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La voz de los obispos USA y su desigual eficacia. Por Thomas Reese

Political priorities of US bishops may surprise you

Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori processes during the Fortnight for Freedom Mass July 3 at the “Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America.” (CNS photo/Bob Roller)
Progressive Catholics and many in the media accuse the American bishops of caring only about abortion, gay marriage and “religious freedom,” and not speaking out on issues of justice and peace. I have argued that such accusations require more nuance. In fact, the bishops often speak out on other issues, but for some reason they do not get the press attention that bishops get when they talk about abortion and religious freedom.To test this theory, I went through press releases that were issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops since the first of the year to see how often the bishops actually speak on different topics. The review of almost seven months of press releases is revealing. (I acknowledge that a review of the press releases in 2016 might present different results, but I leave that to others.)

The bishops issued only seven press releases that were devoted solely to abortion, four of them in January when there was a major pro-life march in Washington, D.C. Two of the releases called for prayer, marches and advocacy. Another January release applauded the reestablishment of the Mexico City policy of denying government funds to overseas organizations that sponsor abortions. The other January release welcomed the passage of H.R. U.S. House of Representatives bill 7, “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017,” and hoped the Senate would take it up.

Other abortion related press releases involved withholding funding from Planned Parenthood and the U.N. Population Fund. Finally, there was a release that called very disturbing the pledge by the Democratic National Committee chair to only support pro-abortion candidates.

The bishops also issued 11 press releases on health care legislation, most of it very critical of the Republican bills that cut back on Medicaid or reduce insurance subsides for low-income people. While the releases acknowledged that the bills provided critical life protections for the unborn, they said the bishops did not feel that there were sufficient conscience protections for those in health care. But most of the firepower was directed at the bills’ impact on the poor.

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Only two releases dealt with gay marriage, one a general defense of marriage as between a man and a woman, while the other expressed disappointment that President Donald Trump did not rollback the Obama executive order forbidding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” discrimination by federal contractors.

Another six press releases dealt with freedom of religion. Many of these expressed gratitude to the Trump administration for reversing actions of the Obama administration on transgender students, HHS mandates, or denial of funding to religious social welfare organizations because of their position on gay marriage or bioethical issues. Others urged congressional support for the  Conscience Protection Act of 2017 and Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2017, which would protect conscience rights and funding of religious social welfare organizations.

That adds up to seven press releases on abortion, two on gay marriage, six on freedom of religion, and an additional 11 on health care where conscience issues were sometimes tangentially mentioned.

During the same time, the bishops issued 12 press releases on foreign policy, 20 on immigration, five on environmental issues, and five on other issues of justice or the poor. Additional press releases responded to terrorist attacks, but these were pastoral rather than political.

A simple headcount of press releases does not support the view that the bishops are only speaking out on abortion, gay marriage and religious freedom. Immigration and refugees were clearly a priority of the bishops when they criticized executive orders and other actions detrimental to refugees, so-called Dreamers (people qualifying for Deferred Action for Child Arrivals) and other immigrants.

Passionate rhetoric

Critics of the bishops might respond that even though the bishops issue press releases on immigration and other issues affecting the poor, their passion is in the culture wars.

To test this theory, I went through the press releases again looking at the rhetoric used on various issues.

Surprisingly, the rhetoric on abortion was relatively low key while the language on healthcare for the poor and immigration was very strong. I admit that this judgment is somewhat subjective, but perhaps some examples will show what I mean.

On abortion, the press releases speak of respect for the dignity of the human person, life as the most fundamental human right, and abortion as a “violent act.” The language got stronger when referring to “coerced sterilizations and forced abortions” in China, which were judged to be “unspeakable abuses.” Another press release attacked the Democratic National Committee chair’s pledge to support only pro-abortion candidates, calling the pledge “very disturbing” and an “intolerant position.”

When talking about abortion in the healthcare legislation, references to the unborn were almost always included in the same sentences as the poor, as in expressing their concern for “the most vulnerable among us, including the unborn and those experiencing deep poverty.” In fact, the denial of funds to abortion providers was the only thing that the bishops liked in the Republican health care bills. “By restricting federal funding for abortion, its providers, and the purchase of plans that cover it, the bill would have finally resolved a grave moral failing rooted within the very structure of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).”

In the press releases on gay marriage, government policy was judged to be “troubling and disappointing” and “deeply flawed.”

The language on religious freedom went to another level. Remedial legislation is “essential” to protect the “our first and most cherished freedom,” against “unjust discrimination,” “pressing restrictions,” “government-imposed burden on our ministries,” and “political whims.” The bishops speak of “our great dismay” and complain that “widely held moral and religious beliefs … have been maligned in recent years as bigotry or hostility.”

Another press release welcomed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down “harmful provisions” of the “pernicious Blaine Amendments,” which were enacted in “a time of intense anti-Catholic bigotry.”

Nor did the bishops think that the proposed healthcare bills provided adequate conscience protections for those involved in the healthcare industry. Early in the year these concerns were made in passing, but as the year went on the bishops became more adamant as Republicans appeared to ignore their concerns.

In May the bishops’ conference began to speak of “vital conscience protections” and the need to “honor all human life and dignity from conception to natural death, as well as defend the sincerely-held moral and religious beliefs of those who have any role in the health care system.” By June, the bishops are still complaining that the bill fails “to put in place conscience protections for all those involved in the health care system, protections which are needed more than ever in our country’s health policy.”

The bishops are clearly concerned about conscience protections in healthcare, but the rhetoric escalates when talking about the legislation’s impact on the poor. The bishops express “deep concern” regarding “serious flaws” and “serious deficiencies” in the Republican bills and their impact on “those experiencing deep poverty.” In March, the bishops accuse the legislation of creating “unacceptable problems, particularly for those who struggle on the margins of our society.” They complain that the bills do not address “problems like rising costs and premiums, as well as impediments to immigrant access.”

In April, the bishops continue to object that “the bill will harm poor and vulnerable people.” They find the bill “deeply disappointing” with “serious flaws, including unacceptable modifications to Medicaid that will endanger coverage and affordability for millions of people.” The bill will “severely impact many people with pre-existing conditions while risking for others the loss of access to various essential coverages.” The legislation “as it now stands, creates new and grave challenges for poor and vulnerable people, including immigrants.”

In June, the bishops again emphasize the “many serious flaws” in the House bill, including “unacceptable changes to Medicaid.” The bishops complain that the Senate bill “retains many of the fundamental defects of the House of Representatives-passed health care legislation, and even further compounds them” by providing “even less to those in need” resulting in a “detrimental impact on the poor and vulnerable.” In sum, “At a time when tax cuts that would seem to benefit the wealthy and increases in other areas of federal spending, such as defense, are being contemplated, placing a ‘per capita cap’ on medical coverage for the poor is unconscionable.”

Complaints continued in July, when the bishops “reacted strongly” and called the legislation “unacceptable” because “restructuring of Medicaid will adversely impact those already in deep health poverty.” “To end coverage for those who struggle every day without an adequate alternative in place would be devastating,” concluded the bishops. “The American Health Care Act legislation from the U.S. House of Representatives and the Better Care Reconciliation Act from the Senate were seriously flawed, and would have harmed those most in need in unacceptable ways. In the face of difficulties passing these proposals, the appropriate response is not to create greater uncertainty, especially for those who can bear it least, by repealing the ACA without a replacement.”

Refugees and immigrants

The bishops used very strong language in pointing out the problems with the Republican healthcare proposals, and they also let loose in defense of refugees and immigrants.

The bishops say they are “disappointed,” “disheartened,” “deeply troubled” and “deeply concerned” about the president’s actions on immigration and refugees. They complained of “fear and intolerance” and “bigotry,” and asserted the “moral urgency for comprehensive immigration reform that is just and compassionate.”

The bishops describe the president’s actions as “devastating,” “dire,” “alarming” and “injurious,” which needlessly put the lives of people “in harm’s way,” and “make migrants, especially vulnerable women and children, more susceptible to traffickers and smugglers.” They complain that the president’s executive order “virtually shuts down the refugee admissions program.” The “Executive Order has generated fear and untold anxiety among refugees, immigrants, and others.”

The administration’s actions “needlessly separate families, upend peaceful communities, endanger the lives and safety of the most vulnerable among us, breakdown the trust that currently exists between many police departments and immigrant communities, and sow great fear in those communities.”

Refugees and immigrants, which include “severed families” and “traumatized children,” were defended by the bishops as “vulnerable” “victims” having “inherent dignity,” “fleeing persecution,” in “darkness of isolation,” “who suffer at the hands of merciless persecutors.” They speak of “Jesus, Mary and Joseph as migrants and refugees.”

The bishops are “gravely concerned” that refugees “would then be sent back to a country where religious persecution and persecution against ethnic minorities remains an ongoing threat.” They even use the term genocide.

In their foreign policy press releases, they express concern for Christians and others suffering persecution and harassment in Syria, Iraq and Egypt. They speak of “horrendous attack,” “unspeakable evil” and “the innocent blood of defenseless Christians.” But they plead also for all victims of war in the Middle East: “May no effort be spared in guaranteeing humanitarian assistance to those wounded by this terrible conflict, in particular those forced to flee and the many refugees in nearby countries.”

The bishops also “expressed concern” for the House Republican budget proposal with its “harmful and unacceptable cuts to Medicaid” and to “important programs like SNAP that provide essential nutrition to millions of people.” “Reducing deficits through cuts for human needs — while simultaneously attempting a tax cut, as this proposal does — will place millions of poor and vulnerable people in real jeopardy. Congress should choose a better path, one that honors those struggling in our country.”

On the environment, the bishops complain that a March executive order “rescinds and weakens numerous environmental protections, and effectively dismantles the Clean Power Plan.” They also called president’s decision not to honor the U.S. commitment to the Paris agreement “deeply troubling,” but the rhetoric on environmental issues was low key in comparison to their words on religious freedom, healthcare and immigration.

Looking simply at the language used, one would have to conclude that the bishops are passionate about religious freedom, healthcare for the poor, and immigration.

Despite their passionate words, the bishops do not get that much attention when they speak on healthcare for the poor and immigration.

Looking at the spokespeople

A final factor I looked at was who was quoted in the press release.

On abortion, it was almost always the well-known Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, who is also chair of the bishops’ pro-life committee. People in red hats stick out in a crowd. Dolan, from the media capital of the world, is known to be a good communicator.

On healthcare, the most common spokesperson is little-known Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. In three press releases that also dealt with conscience rights, he was joined by Dolan and Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.

Likewise, on religious liberty, Lori was a frequent spokesperson, but he was often joined by Dolan and/or Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, chair of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. Only twice did a press release on religious freedom only have one spokesperson.

On immigration, the most common spokesperson was little-known Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, chair of the Committee of Migration.

Likewise, on the environment and other justice issues, the spokesman was often Dewane.

The choice of spokespersons may be one explanation of why the bishops’ positions on and immigration, environment and justice get less attention than their views on abortion, gay marriage and religious freedom. Dolan, Chaput and Lory are archbishops of major Eastern archdioceses and are better known in the media than relatively unknown bishops of smaller dioceses like Vasquez and Dewane. For reporters, as with the church, cardinals trump other prelates, and archbishops trump simple bishops.

In defense of the bishops’ conference, the spokespersons are almost always the chairs of committees that deal with the topic of the press release. But the U.S. bishops have always elected a cardinal as chair of the pro-life committee, while the justice and peace committees seem to be neglected today by high ranking prelates. While Vasquez and Dewane may be hard working and competent, they do not have the media status of a cardinal.

In conclusion, the number of press releases and the rhetoric used in the releases does not support the contention that the bishops only care about abortion, gay marriage and religious freedom, but the choice of spokespersons does give a higher focus to these issues. Like the bishops themselves, the media is obsessed with rank. Sadly, the strong language of the bishops on immigration, refugees and health care for the poor does not get the attention it deserves.

[Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese is a columnist for NCR and author of Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church.]

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China y el nuevo obispo de Hong Kong

El nuevo obispo Yeung y China vista desde Hong Kong

Sigue los pasos del cardenal Tong, su predecesor. Podrían disminuir todavía más las suposiciones de los que en Hong Kong y otras partes se atribuyen arbitrariamente la tarea de “medir” constantemente la tasa de catolicidad de la realidad eclesial del resto de China
Pubblicato il 03/08/2017
Ultima modifica il 03/08/2017 alle ore 13:02

En el escudo episcopal de Michael Yeung Ming-cheung, nuevo obispo de Hong Kong, están tanto la Gran Muralla como la colina del León de Hong Kong. Se puede decir que el sucesor del cardenal John Tong-Hon quiso enviar un mensaje simple pero elocuente: trabajaré para Hong Kong, pero también tendré la mirada puesta en China y en la Iglesia de China.


El nombramiento de Yeung como guía de la diócesis católica de Hong Kong ya estaba en programa, por decirlo así, desde noviembre de 2016, cuando el entonces obispo auxiliar se convirtió en obispo coadjutor de la misma diócesis.


El evento, eclesialmente “natural”, se reviste de interés a la luz de la actual y delicada fase de las relaciones entre el gobierno chino y la Iglesia católica, y por la profunda continuidad que al respecto manifiesta el nuevo obispo con su inmediato predecesor, el cardenal Tong. ¿Cuál será el papel presente y futuro de la diócesis de Hong Kong en esta partida? En su primera conferencia de prensa como obispo de la diócesis, Yeung expresó algunas consideraciones claras a pesar de su obviedad: repitió que Hong Kong no tiene un papel como “intermediario” en las relaciones entre China y el Vaticano, y tampoco puede imaginarse como una especie de “tercera fuerza”. Añadió que la única contribución interesante que la diócesis de Hong Kong puede ofrecer a todos es de carácter eclesial.



El escudo episcopal de Michale Yeung Ming-cheung, nuevo obispo de Hong Kong


El registro eclesial más familiar para el nuevo obispo de Hong Kong no parece el de las batallas públicas o del espesor intelectual, sino un registro concreto de las obras de la caridad para ayudar a los que están en necesidades. Su encargo como guía de la Caritas de Hong Kong, que comenzó en 2003, lo llamó a ocuparse de la difícil herencia del padre Francesco Lerda, el misionero del PIME que la guió durante las décadas heroicas del enorme trabajo a favor de los migrantes de la China continental. Todavía en la actualidad, en un contexto que ha cambiado mucho, con las nuevas pobrezas que afectan a la población de ese gran centro financiero internacional, muchos en Hong Kong, sobre todo entre los no cristianos, ven en la Caritas el rostro más interesante de la comunidad eclesial local.


Parece, con el nombramiento de Yeung, que la diócesis en el futuro no concentrará sus energías para contraponerse a las autoridades civiles. En el pasado, el nuevo obispo fue atacado por algunos ambientes y medios de comunicación de Hong Kong porque no acostumbraba criticar a China y por no haber apoyado con vigor las protestas anti-Pekín de Occupy Central. En realidad, Yeung repitió durante su primera conferencia de prensa como obispo que la Iglesia no es una entidad política, y que, como sea, se necesita demostrar solidaridad a todos los que intervienen con generosidad y hacen sentir su voz cuando ven amenazados los derechos humanos. Un enfoque moderado y realista, que no gusta mucho entre los sectores que quisieran una contraposición más explícita entre la comunidad eclesial local y Pekín o la administración local, guiada por la católica Carrie Lam, que fue elegida Chief Executive de Hong Kong en marzo del año pasado.


Las respuestas que ofreció Yeung en su primera conferencia de prensa permiten imaginar un enfoque nada arrogante ni quejumbroso en relación con la realidad eclesial de la República Popular china y sus sufrimientos. En las últimas décadas, las Iglesias de Taiwán y Hong Kong siempre se han tratado de afirmar como “Iglesias puente” entre los católicos chinos (sometidos a las prácticas invadentes de la política religiosa gubernamental) y la catolicidad universal. Una actitud que muchos apoyan con servicio fraterno, pero que en otros varios casos se ha transformado en la pretensión (a veces molesta) de ejercer una especie de “tutoría” doctrinal y pedagógica sobre la maltratada Iglesia de la China continental.


Si existe verdaderamente la sintonía (reconocida por varias facciones) entre el nuevo obispo ordinario de Hong Kong y su predecesor, habría que imaginar que serán frenadas las suposiciones de todos los que creen tener la tarea de “medir” constantemente, en Hong Kong, la tasa de catolicidad de la realidad eclesial del resto de China.


El cardenal Tong, también durante el tiempo que pasó a la cabeza de la diócesis de Hong Kong, desde abril de 2009, ha sido para todos los católicos chinos un hermano premuroso y con el corazón abierto dispuesto a encargarse de las dificultades y de los sufrimientos de todos, más que un juez y fustigador exterior. «La fe», dijo en una entrevista publicada en “30Giorni” en 2012, «no viene de nosotros. Proviene de Jesús. Y no somos los vigilantes ni los jueces de la fe de nuestros hermanos. Nosotros, simplemente, somos una diócesis hermana de las demás diócesis que están en el continente. Así, si ellas lo quieren, nosotros estaremos felices de compartir con ellas nuestro camino y nuestro trabajo pastoral». Como buen católico, Tong no cree que la fe y la unidad en la Iglesia se mantengan a fuerza de amenazas de excomunión o de insultos. Y siempre ha agradecido al Señor, que ha custodiado la fe en la Iglesia que vive en China, como solamente Él sabe hacer, incluso a lo largo de las décadas de la persecución cruel.

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El asesinato de Mons. Jaramillo, próximo beato.

LAS ÚLTIMAS HORAS DE VIDA DEL OBISPO QUE EL PAPA BEATIFICARÁ EN COLOMBIA. Monseñor Emilio Jaramillo fue secuestrado y asesinado por el ELN en 1989

El futuro beato con Juan Pablo II

El futuro beato con Juan Pablo II

Monseñor Jesús Emilio Jaramillo sabía que la situación con la guerrilla en Arauca estaba tensa y que el El miraba a los sacerdotes con recelo, pero a pesar de eso decidió hacer un recorrido evangelizador por la zona del Sarare. Y le costó la vida, el 2 de octubre de 1989. Fue asesinado con impactos de fusil en la espalda y en la cara y su cuerpo fue arrojado a la orilla de una trocha. Por eso el Papa Francisco acaba de reconocer el martirio de este obispo que será beatificado en septiembre próximo durante la visita papal.

El último día de vida de monseñor Jesús Emilio Jaramillo comenzó la mañana del domingo primero de octubre cuando el obispo, acompañado del padre Helmer Muñoz –quien era su asistente–, otro sacerdote, un seminarista y una monja, llegaron a Puerto Nidia, un caserío donde celebró la misa. Luego de almorzar, hacia las 2:30 de la tarde salieron en un campero hacia Fortul. Habían recorrido cerca de hora y media por una carretera destapada cuando llegaron hasta el río Caranal. Ahí, justo antes de pasar el puente de tablas, había tres hombres vestidos de campesinos, dos de ellos con armas largas. Hicieron detener el vehículo.

“Preguntaron “¿quién es Jesús Emilio Jaramillo?” y monseñor, sin titubear, dijo: ‘Soy yo’ “, contó el padre Muñoz.

Según su relato, los bajaron del carro y a la monja, el sacerdote y el seminarista les dijeron que se fueran para Fortul y les contaran a las autoridades que el obispo quedaba secuestrado por el Eln para enviar un comunicado. Al padre Helmer lo dejaron para que siguiera manejando.

“Dos de ellos se hicieron en la parte de atrás y a monseñor lo hicieron sentar en el medio. El tercero se hizo adelante”, relató el religioso. El carro comenzó a recorrer el extenso territorio del Sarare hasta que la noche comenzó a caer. El camino se hizo más difícil y el paso más lento. Y el temor de los religiosos aumentó. En un momento, monseñor sacó su rosario y comenzó a rezar. El padre Helmer les preguntó a los guerrilleros si creían en Dios. “Uno de ellos me contestó: ‘Para mi Dios es esto’, y mostró el arma”, relató el sacerdote.

Cuando ya eran como las 7 de la noche, hicieron detener el carro en un paraje rural en el sector de Santa Isabel. Le dijeron al obispo que se bajara, pero el padre Helmer insistió en acompañarlo, pues monseñor no veía bien de noche.

“Pero uno de los que estaba atrás me dijo: ‘Quédese usted, nosotros nos lo llevamos y vuelva en dos horas por él’, pero yo insistí en quedarme. “Entonces uno de ellos, uno alto, moreno, me dijo: ‘Se va a las buenas o a las malas’, por lo que monseñor me pidió que me fuera. Me puso la mano derecha sobre mi hombro y me dijo: ‘Hablemos un poquito’. “Nos hicimos a un lado mientras los hombres nos apuntaban. Me dijo: ‘Reconciliémonos, pongámonos en presencia del Señor y que se haga su voluntad’. Nos absolvimos mutuamente. “En voz baja me dijo que me alejara para que no se complicaran las cosas. “Las llaves del carro las habían tirado en un arenero, así que tuve que buscarlas. Y cuando ya me había subido al carro uno de ellos me dijo que mejor no viniera en dos horas, sino al otro día”, siguió con su relato el sacerdote. En ese momento el desenlace parecía evidente.

“Entonces monseñor les dijo: ‘Respeten a mi muchacho, respétenle la vida a mi muchacho, yo respondo por los sacerdotes”, contó.

El padre regresó a Caranal y pasó la noche dentro del carro. A la mañana siguiente madrugó de nuevo a la trocha. Llegó al sitio en donde lo había dejado la noche anterior. “Caminé como 50 metros y lo encontré al lado derecho de la carretera, destrozado totalmente”, siguió con su relato el padre. “Lo encontré boca arriba, cuando traté de mover el cuerpo se le salió parte de la masa encefálica. Tuve que envolverlo con mi estola, con los utensilios de la eucaristía”, contó el testigo.

Para él, el obispo fue asesinado como una hora después de que se separaron. “El primer tiro fue por la espalda y le fracturaron el brazo derecho, un tiro de costado, y el otro fue en la cara, fue con arma larga, según dijeron los expertos”, explicó Muñoz. El anillo episcopal no lo tenía, se lo habían llevado, y la cadena del pectoral estaba destrozada. Tras rezar un momento, cubrió el cuerpo con unas ramas, pues ya el sol acosaba la sabana y no quería que alguien lo viera así.

Regresó a Caranal a buscar al inspector de policía para hacer el levantamiento. Como no estaba, esa tarea la realizó la junta comunal. El cuerpo del obispo fue puesto en una camioneta y llevado hasta la inspección de La Esmeralda. Allí, en el centro asistencial del lugar, el cuerpo del obispo fue limpiado. En un helicóptero militar fue llevado hasta Arauca.

Sobre las razones del asesinato, el padre Helmer asegura que a monseñor Jaramillo lo consideraban cercano a la Mannesmann (multinacional que construyó el oleoducto Caño Limón-Coveñas), y que los curas obtenían las ganancias de las obras que hacía esa empresa. Pero también que trabajaba la plata que el Gobierno destinaba para los profesores a través del programa Educación Contratada. Y que le dolían las muertes de los soldados, pero no la de las demás personas.

“La beatificación de monseñor Jaramillo le va a traer muchas bendiciones a Arauca, incluso bendiciones a quienes despotricaron de él –que no fueron pocos– y que fueron los que llevaron con sus documentos y sus informaciones a la guerrilla en contra de monseñor”, concluyó el padre Helmer.

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Camerún: obispo muerto por asesinato, no por suicidio.

CAMERÚN – “Mons. Bala no se suicidio, sino que fue brutalmente asesinado; que se haga justicia”, afirman los obispos

miércoles, 14 junio 2017obispos   persecuciones  

Mons.Jean Marie Benoît Bala

Yaoundé (Agencia Fides) – “Mons. Jean Marie Benoît Bala no se suicidio, sino que fue brutalmente asesinado” afirma el comunicado de la Conferencia Episcopal de Camerún sobre la muerte de Su Exc. Mons. Jean Marie Benoît Bala, Obispo de Bafia, cuyo cuerpo fue encontrado en las aguas del río Sanaga, el 2 de junio.
La desaparición del obispo fue denunciada la mañana del 31 de marzo, cuando su coche fue encontrado en el Pont de l’Enfance. En el coche se encontró también “un mensaje extraño (…) junto a su documento de identidad y otros cosas personales”, recuerda el mensaje enviado a la Agencia Fides.
Al principio algunos habían sugerido que el Obispo se había suicidado y las autoridades enviaron buzos para buscar el cuerpo en el río. El 2 de junio, un pescador encontró los restos de Mons. Bala a pocos km del Pont de l’Enfance.
“Actualmente el cuerpo está a disposición de las autoridades judiciales para la investigación de las circunstancias, de las causas exactas y de los autores de este crimen atroz e inaceptable. (…) Nosotros, los obispos de Camerún afirmamos que Mons Jean Marie Benoît no se suicidó; fue brutalmente asesinado. Se trata de un asesinato más, uno de más”, se lee en el comunicado.
Los Obispos subrayan “la triste memoria de varios prelados, sacerdotes y personas consagradas que fueron asesinadas en circunstancias poco claras hasta la fecha. En particular, recordamos a Mons. Yves Plumey, Arzobispo Emerito de Garoua (asesinado en Ngaoundéré – 1991), don Joseph Mbassi (Yaoundé – 1988), p. Antony Fontegh (Kumbo-1990), las Hermanas de Djoum (1992), P. Engelbert Mveng (Yaoundé – 1995), solo por citar algunos”.
“Tenemos la impresión de que el clero de Camerún está particularmente perseguido por fuerzas oscuras y malvadas” denuncian los obispos de Camerún.
Al tiempo que piden que “se haga luz sobre las circunstancias y los motivos del asesinato del Mons. Bala, y que sean identificados y llevados ante la justicia para ser juzgados según la ley, todos los responsables”.
También exigen al Estado que “asuma el deber real de proteger la vida humana”; a los medios de comunicación y a los usuarios de las redes sociales que no difundan mentiras y respeten la dignidad de los seres humanos. Por último, los Obispos piden a los asesinos de Mons. Bala “qué realicen un camino de conversión urgente y radical”. (L.M.) (Agencia Fides 14/6/2017)

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En la Iglesia, el pastor debe saber despedirse.

“El obispo debe saber despedirse, no es el centro de la historia”

El Papa en Santa Marta: el pastor debe saber irse bien, y no «a medias», porque es un hombre libre, ha servido sin compromisos y «sin apropiarse del rebaño»

Papa Francisco: “El obispo debe saber despedirse, no es el centro de la historia”

Pubblicato il 30/05/2017
Ultima modifica il 30/05/2017 alle ore 14:33

El verdadero guía de una comunidad eclesiástica sabe irse bien, porque es un hombre libre, ha servido sin compromisos y sin apropiarse del rebaño. Además, se despide sabiendo que “no es el centro de la historia”. Palabra de Papa Francisco, que dedicó la homilía de hoy, 30 de mayo de 2017, a la «despedida de un obispo», como podría titularse la Primera Lectura de los Hechos de los Apóstoles.


San Pablo deja la Iglesia de Éfeso, que él mismo había fundado. Según indicó la Radio Vaticana, el Pontífice recordó: «Ahora debe irse. Todos los pastores debemos despedirnos. Llega un momento en el que el Señor te dice: ve a otra parte, ve allá, ven acá, ven conmigo». Uno de los pasos que debe dar «un pastor también es prepararse para despedirse bien, no a medias. El pastor que no aprende a despedirse es porque tiene algún vínculo no bueno con el rebaño, un vínculo que no fue purificado por la Cruz de Jesús».


Entonces, Pablo, en una especie de «consejo presbiterial» se despide de su comunidad eclesiástica: el Obispo de Roma recordó «tres actitudes» del apóstol.


Primera: dice que nunca se ha echado atrás. No es un acto de «vanidad, porque él dice que es el peor de los pecadores, lo sabe y lo dice», sino que simplemente relata «la historia» verdadera. «Una de las cosas que da mucha paz al pastor cuando se despide es acordarse de que nunca ha sido un pastor de compromisos», la conciencia de no haber «guiado a la Iglesia con compromisos. No se echó atrás. Y se necesita valentía para ello», insistió Francisco.


Segunda actitud: san Pablo comunica que va a Jerusalén movido por el Espíritu, sin saber qué le sucederá. Prácticamente, obedece al Espíritu Santo: «El pastor sabe que está en camino. Mientras guiaba a la Iglesia tenía la actitud de no hacer compromisos; ahora el Espíritu le pide que se ponga en camino, sin saber qué sucederá». Y el apóstol «continúa porque él no tiene nada propio, no hizo una apropiación indebida de su rebaño. Sirvió. “¿Ahora Dios quiere que me vaya? Me voy sin saber qué sucederá conmigo. Solo sé (el Espíritu se lo había comunicado) que el Espíritu Santo, de ciudad en ciudad, me dice que me esperan cadenas y tribulaciones”. Eso era lo que sabía». Sin embargo, no renuncia, acepta con confianza los nuevos desafíos peligrosos.


No lo espera «la jubilación. Voy a otra parte a servir a otras Iglesias —prosiguió el Papa. Siempre con el corazón abierto a la voz de Dios: dejo esto, seré qué me pide el Señor. Y ese pastor sin compromisos ahora es un pastor en camino».


Tercer punto: Pablo precisa que no considera, de ninguna manera, preciosa «mi vida». Y Francisco añadió: no es «el centro de la historia, de la historia grande o de la historia pequeña», sino que es «un servidor».


El Pontífice citó un dicho popular: «Como se vive, se muere; como se vive, se despide»; san Pablo se despide al final con «una libertad sin compromisos» y se pone en marcha hasta el final de la misión que Dios le encomendó en la tierra. Así «se despide un pastor», exclamó el Papa.


Francisco invocó: «Con este ejemplo tan bello, recemos por los pastores, por nuestros pastores, por los párrocos, por los obispos, por el Papa, para que sus vidas sean vidas sin compromisos, una vida en camino, y una vida en donde ellos —concluyó— no se crean que están en el centro de la historia y así aprendan a despedirse».

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Paraguay: los obispos ante los últimos disturbios.

Obispos de Paraguay llaman a la paz tras disturbios e incendio en el Congreso

ASUNCIÓN, 01 Abr. 17 / 08:23 am (ACI).- Los Obispos de Paraguay hicieron un  llamado urgente a la paz luego de que miles de manifestantes incendiaran el Congreso Nacional en Asunción, la capital del país, la noche del 31 de marzo.

  •  En un comunicado firmado el 31 de marzo, la Conferencia Episcopal Paraguaya exhortó a que no haya “¡nunca más guerras entre hermanos! ¡Construyamos siempre la paz!”.

Las violentas manifestaciones en Asunción se produjeron luego de que un grupo de parlamentarios aprobaran una enmienda constitucional, que permitiría la reelección del Presidente de Paraguay, Horacio Cartes.

En la polémica decisión participaron 25 senadores que convocaron por sorpresa y a puerta cerrada la votación. La oposición ha calificado la medida como ilegal.

Hasta el momento, los disturbios han dejado un muerto y decenas de heridos, entre parlamentarios, policías y manifestantes.

“En estos momentos críticos que vive la patria, los Obispos del Paraguay hacemos un llamado urgente a la paz”, indicó la Conferencia Episcopal en su comunicado.

“Observamos con dolor la confrontación pública y queremos pedir a todos: autoridades y pueblo, que no hagamos uso de la violencia, cuidemos la integridad de la vida de todos, que las manifestaciones no se transformen en campo de batalla. ¡Respetemos la vida!”, añadieron los obispos.

Asimismo, exhortaron a los ciudadanos y gobernantes a mirar “no solamente la motivación de sus acciones sino las consecuencias, y actúen con la debida cordura”.

“Instamos a los líderes y representantes políticos ganar la confianza social con gestos concretos de encuentro, de diálogo y de transparencia, respetando un proceso donde la libertad y la posibilidad de actuar no se vean coaccionadas por la premura de los procedimientos políticos”, continuaron.

Finalmente, los obispos paraguayos alentaron a un diálogo entre todos los sectores porque “la paz exige la cultura del encuentro, la búsqueda del bien común, la unidad nacional.

“Queremos un país fraterno, en donde construyamos en esa paz cotidiana, como lo exhortaba el Papa Francisco al inicio de su visita a nuestro país en 2015. Hagamos que sea posible. No dejemos que esto se vaya de las manos. ‘Una familia dividida no puede subsistir’”, concluyeron los Obispos.

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Asamblea de la Conferencia de obispos de USA. Comentario

Bishops’ meeting was boring, with flashes of inspiration

  • Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston addresses a news conference Nov. 15 at the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. Seated to his left is Archbishop Jose Gomez. (CNS/Bob Roller)
There was little interesting or inspiring about the meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore this week. Much of the meeting was devoted to bureaucratic business like the approval of plans and programs, and minor liturgical and canonical items.The most controversial item on the agenda was an increase in diocesan assessments (which failed) and a change in the assessment formula. Bishops, like taxpayers, don’t want to see their taxes raised.

Some excitement surrounded the election of officers and committee chairs.

It was no surprise that Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston was elected USCCB president since he was elected vice president three years ago and the vice president normally succeeds the president. The election of Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez was historic since not only is he the first Hispanic vice president of the conference, he is also a Mexican immigrant. He will undoubtedly be elected president in three years.

The two will be an interesting team. DiNardo is a blunt-speaking, no-nonsense prelate whom journalists are looking forward to covering. Gomez, on the other hand, is a gentle, pastoral bishop who shrinks from the limelight. At a joint press conference, DiNardo answered question after question while Gomez appeared happy to simply sit back and observe. But after each response, DiNardo asked Gomez what he thought, encouraging him to respond. DiNardo would not let Gomez hide.

Explore Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the family.

The vote for chair-elect of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace was the most revelatory of the current makeup of the conference membership. Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for Military Services beat out Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego for chair by a vote of 127-88. Moderate bishops (there are very few liberal bishops) voted for McElroy and the conservatives voted for Broglio.

As personal secretary to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican secretary of state (1991-2006), Broglio antagonized then Cardinal Bergoglio and the other Argentine bishops whose recommendations for episcopal appointments were routinely rejected by Sodano. McElroy, on the other hand, has pushed the conference to be more supportive of the priorities of Pope Francis. He probably lost some votes by pushing too hard.

The vote for chair-elect of the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis had a similar breakdown with 122 for Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, and 90 votes for Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, Conn.

A routine agenda item for the meeting turned out to be one of the most emotionally charged. Carolyn Woo, the president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, the international relief and development agency of the U.S. bishops, was slated to deliver a report to the bishops on the work of CRS.

It was Woo’s last such address since in January she is ending her five-year term as head of CRS and will return to South Bend, the home of Notre Dame business school where she worked when the bishops recruited her.* Although Woo’s immediate predecessor, Ken Hackett, had led Catholic Relief Services for 18 years — making her five-year tenure seem short by all appearance — hers was a routine move back to an academic life.

Woo’s address Monday seemed routine as she described CRS’s work, but then there was a hitch in her voice and she could be seen fighting back tears when she said she wanted to talk about “the divisions I see” that hinder the work of Catholic Relief Services.

She didn’t give details about these divisions, but Catholic Relief Services has been attacked by right-wing Catholics accusing it of ignoring church teaching on birth control and abortion.

She related what she called “the most chilling” event in her time at CRS, a conversation with a person who let her know there would be no compromise over contentious issues. She said, “I was told, ‘Carolyn, we can’t compromise. When we are winning, we can’t compromise. When we’re losing, we can’t compromise.’ ”

“Wow, I thought, when can we collaborate?” Woo said. She ended her presentation with what she called “a simple request.”

“Whenever you are wondering what CRS is doing,” she told the bishops sitting before her, “I’d like you to ask the question differently, ‘What are we doing?’ ”

Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, Okla., chair of the Catholic Relief Services board, followed Woo on the podium and he picked up where she left off. He told his fellow bishops that as Woo was speaking he had received another scandalous email from the LePanto Institute, which devotes a whole page of its website to attacking CRS.

The LePanto Institute describes itself as “a research and education organization dedicated to the defense of the Catholic Church against assaults from without as well as from within,” including from “heretics” and “traitors.”

Coakley told the bishops, “I want you to know that Catholic Relief Services is Catholic through and through. I hope you will not give any credence to this particular blogger.”

The room responded with a standing ovation.

Another moving presentation was made by Bishop Gregory Mansour on persecution of Christians in the Middle East. Referred to by almost everyone as Bishop Gregory, he is head of the Maronite Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn and a leading voice for Christians in the Middle East.

Although they are suffering terribly,  Mansour does not portray the Christians as mere victims, but rather as very active in responding to the terrible tragedy of their countries.

“Although the vast majority of today’s refugees are non-Christian, the vast majority of those who serve them are Christians, who continue to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth,” Mansour said. “Today Christians are more united than ever, through a common suffering, a common martyrdom, and a common assistance given to those in need.”

His frustration that the plight of Christians in the Middle East has been ignored was evident. To help these Christians he called for advocacy, humanitarian aid and ecumenical support.

With regards to advocacy, he asked the bishops to urge the U.S. government to increase U.S. humanitarian aid and development assistance for refugees as well as internally displaced persons. He also called for aid to those countries in the region hosting large refugee populations.

With regard to admission of refugees into the United States, “All of the bishops have been very clear that we welcome refugees,” he said at the press conference on Thursday. “We have been doing it for years. We are all part migrants.”

In response to a question from the NCR, he said he did not want American boots on the ground nor the arming of Christian militias. He did note that Russia’s support and America’s opposition to Assad is complicating matters in Syria. “The West should not determine who stays as a public figure and who doesn’t,” he said. “Those are things that have to be done on the ground.”

The bishop thinks that “because Russia was on one side and America was on another side, it made that civil war a lot more unclear and a lot more filled with hatred.”

The United States must “find a way to work with Russia and to work with the allies of Iran and work with our own allies,” he said, “and maybe to rethink some of our own allegiances so that we can find a solution for Syria, find a solution for Yemen, find a solution for Iraq, find a solution for all the Middle East.”

The need for humanitarian aid for Christians in the Middle East is great. Syrians will need help in rebuilding their churches, hospitals, schools, homes and livelihoods. He suggested linking or twining parishes and dioceses in the U.S. with those in the Middle East. He also called for continued funding from groups like Catholic Relief Services, Aid to the Church in Need, Catholic Near East Welfare Association, and the Knights of Columbus.

Finally, he called for working with interfaith partners to draw attention to the need for basic human rights, full citizenship rights, and religious freedom for people in the Middle East. He noted that Catholics have good relations with Jews and Muslims but all three groups need to work together for peace.

Much of the USCCB November meeting was boring. Much to the disappointment of the journalists, the bishops were not interested in talking about the new president, Donald Trump, at least not in public sessions. Outgoing USCCB President Joseph Kurtz, archbishop of Louisville, said the bishops were uncertain where Trump stood on many issues but they looked forward to having conversations with the incoming administration in order to find out what parts of the bishops’ agenda might get adopted.

President-elect DiNardo was hopeful that judicial appointments would favor the bishops’ pro-life agenda.

The bishops, however, were clearly worried about what Trump might do to immigrants, especially in breaking up families and deporting those who are undocumented. Early on the first day, they approved a statement in support of the immigrant community in the United States. The dialogue they hope to have with the administration will be helped by the fact that the two new leaders of the conference come from the two states with the most immigrants, and one of those leaders is an immigrant himself.

*A sentence has been corrected to clarify that Woo is returning to South Bend, Ind., after she ends her five-year term as head of CRS.

[Dennis Coday assisted on the CRS section of this column.]

[Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese is a senior analyst for NCR and author of Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church. His email address is treesesj@ncronline.org.]