Signs Of the Times

  • April 21, 2014

    Frans van der Lugt, a 75-year-old Dutch Jesuit who refused to leave war-torn Syria, was beaten by armed men and killed with two bullets to the head, according to a message sent from the Jesuits’ Middle East Province to the Jesuit headquarters in Rome on April 7. • Linda LeMura, named president of Le Moyne College in Syracuse on April 4, is the first laywoman to be appointed president of a Jesuit college or university. • Calling torture “an...

  • April 21, 2014

    In a hard-hitting statement released on April 2, Venezuela’s Roman Catholic Church accused President Nicolas Maduro’s government of “totalitarian” tendencies and “brutal repression” of demonstrators during two months of political unrest that has resulted in the deaths of 39 people. The bishops’ denunciation is likely to revive church-state tensions that were constant during the 14-year rule of Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chávez.

  • April 21, 2014

    The number of refugees fleeing from Syria into neighboring Lebanon passed the one million mark on April 3, according to U.N. officials, a bleak milestone exacerbated by rapidly decreasing social resources and a host community stretched to the breaking point. Just over three years after Syria’s conflict began, Lebanon has become the country with the highest per capita concentration of refugees worldwide and is struggling to keep pace with a crisis that shows...

  • April 21, 2014

    The number of allegations of sexual abuse by clergy declined in 2013, while diocesan spending on child protection programs increased under the U.S. Catholic Church’s “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” according to a church-sponsored annual audit. Dioceses and Eastern-rite eparchies reported 370 new allegations of abuse of a minor brought by 365 people against 290 priests or deacons, said the Georgetown University-based Center for...

  • April 21, 2014

    While comprehensive immigration reform remains stalled in Congress, members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops joined residents, migrants and advocates from both sides of the U.S./Mexico border in Nogales, Ariz., on April 1. There they celebrated Mass together, remembering thousands of migrants who have perished in the deserts of the U.S.

  • April 21, 2014

    Pew researchers report that six of the world’s 12 nations with a “very high degree” of religious diversity can be found in the Asia-Pacific region—Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea, China and Hong Kong; five are in sub-Saharan Africa—Guinea-Bissau, Togo, Ivory Coast, Benin and Mozambique; and one is in Latin America and the Caribbean—Suriname. No countries in Europe, North America or the Middle East-North Africa region have as high a degree of...

  • April 14, 2014

    The clerical abuse survivor nominated by Pope Francis to sit on the new Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors said the commission needs to achieve concrete change in order to “show other survivors that the church is going to get it right.” Marie Collins, who as a 13-year-old was abused by a chaplain at Crumlin Hospital in Dublin in the 1960s, said that many survivors will be watching the new Vatican commission “with interest, but many will have...

  • April 14, 2014

    Noting that for Christians “the death penalty can never be the way to solve problems,” the Coptic Catholic bishop of Assiut, Kyrillos William, spoke out against death sentences handed down by an Egyptian court against more than 500 members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

  • April 14, 2014

    The Philippines’ newest cardinal was among 1,000 guests who witnessed the peace agreement between the government and the country’s largest Muslim rebel group on March 27. Cardinal Orlando Quevedo’s archdiocese, Cotabato, in the southern island of Mindanao includes the main administrative camp for the rebels of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. A number of ranking members of the front attended Oblate-run Notre Dame University, where the cardinal served as...

  • April 14, 2014

    “Since the end of the Second World War, the availability of food per person has increased by more than 40 percent,” Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, said, addressing the 25th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 10.