Catholic News in the Americas

Jesús María, Mexico, Mar 29, 2017 / 12:43 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Fr. Felipe Altamirano Carrillo, an indigenous priest who served in the Mexico's western state of Nayarit, was murdered Sunday while returning from saying Mass in one of the towns in which he served.

Fr. Altamirano Carrillo was killed March 26, apparently the victim of assault during a theft.

“We are seized by the pain of his loss, so premature , and the way it happened,” read a statement of the Territorial Prelature of Jesús María del Nayar, which the priest served.

“Although so far we don't have the details of this incident, we have been informed that he was returning from celebrating the Sunday Mass in the community of Cofradía, which is part of his parish, accompanied by some other people. He was driving his vehicle and at some point during the trip, they came upon some armed persons, presumably with the intention of assaulting them.”

The prelature said that “it is known that the only person who died was Fr. Felipe, and some of those accompanying him are injured.”

“Our prelature is mourning the loss of a very beloved brother, and we again express our most heartfelt condolences to Father Felipe's family. May Our Lord Jesus Christ and Our Most Holy Mother console them in this time of sorrow, since we trust that our brother, who has shared the cross of Christ,  will now be able to enjoy his glorious resurrection,” it said.

Fr. Altamirano Carrillo, of the Cora people, was born July 23, 1963 in Jesús María. The oldest of eight children, he was ordained a priest in 1989. He was president of the Indigenous Pastoral Ministry of the prelature and at the time of his death he was serving as pastor in Mesa del Nayar, about 15 miles southwest of Jesús María.

Cardinal José Francisco Robles Ortega of Guadalajara, president of the Mexican bishops conference, issued a statement March 27 asking God for the eternal rest of Fr. Altamirano Carrillo, and that “the Lord may grant his relatives and friends the strength, the hope, and the consolation of the faith.”

“The Mexican Bishops' Conference expresses its condolences and joins in prayer with Bishop José de Jesús González Hernández, O.F.M., the clergy, those in consecrated life, and the lay faithful of the Nayar prelature, the parents and relatives of Fr. Felipe Altamirano Carillo.

Cardinal Robles stated that “in these times in which a Catholic priest is again struck by crime, we turn our gaze to the Risen Christ who confers on us the strength to fight to build a world that is reconciled, and at peace, is just and fraternal.”

“Death is not the end of the message of love brought to us by Our Savior, but life to the fullest. With his priesthood, Father Felipe embodied these certainties which faith give us,” the cardinal wrote.

Fr. Altamirano Carrillo is the second priest to have been murdered in Mexico in 2017.

Fr. Joaquín Hernández Sifuentes of the Diocese of Saltillo, in northern Mexico, was killed in January, also seemingly while being robbed.

Drug trafficking has led to increased murder and kidnapping in Mexico, with priests not unaffected. In recent years, 17 priests in the country have been murdered.

Posted: March 29, 2017, 6:43 pm

Mexico City, Mexico, Mar 29, 2017 / 09:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archdiocese of Mexico said in a Sunday editorial that Mexican businessmen who would participate in the construction of a border wall with the United States are as traitors to their country.

In the March 26 editorial “Betrayal of the Homeland” in Desde la Fe, the archdiocese stated that “any business with intentions of investing in the wall of the fanatic Trump would be immoral, but above all, its shareholders and owners ought to be considered traitors to the homeland.”

United States president Donald Trump had Jan. 25 ordered a wall to be built on the U.S.-Mexico border. An estimated 650 miles of the 1,900 mile-long U.S.-Mexico border have a wall constructed currently. The president has indicated his intention that Mexico will pay for the wall's construction.

The Mexico City archdiocese wrote that “as the months go by, the immigration policies of Donald Trump are coming up against reality. Demagoguery during the campaign was easy, but actions in practice, turn out to be  difficult in face of notable opposition from civil society, churches, and activists, who are confronting an erratic government whose promises cannot be so easily implemented.”

“Trump set aside $2 billion for construction of the wall, which must join together solid construction and a soft aesthetic appearance in order to hide, beneath the paint and the lights, hatred, suppression, and division,” the editorial stated.

For the archdiocese, “what is deplorable is that on this side of the border there would be Mexicans ready to collaborate on a fanatical project which annihilates the good relationship and concord of two nations which share a common border.”

“It's not just two or three but more than 500 companies that are looking for good profits. For them the end justifies the means,” they criticized, and deplored “the timidity of the Mexican government's economic authorities, who have not stood up to these businessmen.”

For the Archdiocese of Mexico, those who claim that building the wall is “an inalienable right” of the United States “are those same myopic people who fail to see that the wall is an outright threat which violates relations and social peace.”

“Let us remember that in the name of ideology, nations and entire continents were divided, plunging millions into uncertainty. The only overriding voice was that of weapons, shooting, repression and the legal murder of anyone who dared to cross a border in search of freedom.”

The editorial said that the Mexican businesses which join Trump's project will feed “all those forms of discrimination that throughout history have subjugated millions of human beings. In practice, joining a projecting which is a grave affront to dignity is to shoot yourself in the foot.”

“The wall represents the predominance of a country that considers itself good, with the manifest destiny to overwhelm a nationality which it has considered to be perverted and corrupt: Mexico.”

Posted: March 29, 2017, 3:01 pm

Lima, Peru, Mar 28, 2017 / 01:57 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The March for Life in Lima, Peru on Saturday was transformed into a Solidarity March, with volunteers gathering several tons of food and nearly 4,000 gallons of water for those who have lost their homes in the ongoing devastating floods throughout the country.

“The March for Life, faithful to its commitment to life, today becomes a Solidarity March with all the victims, because the Church must live with a beating heart, not just with prayer and the sacraments, but also with love for our neighbor with works of charity” said Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima.

In his Saturday radio program “Dialogue of Faith,” Cardinal Cipriani explained that the volunteer program had already set up canteens, tents and medical care in some of the hardest hit areas.

Heavy rains in Peru recently have led to devastating flooding and mudslides, with some 85 people dead and more than 111,000 suffering some damage or material loss, according to the latest report from the Center for National Emergency Operations.

The need for aid in the area is great, particularly for those who have lost their homes.

In light of the ongoing devastation, Cardinal Cipriani decided to cancel the March for Life and replace it with a collection drive for victims.

According to a news brief from the Archdiocese of Lima, the collection of donations was facilitated by more than 3,000 volunteers for the March for Life, who reached out to some 100 parishes in the Peruvian capital.

Fr. Luis Gaspar, representative of the Archdiocese of Lima, thanked “the thousands of Peruvians who today marched not only for the lives of the unborn children, but brought aid for our brothers in need. We are the largest march in Peru and today it was up to us to shoulder our responsibility.”

“Over the next few days, we will get organized to bring all this aid to the different places in Peru where this it is needed,” he added.


Posted: March 28, 2017, 7:57 pm

Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Mar 28, 2017 / 05:37 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholics are banding together to bring life-saving health care to rural areas in one of the poorest countries in the world.

“The key thing that I saw was partnership. Catholic Medical Mission Board can’t do it alone,” Adrian Kerrigan told CNA.

Kerrigan is the Catholic Medical Mission Board’s senior vice president for partnerships. In an interview, he described the new hospital his organization helped build in Côtes-de-Fer on Haiti’s Southern coast.

“We work with the bishops’ conference, with the ministry of health, and with the community together,” he continued.

The Bishop Joseph M. Sullivan Center for Health, named for a late board member of the CMMB and the former auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn, opened on Haiti’s southeastern coast on Monday, providing health care to the area’s population who previously would have had to travel for hours to the nearest hospital for care.

After a catastrophic 2010 earthquake shook the country, most of the aid response focused on the country’s capital of Port-au-Prince, Kerrigan told CNA.

In the wake of the earthquake, there was “little attention was being paid to the Southern tier,” which was just as devastated as the north but harder to get to, Kerrigan said. The local bishop had asked the Catholic Medical Mission Board to bring supplies and volunteers to the area, which they did.

Bishop Guire Poulard was eventually moved to the archdiocese of Port-au-Prince but he still insisted that a hospital should be built in the south.

With the help of a $2 million matching grant from Mercy Health, a Cincinnati-based Catholic health care system, construction began on the hospital in Côtes-de-Fer in 2013. It will serve 50,000 Haitians in the region.

Child and maternal mortality is a big problem in the region, Kerrigan said, and the hospital will be primarily addressing the health of women and children. According to recent UN estimates, Haitian women have “a one in 80 chance of dying due to pregnancy or child birth, compared to the region-wide risk of one in 510.”

“Nutrition is really poor there, they have really poor crops,” he said, and so in addition to “trying to get the moms to come to the hospital and deliver” where they can receive the proper care, the board is also working to improve nutrition and reduce anemia in the area.

Also, “clean, potable water is essential,” he added, as the water in the area has high salinity.

The hospital was a partnership effort between the board, Mercy Health, the local church, the community, and Haiti’s public health ministry, he insisted.

“The community was at the very base of this beginning. We assessed what their needs were as they told us, and worked with them on those issues. We have a really strong commitment from the community to work with us to improve their health overall.”

Americans were quite responsive to the fundraising for the $2 million, Kerrigan said, from individuals and corporations to foundations and health systems contributing.

A “team from the Mercy Health system of doctors, nurses” and other medical staff also traveled down to Haiti to help local staff, he added.

The board has also started a CHAMPS program, or “children and mothers’ partnerships,” in order to provide a health center and better sanitation, clean water and nutrition in the area.

The whole health care initiative will be a 15-to-20 year project, Kerrigan acknowledged. Over the next 10 years, dental and ophthalmology facilities will be added to the hospital,” CMMB stated, and future doctors and nurses will be trained at the center.

“It’s a long-term struggle to overcome the health needs of a poor, rural community. And Côtes-de-Fer can be a model for us for the rest of Haiti,” he said.


Posted: March 28, 2017, 11:37 am

Sucre, Bolivia, Mar 27, 2017 / 03:50 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A bill in Bolivia that would allow abortions only for certain groups of women is uniting unlikely groups in opposition to the policy - namely, Bolivian bishops and pro-choice feminists.

Abortion is currently illegal in Bolivia except in certain rare cases, such as rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at risk.

The new legislation, proposed by the Movement for Socialism (MAS) party, would decriminalise abortion during the first eight weeks of pregnancy in situations of extreme poverty, and would allow students and women with three or more children to be eligible for an abortion up to eight weeks.

The Catholic Bishops of Bolivia have said that the new proposal “seriously threatened” the right to life found in the Bolivian constitution.

“Life is a gift from God and no one can dispose of it under any circumstances,” said Bishop Aurelio Pesoa Ribera, the Secretary General of the Bishop’s Conference, according to Vatican Radio.

He also decried the new policy as targeting children born into poor circumstances, and said that it does not address the issues that lead to poverty.

“The proposal introduces a foreign ideological colonization that discards boys and girls born in fragile situations and accepts the sad violence of abortion as a way of providing solutions to social and economic problems.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, pro-choice feminists also voiced opposition to the bill, in part because it targets poor women.

“They should then promote vasectomies for poor and irresponsible men,” the feminist group Mujeres Creando told The World Weekly.  

However, they believe that the government should allow access to abortion for all women up to  eight weeks of pregnancy.

Although President of Bolivia Evo Morales is a member of the Movement for Socialism party, he has distanced himself from the controversy surrounding the bill, saying that he has not been involved in the proposal process. Abortion was decriminalized under certain circumstances in the country under Morales in 2014.

Most countries in majority-Catholic Latin America have very strict laws on abortion, with some countries allowing for it in certain circumstances, and only four countries allowing for abortion without restrictions.

Posted: March 27, 2017, 9:50 pm

San Salvador, El Salvador, Mar 24, 2017 / 02:49 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his role as Vicar General, Monsignor Ricardo Urioste was one of the closest collaborators of Oscar Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador who was martyred for the faith in 1980 and beatified two years ago.

And this monsignor has some stories to tell.

Among the most fascinating involve details surrounding the day Romero was killed, what the late archbishop really thought about the controversial and problematic Liberation Theology, and the fact that the martyr’s insides hadn’t decomposed when they were exhumed three years after his death.

Archbishop Romero was brutally killed while celebrating Mass on March 24, 1980 – a time when El Salvador was on the brink of civil war. In February 2015, Pope Francis officially recognized his death as having been for hatred of the faith and gave the green light for his beatification.

Msgr. Urioste, who currently heads up the Archbishop Romero Foundation, said that during the time the martyr lived, whenever “he preached, spoke, was a pastor, they accused him of being communist, Marxist, a politician, and a thousand things."

However, he noted how after 12 years of extensive study on the life and writings of the archbishop, the Vatican never found anything that supported these claims.

In an interview with CNA, Msgr. revealed some the of the lesser known facts surrounding the new blessed, as well as his continuing legacy on the Church and the world at large.

What happened on the day Archbishop Romero died

Msgr. Urioste can easily recall the day that Archbishop Romero was killed, saying that it was “an ordinary day of work” for him.

In the morning the archbishop had a meeting with a group of priests, and then they ate lunch together. After the meeting he went to confession with his usual confessor, which was a priest named Fr. Segundo Ascue.

Once he confessed, Archbishop Romero went to celebrate a 6 p.m. Mass in San Salvador’s hospital of Divine Providence, which was staffed by nuns. The Mass, Mons. Urioste recalled, had been widely publicized throughout the diocese.

While he was celebrating Mass in the hospital’s chapel, the archbishop was shot in the chest from outside.

Msgr. Urioste said that after getting a phone call informing him of what happened, “I immediately went to the hospital, and he was already taken to the polyclinic. A television set arrived, they interviewed me, and after I went to the hospital where he was."

He recalled how as the sisters were going to embalm Archbishop Romero’s body, he told them “please be careful not to drop his insides anywhere, but that they pick them up and bury them, and they did, burying them in front of the little apartment he had in the hospital where he lived."

Three years later, on the occasion St. John Paul II’s visit to the country, the nuns of the hospital “made a monument to the Virgin in the same place where we had buried (Romero’s) insides.”

“When they were digging they ran into the box and the plastic bag where they had placed the insides, and the blood was still liquid and the insides didn't have any bad smell,” he revealed.

“I don't want to say that it was a miracle, it's possible that it's a natural phenomenon, but the truth is that this happened, and we told the archbishop at the time (Arturo Rivera y Damas), look monsignor, this has happened and he said 'be quiet, don't tell anyone because they are going to say that they are our inventions,'” he said.

However, “Pope John Paul II was given a small canister with Archbishop Romero’s blood,” he noted.

Msgr. Urioste recalled that when John Paul II arrived to San Salvador, the first thing he did “was go to the cathedral without telling anyone. The cathedral was closed, they had to go and look for someone to open it so that the Pope could enter and kneel before the tomb of Archbishop Romero.”

John Paul II asked during his visit that no one manipulate the memory of Archbishop Romero, Msgr. Urioste recalled, and lamented how “they politicized him.”

“The left had politicized him, putting him as their banner. And the right politicized him, saying things that are untrue about the bishop, that are purely false, they denigrated him.”

One of the things that the Church in El Salvador wants, Msgr. Urioste said, is that “the figure of the archbishop, known now a little more than he was before, is a cause for reflection, a motive for peace, a motive for forgiveness, a motive for reconciliation with one another, and that we all have more patience to renew ourselves and follow the paths that Archbishop Romero proposed to us.”

“I think that (Romero’s) figure is going to contribute a lot to a better meeting and reconciliation in El Salvador,” he said.

What Archbishop Romero really thought about Liberation Theology

Despite the many accusations leveled against the archbishop of San Salvador, his Vicar General said that Romero “never had a Marxist thought or Marxist ideology in his mind.”

“If there had been, the Vatican, which has studied so much, would not have beatified him, if they had found that he had Marxist interests.”

The real backbone of his closeness to the poor, he said, was the Gospel and the teaching of the Church.

“He was a servant of the Gospel, he never read anything from Liberation Theology, but he read the Bible.”

Msgr. Urioste noted that the archbishop's library, “had all these books from the early Fathers of the Church, from the current Magisterium of the Church, but (he) never even opened any of the books from Liberation Theology, or Gustavo Gutiérrez, or of anyone else.”

“He read the Bible and there he encountered a Jesus in love with the poor and in this way started walking toward him,” he said.

What set Archbishop Romero apart

One of the most distinguishing characteristics of Archbishop Romero was “his great sense of work. He was an extremely hardworking man and devoted to his work day and night – until midnight and until dawn,” Msgr. Urioste said.

He recalled how the archbishop would begin to prepare his Sunday homilies the day before, and would always include three reflections on the Eucharist. When Romero preached, he made frequent reference to the Fathers of the Church, based his comments on Church teaching and related his thoughts to the country's current reality.

“A homily that doesn't have this relation with what is happening sounds the same here as in Ireland, in Paris, as anywhere,” the priest said.

He recalled how in Romero's time the government was “a ferocious military dictatorship, which had 'national security' as it's theme.”

Everyone who either sided with the poor or expressed concern for them “was accused of being communist, they were sent to be killed without thinking more. There were 70 thousand deaths like this in the country at that time,” Msgr. Urioste noted.

“The social economic reality was of a lot of poverty, of a great lack of unemployment, of low wages.”

Ultimately, Archbishop Romero’s beatification, the monsignor said, is “a triumph of the truth.”

It is a triumph, he said, of the truth of “who Archbishop Romero really was, what he did, how he did it, from the Word of God, from the Magisterium of the Church, in defense of the poor, who were the favored ones of Jesus Christ and who were were also the favored ones of Archbishop Romero.”

A verison of this article was originally published May 23, 2015.

Posted: March 24, 2017, 8:49 am

Piura, Peru, Mar 23, 2017 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On the occasion of the worldwide “24 Hours for the Lord”, the Archdiocese of Piura encouraged priests to visit and bring aid to the victims of the natural disasters in northwestern Peru.

In a message released March 20, Archbishop José Antonio Eguren Anselmi of Piura recalled that the March 25 '24 Hours for the Lord' “is intended to facilitate during Lent access to the sacrament of Confession for the faithful, along with Eucharistic adoration, the recitation of the Holy Rosary and other kinds of liturgical activities.”

“Without changing the nature  of this initiative by the Holy Father, and after personally visiting in these weeks various districts and cities in our battered archdiocese, I thought we could celebrate it this year, besides in our churches, by visiting our brother victims in our parish communities who now more than ever need an encouraging voice to find again the reason for their hope.”

Heavy rains in Peru have triggered days of floods and mudslides in Peru, which have killed more than 70 people in the country. Hundreds of thousands have been affected by the natural disasters.

A third of the population affected by the natural disasters are in the Piura region.

The Archbishop of Piura suggested to the priests that “this Saturday, March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, in conjunction with pastoral workers, catechists, and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, you organize with due prudence some activity to visit the Lord in our victim brothers.”

“I know that a lot of you are already taking action and I commend you and encourage you to continue,” he emphasized.

Archbishop Eguren encouraged “visiting the affected sectors of the parish to being them assistance with food, clothing, personal hygiene items, which have been collected  in your parish communities during these days.”

Another suggestion from the prelate was to “organize a Liturgy of the Word or recitation of the Holy Rosary to pray with our brothers, while the priest hears confessions, anoints the sick, and the ministers of Holy Communion distribute the Eucharist to the elderly, sick, and everyone who requests it.”

Other activities recommended by the archbishop are visiting the sick in healthcare facilities, inmates in prison and organizing events for the children of the affected families.

“These are just a few ideas and suggestions I'm sharing with you. I'm sure you have many more and probably better ones,” he said.

Posted: March 23, 2017, 12:01 pm

Mexico City, Mexico, Mar 22, 2017 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Some 30,000 people gathered last Sunday for the 17th March for Life, Peace and Migrants in Tijuana, Mexico.

Led by the Archbishop of Tijuana, Francisco Moreno Barrón, participants marched from the former bullfighting stadium, Toreo de Tijuana, to the Tijuana Auditorium, where they arrived at 11:30 am.

Before the march on March 19, the Archbishop of Tijuana prayed for the migrants and young people depicted on the wall at Aeropuerto y Cuauhtémoc Norte Boulevard. “We want to make present on this wall all our brother migrants, not just those who cross this border, but all the migrants from all over the world,” the prelate said.

“The entire human community is one family, which came forth from the hands of God out of love. And we are called to live united in love as one family,” he added.

The archbishop said that “unfortunately because of selfishness in the world, the selfishness in the human heart, walls have been raised up, not just in past times, but also in the present, which seek to divide us, alienate us and also at times to confront us.”

Instead of walls, he said, what is needed are “spaces, elements, bridges which would rather bring us closer together and help us build fraternity, so that we can live in peace and realize in our midst God's dream for his children: that they live united and in peace.”

The State Government Religious Affairs officer, Marco Antonio González, representing the Government Undersecretary, said that “the importance of this march for us is the fact that the Catholic Church is proclaiming, supporting the need we have as a community to promote values and principles.”

The march started around 9:00 am and began with adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. During the march, Archbishop Moreno carried a cross as a symbol of the crosses that migrants carry.

“I invite you to remain united as a Church, making our contribution to building a better society in the Archdiocese of Tijuana, I invite you to be builders of peace, to fight for life and to have an open heart to our migrant brothers,” the prelate exhorted.

After the march, the archbishop celebrated a Mass in the Tijuana Auditorium.


Posted: March 22, 2017, 12:01 pm

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mar 21, 2017 / 11:32 am (CNA).- Mateo studied baking and Leandro pastry making. Franco and Mauricio wanted to be waiters. These overlapping interests led the four friends with Down syndrome to start a successful pizza service in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

With nearly 40,000 followers on Facebook, this group of friends held nearly 30 events in just their first two months. Wherever they are called, they always arrive with their own oven and outfits. The offer pizza and empanadas, and they even have a menu for those who are gluten intolerant.

Each one knows his role in the undertaking, which is coordinated by Leandro López, president of the Crecer Sumando (Growing Together) association, which is dedicated to serving young people with Down syndrome.

López told CNA that “the idea was to try to change a little bit the paradigm regarding persons with Down syndrome,” in order to help normalize their inclusion in society's workforce.

It all started in 2015, when López began working with efforts to help integrate Mauricio, Franco and Leandro into society.

“When that year was over, the guys were eager to work but there was this void.”

“In early 2016, when Mateo had already joined them, we began to work with their parents in the area of jobs, to see what kind of work they would like to do,” recalled the physical education teacher.

“One day I suggested cooking pizza, and I dove into the whole process, from buying all the materials to when we sat down at the table to eat,” López said.

The idea took off, and in June last year, the group began to work with the idea of having a pizza service whose name – “Los Perejiles” – was proposed by Leandro.

They had their first event on July 9. It became “a revolution on social media,” prompting them to “create an account, choose a logo and work on all their outfits.”

“They're my teachers and I'm learning with them what the needs are,” López said regarding managing the project.

“These young people can really be included in society, and they have a whole lot to teach us. I'm learning something new from them every day: the goodness of being human, the essence of the human being. There is no envy or selfishness among them, instead there is friendly collaboration.”

López said that “at present there are no real job opportunities for people with Downs” in Buenos Aires. There are several training schools, but the chances of graduates being able to move beyond them and find other jobs is low.

“It seems to me that we all have a right to two fundamental things, to life and be taken into account. These two premises can make a person live happily their whole life,” López said.

This article was originally published on CNA September 19, 2016.


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Posted: March 21, 2017, 5:32 pm

San Nicolás de los Arroyos, Argentina, Mar 21, 2017 / 11:06 am (CNA/EWTN News).- It’s been called the Medjugorje of Argentina.

A now widely-popular apparition of Mary began in the early 1980s when rosaries began to glow in multiple homes in the town of San Nicolás de los Arroyos, a city of 138,000 people about 150 miles from Buenos Aires.

After seeing this phenomenon, local wife and mother Gladys Quiroga de Motta began praying to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary first allegedly appeared to Motta on Sept. 25, 1983, as a glowing figure wearing a blue crown and veil.

Motta has only a fourth grade education and no formal biblical or theological schooling. She is the mother of two daughters, and a grandmother. Since 1983, she has continued to receive apparitions and messages from both Christ and Mary, containing calls for peace and warnings about the urgency of conversion for all mankind.

The recent Bishops of San Nicolás de los Arroyos have granted approval of the Marian apparition and have granted official license for the revelations to be published, through what is called an imprimatur in canon law. This means that the content of the messages was not found to be contrary to faith or morals.

The apparition, called Our Lady of the Rosary of San Nicolás, has inspired devotion throughout the region and draws thousands on pilgrimage annually.

Last May, the revelations of the apparitions through 1990 were declared to be “of supernatural origin” and worthy of belief by Bishop Hector Cardelli of San Nicolás de los Arroyos, who retired in September 2016 at the age of 75.

“I recognize the supernatural nature of the happy events with which God through his beloved daughter, Jesus through his Most Holy Mother, the Holy Spirit through his beloved spouse, has desired to lovingly manifest himself in our diocese,” he said at the time.

His successor, Bishop Hugo Santiago, asked in a March 13 video announcement that any further messages from the apparition not be published.

In 1990, Bishop Domingo Castagna had also asked that further messages be kept private. The two following Bishops of San Nicolás de los Arroyos decided to allow the messages' publication, and so the messages of the apparition through 2015 are published.

Miracle researcher Michael O’Neill of told CNA that Bishop Santiago is likely making the decision so that he can familiarize himself with the apparition and avoid confusion among the faithful. He had previously been a priest of the Diocese of Rafaela, and Bishop of Santo Tomé.

“From a practical perspective, Bishop Santiago may not be as familiar with the Marian events of San Nicolás as he wants or needs to be, and therefore while he acclimates himself to the volume, regularity and content of these messages, he may be slowing (the publication of messages) down out of caution and care for the faithful,” O’Neill said in an e-mail interview.

The handling of the messages of the San Nicolás apparition has been particularly challenging because, like those of Medjugorje, the visionary is still alive and still claiming to receive messages. The Church typically does not rule definitively on ongoing apparitions, but waits until the messages have stopped to determine their authenticity. Similarly, a cause for canonization cannot be opened for someone who is still living.

San Nicolás is remarkable in that a portion of the messages from the apparition, those between 1983 and 1990, have been declared supernatural and worthy of belief, putting them on par with other apparitions like Fatima and Our Lady of Guadalupe.

This is because Bishop Cardelli “felt that the messages were so important for the faithful in our modern world and perhaps because he understood that such an approval would happen in many years if the messages were waited out in traditional fashion,” O’Neill said.

When determining whether an apparition is supernatural in origin, bishops consult the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's 1978 Norms regarding the manner of proceeding in the discernment of presumed apparitions or revelations.

An approved apparition must be free from factual error, with no doctrinal errors attributed to God, Mary, or the saints. Any theological and spiritual doctrines presented must be free of error. The person(s) receiving the messages is/are to be psychologically balanced, honest, moral, sincere, and respectful of church authority. The events cannot be associated with moneymaking or mass hysteria, and must show healthy spiritual fruits.

There is nothing in the messages after 1990 that has been necessarily contentious or contrary to faith and morals, according to O’Neill. Rather, while the almost daily messages have been approved and validated by local bishops, they have not been approved through any formal statement.

Bishop Santiago will continue to receive and examine the messages from Motta, but his decision to keep them private for the time being “seems to bring the events into more clearly defined boundaries for the guidance of the faithful,” O’Neill said.

The messages of the San Nicolás apparition have consistently dealt with “common themes of approved apparitions over the years: prayer, conversion, penance and a return to the sacraments,” O’Neill said.

At various times, the Virgin Mary apparition referred Motta to several Bible verses. One month after the first appearance, the apparition gave her a white rosary and said, “Receive this Rosary from my hands and keep it forever and ever. You are obedient; I am happy because of it. Rejoice, for God is with you.”

Early on in the apparitions, the Virgin Mary asked Motta to find a statue that had been blessed by a Pope and was forgotten in a church. She found the statue Nov. 27, 1983, where Mary had told her to look – in the belfry of the city's cathedral, where it had been left because it had been damaged and not restored.

The statue in question was of the Mother of God holding the Child Jesus. It had been brought from Rome after it was blessed by Leo XIII. The statue resembled the apparitions Motta had received.

Motta has also received at least 68 visits and messages from Christ.

According to reports, Motta has shared the apparitions’ messages from the beginning and has been obedient to church authorities. She now lives a life of great devotion and keeps a low profile. She reportedly received stigmata – the wounds of Christ – on her wrists, feet, side and shoulder.

There have been several documented healings related to the apparitions, including the healing of a boy with a brain tumor.

Motta has shared about 1,800 messages from the Virgin Mary. Many focus on topics such as peace, repentance, returning to the sacraments, and drawing people closer to Christ.

But there are also messages with an apocalyptic theme, predicting great turmoil for humanity ahead.

“So each new message carries tremendous weight as the newest addition to a larger volume of validated messages and events,” O’Neill said.

Father René Laurentin, an expert on Marian apparitions, recounted the apparitions’ messages in his book An Appeal from Mary in Argentina.

At one point, Mary said: “Many hearts do not accept my invitation to prayer and to conversion. That is why the work of the devil is growing and expanding.”

Mary has also stressed the importance of prayer, especially the rosary, and said that she wanted to cure mankind of the “illness” of materialism.

The apparition of Christ also had many warnings for mankind.

“Today I warn the world, for the world is not aware: souls are in danger. Many are lost,” Christ said in a 1987 apparition. “Few will find salvation unless they accept me as their Savior. My mother must be accepted. My mother must be heard in the totality of her messages. The world must discover the richness she brings to Christians.”

The popularity of the apparition has grown throughout the region, and Bishop Castagna ordered the construction of a shrine as the Virgin had requested. Construction began in 1987 and the shrine was consecrated in 1990. Every year, a massive pilgrimage to the shrine takes place May 22.

O’Neill said he believes that the popularity of and devotion to Our Lady of the Rosary of San Nicolás, and its lack of controversy when compared to Medjugorje, is due to the strong belief in the authenticity of the apparition by the bishops and the local faithful.

O’Neill, who himself has closely studied the apparition, messages and statements of the Bishops of San Nicolás, said he has “seen in the writings and statements of the local bishops there how much they believed it to be an authentic apparition event.”

Posted: March 21, 2017, 5:06 pm

Lima, Peru, Mar 20, 2017 / 03:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Evangelina Chamorro was swept away for over a third of a mile by an avalanche of mud on the coast south of Lima. But she survived and said that thinking about “God and her daughters” gave her the strength.

In recent weeks, heavy rains have caused avalanches and floods in various parts of the country. Official reports note 70 dead and 70,000 victims throughout the country.

Evangelina, 32, was swept away from the Peruvian forest by a mudslide that reached the Punta Hermosa resort area about 25 miles south of the Peruvian capital.

She lived with her husband and daughters in a small house in a forested area near the resort. Evangelina and her husband were swept away by the mudslide when they both left their house to feed their animals in their nearby corral.

In a statement quoted in La Republica newspaper, Evangelina's husband, Armando Rivera, said that “we went out to feed the animals when in the distance we heard a loud noise. I thought two trucks had crashed into each other on the highway.”

“We managed to grab onto the trunk of a eucalyptus tree, but the force of the avalanche made us lose our grip. I saw the mud carrying away my wife. I didn't think I would find her alive. God is great, it's a miracle she's alive!” he said after being discharged from the hospital.

Evangelina is still hospitalized but making a remarkable recovery. Her body was struck by lumber, nails and other debris swept away by the mudslide.

She said that while she was swept away by the avalanche, “I thought of giving up, but the whole time I was asking God to give me the strength to keep on fighting.”

The Church in Peru is continuing to mobilize to help the thousands of people affected by the rains and floods which since January have been hitting different parts of the country especially the northern coast and part of the capital.

Since Jan. 14, rains caused by the El Nino Effect have made rivers overflow and avalanches of rocks and mud, affecting a number of areas.

So far the climactic phenomenon – which will continue the next few weeks – has caused the deaths of 62 people, 11 missing and 170 injured.

According the the report from the Center for National Emergency Operations, there are 552,866 people affected on the national level; 62,642 victims, 115,748 damaged homes, of which 7,974 have collapsed and 7,925 are uninhabitable.

In response, the various dioceses along with local Caritas organizations have launched solidarity and prayer campaigns on behalf of the victims.

Cardinal Juan Cipriani, Archbishop and Primate of Peru, announced the definitive cancellation of the 2017 March for Life in order to concentrate efforts on helping the victims of the natural disasters the country is suffering from.

Pope Francis expressed his “closeness to the people of Peru hard hit by the devastating rains.”

“I am praying for the victims and those involved in relief work,” he said.

Posted: March 20, 2017, 9:01 pm

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mar 16, 2017 / 08:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A diocese in Argentina has decided to transfer a priest after a series of threats he's received for protesting the death of a man who had been killed by a drug cartel.

The Diocese of Merlo-Moreno in Argentina relocated Father Eduardo Farrell, who has been  serving for nine years as pastor of Sacred Heart Church in the Cuartel Quinto municipality in Buenos Aires in order to “protect his physical integrity in face of repeated threats and intimidation.”

The events trace back to Dec. 15, 2016, when the People's Dignity Movement activist, Cesar Mendez,
from the Cuartel Quinto neighborhood, was shot dead by “transas,” persons connected to the drug world, who had taken over a house.

A week later, the neighbors organized a peaceful march in the Buenos Aires area locality to call for justice for the death of Mendez. Fr. Farrell was the only speaker on that occasion, and from then on the intimidation began.

The statement from the Diocese of Merlo-Moreno released March 13, said that “in recent times numerous persons, believers or not, Church activists or not, have received clear signals that their actions and preaching entailed a nuisance to sectors which operate outside the law.”

“With great concern and deep pain we observe how violence, in its most varied manifestations, is being normalized in our communities. Every day we learn of violent incidents, some extremely serious, such as the loss of human lives,” the statement read.

The message, signed by the Bishop of Merlo-Moreno, Fernando Carlos Maletti; Auxiliary Bishop, Oscar Eduardo Miñarro; and Vicar General, Fr. Fabián Sáenz, warned of the rise in “in the illegal drug trade” along with the “dangerous deterioration of the health of our youth,” and the “brutal confrontations for the control of territory.”

The message noted that work in the prevention of “drug addiction” often “collide with the petty and evil interests of those who only seek territorial power and income at any cost.”

The National Justice and Peace Commission expressed solidarity with the people being threatened “because of their brave opposition to evil” and joined with “those who honestly and disinterestedly seek to overcome the evils in our society.”

In this regard, “the voice of the Diocese of Merlo-Moreno is brave and prophetic because neither indifference nor fear closes their eyes or silences their words in the face of injustice.”

The drug trafficking problem in Argentina already claimed a victim from the clergy of this country in October 2016.

Fr. Juan Heraldo Viroche, pastor of Our Lady of the Valley in Tucuman, was found hanged to death in the rectory after he started publicly denouncing in his homilies the drug gangs in his locality.

The incident led the priests who work in the shantytowns of Buenos Aires to state that “Father Viroche was killed by the mafia he denounced and who threatened him.”

Posted: March 17, 2017, 2:01 am

Portoviejo, Ecuador, Mar 15, 2017 / 12:50 pm (Aid to the Church in Need).- Almost one year has passed since a devastating earthquake struck Ecuador on April 16, 2016: more than 660 died and many thousands lost their homes and livelihoods.

Grave suffering persists, as countless people remain homeless or have been living in bamboo huts and pre-fabricated containers that were only supposed be a very temporary solution.

“About 1,500 to 2,000 people are suffering from these circumstances,” said Father Walter Coronel, who oversees the rebuilding projects for the Archdiocese of Portoviejo, which was hard hit.

“Most of them live in very poor rural areas, where conditions were already difficult before the earthquake. Now things are even worse. It is absolutely impossible for them to manage without outside help,” the priest told international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.

Full recovery will take a long-time, even as aid has been pouring in for the past year. Fr. Coronel remains anxious about the current situation: “A lot still needs to be done. Please do not forget us. We need more help.”

He explained that 52 churches in the Portoviejo archdiocese in Manabí Province were affected by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake. “Most of them were completely destroyed. Only 25 are being rebuilt. There isn’t enough money for the other churches.”

On the bright side, the reconstruction and repair of churches and church-related facilities are creating employment opportunities.

Fr. Coronel reported that many people are approaching priests on the street, telling them: “We must not remain without a church.”

“Many of them may not even have a roof over their heads, but they want to have their church,” the priest said, adding that “in Ecuador, churches are our social identity, our outward expression.”

“At the moment, Holy Mass is being held on the street; if we are lucky, in tents. Services often have to be interrupted due to heavy rains or because of the winds typical for this region on the Ecuadorian coast. Several weeks ago, there was heavy flooding in the areas that had been hit by the earthquake,” he continued.

ACN is currently carrying out various co-funded projects to rebuild parish structures in Ecuador. Fr. Coronel confirmed that such aid is crucial for enabling the Church to continue its work of evangelization and providing pastoral care.

He said that “it is very difficult to receive support for this purpose from other sources.”

Last year, ACN spent some $1.2m in projects in Ecuador, more than half of which was spent on reconstruction efforts in the wake of the earthquake.

Posted: March 15, 2017, 6:50 pm

Mexico City, Mexico, Mar 14, 2017 / 12:08 am (CNA/Europa Press).- The Mexican Bishops have launched a #elmigranteesundon (the migrant is a gift) campaign on social media to show their dissatisfaction with the immigration policy of United States president Donald Trump.

Bishop Alfonso Miranda Guardiola, auxiliary bishop of Monterrey, called on Mexicans “to protect the dignity of migrants not just with economic resources, but also with time and actions they can take within their different spheres.”

The bishop warned that Trump's immigration policy, especially its deportations, will cause families and communities to be separated.

Bishop Miranda also indicated that the Church in Mexico “is seeking to strengthen relations with the U.S. bishops in order to mutually support one another.”

“Mexico is a transit country, a temporary or permanent place for migrants coming from other countries, but it is also a place of return which takes in our compatriots who have be repatriated; we're not going to get into a fight, but we do have to defend the dignity of our people,” he stated.

During a March 1 press conference, the prelate  highlighted the 70 migrant centers in Mexico that provide temporary lodging and assistance to people seeking to pass through the country

“Economically, the migrant centers are supported with donations from the communities where they are located, but the disposition to build peace and the common good among us is the best way to strengthen our unity,” he added.

Bishop Miranda estimated that in the coming days there will be a greater number of migrants and so the way forward “must be that of peace, justice and solidarity to intelligently and creatively solve the great challenges that are going to be presented.”

The permanent council of the Mexican bishops' conference encouraged the faithful to take advantage of “this time of grace in Lent to be sensitized to the difficult situation we are going through.”

In a March 8 statement, the bishops on the permanent council expressed their concern about the social situation the country is going through, “particularly regarding the migration issue that many of our compatriots are facing as a result of the policies implemented by the government of the United States, including the unacceptable possibility that Mexican families maybe separated when returning to this country.”

“In face of a possible humanitarian emergency,we bishops repeat our invitation to faithful Catholics, and society in general, to join the work being done in the parishes, in the more than 70 migrant centers, administered by the Catholic Church or in those supported by sister Christian churches, civil organizations or the government. This is the time to get involved in this great effort and service and brotherhood,” they encouraged.

The bishops informed that “the will soon broaden their stance on the consequences of the immigration policies adopted by the government of the neighboring country.”

Posted: March 14, 2017, 6:08 am

Guatemala City, Guatemala, Mar 10, 2017 / 03:29 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- There is mourning in Guatemala after at least 35 girls perished in a fire at a state-run home for youth, which had attracted widespread charges of abusive conditions and mistreatment.

The Church “greatly mourns a tragedy of this kind,” Auxiliary Bishop Raúl Antonio Martínez Paredes of the Archdiocese of Guatemala told CNA.

The fire occurred March 8 at the Virgin of the Assumption Safe Home. A group of girls and teenagers rioted to protest what they alleged was physical and sexual abuse at the facilities. Authorities said that some of the children set fire to mattresses and the fire then spread to the rest of the facility.

Gloria Castro, attorney for the children, told Guatemala’s Congress that the girls who died in the fire were unable to get out because they were locked in a room, apparently as a punishment. The previous night, some 60 children escaped from the center.

The center, located in the San Antonio area of the town of San José Pinula, was created to provide protection for about 400 girls and teenagers abandoned and at risk. However, it currently houses close to 750 children, including those in trouble with the law.

Bishop Martinez Paredes said it might be possible to discover who is responsible for the incident, but he said it is most important to resolve the problems of the safe house.

“If it’s closed, what will be done with the young people who have rights and needs?” the bishop asked. “It's almost certain that we Christians can offer some help.”

Noting the complaints that provoked the riot, the bishop voiced concern that no distinction was made between younger girls and teenagers, or between those who have committed crimes and those who have not. He said the facilities are “not appropriate” and are joined together.

The shelter “practically became a children's prison, when the original idea was to be a home to help children at risk.” He called on authorities to fulfill their obligations to protect children and to build the proper infrastructure.

After the tragedy, the Attorney General’s Office for Human Rights reiterated that in November 2016 it recommended closing this center for failing to comply with the recommendations made in 2015, when the problems facing the children began to be known.

The Office of Human Rights for the Archdiocese of Guatemala also expressed “its deepest sorrow and solidarity” with the families of those who died and with those injured in the fire.

It said such an event is unacceptable and would have been avoided had the shelter improved the unfit conditions. The office urged that those responsible for the shelter’s condition be sanctioned, and child protection policies be adopted in line with national and international law.

Such centers must strengthen human persons and their rights, not become places of imprisonment and mistreatment, the human rights office said.

“We pray to the Lord Our God to give us and the affected families strength,” it said.



Posted: March 10, 2017, 10:29 pm
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