NEWS: Stolen Tabernacle from Catholic Cathedral Found

The tabernacle that was stolen earlier this week from the St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral in St. Catharines, Ontario was recovered on Wednesday, September 9.

According to group news reports on the Catholic News Agency’s website, a group of parishioners from the cathedral discovered the tabernacle in Centennial Park, which is located near the cathedral. The tabernacle was partially submerged in a canal, and parts of the ciborium were missing.

The report also has it that the Eucharist that was contained in the tabernacle was not found in it at the time of the recovery, but because it was in a body of water, it may have dissolved. A host that is dissolved ceases to be a consecrated host.

After Mass on Wednesday afternoon, someone came to the rectory door with one of the tabernacle’s brass doors. The man said that he had been given the piece of the tabernacle on the street, by a man who said that someone gave it to him in Centennial Park. The tabernacle’s other door has not yet been found.

The cathedral had previously been subjected to numerous thefts and acts of vandalism, including the theft of two bronze lamp posts in 2019. The lamp posts were recovered after the thieves attempted to sell them to a scrapyard.

No suspects have been identified in Tuesday’s tabernacle theft.

NEWS: Tabernacle stolen from Canadian Catholic cathedral

The Bishop of St. Catharines, Ontario is pleading for thieves to return the consecrated Host after the tabernacle was stolen from the St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral on Tuesday. 

Bishop Gerard Bergie of St. Catharines pleaded for the two people who took the tabernacle to return it, along with its contents, in an interview Tuesday afternoon with Canadian station NewsTalk 610 CKTB. 

“The tabernacle can be replaced. It’s the contents (…) that is what is so precious to us. That’s what’s irreplaceable,” said Bergie, adding that he hopes that no harm is done to the Blessed Sacrament. 

He hopes that the person or persons who took the tabernacle “realize it’s not of any monetary value, and be able to return it to us.”  “No questions asked, if they return it,” he said. 

The tabernacle is made of steel, but has two bronze-colored doors, said the bishop. Bergie suspected that perhaps the thieves thought the tabernacle was made of gold, or perhaps had a more nefarious intent with stealing the hosts.  “Who knows what goes through the minds of these people,” he said. 

Video footage captured two people, believed to be a man and a woman, breaking into the cathedral at approximately 4:30 a.m. Sept. 8. As it was dark, the footage is “kind of grainy” and it has been difficult to determine a clear image of the suspects, he said.

Source Credit: Catholic News Agency

NEWS: Queensland passes law requiring priests to break confessional seal

The legislature of the Australian state of Queensland on Tuesday passed a law requiring priests to violate the seal of confession to report known or suspected child sex abuse.  Failure to do so will be punished with three years in prison.  The law passed the Legislative Assembly of Queensland Sept. 8, with the support of the opposition Liberal National Party of Queensland. 

Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane has said such a reporting requirement would “not make a difference to the safety of young people,” and that the bill was based on a “poor knowledge of how the sacrament actually works in practice”.  Last week the Australian bishops provided the federal government with the Holy See’s observations on 12 recommendations of a 2017 report on child sex abuse in the country’s institutions. In response to a recommendation regarding the seal of confession and absolution, the Holy See reiterated the inviolability of the seal and that absolution cannot be conditioned on future actions in the external forum. 

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse had recommended that it be clarified whether “information received from a child during the sacrament of reconciliation that they have been sexually abused is covered by the seal of confession,” and “if a person confesses during the sacrament of reconciliation to perpetrating child sexual abuse, absolution can and should be withheld until they report themselves to civil authorities.”  The royal commission, a five-year Australian government inquiry, concluded in 2017 with more than 100 recommendations. 

Mark Ryan, the Queensland police minister and a member of the Australian Labor Party, said that “the requirement and quite frankly the moral obligation to report concerning behaviours towards children applies to everyone everyone in this community” and that “no one group or occupation is being singled out.” 

Stephen Andrew, the sole Queensland MP of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, said that “the bill poses a real danger for public trust and cohesion in our community,” and asked: “How confident can the people of Queensland be that they live in a free and open democracy governed by the rule of law, where the state jails its bishops?”  Archbishop Coleridge has also said the law would make priests “less a servant of God than an agent of the state” and raise “major questions about religious freedom.” 

Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and the Australian Capital Territory have also adopted laws forcing priests to violate the confessional seal, while New South Wales and Western Australia have upheld it.  Attorneys-general in Australia’s federal and state governments agreed in November 2019 on reporting standards that would require priests to break the sacramental seal or violate Australia’s mandatory abuse reporting rules. Further, priests would not be able to use the defense of privileged communications in the confessional seal to avoid giving evidence against a third party in criminal or civil proceedings. 

Archbishop Coleridge of Brisbane commented Sept. 4 that Australia’s bishops “are keen to support the ongoing public conversation about policies, practices and protocols which will ensure that children and other people at risk are safe in our communities.”  The Holy See told Australia’s bishops earlier this year that the seal of confession is inviolable, and that it includes all the sins known from the confession, both of the penitent and others.  The Holy See added that this is the “long-standing and constant teaching of the Church on the inviolability of the sacramental seal, as something demanded by the nature of the sacrament itself and thus as deriving from Divine Law.”  It added that the confessor “certainly may, and indeed in certain cases should, encourage a victim to seek help outside the confessional or, when appropriate, to report an instance of abuse to the authorities.” 

The Holy See also said that “the confessional provides an opportunity – perhaps the only one – for those who have committed sexual abuse to admit to the fact. In that moment the possibility is created for the confessor to counsel and indeed to admonish the penitent, urging him to contrition, amendment of life and the restoration of justice. Were it to become the practice, however, for confessors to denounce those who confessed to child sexual abuse, no such penitent would ever approach the sacrament and a precious opportunity for repentance and reform would be lost.” 

It added that “it is of paramount importance that formation programmes for confessors include a detailed analysis of Church law, including the ‘Note’ of the Apostolic Penitentiary, together with practical examples to instruct priests concerning difficult questions and situations that may arise. These may include, for example, principles for the kind of dialogue a confessor should have with a young person who has been abused or appears vulnerable to abuse, as well as with anyone who confesses to having abused a minor.”

Source credit: Catholic News Agency

NEWS: ABUJA ARCHDIOCESE INAUGURATES 11 COMMISIONS

Eleven Commissions have been inaugurated by the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja for the proper administration of the Archdiocese. The Commissions, which were announced by the Archbishop, His Grace, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama during the closing Mass of the First General Assembly of the Archdiocese held from 4th – 5th September 2020, are arms of the Archdiocesan Curia, which shall assist the Local Ordinary in the governance of the Archdiocese.

While naming the Commissions and their respective Chairpersons, the Archbishop charged them to diligently discharge their duties for the common good of the Archdiocese. The Commissions are Education, Justice Development and Peace (JDPC), Health, Pastoral and New Evangelization, Family and Human Life, Youths and Catechetics. Others are Liturgy, Communication, Inter-religious Dialogue and Ecumenism.

We commend them to the grace of God as they take up their work in the Archdiocese.

NEWS: ABUJA ARCHDIOCESE COMMISSIONS COMMUNION MINISTERS

As part of activities of the First General Assembly of the Archdiocese of Abuja, the Local Ordinary of the Archdiocese, Archbishop Ignatius A. Kaigama today, commissioned 15 Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.

The ccommissioning ceremony which took place during the closing Mass of the Assembly saw 15 men and women drawn from different parishes across the diocese.

In a brief remark before the commissioning, the Archbishop highlighted the roles of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion to include assisting priests in the distribution of Holy Communion during Mass and assisting to take Holy Communion to the sick. He also charged them to be faithful their ministry and live up to the expectation of God and the Church of them.

HISTORY MADE AS ARCHBISHOP KAIGAMA OF ABUJA RECEIVES PALLIUM FOR A SECOND TIME

In a historic event which took place at the Our Lady Queen of Nigeria, Pro-Cathedral, Garki, Abuja, the new Archbishop of Abuja Archdiocese, Most Rev. Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, today, 27th August 2020, received a new Pallium for a second time as Archbishop of Abuja at the hands of the Papal Nuncio to Nigeria, His Excellency, Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazi thus, becoming the first Nigerian Archbishop to receive the Pallium twice, the first, being as Archbishop of Jos Archdiocese, and also the first Nigerian Archbishop to receive the Pallium here in Nigeria.

The ceremony began with the profession of faith and taking of the oath of allegiance to the Holy See by the receiving Archbishop, after which a simple ceremony of investiture was performed by the Pope’s representative, Archbishop Filipazi, the Papal Nuncio.

In his homily at the Mass, the Papal Nuncio clearly explained the meaning and significance of the Pallium, which includes an expression of Communion with the Supreme Pontiff. He also added that the Archbishop who bears the Pallium upon his shoulders has the task of leading his particular Archdiocese and the suffragan dioceses in his province to be in complete Communion with the Holy Mother Church. Speaking further on the significance of the Pallium especially to the recipient Archbishop, the Nuncio charged Archbishop Kaigama to imitate Jesus the Good Shepherd who goes after his lost sheep. He also stated that the Pallium should constantly remind him of the call of Jesus who commands us to take his yoke upon our shoulders.

The Pallium is a special vestments made of wool from sheep raised by trappist monks and woven by Benedictine nuns. It is worn over the neck of an Archbishop with Metropolitan Authority, signifying his responsibility as Shepherd and a sign of his Communion with the Holy See. Previously, the newly appointed Archbishops across the world go to Rome to receive the Pallium from the hands of the Holy Father on the Solemnity of Sainst Peter and Paul but in 2015, Pope Francis directed that henceforth, the Pallium imposition should be done in the local church of the recipient in other to offer the faithful in the local church the opportunity to take part in the ceremony. Between then (2015) and now, Archbishop Kaigama has been the only new Archbishop to an Archdiocese, making him the first Archbishop to receive the Pallium here in Nigeria.

Goodwill messages to the new Archbishop of Abuja came from Archbishop Augustine Akubeze of Benin Archdiocese on behalf of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, Bishop Anthony Adaji, MSP of Idah Diocese on behalf of the suffragan bishops of Abuja Ecclesiastical Province, Hon. Ogbonnaya Onu, Honourable Minister of Science and Technology, on behalf of the Government and People of Nigeria and Sir Charles Uwaonwa, KSJI, on behalf of the Laity Council of Abuja Ecclesiastical Province.

Congratulations to Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama and the Church of Abuja Archdiocese and Abuja Ecclesiastical Province at large.

NEWS: Catholic Bishops of Nigeria call for 40 days prayers against incessant killings in the country

The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), has called on all Catholics and indeed, all Christians to a 40 days prayers against the incessant killings of innocent Nigerians in different parts of the country. According to the message sent out through the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), the Bishops have asked that from Saturday, August 22, 2020 to Wednesday, September 30, 2020, all Catholics should pray One ‘Our Father’, Three ‘Hail Marys’, and One ‘Glory be to the Father’ immediately after the ‘Angelus’ prayer which is usually said at 6am, 12noon and 6pm, while on Thursday, 1st October, 5 decades of the Rosary should be prayed at noon.

This call for prayers has become necessary as there is the need to continue to seek the face of God in the face of the rising spate of killings of innocent Nigerians, especially in northern Nigeria, with Southern Kaduna as a hotbed. This is not the first time the Catholic bishops have called for such mass prayers from Nigerians and indeed, the whole world. Recall that on Sunday, 2nd March 2020, thousands of Catholics including bishops, priests and reverend sisters from across the nation gathered at the National Ecumenical Center in Abuja from where they held a peaceful prayerful protest march to the Our Lady Queen of Nigeria, Pro-Cathedral, Area 3, Garki, praying for peace in the country.

The word of God assures that if we call on God in the day of distress, he will hear us and save us (Psalm 50:15). Thus, in response to this noble call, may all Catholics, and indeed, all Christians join faith in prayer for God’s intervention in our nation.

Please spread the word by sharing this news article.

Rev. Fr. Sylvanus Ameh

FEAR NOT, FOR GOD IS NEAR(HOMILY FOR 19TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR A)

FEAR NOT, FOR GOD IS NEAR(HOMILY FOR 19TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR A)

1 Kings 19:9, 11-13; Psalm 85; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:22-33

The feeling of fright (fear) is a universal feeling that all human beings can relate with. Irrespective of age, status, gender, religious or political affiliation or any other differentiations we may have, we all experience the feeling of fear at one time or the other and in varying degrees. While for some, it is something that comes and goes, depending on a situation that triggers the feeling, for others, it is a perpetual state in which they live their lives. These second group of people are controlled by fear in their thoughts, words and actions.

The first and gospel readings of today’s Mass present us with this reality of fear. The first reading is a narration of how God assured the prophet Elijah of his presence while he was running away from Jezebel out of fear because she threatened to kill him for killing the prophets of Baal, while the gospel reading recounts to us the deathly fear that came upon the disciples of Jesus when he came to them walking on the water and they thought they were seeing a ghost. Of a truth, both situations are capable of making even the stout-hearted to be afraid. To know that someone who has power and authority and an entire army at his/her disposal is out to kill you will make you afraid, no matter how brave you are. Also, it was unheard of that a human being can walk on water, let alone in the dead of the night (between 3am and 6am) and in the middle of the sea, towards a boat struggling with waves. This was the experience of the disciples of Jesus and any sane human being will be shaken by such a sight! Though we all react differently to fear, fear makes some people do very nasty things and say some crazy stuffs without thinking. From the readings therefore, we shall take two lessons for our reflection.

  • God is never far

While the prophet Elijah was running away from Jezebel, he got tired of his whole ministry at a point and asked God to take his life. At one point, he even thought he was the only remaining true prophet (1 Kgs 19:10). He felt God had abandoned him, which was why he was going through so much trouble. But the word of God holds true that “his salvation is near for those who fear him” (Psa 85:9). So what Elijah did not realize was that God was with him every step of the way. This was why God had to show him his presence as we heard in the first reading. The disciples of Jesus also thought they were left to their fate as they battled against the raging storm that was threatening to sink their boat. What they also did not know was that Jesus was in the territory of the storm, and his presence made it impossible for them to be overwhelmed. He however had to come to them physically, to completely still the storm. These two encounters narrated to us today assures us that when we face a storm in our lives, when heavy trials come upon us, we should not look too far, for God is always near. And God has given us the free pass to call upon him in the day of distress and he will save us (cf. Psa 50:15). At all times therefore, and in all situations, let us keep in mind that God is never far away.

  • Have faith, not fear

It is true that God is always near, and that he desires to help us, but God demands a faith commitment from us. In certain instances in scriptures, such as the healing of the paralytic (Mk 2:5) and the woman with hemorrhage (Lk 8:48), we see that God’s help comes as a reward for our faith in him. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God says “I will bless the person who puts his trust in me” (Jer 17:7). It is necessary therefore, that when the storms of life rise up against us, that we keep faith in God and not be afraid. In fact, it is in times as these that we need to ask God to increase our faith. Notice that when Peter asked Jesus if he could come meet him on the water and Jesus answered in the affirmative, Peter was able to walk on the water until he allowed fear to set in. Of greater importance is Jesus’ question to Peter: “O ye of little faith, why did you doubt?” See that Jesus did not question Peter’s fear; instead, he questioned Peter’s faith. Why so? It is because faith is the antidote to fear! As long as we keep our faith in God alive, we will not fear; and as long as we do not fear, we will not sink. So, child of God, when next fear threatens you, knowing that God is near you, send your faith to fight it. Fear not, for God is near!

Statues of Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary Beheaded in US Parishes

In a recent wave of attacks and vandalism on Catholic church buildings, properties and sacred images in different parts of the United States of America, a statue of Jesus the Good Shepherd was toppled and beheaded on Tuesday night, 14th July, or early Wednesday morning, 15th July, in Good Shepherd Catholic Church, Southwest Miami-Dade County.

According to a Catholic News Agency report, “On Wednesday morning, the statue was discovered knocked over and missing his head. Fr. Edvaldo DaSilva, the parochial vicar at Good Shepherd Church, told local media that he did not believe the damage could be accidental, as the pedestal’s screws had been tampered with.”

The act of vandalism was immediately reported to the police, and Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami has asked that the investigation be treated as a hate crime.

In a similar attack over the weekend, a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary was attacked, knocked over and beheaded at a parish in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which, according to the Catholic News Agency, is the third reported incident against a statue of Mary occurring in the same weekend. The outdoor statue was located at St. Stephen Parish, Chattanooga, and the incident occurred on Saturday, 11th July.

While the reasons for these and other similar attacks in Boston, Brooklyn, Florida and California which include vandalism and arson are not known, it is obvious that the Catholic Church in the United States has become the target of some persons or groups, which, if not nipped in the bud, can degenerate into attacks on both parishioners and church personnel. We are indeed in perilous times and must seek the face of the Lord Jesus to protect his Church. Our comfort should be in the words of Jesus that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church. Pray for the Church in the US.

News: POPE FRANCIS ADDS THREE NEW TITLES TO LITANY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

 Pope Francis has approved the inclusion of three additional invocations in the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, also called the Litany of Loreto.  In a June 20 letter to the presidents of bishops’ conferences, Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for the Divine Liturgy and the Discipline of the Sacraments, said the invocations “Mater misericordiae,” (Mother of Mercy) “Mater spei,” (Mother of Hope) and “Solacium migrantium” (Comfort of migrants) should be inserted in the Marian litany.

In his letter, Cardinal Sarah noted where each invocation should be added, using the Latin formulations. “Mater misericordiae,” which means, “Mother of mercy,” should be placed after “Mater Ecclesiae” (Mother of the Church). “Mater spei,” which means “Mother of hope,” should follow “Mater divinae gratiae” (Mother of Divine Grace) and “Solacium migrantium,” which means “Comfort of migrants,” should follow “Refugium peccatorum” (Refuge of sinners).

The Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, also known as the Litany of Loreto, has been an approved prayer for the intercession of Mary by the Church since the late 16th century, with its usage recorded even prior.