Queensland passes law requiring priests to break confessional seal

CNA Staff, Sep 8, 2020 / 08:01 pm (CNA).- The legislature of the Australian state of Queensland on Tuesday passed a law requiring priests to violate the seal of confession to report known or suspected child sex abuse.

Failure to do so will be punished with three years in prison.

The law passed the Legislative Assembly of Queensland Sept. 8, with the support of the opposition Liberal National Party of Queensland.

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Indian archbishop demands investigation into rotten rice

CNA Staff, Sep 8, 2020 / 07:29 pm (CNA).- An Indian archbishop has demanded action over a government mistake which has led poor people of Madhya Pradesh to purchase rotten grains from a public distribution system.

The Indian government issued a report cautioning against expired rice grains in fair-price shops, which allow people below the poverty line to have access to cheaper food. The rotten rice was found in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandla and Balaghat districts.

“I am shocked to learn that the government system has distributed food grains totally unfit for human consumption. It is distressing that it is done to poor people who are increasingly dependent on the government for their food, especially in these times of pandemic,” said Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal, according to UCA News.

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ACN Interview with Ján Figel’, Former EU Special Envoy for Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief Outside EU

For the second time since its establishment by the United Nations in 2019, the “International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief” was observed on 22 August. The findings of a review of the situation of people suffering from religious persecution worldwide were far from positive. The international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) talked about this with Ján Figel’, a Slovak politician whose mandate as Special Envoy of the European Union for the promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief outside the EU recently ended.

What are your thoughts on the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief?

The international day commemorating the victims of religious persecution is a very important event in the calendar of international days of commemoration because there are so many victims of religious persecution; it is estimated that they number in the hundreds of millions. Religious persecution is on the rise worldwide; this has led many more millions to suffer from discrimination. The very painful reality is that victims of veritable genocide still exist in the world today. In the past, international treaties often ignored, omitted and seldom recognized religious freedom, but today freedom of religion and belief has become the litmus test for the state of human rights.

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Homily of Bishop Donal McKeown for Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Bishop Donal McKeown is Bishop of Derry.  This homily was delivered in Saint Eugene`s Cathedral, Derry, on September 6, 2020, for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Today we hear Jesus speaking about the community – and using the same word that he used recently that was then translated as ‘Church’.  Community is not just part of the context within faith that can be handed on. Community is part of the content of what Jesus is proposing. That is why he promises that he will be present when people gather in his name. The Body of Christ is present where people belong together in Jesus. As St Paul says in our second reading a debt of mutual love sums up all the commandments – and builds up community. A lot of us may live in semi-detached houses or semi-detached relationships. That option does not exist for his followers. What some of the lessons that we might learn from today’s readings?

Firstly, Jesus asks his disciples to do what he does – he speaks out against wrongdoing. Christianity is unwelcome in some quarters because it says that there is right and wrong. That does not mean that Jesus condemns people as evil. But he does say that there are destructive actions that do not reflect the love of God and of neighbor. Jesus has given us the standards by which to evaluate actions, without damning people. John the Baptist, Jesus, and the apostles were killed for telling powerful people where the system which suited the strong was heartless and without grace. And he reserved most of his anger, not for the little people whose lives were less than perfect but for those who professed to love God and appeared to despise their neighbor. Unless reprimand comes with love of our neighbor, it is not imbued with grace. Correcting someone is meant to help them, not to nourish my spiritual ego.

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Kenya’s Bishops Call on Government to Shut Down Abortion Clinics

“We cannot claim God is in our midst when in fact we are allowing the evil of some individuals who may have killed their conscience to legislate for the killing of our unborn children”, say the Bishops of Kenya, who asked the government to close all clinics and health units that are procuring abortions and administering contraceptives to minors and teenagers in the name of protecting them. In a joint statement read by the Chairman of Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), Most Rev. Philip Anyolo, on 29th August 2020, during the Episcopal Consecration of the new Bishop of Kitui, Rt. Rev. Joseph Mwongela, the bishops termed abortion as evil and expressed concern over the Reproductive Health Bill whose basic intention, they pointed out, is to introduce disguised abortion on demand.

“It is of utmost concern that in a country which believes in the sanctity of human life and human dignity, certain entities will be allowed to propagate ideologies that degrade that very dignity in the name of freedom of choice”, they say.

The Bishops urged parents to recall their primary responsibility of instilling good morals and habits in their children by spending sufficient time with them, reported Fides News Agency.

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US Bishop Urges Congress, White House to Reach a Deal on COVID Relief

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued a statement on September 8, 2020, calling on lawmakers in  the US Congress and the White House to reach a deal on the next COVID relief package that meets the urgent needs of the nation:

“Earlier this year, the leaders of our government reached a bipartisan deal that provided significant relief to those suffering from the health and economic crises that we continue to experience.  Many of the good relief measures in that previous package are running out.  Families and individuals are having trouble affording food, housing, and health care, and hunger-related crises grow internationally.  Many non-public schools must choose between reopening and permanent closure and require additional assistance to safely reopen. Hospitals are bracing for a spike of cases in the Fall and continue to experience fewer preventative and elective health visits. Cases are spiking in detention centers, prisons, and jails.  Many businesses and charities are suffering dire hardship again.  States, cities, and towns face shortfalls providing essential services. Today, I ask our leaders in Washington to once again set aside their differences in order to reach an agreement that prioritizes the poor and vulnerable.

“My brother bishops and I have written multiple times with specific recommendations on how to meet the needs of this moment.  It is imperative to act soon.  May God grant all those participating in negotiations a heart that eagerly responds to the cry of the poor.”

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