March 16, 2018 // World News

News Briefs: March 18, 2018

U.S. Catholics surveyed on perception of Christian persecution worldwide

NEW YORK (CNS) — Four in 10 U.S. Catholics say that half or more of religiously based attacks around the world are directed at Christians and believe Christian persecution is “extremely severe” in North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan. At the same time, when asked to rank their concerns about global issues, U.S. Catholics put Christian persecution last as the issue they are most concerned about. At the top of the list of global concerns for the largest majority were human trafficking (86 percent) and poverty (also 86 percent). Next were climate change (74 percent) and the refugee crisis (also 74 percent). Then came Christian persecution; 69 percent said it was a top concern. U.S. Catholics were asked for their views on global Christian persecution in a national survey conducted by the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need — USA, based in New York, and McLaughlin & Associates, a national survey research company. According to Aid to the Church in Need — USA, the survey aimed to measure how aware U.S. Catholics are of Christian persecution around the world; the countries and regions where they consider Christians the most severely persecuted; and specific measures and policies they want the U.S. and other Western governments to pursue to combat it. 

Irish bishops call abortion referendum proposal ‘shocking’

DUBLIN (CNS) — Ireland’s Catholic bishops have described as “shocking” a government proposal to hold a referendum on whether the constitutional right to life of unborn children should be removed. The government announced March 8 plans to hold a referendum on the constitutional article, which guarantees the equal right to life of the child with due regard to the life of the mother. The poll is expected to be held in May. If the article is deleted, the government has announced plans to permit abortion on demand up to 12 weeks’ gestation and up to birth where there is claimed to be a risk to the life of the mother. In a statement, the Irish bishops’ conference said removing the constitutional protection “would leave unborn children at the mercy of whatever permissive abortion laws might be introduced in Ireland in the future.” It described the proposals as “a shocking step” and described the plan as “a manifest injustice to the unborn.”

Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley in Texas and a longtime advocate for immigrants and refugees, will receive the University of Notre Dame’s 2018 Laetare Medal at the school’s graduation ceremony May 20. Sister Pimentel, a member of the Missionaries of Jesus, is pictured in a Feb. 19 photo. (CNS photo/Barbara Johnston, courtesy University of Notre Dame)

Hispanic Catholics seen as the emerging ‘voice, conscience’ of Church

PHOENIX (CNS) — Hispanic Catholics are being called “to be the ecclesial voice and conscience of the Church in the U.S.,” said Hosffman Ospino, a leading expert on the intersection of Catholicism and Latino culture. “When the Hispanic Catholic community speaks, the Church speaks,” he told participants in Phoenix for the Southwestern Regional Encuentro. The Colombian-born Ospino, the final keynote speaker at the gathering, is an associate professor of theology and religious education at Boston College. He is a member of the leadership team for the U.S. Catholic Church’s Fifth National Encuentro, or “V Encuentro,” to be held Sept. 20-23 in Grapevine, Texas. Leading up to the national Encuentro has been a four-year process of reflection and action that included parish- and diocesan-level Encuentros. Regional Encuentros will be going on around the country through June. The Feb. 23-25 regional in Phoenix drew about 480 delegates from 10 Catholic dioceses in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, which are in the U.S. Church’s episcopal Region XIII. The delegates reviewed the diocesan reports and discussed recommendations for consideration in Grapevine in September. Ospino spoke only in Spanish; there was simultaneous translation of his remarks. His topic was “Bearing Fruit,” on the beneficial effects of the integration of Spanish-speaking Catholics into American Church life.

Don’t hold grudges; forgiveness comes from forgiving others, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians must let go of resentments and forgive those who have wronged them so that they may experience God’s forgiveness, Pope Francis. This can be particularly difficult when “we carry with us a list of things that have been done to us,” the pope said in his homily March 6 at morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. “God’s forgiveness is felt strongly within us as long as we forgive others. And this isn’t easy because grudges make a nest in our heart and there is always that bitterness,” he said. The pope reflected on the day’s first reading from the prophet Daniel in which Azariah, one of three young men condemned to death in a fiery furnace, courageously prays for deliverance from God. “Do not let us be put to shame, but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy. Deliver us by your wonders, and bring glory to your name, O Lord,” Azariah prayed.

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