Thieves steal statues used at synod prayer, throw them in the river

A wooden statue of a pregnant woman is pictured in the Church of St. Mary in Traspontina as part of exhibits on the Amazon region during the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon in Rome Oct. 18, 2019. Several copies of the statue were stolen from the church and thrown into the Tiber River Oct. 21. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Updated 10/22

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) — Two men entered a Catholic Church near the Vatican early Oct. 21 and stole copies of a statue of a pregnant woman that had been a centerpiece of several prayer services connected to the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon.

In a video shared with bloggers and Catholic news outlets that have complained about the statue being a pagan symbol, the two men set the statues on the railing of a bridge over the Tiber River and knocked them in, watching them float away.

The statues of a kneeling pregnant woman “represented life, fertility, Mother Earth,” Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, told reporters Oct. 21. Continue reading

Posted in Vatican

Explaining Scripture, Venezuelan priest becomes social media sensation

Capuchin Friar Luis Antonio Salazar greets a man in Caracas, Venezuela, who received a free meal at the Our Lady of Chiquinquira Parish Oct. 12, 2019. Every Saturday the parish organizes free meals for hundreds of needy people. (CNS photo/Manuel Rueda)

By Manuel Rueda
Catholic News Service

CARACAS, Venezuela (CNS) — Understanding the Bible can be challenging, but Catholics in Venezuela are becoming more familiar with Scripture through the work of a tech-savvy friar.

Capuchin Franciscan Father Luis Antonio Salazar is breaking with traditional ways of preaching and bringing the Gospel to thousands of cellphone users each week through an Instagram video series called “Vivir el Evangelio,” or “Living the Gospel.”

In the one-minute videos, the robed priest waves his arms and points his finger to the sky as he discusses key passages of the New Testament with the help of electronic music and special effects.

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Posted in World

Mission is to make disciples for Christ, not for one’s group, pope says

Pope Francis gives the homily as he celebrates a Mass marking World Mission Day in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Oct. 20, 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Every Christian is called to be a missionary, sharing the good news of salvation in Christ and making disciples for him, not for oneself or one’s clique of like-minded believers, Pope Francis said.

“What instructions does the Lord give us for going forth to others? Only one, and it’s very simple: Make disciples. But, be careful: his disciples, not our own,” the pope said Oct. 20 as he celebrated World Mission Sunday.

Dozens of participants from the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon joined the pope for the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica; many indigenous wore their native headdresses, had their faces painted or dressed in traditional clothes. Continue reading

Posted in Vatican

Catholic school students in Bahamas show resiliency after Dorian

Joye Ritchie-Greene, principal at Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Academy in Freeport, Grand Bahama, poses outside the school Oct. 8, 2019. While local public schools had still not reopened a month after Hurricane Dorian, Ritchie-Greene successfully navigated preparations and response to the historic disaster at the Catholic middle and high school. (CNS photo/Tom Tracy)

By Tom Tracy
Catholic News Service

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama (CNS) — While many public schools in Grand Bahama remain closed some five weeks after Hurricane Dorian’s landfall, Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Academy is back in session with a new daily schedule and newly refurbished spaces.

Principal Joye Ritchie-Greene said her school opened first, followed by other private schools and some public schools in the area. The academy also picked up a few students who transferred from local public schools along with at least two students who transferred from a Catholic school in Abaco that was demolished by the September hurricane.

Although it suffered storm-surge flooding damage, Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Academy was able to get a jump on post-Dorian renovations with restored electrical power Sept. 23 based on a provisional agreement with the electric company, allowing water-damage repairs to begin immediately, the principal said.

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Posted in World

Church must make ‘preferential option for the Amazon,’ bishop says

People near San Rafael, Bolivia, march to Santa Cruz de la Sierra Sept. 25, 2019, to defend earth and its resources. (CNS photo/Edgard Garrido, Reuters)

By Barbara J. Fraser
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As tropical forests fall victim to loggers, miners and ranchers, the Catholic Church must take sides to defend the Amazon region and its people, said a bishop whose Bolivian diocese has been ravaged by fire this year.

“Just like we had a preferential option for the poor, this is a preferential option for the Amazon,” Bishop Robert H. Flock of San Ignacio de Velasco told Catholic News Service. The bishop, a Wisconsin native, is participating in the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon being held at the Vatican Oct. 6-27.

Between July and October, an area the size of South Carolina burned in his diocese in the northern Bolivian lowlands known as the Chiquitana region. That was nearly one-sixth of the entire diocese.

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Posted in Vatican, World

Catholic priest murdered in Kenya, latest in string of killings

Father Gerald Matolo once worked at the same parish with Father Michael Maingi Kyengo, who was found murdered Oct. 16. Father Matolo, shown in this 2017 file photo, said his friend may have been targeted by people who thought he had money. (CNS photo/Fredrick Nzwili)

By Fredrick Nzwili
Catholic News Service

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) — A Catholic priest who disappeared from his family home was found dead in a shallow grave in southeastern Kenya a week after he was reported missing.

Police investigators and pathologists Oct. 16 exhumed the body of Father Michael Maingi Kyengo, 43. They said his body had been stashed in a sack.

Onlookers watched in shock as Father Kyengo’s body was pulled from a seasonal riverbed. Police said he had been strangled and that his body had been disfigured.

Father Kyengo was a parish priest in Thatha at a parish in the Diocese of Machakos.

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Posted in World

Development proposals at synod raise questions about indigenous rights

Clovis Marubo, 53, one of the early leaders in the Javari Valley Indigenous Territory, points to a map of the region in his office in Atalaia do Norte, Brazil, where he is also active in the local Catholic parish. (CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey)

By Barbara J. FraserĀ 
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Proposals for Amazonian development made by well-known observers at the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon could conflict with the expectations of indigenous people unless they are included in decision-making, some synod participants said.

In his four-minute presentation to the synod on Oct. 15, economist Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University called for a common global plan for the forest and the peoples who live there. He proposed increased investment by the world’s countries to preserve Amazonian forests, the creation of an international scientific panel, and action by governments to curb deforestation.

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Posted in Vatican, World