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US Bishops Disagree with Designation of Cuba as Terrorism Sponsor


Canada’s Supreme Court: Archdiocese is Responsible for Orphanage Abuse


NY Archdiocese Responds to Questions Over its Victims' Compensation Fund


Catholic Church resumes Sunday Masses in Iceland

CNA Staff, Jan 14, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- The Catholic Church is resuming public Sunday Masses in Iceland after the government raised the number of people permitted to gather in churches from 10 to 20.

Bishop David Tencer of Reykjavik, the country’s sole Catholic diocese, has encouraged priests to increase the number of Masses offered at their parishes and to apply for an exemption from the health authorities to allow for more than 20 people to attend Mass.

“We hope that those responsible for epidemic rules understand that as long as 100 people can attend Mass (funerals) … it should be possible to allow 100 people at a regular Mass in the same space,” Bishop Tencer said in a statement on Jan. 12.

Earlier this month, the bishop announced the suspension of all Sunday Masses in the Diocese of Reykjavik until the government lifted the 10-person limit. He also called for COVID-19 restrictions to be changed, arguing that there was an “unfair discrepancy” within the coronavirus measures.

“Our churches are not small. If it is possible to hold a funeral or even a concert with 50 people, how is it that only 10 people can attend Mass?” he asked.

“How do I explain to our parishioners that many restaurants can accommodate more customers? How to explain that in Landakotskirkja there can only be 10 people but, for example, there can be more than 10 in a sauna?”

Landakotskirkja, also known as the Basilica of Christ the King, is the Catholic cathedral in the capital, Reykjavik. It has a seating capacity of 200 people.

Fr. Patrick Breen, vicar general of Reykjavik diocese, told CNA on Jan. 5: “The church is quite big enough so that even 50 people in the church could still observe social distancing.” 

Iceland’s revised coronavirus measures, which went into force on Jan. 13, relaxed several COVID-19 restrictions, permitting the reopening of gyms, sports competitions, and ski slopes. Iceland Air also announced on Jan. 12 that it would resume its weekly flights to and from Boston.

The limit on attendance at religious gatherings in Iceland is 20 people, while up to 100 adults can attend performances, plays, cinema, and other cultural events.

There are 170 active cases of COVID-19 in Iceland as of Jan. 14. The country, located in the North Atlantic, has a population of just over 350,000 people. It is the most sparsely populated nation in Europe.

Bishops urge French Catholics to pray and fast as bioethics bill returns to Senate

Rome Newsroom, Jan 14, 2021 / 07:00 am (CNA).- French bishops asked Catholics on Wednesday to pray and fast for the next four Fridays for respect for human life from conception in response to new legislation.

With France’s controversial bioethics bill returning to the Senate for a second round of debate this month, the French bishops’ conference launched a prayer campaign on Jan. 13 in light of the “widespread blindness to the dignity of every human being” in French society.

The bishops of France called on “all Catholics, as well as men and women of goodwill, to turn to God by praying and fasting to ask Him for the grace to open our eyes to all and to be artisans of respect for all human beings from their conception.” 

“With a peaceful, but relentless heart, Catholics wish to help our French society to be a society of love and hope in truth and respect for human dignity, otherwise the fraternity advocated in our republican motto would be an illusion,” they said, referring to the national motto, “Liberté, égalité, fraternité.”

The prayer campaign will begin on Jan. 15. Catholics are asked to pray and fast in their homes each Friday until Feb. 5.

The bishops published a supplemental prayer guide with meditations from Scripture and specific intentions for each day.

They have also released a podcast, “Église et bioéthique,” focused on the Church and bioethical issues in France. Episode topics range from euthanasia to artificial intelligence.

The French Senate is resuming its consideration of the bioethics bill after a six-month hiatus. The bill would fund medically assisted procreation for lesbian couples and single women. Currently in France, IVF is restricted to married or cohabiting men and women with a diagnosis of infertility.

Health Minister Olivier Véran addressed the senate’s special commission charged with studying the bill’s text on Jan. 13. He welcomed the legislation as “a bill that will bring new rights,” according to the French Catholic newspaper La Croix. The special commission will meet again next week to review tabled amendments.

The bill was originally adopted by the National Assembly in October 2019. At the first reading, more than 2,500 amendments were tabled. The Senate also adopted the text in early 2020 but amended it in February.

In July, the National Assembly voted to include some amendments which had been previously rejected, including authorization of the ROPA method, also called “shared motherhood.”

ROPA, which stands for Reception of Oocytes from Partner, is a method of in vitro fertilization that places the embryo fertilized with the egg of one woman inside the uterus of the woman’s female partner for gestation.

Also reintroduced in the Senate bill was a provision on so-called “savior siblings” -- embryos created via in vitro fertilization for the use of the stem cells in their umbilical blood to treat a sick older sibling.

The creation of “savior siblings” was permitted under a previous bioethics law in 2004, but the National Assembly voted in October to discontinue its use in in vitro fertilization in France.

Archbishop Michel Aupetit, who practiced medicine and taught bioethics at a medical school before entering the priesthood, has raised concerns that human embryos are being trivialized and “discarded like vulgar consumable products.”

“It is indeed consumer society that pushes the desire of adults again and again without any consideration of the consequences on future generations, to the point of doing violence to them,” the archbishop of Paris wrote in Le Figaro June 29.

“Is there not violence, indeed, when a child is deliberately deprived of a father, when selective abortions are arranged in the case of multiple pregnancies, when the child discovers that the embryo it was might just as well have ended up under a researcher’s microscope or in a landfill after a more or less lengthy period of freezing? Is the child subject to the omnipotence of the ‘parental plan’ still our equal?” he asked.

Number of people leaving Catholic Church in Austria fell in 2020

CNA Staff, Jan 14, 2021 / 04:00 am (CNA).- Fewer people left the Catholic Church in Austria in 2020 than in the previous year, according to official figures released on Wednesday.

New statistics, published on Jan. 13, showed that 58,535 people formally left the Church in 2020, compared to 67,794 in 2019 -- a drop of 13.7%.

All Austrian dioceses recorded a decline in the number of people leaving, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, defying expectations in a year dominated by the coronavirus crisis.

Overall, the number of Catholics in Austria fell by around 1.5%, from 4.98 million in 2019 to 4.91 million in 2020.

Church authorities said that 3,807 people rejoined the Church or joined for the first time in 2020 -- 28.7% fewer than in 2019, when 4,898 people joined or rejoined.

In addition, 461 people made use of their “right of withdrawal” in 2020. People invoking this right -- known as “Recht auf Widerruf” in German -- initially declared their intention to leave the Church but decided not to take the step after contacting Church officials within a three-month period. 

“In any case, the decisive factors for the slight decline in the number of Catholics are not only the ratio of resignations to Church admissions but above all also the ratio of baptisms to deaths and of arrivals to departures,” said the bishops’ conference.

Other areas of the Austrian Church are defying the downward trend. 

In November, the archdiocese of Vienna announced a rise in the number of men training for the priesthood. 

Fourteen new candidates entered the archdiocese’s three seminaries this autumn. Eleven of them are from Vienna archdiocese and the remaining three are from the dioceses of Eisenstadt and St. Pölten.

Jubilee Year in Santiago de Compostela offers chance at plenary indulgence

Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Jan 13, 2021 / 08:11 pm (CNA).- The Jubilee Year of Compostela in Spain has been extended to take place through both 2021 and 2022, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The tradition of the Holy Year in the Spanish city dates back to 1122, when Pope Callixtus II allowed a plenary indulgence to be granted to those who visit the city’s shrine of St. James the Apostle in a year when his July 25 feast day falls on a Sunday.

The feast of St. James falls on a Sunday in a rotation of every six, then five, then six, then 11 years. The last Jubilee Year took place in 2010, when an estimated more than 100,000 pilgrims visited the shrine. 

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, which was completed in 1211 after over 135 years of construction, houses the relics of St. James in its crypt. It is also the ending point of the Camino de Santiago, sometimes called “the Way of St. James,” a centuries-old pilgrimage route made up of a network of trails across Europe.

Callixtus II was a supporter of the pilgrimage and sought to promote it through his institution of the Jubilee Years, during which pilgrims may walk through the cathedral’s Holy Door.

The Holy Door was reopened on Dec. 31, 2020, at the inauguration of the 2021 and 2022 Jubilee Year by the Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela, Julián Barrio Barrio. He said in a statement that the Holy Year “is a time when the Church grants unique spiritual graces to the faithful.”

The plenary indulgence associated with the Jubilee Year, which was recorded in the bull Regis Aeterni issued by Pope Alexander III in 1179, can be obtained for oneself, for someone who is ill, or for a deceased person.

To receive the plenary indulgence, a pilgrim must visit the Cathedral of Santiago on any day during the Jubilee Year, and fulfill the general conditions to receive an indulgence, which are: sacramentally confessing one’s sins, receiving the Holy Eucharist, praying for the intentions of the pope, and being interiorly detached from all sin.

Catholic archbishop of Glasgow dies suddenly at age 70

CNA Staff, Jan 13, 2021 / 08:35 am (CNA).- The Catholic archbishop of Glasgow, Scotland, died suddenly on Wednesday two days after his 70th birthday.  

The Archdiocese of Glasgow announced that Archbishop Philip Tartaglia died at his home on Jan. 13, the feast of St. Mungo, patron saint of Glasgow.

Tartaglia, who had led the archdiocese since 2012, tested positive for COVID-19 after Christmas and was self-isolating. 

The archdiocese said that the cause of his death was currently unclear.

“Please pray for the repose of the soul of Archbishop Philip, for his family and friends and people of the archdiocese,” it said.

The archdiocese will be run by an administrator until Pope Francis chooses a new archbishop of Glasgow.

Tartaglia was born to a family of Italian heritage in Glasgow on Jan. 11, 1951.

It is with the greatest sorrow that we announce the death of our Archbishop Philip. He died suddenly at his home in Glasgow, this morning, the feast of St Mungo. He was 70 years old. Requiescat in pace
Full statement https://t.co/RWSke3m31c pic.twitter.com/puDC1YScpM

— Archdiocese of Glasgow (@ArchdiocGlasgow) January 13, 2021 He studied at the national junior seminary at St. Vincent’s College, Langbank, and later at St. Mary’s College, Blairs, Aberdeen. 

He completed his ecclesiastical studies at the Pontifical Scots College and Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

He was ordained to the priesthood on June 30, 1975, by the then Archbishop Thomas Winning, archbishop of Glasgow from 1974 to 2001.

After his ordination, Tartaglia returned to Rome to work on a doctorate in Sacred Theology.

After completing his doctorate, he served in parishes and as a lecturer. From 1987 to 1993, he was rector of Chesters College, Bearsden.

In 2004, he was appointed rector of the Pontifical Scots College. A year later, Pope Benedict XVI named him Bishop of Paisley. He was ordained bishop on Nov. 20, 2005, by Archbishop Mario Conti.

He took the mottoDa robur, fer auxilium” (“Thine aid supply, thy strength bestow”), from St. Thomas Aquinas’ Eucharistic hymn “O Salutaris Hostia.”

Benedict XVI named Tartaglia archbishop of Glasgow on July 24, 2012. He succeeded Conti, who led the archdiocese from 2002 to 2012.

Tartaglia was installed at St Andrew’s Cathedral, Glasgow, on Sept. 8, 2012, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

He spoke out last year about forced evictions of refugees and asylum seekers in Glasgow, describing them as  “regrettable and harsh.”

“I appeal to you not to make refugees and asylum seekers homeless, but to provide for them decent accommodation in accordance with their human dignity and human rights,” he wrote to the U.K.’s Home Secretary.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster and president of the English and Welsh bishops’ conference, said: “I have learned with great sadness of the sudden death of Archbishop Philip Tartaglia. All of Scotland will be saddened and shocked by his death, sentiments shared throughout England and Wales, too. He and his family are much in our prayers.”

“I have often enjoyed the warm hospitality of Archbishop Tartaglia and admired his pastoral sense and sharp mind. His leadership will be greatly missed.”


We are saddened to hear of the death of Archbishop Philip Tartaglia who was a huge supporter of the club and regularly attended matches at Celtic Park.

Everyone at Celtic offers their sincere condolences to Philip's family and Scotland's Catholic community at this sad time. pic.twitter.com/R9Hu9DJaoq

— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) January 13, 2021  

Celtic F.C., a soccer team founded in Glasgow in 1887, paid tribute to the archbishop on its official Twitter account.

“We are saddened to hear of the death of Archbishop Philip Tartaglia who was a huge supporter of the club and regularly attended matches at Celtic Park,” the club said.

“Everyone at Celtic offers their sincere condolences to Philip’s family and Scotland’s Catholic community at this sad time.”