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Spanish bishops deliver six volumes of information on sex abuse cases to ombudsman

Cardinal Juan José Omella, the archbishop of Barcelona, Spain, and Spain's Ombudsman Ángel Gabilondo. / Credit: CEE

ACI Prensa Staff, Mar 30, 2023 / 14:30 pm (CNA).

The president of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference (CEE), Cardinal Juan José Omella, has handed over to the people’s ombudsman, Ángel Gabilondo, a total of six volumes of data on cases of sexual abuse of minors.

In Spain, the role of the ombudsman is to defend the fundamental rights and public liberties of citizens by watching over the activities of local and national governments as well as the administration of justice.

Speaking to Radio Nacional de España, Omella explained that all the data on cases collected by the Spanish dioceses has been turned in.

In total, the ombudsman has received “six volumes of reflection with all the data that we have up to now.” He stressed the Spanish prelates commitment to “put in place all means to eradicate” the abuse of minors.

The cardinal also said that these situations cause “great harm, not only to the Church but [also] to society.”

A year ago, the Congress of Deputies (the lower house of the national Legislature) entrusted the ombudsman with setting up an independent commission to report on complaints of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

A month earlier, the Spanish Bishops’ Conference made public that it had hired the law firm Cremades & Calvo Sotelo to conduct an external audit on the matter. The work was expected to take one year. Conclusions from the audit have have not yet been released.

In Spain there are more than 200 offices dedicated to the protection of minors and the prevention of abuse run by dioceses, religious congregations, and lay movements. The CEE reported that during 2022, the diocesan offices have trained more than 150,000 people, especially children and adolescents.

Throughout 2022, the CEE has received testimony on 186 new cases of abuse that occurred since 1950. The allegations involve include 74 religious order clergy, 36 diocesan clergy, 49 non-ordained consecrated persons, and 27 laymen, all male. Of them, 90 have died, 69 are alive, and in 27 cases their situation has not been confirmed, the CEE reported.

Regarding the victims, 179 were minors at the time the abuse occurred.

According to a very detailed study by the ANAR Foundation (Aid to At-Risk Chidren and Adolescents) published in 2021, priests represent a total of 0.2% of those responsible for child abuse in Spain between 2008 and 2019. Most of these situations occurred with adolescents aged 16 and over.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

U.S. and Canadian bishops join Vatican’s condemnation of colonialist ‘doctrine of discovery’

Pope Francis address representatives of Canada's indigenous peoples at the archbishop's residence in Québec City. / Vatican Media

Washington D.C., Mar 30, 2023 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

The U.S. and Canadian bishops released statements Thursday praising the Vatican’s repudiation of the “doctrine of discovery,” which has been used in the past to justify European colonialism in the Americas and throughout the world.

The doctrine of discovery is a philosophical, political, and legal theory that posits that European colonizers have the right to expropriate indigenous lands and property.

The theory has been said to have its origin in certain 15th-century papal bulls including Dum Diversas, Romanus Pontifex, and Inter Caetera, and has been invoked by many, including the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1823 case Johnson v. McIntosh.

On Thursday, a joint statement of the Vatican’s Dicasteries for Culture and Education and for Promoting Integral Human Development formally denounced the doctrine of discovery, saying it “is not part of the teaching of the Catholic Church” and that the Church “repudiates those concepts that fail to recognize the inherent human rights of indigenous peoples.”

In an official statement, the secretary for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Archbishop Paul Coakley, responded by saying: “We welcome the [Vatican] statement’s renewed repudiation and condemnation of the violence and injustices committed against Native and Indigenous peoples as well as the Church’s ongoing support for their dignity and human rights.” 

“In the centuries that followed the papal bulls at issue, many popes boldly proclaimed the God-given rights owed to all peoples, but we must also confront those moments when individual Christians lacked such boldness or clarity,” Coakley said. “There were times when Christians, including ecclesiastical authorities, failed to fully oppose destructive and immoral actions of the competing colonial powers. In this regard, we too express deep sorrow and regret.”

“These papal bulls did not adequately reflect the equal dignity and rights of Indigenous peoples,” the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) said in an official statement, adding that the bulls “were manipulated for political purposes by competing colonial powers; and that Indigenous peoples suffered the terrible effects of the assimilation policies of colonizing nations.” 

Echoing the Vatican’s statement, the Canadian bishops recalled Pope Francis’ words during a Quebec address in which he said: “Never again can the Christian community allow itself to be infected by the idea that one culture is superior to others, or that it is legitimate to employ ways of coercing others.”  

During what he described as a “penitential pilgrimage,” Pope Francis spoke with Indigenous Canadians and listened to their complaints regarding their treatment by colonizers and the Catholic Church.

The CCCB also praised the Vatican’s recognition of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which if implemented, the CCCB says, “would help to improve the living conditions of Indigenous peoples, to protect their rights, as well as to support their self-development in continuity with their identity, language, history, and culture.”

Both the U.S. and Canadian bishops echoed the Vatican’s sentiment expressed in the joint dicastery statement, saying though the Church has defended the rights of the weak and poor throughout history, “many Christians have committed evil acts against Indigenous peoples for which recent popes have asked forgiveness on numerous occasions.”

According to both bishops’ statements, the USCCB and CCCB, with the encouragement of the Vatican, are “exploring” the establishment of an academic symposium for continued dialogue between indigenous and Catholic scholars.

“As a Church, it is important for us to fully understand how our words have been used and misused to justify acts that would be abhorrent to Jesus Christ,” Coakley said. “We hope for more dialogue among Indigenous and Catholic scholars to promote greater and wider understanding of this difficult history.”

“May God bless with healing all those who continue to suffer the legacy of colonialism, and may we all offer true aid and support,” Coakley concluded. “By God’s grace, may we never return to the way of colonization but rather walk together in the way of peace.”

Vatican’s liturgy czar rejects German Church’s plans for laity to preach homilies, conduct baptisms

Archbishop Arthur Roche at a Vatican press conference on Feb. 10, 2015. / Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

CNA Newsroom, Mar 30, 2023 / 13:30 pm (CNA).

The Vatican’s liturgy czar has intervened against the implementation of resolutions of the German Synodal Way that demand laypeople should be able to regularly baptize and preach the homily at Mass in churches across Germany. 

In a letter to the German Bishops’ Conference president dated March 29, Cardinal Arthur Roche said neither was possible — despite at least one German diocese already announcing both practices.

The written intervention by the Vatican’s prefect of the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments was addressed to Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, which has obtained a copy of the document. 

Apart from covering the question of homilies and baptisms by laypeople, the seven-page letter also reminded the German bishops that liturgical translations must be confirmed and approved by the Vatican. 

On the issue of homilies, Roche wrote that the reason why laypeople cannot regularly preach at Mass is not due to their need for “better theological preparation or better communication skills.” Nor is the intent to create “inequalities among the baptized.”

Instead, the cardinal pointed to “distinctions made by the Spirit, who produces different charisms that are distinct and complementary.”

Roche wrote that well-formed laypeople should contribute, for instance, as catechists or by conducting conversations about sacred Scripture. 

However, he added that laypeople could not give the homily at Mass since only someone ordained “sacramentally represents Christ by virtue of the sacra potestas [sacred power] conferred on him at ordination.” 

Explaining that the issue of preaching at Mass was, in other words, a sacramental rather than an educational matter, Roche warned of “misunderstandings” about the figure and identity of the priest, who is the only one who can act ‘in persona Christi capitis’ [in the person of Christ, the head of the Church] by virtue of the sacrament.”

The cardinal also rejected the introduction of laypeople regularly administering baptisms, something already in practice in some German dioceses. He wrote that justifying this with a lack of priests, for example, was not possible under canon law.

Laypeople could only validly perform baptisms in exceptional circumstances, such as in danger of death or “in painful situations of persecution, but also in mission areas and in other cases of special need,” the cardinal explained.

Papal appeal to unity 

Roche reminded the German bishops of Pope Francis’ 2019 letter regarding the direction of the Synodal Way process. “The universal Church lives in and from the particular Churches, just as the particular Churches live and flourish in and from the universal Church; if they were separated from the universal Church, they would weaken, decay, and die,” the pope wrote at the time.

Responding to Roche's communication, a spokesperson for the German Bishops’ Conference on Thursday said the bishops would continue to seek dialogue with Rome on these issues.

Earlier this month, several German bishops announced plans to implement several resolutions passed by the Synodal Way. 

Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück — then vice president of the German Bishops’ Conference — said laypeople could baptize babies and “regularly” preach at homilies in his diocese. 

About one week later, on March 25, the Holy See announced that Pope Francis had accepted Bode’s request to resign

UPDATE: Pope Francis has bronchitis but is resting and improving, Vatican says

Pope Francis speaks at his general audience in St. Peter's Square on March 29, 2023. / Credit: Vatican Media

St. Louis, Mo., Mar 30, 2023 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis is exhibiting “marked improvement” after being admitted to the hospital on Wednesday with difficulty breathing, which was later diagnosed as bronchitis. 

“Pope Francis spent the afternoon at [Gemelli Hospital] devoting himself to rest, prayer, and some work duties,” Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni told reporters Thursday evening. 

“As part of scheduled clinical checks, the Holy Father was found to have a bronchitis infection that required the administration of antibiotic therapy through infusion, which produced the expected effects with a marked improvement in his state of health. Based on the expected course, the Holy Father could be discharged in the coming days.”

This update comes after Bruni said mid-Thursday that the pope “rested well overnight” and that “the clinical picture is progressively improving.” 

“This morning after having breakfast, [Pope Francis] read some newspapers and resumed work,” Bruni added. “Before lunch, he went to the chapel of his private apartment, where he spent time in prayer and received the Eucharist.”

Bruni had issued a brief statement earlier in the afternoon of March 29 to say the pope was at Gemelli Hospital “for some previously scheduled checkups.” Later that day, he said the 86-year-old pope would remain hospitalized for “some days” after being diagnosed with a respiratory infection. 

Gemelli is the same hospital where Pope Francis was hospitalized in July 2021 when he underwent surgery on his colon for diverticulitis, or inflammation of the intestinal wall.

In an interview with the Associated Press in January, Pope Francis disclosed that the diverticulitis had “returned.” At the time, the 86-year-old pontiff — who traveled to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo in late January — insisted he was in relatively good condition.

Tabernacle stolen from murdered Bishop David O’Connell’s residence

Bishop David O'Connell. / Credit: KTLA screenshot

Boston, Mass., Mar 30, 2023 / 12:30 pm (CNA).

An empty tabernacle that was bolted to the wall has been stolen from the residence of the late Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell, who was murdered in his Hacienda Heights, California, home in February. 

A tabernacle is a structure found in a Catholic church or chapel that houses the holy Eucharist, which Catholics profess to be the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. It is often made of gold and can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

News of O’Connell’s Feb. 18 murder shocked the nation following reports that he died after suffering multiple gunshot wounds. The local and wider Catholic community mourned O’Connell, who was remembered as a man of peace dedicated to serving the poor and immigrants.

First reported by LifeSiteNews, the burglary occurred sometime over the past weekend, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles told CNA in a statement. 

The archdiocese said that the tabernacle was located in O’Connell’s personal chapel. The theft was reported to law enforcement and “security has been enhanced,” the archdiocese’s statement said.

Lt. Michael Modica, a homicide detective with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department who has been in the late bishop’s residence, told CNA Thursday that he remembered seeing the tabernacle “bolted to the wall.” 

The man who was charged with the murder of O’Connell is 61-year-old Carlos Medina, the husband of the woman who was O’Connell’s housekeeper.

Medina pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in court March 22. It remains unclear what the motive for the murder might have been. 

Medina is being held on more than $2 million bail and will have his next court hearing May 17.

Before his not-guilty plea, Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón said in a Feb. 22 press conference that Medina admitted to the murder.

“He admitted that he had done the killing and we believe we recovered the weapon that they were using, and we have other evidence from the bed, certain things that indicate that they were in the place where the killing occurred,” Gascón said in Spanish, translated here by CNA.

Following the revelation of the alleged admission, a current and former colleague of Gascón criticized him for breaking the L.A. District Attorney’s Office’s policy of forbidding the disclosure of a defendant’s admission in an open criminal case.

John Lewin, a former deputy district attorney for Los Angeles, told Fox News Digital that the statement could affect the outcome of the trial.

“It cannot be more simply stated, George Gascón is a D.A. who either doesn’t know the basic ethical rules that govern the agency he leads or doesn’t care to follow them,” he said.

“What if a court decides that the confession will not be admitted to trial? You can’t put that genie back into the bottle,” he added.

John McKinney, a current L.A. deputy district attorney, told Fox News Digital that the disclosure was contrary to police department rules. 

“By disclosing a defendant’s confession in an open criminal case, George Gascón has not only committed a blatant violation of LADA policy but has also potentially violated the due process rights of the accused.” 

Obtained by CNA, the District Attorney’s Legal Policy Manual states that “at the time of arrest, the issuance of an arrest warrant, the filing of a complaint, or the public revelation of an indictment,” information about a confession, admission, or statement given by the accused shall not be released.

Marc Debbaudt, a former career deputy district attorney for Los Angeles, told CNA Feb. 27 that he didn’t think Gascón’s announcement of the admission could cause the case to be thrown out but said that “it could result in motions to change jurisdiction.”

Three days of memorial services were held for O’Connell, 69, in early March. O’Connell’s funeral was attended by thousands as Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez called him an intercessor for souls.

Speaking briefly at the conclusion of the funeral liturgy, Gomez said “Bishop Dave,” as O’Connell was affectionately known, would be sorely missed, but “we know that he’s in heaven.” 

“From there he’s going to continue to intercede for us,” Gomez said, “as he has done his whole life.”

Witnesses tell House panel that speech is being silenced on college campuses 

null / zimmytws/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Mar 30, 2023 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

A scholar whose talk was shut down at a university and a student who witnessed the silencing of speech on campus recounted their experiences at a U.S. House subcommittee on Wednesday. 

Manhattan Institute scholar Ilya Shapiro and Stanford sophomore Josiah Joner were among the four witnesses who testified before the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development. They discussed the absence of free speech at public universities and alleged bias against conservative and religious students and speakers. 

Shapiro, who wound up in a firestorm over a Tweet that criticized affirmative action, had his speech shut down at the University of California College of the Law, San Francisco, formerly called UC Hastings. 

“Shut up, was the response, in more obscene terms, that I got from students at UC Hastings when I tried to speak there just over a year ago about my last book, ‘Supreme Disorder,’” Shapiro told the committee members. “They prevented the event from taking place, chanting and banging as if it was Occupy Wall Street.”

Shapiro said this has happened at a variety of events with different types of speakers all across the country. He argued the common factor is that “speakers presented ideas that some didn’t like.”

The problem, as highlighted by Joner during his testimony, is not restricted to students but is amplified by employees of the university. He recounted a recent incident at Stanford University when Judge Kyle Duncan’s speech was shouted down by student protesters who then received support from a high-ranking college administrator, which caused the entire event to be shut down.

Duncan was appointed by former President Donald Trump and has been vocally critical of the Supreme Court’s ruling of a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. As a lawyer, he has defended institutions that restrict bathrooms to one’s biological sex, regardless of the person’s self-identified gender identity. 

“On the day of Judge Duncan’s Stanford speech, close to 100 students protested Judge Duncan, proceeding to enter the event and shout at him during his remarks,” Joner said. “The student protesters heckled Judge Duncan profusely, preventing the judge from speaking in what was one of the latest examples of the heckler’s veto, used to suppress free speech on our campus. They held obscene signs and shouted obscene remarks and Judge Duncan was not able to deliver his lecture.”

Joner added that an administrator, Dean Tirien Steinbach, took the microphone, condemned Duncan’s views, and defended the protesters’ actions. She was later suspended and wrote an apology for her behavior.

Joner told the panel he is concerned that the students are afraid to voice their opinions in this political climate.

“Students … are too scared to speak up in the classroom and share their viewpoints,” Joner said. “It has instilled angst into each student for fear of sharing their opinions. Anything they say might also be viciously condemned by these same university administrators. The best option is to merely stay silent and keep one’s opinion to themselves.”

Cherise Trump, the executive director of Speech First, argued that these problems are often institutional. Her organization has won lawsuits against colleges over policies that restrict speech. She said higher education institutions will sometimes broadly define harassment to include offensive speech or microaggressions as well as speech that threatens someone’s mental health or is humiliating without clearly defining the conditions for that metric. 

“I have visited dozens of campuses and spoken with thousands of students,” Trump told the panel. “Those students face an ever-growing, ever-present threat on campuses: that is, administrators, working to chill and silence their speech. … They take it upon themselves to adopt even broader definitions of harassment and discrimination. These policies completely disregard the federal guidelines that are meant to strike a balance between protecting students’ First Amendment rights while also protecting students.”

While questioning the panelists, Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Michigan) brought up alleged discrimination faced by faith-based student groups. 

“Countless studies have shown that religious organizations especially improve feelings of belonging, cultural awareness, and academic success,” Walberg said. “Yet, we often see universities restricting these beneficial groups from organizing with examples from 37 states involving 93 colleges and universities and these are just the ones that were actually reported.”

Walberg introduced legislation that would strip federal funding away from higher education institutions that refuse to provide faith-based groups the same access to resources as secular groups. Although a current federal regulation, the 2020 Religious Liberty and Free Inquiry Rule, provides that condition on federal funding, the Biden administration has announced plans to rescind it. 

“I would have thought that you don’t even need a regulation for that,” Shapiro said. “I’m frankly appalled that this regulation is being rescinded. … I don’t think that you even need this regulation or frankly further legislation to make the point. You can just say, as long as you’re complying with existing Supreme Court precedent and the sense of Congress about … equal treatment of different student organizations … you don’t even approach any sort of line about going too far.”  

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has asked Biden to keep the regulation in place. 

Meet the new president of the European bishops’ commission

Bishop Mariano Crociata meets with Pope Francis on March 23, 2023. / Credit: Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Mar 30, 2023 / 11:30 am (CNA).

Last week the European bishops elected the new president of their commission, Italian Bishop Mariano Crociata.

Crociata, who leads the Catholic Diocese of Latina in the Lazio region of Italy, succeeds Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich.

The bishop delegates of the dioceses of the European Union elected Crociata in a March 22 vote during their spring plenary assembly.

Crociata, 70, will lead the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) until 2028. He is supported by four vice presidents.

“This is a crucial time for Europe and for the Church. Unity and solidarity are needed more than ever. They should guide us through the many transitions our societies are faced with,” Crociata said in a statement after his election.

Crociata told EWTN News after his election that he was feeling a little intimidated by the new responsibility.

“We are diocesan bishops ... and here a certain level of responsibility and institutional attention is required,” he said.

The bishop added that his experience as vice president of the commission over the past five years has given him more confidence for the new role, however, together with “the really collegial nature of great partnerships, the support of the general secretariat, and of many experts.”

Crociata said Pope Francis is very attentive to the issues facing the European Union today, and in a meeting with COMECE on March 23 the pope invited the bishops “to center all our efforts around the theme of the unity of Europe and the search for peace.”

Pope Francis meets with members of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) on March 23, 2023. The pope invited the bishops “to center all our efforts around the theme of the unity of Europe and the search for peace.”. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis meets with members of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) on March 23, 2023. The pope invited the bishops “to center all our efforts around the theme of the unity of Europe and the search for peace.”. Credit: Vatican Media

The Italian bishop was born in the town of Castelvetrano in Italy’s southernmost region, the island of Sicily.

He was ordained a priest in 1979 at the age of 26 after studying philosophy and theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he received a doctorate in theology.

After his first 24 years as a priest, he was nominated vicar general of the Diocese of Mazara del Vallo and diocesan director of Catholic Action. He was also a fundamental theology teacher at the Pontifical Theology Faculty of Sicily.

He was also a theology and Christology professor at the Institute of Religious Sciences of Mazara del Vallo and an expert on interreligious dialogue.

In 2007, Crociata was named bishop of Noto, a diocese in Sicily. The following year he was appointed secretary general of the Italian bishops’ conference for a five-year period, thus concluding his term as bishop of Noto.

He was named bishop of Latina-Terracina-Sezze-Priverno on Italy’s mainland in 2013.

Prior to being elected president of the European bishops’ commission, Crociata was first vice president for five years. He has been the Italian delegate since 2017.

COMECE is made up of bishops delegated by the bishops’ conferences of the 27 member states of the European Union.

The commission’s leadership has released statements in support of Catholic values in Europe, particularly against abortion and for the protection of persecuted Christians in other countries.

Bishops lament ‘terrible tragedy’ that left at least 38 migrants dead in Mexico

Migrants wake up after spending the night outside the immigration detention center where at least 38 migrants died during a fire in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico, on March 29, 2023. / Credit: Photo by Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images

ACI Prensa Staff, Mar 30, 2023 / 11:00 am (CNA).

Bishop José Guadalupe Torres of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, expressed in a March 28 statement his deepest condolences for the 38 migrants who died “due to the fire in the temporary residence of the National Institute of Migration here in our city.”

The coordinators of the bishops of Texas and Mexico — Eugenio Lira, the bishop of Matamoros, Mexico, and Gustavo García-Siller, archbishop of San Antonio, Texas — also “deeply regretted the death of the migrant brothers.”

A fire occurred in the lodging area of the temporary residence of Chihuahua. So far, 38 deaths and 29 injuries have been reported.

The Mexican Bishops’ Conference also lamented the tragedy and expressed its sorrow in a March 28 statement but pointed out that “these are not isolated cases” but rather “are closely related to what happened in 2020 when a Guatemalan national lost his life at the Tenosique Migration Station in Tabasco state, as well as what happened at the Piedras Negras Station in Coahuila state in 2022.”

As reported by the BBC, the Ciudad Juárez temporary residence is a “center used by the Mexican authorities to house migrants who attempt to cross illegally and who are candidates for deportation.”

Ciudad Juárez lies on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande across from El Paso, Texas.

In their statement, the Mexican bishops pointed out that “they’re not ‘shelters’” but migration stations that actually “operate as prisons and as punishment for irregular migration.”

“As a Church, we will always stand by the side of those who suffer the most, the excluded, the poor, and the people most in need,” the conference said in its statement.

The coordinators of the bishops of the Texas and Mexico border area said that “knowing that God loves his children, and that in him we are all brothers, we pray that he will receive the deceased and make them partakers of his eternal life; may he grant a speedy recovery to the injured, and may he give their families much strength.”

Torres, Lira, and García-Siller asked the corresponding authorities to clarify what happened and guarantee the safety of the other migrants.

“This Church, under the protection of holy Virgin Mary, will ensure the dignified accompaniment of all migrants as daughters and sons of the same God,” the Mexican Bishops’ Conference said.

Torres invited the faithful to participate in a special Mass that he will offer in the Ciudad Juárez cathedral “to pray for the eternal rest of those who have lost their lives and for the recovery of those in the hospitals of our city who are injured.”

The National Institute of Migration (INM) posted a statement on Twitter announcing that it has filed “a complaint with the corresponding authorities so that they investigate what happened and, where appropriate, proceed accordingly.”

The institute also requested the National Human Rights Commission “to intervene in legal proceedings and to safeguard foreigners.”

At the site were “68 adult males from Central and South America.”

“Of them, 29 other foreign migrants were injured by the fire and were transferred in critical-serious condition to four local hospitals for immediate care,” the INM statement continued.

Communication has been established with the consular authorities of the foreign nationals to facilitate the identification of the deceased.

The INM said that it will continue to report on the condition of those hospitalized and that it “strongly condemns the actions that led to this tragedy.”

The president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, reported in his daily press conference that “it had to do with a protest that they started after, we assume, that they found out that they were going to be deported.”

“And, as a protest, they put mattresses at the shelter doorway and set them on fire; and they didn’t imagine that this was going to cause this terrible mishap.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

This is Pope Francis’ prayer intention for the month of April

Pope Francis prays in St. Peter's Square on March 8, 2023. / Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Mar 30, 2023 / 10:00 am (CNA).

In the month of April, Pope Francis has asked the world to pray in a special way for a culture of nonviolence and peace.

“Living, speaking, and acting without violence is not surrendering, losing, or giving up anything but aspiring to everything,” the pope said in a video message released March 30.

He urged both countries and citizens to “resort less and less to the use of arms.”

In the video, images of Pope Francis delivering his message are interspersed with scenes of war zones, bombed-out cities, people fleeing war, police at crime scenes, and peace protesters.

In some of the video clips, the faces of iconic people associated with peace — Pope John XXIII, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi — are superimposed on the scenes.

“As St. John XXIII said 60 years ago in his encyclical Pacem in Terris, war is madness,” the pope said. “It’s beyond reason.”

“Any war, any armed confrontation, always ends in defeat for all,” he said.

Pacem in Terris, subtitled “On establishing universal peace in truth, justice, charity, and liberty,” was published 60 years ago on April 11.

Pope Francis urged the world to “develop a culture of peace” and to “remember that, even in cases of self-defense, peace is the ultimate goal, and that a lasting peace can exist only without weapons.”

The pope’s monthly prayer intention is promoted and published by The Pope Video initiative, run by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network.

“Let us make nonviolence a guide for our actions, both in daily life and in international relations,” Pope Francis said.

More information about the pope’s prayer intention for April can be found here.

U.S. bishops ask for prayer for pope’s quick recovery

Pope Francis' General Audience in St. Peter's Square on March 29, 2023. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Washington D.C., Mar 30, 2023 / 09:30 am (CNA).

Following news of Pope Francis’ hospitalization on Wednesday, U.S. bishops asked for prayer for the pontiff’s quick recovery.

“On behalf of my brother bishops, I invite all the faithful to pause, if possible before the Blessed Sacrament, and pray for his speedy recovery. May our dear shepherd and all those in need of healing experience the comfort of Christ,” said Archbishop Timothy Broglio, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The pope was taken to Rome’s Gemelli Hospital Wednesday due to a respiratory infection, the Vatican reported. He is expected to remain there for a few days.

“We have received word that Pope Francis is receiving treatment for a respiratory infection at Gemelli Hospital in Rome,” said Cardinal Blasé Cupich of Chicago Wednesday afternoon. “I am asking the people of the archdiocese to join me in praying for the swift and complete recovery of the Holy Father.” 

“Over the past month, people around the world prayed millions of Hail Marys to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Holy Father’s election to the chair of Peter. We responded then to Pope Francis’ often-repeated request to pray for him. Let us continue our prayers, this time for the return of this extraordinary shepherd to good health and to his work of spreading the joy of God’s love and mercy,” Cupich added.

Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles said Wednesday night: “Let’s pray for our Holy Father Pope Francis as he undergoes his medical treatments at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital. We entrust him to the tender care of Our Lady of Guadalupe and we ask that she keep him close in her love.” 

“Pope Francis often speaks about the power of prayer, and time and time again he has entrusted himself to our prayers. Let us once again pray for him during this time of need. We pray for a quick and full recovery and walk with him to overcome this health issue. Please join me in saying Pope Francis’ own prayer to Our Lady, Health of the Sick,” Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore said.

“Pope Francis, the love of God surrounds you and dwells within you,” said Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller. “You are bearing the cross of Jesus, your life and your love. We pray for you. We love you. Adelante y Arriba!”

On Thursday morning Pope Francis tweeted his gratitude for the many prayers, saying: “I am touched by the many messages received in these hours and I express my gratitude for the closeness and prayer.”

As of Thursday morning, the pope’s agenda lists no appointments for the day on March 30. He is still scheduled to preside over a Mass in St. Peter’s Square on April 2 for Palm Sunday and to give the usual Sunday Angelus address.