesting support for “safe and legal” abortion and gender identity theory. Canada Summer Jobs provides wage subsidies to eligible charity and small-business employers to encourage them to hire high school and university-age students. “Our conscience compels us to not sign that attestation,” said Blaise Alleyne, president of Toronto Right to Life. “It is a violation of our freedom of conscience and freedom of expression for the government to compel speech or else punish us by withholding an unrelated benefit.” The pro-life educational group is seeking to have the “attestation be declared unconstitutional” because it contravenes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Alleyne said. 

Event aims to continue prayers following March
for Life

WASHINGTON (CNS) — A day before the Jan. 19 March for Life, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is launching what it calls a virtual pilgrimage through the “9 Days for Life” event, asking Catholics and all people of goodwill to participate, in person or via social media, in a variety of prayers. “We’re calling it a digital pilgrimage for life, of prayer and action, focusing on cherishing the gift of human life,” said Anne McGuire, assistant director for education and outreach in the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities. The centerpiece of the event is a novena, a nine-day series of prayers and devotions, highlighting a different intention each day. The overarching intention is an end to abortion, said McGuire. The idea behind the prayers is to take a journey together as the March for Life begins and to keep focused on its goals after it’s over, she said. Participants are encouraged to take part via social media, making use of Facebook tools, such as frames, to show participation in the March for Life or the “9 Days for Life” event Jan. 18-26. The website www.9daysforlife.com provides various social media tools for participants and leaders in English and Spanish.

Mideast leaders increase efforts to fight U.S. decision on Jerusalem

AMMAN, Jordan (CNS) — Church and political leaders in the Middle East are intensifying efforts to combat U.S. President Donald Trump’s unilateral decision declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and plans to move the U.S. embassy there. “The two-state solution is accepted by all the world, including the Vatican. It corresponds to the legitimate resolutions passed by the United Nations,” Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali of Jerusalem, patriarchal vicar for Jordan, told Catholic News Service. He spoke of how the church sees the way to end the simmering Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, told CNS, “Nothing should prevent Jerusalem from being a national symbol for the two peoples. Any unilateral decision is not a solution,” Archbishop Pizzaballa said. “Jerusalem cannot be reduced to a dispute. It is something much more than that.” 

Israeli border police arrest a Palestinian man near Ramallah, West Bank, during a late-December protest against U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (CNS photo/Goran Tomasevic, Reuters)

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