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Around the Traps

No word for cardinal

ROME (SE): Cardinal Dieudonné Nzapalainga, from Bangui in the Central African Republic—the first cardinal ever from that nation—reports that the country’s main language, Sango, does not even have a word for his new title, Rome Reports says.

Cardinal Nzapalainga, who at the age of 49 is the youngest living member of the College of Cardinals, received his red hat from Pope Francis last week.


Too many Catholics

OSLO (CWN): The diocese of Oslo in Norway has been ordered to pay a fine of one million kroner ($9.6 million) for inflating statistics on the number of registered Catholics in the diocese.

The government had charged the diocese with obtaining nearly US$6 million ($46.5 million) in state subsidies by routinely registering immigrants as Catholic if they came from a predominantly Catholic country, without checking.

It said that of the 65,500 new Catholics registered by the diocese between 2010 and 2014, more than 56,000 could not be confirmed.

Diocesan officials denied any outright fraud.


Afraid to report kidnap

GUADALAJARA (CWN): The Church in Guadalajara, Mexico, has cancelled a programme to register names of suspected kidnap victims, explaining that families are afraid to provide personal information for fear of retaliation.

The archdiocese had opened a register of missing persons in the face of a surge in kidnappings and killings by drug-trafficking gangs. But the programme was ineffective, as relatives of the abducted were afraid to publicise their names.

“The people, because of fear, do not want their names to appear,” José Francisco Cardinal Robles Ortega reported.


No opinion please

SAN DIEGO (CWN): Bishop Robert McElroy has instructed a parish priest to only announce parish events and leave his own opinions on issues out of the parish bulletin.

Father Richard Perozich came under fire for telling people in his San Diego parish that it is gravely sinful to vote for political candidates who support abortion. He has also written against same-sex marriage, undocumented immigration, embryo research and gun control.

While he does include short excerpts from the Church Fathers and papal documents, he said he will obey the bishop and transfer his material to a personal website


Venezuela blocks aid

CARACAS (SE): The government of Venezuela has not moved to lift a block on the importation of medicine, despite a critical shortage, Caritas Venezuela reported on November 29.

The director, Yaneth Marquez, said that a shipment of medicine from Chile was being held, although all the necessary paperwork had been cleared. He said that officials at the health ministry had promised action, but failed to respond to urgent requests.

The government’s refusal to accept international humanitarian aid—at a time when the people are suffering from severe shortages—has been one of the top items on the agenda in Vatican-mediated crisis negotiations between government and opposition leaders.


Carmelites 400 years in Asia

HONG KONG (UCAN): Discalced Carmelites marked 400 years since their arrival in Asia with a Mass in the ruins of their ancient monastery in Goa, where their first missionaries landed in 1616.

The congregation observed the anniversary in Old Goa on November 29, the feast day of their first two martyrs, Blessed Dionysius and Blessed Redemptus.

The two Carmelites came to India to work with the Portuguese mission, but on a visit to Aceh in Indonesia with the Portuguese ambassador, they were arrested, apparently at the instigation of the Protestant Dutch authorities in Jakarta, tortured and then martyred.


Australia plans national council for 2020

BRISBANE (SE): Archbishop Mark Coleridge has been elected as the chairperson of a commission to prepare for a National Plenary Council in 2020—the first in Australia since 1937. The council will discuss pastoral responses to new challenges facing the Church today. The archbishop of Brisbane acknowledged the need for new approaches as the public influence of Catholicism declines. “We can’t just put up a sign saying business as usual,” he said.

He called it planning for the future at a highly complex time.


Mass safety first


MANILA (UCAN): All Masses and gatherings in churches in Manila will be cancelled if there is an imminent threat to people’s safety, the Philippine bishops announced on November 29, in the wake of a bomb being discovered outside the embassy of the United States of America and the bombing of a church in Esperanza.

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