Catholic leaders mourn for victims killed, injured in trafficking tragedy
SAN ANTONIO — The "completely senseless deaths" of 10 people who died of heat exhaustion and suffocation they suffered from being held in a tractor-trailer "is an incomprehensible tragedy," said Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio. "There are no words to convey the sadness, despair and, yes, even anger we feel today," he wrote in a statement July 23. Earlier in the day, San Antonio law enforcement officials found eight bodies inside the trailer of an 18-wheeler sitting in the parking lot of a Walmart. The eight people died among 39 people packed in the trailer; the others suffered from extreme dehydration and heatstroke. At least 20 rescued from the truck were in critical condition and transported to the hospital. Two later died, and by July 24 the death toll was at least 10. "The loss of lives is tragic and avoidable. We condemn this terrible human exploitation that occurred and continues to happen in our country," stated Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin.
Court says church has right to hire employees who 'advance faith'
NEW YORK — A court ruling that the New York Archdiocese didn't discriminate against a school principal when it didn't renew her contract affirms "the freedom of a church to decide who will serve as its religious leaders," stated the Alliance Defending Freedom. The nonprofit legal group, which supports religious freedom and other issues, made the comments about a decision July 14 by a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Fratello v. Archdiocese of New York. Joanne Fratello was principal of St. Anthony School in Nanuet from 2007 until 2011, when her contract wasn't renewed. She sued the New York Archdiocese for gender discrimination. "When the school believed she was no longer effective at advancing the school's Catholic values, St. Anthony's simply did not renew her contract, rightfully exercising its right to choose the leaders who advance their faith," stated the Becket Fund, a nonprofit religious liberty law firm that represented St. Anthony and the archdiocese.
After protests over Satanic memorial, city nixes all religious symbols
BELLE PLAINE, Minn. — Two days after hundreds of people — many of them Catholic — from around the country descended on Belle Plaine to protest the installation of a Satanic memorial in the city's veterans park, the City Council voted unanimously July 17 to nix all religious symbols there. The council rescinded a designation that made a portion of the park available for monument commissions from any religious group. The decision blocked the arrival of the monument commissioned by the Satanic Temple, but it also sealed the departure of the "Joe" monument, a small iron-cast silhouette of a soldier kneeling on one knee in front of a cross grave marker. Joseph Gregory, a local veteran who died in October 2016, made the memorial. "It's an outcome I can live with," said Father Brian Lynch, pastor of Our Lady of the Prairie in Belle Plaine, "but it's far from a perfect outcome" because the "Joe" statute also had to go.
Parents of Charlie Gard end legal struggle for help
MANCHESTER, England — Pope Francis is praying for the parents of Charlie Gard after a U.S. doctor told them nothing could be done to help their son. Chris Gard and Connie Yates announced in London's High Court July 24 that they had ended their legal struggle to take their baby overseas for treatment after a U.S. neurologist, Dr. Michio Hirano, said he was no longer willing to offer Charlie experimental nucleoside therapy after he examined the results of a new MRI scan. Their decision means that the child, who suffers from encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, will receive only palliative care and most likely will die before his first birthday Aug. 4.
Mexican bishops don't see explosion as attack on Church
MEXICO CITY — The Mexican bishops' conference doesn't believe an explosive device detonated outside its offices — adjacent to the country's most visited religious site, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe — is an attack on the Catholic Church. The motive for the July 25 explosion remains a mystery, though some in the conference said it reflected the violence suffered by society at large in a country with soaring homicide rates and a decade-long drug cartel crackdown. "This act invites us to reflect emphatically, to reconstruct our social fabric to provide better security for all citizens," Auxiliary Bishop Alfonso Miranda Guardiola of Monterrey, conference secretary-general, told media the day of the explosion.
Official indicates Beijing to retain tight grip on Church
HONG KONG — The Chinese Communist Party's top leader in charge of religion has made it clear that Beijing intends to retain a tight grip on the Catholic Church. Yu Zhengsheng, a member of the elite seven-man Politburo Standing Committee and chair of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, told members of the open church community "to ensure that the leadership of the Chinese Catholic Church is held firmly in the hands of those who love the nation and the religion," reported ucanews.com. Negotiations between Beijing and the Vatican appear to have slowed in recent months due to an impasse over the fate of a handful of Beijing-appointed bishops.
— Catholic News Service