IMAGE: CNS photo/Diario Marcha, Handout via EPABy David AgrenMEXICO
CITY (CNS) -- A priest abducted from his parish residence in the Mexican state
of Michoacan has been found dead, the Archdiocese of Morelia confirmed Sept. 25.
He was the third priest murdered in Mexico within days.
prosecutors say Father Jose Alfredo Lopez Guillen, pastor in the community of
Janamuato, 240 miles west of Mexico City, died of gunshot wounds shortly after
being abducted Sept. 19. His body was found wrapped in a blanket alongside a
members, meanwhile, discovered personal items strewn across the floor of his
home, and one of two vehicles stolen from his parish was found flipped over
along a highway, Mexican media reported.
motive for the crime is still uncertain, though family say they received no
ransom calls as might be expected in a kidnapping case.
Gov. Silvano Aureoles Conejo erroneously told Radio Formula that Father Lopez
was last seen on video in a local hotel with a teenage boy. The boy's family subsequently
said the governor confused the priest with the boy's father.
Alberto Suarez Inda of Morelia also called the information false.
pray for his soul," the Archdiocese of Morelia wrote on its Twitter account,
confirming the death of Father Lopez.
abduction and murder in Michoacan continued a disturbing trend of attacks
against priests across Mexico, though Catholic leaders are at a loss to explain
the motives, which have included robbery, organized crime activity and possible
conflicts with drug cartel leaders. The Catholic Multimedia Center has
documented the murders of 15 Mexican priests in less than four years.
Sept. 19, two priests were kidnapped and killed in the Mexican state of
Veracruz, though the stated motive of the crime has caused controversy.
state attorney general Luis Angel Bravo Contreras told reporters Sept. 20 that
the "victims and the victimizers knew each other" and added that the
attack was "not a kidnapping."
were together, having a few drinks, the gathering broke down due to alcohol and
turned violent," he said.
officials in Veracruz rejected the explanation, calling it "an easy out"
and saying it ignored the reality of a state notorious for crime and
are hoping for more professional and careful inquiry, because this declaration
the prosecutor is giving generates more doubts than responses to the issue of
the murder of these two priests," said Father Jose Manuel Suazo Reyes,
spokesman for the Archdiocese of Xalapa. "It surprises us how quickly they've
concluded an investigation that requires more time and care."
Alejo Nabor Jimenez Juarez and Father Jose Alfredo Juarez de la Cruz were
dragged at gunpoint out of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Poza Rica, a Gulf Coast
oil city consumed by crime in recent years, the Diocese of Papantla confirmed
in a statement.
reported the men were found Sept. 19, one day after their abduction, along the
side of a highway with their hands and feet bound. They were beaten and had
gunshot wounds, according to media reports.
driver employed by the parish also was abducted, Mexican media reported, but
was found unharmed.
has struck Veracruz clergy previously. In 2013, two priests in the Diocese of
Tuxpan were murdered in their parish.
Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City encouraged prayers for the situation of
so many clergy coming under attack.
those that injure and defame the church or its pastors, may the Lord grant
repentance for their actions and with our prayers provide a path to social
reconciliation," he said Sept. 25 during Mass.
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IMAGE: CNS/Jonathan Ernst, ReutersBy Carol ZimmermannWASHINGTON (CNS) -- The expression "in like a lion out like
a lamb" turns on its head when comparing the end of the Supreme Court's last
term to the start of its new one Oct. 3.
of the court's last term ended with a flurry of decisions on high-profile cases
on abortion, immigration and contraception that had the rapt attention of
Catholics and the general public alike.
the court readies for its next term -- always on the first Monday in October --
that same sense of urgency is nowhere in sight. The court will take its usual
load of about 80 cases, but it is not taking on cases likely to entice massive
crowds to the building's white steps with placards and megaphones.
previous years I've said: 'What a blockbuster year we have ahead.' But this
year, not so much," said Caroline Fredrickson, president of the American
Constitution Society, during a Supreme Court overview Sept. 21 at the National
Press Club in Washington.
and other panelists said a key factor to the lackluster cases on tap this term is
because the court is still not functioning at full capacity since the death of
Justice Antonin Scalia Feb. 13.
marks the 222nd day since Scalia's death and it also is the 191st day since Merrick
Garland was nominated by President Barack Obama to fill that vacancy. If the seat
remains vacant until a nomination by the next president, the court might go through
the entire oral argument session without a ninth justice while the confirmation
court is in "unchartered territory," said Kristen Clarke, president
of Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, noting the longtime absence
of a justice has not happened in more than five decades.
concerned about the integrity of the Supreme Court," she said, noting that
it is in a "state of paralysis" without the ninth vote.
Smith, a partner at the Washington law firm Jenner & Block, who has argued
multiple cases before the Supreme Court, similarly said the prospect of more
four-four tie votes from this court makes it "unfunctional."
that view isn't shared by everyone. Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz, law professor at
Georgetown University's law school, said Scalia's absence is a notable,
particularly since he was "a larger than life figure in the court." He
didn't think the court was "dramatically hindered" by having one less
justice, but he still said "the court is better with a full
factor to consider is whoever fills Scalia's seat could likely be on the bench
in its ever steady and slow fashion, the court will not change dramatically no
matter who fills the spot. As Smith said, the court doesn't work that way and it
doesn't like to override previous decisions.
the court has agreed to hear 31 cases and will add more after a late September
conference. Nineteen cases are scheduled for oral argument in October and
November and more will be added in the coming months. Key upcoming cases for
Catholic court watchers are two death penalty cases and a religious liberty
case about a church being excluded from a state's grant program.
court might take up but hasn't decided yet include: challenges on voting laws
from several states; another issue over the Affordable Care Act; trademark
battles involving an Asian-American rock band and the Washington Redskins
football team; and a high school transgender bathroom case.
death penalty cases from Texas will be argued in the court's first month. The
case of Buck v. Stephens, involves Duane Buck, who was sentenced to death for the
murders of his ex-girlfriend and another man in front of her children in
Houston in 1995. A psychologist who spoke at the punishment phase of his trial
said that because Buck is African-American, there was a stronger likelihood that
he could present a danger to society.
will examine if that part of his trial was ineffective because the witness who
made this remark was called forth by the defense. But if the court rules in
Buck's favor, he will only get a new sentencing hearing, not a new trial
establishing guilt or innocence.
other death penalty case is Moore v. Texas, involving Bobby James Moore, convicted of killing a grocery store clerk during a botched robbery in 1980. Moore says he is intellectually disabled, a claim the state appeals court has rejected.
However, his attorneys argue the state used outdated medical standards in their
Penrose, professor of constitutional law at Texas A&M University's School
of Law, said if either case ends with a 4-4 vote, both men will be executed
since the lower and appeals courts ruled against them and these decisions will
stand. Both cases are decades old and Penrose said they prove "if society
is going to inflict the ultimate penalty, it needs to be sure it has done so in
a just manner."
from the civil rights law group, said the stakes are high with these death
penalty cases and she feels "unsettled that they will only be heard by
liberty case before the court, but not given a date yet, is Trinity Lutheran
Church of Columbia v. Pauley about a religious preschool that was rejected from
a Missouri program that provides reimbursement grants for the purchase of tire
scraps used at the base of playgrounds.
church says its exclusion violates the Constitution because it discriminates
against religious institutions. The state argues that it didn't violate rights
saying the church can still worship or run its day care as it wishes, but the
state will not pay for the resurfaced playground.
pointed out that both sides are relying on the Supreme Court's 2004 decision in
Locke vs. Davey, which said that states do not have to provide tax-funded
scholarships to college students who are pursuing careers in ministry.
church in the playground case said the grant they applied for had nothing to do
with religion, like the scholarship did, while opponents insist the state simply
should not be providing any financial support to religious institutions.
another Supreme Court briefing sponsored by Alliance Defending Freedom, C.
Kevin Marshall, a partner with the Washington law firm Jones Day, said how the
court responds to the playground case will have a broad effect.
the case raises religious liberty questions but is "less contentious"
than last term's Zubik v. Burwell, which challenged the Affordable Care Act's
contraceptive requirement for employers.
put it: "We can get to basics here."
- - -
Zimmermann on Twitter @carolmaczim.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at email@example.com.
By Kelly SeegersWASHINGTON
(CNS) -- As Pope Francis boarded the plane after his visit to Washington a year
ago, he carried with him a book containing more than 100,000 pledges that
people in the Archdiocese of Washington had made to "Walk With Francis" by
either praying, serving or acting to improve their community.
up to the pope's visit, the Archdiocese of Washington, along with Catholic
Charities, launched the Walk With Francis initiative, which encouraged people
to prepare for the pope's visit by following in his example of love and mercy.
were asked to make pledges to pray regularly for the pontiff, to serve by
caring for those in need and supporting charitable efforts, or to act to
promote human life and dignity, justice and peace, family life and religious
freedom, care for creation and the common good.
the months that followed, individuals, schools, parishes and other
organizations made pledges to help their community in different ways. Many
people posted their pledges on social media, using #WalkwithFrancis. The day
before the pope arrived in Washington Sept. 22, 2015, the Walk With Francis
pledges topped the 100,000 mark. The Archdiocese of Washington then compiled
all of the pledges into a 400-page book that they presented to the pope
as a parting gift when he left in late afternoon Sept. 24, 2015.
Little Flower School in Great Mills, Maryland, each class decided for itself
how they were going to Walk With Francis. Students in the pre-kindergarten
class pledged to act like Jesus toward one another, the second grade pledged to
do an act of kindness every day, the fifth grade pledged to plant a school
garden, the seventh grade pledged to pray the prayer of St. Francis every day,
and the eighth grade pledged to do guided meditations on mercy.
Peters, who teaches seventh- and eighth-grade religion, saw the pledges that
her students made go beyond the time leading up to Pope Francis' visit. Both
the seventh and the eighth grade continued their prayers and meditations
regularly throughout the year. In addition, two students from her seventh-grade
class were inspired by the prayer of St. Francis to start a pet supply drive
that now runs annually from the beginning of the year until the blessing of the
pets on St. Francis of Assisi's feast day.
was very affirming for me to be a part of it, to watch my students grow through
the experience and to be able to be a part of the larger church in that way,"
Peters told the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Washington Archdiocese. "It
definitely strengthened my faith to be a part of that with my students."
prominent figures in the Washington area also signed the Walk With Francis Pledge.
Katie Ledecky, the five-time Olympic swimming gold medalist who attends Little
Flower Parish in Bethesda, Maryland, pledged to help Shepherd's Table, Catholic
Charities and Bikes for the World. John Carlson, a member of the Washington
Capitals, pledged to "continue to work on my faith and become a better father
Salmi, director of communications for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of
Washington, said these pledges "helped bring some great energy to the
The Catholic University of America, students were encouraged to sign pledges
after the opening Mass of the school year. Many of the students, such as James Walsh, still wear their "Walk With
Francis" wristbands as a reminder of the pledges they made that day.
"I like to keep it on as a good reminder ... to stay
humble," Walsh said.
Catholic University also had a "Serve With Francis
Day," where hundreds of students went out to serve their local community.
said the effects of the Walk With Francis initiative are hard to measure,
because it is similar to when "you drop a stone in the middle of a pond and the
ripples go pretty far and wide." However, he said he did know that all of the
Catholic Charities programs benefited from having volunteers that joined them.
good deeds did not end when the pope left. Since his visit, more than 10,000
additional pledges have been made. Through the Drive with Francis initiative, the
Fiat that Pope Francis rode in is being used to help those in need. There is
even a new hashtag, #DrivewithFrancis, so that people can share on social media
what they are doing with the papal Fiat.
Fiats were used by Pope Francis during his visit to Washington and later the
cars were donated to the archdiocese by Pope Francis and Fiat Chrysler
Automobiles. The proceeds of the auction of one of the cars are being donated
to various charities.
private donor who wanted to remain anonymous is letting the archdiocese use the
second Fiat via the #DrivewithFrancis initiative to promote good works,
activities and social service programs aiding the local community.
car has been parked at various events in the area, collecting food for a
community food bank or baby items for a crisis pregnancy center in Washington.
It was present at the Washington Nationals' Faith Day, where people could line
up to make breakfast bags for the homeless served by Catholic Charities' Cup of
Joe program. After the game, 550 Cup of Joe bags were delivered to Adam's Place
shelter, which is run by Catholic Charities.
seems pretty perfect for me in summarizing how His Holiness would want the car
to be used," Salmi said.
the first anniversary of the pope's visit to Washington, Catholic Charities and
the Archdiocese of Washington launched a "Walk With Francis 2.0" initiative for
the Sept. 24-25 weekend, when people could renew the pledge or make a new one
if they had not done it before.
in the archdiocese planned to have pledge cards for parishioners to fill out
during Mass and bring up to the altar.
- - -
Seegers is on the staff of the Catholic Standard, newspaper of
the Archdiocese of Washington.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IMAGE: CNS photo/Jason Miczek, ReutersBy Patricia L. GuilfoyleCHARLOTTE, N.C. (CNS) -- After
two nights of violence in Charlotte, Bishop Peter J. Jugis called
on men, women and children in the Diocese of Charlotte to join him in prayers
for "peace and justice" for all victims of violence and for law enforcement
personnel who have been victims of "unjust violence."
"Let us pray for all men and
women of good will to be instruments of harmony and the always-shining light of
Christ in our neighborhoods, workplaces, schools and public places," the bishop
said in a statement Sept. 22.
The protests late Sept. 20 and
Sept. 21, with the crowds swelling at one point to 1,000 people, followed the
fatal police shooting of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott, an African-American,
outside an apartment complex the afternoon of Sept. 20.
said while they were trying to serve a warrant on another person in the area,
Scott approached them from his parked car carrying a handgun and ignoring their
calls to drop it.
In their statement, police said
Officer Brentley Vinson, who also is an African-American, perceived an
"imminent deadly threat" and shot Scott. Scott later died at a local
Family members insisted that
Scott was unarmed and was reading a book while waiting in the parking lot to
pick up his son from a nearly school bus stop. Police said they recovered a
weapon from the scene, not a book.
Vinson has been placed on
administrative leave while police conduct an investigation that includes
eyewitness interviews and review of police video footage.
When Scott family members took
to social media to criticize police the evening of Sept. 20, people began to
gather at the site of the shooting. By 11 p.m., the protest had swelled to about
When some protesters began
throwing rocks and smashing the windows of several police cars, police used
tear gas to disperse the crowd, but people continued to protest and block two
roadways and, at one point, a nearby segment of Interstate 85, until early
morning Sept. 21.
Police arrested one person. More
than a dozen police officers were slightly injured in the melee. Local
television video also showed a few people looting and burning the cargo of a
semi-truck that had stopped on the Interstate.
Protests turned violent for a
second night Sept. 21 in uptown Charlotte, about 10 miles away from the site of
the fatal police shooting, with several people injured and several businesses
vandalized and looted. One young man was shot in the head reportedly by
another civilian. He was taken to the hospital and put on life support; he died Sept. 22.
again used tear gas to try to clear the crowd, some of whom tried to block a
section of Interstate 277 as they departed the protest area.
"My heart bleeds for what
is going on right now," said Gov. Pat McCrory, who declared a state of
emergency late that night after a request from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police
Chief Kerr Putney. The emergency notice triggered the North Carolina National
Guard and the State Highway Patrol to assist local law enforcement in
responding to the violence.
"Let's pray for our city
and let's pray for peace," added McCrory, who was Charlotte's mayor from
1995 to 2009.
At a news conference Sept. 22, Putney
said he would allow the family to view the footage, but it would not be released
to the public.
At St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic
Church, just a few blocks from the scene of the police shooting and the
protests there, about 150 people gathered Sept. 21 to pray for peace.
During the evening eucharistic
adoration and benediction, Father Patrick Winslow, pastor, offered prayers for
police and for people who have suffered injustice, as well as prayers for his
neighborhood and the city of Charlotte.
"Last evening we were all
taken by surprise when two events collided here in Charlotte -- you could even
say, in our own backyard," Father Winslow said. "One, the national
ongoing concern about racism in law enforcement and, two, the incident of an
African-American man who lost his life in an altercation with local
"In times such as these, it
is good to recall that light shines in the darkness, and it must shine through
you," Father Winslow urged parishioners. "Knowing the genuine spirit
of our parishioners, I am confident that you will embrace a path of peace,
prayer and charity."
History makes it clear, the
priest said, that the light that vanquishes the darkness is not on the
battlefield between nations or races, or "in the streets of Charlotte or any
U.S. city." "The true battlefield is within the human heart -- within each of
us," he said.
"Injustice must be defeated" in
the heart, the priest said. "This is where prejudice and unjust discrimination
live. This is the place from which fear and darkness enter the world. And
likewise, it is the place where it can be vanquished."
He urged people to "storm and
loot your hearts, not the streets, if you want true change for the good.
Vanquish the enemy within and then you will truly help your neighbor."
- - -
Guilfoyle is editor of the
Catholic News Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Charlotte.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at email@example.com.
IMAGE: CNS/Paul HaringBy Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In an
effort to ensure transparency as well as historical and scientific accuracy, Pope Francis has approved revised
norms for the Congregation for Saints' Causes regarding medical consultations on
healings alleged to be miracles.
Among the regulations
published by the Vatican Sept. 23 was the requirement that the medical panel have a quorum of six experts and that a
two-thirds majority is needed to approve a statement declaring a healing has no
natural or scientific explanation.
Previously, the declaration -- a key step in a pope's
recognition of a miracle attributed to the intercession of a candidate for
sainthood -- required the approval of a simple majority of the consultation team members
"The purpose of the regulation
is for the good of the (saints')
causes, which can
never be separated from the historical and scientific truth of the alleged
miracles," Archbishop Marcello Bartolucci, secretary of the congregation, said in a Sept. 23
Archbishop Bartolucci presided
over a seven-member
commission that began revising the regulations in September 2015 to update the norms
established by St. John Paul II in 1983. Except in the case of martyrs, in general two miracles
are needed for a person to be declared a saint -- one for beatification and the
second for canonization.
The new regulations, which
were approved with the
pope's mandate Aug. 24 by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of
state, also state that an alleged miracle "cannot be re-examined more than
For each alleged miracle, the
Medical Consultation team is
comprised of a maximum of seven experts; when the promoter of a cause
appeals a negative judgment, a new team of physicians and medical experts must
be appointed, the new norms say. The members of each consultation will remain unknown to the postulator,
as the promotor of the specific cause called.
A presumed miracle is first reviewed by two
medical experts within the congregation, and with their recommendation is then sent
to the Medical Consultation team.
While the medical experts
receive compensation for their work, the new regulations state that they will only
be paid through wire transfer. Prior to the approval of the new norms, experts
were given the option to receive cash payments for their work.
Archbishop Bartolucci said
the regulations will further ensure that the consultations will be carried out
with "serenity, objectivity and complete security" by the medical
obviously concerns only the proper functioning of the Medical Consultation,
whose task is always more delicate, demanding and, thank God, appreciated
inside and outside the church," he said.
- - -
Follow Arocho on
Twitter: @arochoju.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at firstname.lastname@example.org.