‘Minds, hearts’ shaken by fire at Florida co-cathedral
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Masses for the vigil of the feast of Pentecost and for Pentecost were celebrated at the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More with the scars left by a June 5 fire in the sanctuary still very visible. An arrest has been made since the fire filled the church with smoke and burned three chairs — including the cathedra, or bishop’s chair, and charred the walls. When firefighters arrived, resting atop one of the chairs was a burned Bible. Luckily, the fire was caught in time and didn’t spread to other parts of the cathedral. On June 7, Seth Johnson, 32, was arrested and charged with first-degree felony arson. “Our minds and hearts have been shaken by this experience. Sometimes, even a physical structure can take on a persona and when it’s wounded, we all feel the hurt,” Father John B. Cayer, rector, wrote in a message posted on the co-cathedral’s website.
Young women urged
to reject ego, focus on life of integrity, honesty
WASHINGTON — Spiritual advice was mixed with practical suggestions at the GIVEN Catholic Young Women’s Leadership Forum held at The Catholic University of America in Washington. More than 120 people attended, most of whom were laywomen between the ages of 21 and 30. GIVEN is a year-round initiative begun in 2016 with the goal of helping young women embrace what St. John Paul II called the “feminine genius.” Among its objectives are leadership training, faith formation, and support to help young women better understand and pursue their mission and vocation.
Retired Wyoming bishop
to face Vatican trial on abuse allegations
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Retired Bishop Joseph H. Hart of Cheyenne will face a Vatican trial for allegations that he sexually abused several minors years ago. Cheyenne Bishop Steven R. Biegler announced June 12 that such a trial of the retired prelate would take place. Bishop Biegler included Bishop Hart’s name in a list of all Catholic clergy with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable persons for whom the diocese had files and who were in active ministry from 1950 to the present in the Diocese of Cheyenne. Bishop Hart is one of 11 clergy on the list published on the diocesan website and in the June online issue of the Wyoming Catholic Register, Cheyenne’s diocesan newspaper. After the prelate’s name, the listing states: “Pope Francis imposed restrictions and authorized a penal process.”
Bishop to remain with Hong Kong protesters ‘no matter how long they stay’
HONG KONG — As massive protests continued in Hong Kong, the auxiliary bishop pledged to remain with those opposing a controversial extradition bill and the resignation of the Chinese territory’s leader. Although chief executive Carrie Lam announced June 15 that she had suspended the bill, Hong Kong people were not satisfied and turned out in even greater numbers June 16 than the 1 million estimated to have marched on June 9, reported ucanews.com. The Civil Human Rights Front estimated that about 2 million people joined the latest rally — a record for a protest in Hong Kong — but police claimed only 338,000 attended. Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing of Hong Kong took part in a continuous ecumenical prayer meeting outside the Legislative Council building with thousands of Christians overnight after the latest rally, ucanews.com reported. Asked by media at midnight whether he would leave the young protesters, the 60-year-old bishop said: “I don’t care. No matter how long they stay, I will continue to stay with them. The shepherd should not just be with the sheep but also guide them.”
Young adult leaders gather for post-synod discussion
VATICAN CITY — Catholic young adults felt the hierarchy started listening to them in preparation for the 2018 Synod of Bishops on young people, and they will do whatever they can to make sure their voices continue to be heard, said a youth minister from New Zealand. “May we be bold,” was the wish expressed by Isabella McCafferty from the Archdiocese of Wellington at a Vatican news conference June 18. McCafferty was one of more than 280 young people from 109 countries set to take part in a post-synod Youth Forum June 19-22.
Synod document raises possibility of married priests, roles for women
VATICAN CITY — The Catholic Church must find ways to reach indigenous Catholics deprived of the sacraments in the most remote areas of the Amazon rainforest, and that may include ordaining married elders, said the working document for the Synod of Bishops on the Amazon. “Affirming that celibacy is a gift for the Church, in order to ensure the sacraments for the most remote areas of the region, we are asked to study the possibility of priestly ordination for elders — preferably indigenous, respected and accepted by the community — even though they have an established and stable family,” said the document. Published by the Vatican June 17, the document also said the Church should consider “an official ministry that can be conferred upon women, taking into account the central role they play in the Amazonian Church.”
arrest sacristan as suspect in priest killing
WASHINGTON — A 34-year-old sacristan is in the custody of Salvadoran authorities in connection with the May killing of a Salvadoran priest. Abraham Heriberto Mestizo made an initial court appearance June 14 after being formally accused by officials in Sonsonate of being involved in the killing of 35-year-old Father Cecilio Perez Cruz, found fatally shot May 18 at home. In a press release, El Salvador’s National Civil Police said Mestizo was the sacristan at San Jose La Majada parish in Juayua, in the western part of El Salvador, where the priest was the pastor, but did not explain why he was linked to the crime. Some initially suspected the priest had been killed by gangs, a common crime in the Central American country. The Archdiocese of San Salvador and other members of the Catholic Church voiced suspicions that the priest had been killed because of his support of the environment; he had recently criticized the cutting of trees nearby.
— Catholic News Service