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Bishop condemns 'abhorrently evil' slaying of 10 at Buffalo supermarket

olice on scene at a Tops Friendly Market on May 14, 2022 in Buffalo, New York. According to reports, at least 10 people were killed after a mass shooting at the store with the shooter in police custody. / John Normile/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 15, 2022 / 06:16 am (CNA).

Ten people were killed and three others injured Saturday when a teenage gunman opened fire with an assault rifle at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.

Authorities are calling the mass shooting a racially motivated hate crime and say the gunman specifically targeted the store because it is located in a predominantly Black neighborhood. Eleven of those shot were Black, while the other two victims were white, authorities said.

The gunman, identified as Payton S. Gendron of Conklin, New York, livestreamed the attack. He surrendered to police at the scene.

Bishop Michael W. Fisher of the Diocese of Buffalo issued a statement on Twitter after the shootings.

Fisher said that “what unfortunately has become an all too common occurrence in this country has now shown its abhorrently evil face in Buffalo as we have now learned that 10 innocent souls have lost their lives here.

“On behalf of the Diocese of Buffalo, I, in the strongest of terms, condemn this utterly senseless act and pray for the victims and all those impacted by this act of cowardice,” Fisher said.

“May the Good Lord guide us as we pray that our society regain respect for life and for an end to this tragic and despicable act in this beautiful city of ours. I encourage all Catholics and all people of faith to come together in prayer for the victims and for peace.”

The statement concluded: “The scourge of senseless gun violence that has taken the lives of so many across our nation and changed the lives of countless innocent men, women and children must come to an end.”

After driving some 200 miles to Buffalo, Gendron parked outside the Tops Friendly Market around 2:30 p.m. Saturday, authorities said. He began shooting in the parking lot, where he killed three people and injured another person, authorities said. He then moved inside the store, where he exchanged fire with a retired Buffalo police officer working as a security guard, killing him, authorities said.

The guard shot Gendron but the gunman’s tactical gear prevented him from being seriously injured, authorities said. Gendron proceeded to shoot more people inside the store before police arriving at the scene talked him into surrendering.

The gunman is believed to have posted a manifesto online in which he expresses racist, anti-immigrant views and claims that white Americans were at risk of being replaced by people of color, the New York Times reported.

He was arraigned on first-degree murder charges and appeared in court Saturday evening wearing a bandage over his shoulder, USA Today reported.

The White House issued a statement from President Biden on the shootings Saturday evening.

“Tonight, we grieve for the families of ten people whose lives were senselessly taken and everyone who is suffering the physical and emotional wounds of this horrific shooting. We are grateful for the bravery of members of law enforcement and other first responders who took immediate action to try to protect and save lives. The First Lady and I are praying for the victims and their families, and hearts all across this country are with the people of Buffalo,” Biden said.

“We still need to learn more about the motivation for today’s shooting as law enforcement does its work, but we don’t need anything else to state a clear moral truth: A racially motivated hate crime is abhorrent to the very fabric of this nation,” Biden continued. 

“Any act of domestic terrorism, including an act perpetrated in the name of a repugnant white nationalist ideology, is antithetical to everything we stand for in America. Hate must have no safe harbor. We must do everything in our power to end hate-fueled domestic terrorism.”

Full text of Pope Francis’ homily for the canonization Mass of 10 saints

Canonization Mass on May 15, 2022 / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, May 15, 2022 / 05:40 am (CNA).

On Sunday, Pope Francis declared 10 holy men and women to be saints of the Catholic Church before around 45,000 people during a canonization Mass in St. Peter’s Square.

At the end of Mass, the pope led people from all over the world in praying the Marian antiphon, Regina Caeli, in honor of the Virgin Mary.

Before the prayer, he said: “It is good to see that, through their evangelical witness, these saints have fostered the spiritual and social growth of their respective nations and also of the entire human family.”

“While sadly,” he continued, “distances grow in the world and tensions and wars increase, may the new saints inspire solutions of togetherness, ways of dialogue, especially in the hearts and minds of those who hold positions of great responsibility and are called to be protagonists of peace and not of war.”

Below is the full text of Pope Francis’ homily at Mass:

We have heard what Jesus told his disciples before leaving this world and returning to the Father. He told us what it means to be a Christian: “Even as I have loved you, so you must love one another” (Jn 13:34). This is the legacy that Christ bequeathed to us, the ultimate criterion for discerning whether or not we are truly his disciples. It is the commandment of love. Let us stop to consider two essential elements of this commandment: Jesus’ love for us —“as I have loved you” — and the love he asks us to show to others — “so you must love one another.”

First, the words “as I have loved you”. How did Jesus love us?  To the very end, to the total gift of himself. It is striking to think that he spoke these words on that night of darkness, when the atmosphere in the Upper Room was one of deep emotion and anxiety: deep emotion, because the Master was about to bid farewell to his disciples; anxiety because he had said that one of them would betray him. We can imagine the sorrow that filled the heart of Jesus, the dark clouds that were gathering in the hearts of the apostles, and their bitterness at seeing Judas who, after receiving the morsel dipped for him by the Master, left the room to enter into the night of betrayal. Yet at the very hour of his betrayal, Jesus reaffirmed his love for his own. For amid the darkness and tempests of life, that is the most important thing of all: God loves us.

Brothers and sisters, may this message be the core of our own faith and all the ways in which we express it: “…not that we loved God but that he loved us” (1 Jn 4:10). Let us never forget this.  Our abilities and our merits are not the central thing, but rather the unconditional, free and unmerited love of God. Our Christian lives begin not with doctrine and good works, but with the amazement born of realizing that we are loved, prior to any response on our part. While the world frequently tries to convince us that we are valued only for what we can produce, the Gospel reminds us of the real truth of life: we are loved. A contemporary spiritual writer put it this way: “Long before any human being saw us, we were seen by God’s loving eyes.  Long before anyone heard us cry or laugh, we were heard by our God, who is all ears for us.  Long before any person spoke to us in this world, we were spoken to by the voice of eternal love” (H. NOUWEN, Life of the Beloved). He loved us first; he waits for us; he keeps loving us. This is our identity: we are God’s loved ones. This is our strength: we are loved by God.

Acknowledging this truth requires a conversion in the way we often think of holiness. At times, by over-emphasizing our efforts to do good works, we have created an ideal of holiness excessively based on ourselves, our personal heroics, our capacity for renunciation, our readiness for self-sacrifice to achieve a reward. This can at times appear as an overly “pelagian” way of viewing life and holiness. We have turned holiness into an unattainable goal. We have separated it from everyday life, instead of looking for it and embracing it in our daily routines, in the dust of the streets, in the trials of real life and, in the words of Teresa of Avila to her Sisters, “among the pots and pans”. Being disciples of Jesus and advancing on the path of holiness means first and foremost letting ourselves be transfigured by the power of God’s love. Let us never forget the primacy of God over self, of the Spirit over the flesh, of grace over works.  For we at times give more importance to self, flesh and works. No, the primacy is that of God over self, of the Spirit over the flesh, of grace over works.

The love that we receive from the Lord is the force that transforms our lives.  It opens our hearts and enables us to love. For this reason, Jesus says — here is the second element — “as I have loved you, so must you love one another”. That word “as” is not simply an invitation to imitate Jesus’ love; it tells us that we are able to love only because he has loved us, because he pours into our hearts his own Spirit, the Spirit of holiness, love that heals and transforms. As a result, we can make decisions and perform works of love in every situation and for every brother and sister whom we meet, because we ourselves are loved and we have the power to love.  As I myself am loved, so I can love others. The love I give is united to Jesus’ love for me.  “As” he loved me, so I can love others. The Christian life is just that simple. Let’s not make it more complicated with so many things. It is just that simple.

In practice, what does it mean to live this love? Before giving us this commandment, Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet; then, after giving it, he gave himself up to the wood of the cross. To love means this: to serve and to give one’s life. To serve, that is, not to put our own interests first: to clear our systems of the poison of greed and competitiveness; to fight the cancer of indifference and the worm of self-referentiality; to share the charisms and gifts that God has given  us. Specifically, we should ask ourselves, “What do I do for others?” That is what it means to love, to go about our daily lives in a spirit of service, with unassuming love and without seeking any recompense.

Then, to give one’s life. This is about more than simply offering something of ours to others; it is about giving them our very selves. I like to ask people who seek my counsel whether they give alms.  And if they do, whether they touch the hand of the recipient or simply, antiseptically, throw down the alms. Those people usually blush and say no. And I ask whether, in giving alms, they look the person in the eye, or look the other way. They say no. Touching and looking, touching and looking at the flesh of Christ who suffers in our brothers and sisters. This is very important; it is what it means to give one’s life.

Holiness does not consist of a few heroic gestures, but of many small acts of daily love. “Are you called to the consecrated life? So many of you are here today! Then be holy by living out your commitment with joy. Are you married? Be holy by loving and caring for your husband or wife, as Christ does for the Church. Do you work for a living? Be holy by laboring with integrity and skill in the service of your brothers and sisters, by fighting for justice for your comrades, so that they do not remain without work, so that they always receive a just wage. Are you a parent or grandparent? Be holy by patiently teaching the little ones how to follow Jesus. Tell me, are you in a position of authority? So many people in authority are here today! Then be holy by working for the common good and renouncing personal gain” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 14). This is the path of holiness, and it is so simple! To see Jesus always in others.

To serve the Gospel and our brothers and sisters, to offer our lives without expecting anything in return, any worldly glory: this is a secret and it is our calling. That was how our fellow travelers canonized today lived their holiness. By embracing with enthusiasm their vocation — as a priest, as a consecrated woman, as a lay person — they devoted their lives to the Gospel. They discovered an incomparable joy and they became brilliant reflections of the Lord of history. For that is what a saint is: a luminous reflection of the Lord of history. May we strive to do the same. The path of holiness is not barred; it is universal and it starts with Baptism. Let us strive to follow it, for each of us is called to holiness, to a form of holiness all our own. Holiness is always “original”, as Blessed Carlo Acutis used to say: it is not a photocopy, but an “original”, mine, yours, all of ours. It is uniquely our own. Truly, the Lord has a plan of love for everyone. He has a dream for your life, for my life, for the life of each of us. What else can I say? Pursue that dream with joy. 

Pope Francis canonizes 10 new saints of the Catholic Church

Canonization Mass on May 15, 2022 / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, May 15, 2022 / 03:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Sunday recognized 10 new saints of the Catholic Church during a canonization Mass in St. Peter’s Square.

It was the Church’s first canonization since that of St. John Henry Newman and four others in October 2019.

Religious men and women, priests, and a lay man are among the 10 people who are recognized to be in heaven after living lives of exemplary holiness on earth.

“Holiness does not consist of a few heroic gestures, but of many small acts of daily love,” Pope Francis said during his homily on May 15, a sunny, warm day in Rome.

Pope Francis, who has been suffering from knee pain and has used a wheelchair to avoid walking in recent days, was able to stand for a short time and walk short distances during the Mass. He had assistance and walked visibly slower than in the recent past.

The Mass began with the rite of canonization, which included the reading of short biographies of each blessed, read by Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

A litany of saints was sung before Pope Francis recited the formula of canonization.

He declared: “For the honor of the Blessed Trinity, the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the increase of the Christian life, by the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own, after due deliberation and frequent prayer for divine assistance, and having sought the counsel of many of our brother bishops, we declare and define Blessed Titus Brandsma, Lazarus known as Devasahayam, César de Bus, Luigi Maria Palazzolo, Giustino Maria Russolillo, Charles de Foucauld, Marie Rivier, Maria Francesca di Gesu Rubatto, Maria di Gesù Santocanale, and Maria Domenica Mantovani to be saints and we enroll them among the saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole Church. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

“To serve the Gospel and our brothers and sisters, to offer our lives without expecting anything in return, or any worldly glory: this is our calling. That was how our fellow travelers canonized today lived their holiness,” Pope Francis said.

“By embracing with enthusiasm their vocation — some as a priest, others as a consecrated woman, as a lay person — they devoted their lives to the Gospel,” he said. “They discovered an incomparable joy and they became brilliant reflections of the Lord of history. For that is what a saint is: a luminous reflection of the Lord of history.”

“May we strive to do the same — the path of holiness is not barred; it is universal and it begins with baptism. It is not barred. May we strive to follow it, for each of us is called to holiness, to a form of holiness all our own,” he added.

The new saints are:

-Charles de Foucauld: A French soldier and explorer who became a Trappist monk and Catholic missionary to Muslims in Algeria. Known as Brother Charles of Jesus, he was killed in 1916 at the age of 58.

-Titus Brandsma: A Dutch priest, professor, and journalist who opposed Nazi propaganda in Catholic newspapers. He was killed by lethal injection in Dachau in 1942.

-Devasahayam Pillai: A layman from India who was tortured and martyred after converting from Hinduism to Catholicism in the 18th century.

-Marie Rivier: The founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Presentation. The Frenchwoman founded the order in 1796, at the age of 28, during the Reign of Terror.

-Maria Francesca of Jesus: A 19th-century missionary founder who crossed the Atlantic Ocean seven times by boat to establish an order of Capuchin sisters in Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil.

-Maria Domenica Mantovani: The first general superior of the Institute of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family, which she co-founded to serve the poor, orphaned, and the sick in Italy in 1892.

-Maria of Jesus Santocanale: The founder of the Capuchin Sisters of Immaculate Mary of Lourdes in Sicily in 1910. She spent most of her free moments, day or night, in front of the tabernacle. 

-César de Bus: A French Catholic priest who founded two religious congregations in the 16th century. He was a zealous preacher and catechist, who performed many works of charity.

-Luigi Maria Palazzolo: An Italian priest who is known for having established the Sisters of the Poor, opened an orphanage, and worked for the poor. 

-Giustino Maria Russolillo: The founder of the religious congregations of the Vocationist Fathers, the Vocationist Sisters and of the Secular Institute of the Apostles of Universal Sanctification in Italy. The priest was devoted to educating young people and cultivating their vocations.

The canonization Mass was attended by an estimated 45,000 people, many of whom traveled from outside Italy.

Among those present in St. Peter’s Square were also Italian President Sergio Mattarella, French Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin, Dutch Minister of the Exterior Wopke Hoekstra, Indian Minister of Minorities Gingee K. S. Mathan, and Algerian President of the High Islamic Committee Bouabdellah Ghoulamallah.

In remarks at the conclusion of Mass before the Regina Caeli prayers, the pope greeted the official delegations from several countries which had attended the canonizations. He also greeted all the faithful from all around the world who had attended the Mass.

Pope Francis encouraged Catholic Christians to imitate the example of the saints.

“It is good to see that, with their evangelical witness, these Saints have fostered the spiritual and social growth of their respective nations and also of the entire human family,” the pope said. “While sadly in the world distances grow, and tensions and wars increase, may the new saints inspire solutions of togetherness and ways of dialogue, especially in the hearts and minds of those who hold positions of great responsibility and are called upon to be agents of peace, not war.”

“And now, let us turn to the Virgin Mary, so that she may help us joyfully imitate the example of the new saints,” said Pope Francis.

Staff Writer Kevin J. Jones contributed to this story.

Catholic cathedral attacked in Nigeria after arrests over ‘blasphemy’ killing

Holy Family Catholic Cathedral in Sokoto, northwest Nigeria. / catholicdiocese-sokoto.org.

London, England, May 15, 2022 / 00:52 am (CNA).

A mob has attacked a Catholic cathedral in Nigeria amid protests demanding the release of two suspects in the killing of a Christian student.

The Diocese of Sokoto said in a statement that youths targeted Holy Family Catholic Cathedral in Sokoto, north-west Nigeria, after police arrested two students in connection with the murder of Deborah Samuel.

Samuel, a student at Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto, was beaten and burned on May 11 after being accused of posting “blasphemous” statements about Islam in a WhatsApp group.

The Sokoto diocese said: “The Sokoto State Government has declared a 24-hour curfew to help stem the ongoing protests embarked upon by Muslim youth in the state capital today.”

“During the protest, groups of youths led by some adults in the background attacked the Holy Family Catholic Cathedral at Bello Way, destroying church glass windows, those of the Bishop Lawton Secretariat and vandalized a community bus parked within the premises.”

“St. Kevin’s Catholic Church, Gidan Dere, Eastern By-pass, was also attacked and partly burnt; windows of the new hospital complex under construction, in the same premises, were shattered.”

“They were promptly dispersed by a team of mobile policemen before they could do further damage.”

“The hoodlums also attacked the Bakhita Centre located along Aliyu Jodi Road and burnt down a bus within the premises.”

The Diocese of Sokoto includes all of Sokoto State (in red), as well as parts of the neighboring states of Zamfara, Kebbi and Katsina. Himalayan Explorer, based on work by Uwe Dedering via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).
The Diocese of Sokoto includes all of Sokoto State (in red), as well as parts of the neighboring states of Zamfara, Kebbi and Katsina. Himalayan Explorer, based on work by Uwe Dedering via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Sokoto Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah thanked state governor Aminu Tambuwal for imposing the curfew to quell protests, as well as the security forces for preventing further damage to diocesan facilities.

The diocese added: “Contrary to information in circulation, we wish to disclaim that there was an attack of any sort on the residence of Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah.”

“The bishop appeals to Christians to remain law-abiding and pray for the return of normalcy. All Masses in Sokoto metropolis have been suspended until the curfew is lifted.”

Sokoto is a predominantly Muslim city of more than 600,000 people in the far north west of Nigeria, a country roughly evenly divided between Christians and Muslims.

Kukah, who has led the Sokoto diocese since 2011, expressed “deep shock” at the “gruesome murder” of Samuel in a May 11 statement.

He said: “We condemn this incident in the strongest terms and call on the authorities to investigate this tragedy and ensure that all the culprits are brought to book.”

Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah. .  Aid to the Church in Need/James Nicholls.
Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah. . Aid to the Church in Need/James Nicholls.

“The only obligation that is owed her immediate family, her fellow students, and the school authorities is the assurance that those who are guilty of this inhuman act, no matter their motivation, are punished according to the extant laws of our land.”

He went on: “This has nothing to do with religion. Christians have lived peacefully with their Muslim neighbors here in Sokoto over the years. This matter must be treated as a criminal act and the law must take its cause.”

“Meanwhile, I wish to call on all Christians in Sokoto and around to remain calm and to please pray for the repose of the soul of Ms. Deborah. It is the first obligation we owe her. May God grant her eternal rest and console her immediate family.”

Nigeria is ranked seventh on the World Watch List for the persecution of Christians compiled by the advocacy group Open Doors.

Christians in Africa’s most populous country have suffered growing insecurity in recent years amid attacks by the Islamist organization Boko Haram and the Fulani Militia, a nomadic, predominantly Muslim group.

Christian leaders have consistently accused President Muhammadu Buhari, who has led the country since 2015, of failing to tackle the violence.

Arrest made in Texas church theft, though tabernacle remains missing

The tabernacle belonging to St. Bartholomew the Apostle Catholic Church in Katy, Texas, was stolen May 8, 2022. / Screenshot from YouTube video

Houston, Texas, May 14, 2022 / 15:03 pm (CNA).

A suspect has been charged with burglary in connection with the theft of a tabernacle from a parish church in Greater Houston, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston announced Friday.

The tabernacle had been stolen from St. Bartholomew the Apostle Catholic Church in Katy, Texas, May 8.

“Thanks to the Katy Police Department's diligent efforts and skill, a suspect has been apprehended and charged with burglary. It is our understanding the theft was not motivated by last week's release of the draft Supreme Court opinion involving Roe v Wade,” the Galveston-Houston archdiocese announced May 13.

“Sadly, the tabernacle has not yet been recovered, though efforts by the Katy police are ongoing. In any case, such a theft beyond material price is immeasurably hurtful to us and speaking theologically, is sacrilegious.”

The suspect was identified by the Houston Chronicle as Christian James Meritt.

The archdiocese stated: “We offer our profound gratitude to the Katy Police for their hard work in the investigation.”

“We ask all to continue praying with us for the parish and all those involved in this matter,” it added.

International community laments Cardinal Zen's 'precarious' position

Cardinal Joseph Zen. / Twitter @krislc

Denver Newsroom, May 14, 2022 / 11:23 am (CNA).

The arrest this week of Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun in Hong Kong continues to attract international condemnation, with the U.S. bishops calling the situation “alarming.”

The cardinal’s arrest “indicates the downward trend in respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights in Hong Kong,” Bishop Malloy of Rockford, chair of the U.S. bishops’ international justice and peace committee, said May 12.

“Although Cardinal Zen has been released on bail, his situation remains precarious,” he added.

Cardinal Zen was arrested May 11 under China’s national security law with at least four others for his role as a trustee of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, which helped pro-democracy protesters in the special administrative region of Hong Kong to pay their legal fees.

The president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ conferences, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, expressed May 14 “profound concern about the situation for human rights and threats to religious freedom in Hong Kong” in light of Cardinal Zen’s arrest.

He urged prayer for the region, and that people “speak out for freedom and justice.”

While Hong Kong, a British colony until 1997, “used to be one of Asia’s freest and most open cities,” it is now “transformed into a police state,” Cardinal Bo said, noting that freedoms of expression, press, and assembly “have all been dismantled.” He added there are signs that religious freedom “is threatened” and that religious leaders are self-censoring.

“To see a government in China break its promises made in an international treaty, the Sino-British Joint Declaration, so repeatedly and blatantly, is appalling.”

Regarding the supposed crimes of Cardinal Zen, the Burmese cardinal said: “In any system where the rule of law exists, providing assistance to people facing prosecution meet their legal fees is a proper and accepted right. How can it be a crime to help accused persons have legal defence and representation?”

He encouraged another week of prayer for China around the feast of Our Lady of Seshan, focusing on Cardinal Zen, Hong Kong, Chinese Christians, and other persecuted Chinese groups, including Uyghurs and Tibetans.

Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, wrote May 13 that since the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and massacre, “the Chinese Communist Party’s appalling human rights record and repression of political freedoms have only worsened.”

In an opinion piece at The Washington Post, the California Democrat called Cardinal Zen “a critical voice of conscience: an embodiment of moral fortitude, who has been a constant presence as Hong Kong has led a decades-long pursuit of the freedoms promised with the handover from British rule.”

She too noted China’s failure to uphold the terms of Hong Kong’s handover: “Nearly 25 years later, China’s pledges have been utterly abandoned. Any pretense that Hong Kong’s rights would be respected has been shattered by violence and intimidation.”

“Zen’s arrest is one of the clearest signs yet of Beijing’s worsening crackdown as Hong Kong fights for its freedoms — and of Beijing’s growing desperation and fear that it is losing this fight,” Pelosi wrote.

Cardinal Zen, who was Archbishop of Hong Kong from 2002 to 2009, has long advocated for underground Catholics in mainland China.

The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, told journalists May 12 his “most concrete hope is that initiatives like this cannot complicate the already complex and not simple path of dialogue between the Holy See and the Church in China.”

Catholic University awards honorary degree to imprisoned human rights advocate Jimmy Lai

Hong Kong media tycoon and Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai. / Napa Institute.

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 14, 2022 / 09:00 am (CNA).

The Catholic University of America on Saturday awarded an honorary degree to imprisoned Hong Kong human rights advocate Jimmy Lai. His adult son, Sebastien Lai, accepted the award on his father’s behalf.

The younger Lai spoke about the university’s recognition of his father in an interview with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo earlier this week.

“It really means a lot to have the support of all these great people,” he said on “The World Over” May 12.

“I’m sure he’ll be very happy to receive this award, and I’m sure knowing that all these people are praying for him, and knowing that all these people have the same thoughts towards freedom and freedom of religion, freedom of expression, will make him incredibly happy," he added. You can watch the full interview in the video below.


A devout Catholic and media magnate, Jimmy Lai, 74, has been arrested numerous times for his pro-democracy activism and is awaiting trial on sedition charges related to the stringent national security law the China’s communist government imposed on Hong Kong in July 2020.

Most recently he was sentenced in December 2021 to 13 months in prison on a charge of unlawful assembly, stemming from his participation in an annual vigil commemorating the 1989 crackdown of pro-democracy demonstrators at Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

Authorities in Hong Kong also have shuttered Lai’s influential Hong Kong newspaper, Apple Daily.

Under the new security law, a person who is convicted of secession, subversion, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces will receive a minimum of 10 years in prison, with the possibility of a life sentence.

In a video interview produced by the Napa Institute prior to his imprisonment, Lai spoke about his Catholic faith and the role it played in his outspoken defense of human rights for the past 30 years, citing "the Lord's teaching that your life is not about yourself."

"When you lift yourself above your own self-interest, you find the meaning of life. You find you're doing the right thing, which is so wonderful. It changed my life into a different thing," Jimmy Lai said of his conversion to Catholicism in 1997.

"The way I look at it, if I suffer for the right cause, it only defines the person I am becoming. It can only be good for me to become a better person. If you believe in the Lord, if you believe that all suffering has a reason, and the Lord is suffering with me … I'm at peace with it."

Bestowed during The Catholic University of America’s commencement in Washington, D.C. Saturday, the honorary degree comes just days after Cardinal Joseph Zen, the 90-year-old archbishop emeritus of Hong Kong and outspoken advocate for human rights and religious freedom in China, was detained by Hong Kong’s national security forces. Zen baptized Jimmy Lai in 1997.

In his interview with Arroyo, Sebastien Lai spoke about Zen as a close friend of his family and said his detention was a “strong act” by Hong Kong authorities.

The younger Lai observed that “Hong Kong used to be this island off the coast of China that had its own legal system and freedoms and it just seems that these ideals keep getting degraded every single news cycle.”

He said he is able to correspond with his father, who he said draws a picture of Jesus on the back of each letter he sends.

The Catholic University of America’s Class of 2022 has 1,496 graduates. Dominican Father Joseph White, O.P., rector of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, delivered this year’s commencement speech.

TLM altar boys implore cardinal: Consider our love for Latin Mass

Altar boys swing incense in a procession in Cologne, Germany. / Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 14, 2022 / 06:00 am (CNA).

Six Latin Mass altar servers in a Washington, D.C. parish have written an impassioned letter to the Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Wilton Gregory, imploring him to consider their positive experiences in the Traditional Latin Mass when implementing the Vatican’s new guidance on the Extraordinary Form.

“For us, the Latin Mass is a refuge,” the May 4 letter, posted on the parish's Facebook page, says. “A refuge where the evils of the world and the struggles of life cannot penetrate. We believe it is the closest thing to heaven on earth and we would love to see it continue.”

Pope Francis issued a motu proprio in July 2021 called Traditionis custodes that includes new guidance and restrictions on when and where the Roman Missal of 1962, typically referred to as the Traditional Latin Mass, may be used. The document, which gives local bishops increased authority on the celebration of the Extraordinary Form, was received with much pain and confusion among Catholics who participate in the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass. 

Although many bishops issued temporary guidance for their dioceses, there have been few reports of permanent guidance issued. The Archdiocese of Washington has yet to issue permanent guidance.

Altar boys serving at a Traditional Latin Mass at St. Mary Mother of God parish in Washington, D.C. Screenshot of Facebook livestream video
Altar boys serving at a Traditional Latin Mass at St. Mary Mother of God parish in Washington, D.C. Screenshot of Facebook livestream video

The letter, written by altar boys from St. Mary Mother of God parish in the nation’s capital, says that if the Latin Mass were no longer allowed at St. Mary’s, it would feel like “losing something precious, something of ourselves, nearly comparable to losing a loved one.”

The altar boys wrote that they wish to “partake in the mystery of the Eucharist” through the Latin Mass and added that “hopefully, one or more of us will be called to serve Our Lord as a priest.”

The altar boys remain unnamed. The letter is signed, simply, “St. Mary’s Altar Boys.”

“We have been going to the Latin Mass at St. Mary's since we were born and have loved it since we were old enough to understand the beauty of it,” the letter says.

The altar boys wrote that they drive an hour to get to the church to serve Mass.

“The experience of serving the Mass is amazing and we also find great joy in teaching the young boys how to serve the Mass and leading them through the motions and prayers,” the letter says.

The letter continues: “From the Gloria on Holy Thursday to the Procession with the Infant at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and the sad but beautiful liturgy of Good Friday we enjoy every bit of partaking in the great work of Christ. Our siblings have been baptized into the Church at St. Mary's and our families have received first Holy Communions there and been reconciled with God in our first Confessions at St. Mary's.”

The letter concludes: “We ask that you consider these words when you make your decision about the continuing of this beautiful form of Jesus' Sacrifice on the Cross.”

A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Washington was not immediately available for comment Saturday.

Roe v. Wade: Could the Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs case come Monday?

Security fencing was erected outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., after the leak of a preliminary draft opinion in a pivotal abortion case that could decide the fate of the Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973 that legalized abortion nationwide. / Katie Yoder

Washington D.C., May 14, 2022 / 05:25 am (CNA).

The Supreme Court’s scheduled release of one or more opinions on Monday is fueling speculation that it may issue a decision then in the Mississippi abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

May 16 marks the first “opinion issuance day” since the leak of a draft opinion in the case that suggests justices will overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973.

When the court announced that Monday would be a decision day, “I think everybody’s ears kind of perked up,” Katie Glenn, government affairs counsel for the pro-life group Americans United for Life, told CNA.

While the court traditionally waits to issue decisions in bigger, more controversial cases like Dobbs until the end of the court’s term in late June or early July, the leak of the draft opinion, written by Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., threw into question that expectation.

In the wake of the bombshell leak, first published by Politico on May 2, several pro-life leaders and organizations have said they believe the court ought to come out with the decision quickly.

"The unprecedented leak is an attempt by the Left to corrupt the Court’s deliberation process and bully the justices into changing their majority opinion,” Carrie Severino, the president of the Judicial Crisis Network, told CNA. “For the sake of the Court's own integrity, it would be appropriate to release the opinion as soon as possible.”

In response to the leak, abortion activists protested outside of justices’ private homes and attacked Catholic churches and pro-life pregnancy centers. At the same time, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. stressed that the “work of the Court will not be affected in any way” by the leaked draft, which the Supreme Court confirmed is authentic. 

Roberts and the eight other justices met in private for the first time since the leak on Thursday, May 12, the Associated Press reported. Justices could decide Dobbs on Monday, legal experts say, or they could decide any of the 37 other cases that have yet to be ruled on before the court breaks for summer recess.

Glenn of Americans United for Life outlined several possible outcomes. Justices might want to get the decision out of the way now, as people protest outside their homes, and attempt to diffuse the situation. She could also see justices waiting until June to show that the pressure and tactics directed at them do not influence the court’s behavior. 

Justices could also still be working on the main opinion or concurrences and dissents.

“It could be just a timing issue,” Glenn suggested. “They can't release it on Monday because it's not finished.” 

Monday is the earliest scheduled date for the justices to issue a decision in Dobbs. The latest date they could release it is more uncertain.

While the last Thursday of June usually marks the end of the Supreme Court’s term, Glenn said that, “depending on how all of this changes their schedule or if there are a lot of concurrences and dissenting opinions — more than normal — they very easily could go into July.”

Lauren Muzyka, an attorney who serves as the president and CEO of Sidewalk Advocates for Life, outlined two possible outcomes regarding the timing of the decision.

She told CNA that the leak, “rather than forcing the Justices to move more quickly than they’d originally intended, might actually convince them to stick to their ground and maintain their original schedule, simply out of principle.”

“Still, knowing that Justice Alito and his family have been taken to a secure location for protection right now and other Justices have been given increased security as well,” she added, “I also wouldn't be surprised if Chief Justice Roberts made a decision to push it out Monday.”

Muzyka said that, regardless, the pro-life movement’s mission remains the same: empowering women to choose life.

“Even with the furor out there at the moment — pregnancy centers and churches being vandalized plus violent commentary on social media and television — that’s not going to stop the pro-life movement from reaching mothers in crisis with the news that they have options, resources, and they deserve better than abortion,” Muzyka concluded. “And I don’t think it’s necessarily going to move the Supreme Court to change direction, either.”

How do we know if we are listening to God's voice, or our own? This author has some advice

Carrell Jamilano, author of The Alluring Voice of God. / Carrell Jamilano

Denver Newsroom, May 14, 2022 / 05:04 am (CNA).

Discernment is hard. How do we know if the voice we’re listening to is God’s, or our own? 

“The Alluring Voice of God: Forming Daily Encounters” (Liguori Publications, 2021) by Carrell Jamilano strives to offer individuals practical tips on how to hear the voice of God among all the noise of their daily lives. The engaging read offers guidance for those seeking to develop a more intimate relationship with God.

As a spiritual director and former director of young-adult ministry, Jamilano was inspired to write this book with the goal to answer the tough questions she frequently received from the young Catholics she ministered to. 

In an interview with CNA, Jamilano explained that she “wanted to give these individuals a practical resource that would help them better hear God’s voice in their everyday lives.” 

Carrell Jamilano, author of The Alluring Voice of God. Carrell Jamilano
Carrell Jamilano, author of The Alluring Voice of God. Carrell Jamilano

“It includes how to develop a more intimate relationship with God providing step-by-step guidance at the end of every chapter,” she added. 

So, how do we develop that intimate relationship with God and recognize His will? 

In the journey of discerning God’s will for each of our lives, we must first recognize the different ways in which God speaks. Jamilano offers 5 ways through which God speaks: prayer, sacred scripture, silence, tradition, and nontraditional means. 

  1. Prayer

Jamilano writes in the book that “prayer is the conduit through which we develop a personal and living relationship with Abba, our heavenly Father.” It’s personal, involves our whole heart, and it’s a conversation with God requiring us to both speak and listen. Additionally, she advises to invoke the Holy Spirit as you pray. “The Holy Spirit is a friend and advocate who leads us, already working on our behalf to make us more receptive to God’s voice,” she says.

  1. Sacred Scripture

Distinguishing God’s voice is an important part of discernment. Jamilano expresses that “taking the time to get to know God by reading Scripture is vital to understanding which voice is his.” Many examples are given of individuals who receive clarity through spending time with the Word of God. Prayers are answered and insight is gained into who we are and what God has intended for us. 

  1. Silence

In the busyness of our lives, it can be challenging to sit down in silence. When we pray, we tend to do all the talking. However, how many times do you stop and sit in silence? Jamilano emphasizes the importance of removing all distractions and giving God our full attention. She says, “When we are silent, we acknowledge God’s presence, and we give him the opportunity to respond to our prayers” and adds that “silence amplifies our inner voice.” This inner voice, Jamilano explains, is the Holy Spirit which, when we spend moments in silence, helps us to begin to notice where the Holy Spirit is calling us and realize what God is calling us to do. 

  1. Tradition

In the book, Catholic tradition is defined as, “all the practices that have been given to us by our predecessors through apostolic succession,” including all the prayers and teachings that unite Catholics. Therefore, Jamilano makes the point that the Mass, the sacraments, and our traditional prayers are all ways in which God can speak to us. 

  1. Nontraditional Means

Jamilano describes nontraditional means as “the unexpected ways God chooses to speak to us.” Examples include other people, music, a tv show or movie, art, nature, and even in the ordinary tasks of the day. 

How to Discern

Now that we are familiar with the different ways in which we can hear God’s voice speak to us, the process of discerning becomes possible. 

“Discernment is a process of uncovering God’s will about a significant decision in our life,” she defines in the book. These are the five tips she offers for discernment. 

  1. Spend time in sacred silence 

 Allowing yourself to spend time in the presence of the Lord and simply listen “enables us to confront the inner stirrings of our hearts.”

  1. Seek wisdom 

According to the author, some of the best sources include scripture, tradition, nature, people, and nontraditional means.

  1. Listen to your heart 

Reflect on your several choices, pray, and allow your heart to lead you.

  1. Test the call 

Readers are encouraged to “take a leap of faith and live out the call” after spending time in prayer, seeking wisdom and listening to your heart. 

  1. Choose love  

“Finally, pray about which choice would enable you to love God and others more fully,” Jamilano suggests in the book. Typically, the option that brings you closer to God “is exactly where you need to be.” 

Equipped with the tools to talk and listen to God, Jamilano said that she hopes her book “will help youth, young adults, and all those desiring a more intimate relationship with God to experience a profound encounter with Him and set this world aflame!”

“The message I hope readers will get from “The Alluring Voice of God” is not only that God hears our prayers, but also responds to each and every one of them out of undying love for us,” she said. “God is with us, and He desires to be part of every area of our life. He hears us, He thirsts for us, and He loves us!”