BALTIMORE (OSV News) – The release of the Maryland Attorney General’s report on clergy sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore was a day of sorrow, Archbishop William E. Lori said in his first interview after the April 5 release. “It’s a day that I must face, and the archdiocese must face the enormity of this horrid legacy of sexual abuse. It is a day when my heart goes out to the victim-survivors, recognizing how many people have been harmed, and harmed very significantly,” he told the Catholic Review, the archdiocesan news outlet. He said that as he read the report, “just as a pastor of souls and as a Catholic,” he felt ”deep sadness” and “shame” and “felt sickened by the report.” Archbishop Lori said he spoke to some victim-survivors in the morning before the anticipated release, an opportunity for which he was grateful, as he has been for the many conversations he has had with victim-survivors over the years. He emphasized that there is no one currently in ministry in the archdiocese who has been credibly accused of abuse. The church began to change decades ago, the archbishop said, and in hearing the voices of victim-survivors, has steadily taken “really important steps to root sexual abuse out of our ranks,” including zero tolerance and removal from ministry of anyone credibly accused of abuse; creating safe environments within parishes and schools to keep young people safe; reporting “any and every allegation” to authorities; offering counseling to victims; and settlements “where desired.”
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (OSV News) – At least five people were killed and eight were injured in a shooting at Old National Bank in downtown Louisville, Ky., on April 10, local police said. That shooting followed another mass shooting where six people, including three children, were killed at a Nashville school two weeks earlier on March 27. Both mass shootings are just some of the violent events with multiple casualties involving guns, that have taken place in the U.S. A public policy response to gun violence from a Catholic perspective should prioritize the common good, theologians and church leaders told OSV News. Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller of San Antonio in whose diocese is Uvalde, where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers last year, has emerged in the wake of the tragedy as an advocate for more gun control. He told OSV News that gun violence is tied to a host of other signs of an acceptance of violence in the culture, from abortion, to domestic violence, to a lack of regard for the immigrant, to failing to care for creation. Archbishop García-Siller said the U.S. bishops have called for gun ownership regulations – banning civilian ownership of tactical-style semi-automatic weapons, eliminating high capacity magazines, and extending universal background checks – because “people are really suffering.” He said, “We have the teaching of Jesus about being peacemakers. We have to continue advocating, to continue promoting justice, to promote behavior that goes more along with our dignity.”
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The Vatican’s chief prosecutor said Pope Francis has given him free rein to investigate the 1983 disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi, a 15-year-old Vatican resident. The case has fueled conspiracy theories for close to 40 years and inspired a Netflix series in 2022. Alessandro Diddi, the Vatican prosecutor, told Corriere della Sera, an Italian newspaper, that the pope and Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, have an “iron will” to shed whatever light is possible on what happened to Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican employee, who vanished in Rome June 22, 1983. Diddi’s interview with Corriere della Sera was published April 11, the same day Pietro Orlandi, Emanuela’s brother, met with Diddi and other Vatican prosecutors for more than eight hours. It was their first meeting since Diddi opened a new file on the case in January at Orlandi’s request. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Orlandi said that in 40 years he had “never been questioned so thoroughly” on the case, but the meeting also gave him an opportunity to discuss “the most important things that have come out in these 40 years.”
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis has chosen “His mercy is from age to age,” a passage from the Gospel of Luke, as the theme for the 2023 celebration of the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. On the world day, which will be celebrated July 23, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, according to the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life. Pope Francis chose the theme to tie the celebration of the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly to World Youth Day, which will be celebrated just over a week later, in Lisbon, Portugal, the dicastery said. The theme for the youth gathering Aug. 1-6 is “Mary arose and went with haste” from Luke 1:39, the dicastery said, and it describes how Mary sets out to visit her elderly cousin Elizabeth and “proclaims, in the Magnificat, the strength of the alliance between young and old. ”Pope Francis celebrated the first World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly in 2021 and decreed that it be observed each year on the Sunday closest to the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne, Jesus’ grandparents.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis confirmed he will travel to Mongolia in September, becoming the first pope to visit the Asian nation, which is home to a cardinal and some 1,300 Catholics. In an audience April 14 with executives and staff of ITA Airways, the airline that has taken the pope on his international trips since 2021, he said that he will visit Mongolia, a country sandwiched between Russia and China, after traveling to Hungary in late April and Marseille, France, in September. During an airborne news conference on his return flight from South Sudan in February, the pope told journalists there was a “possibility that from Marseille I will fly to Mongolia.” To the airline workers, Pope Francis said that “God willing” he will leave for his 41st apostolic trip, traveling to Hungary April 28-30 “and then there will be Marseille and Mongolia, and all the others that are on the waiting list.” In August 2022, Pope Francis named Italian Bishop Giorgio Marengo, apostolic prefect of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, to be the first cardinal based in Mongolia. The cardinal, 48, is the youngest member of the College of Cardinals.
JERUSALEM (OSV News) – A British-Israeli mother and her two daughters were killed in a drive-by-shooting terrorist attack in the Jordan valley on April 7, during a week that, instead of seeing the holidays of Passover, Easter and Ramadan celebrated in parallel peacefully, spiraled the region into violence. Rina, 15, and Maia, 20, Dee died at the scene of the attack while their mother Lucy, 48, died of her wounds on April 10. Following the Jordan valley attack, an Italian tourist identified as Alessandro Parini, 36 – in Israel for the Easter holiday – was killed in what Israeli police have said was a car-ramming terrorist attack on a beach promenade in Tel Aviv which left one other Italian and three British nationals among the injured. The attacks were spurred on by an Israeli police raid into Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque compound in the early morning of April 5, and is on a site known to Jews as the “Temple Mount.” Israel police also issued a statement saying they had completed their “extensive…work” in preparation for the Orthodox Holy Fire ceremony on April 15, following coordination meetings with heads of churches. The fire hazard security regulations imposed by Israeli police on the ceremony, and the way in which it is enforced, is always a point of contention. It imposes restrictions on the number of faithful who can attend the ceremony, which sees the holy fire brought forth from the traditional tomb of Jesus inside Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
PARIS (OSV News) – Notre Dame Cathedral will get its spire back by the end of 2023, more than four years after it was devastated by a fire. But to reopen by its deadline of Dec. 8, 2024, the cathedral, a beloved symbol of France, needs to meet three conditions, currently in the works. This includes cleaning and restoration of the interior of the building; restoration of masonry and collapsed vaults; and working to restore the missing spire and frameworks, which, according to the newest statement from the “Rebuild Notre Dame” committee, “is in progress, both on the Ile de la Cité and in the workshop.” More than 1,000 people, spread throughout France, are working simultaneously on the revival of the masterpiece of Gothic art that Notre Dame is, including nearly 500 workers, craftsmen and supervisors who are currently working on the building site, inside the cathedral. Notre Dame also attracted an unprecedented surge of generosity in the history of French philanthropy, with 340,000 donors from 150 countries raising $929 million in donations.
ABUJA, Nigeria (OSV News) – At least 52,250 people have been killed over the last 14 years in Nigeria just for being Christian, a new report published April 10 revealed. The report, titled “Martyred Christians in Nigeria” and published by the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), says 30,250 of those killed were killed since 2015, when President Muhhamadu Buhari came to power. The report blames what it calls Buhari’s radical Islamism for those killings. Approximately 34,000 moderate Muslims were also butchered or hacked to death within the same period. The sheer number of Christians and moderate Muslims killed or displaced has sent chills down the spines of many, including Andrew Boyd, spokesman for Release International, which serves the persecuted church in some 30 countries. He described the report’s finding as “a staggering death toll.” “It is absolutely appalling that so many Christians are being targeted for their faith and killed in Nigeria, while the Nigerian government seems to stand by and let it happen. It is no less appalling that the international community appears content to stay on the sidelines and watch,” he told OSV News. Meanwhile, Aid to the Church in Need, in its own report, has given voice to the thousands of Christians persecuted for their faith in Nigeria.