Global Catholic News
Catholics taken hostage in Philippines; martial law imposed
On the 23rd of May 2017, in the southern city of Marawi in the Philippines, gunmen set fire to St. Mary’s Cathedral. The gunmen claiming to have connections with the Islamic State, took several staff, and churchgoers hostage. Father Teresito Suganob, vicar general of the Prelature of Marawi has also been confirmed as one of the hostages.
Bishop Edwin de la Pena of Marawi, received a phone call from “a member of the Islamic” demanding a unilateral cease-fire in exchange for the priest and other hostages.
As a result, President Rodrigo Duterte imposed martial law on Muslim dominated provinces of Mindanao, along with 33 other cities. This imposition has been declared for 60 days.
However various religious leaders and civil city groups have voiced that the stringent action may not have been necessary. Bishop Jose Bagaforo of Kidapawan said that martial law could have been imposed only in Marawi, and not all the other areas. Redemptorist Father Amado Picardal was in agreement quoting that it is either idiotic or an excuse to expand dictatorial control.
Pope Francis presented with “climate bell” from Irish President
Following the meeting between the Irish President and the Pope on the 22nd of May, Pope Francis was offered a “climate bell” at the Vatican. Designed by Irish artist and sculptor Vivienne Roche, President Michael D Higgins’ intention was to symbolise a “call to action on climate change” through this bell. A spokesperson for the President’s office ecology and climate change are extremely important for both leaders.
Several other themes such as rights of humanity, the issue of migration safeguarding the environment and sustainable development were also discussed during this meeting. The President even went on to say that Pope Francis is a strong voice that is tirelessly working to awaken humanity and what weaves us together.
Christian institutions voice need for protection of undocumented migrants
In a letter addressed to John Kelly, the secretary of the Department of Homeland security many catholic colleges across the US urged Kelly discuss with them the current immigration policies. Sent on May 23rd, with over 65 signatures from various presidents of Catholic institutions, the main aim was to protect undocumented migrants with no criminal activity.
Many of these institutions are home to migrants that fall under the criteria for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) however they are undocumented. As the letter stated, being part of the Christian obligation protecting these vulnerable people are of utmost importance.
New Cardinals from around the globe
June 28th is the slated date for the next consistory held by Pope Francis. Coming only seven months after his last consistory, the Pope aims to create five new cardinals this June.
Keeping with the pattern of finding cardinals from dioceses that generally do not have one, this new batch of cardinals hail from various places around the globe. This is the first time bishops of Laos, El Salvador, Sweden, and Mali will have cardinals.
The new cardinals are aged between 68-75 years of age and therefore have the right to vote in a conclave to elect a Pope. According to the rules of the church, there can be a maximum of 120 voting cardinals in a conclave. However after the consistory in June the numbers would stand at 120.
First Catholic to live in the White House since the 1960’s
After President John F Kennedy and his wife Jackie, current first lady of USA Melania Trump will be the first Catholic in the White House. Following her visit to the Vatican on 24th of May there was a lot of speculation on Melania Trump’s faith. However her spokeswoman has confirmed that the First Lady is indeed a Catholic.
While it is known that Melanie trump was raised as a communist in Slovenia, she was not baptised as a child. Married in 2005 to Donald Trump a Presbyterian, it is not clear when exactly the first lady became Catholic.
The first lady will move into the White House in the summer and will then be the first Catholic since the 1960’s to live there.