Tag:  Catholic News

Breaking! Alfie Evans Dies Amid Outpouring Of Prayers And Support 

Breaking! Alfie Evans Dies Amid Outpouring Of Prayers And Support 

Ailing toddler Alfie Evans, whose plight has tugged at the world’s heartstrings throughout the past week, died in the early hours of Saturday morning after being removed from life support.

In an April 28 Facebook post, Alfie’s father, Tom Evans, said: “My gladiator lay down his shield and gained his wings at 02:30…absolutely heartbroken. I love you my guy.”

Just shy of two years old, Alfie had been in what physicians described as a “semi-vegetative state” due to a mysterious degenerative neurological condition that doctors at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, England have not been able to properly diagnose. He had been hospitalized since December of 2016.

Although Italian officials earlier this week granted Alfie citizenship and a Vatican-linked hospital offered to take the toddler for further diagnosis and treatment, UK courts repeatedly refused to allow the transfer, ruling that it is not in the child’s best interest.

With permission of the court, but against the will of Alfie’s parents, Tom Evans and Kate James, the hospital earlier this week removed Alfie’s ventilator and withheld food and water from the child.

Although the toddler was only expected to live for a few minutes, he was able to breathe on his own for a number of hours, until doctors administered oxygen and hydration. They later administered nutrition as well, after the boy went almost 24 hours without food, according to Alfie’s father.

Life support was again removed from Alfie after a last-minute appeal by his parents was struck down Wednesday. After the ruling, the toddler’s parents released a statement thanking the doctors and hospital staff who cared for their son, saying they wanted to “build bridges” with Alder Hey.

Rallies in support of Alfie’s parents have been held throughout the week in London, Washington, D.C., New York and the Vatican, with pilgrims gathering to pray the rosary in St. Peter’s Square each night leading up to the toddler’s death.  

Pope Francis has also been outspoken about supporting the child’s parents.

The pope, who met with Alfie’s father last week, has offered public prayers for Alfie and his family several times, including at a general audience and in several Twitter posts.

Moved by the prayers and immense solidarity shown little Alfie Evans, I renew my appeal that the suffering of his parents may be heard and that their desire to seek new forms of treatment may be granted,” he said on Twitter Monday.

Eternal rest grant unto him oh Lord, and let your perpetual light shine upon him. Amen. 

‘The Devil Does Not Love The Family…There Is A Demon That Attacks The Family’ – Rome Exorcist

‘The Devil Does Not Love The Family…There Is A Demon That Attacks The Family’ – Rome Exorcist

Exorcist, Father César Truqui, a priest who participated in a 2015 course on exorcism held in Rome, said there’s a demon that specializes in attacking the family.

Fr. Truqui warned that everything that is harming the family, including divorce, pleases the devil.

Speaking to the Italian weekly Tempi in 2015, the priest said that there is “a demon who specializes in the attack on the family, also cited in the story of Tobias, called ‘Asmodeus.’”

In the Old Testament book, the demon is known to have killed seven of Sarah’s husbands and was chained in the desert by Archangel Raphael. The demon “is present” in many exorcisms, Fr. Truqui said.

The priest recalled encountering the demon “in exorcisms by Father Gabriele Amorth and Father Francisco Bamonte, whom I assisted.” The recently-deceased Fr. Amorth was a renowned exorcist in Rome who has performed an estimated 70,000 exorcisms over the course of 29 years. Carrying out an exorcism can require multiple sessions and each time the rite is administered it is counted as one instance.

“I remember a young couple, very united, who wanted to get married, however, the woman had to undergo an exorcism to be set free,” Fr. Truqi said.  

During the exorcism “the demon was furious and threatened Fr. Amorth in order to prevent the marriage, otherwise he would kill the young woman. Obviously, it was a threat from the Liar which in fact did not happen.”

In that regard, the priest added that the devil also seeks to attack the family through ideologies and lifestyles, as well as individualistic thinking and the spread of divorce.

“They think ‘if I don’t like my husband anymore, I would be better off divorcing’ but they forget about the consequences to the children and society,” he said. “This mentality that works against the family pleases the devil – he knows that a man who is alone without any points of reference is manipulable and unstable.”  

“Even today, and I’m more than 50 years old, just thinking that my mother and father love each other forever, I find comfort and courage. In contrast, the children of separated parents are more fragile and wavering,” he said.

In 2014, Pope Francis gave an address to the Charismatic Renewal, in which he pointed out that the devil seeks to destroy families because that is where Jesus grows, in the midst of the love of the spouses and in the lives of their children.

“He grows in the love of the spouses, he grows in the lives of the children. And  that’s why the enemy attacks the family so much. The devil does not love the family. He seeks to destroy it, he wants to eliminate love there,” he warned at Rome’s Olympic stadium before 52,000 people.

On that day Francis reminded that “families are these domestic churches. The spouses are sinners, like everyone, but they want to progress in the faith, in their fruitfulness, in the children and their children’s faith.”

And so he asked the Lord to “bless the family, make it strong, in this crisis in which the devil wants to destroy it.”

This article was originally published May 26, 2016.

Formerly Engaged Couple, Now A Catholic Priest And Religious Nun

Formerly Engaged Couple, Now A Catholic Priest And Religious Nun

Fr. Javier Olivera and Sister Marie de la Sagesse were engaged and planning their wedding, before discovering their vocations, unknown to them, God had other plans.

Speaking to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language sister agency, Fr. Olivera said that they both grew up in Catholic families and that “our parents knew each other when they were young.” They saw each other frequently when they were children.

“I had really left the practice of religion. When I was 19, I came back from a back-packing trip to Peru and I met her. I asked her if she believed in virginity until marriage, because for me this was kind of an invention by the Church. She laid out the principles so well about purity, from faith and reason, that it impacted me. I met a woman who knew how to defend what she believed and who was at the same time very intelligent,” Olivera commented.

Soon after that conversation, they began dating. At that time both of them were studying law. He was at the National University at Buenos Aires and she was at the National University at La Plata.

Fr. Olivera said that “it was like any other courtship but we tried to take advantage of cultural life through music, literature and philosophy. We read books together, we’d go out for coffee. We had a group of friends with whom we attended conferences of Argentine Catholic authors.”  

“I started to practice the faith, to pray, to go to Mass on Sundays. All in large part thanks to her, to God mainly, but to her as an instrument,” said the priest. He added that they also prayed the rosary together.

For her part, Sister Marie de la Sagesse, whose baptismal name is Trinidad Maria Guiomar, told ACI Prensa that what she most appreciated about her then-boyfriend was “his sincere search for the truth without fearing the consequences.”

The couple got engaged  when they were 21 and decided to get married after college, two and a half years away.

The discovery of a vocation

One day Trinidad Maria’s older brother broke the news that he would be entering the seminary, and she remembered, “we were reeling from it because we weren’t expecting that.”

“I had a car and with my fiancée, we decided to take him to the seminary, which was in San Rafael, Mendoza Province,” she said. They both decided to stay in the area a few days so Javier could visit some friends who were in the seminary, and Trinidad Maria could visit some friends in the convent.

“When we got back, we talked about how crazy all that was, that her brother had left everything, the possibility of having a family, an important career. We began to ask ourselves, ‘What would happen if God called us to the religious life?’ The first thing we said was ‘no’ and that, that was crazy because we were having a really beautiful engagement and we were already buying things to get married,” Fr. Olivera recounted.

Weeks went by “there was this constant thought in my soul about what would happen if God called  me, if I had to leave everything, why not be a priest? How to know if the best way to get to heaven for me is the priestly life or the married life? Where can I do the most good?”

After so many doubts he decided to tell his fiancée about his vocational concerns, who confessed to him that she “was thinking the same thing” after her brother entered the seminary.

However, neither one of them made a decision. “Since we still had two years before  finishing law school, that was a great excuse to not yet enter the seminary or the convent,” Fr. Olivera said.

They had “a very prudent monk” as a spiritual adviser, who told them: “Look, that is an issue between each one of you and God. No one can interfere with souls.”

For her part, Sister Marie de la Sagesse told ACI Prensa that “it was a long period of discernment, at least two years, until God clearly showed me the consecrated life, and I could not doubt that he was asking of me this total surrender.”

After finishing their studies, both embraced their vocations. In 2008, when they were 31, he was ordained a priest in the Diocese of San Rafael, and she made her final vows in the congregation of the Sisters of the Merciful Jesus.

Fr. Olivera is currently a university professor and has a blog called “Que no te la cuenten” (Find out for yourself). He has written a book on vocational doubts entitled “¿Alguna vez pensaste? El llamado de Cristo” (Have you ever thought about it? The Call of Christ).

Sister Marie de la Sagesse lives in southern France and has an apostolate in Saint Laurent Parish in the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon.

Regarding their story, she said that “I consider it a special grace that both of us were called almost at the same time. So kind and thoughtful of Divine Providence, who doesn’t miss a detail . And what I really appreciate is that we’re still friends and not just us, but our families too.”

This story was originally published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language sister agency. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Catholic Priest Reveals How Muslims In Arab World Turn To Priests For Exorcism 

Catholic Priest Reveals How Muslims In Arab World Turn To Priests For Exorcism 

Several speakers testified to their own experiences. Albanian Cdl. Ernest Simoni told attendees that over the course of his decades-long ministry, many Muslims have sought him out for help battling the diabolical. He said he honors these requests, noting that “Jesus came for everyone.”  

Likewise, Fr. Andre Francisco Fernandes, an Indian priest serving in Dubai, testified that “many Muslims” have approached him, during his time in the Persian Gulf.

Another lecturer, Mexican Fr. Cesar Truqui, has been performing exorcisms for a decade. Now based in Switzerland, he was a former assistant of Fr. Gabriele Amorth who was often described as Rome’s “chief exorcist” before his death in 2016. 

“Christ was the first exorcist,” Fr. Truqui told students. “The power of casting out demons was one of the signs that Christianity was a true religion.”

Sponsored by the Group for Socio-Religious Research and Information (GSRRI), the conference is focusing on the growing scourge of satanic cults, which fuel demonic possession. For the first time, the course including a study of witchcraft in Africa.

According to GSRRI head Prof. Giuseppe Ferrari, participants are exploring “the theme of the kidnapping and murder of children for ritual sacrifice, linked to witchcraft, in order to obtain favors for clients,” a “cruel and inhumane practice” prevalent on the continent. 

Though witchcraft is a concern for developing world clergy, many bishops and priests in the West fail to recognize the threat it poses.

This week’s conference aims to help change this by informing and outfitting a new cadre of priests trained in spiritual warfare. 

We are living in an age when faith is diminishing. If you abandon God, the devil will take His place.

Demand for the rite is exploding across the West.

In Italy, for example, requests for exorcism have tripled in recent years, with more than 500,000 petitions filed annually. 

Shortly before his death, Pope St. John Paul II warned that across the West, apostasy and resurgent paganism were opening doors to a new surge of demonic activity. 

Surveying the accelerating spiritual collapse, the pontiff urged every diocese to appoint its own resident exorcist.

In the United States, the Holy Father’s call led to the 2012 creation of the Pope Leo XIII Institute, a center dedicated to promoting “the spiritual formation of priests to bring the light of Christ to dispel evil.”

 Pope St. John Paul II

The academy is reinvigorating the clergy’s capacity for spiritual combat. In 2004, just a dozen exorcists were active in the United States. Since 2015, the Pope Leo XIII Institute has graduated more than a hundred. 

But even this is not enough to keep up with demand, U.S. Church officials warn. A sharp rise in demonic activity is being reported throughout the United States owing to skyrocketing rates of drug and pornography addiction, as well as the general loss of faith and abandonment of religious devotion.

Before his death in 2016, Fr. Amorth explained that the influence of the diabolical is more evident at certain points in time, including our own.

“There is no doubt that Satan’s power is felt more keenly in periods of history when the sinfulness of the community is more evident,” he observed. “For example, when I view the decadence of the Roman Empire, I can see the moral disintegration of that period in history. Now, we are at the same level of decadence.”

“The devil is gaining ground,” the exorcist warned. “We are living in an age when faith is diminishing. If you abandon God, the devil will take His place.”

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