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Texas Supreme Court allows enforcement of abortion ban

null / Photographee.eu/Shutterstock.

Denver Newsroom, Jul 5, 2022 / 14:12 pm (CNA).

The Supreme Court of Texas on Friday ruled that the state may enforce its 1925 law banning abortion, reversing the decision of a district judge.

The July 1 decision “does not permit prosecutors to bring criminal cases against abortion providers, but it exposes anyone who assists in the procurement of an abortion to fines and lawsuits,” The Texas Tribune reported.

Jonathan Covey, policy director for Texas Values, a religious freedom organization, said July 2 that “We are grateful the Texas Supreme Court blocked this temporary restraining order that clinics were using as an excuse to kill pre-born babies. No matter how hard abortionists try to perpetuate murder, we know that life is a human right.”

The president of Whole Woman’s Health, an abortion provider in the state, said July 2, “With the pre-Roe ban reinstated, Whole Woman’s Health is forced to cease providing abortion in our 4 Texas clinics. This morning, our clinic staff embarked on the heartbreaking conversations with the patients whose appointments must be cancelled, and our clinics have started the wind down process.”

Judge Christine Weems in Harris County had granted a temporary restraining order against the law’s enforcement June 28.

The law punishes performing an abortion with two to 10 years imprisonment.

Texas also adopted a “trigger law”, signed in June 2021, making it illegal for anyone to “knowingly perform, induce, or attempt an abortion,” with exceptions for situations where the life of the mother would be at risk in continuing the pregnancy.

That law will take effect 30 days after the judgement in the Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade and returned the regulation of abortion to the states. 

Women who have abortions will not be held liable or penalized under the trigger law. Abortionists could be fined $100,000 for illegal abortions.

The state’s law banning abortion from about six weeks into pregnancy has been enforced since the Dobbs decision.

Will Mexico have to wait a half-century for legal abortion to be overturned?

null / Credit: Mon Petit Chou Photography / Unsplash

Mexico City Newsroom, Jul 5, 2022 / 12:19 pm (CNA).

Will Mexico have to wait — as the United States did — a half-century to overturn its high court’s rulings on legal abortion?

The recent landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion throughout the United States, has inspired all of Latin America in its fight to defend the lives of unborn babies.

However, the continuous rulings that legitimize abortion by higher courts in Mexico, including the country’s Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN), present significant challenges for the pro-life cause in Mexico.

Beginning in September 2021, the Mexican Supreme Court has issued a series of rulings upholding abortion and undermining conscientious objection rights by health care professionals.

The SCJN determined that sections of the Coahuila state penal code that criminalized abortion as well as the protection of life from conception in the Sinaloa state constitution were unconstitutional.

In addition, the court invalidated an article in the country’s General Health Law that protected conscientious objection by health care workers and ordered Congress to write and pass a new, more restrictive one to the court’s liking.

Among other rulings in favor of abortion, on May 24 the SJCN upheld Official Mexican Norm 046, which deals with sexual violence and medical care, thus allowing girls as young as 12 — on their word only and without the need to report being raped to the police — to get an abortion without parental consent.

The president of the Supreme Court, Arturo Zaldívar Lelo de Larrea, has repeatedly spoken in favor of abortion, and in an article published in September 2021 he said that “for a decade, I have defended time and time again the right to the interruption of pregnancy.”

In addition, eight states have decriminalized abortion on demand up to 12 or 13 weeks: Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Baja California, Sinaloa, Colima, Veracruz, Guerrero, and Baja California Sur. In addition, Mexico CIty, which has a special status in the Mexican federal system, has also legalized abortion in the first trimester.

Given this scenario, what can Mexico expect?

‘Between 30 and 50 years’

Juan Carlos Leal, a well-known politician who advocates for life and family in Mexico, said that “unfortunately, if we don’t see a change in Mexican politics with a pro-life and pro-family candidacy for the presidency, it will take between 30 and 50 years [to overturn abortion law], since there would have to be changes in Supreme Court justices.”

The former state representative and president of CREEMOS (We Believe), Nuevo León, told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language sister news agency, that “the outlook for 2024 is very complicated.”

“I don’t see a public figure who could run as a candidate for the presidency, as a pro-life and pro-family politician, so yes, we may have to wait between 30 and 50 years to reverse the issue of decriminalizing abortion by the Supreme Court of Justice,” he said.

The SJCN consists of 11 justices who are elected for 15-year terms. The candidates are nominated by the country’s president and are approved by the Senate.

Four of the current Supreme Court justices were nominated by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Two others were nominated by his predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto, and five by former president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa.

In June 2024, a new president of Mexico will be elected and on Dec. 1, 2024, two seats on the Supreme Court of Justice will be vacant — those of Zaldívar Lelo de Larrea and Luis María Aguilar Morales.

‘We can stop this normalization of abortion’

Pilar Rebollo, director of Steps for Life, an organization that brings together tens of thousands of people every year for the March for Life in Mexico City, pointed out that “with the precedent in the United States, we can stop this normalization of abortion, stop the abuse of powers.”

Rebollo said pro-lifers can work to “influence the next generation of justices. Because today we have some justices who are very convinced of an ideology and an agenda that no longer responds to justice and respect for the Constitution.”

For the director of Steps for Life, since the United States is a “big brother in terms of trends,” the recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court could favor the pro-life cause in Mexico.

“We still have time to not let it be normalized, for Mexican society to not become lukewarm,” she said.

However, she acknowledged that “this is a medium-range project, because as we know, Supreme Courts don’t change constantly.”

Which is why, she continued, it’s important “to not just focus on the Court but on all the powers that have influence, and to learn from the United States.”

‘We must start now and act as soon as possible’

Marcial Padilla, director of the pro-life organization ConParticipación, told ACI Prensa that “the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on abortion is a great sign for Mexico.”

“It confirms that it’s possible to correct the course that a court has taken and recognize the right to life of the child and his or her mother equally,” he stressed.

For Padilla, in Mexico “we can’t take 50 years. We must start now and act as soon as possible.”

“We must look at the path that has been traveled, learn from its lessons, and work along three lines,” he said.

The first of these lines, Padilla said, is “citizen awareness and participation,” because “we have to sensitize society so that it always keeps in mind the urgency of defending motherhood and protecting the child and the mother equally.”

“There must be formation for youth groups, there must be marches, the ongoing presence of the cause in favor of women and life on social networks and in the media must be maintained,” he said.

A second line of action, he continued, is that pro-lifers must “influence decision makers.”

“Society must elect government officials and legislators who take seriously the cause in favor of life and motherhood,” he said, stressing that “when there are officials like that, then judges are appointed who do their work based on science and ethics and that protect the right to life without discrimination.”

A third line of action, Padilla said, is that “we must always promote the dignity of human life, not just before birth.”

“Pro-life groups, in addition to fighting tirelessly so that no woman thinks of abortion, must also address the other problems that exist in society,” he said.

“Human life must be lived with dignity, with health, with education, with food, with united and stable families. This shouldn’t wait,” he said.

“Today is Day One; let’s do what we have to do starting today,” Padilla said.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

New bishop named for U.S. Syro-Malabar eparchy

Bishop Joy Alappatt, who was appointed Bishop of the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Saint Thomas the Apostle of Chicago July 3, 2022. / Phillypaboy123 via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Denver Newsroom, Jul 5, 2022 / 11:00 am (CNA).

On Sunday Pope Francis accepted the resignation of the bishop of the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Saint Thomas the Apostle of Chicago, and appointed his auxiliary, Bishop Joy Alappatt, as his successor.

The resignation of Bishop Jacob Angadiath, 76, was accepted July 3.

The eparchy serves the faithful of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in the U.S. The Church is an India-based Eastern Catholic Church. It is of the East Syrian rite, and most closely related to the Chaldean Catholic Church.

Alappatt, 65, was born in Parappukara, in the Indian state of Kerala, in 1956. He attended St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary in Vadavathoor and was ordained a priest of the Syro-Malabar Diocese of Irinjalakuda in 1981.

He undertook graduate studies at St. Joseph's Pontifical Institute in Aluva and at Adheva University in Wattair. He then did pastoral work in Chalkudy, Mala and at the Irinjalakuda cathedral.

He was a chaplain in Chennai before he was transferred to the U.S. in 1993.

Alappatt served as a chaplain at  Georgetown University Medical Center from 1999-2002, where he completed the university's clinical pastoral education program. He served in several parishes in the U.S., and was vicar of Mar Thoma Sleeha Cathedral in Bellwood, Illinois.

Alappatt was appointed auxiliary bishop of the St. Thomas eparchy in 2014, and was consecrated a bishop Sept. 27 of that year.

The bishop knows English, Malayalam, Hindi, and Tamil.

There are some 4 million Syro-Malabar Catholics in the world, mainly in India, making it the second largest Eastern Catholic Church.

According to the U.S. bishops’ conference, the St. Thomas eparchy ministers to 49,000 persons.

Marriage after tragedy: The key is forgiveness, couple says

Danny and Leila Abdallah with children Liana, Alex, Michael, and Selina spoke to CNA at the Vatican on June 23, 2022. / Daniel Ibáñez / CNA

Vatican City, Jul 5, 2022 / 10:07 am (CNA).

“Forgiveness allowed my marriage to survive,” Leila Abdallah said 28 months after three of her and husband Danny’s six children were killed by a drunk and drug-influenced driver near Sydney, Australia.

Forgiveness “taught Danny and I to look at each other with eyes of compassion and empathy. Forgiveness has begun the healing process in all of us,” she said at the Vatican, where the family traveled with their three surviving children and 12-week old baby girl for the World Meeting of Families 2022.

The Abdallahs were invited to speak at the Vatican event about the tragic accident in which they lost their 11-year old niece and three children — 13-year-old Antony, 12-year-old Angelina, and nine-year-old Sienna — as they were walking to buy ice cream following a birthday party.

The couple shocked the news media when just days after the Feb. 1, 2020 tragedy, they publicly forgave the 29-year-old man who drove his speeding car over the curb, and onto the sidewalk, killing the four children and injuring three others.

Danny and Leila Abdallah and their six children in 2019. Courtesy photo
Danny and Leila Abdallah and their six children in 2019. Courtesy photo

Danny and Leila Abdallah told their family’s story to EWTN in a 2021 TV interview.

One year later, on June 23, they spoke to CNA about the effect trauma can have on a husband and wife’s relationship, and how the two of them continue to get through their sorrow and anger together.

“What does marriage look like after grief? Marriage becomes a lot different,” Danny said. “I think if you embrace the pain and suffering, And you do it with prayer, it’s like you’ve gone through a hot furnace and it’s like a purification.”

Leila said “marriage does become challenging after grief because each one of us is grieving.”

“So you go through the cycle... He might be angry, or I might be angry at a different time from each other. But me and Danny were fortunate, because of the forgiveness and because of our faith, our love has become deeper,” she said.  

“When I look at my husband, I see Antony, Angelina, Sienna, I see a piece of them, because they were the fruit of our love.”

She said they have learned to be more patient with each other, to have fewer silly arguments. When one of them is frustrated, they try to listen, knowing the frustration is not with them.

“We’re more compassionate. We have more empathy,” she said. “We look at each other... with a different set of eyes,” Danny finished Leila’s sentence. 

Both parents pointed to the strength of their faith and prayer life before the accident as something which has helped during this time of suffering.

Danny and Leila, who are part of the Lebanese Maronite Church, had started going to Mass together during the week, not only on Sunday. Danny would also take their older kids to Mass before school.

They prayed with their children regularly and recited the rosary. On Fridays, Danny brought their oldest daughters and son to feed the homeless at a local shelter. 

“I wouldn’t let them have dinner [before], so they could feel and experience a bit of hunger before they would come,” he said. “I’d say no, no feed them first and then we’ll go out for dinner.”

The Abdallahs said the biggest change to their prayer life, since losing their three children, has been a deeper understanding and experience of the suffering of Christ.

Danny criticized an overemphasis in some Christian circles on the glorious, resurrected Jesus without any focus on what came before.

“That’s one thing I love about the Catholic Church, they really talk about the suffering Jesus and apply it to our lives,” he said. “With or without Christ, we’re all going to suffer.”

“This grief and trauma that we’ve experienced, it’s actually taught us [about] … the suffering Jesus, the theology behind it, and how we can apply it to our lives, because no one has done it better than Christ in his suffering. He’s the one that showed us what to do,” Danny continued.

Both spouses emphasized the importance of forgiveness in marriage.

“A lot of people end up divorcing because they don’t know how to let go of their anger or they don’t know how to put their guards [down],” Leila observed. “But... forgiveness is the key to a long-lasting relationship, it is what keeps your marriage together.”

“Run to each other and try and understand each other,” Danny added. “The wide path is running away, but go to the narrow path. It’s a lot harder, but it’s more rewarding … You know, we forgave and we chose to forgive and everything like that, but the pain hasn’t left us. We’re still experiencing the pain daily, but [forgiveness] gets us into a better place.”

Leila and Danny said they cannot wait to be reunited one day with all their children in heaven —  that has become, more than ever, their purpose in life.

“Death can’t be avoided, it is part of life. So we might as well be prepared and ready and embrace it because, if we are ready to meet the Lord, it is going to be one of the most amazing moments in our life,” Leila said with a smile on her face.

“Can you imagine the presence of Jesus? And God is so real. If anything, nothing is more real than God and Jesus on this earth.”

Pope Francis condemns 'senseless shooting,' calls for end of violence after July Fourth parade attack

Pope Francis, pictured on Oct. 4, 2014. / Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk.

Vatican City, Jul 5, 2022 / 06:53 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has expressed shock and sadness over the mass shooting that led to the death of at least six and wounded some 30 others at a Fourth of July parade in the Chicago suburb of Highland on Monday.

In a telegram sent on behalf of the Holy Father to Cardinal Blase Cupich, the Archbishop of Chicago, the pope condemned the “senseless shooting,” appealing for a rejection of all forms of violence.

The telegram was sent on his behalf by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, reported Vatican News. 

Pope Francis asked the Cardinal to convey his spiritual closeness to all affected by this attack.

Robert E. Crimo III, a 22-year-old from Highland Park, was apprehended late Monday in connection with the shooting. 

Crimo had been identified earlier in the day as a person of interest in the shooting.

The pope’s telegram said he joined “the entire community in praying that Almighty God will grant eternal rest to the dead and healing and consolation to the injured and bereaved.”  

“With unwavering faith that the grace of God is able to convert even the hardest of hearts, making it possible to depart from evil and do good,” the message continued, Pope Francis prayed “that every member of society will reject violence in all of its forms and respect life in all of its stages.”

Pope Francis concluded his message with an Apostolic Blessing “as a pledge of strength and peace in the Lord.”

Highland Park is an affluent suburb about 20 miles north of Chicago along Lake Michigan.

In a statement, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago said he was praying for the victims and first responders. He also spoke out strongly against the scourge of gun violence.

Pope Francis says he hopes Vatican-China deal will be renewed

Pope Francis waves at pilgrims from China at the general audience in St. Peter's Square on Sept. 7, 2016. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Vatican City, Jul 5, 2022 / 04:49 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said he hopes the Vatican’s provisional agreement with China on the appointment of Catholic bishops will be renewed for the second time in October.

In comments to Reuters published Tuesday, the pope said “the agreement is moving well and I hope that in October it can be renewed.”

The Vatican-China agreement was first signed in September 2018 and then renewed for another two years in October 2020. The terms of the agreement have not been made public.

Pope Francis spoke to Reuters about the China deal in a 90-minute interview which also covered his health, resignation rumors, and the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

In September 2021, the Vatican confirmed that the sixth Catholic bishop had been ordained under the agreement’s terms.

Seven bishops ordained before the 2018 agreement have also had their positions regularized by the Vatican.

Pope Francis said the appointment of bishops under the deal in China “is going slowly, but they are being appointed.”

The slow process, he said, is “‘the Chinese way,’ because the Chinese have that sense of time that nobody can rush them.”

Father Bernardo Cervellera, former editor-in-chief of AsiaNews, told CNA last year that the bishops who have been nominated and ordained are close to the Patriotic Catholic Association, “so this means that they are very near to the government.”

The Catholic Church is still in need of around 40 more bishops in China, according to Cervellera.

In the Reuters interview, Pope Francis said the Chinese “also have their own problems because it is not the same situation in every region of the country. [The treatment of Catholics] also depends on local leaders.”

He also defended the Vatican-China deal against its critics.

“Diplomacy is the art of the possible and of doing things to make the possible become a reality,” he said.

He compared today’s critics and those who spoke negatively of the Vatican’s diplomatic decisions during the Cold War, when the popes struck deals with Eastern European communist governments in an attempt to protect the interests of the Catholic Church.

“Diplomacy is like that. When you face a blocked situation, you have to find the possible way, not the ideal way, out of it,” the pope said.

Local 22-year-old man in custody in July Fourth parade shooting in Illinois

First responders take away victims from the scene of a mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade on July 4, 2022 in Highland Park, Illinois. At least six people were killed and 19 injured, according to published reports. / Jim Vondruska/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 4, 2022 / 17:55 pm (CNA).

Robert E. Crimo III, a 22-year-old from Highland Park, was apprehended late Monday in connection with a mass shooting during the Chicago suburb's Fourth of July parade, authorities said.

Crimo had been identified earlier in the day as a person of interest in the shooting, which left at least six dead and some 30 others injured.

Authorities believe the shooter opened fire from a rooftop along the parade route with a high-powered rifle. The shooting started at 10:14 a.m. local time and set off a panicked escape from the area.

Police crime tape is seen around the area where children's bicycles and baby strollers stand near the scene of the Fourth of July parade shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, on July 4, 2022. Youngrae Kim/AFP via Getty Images
Police crime tape is seen around the area where children's bicycles and baby strollers stand near the scene of the Fourth of July parade shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, on July 4, 2022. Youngrae Kim/AFP via Getty Images

Photos from the scene showed toppled lawn chairs and children’s bicycles abandoned on the sidewalk.

Highland Park is an affluent suburb about 20 miles north of Chicago along Lake Michigan.

In a statement, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago said he was praying for the victims and first responders. He also spoke out strongly against the scourge of gun violence.

“The parade reportedly had a heavy presence of police and fire vehicles, yet this shooter was able to wound at least two dozen people before he stopped, or was stopped, and fled. Victims ranged in age from 8 to 85. Weapons designed to rapidly destroy human bodies have no place in civil society,” Cupich said.

“It is barely July, and this year the United States is already experiencing more than one mass shooting a day. Chicago Police reported at least 55 shot and 7 killed since Friday, and the holiday weekend is not yet over. Gun violence is now the leading cause of death for U.S. children,” the statement continued.

“Whatever one makes of the right to bear arms, there is plenty of room for prudential judgment in interpreting the Second Amendment so as to enact serious, broadly popular gun-safety measures. The Senate finally passed a significant, yet modest, gun-safety bill last month. But clearly more must be done,” Cupich said.

“The right to bear arms does not eclipse the right to life, or the right of all Americans to go about their lives free of the fear that they might be shredded by bullets at any moment. Gun violence is a life issue. We must continue to pray that all our officials, elected and unelected alike, will redouble their commitment to keeping safe the people they have sworn to serve.”

Nigerian Christian villagers claim military helicopter fired on them, not bandits

Photo illustration of Nigerian military uniform. / Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 4, 2022 / 11:41 am (CNA).

Residents of predominantly Christian villages in north-central Nigeria that came under attack from Fulani bandits on motorcycles June 5 maintain that a government helicopter fired on the villages’ defenders, but authorities have denied the charge, saying the crew targeted the assailants.

The fighting, which lasted for several hours, took place in a group of villages about 30 miles south of Kaduna City, the capital of Kaduna. The raid left 32 villagers dead and 29 others, chiefly women, kidnapped, according to media reports and security authorities.

In its aftermath, authorities have sought to reassure residents that the government is on their side in the bloody conflict with Fulani bandits.

“An air force helicopter (under operation whirl punch) dispatched to the area, intercepted the bandits at the last location (Ungwan Maikori) and engaged them as they retreated, before the arrival of ground troops to the general area,” Samuel Aruwan, the state commissioner for internal security, said in a June 7 statement posted on Facebook.

But eyewitnesses and others who spoke to CNA say perhaps hundreds of villagers saw the helicopter fired on armed locals who were trying to ward off more than 200 invaders.

“The whole village saw the helicopter firing at the residents,” said Jonathan Asake, the head of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) who coordinated a meeting of villagers two days after the attack. 

In addition, Rev. Denis Sani, head of the local Evangelical Church Winning All as well as an elder advisor to volunteer neighborhood watchmen, told the conflict reporter Masara Kim that no ground troops arrived to rescue residents in Makori, one of the villages that came under attack.

Sani told CNA that the helicopter fired with a submachine gun toward him and his fellow civilian guards, forcing him and his assistant, Jonah Greece, to withdraw toward the forest to gain cover. 

“We pulled back to avoid getting killed, allowing the terrorists to enter the village,” Greece told CNA.

Defending their homes

“The attack started as we were ending our church services on Sunday around noon,” said Greece, a community medical practitioner in Maikori. 

Since the village had suffered a massacre by terrorists in March 2019 and an attack earlier this year, the able-bodied men formed a defensive perimeter around the approaches to Maikori.

“There were no military or police in the village, but about 40 to 50 men gathered up their hunting rifles,” Greece explained.

Sani called for the men of the village of Maikori to position themselves behind trees and tall grass. The attackers were mounted on 70 motorbikes, three fighters on each bike.

Greece said the attackers first swarmed through the neighboring village of Dogon Noma, burning houses and firing at villagers fleeing into the forest. Then they mounted their bikes and headed into Maikori where Sani and the defenders ambushed them with their homemade hunting rifles and pump shotguns, Greece said.

At approximately 1 p.m. the villagers noticed a helicopter variously described as white or “silver” hovering over Maikori and firing vertically down at the defenders, Greece said.

Claims denied

Nigerian media have reported that the claim that the helicopter fired on village defenders has been debunked. Villagers, however, are standing by their account.

To clear the air on disputed versions of the incident seven heads of state police agencies met with village leaders on June 20 in Kufana. 

“Aruwan said while the Government had not totally succeeded in its primary assignment, it was however doing its best to ensure that they had come also to clarify some lingering ‘misrepresentations’ being championed by some enemies of progress and of the government,” Stingo Usman, a Christian community leader in Maraban Kajuru who attended the meeting, told CNA.

The service chiefs at the meeting asserted that “it was impossible that the army helicopter had fired on the residents,” Usman said. None of the service chiefs who spoke were present during the attack, he added.

According to Stingo Usman, Ibrahim Usman, the village head of Dogon Noma, contradicted Aruwan’s account. The village head told the authorities at the meeting that “a helicopter arrived and the locals thought relief had come to them until they realized that they were being attacked by both the helicopter and the bandits,” Stingo Usman related to CNA in a text message.

“The youth then had to run for their lives and from that point, the armed Fulani bandits got access to the village and burned the whole village down, and also killed two people there,” Stingo Usman wrote, recounting Ibrahim Usman’s statements at the meeting.

The representative of Kajuru County in the Nigerian House of Representatives, Yakubu Umar Barde, has called for an investigation of possible complicity between the Nigerian military and the terrorists.  

In addition, calls for an internationally led forensic investigation of complicity between Muslim terrorists and rogue military units have come from Baroness Caroline Cox, a member of the United Kingdom’s House of Lords, and Gregory Stanton, a retired U.S. Foreign Service officer and the founder of Genocide Watch.

Security officials drew criticism for failing to stop the blasphemy murder of college student Deborah Emmanuel on the campus of Shehu Shegari teachers’ college in Sokoto on May 12.

There have been additional complaints lodged against the lax response by the military and police to other attacks blamed on radicalized Fulani Islamists, including a massacre Jan. 11 in Te’Egbe, in Plateau State, and on March 20 in Kagoro in southern Kaduna.

The inactivity and in some cases complicity of the military in terrorist attacks in the past has been noted by the human rights watchdog, Amnesty International.

"Amnesty International found evidence showing that security forces received information about impending attacks and in some cases, came in contact with attackers but did nothing to stop or prevent the attacks,” the organization said in a 2018 report

“Many attacks lasted for hours, in some cases days, even in communities where security forces were not far away,” the report said.

Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes dies at 87

Cardinal Cláudio Hummes arrives for the afternoon session of the Amazon Synod, October 8, 2019. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA

Sao Paulo, Brazil, Jul 4, 2022 / 09:24 am (CNA).

Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, archbishop emeritus of São Paulo, Brazil, died on Monday after a long illness.

The cardinal, who had a significant role in the 2019 Amazon Synod, was just over a month away from his 88th birthday. He died of lung cancer, according to Brazilian journalist Mirticeli Medeiros.

His death was announced July 4 by Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, current archbishop of São Paulo, who said Hummes’ body will be present for mourning and prayers in the Metropolitan Cathedral of São Paulo.

Hummes, a member of the Order of Friars Minor, was president of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM) and the newly created Ecclesial Conference of Amazonia (CEAMA).

Pope Francis appointed Hummes relator general of the Synod on the Pan-Amazonian Region and a member of the pre-synodal council. As relator general, Hummes was responsible for writing the synod’s final report.

Hummes was also prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy from 2006-2010, after being made a cardinal in 2001.

He was known for his social activism, including in the areas of climate change, poverty, and protection of indigenous peoples.

A close friend of Pope Francis, after his election, Hummes reportedly embraced him and said, “don’t forget the poor.”

The cardinal was born in Montenegro, Brazil, on Aug. 8, 1934, to a German-Brazilian father and German mother.

He took the name Cláudio when he joined the Franciscans, and was ordained a priest in 1958.

Before becoming a bishop, he taught philosophy in seminaries and a Catholic university. He was provincial superior of the Franciscans of Rio Grande do Sul from 1972-1975 and president of the Union of Latin American Conferences of Franciscans.

Hummes studied at the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey in Geneva, Switzerland, and later became an advisor for ecumenical affairs to the bishops’ conference of Brazil.

In March 1975, he was appointed coadjutor bishop of Santo André, and the following December succeeded Jorge de Oliveira as bishop.

He became archbishop of Fortaleza in 1996 and archbishop of São Paulo in 1998.

A personal way to govern: Why Pope Francis uses Apostolic Letters the way he does

Pope Francis / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Vatican City, Jul 4, 2022 / 09:06 am (CNA).

It is no coincidence that Pope Francis chose the form of an apostolic letter to write about liturgy. Nor that he chose to write it one year after the publication of the Traditionis custodes, the motu proprio with which he abolished the liberalization of the Traditional Latin Mass by Benedict XVI.

Published on June 29 and entitled Desiderio desideravi, the document not only drives home his concerns with the liturgy. It also shines a light on the thought — and the modus operandi — of Pope Francis. 

In the 15-page apostolic letter, the pope said he wanted “to invite the whole Church to rediscover, to safeguard, and to live the truth and power of the Christian celebration.”

Pope Francis also said, after writing a letter to bishops to accompany Traditionis custodes, he wished to address all Catholics with some reflections on liturgical formation, the theological importance of the Mass, and acceptance of the liturgical documents of the Second Vatican Council.

Notably, this is the 83rd time that Pope Francis has used the form of the apostolic letter to convey an authoritative opinion. 

When it comes to expressing the pope’s teaching authority, his magisterium, an apostolic letter ranks fourth in the hierarchy of pontifical documents. The most important would be an apostolic constitution, followed by a papal encyclical, and then an apostolic exhortation.

Pope Francis, however, has always favored "light" legislative instruments, which require less effort in drafting – and do not undergo a longer approval process.

An apostolic constitution, for example, must be consistent with canon law and other prescriptions of the Church. For this reason, Praedicate evangelium, which regulates the functions and offices of the Curia, has had a long gestation period and still awaits full implementation.

The same is true of a papal encyclical, which is concerned with expressing the magisterium – and cannot be linked only to contingent moments. 

The third most important kind of document, an apostolic exhortation, is a more particular and personal instrument of the pope. In the case of a post-synodal exhortation, it will draw on the fruits of a Synod of Bishops.

It is worth noting that Pope Francis' governmental program takes the form of an apostolic exhortation: Evangelii gaudium replaced the post-synodal apostolic exhortation expected after the Synod on the Word of God in 2012.

Of that synod — the last of the pontificate of Benedict XVI — no trace remains.

When Pope Francis had to legislate, he mainly used the form of a motu proprio (the Vatican website lists 49 of them) and rescripts. These are officially called rescripta ex audientia sanctissimi, i. e. orders of the Pope, written following a personal audience.

Neither of these types of decisions require approval by the Roman Curia.

The use of the apostolic letter, like an executive order, also demonstrates a development of this pontificate: Pope Francis did not initially use these as a form of government. Ultimately, however, that is how he most of all expressed his thoughts and decisions.

Beyond apostolic letters in the form of a motu proprio, which have a legal purpose and effect, the letters of Pope Francis are also instruments for addressing the people of God. 

The document Desiderio desideravi serves a variety of purposes:

  1. It is a personal letter with which Pope Francis addresses a specific theme – the liturgy.

  2. It is a letter that carries legal clout because Pope Francis reaffirms what was decided in Traditionis Custodes – and denies any possibility of liberalization of the Traditional Latin Mass.

  3. It is a letter that never mentions his predecessor Benedict XVI, whose decision he subverts, establishing a clear rupture between the before and after.

In other words, Pope Francis is using this apostolic letter in a very particular way to reinforce a personal decision.

The government of Pope Francis is deeply personal, so much so that his own point of view is expressed as magisterium.  Pope Francis thus shows himself to be a particular kind of centralizer: Faced with the various expressions of the Church, Pope Francis does not fail to enforce unity, making choices that exclude, in fact, a plurality of forms. Whoever celebrates the Traditional Latin Mass, for Pope Francis, uses a different rite, and is outside the tradition of continuity of the Church.

We might say that whenever the Pope finds resistance, he gets around it using whatever instrument is available to him. Hence, even the use of "lighter" documents ultimately constitute a form of legislation. In the end, they are the quickest means available to the Pope to govern effectively without consulting too much.