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Former priest pleads not guilty to abuse charges in NM after extradition

Santa Fe, N.M., Sep 24, 2018 / 05:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A former priest is back in the United States after he fled to Morocco in 1992 to escape accusations of sexual abuse.

Arthur Perrault, 80, is accused of sexually abusing a child in the early 1990s and was extradited to New Mexico to face charges Sept. 21.

Perrault served in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe from 1973 to 1992, and the alleged abuse occurred while Perrault was serving as a military chaplain in Albuquerque. He is charged with seven counts of aggravated sexual abuse and abusive sexual contact with a minor under the age of 12.

The former priest has pled not guilty to all seven counts against him.

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe stated that “over the past year” it has “fully cooperated with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI during the federal grand jury investigation which ultimately led to these criminal indictments against Perrault.”

“The archdiocese has cooperated fully with all law enforcement agencies investigating the allegations and will continue to support the judicial process as it runs its course. We ask all to cooperate and respect the legal proceedings and for prayers for all victims and those affected by these very serious charges.”

Perrault had been in the custody of Moroccan authorities since October of last year, after the Department of Justice filed an indictment against him Sept. 21, 2017. U.S. Attorney John Anderson for the District of New Mexico stated that Perrault could face a maximum sentence of life in prison for the aggravated sexual abuse charge and a maximum of 10 years for the abusive sexual contact charge.

Only one alleged victim is mentioned in the indictment, but a motion filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico alleges that Perrault is a “serial child molester who abused numerous victims” during his priesthood. The Albuquerque Journal reports that nearly 40 of Perrault’s alleged victims in New Mexico have come forward, as well as the mother of one young man who claims her son committed suicide following abuse.

Perrault had been sent to a treatment center for sexually abusive priests in 1965 after being accused of molesting young men in Connecticut. The center, located in Jemez Springs, N.M., was run by the Servants of the Paraclete. In 1966, a psychologist contracting with the order recommended him for a teaching position at St. Pius X High School.

The Journal also reports that court records suggest that several priests and diocesan leaders were alerted to Perrault’s conduct during his 26 year priesthood in Albuquerque.

By 1992, after two victims reported abuse to the Albuquerque police, the then-archbishop suspended Perrault’s priestly faculties and reported the accusations to Albuquerque civil authorities. The accused priest disappeared from his Albuquerque parish in 1992, just days before an attorney filed two lawsuits against the archdiocese.

CRS sells fair trade coffee, supporting Mexican farmers and land

Baltimore, Md., Sep 24, 2018 / 04:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholic Relief Services is now offering fair trade coffee beans that will benefit local farming communities in Mexico and foster better agricultural practices.

“So many of us love coffee, and this is just a really easy way to live out your faith and support the people who work really hard to create the products that we love,” said Meghan Gilbert, communications officer for CRS.

“As Catholics, we have to uphold the dignity of everyone and one really great way to do that is to make sure workers are treated fairly and that they are paid a fair price for what they produce,” she told CNA.

The project is called Mama Tierra, or Mother Earth, and is a joint effort of CRS and Equal Exchange, a fair trade company that looks to provide a just relationship between consumers and producers.

For every bag of coffee sold at retail price, $2 will be given to CRS. If a unit of five bags are sold at wholesale price, then $5 will be donated. CRS will use the money to help educate farmers on practices to improve quantity and reduce waste.  

The coffee sales also support members of a democratically-run cooperative of farmers in Oaxaca. The cooperative is called CEPCO and involves 4,300 farmers. The group provides a fair price for the product and educates farmers to improve cultivation.

Because coffee produces a lot of waste, a major focus of the project is to instruct farmers in environmentally-friendly agriculture, with measures such as reducing water contamination and improving soil quality, said Gilbert.

“We also work with them on how to grow this coffee so it actually puts more nutrients into the soil so it reduces the harm to the land and actually increases their yield,” she said.

“It’s about not just caring for the worker, it’s caring for the environment as well. Because if we don’t care for the environment, these workers won’t be able to produce coffee or some of the other agricultural goods.”

CRS has worked with Equal Exchange for more than 10 years, and this project has been in the works for the past few years, said Gilbert. Since the product is fair trade, the workers and farmers receive a just return on their product, she said, noting this is important because many farmers are not paid justly.

“You look around the world and you hear all these stories – workers getting paid very, very little for the amount of work they do,” she said. “When you make sure that they are paid a fair wage, then workers are treated better and they are able to produce and increase their business.”

Gilbert said fair trade is also important because it cultivates a culture that appreciates the workers on the other side of the products – items which people may take advantage of without recognizing the poor treatment those workers receive.

“I think that is really what ethical trade at CRS and fair trade over all is really trying to get people to think about who is on the other end of that product and who is creating it and making sure that they are treated well, that they are paid a fair wage.”

Irish health minister proposes abortion free-of-charge

Dublin, Ireland, Sep 24, 2018 / 03:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Irish Health Minister Simon Harris has announced that he intends to make it possible for women in the Republic of Ireland to have abortions free of charge, following the recent legalization of abortion in the country.

Harris said he didn’t want “cost to be a barrier” to women wanting to obtain abortions, and that it would become part of Ireland’s public health system. Funds to pay for the procedures will be included in this year’s budget, according to local media reports.

Harris stated in a speech in January that an estimated 170,000 Irish women have traveled to other countries for abortions since 1980.

Irish president Michael Higgins signed the repeal of the Eighth Amendment, which was voted on in a country-wide referendum in May, into law Sept. 18. The law had previously provided for equal protection of the lives of both the mother and the unborn child.

In terms of Irish law, the next phase will involve the Health Minister submitting a new law governing abortion, which is expected to reach the Irish legislature in October and could be in force by 2019, according to NPR. Draft legislation suggests that the new law could allow elective abortion up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy.

Prominent Irish doctors have expressed concerns about the government’s quick turnaround to begin performing free abortions, citing safety concerns for the women involved.

Dr Peter Boylan, chair of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and Dr John O Brien, chair of the Irish College of General Practitioners, both stated that talks with the Department of Health about how abortions will be delivered have been lagging.

Boylan also advised against a three-day waiting period for women seeking abortions, claiming the waiting period may “act as a barrier and [make] unwarranted assumptions about women’s ability to make their own decisions.”

Ireland is also facing a potential shortage of doctors willing to participate in abortions; surveys show that roughly seven out of 10 general practitioners in Ireland are unwilling to perform abortions.

Dr Mary Favier, vice president of the Irish College of General Practitioners, told the Oireachtas Health Committee Sept. 18 that “there  are concerns about capacity and resourcing issues such as staffing, facilities, training.”

“They are concerned about the potential lack of appropriate specialist support, the possibility of medical complications for their patients, what will be the public reaction to those who don't provide and those who do,” the Irish News reported Favier stating.

“They have a fear of litigation, they wish to see an acknowledgement of conscientious objection and how to accommodate this in the clinical pathway but also an acknowledgement of conscientious commitment and how to support this.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadker has said that Catholic hospitals will not be permitted to opt out of performing abortions, though individual medical professionals may.

The removal of the Eighth Amendment follows the decisive result of the national referendum held in May. Only one county, Donegal, voted to keep the amendment.

Nigerian priest dies shortly after being kidnapped

Warri, Nigeria, Sep 24, 2018 / 02:24 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A Catholic priest in Nigeria died Sept. 19, just days after escaping from kidnappers, according to local media reports. The exact cause of his death has not yet been made public.

Fr. Louis Odudu was kidnapped Sept. 14 and released the next day, according to the Diocese of Warri, although there are some reports that he escaped. Four days later, Fr. Odudu reportedly complained of pain before being taken to the hospital where he died. Whether or not he died as a result of injuries sustained during his kidnapping ordeal has not been made public by the diocese.

The Nigerian Daily Post reports that five Catholic priests have been abducted in the southern Nigerian state of Delta in 2018 alone.

Fr. Odudu was chaplain of the Seat of Wisdom Catholic Chaplaincy at the Petroleum Training Institute, a training school for the oil and gas industry located in the port city of Warri. Ordained in 1987, Fr. Odudu had been on sabbatical for two years in the United Kingdom before returning to his home diocese in 2018. He was assigned to the chaplaincy about two months before his kidnapping and death.

Members of the Diocese of Warri were already mourning the death of Fr. Stephen Ekakabor, who died in early September following a brain injury sustained during an armed invasion of his rectory in 2017. Members of the diocese were reportedly holding prayer vigils for Fr. Ekakabor on the day of Fr. Odudu’s death.

The governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, offered his condolences Sept. 21 to the Bishop of Warri and condemned the “renewed onslaught against Catholic priests and clergymen, assuring that Government will work closely with security agencies to arrest the ugly trend,” according to the diocese.

The Nigerian bishops speak out frequently to criticize the government for being slow to act in the face of violence against Nigerians for religious and political reasons.

 

Sri Lankan cardinal says religion is best guarantor of 'human rights'

Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sep 24, 2018 / 12:13 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Sri Lanka should not look to the western world's “new religion” of human rights but to its own religious traditions, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo said Sunday during his homily at Mass.

“Human rights have become the new religion of the west as if it's a new discovery, but people in our country have been following religions for centuries,” Cardinal Ranjith said Sept. 23, according to Ada Derana, a Sri Lankan news outlet.

He was speaking during Mass at St. Matthew's parish in Ekala, fewer than 20 miles north of Colombo.

The cardinal seems to have been denouncing the ideological colonization of which Pope Francis has frequently spoken.

“We know we have a short life-span, the longest being around 100 years; so if we get used to this ideology of living a materialistic lifestyle, we'll end our lives in an unfortunate manner at the end,” Cardinal Ranjith reflected.

He said that “there is no need to talk about protecting any of these human rights if we follow our religions properly, because they take us beyond any of these ideas. It is those who are not following any religion who talk about all these human rights issues. We shouldn't get entangled in this spell, and must act intelligently.”

Cardinal Ranjith's words were also reported by Hiru TV, another Sri Lankan television channel.

The Jesuit who survived the KGB

Vilnius, Lithuania, Sep 24, 2018 / 10:40 am (CNA).- When Pope Francis visited a former KGB building in Vilnius, Lithuania Sept. 23, Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevicius was the only bishop to accompany him there. Now housing the Museum of the Occupation and Freedom Fighters, the site was once used for the detention and execution of thousands of Lithuanians. Tamkevicius had personal experience as a prisoner there.

The building, a former gymnasium, served as a headquarters for the Gestapo during World War II. Following the Nazi retreat in 1944, the KGB moved in. More than 2,000 people were executed there, and 300 hundred priests were held prisoner - including Tamkevicius.

“In 8 months I was interrogated 60 times - every other day,” he said.

“The pope wanted to come and visit the roots of our pain,” the archbishop told CNA following the visit.

Born in 1938, Tamkevicius vividly remembers the Soviet occupation, and he told CNA about the campaign of religious repression Lithuanians faced under the communist regime.

“The Soviets wanted to destroy Lithuania and suppress religious freedom - that was non existent. They arrested more than 300 priests, who were not even allowed to teach. They wanted to minimize the Church. It was then that we started to think what we could do to resist the Soviets.”

Tamkevicius played an active part in resisting communist persecution of the Church in Lithuania. With four other priests, he founded in 1978 the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers’ Rights.

He also set up the Chronicle of the Catholic Church of Lithuania, a small magazine - produced on a typewriter - that reported on the situation of the Church and of Catholics in the Baltic state. Tamkevicius edited the Chronicle for 11 years.

Asked about why he felt called to play such a prominent role during a period of active persecution for the Church, Tamkevicius told CNA, “I entered the Church, and I entered it completely.”

As a Jesuit priest, Tamkevicius began his work of resistance by writing a news bulletin to inform the world about the persecution faced by the Church in Lithuania. As one of the younger members of the order, he felt called to take on an active role.

“I was one of the youngest,” he said, “so I made the decision that I could risk something for the Church.” Tamkevicius founded the Chronicle in 1972.

“Every issue of the Chronicle of the Church in Lithuania carried stories about what was happening here. When I started, I had no idea how many KGB collaborators were all around us. It was only thanks to God I could continue to write the Chronicles for 11 years.”

“In that place Pope Francis visited,” he said, “thousands have been killed, while thousands more were sent to into exile in the Soviet Union.” The archbishop was among them.

In 1983, Tamkevicius was arrested and held by the KGB. He was sentenced to 10 years of forced labor and exile. He served some of his sentence in Siberia.

Tamkevicius told CNA that Francis’ visit was an emotional moment for him.

“I dreamed for 35 years that the pope would one day visit the place where I and others were imprisoned, and so I thanked the pope for showing solidarity with our people.”

The pope’s speech was less important to the archbishop than the fact that he was there. He told  CNA that Francis “said nothing in particular, he showed solidarity.” He added that entering the museum building brought back memories, “good and bad.”

Among the good things, he said, was his recollection of “the prayers, never more intense - the Rosary, the reading of the Bible.”  These devotions sustained him during a period in which he was held and questioned by the Soviets.

Tamkevicius was eventually released as part of Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestrojka program. He returned home and was appointed spiritual director of the seminary in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second largest city, in 1989, becoming the rector of the seminary the following year.

In 1991, he was consecrated an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Kaunas, becoming the city’s archbishop in 1996.

Mary shows how to be near those who suffer, Pope Francis says

Aglona, Latvia, Sep 24, 2018 / 10:12 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Mary’s witness of standing beneath the cross of her Son teaches Catholics how to be close to those around them who are suffering, the pope said at Mass Monday in Latvia.

The Gospel of John says Mary stood near the cross of Christ, “close to her Son,” the pope said Sept. 24. “She stood there, at the foot of the cross, with unwavering conviction, fearless and immovable.”

“This is the main way that Mary shows herself. She stands near those who suffer, those from whom the world flees, including those who have been put on trial, condemned by all, deported.” Even those on the very fringes of society: “the Mother also stands close by them, steadfast beneath their cross of incomprehension and suffering,” he said.

Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the Shrine of the Mother of God in Aglona for the third day of a four-day visit to the Baltic states. His last day will be spent in Estonia.

Mary teaches Catholics to stand near others, as she did, he continued. To do so “demands more than simply passing by or making a quick visit… it means that those in painful situations should feel us standing firmly at their side and on their side.”

He stated that those who have been discarded by society can still experience the closeness of their Mother Mary, who sees in all their suffering “the open wounds of her Son Jesus.”

“Like Mary, let us remain steadfast, our hearts at peace in God. Let us be ever ready to lift up the fallen, raise up the lowly and to help end all those situations of oppression that make people feel crucified themselves,” he said.

Francis pointed out that in the Gospel, when Christ asks his Mother to receive John, and John to receive his Mother, they were standing together at the foot of the cross, but “this was not enough, that they had not yet fully ‘received’ one another.”

Many people often do the same, he said, standing at the side of people, even in the same home, neighborhood and workplace, sharing the same faith, contemplating and experiencing the same mysteries, “but without embracing or actually ‘receiving’ them with love.”

He said in the Eucharist we remember Christ’s passion, and “from the foot of the cross, Mary invites us to rejoice that we have been received as her sons and daughters, even as her Son Jesus invites us to receive her into our own homes and to make her a part of our lives.”

“Mary wants to give us her courage, so that we too can remain steadfast, and her humility, so that, like her, we can adapt to whatever life brings,” he stated.

In his homily, the pope also spoke about Venerable Boleslavs Sloskans, who is buried inside the shrine. Born in what is present-day Latvia, he died in 1981 after more than 30 years in exile from his homeland. While a young bishop, he was also arrested twice by the Soviets and imprisoned by them for around five years.

“Sometimes,” Pope Francis said, “we see a return to ways of thinking that would have us be suspicious of others,” or we think we would be better off and more secure by ourselves. “At those times, Mary and the disciples of these lands invite us to ‘receive’ our brothers and sisters, to care for them, in a spirit of universal fraternity.”

Pope Francis in Latvia: Don't let Christianity become an artifact

Riga, Latvia, Sep 24, 2018 / 05:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- During an ecumenical prayer service in Latvia Monday, Pope Francis warned Christians to not let the faith turn into another piece of history, but to keep it an active part of their lives and communities.      

“This is a recurring danger for all of us,” the pope said Sept. 24. “We can take what gives us our very identity and turn it into a curio from the past, a tourist attraction, a museum piece that recalls the achievements of earlier ages… The same thing can happen with faith.”

“We can stop feeling like ‘resident’ Christians and become tourists,” he continued. “We could even say that our whole Christian tradition can run the same risk. The risk of ending up as a museum piece, enclosed within the walls of our churches, and no longer giving out a tune capable of moving the hearts and inspiring the lives of those who hear it.”

Pope Francis spoke during an ecumenical prayer meeting in the Evangelical Lutheran cathedral in Riga, Latvia. The cathedral is one of the country’s most recognizable landmarks and houses a pipe organ considered among the best in the world.

Though the organ has been renovated and rebuilt several times over the years, it is also considered one of the oldest in Europe and was at one time the largest in the world.

During the prayer, Francis referenced the organ, pointing out how it must have “accompanied the life, the creativity, the imagination and the devotion of all those who were moved by its sound.”

“It has been the instrument of God and of men for lifting of eyes and hearts to heaven. Today it is a symbol of this city and its cathedral,” he said. “For those who live here, it is more than a monumental organ; it is part of the life, traditions and identity of this place.”

He said the organ can be a symbol of the Christian faith, which as St. Luke says, “is not to be hidden away, but to be made known and to resound in the various sectors of society.”

If the “music of the Gospel” is not heard in people’s lives, there can be no hope, he said. If the music of the Gospel does not sound in homes, in workplaces, in public, people will not recognize the duty to defend the dignity of every man and woman.

If the music of the Gospel stops, people will lose joy, compassion, trust, and the capacity for reconciliation. He stated: “If the music of the Gospel is no longer heard, we will lose the sounds that guide our lives to heaven and become locked into one of the worst ills of our day: loneliness and isolation.”

“Thank God” that the words of the Gospel of John continue to “echo in our midst,” the pope said: “Father, that all may be one… so that the world may believe.”

He explained that Jesus prayed these words before his Passion, “as he looked ahead to his own cross.” This constant and quiet prayer marks a path for everyone, shows the way to follow, he emphasized.

“We discover the only path possible for all ecumenism: that of confronting the cross of suffering… Jesus turning to his Father, and to us his brothers and sisters, continues to pray: ‘that all may be one.’”

These are not easy times, Francis said, especially for those who, even today, are experiencing exile and martyrdom for the faith. “Yet their witness makes us realize that the Lord continues to call us, asking us to live the Gospel radically, in joy and gratitude.”

“If Christ deemed us worthy to live in these times, at this hour – the only hour we have – we cannot let ourselves be overcome by fear, nor allow this time to pass without living it fully with joyful fidelity,” he said.

Following the prayer meeting Pope Francis met with elderly men and women in St. James’ Catholic Cathedral. Though a historically Lutheran country, Catholics make up around 25 percent of the population of just under 2 million.

At St. James’ the pope recalled the many trials older Latvians have experienced, such as war, political repression, persecution, and exile. “Yet you remained steadfast; you persevered in faith,” he said.

“Neither the Nazi regime, nor the Soviet regime could extinguish the faith in your hearts. Neither could they stop some of you from becoming priests, religious sisters, catechists, or from serving the Church in other ways that put your lives at risk,” he said. “You fought the good fight; you ran the race, you kept the faith.”

He pointed to the words of St. James to have constancy in faith, and encouraged those present to persevere, to “not yield to disappointment or grief,” to not lose gentleness or hope.

Francis encouraged them to have, in their homes and homeland, “patient endurance and patient expectation,” so that “in this way you will continue to build your people.”

Before the meetings in the two cathedrals, Pope Francis started his day in Latvia with a brief speech to the country’s authorities. To them he said he was happy to know that the Catholic Church, in cooperation with the other Christian churches, is an important part of the country’s roots.

“The Gospel has nourished the life of your people in the past; today it can continue to open new paths enabling you to face present challenges, to value differences and, above all, to encourage ‘com-union’ between all,” he said.

The pope also praised the country’s liberty, which is celebrated during this year’s 100th anniversary of the country’s declaration of independence.

“If today we can celebrate, it is due to all those who blazed trails and opened a door to the future,” he said, “and bequeathed to you that same responsibility: to open a door to the future by looking to everything that stands at the service of life.”

He said a community’s development is not measured by the goods produced or resources possessed, but by the desire “to engender life and build for the future,” which is “measured by their capacity for self-sacrifice and commitment, in imitation of the example of past generations.”

Archbishop Chaput shares theological critique of youth synod prep document

Philadelphia, Pa., Sep 23, 2018 / 03:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Charles Chaput offered Friday on First Things a critique by a theologian of the working document for the upcoming Synod on Youth, which highlights five principal theological difficulties in the document.

The synod will be held Oct. 3-28 at the Vatican. Archbishop Chaput is one of five representatives who were chosen by the US bishops' conference to attend the meeting.

In addition, Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark; though Tobin has elected not to attend, citing pastoral obligations in his local Church amid the sexual abuse crisis.

The Archbishop of Philadelphia wrote Sept. 21 that in recent months he has “received scores of emails and letters from laypeople, clergy, theologians, and other scholars, young and old, with their thoughts regarding the October synod of bishops in Rome focused on young people.”

“Nearly all” of those “note the importance of the subject matter”, “praise the synod’s intent”, and “raise concerns of one sort or another about the synod’s timing and possible content,” he wrote.

Archbishop Chaput shared the text of a critique of the instrumentum laboris, which he received “from a respected North American theologian.”

He noted it “is one person’s analysis; others may disagree. But it is substantive enough to warrant much wider consideration and discussion as bishop-delegates prepare to engage the synod’s theme.”

The theologian identified five principal problems with the text of the instrumentum laboris for the youth synod: naturalism, an inadequate grasp of the Church's spiritual authority, a partial theological anthropology, a relativistic conception of vocation, and an impoverished understanding of Christian joy.

The author said the document “displays a pervasive focus on socio-cultural elements, to the exclusion of deeper religious and moral issues,” and expresses a desire to examine reality through the faith and experience of the Church, while “regrettably fail[ing] to do so.”

Four examples of this naturalism are given. One of them is the discussion in section 144, where “there is much discussion about what young people want; little about how these wants must be transformed by grace in a life that conforms to God’s will for their lives.”

“After pages of analysis of their material conditions, the IL offers no guidance on how these material concerns might be elevated and oriented toward their supernatural end … the majority of the document painstakingly catalogues the varied socio-economic and cultural realities of young adults while offering no meaningful reflection on spiritual, existential, or moral concerns. The reader may easily conclude that the latter are of no importance to the Church,” the theologian wrote.

The theologian next discussed the document's “inadequate grasp of the Church’s spiritual authority,” saying that “the entire document is premised on the belief that the principal role of the magisterial Church is 'listening.'”

By its emphasis on listening and dialogue, the instrumentum laboris suggests that “the Church does not possess the truth but must take its place alongside other voices,” the author wrote. “Those who have held the role of teacher and preacher in the Church must replace their authority with dialogue.”

This misunderstanding of the Church's teaching authority results in a “conflation of the baptismal and sacramental priesthood”, the theologian wrote, and it also “presents a pastoral problem”: “the Church as mother and teacher cannot through negligence or cowardice forfeit this necessary role of setting limits and directing (Cf. §178). In this regard §171, which points to the motherhood of the Church, does not go far enough. It offers only a listening and accompanying role while eliminating that of teaching.”

Third, the theologian discussed the “partial theological anthropology” of the instrumentum laboris, which they said “fails to make any mention of the will” in its discussion of the human person.

“It is the will that is fundamentally directed toward the good,” the author notes. “The theological consequence of this glaring omission is extraordinarily important, since the seat of the moral life resides in the will and not in the vicissitudes of the affect.”

Then is discussed the “relativistic conception of vocation” in the document, which gives the impression “that vocation concerns the individual’s search for private meaning and truth.”

An example of this problem is section 139, which “gives the impression that the Church cannot propose the (singular) truth to people and that they must decide for themselves. The role of the Church consists only in accompaniment. This false humility risks diminishing the legitimate contributions that the Church can and ought to make.”

The last principal difficulty of the instrumentum laboris is its impoverished understanding of Christian joy, according to the theologian.

Spirituality and the moral life “are reduced to the affective dimension, clearest in §130, evidenced by a sentimentalist conception of 'joy.'”

According to the theologian, the document presents joy as “a purely affective state, a happy emotion …  Despite its constant reference to 'joy,' nowhere does the IL describe it as the fruit of the theological virtue of charity. Nor is charity characterized as the proper ordering of love, putting God first and then ordering all other loves with reference to God.”

Consequent upon this understanding of joy is a lack of “any theology of the Cross” in the instrumentum laboris.

“Christian joy is not antithetical to suffering, which is a necessary component of a cruciform life,” the theologian writes. “The document gives the impression that the true Christian will be 'happy' at all times, in the colloquial sense. It further implies the error that the spiritual life itself will always result in felt (affective) joy.”

“The pastoral problem that results from this comes to the fore most clearly in §137: Is it the role of the Church to make youth “feel loved by him [God]” or to aid them in knowing they are loved regardless of how they might feel?”

The theologian added that there are other serious theological concerns in the document, noting, “a false understanding of the conscience and its role in the moral life; a false dichotomy proposed between truth and freedom; false equivalence between dialogue with LGBT youth and ecumenical dialogue; and an insufficient treatment of the abuse scandal.”

In Lithuania, Francis tells priests to hear their people's cries

Kaunas, Lithuania, Sep 23, 2018 / 12:34 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis told priests and religious in Lithuania Sunday to listen to the cries of suffering that come from the People of God, who are looking to them for hope.

“The cry of our people must strike us, like Moses, to whom God revealed the suffering of his people in the encounter at the burning bush,” the pope said Sept. 23. “Listening to the voice of God in prayer makes us see, makes us hear, know the pain of others in order to free them.”

“The cry that makes us seek God in prayer and adoration is the same that makes us listen to the lament of our brothers,” he continued. “They hope in us and we need, starting from a careful discernment, to organize ourselves, plan and be bold and creative in our apostolate.”

There is no room for improvisation when it comes to responding to the needs of God’s people, he said.

Pope Francis spoke during an encounter with priests, religious, and seminarians in the Cathedral of Kaunas in Lithuania, part of the program of the second day of a visit to the Baltic states Sept. 22-25.

In their encounter, the pope offered one piece of advice in particular – for priests to be close to their people and close to God in the tabernacle.

He said a priest more concerned with the administrative or functionary parts of his job “opens the office at that time, does his job, closes the office.” And meanwhile, the people are all outside. “He does not approach people.”

“Dear brothers and sisters, if you do not want to be an executive, I will tell you one word: closeness!... Closeness to the Tabernacle, face to face with the Lord. And closeness to people.  The Lord wants you shepherds of the people, and not clerics of the State!”

The pope said that closeness and mercy are linked, and “a priest cannot but be merciful. Above all in the confessional.” He told priests to think about how Jesus would treat the person coming to confession and to welcome them.

“Already enough has he been beaten by life, that poor guy! Let him feel the embrace of the forgiving Father,” he said. If absolution cannot be given to someone right away, he advised encouraging the person to pray and to come back to talk. “Never chase someone from the confessional! Never drive [someone] away,” he said.