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Pope Francis meets with bishop newly consecrated to lead Mongolia’s Catholics

Vatican City, Aug 12, 2020 / 03:11 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis met Wednesday with an Italian missionary who was recently consecrated a bishop to lead Mongolia’s apostolic prefecture.

Bishop Giorgio Marengo, 46, served as a Consolata missionary priest in Mongolia for 17 years before Pope Francis appointed him Prefect of Ulaanbaatar April 2.

His episcopal consecration took place in Turin Aug. 8, with Cardinal Luis Tagle, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, as his principal consecrator.

“I am very grateful to the Pope for this great grace that has granted me to meet him personally and to receive a word of encouragement for this mission,” Marengo told Vatican News after his Aug. 12 meeting with the pope.

Pope Francis is “very interested in the … the Church in Mongolia and of the Mongolian people in general. We know how much the pope cares about the entire Church, even those areas where there are not large numbers, indeed precisely where the Church is more in the minority,” he said.

At the Mass of episcopal consecration, Tagle said: “May your heart, your words, your smiles whisper Jesus to the people, the poor, the suffering, the steppe, the rivers, the eternal blue skies of Mongolia.”

“A bishop can only boast of the compassionate love of Jesus,” Tagle added.

Marengo was born in northern Italy’s Piedmont region and grew up in Turin. He studied theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and later obtained a license and doctorate from the Pontifical Urbaniana University.

While serving as a Consolata missionary in Mongolia, Marengo established a new catechesis program. He told CNA in 2014 that the program sought to form young adults into future catechists by providing lessons in theology and the Church and its mission.

Mongolia has a population of 1,300 Catholics in a country of more than 3 million people. The Prefecture Apostolic of Ulaanbaatar serves the entire country.

“I believe being a bishop in Mongolia is very similar to the episcopal ministry of the early Church,” Marengo said. “The Church is a very small reality, it is a minority but there is this group of Mongolian faithful who have chosen, with great courage and also a sense of responsibility, to follow the Lord and become part of the Catholic Church.”

The first modern mission to Mongolia was in 1922 and was entrusted to the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. But under a communist government, religious expression was soon thereafter suppressed, until 1992.

In 2002, the Ulaanbaatar mission was elevated to the present apostolic prefecture. The mission's superior, the late Fr. Wenceslao Padilla, a priest of the Immaculate Heart congregation, was appointed prefect, and was consecrated a bishop the following year. Padilla died in September 2018. Mongolia’s first native priest was ordained in 2016.

Marengo told Vatican News that because Mongolia’s Catholic community is so small it is especially important to pay attention to interreligious dialogue and the cultural traditions of the Mongolian people.

“It means dedicating time to know and study the language, to refine those tools that allow us to enter into a true dialogue with people, to understand their points of reference, their history, their cultural and religious roots,” he said. “And at the same time, in all this, to be faithful to the Gospel itself … to offer with great humility, with great sincerity this precious pearl we have received which is the Gospel of the Lord.”

The new bishop chose “Respicite ad eum et illuminamini” as his episcopal motto, which means “Look to him and you will be radiant.”

Marengo expects to return to Mongolia in September if coronavirus restrictions allow.

Pope Francis: Human dignity has serious political implications

Vatican City, Aug 12, 2020 / 05:00 am (CNA).- Pope Francis said Wednesday that Christian faith demands conversion from individualism and a commitment to defending the inherent dignity of every person.

“While we work for the cure of a virus that affects everyone without distinction, faith urges us to work seriously and actively to fight indifference in the face of violations of human dignity,” Pope Francis said Aug. 12.

“We want to recognize the human dignity in every person, whatever his or her race, language or condition might be,” the pope said at his general audience.

Speaking via livestream from the library of the Vatican’s apostolic palace, Pope Francis emphasized that this “renewed awareness of the dignity of every human being has serious social, economic and political implications.”

He said that the pandemic has “shed light on broader social ills,” including “a distorted view of the person” that ignores human dignity and “fosters an individualistic and aggressive throw-away culture, which transforms the human being into a consumer good”.

“In the light of faith we know, instead, that God looks at a man and a woman in another manner. He created us not as objects but as people loved and capable of loving; He has created us in His image and likeness. In this way He has given us a unique dignity, calling us to live in communion with Him, in communion with our sisters and our brothers, with respect for all creation,” Pope Francis said.

“The pandemic has highlighted how vulnerable and interconnected we are all. If we do not take care of each other, starting with the least, with those who are most affected, including creation, we cannot heal the world,” he said.

Following the general audience, Pope Francis met with United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet at the Vatican.

In recent months, Bachelet, the former president of Chile, has spoken out about child marriage in Somalia, human rights violations in Yemen, and the Iranian government’s repression of civil society.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ spokesperson has also expressed concern over the application of China’s National Security Law in Hong Kong and Lebanon’s socio-economic crisis. The Vatican has not released further details of the content of the pope’s meeting with Bachelet.

Pope Francis had said at his general audience that humans have “inalienable dignity” because humanity was created in the image of God, quoting the Second Vatican Council’s pastoral constitution, Gaudium et Spes. He said that this lies at “the foundation of all social life and determines its operative principles.”

“In modern culture, the closest reference to the principle of the inalienable dignity of the person is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Saint John Paul II defined as a ‘milestone on the long and difficult path of the human race’ and as ‘one of the highest expressions of the human conscience,’” Pope Francis said.

“Rights are not only individual, but also social; they are of peoples, nations. The human being, indeed, in his or her personal dignity, is a social being, created in the image of God, One and Triune,” he said. “We are social beings; we need to live in this social harmony, but when there is selfishness, our outlook does not reach others, the community, but focuses on ourselves, and this makes us ugly, nasty and selfish, destroying harmony.”

The pope’s reflection on human dignity is part of a weekly series of catechesis on Catholic social teaching, which he began last week. Pope Francis said that he wants to “tackle together the pressing issues that the pandemic has highlighted, especially social diseases.”

“Let us ask the Lord to give us eyes attentive to our brothers and sisters, especially those who are suffering. As Jesus’s disciples we do not want to be indifferent or individualistic,” he said.

“May the Lord ‘restore our sight’ so as to rediscover what it means to be members of the human family. And may this sight be translated into concrete actions of compassion and respect for every person and of care and safeguarding of our common home.”

Archbishop Gänswein: Benedict XVI’s 'illness is subsiding'

Rome Newsroom, Aug 11, 2020 / 03:30 am (CNA).- Benedict XVI’s personal secretary Archbishop Georg Gänswein has said that the pope emeritus’ illness is “subsiding.”

In an interview with the German newspaper Südkurier, Archbishop Gänswein is reported to have said that Benedict XVI’s “illness is subsiding” and that his medication has been reduced.

Benedict XVI has been suffering from facial shingles, a bacterial infection of the skin which causes a painful, red rash. "The pain started after the death of his brother,” Gänswein told Südkurier.

"Whilst very unpleasant and painful, the illness was not life-threatening,” the archbishop said in the article published Aug. 9.

“This is pain that I do not wish for my worst enemy,” Gänswein said.

The pope’s personal secretary gave the interview with German media while visiting his hometown of Riedern am Wald in the Black Forest.

After papal biographer Peter Seewald reported last week that the former pope has been “very frail” since his return from visiting his dying brother in Bavaria in June, the Vatican clarified on Aug. 3 that Benedict XVI’s health problems were “not serious.”

The Holy See press office said  "the health conditions of the pope emeritus are not of particular concern, except for those of a 93 year old who is going through the most acute phase of a painful, but not serious, disease."

Benedict XVI resigned from the papacy in 2013, citing advanced age and declining strength that made it difficult to carry out his ministry. He was the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years.

Seewald made the comments about Benedict XVI’s health after seeing him at his Vatican home in the Mater Ecclesia monastery on Aug. 1 where he presented a copy of his latest biography of the retired pope.  

The journalist said despite his illness, Benedict was optimistic and stated he might take up writing again if his strength returns. Seewald also said the former pope’s voice is now “barely audible.”

German media also reported Aug. 3 that Benedict has chosen to be buried in the former tomb of St. John Paul II in the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica. The body of the Polish pope was moved into the upper part of the basilica when he was canonized in 2014.

Like John Paul II, Benedict XVI has written a spiritual testament which can be published after his death.

Pope Francis baptizes conjoined twins separated in Rome

Vatican City, Aug 10, 2020 / 08:30 am (CNA).- Pope Francis has baptized twins who were born conjoined at the head and were separated at the Vatican’s pediatric hospital.

The twins’ mother had said at a press conference following the successful surgery at the Bambino Gesù Hospital on June 5 that she wanted the twins to be baptized by the pope. 

“If we had stayed in Africa I don’t know what fate they would have had. Now that they are separate and well, I would like them to be baptized by Pope Francis who has always taken care of the children of Bangui,” said the girls’ mother Ermine, who came with the twins from the Central African Republic for the surgery, July 7. 

Antoinette Montaigne, a Central African politician, posted a photo on Twitter of Pope Francis with the twins in their baptismal gowns on August 7, writing that the pope had baptized the separated twins the day prior. 

Après leur séparation chirurgicale réussie à la pédiatrie du Vatican Bambino Jésus, le Pape a baptisé les jumelles Centrafricaines hier à Rome. pic.twitter.com/6v4Df7nzq4

— Antoinette MONTAIGNE (@Banzekaa) August 7, 2020 The Italian news agency ANSA reported August 10 that the twins had been baptized at the pope’s residence, Casa Santa Marta.

Following the surgery in June, Dr. Carlo Efisio Marras, director of neurosurgery of the Bambino Gesù hospital told CNA that the twins have a high chance of living normal lives after undergoing the 18 hour operation which involved more than 30 medical staff. 

The twins, Ervina and Prefina, were born on June 29, 2018 in a village about 60 miles outside Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic. They were joined together with “one of the rarest and most complex forms of cranial and cerebral fusion,” known as total posterior craniopagus, according to the Bambino Gesu hospital.

Mariella Enoc, president of the Bambino Gesù, met the twins in July 2018, during a visit to Bangui, where the sisters had been transferred after their birth. Enoc was helping to oversee the expansion of pediatric services in the country, which is one of the world’s poorest, in response to an appeal from Pope Francis. She decided to bring the girls to Rome for surgery.

A multidisciplinary team, including neurosurgeons, anesthesiologists, and plastic surgeons, prepared for more than a year for the operation to separate the twins. The hospital’s ethics committee contributed to a plan ensuring that the girls would have the same quality of life.

The hospital said the twins were joined via the back of the head, including the nape, sharing both skin and cranial bones. But the greatest challenge for doctors was that they were joined at a deeper level, sharing membranes inside the skull as well as the venous system, through which blood used by the brain is transported back to the heart.

The separation took place in three stages. In the first, in May 2019, neurosurgeons started to separate and rebuild the membranes and venous systems.

The second, a month later, focused on the confluence of sinuses in the brain. The hospital said it was a critical phase of the treatment as “the operating space is a few millimeters.”

The two operations prepared the girls for the third and final phase of complete separation on June 5.

“From a neurological standpoint, the two little girls are doing very well and have excellent prognosis for normal lives in the future," Marras said.

Pope Francis: Even in times of darkness, God is there

Vatican City, Aug 9, 2020 / 05:59 am (CNA).- When caught in difficult moments or trials, turn your heart to God, who is near even when you do not search for him, Pope Francis said in his Angelus address Sunday.

“Having faith means, in the midst of the storm, keeping your heart turned to God, to his love, to his tenderness as a Father. Jesus wanted to teach this to Peter and his disciples, and also to us today, in moments of darkness, moments of storms,” the pope said Aug. 9.

Speaking from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, he said “even before we begin to seek Him, He is present beside us lifting us back up after our falls, He helps us grow in faith.”

“Perhaps we, in the dark, cry out: ‘Lord! Lord!’ thinking that he is far away. And He says: ‘I’m here!’ Ah, he was with me!” Pope Francis continued.

 “God knows well that our faith is poor and that our path can be troubled, blocked by adverse forces. But He is the Risen One, do not forget this, the Lord who went through death to bring us to safety.”

In his message before the Angelus, the pope reflected on the Gospel reading from St. Matthew, when Jesus asks the apostles to get in a boat and cross to the other shore of the lake, where he will meet them.

While still far from shore, the disciples’ boat gets caught in some wind and waves.

“The boat at the mercy of the storm is an image of the Church, which in every age encounters headwinds, sometimes very hard trials,” Francis noted.

“In those situations, [the Church] may be tempted to think that God has abandoned her. But in reality, it is precisely in those moments that the witness of faith, the testimony of love and the testimony of hope shines the most,” he said.

He pointed to the Gospel: In this moment of fear, the disciples see Jesus walking to them on the water and think it is a ghost. But he reassures them and Peter challenges Jesus to tell him to come out onto the water to meet him. Jesus invites Peter to “come!”

“Peter gets off the boat and takes a few steps; then the wind and the waves frighten him and he begins to sink. ‘Lord, save me!’ he cries, and Jesus takes him by the hand and says to him: ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’” Francis recounted.

This episode “is an invitation to abandon ourselves with trust to God in every moment of our life, especially in the hour of trial and turmoil,” he said.

“When we feel strong doubt and fear and we seem to sink, in the difficult moments of life, where everything becomes dark, we must not be ashamed to cry out, like Peter: ‘Lord, save me!’”
“It is a beautiful prayer!” he noted.

“And the gesture of Jesus, who immediately reaches out his hand and grasps that of his friend, must be contemplated for a long time: Jesus is this, Jesus does this, it is the hand of the Father who never abandons us; the strong and faithful hand of the Father, who always and only wants our good,” he said.

After praying the Angelus in Latin, Pope Francis noted the presence of a group of pilgrims holding the Lebanese flag in St. Peter’s Square and said his thoughts have been with the country since the deadly explosion in Beirut Aug. 4.

“The catastrophe of last Tuesday calls everyone, starting with the Lebanese, to collaborate for the common good of this beloved country,” he said.

“Lebanon has a peculiar identity, the result of the meeting of various cultures, which has emerged over time as a model of living together,” he noted. “Of course, this coexistence is now very fragile, we know, but I pray that, with the help of God and the loyal participation of all, it may be reborn free and strong.”

Francis invited the Church in Lebanon to be close to her people during this “Calvary,” and asked the international community to be generous in helping the country.

“And please, I ask the bishops, priests and religious of Lebanon to stay close to the people and to live a lifestyle marked by evangelical poverty, without luxury, because your people suffer, and suffer so much,” he concluded.

The pope also noted the 75th anniversary of the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which took place on Aug. 6 and 9, 1945.

“While I remember with emotion and gratitude the visit I made to those places last year, I renew my invitation to pray and to commit ourselves to a world totally free from nuclear weapons,” he said.

Italy considers allowing abortion pill without hospitalization

Rome, Italy, Aug 8, 2020 / 12:11 pm (CNA).- Italy’s health ministry is expected to approve a proposal to remove mandatory hospitalization for the administration of the abortion pill and to expand the time frame in which it can be prescribed.

The RU486 drug is prescribed to induce a chemical abortion. Use of the drug was legalized in Italy in 2009, and in 2010 standards were set which require women to be hospitalized for three days during its administration.

The proposed change in guidelines will allow the drug to be administered in an outpatient clinic or at home. Italy’s Ministry of Health is also expected to expand access to the abortion pill by two weeks, allowing it to be prescribed until the ninth week of pregnancy.

“This is a real abortion. It is no less ‘abortion’ due to the fact that it does not occur with surgical instruments,” Marina Casini, president of Movimento per la Vita told Vatican News.

She pointed to the significant health risks associated with chemical abortions, stating that Italy is “facing propaganda in favor” of the abortion drug RU486.

Casini said the proposed changes are based on ideology -- an attempt to convince people that abortion is “a trivial fact -- after all, it is enough to drink a glass of water -- to make us forget that at stake is the destruction of a human being in the prenatal stage.”

RU486 is the administration of two different drugs several days apart. Mifeprex causes the mother’s body to stop nourishing the unborn child; Misoprostol, taken afterward, causes contractions and expels the child and placenta from the mother’s body.

Currently, only two out of 10 abortions which take place in Italy are chemical abortions.

Italian media noted that dropping the hospitalization requirement could result in more Italian women choosing to have a chemical abortion instead of surgical.

In a document from the Superior Health Council, the drop of the hospitalization requirement was also noted to have potentially cost-saving benefits to the health system.

Casini condemned this attitude. “It is much less expensive to give this product to the woman and say: do it yourself, do it alone. It saves beds, anesthesia and even human investment of doctors and health workers,” she noted. “There is a nice cut in spending, however, it is carried out on the skin of children on their way to birth and their mothers.”

Abortion was legalized in Italy in 1978 with the establishment of “Legge 194.” The law made abortion legal for any reason within the first 90 days of pregnancy, and afterward for certain reasons with the referral of a physician.

Since its legalization, it is estimated that more than 6 million children have been aborted in Italy.

Vatican cardinal promotes rural tourism as sector projected to lose billions

Rome Newsroom, Aug 7, 2020 / 09:30 am (CNA).- As the global economy braces to lose billions in international tourism in 2020 due to coronavirus travel restrictions, a Vatican cardinal is encouraging travelers to explore “hidden places.”

Tourism and rural development, the theme of the 2020 World Day of Tourism, could indicate a way forward for the industry once the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic ends, Cardinal Peter Turkson said in a message Aug. 7.

“It begins with the invitation to take seriously and put into practice sustainable development which, in the field of tourism, means a greater interest in extra-urban tourist destinations, small villages, hamlets, roads and little-known and less frequented places,” the cardinal said, “those most hidden places to discover or rediscover precisely because they are more enchanting and unspoiled.”

The United Nation’s 41st World Tourism Day will be September 27.

Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, noted the grave impact the coronavirus pandemic has and will have on the tourism industry and on those whose livelihoods depend on it.

“The suspension of international flights, the closure of airports and borders, the adoption of severe travel restrictions, including domestic ones, are causing an unprecedented crisis,” he said.

The cardinal cited “fears that in the worst-case scenario, at the end of 2020 there will be a decrease of about one billion international tourists, with a global economic loss of about 1.2 billion dollars.”

“The result would be a huge loss of jobs in the entire tourism sector,” he said.

Turkson also quoted the secretary general of the World Tourism Organization, Zurab Pololikashvili, who said “tourism has been the sector most affected by the global lockdown, with millions of jobs at risk in one of the most labor-intensive sectors of the economy.”

Despite these facts, Turkson encouraged people to remain optimistic and to consider how sustainable development can be put into practice through a slower, more “rural” tourism.

“It is, therefore, the promotion of sustainable and responsible tourism which, implemented according to principles of social and economic justice and in full respect of the environment and cultures, recognizes the centrality of the host local community and its right to be a protagonist in the sustainable and socially responsible development of its territory,” he stated.

It is “a tourism, therefore, that favors the positive interaction between the tourism industry, the local community and travelers.”

This would in turn also help the rural economy, on which many farmers, families, and small businesses depend, he argued.

According to Turkson, traveling in a “conscious and sober way” can also help people to “grasp the differences, small or large, among the traditions, places and communities encountered.”

“So why not turn to tourism that enhances rural and marginal areas by meeting them while walking?” he said. “This will allow us to slow down and avoid the risks of frenzy.”

Pope Francis sends donation to Beirut for explosion recovery

Rome Newsroom, Aug 7, 2020 / 08:30 am (CNA).- Pope Francis has sent a donation of 250,000 euros ($295,488) in aid to the Church in Lebanon to help with recovery efforts after the devastating explosion which occurred in the capital city of Beirut earlier this week.

“This donation is intended as a sign of His Holiness’s attention and closeness to the affected population and of his fatherly closeness to people in serious difficulty,” a Vatican press release stated Aug. 7.

More than 137 people were killed and thousands injured in a blast near Beirut’s port Aug. 4. The explosion caused extensive damage to the city and flattened buildings near the port. Beirut’s governor, Marwan Abboud, said around 300,000 people were left temporarily homeless.

Church leaders have warned that the city and nation are on the brink of total collapse, and pleaded with the international community for aid.

Bishop Gregory Mansour of the Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn, and Bishop Elias Zeidan of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles described Beirut as an “apocalyptic city” in a joint call for assisstence on Wednesday.

“This country is at the verge of a failed state and total collapse,” they said. “We pray for Lebanon, and we ask for your support for our brothers and sisters at this difficult time and in response to the catastrophe.”  

Pope Francis’ donation, made through the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, will go to the apostolic nunciature of Beirut “to meet the needs of the Lebanese Church in these moments of difficulty and suffering,” according to the Vatican.

The explosion destroyed “buildings, churches, monasteries, facilities and basic sanitation,” the statement continued. “An immediate emergency and first aid response is already taking place with medical care, shelters for the displaced and centres of basic needs made available by the Church through Caritas Lebanon, Caritas Internationalis and several Caritas sisters organizations.”

Lebanese officials say the blast appears to have been caused by the detonation of more than 2,700 tons of the chemical ammonium nitrate, which is commonly used in fertilizer and mining explosives, stored in an unsecured warehouse on the docks for six years.

Pope Francis made an appeal for prayer for the people of Lebanon after his general audience address Aug. 5.

Speaking via livestream, he said, “let us pray for the victims, for their families; and let us pray for Lebanon, so that, through the dedication of all its social, political, and religious elements, it might face this extremely tragic and painful moment and, with the help of the international community, overcome the grave crisis they are experiencing.”

SSPX accused of intimidating would-be whistleblowers amid abuse investigation

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Aug 6, 2020 / 05:00 pm (CNA).- After an official with the Society of St. Pius X told priests and staff they should speak with criminal investigators only in the presence of an attorney provided by the group, the group’s leaders say their message was not intended to suggest anyone should cover up alleged sex abuse.

The Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) is a breakaway traditionalist group of priests and bishops with no official canonical status in the Church.

Rev. Scott Gardner, bursar of the U.S. district of the SSPX, told staff and priests at St. Mary’s SSPX chapel and school in Kansas last weekend that they did not have to cooperate with state investigators of alleged child sex abuse.

He added that employees and priest should speak to police only in the presence of a lawyer, who would be provided by the organization.

Some former members of the organization said the message, sent by email, seemed designed to silence witnesses or whistleblowers of abuse.

“It looks like they’re trying to hide things, trying to keep people from speaking and definitely stonewalling,” Kyle White, who has alleged that priests in the organization covered up reports of sexual abuse, told the Kansas City Star Aug. 4.

“They don’t want any more stuff like this getting out,” White added.

Gardner said when he emailed priests and staff, he was simply informing them that they did not have to speak to investigators without a lawyer present.
 
“It was certainly not an attempt to intimidate anyone or to discourage cooperation with the KBI,” Gardner said in an Aug. 5 statement.

“This email was clearly sent to priests and employees and not to people attending our church or school in St Mary’s or elsewhere,” the priest said, adding that it was not “an attempt to intimidate anyone or to discourage cooperation” with investigators.

The SSPX is under investigation in the state of Kansas for alleged sex abuse, along with the four Catholic dioceses.

The group was founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1970. When Lefebvre and Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer consecrated four bishops without the permission of St. John Paul II in 1988, the bishops involved were excommunicated.

In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunications of the surviving bishops, while noting that “doctrinal questions obviously remain and until they are clarified the Society has no canonical status in the Church and its ministers cannot legitimately exercise any ministry.”

The group has been in intermittent talks with the Vatican about returning to full communion with the Church. In 2015, Pope Francis extended the faculty to hear confession to priests of the society as part of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

In the group’s U.S. district, however, a number of abuse allegations have surfaced in relation to the large SSPX community at St. Mary’s, Kansas, which includes the society’s K-12 school, as have several allegations that priests engaged in cover-ups of abuse by priests or attendees of SSPX chapels.
 
In 2019, the Kansas Bureau of Investigations (KBI) announced it would investigate clerical sexual misconduct in four Catholic dioceses in the state; the investigation was subsequently expanded to include the SSPX.

In May, a spokesperson for the KBI told CNA the investigation is “ongoing” and that as of February 1, the bureau had 186 reports of abuse and had opened 112 investigations. KBI did not say how many of the investigations pertained to the SSPX.
 
In addition to the Kansas City Star, the weekend email from Gardner was reported on the Church Militant website. Gardner’s statement said of that report that “Church Militant has once again tried to wring fake news out of an internal email by falsifying the context.”

Gardner’s statement did not address the Kansas City Star, or indicate whether he perceived that newspaper as well to be reporting “fake news.”

The priest did say that the SSPX is “making any priest, employee, or agent” available to the KBI “without the need for a subpoena.”
 
Gardner said in his correspondence that he has “no indication that the KBI has been intimidating” anyone, but added that “our legal system is adversarial” and thus it is “common sense for the Society to protect itself and its priests and employees by having its attorney present at an interview with law enforcement.”

“I hope that anyone with evidence of abuse will go freely to the KBI or other appropriate authorities,” he said.
 
KBI has said that it is accepting reports of abuse by phone at 1-800-KS-CRIME, or by email. [email protected]

Atomic bombs contrary to peace: Pope Francis 75 years after Hiroshima attack

Vatican City, Aug 6, 2020 / 10:04 am (CNA).- Nuclear weapons are not compatible with the flourishing of peace, Pope Francis said in a letter to Hiroshima to mark the 75th anniversary of the release of an atomic bomb over the city.

“It has never been clearer that, for peace to flourish, all people need to lay down the weapons of war, and especially the most powerful and destructive of weapons: nuclear arms that can cripple and destroy whole cities, whole countries,” Pope Francis said in a letter to the governor of Hiroshima, Hidehiko Yuzaki.

The year 2020 marks 75 years since the 1945 nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Japanese.

Pope Francis visited the hypocenters of the bombings in Nagasaki and Hiroshima during his apostolic visit to Japan in November 2019.

He said his visit to Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial and to Hypocenter Park in Nagasaki allowed him to reflect “on the destruction of human life and property wrought in these two cities during those terrible days of war three quarters of a century ago.”

“Just as I came to Japan as a pilgrim of peace last year, so I continue to hold in my heart the longing of the peoples of our time, especially of young people, who thirst for peace and make sacrifices for peace,” the pope said.

“I carry too the cry of the poor, who are always among the first victims of violence and conflict,” he added.

In his letter, Francis repeated his words in Nagasaki in 2019, that “the use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral.”

“May the prophetic voices of the hibakusha survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki continue to serve as a warning to us and for coming generations!” he said.

“To them, and to all who work for reconciliation, we make the words of the psalmist our own: ‘For love of my brethren and friends, I say: Peace upon you!.’”

Pope Francis has several times condemned the use of nuclear weapons, including in a video message to Japan ahead of his 2019 visit.

Calling use of the weapons “immoral,” he said he was praying they will never be used again.

Japan “is very aware of the suffering caused by war,” the pope said. “Together with you, I pray that the destructive power of nuclear weapons will never be unleashed again in human history. Using nuclear weapons is immoral.”