Desecrations and vandalism in Europe during Christmas
Christmas celebrations have been the occasion for acts of vandalism against the Church. In the chapel of the Hospital of Barbastro, Spain, aggressors opened the tabernacle and scattered the Sacred Hosts on the floor. The diocese expressed its “sadness, consternation and condemnation” for the event, while the competent authorities seek to identify the criminals.
In France, the Church of St. Roque in central Paris had its walls defaced with satanic signs, swastikas and absurd inscriptions. In the city of Lorient, the Church of Sainte-Anne d’Arvor was the target of an attack in broad daylight: the attackers smashed several statues, destroyed the nativity scene and scattered candles on the floor. Other churches suffered similar attacks in Rouen, Puy-de-Dôme, Bordeaux and Nice.
Canadian police banned from wearing St. Michael’s shield
Based on a law passed in 2019 establishing Quebec as a secular state, the authorities of the City of Montreal Police Service have ordered officers to remove from their uniforms the shields of St. Michael the Archangel – the Patron Saint of the Canadian police – with the words “St. Michael, protect us,” and any other religious symbol during working hours.
Since its approval, this law has been contested by several political and religious leaders, who consider it an affront to religious freedom and a clearly discriminatory act.
Brazilian martyr of chastity beatified
Isabel Cristina Mrad Campos, a Brazilian martyr of chastity, was raised to the honour of the altars on December 10, becoming a model of purity for the youth of our times. The ceremony, presided over by the Archbishop Emeritus of Aparecida, Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis, took place in Barbacena, Minas Gerais, and was attended by over ten thousand faithful.
Isabel was 20 years old and was preparing to begin her studies in Medicine in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, when, on September 1, 1982, she was attacked by a man who was assembling a wardrobe in her apartment. After a fierce struggle, and unable to overcome the young woman’s resistance, the aggressor stabbed her fifteen times, which resulted in her death. In this way Isabel crowned a life rich in piety, prayer and frequent reception of the Sacraments.
A miracle during Russian bombardment
On the eve of the great Christmas celebration in the city of Kherson, Ukraine, two bombs dropped by Russian forces penetrated the roof of a Latin Rite Catholic church packed with faithful, and inexplicably did not explode. According to witnesses, one of them broke up upon impacting the ground, and the other became imbedded in a wall.
Mentioning the event, Bishop Stanislav Szyrokoradiuk, OFM, Bishop of Odessa-Simferopol, commented during his homily at the Christmas Eve Mass in the Cathedral of Odessa: “Many miraculous events are happening. God is in charge. Someone launches the bombs, but God guides them. If we pray, if we trust in God, God will guide the bombs.”
Summarizing a year of persecutions against the Church
The year 2022 ends with a total of over a hundred priests and nuns kidnapped, detained or murdered around the world. The alarming figures were compiled by the Aid to the Church in Need Foundation, and demonstrate the pressing need to find concrete solutions to guarantee the safety and freedom of religious.
Among the countries with the highest number of attacks are: Nigeria, Haiti, Mexico, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Philippines and Burkina Faso. In China the clandestine communities have suffered the loss of at least ten priests detained by the local authorities, and in Ukraine four priests were arrested while carrying out their pastoral duties in the territories occupied by Russia.
Another situation of concern is that currently faced by Catholics in Nicaragua, where at least eleven clerics remain detained by the authorities, while others have been forbidden to leave their parishes, and a dozen are prevented from returning to the country.
Msgr. Jonas Abib, founder of Canção Nova, dies
On December 12, Msgr. Jonas Abib, founder of Canção Nova, died in Cachoeira Paulista, São Paulo, at eighty-five years of age. His death came after lengthy chemotherapy treatment for multiple myeloma.
Born on December 21, 1936, in Elias Fausto, São Paulo, he entered the Salesian seminary at the age of twelve, beginning his priestly formation and life under the motto Become all things to all men. In 1978, he founded the Canção Nova Community, recognized by the Vatican in 2008. Throughout his journey he promoted events and retreats for youth, started Canção Nova Radio and TV and left a flourishing institution, which currently has more than one thousand three hundred members in Brazil and abroad. In 2007, he received the title of Monsignor from Pope Benedict XVI, in recognition of relevant services rendered to the Church.
Two million more Catholics in the United States
The United States Religious Census (USRC), a study carried out every ten years by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, revealed in its latest edition, for the decade 2010-2020, that the Catholic Church in the country has received an additional two million faithful, thanks to communities of Hispanic-American migrants.
With sixty-one million members spread over nineteen thousand circumscriptions, today Catholics are about 19% of the population of the United States, and the largest religious institution in the country.
Wonderful tribute to Christmas in Assisi
Frescoes of the Renaissance painter Giotto illuminated the city of Assisi during the Christmas period, recalling the first nativity scenes in history created by the Poverello.
On the façades of several churches in the city, frescoes with scenes of the Annunciation and the Birth of Jesus were projected, allowing passers-by to enter more deeply into the Christmas mysteries through more than ten thousand square metres of paintings.
Public Ministry recommends halting Our Father prayer in school
In a new onslaught of aggressive secularism, students of the João Etchebehere Municipal School of Basic Education of Rifaina, São Paulo, will no longer be able to start their school day by praying the Our Father. This was the surprising decision of the public prosecutor Alex Facciolo Pires, heeding a complaint filed by one of the institution’s teachers. “Public institutions should adopt a neutral position in the religious field, seek impartiality in such matters and not support or discriminate against any religion. The fact that no parent of a student has complained about the school’s practice is irrelevant,” the prosecutor said.
The other institutions of the municipal network are also to comply with the standard for the cessation of all religious activities or propagation of elements related to faith among students.