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Central American bishops support Nicaraguan clergy in face of persecution

Daniel Ortega celebrates his re-inauguration as president of Nicaragua, Jan. 10, 2012. / Cancilleria del Ecuador via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Lima, Peru, May 24, 2022 / 15:03 pm (CNA).

The bishops’ conferences of Costa Rica and Panama expressed their solidarity with the people and Catholic clergy of Nicaragua, who have been suffering persecution from the government of President Daniel Ortega.

On May 20, the state-owned Nicaraguan Institute of Telecommunications and Mail eliminated the television channel of the Nicaraguan Bishops’ Conference from its programming.

In addition, Bishop Rolando Álvarez Lagos of Matagalpa and Father Harvy Padilla, pastor of the Saint John the Baptist church in Masaya, have been followed and harassed by the government’s police.

Álvarez, who is in charge of communications for the bishops’ conference and the Catholic channel, said that what the government wants "is a mute Church, that doesn’t announce the hope of the people" and doesn’t denounce "personal sin and structures of injustice.”

"The Word of God is not chained," the bishop said during a May 21 impromptu press conference at Holy Christ of Esquipulas parish on the outskirts of Managua.

In a May 21 statement, the bishops of Costa Rica  prayed that "the Risen Lord would grant the Nicaraguan people the gift of peace, so they can have a climate of calm and brotherhood."

The Costa Rican bishops also assured their Nicaraguan counterparts of their "prayer, especially in times of trial." 

"We pray to God to allow them to remain faithful to their mission and grant them a spirit of wisdom," they said.

They also called on the Catholic people of Costa Rica "to lift up in prayer the people of Nicaragua and the bishops of that nation.”

"We reiterate the need for our Central American peoples in general to work together in the search for the common good, peace and social justice," the bishops wrote.

The Panamanian bishops also expressed  their solidarity with Bishop Álvarez "at this time when he is experiencing persecution for being a prophet in the face of the difficult situation due to the sociopolitical crisis that the Nicaraguan people are experiencing.”

“We join in prayer so that the persecution of Bishop Rolando and Father Harvy Padilla, pastor of the Saint John the Baptist Parish in the city of Masaya, who has also been restricted from living and celebrating the faith in an environment of freedom and peace, will end,” the bishops said May 21.

The Nicaraguan Bishops’ Conference also issued a statement stating that they are “going through difficult times as a nation" and that their duty "is to announce the truth of the Gospel."

“We accompany each brother who is associated with the sufferings of Christ through prayer and we invoke the Holy Spirit to be the one who illuminates the minds and hearts of all Nicaraguans,” the bishops said May 22.

There have been tensions in recent years between some Catholics and supporters of Ortega, who previously led the country for over a decade after the Sandinistas' 1979 ouster of the Somoza dictatorship. Ortega has again been president of Nicaragua since 2007, and oversaw the abolition of presidential term limits in 2014.

Ortega's government has accused many bishops and priests of siding with his opposition.

A crisis began in April 2018 after Ortega announced social security and pension reforms. The changes were soon abandoned in the face of widespread, vocal opposition, but protests only intensified after more than 40 protesters were killed by security forces.

Security forces have killed at least 320 protesters, with hundreds more arrested.

Since the protests began, there has been a series of attacks against clergy, churches and church facilities targeted by pro-government bands.

The apostolic nuncio to Nicaragua was expelled in March.

Bishops call for peace, prayer after gunmen kill boy in Mexican church

null / Daniel Ibañez/ACI Prensa

Lima, Peru, May 23, 2022 / 14:53 pm (CNA).

A three-year-old boy was killed by gang members who opened fire inside a church in Fresnillo in the Mexican state of Zacatecas.

Their intended target was a young man they were pursuing who fled into the church. 

The boy was attending Mass with his mother and was killed in the hail of bullets unleashed by the gunmen.

“We are saddened and alarmed by the killing of a three-year-old boy inside the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Fresnillo, Zacatecas, where armed men entered following a man whom they wounded. Our condolences to the family of this little boy,” the Mexican Bishops’ Conference said in a May 20 statement.

The local press reported that two armed men entered the church and let loose a burst of fire at a young man they were chasing, who died later from his wounds in a hospital May 20.

The three-year-old boy named Caleb died instantly when struck by the bullets.

In their statement, the Mexican bishops said that "this shows that all limits of violence and human respect are being exceeded."

“We once again call on everyone to lay down their arms and put an end to all forms of violence, because all of us can be builders of peace. No one has the right to attack the life of his brother and there is nothing that justifies such violence," the bishops stressed.

In their message, the prelates also remembered Fr. José Guadalupe Rivas, who was beaten to death May 17.

“We send our most heartfelt condolences to the family of Father José Guadalupe and to the family of the other murdered brother, as well as to the Archbishop of Tijuana, Don Francisco Moreno Barrón, and to his entire Church,” they said.

The bishops called on the faithful to continue "praying for our authorities so that they find the best paths for pacification and security that we all need and desire."

“Let us pray for the criminals so they repent and change their lives. Let us pray for everyone so that we become peace builders.” the bishops concluded.

Nicaraguan bishop charges police, government persecution

Protests in Granada, Nicaragua, April 29, 2018. / Riderfoot/Shutterstock.

Mexico City Newsroom, May 20, 2022 / 17:25 pm (CNA).

Bishop Rolando José Álvarez Lagos of Matagalpa has charged that the police of President Daniel Ortega’s government harassed him by following him all day and into the night, and announced he will fast indefinitely “on water and whey” until the harassment ends.

In a video message released May 19 by the Archdiocese of Managua, Bishop Álvarez said that "today I have been followed all day and into the evening hours by the Sandinista police."

The bishop said he was tailed when he went to his niece's house for dinner that evening. The police “entered my circle of family privacy, they came to my private, family, paternal, maternal home, putting the safety of my family at risk."

When he asked the police why they were following him, "they informed me they’re obeying orders.”

Later, he recalled, the policemen told him they were following him “for my safety. But we already know that the insecurity in this country is precisely (due to) the police.”

"Those who make us feel insecure by being followed are you, my brothers the police," he said.

This is not the first time that Bishop Álvarez, who has been a clear defender of human rights and freedom in Nicaragua, has been harassed by the police working for the Ortega government, which has been in power since 2007.

Father Harvin Padilla of the Diocese of Masaya also charged this week that he has been followed and harassed by police and paramilitaries connected to the Ortega government.

At the beginning of May the Nicaraguan National Assembly, controlled by Daniel Ortega's Sandinista National Liberation Front, which holds an 80% majority in the legislature, approved a report that accuses bishops and priests of participating in what Ortega considers a coup attempt in 2018.

The document accuses the Catholic Church of supporting the citizen protests that demanded in 2018 that Ortega leave power.

Ortega has been president of Nicaragua since 2007, and oversaw the abolition of presidential term limits in 2014. 

He was a leader in the Sandinista National Liberation Front, which had ousted the Somoza dictatorship in 1979 and fought US-backed right-wing counterrevolutionaries during the 1980s. Ortega was also leader of Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990.

A crisis began in Nicaragua in April 2018 after Ortega announced social security and pension reforms. The changes were soon abandoned in the face of widespread, vocal opposition, but protests only intensified after more than 40 protesters were killed by security forces.

Security forces killed at least 320 protesters, with hundreds more arrested.

In March, Nicaragua expelled Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, until then the apostolic nuncio, a decision that the Vatican described as "incomprehensible."

The Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Managua published a statement May 18 expressing its concern over "the situation in the country that we love as children of God, as Nicaraguans and as Christians."

"We join in prayer so that God might transform hard hearts into feeling hearts, with love for others, free from feelings that impede the normality that leads to authentic social peace."

"May love, forgiveness and mercy prevail in everyone in the search for the common good, practicing Christian principles," the commission urged.

"Faithful to the mandate of the Lord, and faithful to her vocation, the Church will continue to announce the Gospel, denouncing the social structures of sin, accompanying the people, especially the poor and the weak," they said.

"The mission of the Church will always provoke contradictions in this world where along with the light there is also the darkness of evil," the Justice and Peace  commission noted.


Priest killed near US-Mexico border

null / Archdiocese of Tijuana

Mexico City Newsroom, May 19, 2022 / 15:14 pm (CNA).

The body of Father José Guadalupe Rivas Saldaña, 57, has been found with signs of violence on the outskirts of Tecate, a city located on the border with the United States in the Mexican state of Baja California. There are no suspects in the killing.

Rivas Saldaña was the pastor of Saint Jude Thaddeus parish in Tecate, about 30 miles east of Tijuana, directed Our Lady of Guadalupe Migrant House, and was advisor to the local charismatic renewal movement. 

According to the local press, the body of the priest was found with multiple blows earlier this week on the outskirts of Tecate, along with the body  of another unidentified man beaten beyond recognition.

The priest was last seen alive May 15. He was reported missing and the state attorney general began an investigation

In a May 18 statement, the Archdiocese of Tijuana and Archbishop Francisco Moreno Barrón prayed for the deceased priest’s "return to the Father’s House.”

Rivas Saldaña served in the Tijuana archdiocese for more than 25 years. The archdiocese prayed “that the Risen Christ be strength and comfort for his Family.”

“Let us pray to our Heavenly Father to have mercy on him and that he may soon enjoy the Heavenly Homeland. Give him, Lord, eternal rest and may perpetual light shine upon him. Rest in peace,” the archdiocese concluded.

Rivas Saldaña was born Dec. 10, 1964, in Torreón, and was the fourth of 10 siblings. He was ordained a priest Oct. 29, 1994 by Bishop Luis Morales Reyes of Torreón.

Animalpolitico reported that “Baja California is one of the states with the highest levels of violence in the country. During the first three months of the year, it has recorded 593 first degree murders, according to the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System.”

In addition, it is estimated that the first three and a half years of the current administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been the most violent period on record in the history of Mexico, with more than 120,000 homicides.

In October 2018, another priest of the Tijuana archdiocese was murdered. The body of Father Ímar Arturo Orta, who was pastor of St. Louis parish in Tijuana, was found in an abandoned car with several bullet wounds, after he had been missing several days.

Spanish Jerusalem Bible changes 'fishers of men' to 'fishers of persons'

null / David Ramos / ACI Prensa

Lima, Peru, May 17, 2022 / 17:25 pm (CNA).

The Desclée de Brouwer publishing house, which publishes the Jerusalem Bible, changed the word "man" (“hombre”)  to "person" (“persona”) in its new Spanish edition.

The Jerusalem Bible is among the best known publications of the Bible. It has been published in Spanish since 1967. The first edition was published in French in 1956, and was based on the original Hebrew and Greek texts, not the Latin Vulgate, as are subsequent editions in other modern languages.

The excerpt shared by several Twitter users refers to Matthew 4:19, where Christ says to his disciples: "I will make you fishers of men," which in the new edition says, "I will make you fishers of persons.”

“It doesn't seem right to me, but I think it has the importance that we give it.  If we read Holy Scripture every day, we would have realized long ago that the Jerusalem Bible translation is not the best option,” said Fr. Antonio María Domenech Guillén, a priest of the Diocese of Cuenca.

ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language sister news agency, asked the managing director of the Desclée De Brouwer publishing house, Javier Gogeaskoetxea, about the change in the most recent version of the Jerusalem Bible.

“The change is due to the fact that the Biblical and Archaeological School of Jerusalem seeks above all fidelity to the original texts. It so happens that in the original 'Greek' text the word used does not include gender. Therefore the translation possibilities should not include it either: person or human being”, he explained.

"If I were to put 'man,'” he continued, “we would be lacking in fidelity to the original text because the Greek word is neither man nor woman."

"I understand that there is an attempt to 'polemicize' by attributing  'inclusive' language to the translation. But nothing is further from reality, the reason is fidelity to the original text,” he said.

"The basic rule followed by the Jerusalem Biblical and Archaeological School is that 'the oldest text is always the most truthful.' If the words are now changed to be 'gender-friendly' it has nothing to do with the decision of the Jerusalem Biblical and Archaeological School,” he noted.

"The biblical translations don’t conform to modern times, but rather try to be faithful to the ancient texts," the managing director of the Desclée De Brouwer publishing house concluded.

Father Jesús Silva, a Spanish priest and graduate in Patristic Theology, gave a detailed explanation on Twitter about what would be the best translation of the word ánthropos in the Greek text, first translated in the Jerusalem Bible as “men”, and now as “persons.”

“The term that translates, anthropos, refers to a ‘human being’ regardless of sex. However, the translation as 'persons' has its problems. To what persons was Jesus referring: human, angelic or divine? Well, in the text, thus translated, it is not excluded that Jesus is calling the disciples to evangelize the angels or God himself," the priest said.

Fr. Silva then said that “since 'persons' is an ambiguous term, we will have to look for another that is not. We can then translate it as 'human persons' or 'human beings.' In turn, this translation is equivocal, since, what makes a human human?”

“Let's put that it’s 'a rational being', as the RAE (Royal Academy of the Spanish Language) says. However, if intelligent aliens exist, it remains to be seen whether the term 'human' can be applied to them or not. As long as this is not clarified, the concept of human persons is also equivocal.”

“Perhaps the most appropriate translation,” the priest further mused, “whenever we want to avoid translating the word ánthropos as 'man' – could be 'earthling'; although according to the RAE, any inhabitant of the earth is one, for which it should rather be said 'fishers of human earthlings.'”

But as for the term “human,” Fr. Silva noted that the RAE defines it as "'proper to man.' That is to say, that literally speaking, what is human is what is proper to man (sic): men earthlings. But what does 'man' mean?

“The RAE comes to our aid again. The word 'man' means 'rational animate being, male or female.' Let’s therefore say that with the word 'anthropos' Jesus wanted to tell the Twelve that they would be 'fishers of rational animated beings, male or female.'”

So then, the priest summed up, “with that circumlocution that’s so correct, to avoid misunderstandings that occur with words like 'person,' 'human being' or 'human earthling,' and adopting the principle of the economy of language, we could translate the word ánthropos as 'man', which includes all of the above.”

To conclude, Fr. Silva proposed that "in this new translation of the Bible, more adapted to our time, and guided by a principle of inclusion, as well as fidelity to the text and the intention of Jesus, let us translate the phrase in a new way as 'I will make you fishers of men.' You’re welcome.”

US Catholic bishops call for ‘honest dialogue’ on ‘persistent evil of racism’ after mass shootings

Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York, was the scene of a mass shooting on May 14, 2022. / Andre Carrotflower via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Washington D.C., May 17, 2022 / 05:17 am (CNA).

The U.S. Catholic bishops appealed on Monday for “an honest dialogue rooted in Christ” about the “persistent evil of racism” after two mass shootings.

In a May 16 statement, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said that it continued to “advocate for an end to violence,” citing the Church’s consistent appeals for “rational yet effective forms of regulation of dangerous weapons.”

The USCCB issued the statement after a gunman killed 10 people and injured three others on May 14 at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and a shooter killed one person and wounded five others on May 15 at a church in Laguna Woods, California.

Authorities called the mass shooting in Buffalo a racially motivated hate crime and said that the gunman specifically targeted the store because it is located in a predominantly Black neighborhood. Eleven of those shot were Black, while the other two victims were white.

“The U.S. bishops join with others throughout the country in offering prayers for the support and healing of the families, friends, and communities of those impacted by these violent incidents,” said the statement from the USCCB’s public affairs director Chieko Noguchi.

“We pray especially for those who were injured and particularly for those who lost their lives. We pray also for those on the front lines who risk their lives in responding to the calls for help, and to those in the medical fields who minister to those who have been harmed.”

The statement went on: “The bishops again call for an honest dialogue rooted in Christ in addressing the persistent evil of racism in our country. The Catholic Church has been a consistent voice for rational yet effective forms of regulation of dangerous weapons, and the USCCB continues to advocate for an end to violence, and for the respect and dignity of all lives.”

“We pray for and support the healing of the communities impacted and for all the victims of violence and that Christ’s peace be upon all affected.”

The gunman in Buffalo surrendered to police at the scene. The suspect, 18-year-old Payton S. Gendron of Conklin, New York, was taken into custody and charged with first-degree murder.

The gunman is believed to have posted a manifesto online in which he expressed racist, anti-immigrant views and claimed that white Americans were at risk of being replaced by people of color.

The congregation at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods overpowered and tied up the shooter. The suspect, 68-year-old David Chou of Las Vegas, was taken custody and charged with one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder.

The Geneva Presbyterian Church hosts the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church’s Sunday services.

Don Barnes, the Orange County sheriff, said the attack was motivated by a grievance between Chou, a Chinese immigrant and U.S. citizen, and the Taiwanese community, the Washington Post reported.

China views Taiwan, an island nation in East Asia, as a breakaway province. Chinese President Xi Jinping said in October 2021 that he would seek “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan.

Medical expert debunks false claims of Planned Parenthood about abortion in El Salvador 

Credit: Syda Productions/Shutterstock. / null

San Salvador, El Salvador, May 16, 2022 / 17:30 pm (CNA).

A Salvadoran medical expert has debunked the false claims about abortion in El Salvador made by a former journalist now working for Planned Parenthood. 

In a statement to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language sister news agency, Dr. José Miguel Fortín-Magaña Leiva, a psychiatrist and former Director General of the Dr. Roberto Masferrer Institute of Forensic Medicine of El Salvador, said that Kate Smith, a former CBS News reporter who a few weeks ago became Planned Parenthood’s new senior director of news content, “is at best absolutely mistaken when she claims that in El Salvador women are imprisoned and harassed for induced abortions.”

"But even worse," he continued, Smith is wrong in stating "that those who have suffered a miscarriage are also prosecuted and imprisoned by an infamous law."

Abortion in El Salvador is completely prohibited, and the country’s constitution recognizes "every human being as a human person from the moment of conception."

The Penal Code of El Salvador establishes a prison sentences from 2 to 8 years for anyone who undergoes or performs an abortion in the country.

Kate Smith assumed the management position at Planned Parenthood in April after working for more than three years at CBS News.

The job change came two years after a National Review article called Kate Smith the "CBS News Ambassador for Planned Parenthood."

In a recent interview with CNN, Smith referred to a documentary she made for CBS News in 2020 about El Salvador to predict what the United States would look like if Roe v. Wade were overturned, which a draft majority opinion leaked weeks ago suggests will happen.

Planned Parenthood's director of news content said last Friday that "when we went to El Salvador, what we saw is that all those things that these doctors and politicians had warned us about were happening in real time on the ground."

In her report for CBS News, Smith said that since 1998 more than 140 women have been accused of having abortions and ended up in prison with sentences of up to 35 years.

"They wake up and they're shackled to the hospital bed and there was a police officer there investigating them," she said.

“Doctors told me when they are looking at a patient, there is no way for them to tell the difference between an induced abortion and a spontaneous miscarriage,” Smith reported.

For the new Planned Parenthood director, “all of these things that we say might happen if abortion gets banned, if abortion becomes illegal, they do happen.”

However, for Fortín-Magaña "the only logical explanation" for what Smith says "is that what she said is a lie for the propaganda purposes of the organization she works for today."

“As former director of the Institute of Forensic Medicine and as a doctor, I can assure you that the foregoing is totally false,” he said, pointing out that as short as the sentences are that are given in abortion cases, “it can be for community service instead; and therefore there’s not a single case of women imprisoned for that reason.”

The Institute of Forensic Medicine is an organ of the Salvadoran judicial system that, as the doctor explains on his website, "contributes technically and scientifically to the administration of justice."

The psychiatrist stressed that these are "different" cases than those of women who "committed aggravated homicide" and "murdered their child, once it had been born by the natural process."

The crimes in question, he pointed out, were committed "by suffocation, strangulation, striking with a rock, drowning, or simply abandonment."

Fortín-Magaña lamented that "El Salvador is a country full of problems and violence, where the law is often applied unfairly, especially in favor of groups with political power."

"But it would be absolutely unfair to say that what Ms. Smith says is true, because it’s not," the medical expert said.

“She’s promoting an industry that exploits women”

For Julia Regina de Cardenal, president of the Yes to Life Foundation in El Salvador, “it’s not surprising that a pro-abortion activist lies to try to convince you that she’s defending women when in reality she is promoting an industry that exploits pregnant women in dire straits that need support, not violence and death.”

The Salvadoran pro-life leader stressed that in reality "in El Salvador there’s not a single woman imprisoned for induced abortion, because women found guilty are sentenced to community service."

"The women she says are supposedly imprisoned for 'miscarriages’ and ‘obstetrical problems’ were actually convicted of aggravated homicide of their newborn babies,” de Cardenal said.

“Forensic evidence shows that the full term babies were strangled, stabbed, struck with a rock, had their necks broken, suffocated in septic tanks or inside plastic bags, etc. None of these cases have to do with abortions much less miscarriages. They were infanticides,” she stated.

The Yes to Life Foundation president pointed out that "these women are being released because they were pardoned, not for lack of evidence" and that "maternal mortality has been drastically reduced in El Salvador since the legislation in El Salvador was changed in favor of life.”

“Saying that Salvadoran ‘doctors’ told her that patients died because they couldn’t get an abortion is the same argument used by abortion promoters around the world,” she said.

“Blatantly lying”

Sara Larín, founder of the Life El Salvador platform, said that "Smith is blatantly lying" when she "asserts that there are 140 Salvadoran women accused of abortion."

"According to official statistics from the Office of Access to Public Information of the Attorney General's Office, from 2013 to date there are no women serving jail time for the crime of abortion."

"This is so because the penalties for abortion are minor and community service can be performed instead," she said.

“Smith is actually talking about 140 women sentenced to 30 years in prison because it’s the minimum sentence given for crimes of aggravated homicide,” she said.

Larín noted the case of “María de los Ángeles Portillo, who murdered her daughter by suffocating her with a sock; or the recent case of Evelyn Sánchez, who stabbed her newborn baby in the chest.”

Larín said that “a serious journalist would ask to read all the evidence for the sentences and would find that none of these cases were miscarriages. However, Smith confined herself to speaking for pro-abortion organizations in El Salvador that receive funding from Planned Parenthood.”

How do we know if we are listening to God's voice, or our own? This author has some advice

Carrell Jamilano, author of The Alluring Voice of God. / Carrell Jamilano

Denver Newsroom, May 14, 2022 / 05:04 am (CNA).

Discernment is hard. How do we know if the voice we’re listening to is God’s, or our own? 

“The Alluring Voice of God: Forming Daily Encounters” (Liguori Publications, 2021) by Carrell Jamilano strives to offer individuals practical tips on how to hear the voice of God among all the noise of their daily lives. The engaging read offers guidance for those seeking to develop a more intimate relationship with God.

As a spiritual director and former director of young-adult ministry, Jamilano was inspired to write this book with the goal to answer the tough questions she frequently received from the young Catholics she ministered to. 

In an interview with CNA, Jamilano explained that she “wanted to give these individuals a practical resource that would help them better hear God’s voice in their everyday lives.” 

Carrell Jamilano, author of The Alluring Voice of God. Carrell Jamilano
Carrell Jamilano, author of The Alluring Voice of God. Carrell Jamilano

“It includes how to develop a more intimate relationship with God providing step-by-step guidance at the end of every chapter,” she added. 

So, how do we develop that intimate relationship with God and recognize His will? 

In the journey of discerning God’s will for each of our lives, we must first recognize the different ways in which God speaks. Jamilano offers 5 ways through which God speaks: prayer, sacred scripture, silence, tradition, and nontraditional means. 

  1. Prayer

Jamilano writes in the book that “prayer is the conduit through which we develop a personal and living relationship with Abba, our heavenly Father.” It’s personal, involves our whole heart, and it’s a conversation with God requiring us to both speak and listen. Additionally, she advises to invoke the Holy Spirit as you pray. “The Holy Spirit is a friend and advocate who leads us, already working on our behalf to make us more receptive to God’s voice,” she says.

  1. Sacred Scripture

Distinguishing God’s voice is an important part of discernment. Jamilano expresses that “taking the time to get to know God by reading Scripture is vital to understanding which voice is his.” Many examples are given of individuals who receive clarity through spending time with the Word of God. Prayers are answered and insight is gained into who we are and what God has intended for us. 

  1. Silence

In the busyness of our lives, it can be challenging to sit down in silence. When we pray, we tend to do all the talking. However, how many times do you stop and sit in silence? Jamilano emphasizes the importance of removing all distractions and giving God our full attention. She says, “When we are silent, we acknowledge God’s presence, and we give him the opportunity to respond to our prayers” and adds that “silence amplifies our inner voice.” This inner voice, Jamilano explains, is the Holy Spirit which, when we spend moments in silence, helps us to begin to notice where the Holy Spirit is calling us and realize what God is calling us to do. 

  1. Tradition

In the book, Catholic tradition is defined as, “all the practices that have been given to us by our predecessors through apostolic succession,” including all the prayers and teachings that unite Catholics. Therefore, Jamilano makes the point that the Mass, the sacraments, and our traditional prayers are all ways in which God can speak to us. 

  1. Nontraditional Means

Jamilano describes nontraditional means as “the unexpected ways God chooses to speak to us.” Examples include other people, music, a tv show or movie, art, nature, and even in the ordinary tasks of the day. 

How to Discern

Now that we are familiar with the different ways in which we can hear God’s voice speak to us, the process of discerning becomes possible. 

“Discernment is a process of uncovering God’s will about a significant decision in our life,” she defines in the book. These are the five tips she offers for discernment. 

  1. Spend time in sacred silence 

 Allowing yourself to spend time in the presence of the Lord and simply listen “enables us to confront the inner stirrings of our hearts.”

  1. Seek wisdom 

According to the author, some of the best sources include scripture, tradition, nature, people, and nontraditional means.

  1. Listen to your heart 

Reflect on your several choices, pray, and allow your heart to lead you.

  1. Test the call 

Readers are encouraged to “take a leap of faith and live out the call” after spending time in prayer, seeking wisdom and listening to your heart. 

  1. Choose love  

“Finally, pray about which choice would enable you to love God and others more fully,” Jamilano suggests in the book. Typically, the option that brings you closer to God “is exactly where you need to be.” 

Equipped with the tools to talk and listen to God, Jamilano said that she hopes her book “will help youth, young adults, and all those desiring a more intimate relationship with God to experience a profound encounter with Him and set this world aflame!”

“The message I hope readers will get from “The Alluring Voice of God” is not only that God hears our prayers, but also responds to each and every one of them out of undying love for us,” she said. “God is with us, and He desires to be part of every area of our life. He hears us, He thirsts for us, and He loves us!”

Colombian bishops lament court's approval of assisted suicide

null / HQuality/Shutterstock.

Bogotá, Colombia, May 13, 2022 / 15:59 pm (CNA).

The Colombian Bishops’ Conference said it was deeply pained by the Constitutional Court’s Wednesday ruling decriminalizing assisted suicide, and urged the authorities to make decisions aimed at protecting life "and not its destruction."

By a 6-3 vote, the Colombian Constitutional Court decriminalized assisted suicide May 11. Judges Alejandro Linares, Gloria Ortiz, Diana Fajardo, Natalia Ángel Cabo, and Antonio José Lizarazo voted in favor, and Jorge Enrique Ibáñez, Cristina Pardo, and Paola Meneses voted against. Lizarazo was in charge of presenting the case to the court.

With its ruling, the court accepted the lawsuit that Lucas Correa Montoya and Camila Jaramillo Salazar of the Laboratory of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights filed in challenge to Section 2 of Article 107 of the Penal Code. The case was admitted for consideration by the court Sept. 1, 2021.

The section that the court declared unconstitutional penalized a violation with 16 to 36 months in prison "when the inducement or aid [to commit suicide] is aimed at putting an end to intense suffering resulting from bodily injury or serious and incurable disease."

In a May 12 statement, the Colombian bishops’ conference pointed out that following the teaching of the Church and "its fundamental option to fully serve the human being (...), it receives with profound pain the decision of the Constitutional Court in favor of Medically Assisted Suicide.”

The bishops called on the country's authorities to be "consistent with the inviolable value of human life, as enshrined in the Colombian Constitution,” so that "the decisions that are made are aimed at its protection, defense and care and not at its destruction."

“As a society we are called to receive life and preserve it with gratitude; to choose, in all circumstances, the necessary human, scientific and spiritual means to surround it with meaning and value”, they pointed out.

The bishops expressed solidarity with people who are suffering and recalled that "it’s important to translate the love of Christ into concrete gestures of prayer, affection, service and accompaniment in the face of pain, like the Good Samaritan in the Gospel, who healed the wounds of his brother in need with heartfelt mercy, using the 'oil of consolation and the wine of hope.'”

The bishops urged those suffering "to reject the temptation, sometimes induced by legislative changes, to use medicine to cause death."

They reaffirmed that “no healthcare worker can be forced to collaborate in the death of others; his conscience prevents him. The fundamental right to personal conscientious objection must always be guaranteed, as well as the safeguarding of the principles of the mission and vision of the Institutions in accordance with their nature, which identifies them in favor of life.”

"We understand that, based on the principle of human dignity, there is no 'fundamental right to a dignified death', but rather the right to life. The pastors of the Church reiterate, therefore, our commitment to be proclaimers of the Gospel of life and hope,” they said.

Euthanasia for terminally ill adults has been allowed in Colombia since 2015, after the Constitutional Court ordered the Ministry of Health to approve the protocol for this practice. It had first ruled in favor of euthanasia in 1997.

In October 2017 the court extended euthanasia to minors with a terminal illness, and in July 2021, the court extended euthanasia to people with non-terminal illnesses.

Haitian priest denounces Dominican Republic's border fence

A border crossing between Haiti and the Dominican Republic near Jimaní in November 2014. / Jos1950 via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Port-au-Prince, Haiti, May 12, 2022 / 13:33 pm (CNA).

A Haitian priest has said a border wall being built by the Dominican Republic to stop Haitian emigration “is not the solution” to the problem.

“Building a wall between countries is not the solution, it’s important to build bridges,” Father Pénès Célestin, a priest of the Diocese of Jérémie, told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language sister news agency.

"I invite Dominicans and Haitians to build bridges," he said.

Haiti has seen a surge of violence in recent years. There were as many as 1,200 kidnappings last year, and President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in July 2021. Poverty in the country, considered the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, has progressively worsened following the earthquakes of 2010 and 2021.

Fr. Célestin told ACI Prensa that “insecurity, violence, hunger, and kidnappings” have increased in Haiti and access to education has become increasingly difficult. Many schools, especially in and near the capital, have closed because of gang violence.

Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, whose economy is among the fastest growing in the region.

This situation has led many Haitians to seek a better future in the neighboring country, in many cases illegally. 

Dominican President Luis Abinader announced in 2021 the construction of a border fence to impede illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and the movement of stolen vehicles.

Fr. Célestin, who is pursuing a master’s degree in Mexico and serving as a priest in Guadalajara, commented, “It’s normal for Haitians to seek a better life anywhere in the world, it’s human. As long as there are those offering a better life to Haitians, that is, their children, they will continue to leave the country,” he said.

He pointed out that the cost of living in his native country "is increasing considerably," and that many people don’t have enough to eat or drink.

Fr. Célestin stressed that “God's will is that everyone lives well and is saved.”