Thursday, December 31, 2020

Twenty “missionaries” killed in the world in 2020

Twenty “missionaries” killed in the world in 2020 The Vatican’s news agency has drawn up a list of pastoral workers, men and women they describe as “missionaries”, who were killed in the world during 2020. By Vatican News staff writer The annual list says that the 20 “missionaries” killed include 8 priests, 1 male religious, 3 nuns, 2 seminarians and 6 lay people. Fides uses the term "missionary" for all the baptized, aware of what Pope Francis explains in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii gaudium: “In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples.” In fact “Every Christian,” the Pope says, “is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are ‘disciples’ and ‘missionaries’, but rather that we are always ‘missionary disciples’”. The highest number of casualties this year were in the Americas, with 5 priests and 3 lay people killed. Africa comes next with 3 nuns, 2 lay persons and a priest and a seminarian each. In Asia, a priest, a seminarian and a lay person were killed, and in Europe, a priest and a male religious were murdered. In the last 20 years, from 2000 to 2020, 535 pastoral workers have been killed in the world, including 5 Bishops. “Witnesses” among their people For some time now, Fides has been including in its annual list not only missionaries “ad gentes” in the strict sense, that is, those working in largely non-Christian mission territories, but tries to include all the baptized involved in the life of the Church. Many of these pastoral workers died in a violent way, not explicitly “in hatred of the faith”, i.e. martyrdom. Without using the term “martyrs” for them, Fides intends to imply the word’s etymological meaning of "witness". In this regard, the Vatican’s news agency notes that in 2020, many pastoral workers were killed during robbery or theft, sometimes with ferocity. Some of them were kidnapped or were caught in crossfires or acts of violence. They fell while carrying out their commitment in situations marked by economic and cultural poverty, moral and environmental degradation, where violence and oppression in total disregard for respect for life and every human right are a norm. In El Salvador, Father Ricardo Antonio Cortéz was killed by gunshots on the road on 7 August. In Brazil, Father Adriano da Silva Barros was kidnapped and his dead body was found on 14 October. In Burkina Faso, a catechist was killed along with a group on 16 February, during an assault by jihadists on the village of Pansi. In Gabon, Sister Lydie Oyanem Nzoughe was attacked and killed in March, in a home for abandoned elderly in Libreville where she was working. Meanwhile, in Indonesia, the dead body of seminarian Zhage Sil was found in a ditch in Jayapura on 24 December. In Italy, Father Roberto Malgesini was murdered by a homeless man with mental problems in Como on 15 September. The priest was working among the poor. The Vatican news agency notes that none of them was engaged in outstanding projects. They simply shared in their small way the life of most of the people entrusted to their care, bearing witness to Christian hope. “Martyrs” of the pandemic Fides also notes that hundreds of priests, religious, hospital chaplains, pastoral workers in the healthcare sector as well as bishops have died during the pandemic, carrying out their service. They fell doing their utmost to help those afflicted by the virus in places of care, without cutting down on their ministry. Fides reports that priests and religious are the second largest group, after doctors, who fell to Covid-19 in Europe. According to a partial report by the Council of Bishops' Conferences of Europe, from February end to September end, at least 400 priests have died in the continent. Many of them were missionaries, who worn out by long years in mission lands amidst hardships and difficulties, have succumbed to the virus. (Source: Fides)

Saturday, December 5, 2020

UK Bishops encourage Catholics to get vaccinated against Covid-19

UK Bishops encourage Catholics to get vaccinated against Covid-19 The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales are encouraging Catholics to get vaccinated against Covid-19, saying they do not commit a sin by using the vaccines developed by Pfizer & BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca, which were authorized this week by the British Government. By Lisa Zengarini Some people have questioned the moral permissibility of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine, produced by Oxford University, arguing it has been developed from cell-lines originating from the cells of an aborted foetus in 1983. According to a statement released Thursday by the Department for Social Justice of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW), however, “one does not sin by receiving the vaccine”. 'Not a sin' The statement, signed by Bishop Richard Moth, cited the views expressed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Academy of Life (PAV), according to which “one may in good conscience and for a grave reason receive a vaccine sourced in this way, provided that there is a sufficient moral distance between the present administration of the vaccine and the original wrongful action”. “In the Covid-19 pandemic, we judge that this grave reason exists,” said Bishop Moth. “Each of us has a duty to protect others from infection with its danger of serious illness, and for some, death. A vaccine is the most effective way to achieve this unless one decides to self-isolate”, he added. “Catholics may in good conscience receive any of these vaccines for the good of others and themselves. In good conscience, one may refuse a particular vaccine but continues to have a duty to protect others from infection”, the statement concluded. US Bishops A similar view was expressed in late November by the two chairmen of the US Bishops' doctrine and pro-life committees, citing three Vatican documents which treat the matter of tainted vaccines: the 2005 study by the Pontifical Academy for Life, "Moral Reflections on Vaccines Prepared from Cells Derived From Aborted Human Fetuses"; the 2008 "Instruction on Certain Bioethical Questions" ("Dignitatis Personae") by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the 2017 "Note on Italian Vaccine Issue," by the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Fr Paul Grogan, subject of a new film entitled "Priest" (Photo credit Michael Whyte)Fr Paul Grogan, subject of a new film entitled "Priest" (Photo credit Michael Whyte)

Fr Paul Grogan, subject of a new film entitled "Priest" (Photo credit Michael Whyte)Fr Paul Grogan, subject of a new film entitled "Priest" (Photo credit Michael Whyte) WORLD PRIESTS FAITH CULTURE New film “Priest” explores value of faith A new documentary film released online, follows the day-to-day life of an English priest from the beginning of Lent to Easter Sunday. By Lydia O’Kane Down through the years, there have been numerous portrayals of priests on the big screen, whether it be two time Oscar winner Spencer Tracy in Boys Town or a young Gregory Peck in Keys to the Kingdom. Television too, has had its fair share of clerics, some of whom end up helping the local constabulary with their crime cracking abilities: think G.K. Chesterton’s amiable Father Brown or Fr Dowling. However, in a new film currently available online, British director Michael Whyte chooses instead to present a “fly on the wall” view of day-to-day priestly life. Entitled simply “Priest”, the documentary follows Father Paul Grogan as he carries out his ministry in the parish of Mary, Mother of God, in the city of Bradford, in the north of England. Fr Grogan, originally from Halifax, worked as a journalist after graduating from the University of Cambridge. He then went on to train for the priesthood at the Venerable English College in Rome in the late 80s to mid-90s. Made before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the film shows the priest supporting parishioners in various moments of their lives from the opening scene of a funeral, to the administering of the Last Rites. In an interview with Vatican Radio, Michael Whyte explains why he wanted to make a film that explores the highs and lows of priestly mission. Listen to the interview Highs and lows of priestly life “I think that people have a rather simplistic view of the work of a priest; they tend to see it as quite an easy life, they’ve got a roof over their heads, they’ve got a job for life, they’ve got God on their side… I wanted to show that it was much more than that, and also to show that priests are human beings, they have feelings, they’re not removed from the day to day anxieties and stresses of life.” This is not the director’s first foray into faith based filmmaking. In fact, it is the final work of a trilogy, following on from No Greater Love, a documentary about a Carmelite Monastery in London and Relics and Roses, which charts the journey of the Relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux on their visit to England. Questions of faith Asked why he was drawn to make three films exploring the Catholic faith, Whyte says, “it comes back to the perennial question that everybody asks. What is the meaning of life? Why am I here? What am I doing here? And nobody seems to have an answer to that.” However, the primary focus for his first entrée into a faith based film, he recalls, came from his curiosity about the Carmelite monastery in his own neighbourhood of Notting Hill. “I was intrigued by the idea that there was this monastery, literally a hundred yards away from where I live.” When the project eventually came to fruition after a year of filming, the director describes how he came away “with a profound respect for their life and their values.” “I found it one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve had in the course of making films,” he said. Brought up as a lower church Anglican, Mr Whyte notes that he was intrigued by the “theatre or drama” of Catholicism. He also comments that it is a faith that has survived for 2000 years “and is still very intact; it still has a tremendous number of followers, so they’ve got to have something right.” “Priest” was filmed from the beginning of Lent right through to Easter Sunday, the most important period in the Church’s calendar. And while the director says it was important to chart the events of Holy Week, he adds, it was also due to “God’s providence.” Privilege Although Michael Whyte has a long and distinguished CV and has won numerous awards for his work, he is keen to point out that he never takes for granted the privilege that his work affords him. “You enter into a complete stranger’s life and you are by their side, you become part of their life and you become very much aware of their strengths and weaknesses and vulnerabilities and if you like, it's a gift because you know if you think about it generally, would you share all your secrets or inner most thoughts with a complete stranger? You probably wouldn't. So when you're suddenly being filmed it’s very difficult to hide those things from somebody… to have access to that is a real privilege.” One of the scenes in the film shows Fr Grogan administering the Last Rites to parishioner Mary Cunningham. “To be in that room was such a privilege,” Whyte says, “and I found myself thinking I shouldn’t be in this room, I have no right to be in this room because…this is a very intimate moment. At the same time, I’m thinking well, this is exactly what I need to film to show what it’s like, to show what it’s like to be a priest and what a priest’s daily life consists of. So you have those contradictory sorts of feelings, but that in a sense illuminates that kind of privilege that one has when you’re making films, or making documentaries.” Value of faith Asked what he would like people to take away from this film, he replies, “I’d like people to see the value of faith…, the comfort of joy and unity it brings to people. That spirit of love and care and beauty and truth, if you like. Also the fact that Fr Paul is a human being; he’s not dissimilar to the rest of us, he has feelings and he gets upset, he can get angry, he can be low, he can be high. He adds that even if you’re not a “God fearing person, you could watch this film and see that there is a value in the faith that these people have.” To view the trailer for “Priest” you can follow this link

Friday, December 4, 2020