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Cardinal Martini was a ‘prophet,’ says Vatican cardinal

Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, S.J. (1927-2012). / Mafon1959 via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Milan, Italy, May 17, 2022 / 05:47 am (CNA).

Vatican Cardinal Michael Czerny on Monday described the late Italian Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini as a “prophet.”

Czerny, the prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, said that the controversial Jesuit theologian anticipated recent developments in the Catholic Church.

Martini, a renowned biblical scholar, was described by the New York Times as one of the Catholic Church’s “most influential progressive thinkers” and a “possible successor to Pope John Paul II,” with whom he had contrasting views on the direction of the Church.

Martini, who led the Milan archdiocese from 1979 to 2002, declared in an interview shortly before his death in 2012 that “the Church is 200 years behind the times.”

Speaking in Milan on May 16, Cardinal Czerny said: “Many already appreciated him while he was among you, not without misunderstandings, uncertainties, and opposition.”

“Now we all understand him better, recognizing how his visions and the priorities of his pastoral governance — I would also like to say his style of listening, praying, and living — anticipated paths that finally involve the universal Church.”

Cardinal Michael Czerny has been appointed as the new prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. Pablo Esparza/CNA.
Cardinal Michael Czerny has been appointed as the new prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. Pablo Esparza/CNA.

Czerny’s remarks were reported by Vatican News, the Holy See’s online news portal, which said that the Canadian Jesuit spoke at the launch of the sixth volume of Martini’s complete works.

The book is called “Farsi prossimo” (“Draw near”), the title of a pastoral letter Martini wrote to Milan’s Catholics. The letter led to a diocesan convention in 1986, which Czerny linked to the global synodal process launched by Pope Francis.

Pope Francis has referred to Martini several times since his election in 2013.

In a 2013 address to the Carlo Maria Martini Foundation, he described the cardinal as “a prophet of peace” and “a father in the Church, not only for his diocese, but for countless people.”

The pope recalled Martini’s final interview in a speech to the Roman Curia in 2019.

He said: “Cardinal Martini, in his last interview, a few days before his death, said something that should make us think: ‘The Church is 200 years behind the times. Why is she not shaken up? Are we afraid? Fear, instead of courage? Yet faith is the Church’s foundation. Faith, confidence, courage… Only love conquers weariness.’”

In his speech in Milan, Cardinal Czerny said that Martini “did what the [Second Vatican] Council asked of him, an event that in his youth, as in Pope Francis’, represented an evangelical springtime.”

US Catholic bishops call for ‘honest dialogue’ on ‘persistent evil of racism’ after mass shootings

Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York, was the scene of a mass shooting on May 14, 2022. / Andre Carrotflower via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Washington D.C., May 17, 2022 / 05:17 am (CNA).

The U.S. Catholic bishops appealed on Monday for “an honest dialogue rooted in Christ” about the “persistent evil of racism” after two mass shootings.

In a May 16 statement, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said that it continued to “advocate for an end to violence,” citing the Church’s consistent appeals for “rational yet effective forms of regulation of dangerous weapons.”

The USCCB issued the statement after a gunman killed 10 people and injured three others on May 14 at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and a shooter killed one person and wounded five others on May 15 at a church in Laguna Woods, California.

Authorities called the mass shooting in Buffalo a racially motivated hate crime and said that 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.

“The U.S. bishops join with others throughout the country in offering prayers for the support and healing of the families, friends, and communities of those impacted by these violent incidents,” said the statement from the USCCB’s public affairs director Chieko Noguchi.

“We pray especially for those who were injured and particularly for those who lost their lives. We pray also for those on the front lines who risk their lives in responding to the calls for help, and to those in the medical fields who minister to those who have been harmed.”

The statement went on: “The bishops again call for an honest dialogue rooted in Christ in addressing the persistent evil of racism in our country. The Catholic Church has been a consistent voice for rational yet effective forms of regulation of dangerous weapons, and the USCCB continues to advocate for an end to violence, and for the respect and dignity of all lives.”

“We pray for and support the healing of the communities impacted and for all the victims of violence and that Christ’s peace be upon all affected.”

The gunman in Buffalo surrendered to police at the scene. The suspect, 18-year-old Payton S. Gendron of Conklin, New York, was taken into custody and charged with first-degree murder.

The gunman is believed to have posted a manifesto online in which he expressed racist, anti-immigrant views and claimed that white Americans were at risk of being replaced by people of color.

The congregation at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods overpowered and tied up the shooter. The suspect, 68-year-old David Chou of Las Vegas, was taken custody and charged with one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder.

The Geneva Presbyterian Church hosts the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church’s Sunday services.

Don Barnes, the Orange County sheriff, said the attack was motivated by a grievance between Chou, a Chinese immigrant and U.S. citizen, and the Taiwanese community, the Washington Post reported.

China views Taiwan, an island nation in East Asia, as a breakaway province. Chinese President Xi Jinping said in October 2021 that he would seek “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan.

Saint Paschal Baylon

Drawing of Saint Paschal Baylon
Image: Saint Paschal Baylon | Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

Saint of the Day for May 17

(May 24, 1540 – May 15, 1592)
Click here to listen

Saint Paschal Baylon’s story

In Paschal’s lifetime the Spanish empire in the New World was at the height of its power, though France and England were soon to reduce its influence. The 16th century has been called the Golden Age of the Church in Spain, for it gave birth to Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Peter of Alcantara, Francis Solano, and Salvator of Horta.

Paschal’s Spanish parents were poor and pious. Between the ages of seven and 24 he worked as a shepherd and began a life of mortification. He was able to pray on the job and was especially attentive to the church bell, which rang at the Elevation during Mass. Paschal had a very honest streak in him. He once offered to pay owners of crops for any damage his animals caused!

In 1564, Paschal joined the Friars Minor and gave himself wholeheartedly to a life of penance. Though he was urged to study for the priesthood, he chose to be a brother. At various times he served as porter, cook, gardener, and official beggar.

Paschal was careful to observe the vow of poverty. He would never waste any food or anything given for the use of the friars. When he was porter and took care of the poor coming to the door, he developed a reputation for great generosity. The friars sometimes tried to moderate his liberality!

Paschal spent his spare moments praying before the Blessed Sacrament. In time, many people sought his wise counsel. People flocked to his tomb immediately after his burial; miracles were reported promptly. Paschal was canonized in 1690 and was named patron of eucharistic congresses and societies in 1897.


Prayer before the Blessed Sacrament occupied much of Saint Francis’ energy. Most of his letters were to promote devotion to the Eucharist. Paschal shared that concern. An hour in prayer before our Lord in the Eucharist could teach all of us a great deal. Some holy and busy Catholics today find that their work is enriched by those minutes regularly spent in prayer and meditation.

Saint Paschal Baylon is the Patron Saint of:

Eucharistic Congresses and Societies

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Medical expert debunks false claims of Planned Parenthood about abortion in El Salvador 

Credit: Syda Productions/Shutterstock. / null

San Salvador, El Salvador, May 16, 2022 / 17:30 pm (CNA).

A Salvadoran medical expert has debunked the false claims about abortion in El Salvador made by a former journalist now working for Planned Parenthood. 

In a statement to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language sister news agency, Dr. José Miguel Fortín-Magaña Leiva, a psychiatrist and former Director General of the Dr. Roberto Masferrer Institute of Forensic Medicine of El Salvador, said that Kate Smith, a former CBS News reporter who a few weeks ago became Planned Parenthood’s new senior director of news content, “is at best absolutely mistaken when she claims that in El Salvador women are imprisoned and harassed for induced abortions.”

"But even worse," he continued, Smith is wrong in stating "that those who have suffered a miscarriage are also prosecuted and imprisoned by an infamous law."

Abortion in El Salvador is completely prohibited, and the country’s constitution recognizes "every human being as a human person from the moment of conception."

The Penal Code of El Salvador establishes a prison sentences from 2 to 8 years for anyone who undergoes or performs an abortion in the country.

Kate Smith assumed the management position at Planned Parenthood in April after working for more than three years at CBS News.

The job change came two years after a National Review article called Kate Smith the "CBS News Ambassador for Planned Parenthood."

In a recent interview with CNN, Smith referred to a documentary she made for CBS News in 2020 about El Salvador to predict what the United States would look like if Roe v. Wade were overturned, which a draft majority opinion leaked weeks ago suggests will happen.

Planned Parenthood's director of news content said last Friday that "when we went to El Salvador, what we saw is that all those things that these doctors and politicians had warned us about were happening in real time on the ground."

In her report for CBS News, Smith said that since 1998 more than 140 women have been accused of having abortions and ended up in prison with sentences of up to 35 years.

"They wake up and they're shackled to the hospital bed and there was a police officer there investigating them," she said.

“Doctors told me when they are looking at a patient, there is no way for them to tell the difference between an induced abortion and a spontaneous miscarriage,” Smith reported.

For the new Planned Parenthood director, “all of these things that we say might happen if abortion gets banned, if abortion becomes illegal, they do happen.”

However, for Fortín-Magaña "the only logical explanation" for what Smith says "is that what she said is a lie for the propaganda purposes of the organization she works for today."

“As former director of the Institute of Forensic Medicine and as a doctor, I can assure you that the foregoing is totally false,” he said, pointing out that as short as the sentences are that are given in abortion cases, “it can be for community service instead; and therefore there’s not a single case of women imprisoned for that reason.”

The Institute of Forensic Medicine is an organ of the Salvadoran judicial system that, as the doctor explains on his website, "contributes technically and scientifically to the administration of justice."

The psychiatrist stressed that these are "different" cases than those of women who "committed aggravated homicide" and "murdered their child, once it had been born by the natural process."

The crimes in question, he pointed out, were committed "by suffocation, strangulation, striking with a rock, drowning, or simply abandonment."

Fortín-Magaña lamented that "El Salvador is a country full of problems and violence, where the law is often applied unfairly, especially in favor of groups with political power."

"But it would be absolutely unfair to say that what Ms. Smith says is true, because it’s not," the medical expert said.

“She’s promoting an industry that exploits women”

For Julia Regina de Cardenal, president of the Yes to Life Foundation in El Salvador, “it’s not surprising that a pro-abortion activist lies to try to convince you that she’s defending women when in reality she is promoting an industry that exploits pregnant women in dire straits that need support, not violence and death.”

The Salvadoran pro-life leader stressed that in reality "in El Salvador there’s not a single woman imprisoned for induced abortion, because women found guilty are sentenced to community service."

"The women she says are supposedly imprisoned for 'miscarriages’ and ‘obstetrical problems’ were actually convicted of aggravated homicide of their newborn babies,” de Cardenal said.

“Forensic evidence shows that the full term babies were strangled, stabbed, struck with a rock, had their necks broken, suffocated in septic tanks or inside plastic bags, etc. None of these cases have to do with abortions much less miscarriages. They were infanticides,” she stated.

The Yes to Life Foundation president pointed out that "these women are being released because they were pardoned, not for lack of evidence" and that "maternal mortality has been drastically reduced in El Salvador since the legislation in El Salvador was changed in favor of life.”

“Saying that Salvadoran ‘doctors’ told her that patients died because they couldn’t get an abortion is the same argument used by abortion promoters around the world,” she said.

“Blatantly lying”

Sara Larín, founder of the Life El Salvador platform, said that "Smith is blatantly lying" when she "asserts that there are 140 Salvadoran women accused of abortion."

"According to official statistics from the Office of Access to Public Information of the Attorney General's Office, from 2013 to date there are no women serving jail time for the crime of abortion."

"This is so because the penalties for abortion are minor and community service can be performed instead," she said.

“Smith is actually talking about 140 women sentenced to 30 years in prison because it’s the minimum sentence given for crimes of aggravated homicide,” she said.

Larín noted the case of “María de los Ángeles Portillo, who murdered her daughter by suffocating her with a sock; or the recent case of Evelyn Sánchez, who stabbed her newborn baby in the chest.”

Larín said that “a serious journalist would ask to read all the evidence for the sentences and would find that none of these cases were miscarriages. However, Smith confined herself to speaking for pro-abortion organizations in El Salvador that receive funding from Planned Parenthood.”

New pro-life movie streaming in theaters this week

Ultrasound image. / Courtesy of Matter of Life

Boston, Mass., May 16, 2022 / 17:18 pm (CNA).

A new pro-life movie that explores the case for life and the repercussions of abortion is airing May 16 and 17 in select theaters around the U.S. 

“We stand at a critical point in history where the legality of abortion is being challenged in the highest courts,” the documentary’s description says. “More than ever, it is important for everyone to know where they stand on abortion and why.”

The movie, “The Matter of Life,” is using the distributor Fathom Events, the same distributor for “The Chosen” Christmas special and the Eucharist film, “ALIVE: Who is there?” The Christian distributor Revelation Media has partnered in distributing and marketing the film, as well.

The more than 750 theater locations and movie times can be found on Fathom Events’ website. Although it is only in theaters for two days, Tracy Robinson, the film's director, told CNA that if enough tickets are sold, the film’s showing could be extended.

However, if the film’s showing is not extended, individuals can still see it by registering on this website to screen the film in their schools or churches for 30 days only after the movie's showing in theaters. Licensing, streaming, and DVD will be available at a later date that is still not determined. You can watch the movie's trailer below.

The documentary “compels us to understand the pro-life case and form our own individual beliefs based on more than what is said in the media,” the description of the movie says.

According to the producers, the film also includes expert testimony as viewers “learn about the history, philosophy, morality, and impact of abortion.” The movie includes powerful testimony from women and former abortion clinic workers, “historians, religious workers, pro-life atheists,” and others are also included, the description says.

Speakers featured in the movie include: Dr. Anthony Levatino, a former abortionist and OBGYN; Stephanie Gray Conners, a pro-life speaker; Romona Treviño, a former manager at Planned Parenthood; Kristan Hawkins, president at Students for Life; Diane Ferraro, CEO at Save the Storks; Catherine Glenn Foster, president and CEO of Americans United For Life; Angela Franks professor of theology at St. John's Seminary in Boston; Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, CEO of New Wave Feminists; Scott Klusendorf, president of Life Training Institute, and many more.

“The Matter of Life stresses entering this conversation with understanding, love, and support,” the description says. “Doing so is critical to saving the lives of the unborn and to care for the women who carry them.”

The film, which had a budget of $200,000, was directed by Robinson, a 34-year-old woman who used to be a “pro-choice Christian,” the film’s website says.

Robinson, who has a background in video production for documentaries, told EWTN Pro-Life Weekly's Prudence Robertson in an May 14 interview that she had been making videos for pregnancy resource centers in 2016 but “was in the mushy middle” on the topic of abortion. She was working in the center because she appreciated the work it was doing for women, Robinson said. You can watch the full interview below.

Robinson, of San Diego, said that her friends at the clinic invited her to a presentation on the topic of abortion at a church in 2016. The topic of the presentation was the case against abortion, she said. 

“In less than two hours the message just clarified for me the true humanity of the unborn child, from the moment of conception and the whole reality of what abortion does really struck me,” Robinson said. 

She continued, “and so I immediately felt compelled to make a documentary because I knew there were so many people in my shoes — young adults, who had never heard the message before clearly.”

Robinson said that she was motivated to research more about how society came to widely accept abortion while learning about the “amazing multi-faceted pro-life movement and so I wanted to take others on this journey with me. 

Robinson told Robertson that the film will eventually be coming to streaming and DVD, but she did not say when. 

Christian leaders condemn Israeli police violence at Palestinian journalist's funeral

Violence erupts between Israeli security forces and Palestinian mourners carrying the coffin of slain Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh out of a hospital, before being transported to a church and then her resting place, in Jerusalem, on May 13, 2022. / Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

Denver Newsroom, May 16, 2022 / 16:13 pm (CNA).

Christian leaders of the Holy Land on Monday condemned recent violence at the funeral of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, saying the “tragic episode” has “deeply wounded” the Christian community. 

Abu Akleh was a Melkite Greek Catholic and a Palestinian American who was killed while covering an Israeli raid on a refugee camp in the West Bank May 11. The BBC reported that during her funeral procession on May 13, Abu Akleh’s coffin “almost fell” as police waded into the crowd brandishing batons and using stun grenades. Israeli police say they moved in on the crowds after apparently being hit with stones. 

Abu Akleh, who wrote for the Qatar-based news site Al Jazeera, was covering a raid on the Jenin Camp by Israeli security forces last week when she was struck in the head by a live bullet. She was wearing a blue flak jacket bearing the word “press” in large letters. In the same incident, Al Jazeera producer Ali Samoudi was shot and wounded.

The journalist’s killing has been widely condemned, and Israeli and Palestinian authorities have traded blame for her shooting death, the BBC reported. 

The Christian leaders called the police’ actions at the funeral, which took place in the parking compound of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Jerusalem, a “violent intrusion.” 

“The Police stormed into a Christian health institute, disrespecting the Church, disrespecting the health institute, disrespecting the memory of the deceased and forcing the pallbearers almost to drop the coffin,” they said

“Israeli Police's invasion and disproportionate use of force, attacking mourners, striking them with batons, using smoke grenades, shooting rubber bullets, frightening the hospital's patients, is a severe violation of international norms and regulations, including the fundamental human right of freedom of religion, which must be observed also in a public space.”

The leaders who signed the statement include the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, and the bishops and the faithful of the Christian Churches in the Holy Land. 

The hospital, which has served patients of all religions since the 1950s under the care of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition, served as the starting point for Abu Akleh’s funeral procession. The coffin was supposed to be transported in a hearse. Israeli police claim that the walking procession was “unplanned” and unwanted by the victim’s family, and that they intervened to take the coffin back from “rioters.” 

Abu Akleh’s brother Anton said the family had given the funeral arrangements to the police, the AP reported. He said: “We wanted to put the coffin in the car. We were going to the car when they attacked us.”

The Christian leaders wrote in their statement that “The St. Joseph Hospital has always proudly been a place of encounter and healing for all, regardless of their religious or cultural belonging, and it intends to continue to be so.” 

“What happened last Friday deeply wounded not only the Christian community, the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition, owner of the Hospital, and all the hospital staff, but also all peoples who in that place have found and still find peace and hospitality.”

Abu Akleh’s funeral Liturgy was held at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Annunciation, the seat of the Melkite Greek Patriarchal Dependent Territory of Jerusalem.

Palestinian mourners wave national flags as they carry the casket of slain Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh inside the Melkite Greek Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Annunciation, before her burial in Jerusalem, on May 13, 2022. - Abu Akleh, who was shot dead on May 11, 2022 while covering a raid in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, was among Arab media's most prominent figures and widely hailed for her bravery and professionalism. Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP via Getty Images
Palestinian mourners wave national flags as they carry the casket of slain Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh inside the Melkite Greek Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Annunciation, before her burial in Jerusalem, on May 13, 2022. - Abu Akleh, who was shot dead on May 11, 2022 while covering a raid in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, was among Arab media's most prominent figures and widely hailed for her bravery and professionalism. Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP via Getty Images

On May 12, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem called “for a thorough and urgent investigation of all the circumstances of [Abu Akleh’s] killing and for bringing those responsible to justice.”

“This blatant tragedy brings back to human conscience the need to find a just solution to the Palestinian conflict, which refuses to enter oblivion although 74 years have passed since the Nakba,” the patriarchate said.

The AP reported that Bellingcat, a Dutch-based investigative journalism group, “found that while gunmen and Israeli soldiers were both in the area, the evidence supported witness accounts that Israeli fire killed Abu Akleh.”

The incident at the funeral comes at a time of particularly high tension between Israel and Palestine after several violent incidents in recent months, the BBC notes. 

Pope Francis has frequently asked Catholics around the world to pray for peace in the Middle East.

New Pro-Life Movie Streaming in Theaters This Week