Letter #39, Monday, November 30, 2020: Advent

From the Early Church Fathers, on Advent

    “Ignatius, also called Theophorus, to the Church at Ephesus in Asia… predestined from eternity for a glory that is lasting and unchanging, united and chosen through true suffering by the will of the Father in Jesus Christ our God.” —Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Ephesians 1, A.D. 110

    “Christians are they who, above every people of the earth, have found the truth, for they acknowledge God, the Creator and maker of all things, in the only-begotten Son and in the Holy Spirit.” —Aristides, Apology 16, A.D. 140

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Montreal archbishop apologizes after report faults failures to address priest’s misconduct

CNA Staff, Nov 30, 2020 / 07:19 pm (CNA).- The Montreal archdiocese repeatedly failed to act on complaints regarding a former priest’s misbehavior until it was found he had likely engaged in sexual abuse of minors, says a new report. The Archbishop of Montreal has apologized to the victims, and welcomed the report’s more than 30 recommendations “in humility and with a deep sense of regret.”

“In name of the Catholic Church in Montreal and speaking for myself personally, I wish to say to the victims, to your loved ones and your parish communities how sorry we are that you experienced the effects of such terrible criminal acts, which should never occur, never,” Archbishop Christian Lépine said when the 276-page report was released Nov. 25

The report concerns former diocesan priest Brian Boucher, who was ordained a priest in 1996 and worked in 10 Montreal churches as far back as the early 1980s. In January 2019 he was convicted of sexual assault of a minor in one case, and pleaded guilty to sexual assault of another minor. He was later sentenced to eight years in prison.

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Danger of Stigmatization Against Fulani in Nigeria

The Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) interviewed Rev. Fr. Blaise Agwon, director of the Centre for Dialogue, Reconciliation and Peace in Jos, the capital of Plateau State in the central belt region of central Nigeria.

The Nigerian priest is currently researching conflict and peace management with the Centre for Conflict Management and Peace Studies at the University of Jos. The focus of the investigation is the “Conflict between farmers and herders in the middle belt region and the mediation of third parties”. Maria Lozano, press officer for ACN International, talks to him about the conflict that has cost the lives of more than a thousand people.

A few weeks ago, the Bishops from Kaduna Region sent a very harsh statement about the horrible and huge dimension of the tragedy since “the last three years”. Has something happened that has provoked this wave of violence and killing?

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Kenya’s Bishops Lament Losses During Pandemic

We cannot continue to watch (as) the only hopes of Kenyan people go down through the loss … of life as we have witnessed in the last few days”, says His Exc. Mgr. Philip Arnold Subira Anyolo, Archbishop of Kisumu and Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a statement on behalf of the Conference he chaired, in which concern was expressed regarding the number of doctors and nurses who died of Covid-19.

In Kenya since March at least 25 doctors have died from the disease caused by the coronavirus. In mid-November, as the number of cases surged, four doctors died within 24 hours. So far, 2,200 doctors have been infected with the virus, according to the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Pharmacists and Dentists Union. The country’s total infections stand at more than 75,000, reported Fides News Agency.

Archbishop Anyolo said the Church is concerned that, despite budget availability and commitment by Government leaders, resources have not been provided consistently to support the health care system during the pandemic, leaving health workers exposed and vulnerable. “We ask the Government to move with haste to prioritize the available resources with the Government and provide the required facilitation of the health care system”, said Mgr. Anyolo, recalling that health care workers continued to work to save lives despite challenges. Doctors said they would go on strike in early December if they do not get better working conditions and personal protective equipment. The Bishops said they want the Government to enter into talks with the health care workers’ union, so workers’ concerns can be addressed.

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Hacer un Verdadero Trabajo Espiritual de Adviento

Nunca estaremos adecuadamente preparados para la venida del Salvador, a menos —y hasta que— sintamos en nuestros huesos que hay algo de lo que necesitamos ser salvados. Si no requerimos salvación, entonces Jesús se convierte, muy rápidamente, en un hombre sabio entre muchos, un maestro espiritual más en una larga línea de figuras similares a través del espacio y el tiempo. El gran y antiguo canto de Adviento, “Oh ven, oh ven, Emmanuel, / De la maldad rescata a Israel / Que llora en triste desolación / Y espera ansioso su liberación”, capta esta verdad cristiana fundamental. Hasta que nos sintamos como prisioneros retenidos por rescate, hombres y mujeres condenados al exilio sin esperanza, no cantaremos esas palabras con la más mínima convicción.

Un pasaje del capítulo 63 del profeta Isaías proporciona una serie de imágenes que nos ayudan a articular este sentido de necesidad desesperada de salvación. “¿Por qué, Yavé”, lamenta Isaías, “permitiste que nos perdiéramos de tus caminos?”. La imagen del camino es común en las Escrituras: hay una manera en que debemos caminar en el orden espiritual, y la gran mayoría de nosotros tiende a perderlo.

Hay un sentimiento que ahora solo las personas de cierta edad recuerdan, y esa es la sensación de estar bien y verdaderamente perdidos. Limito esto a las personas mayores, porque las herramientas de GPS hipersofisticadas de hoy en día generalmente nos permiten encontrar nuestros destinos con facilidad. Pero antes de esos maravillosos gadgets, cuando nos apoyábamos en mapas o, más frecuentemente, en direcciones garabateadas en un trozo de papel, nos perdíamos mucho más fácilmente. Cuando tenía unos diecisiete años y, era por lo tanto, un conductor muy inexperto, me dirigía por las calles de Chicago, buscando una entrada a la autopista. Me las arreglé para no verla, y en poco tiempo, a medida que la oscuridad se acercaba, me di cuenta, con una sensación única de hundimiento, de que realmente no sabía dónde estaba o a dónde iba.

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