Tag: Catholic news

Filipino Priest Flies Into Hiding, As President Duterte Orders ‘Death Squad’ Against Him

Filipino Priest Flies Into Hiding, As President Duterte Orders ‘Death Squad’ Against Him

“I couldn’t go out for biking, running, walking due to security concerns,” Father Picardal told CBS.

A Filipino priest who has been an outspoken critic of extrajudicial killings in the country says he has gone into hiding after several sightings of what he believes to be members of a death squad searching for him.

Father Amado Picardal has spent 20 years advocating against extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, and more recently against President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs. He has served as the spokesperson for the Coalition Against Summary Execution and aided in preparing the International Criminal Court case against a prominent death squad in the country.

He said his advocacy has put a target on his back.

In a recent blog post, the priest said he was first made aware of threats to his life in 2017 and again in March 2018 but believed himself to be safe at the mountain hermitage where he was living.

“Before I left Manila last March to start my life as a hermit, I received a text message from a reliable source confirming that I was indeed going to be targeted for assassination by a death squad,” Fr. Picardal wrote on Aug. 26.

“I anticipated that if they knew that I was in Cebu, the first place that they would put under surveillance would be the Redemptorist Monastery in Cebu. I still felt confident that they won’t find my hermitage in the mountain.”

Over the last few months, however, monastery personnel have reported seeing men on motorcycles, with their faces hidden by helmets, loitering outside the monastery.

Fr. Picardal said the gardener was approached by two unknown men on July 7 and August 2, asking if the priest was around. He added that the monastery’s security guard informed him that six men on motorcycles had been stationed at the entrance from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on August 11.

“That was usually the time I would go out to the supermarket and the coffee shop. I immediately concluded that they were the death squad and I was the target. Had I gone out, there would have been no escape for me.”

As a result, Fr. Picardal said he has moved to a new location to continue his life of prayer and advocacy. 


“I am ready to accept martyrdom if they catch up with me, but I do not seek it nor do I make myself an easy target,” he said.

Thus, I have decided to temporarily vacate my hermitage up in the mountain and continue to spend my life of silence, solitude, prayer and writing in a more secure location. I will continue to speak out against evil in society through my writings and will fast and pray that the Lord will deliver us from evil.”

While assigned in Davao, Philippines, where Duterte served as mayor before his election to the presidency, Picardel said that he helped compile a report on the extrajudicial killings that had taken place there between 1998 and 2015.

This is most likely one of the reasons that I am being targeted by the death squad,” Picardal said according to the CBS report.

Since Duterte took office in 2016, he has launched a brutal crackdown on drug trafficking and use in the country. Some 4,000 Filipinos are estimated to have been killed by police. While police say the killings have been acts of self-defense against armed gangs, critics allege that police forces are conducting unauthorized, extrajudicial executions. Vigilante groups are also reported to have committed murder in the midst of the drug war.

Catholic leaders in the Philippines have been some of the most vocal critics of Duterte’s deadly war on drugs, and in recent months the Philippines strongman has lashed out publicly at the Catholic Church.

In a televised speech in June, Duterte ridiculed Catholic doctrine, saying, “Who is this stupid God? This son of a b**** is then really stupid.”

In recent months, at least three priests have been killed in the Philippines, where local Church officials have spoken out repeatedly against the government-sponsored violence.

Last year, the Filipino bishops hosted a rosary campaign against the drug war. Catholic priests have also offered their churches as “sanctuaries” for those who believe they are on the police hit lists, the Guardian reported in February.


Catholic News Agency (CNA), 


Is Their A Genocide Against Christians In Nigeria? 

Is Their A Genocide Against Christians In Nigeria? 

In Africa’s most populous country, an authentic ethnic cleansing is being perpetrated.

In a press statement published last June 29—the day of the feast of the apostles and martyrs Sts. Peter and Paul—the Catholic bishops of Nigeria once again asked President Muhammadu Buhari to step aside if he cannot guarantee peace and stability in the country, which with more than 190 million inhabitants [1] is the most populous country in all of Africa.

In the text, which was signed by the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) and by the organization’s secretary, the Most. Rev. Augustine Akubeze, Archbishop of Benin City, and Most Rev. Camillus Umoh, Bishop of Ikot Ekpene, respectively, the Church asks the President to “save this country from further pain and avoidable chaos, anarchy, and doom.”

The bishops also note the fact that their last appeal, “like all the others before, has been completely ignored by those whose primary responsibility it is to protect the lives and property of Nigerians.”

Indeed, last April 26 in a press statement entitled “When will this barbarism end?,” the CBCN had already suggested  that Buhari present his resignation if he cannot get the situation under control. “If the President cannot keep our country safe, then he automatically loses the trust of the citizens,” the bishops said

Fulani herdsmen

What makes the CBCN question the country’s highest authority—Buhari will seek reelection in the presidential elections next year—is the leader’s unwillingness to act to put an end to violence against the Christian community of Nigeria on the part of Fulani herdsmen, a majority Islamic nomadic ethnic group (also know as the Peul, Fula, or Fulbe), most of whom are herdsmen.

The Fulani have been the protagonists in recent years of numerous attacks against Christians and/or sedentary populations, especially since the authorities of Benue State, in the Middle belt region of Nigeria, introduced last September the Anti-Open Grazing Law, which aims to protect fields and crops destroyed when the herds pass through. For the Fulani, however, the law threatens their traditional lifestyle and their principal source of sustenance.

Benue State, also nicknamed the “food basket of the nation”, is located in what is called the Middle Belt in the center of Nigeria, which separates the primarily Islamic north from the majority Christian south.

The conflict that sets the Fulani against the sedentary population “is now more deadly than the Boko Haram jihadist insurgency that has ravaged Nigeria’s northeast and is becoming a key issue in the upcoming 2019 presidential polls,” according to the Nigerian edition of the newspaper The Guardian.

A long list of attacks

The list of attacks (and, in some cases, reprisals) on the part of members of the Fulani ethnic group against Christian communities has become extensive. According to information from the Stefanos Foundation (an organization that helps persecuted Christians in Nigeria and in the rest of the world), a series of attacks on Saturday, June 23 and Sunday, June 24, 2018, have resulted in at least 233 deaths and more than 11,000 displaced people in the central state of Plateau, which for years has been the venue of bloody clashes along ethnic or religious lines. According to the site FirstAfrica News, “over 40 villages have now been completely deserted in the Barkin Ladi and Riyom Local Government Area as result of continuous attacks.”

An early morning attack last April 24 against a Catholic church in the village of Mbalom, in Benue State, has provoked terror in the population; at least 18 people, including two priests, Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha, were killed. The nearly 30 attackers also razed more than 60 houses.

As human beings, we are overwhelmed with sorrow, and many of us won’t recover from the shock for a long time,” explained Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, archbishop of Abuja, whose words, spoken during the homily for the funeral celebrated last May 22 in Ayati (Benue) were quoted by Fides.

“Now is not the time to count the number of deaths, but killing people in their churches or mosques is an offense against God,” the cardinal said. 

Onaiyekan has exhorted his fellow citizens to unite against anarchy and not to politicize the events. 

According to information from Amnesty International, from January 1 to June 27, 2018, the violence has caused at least 1,823 deaths in Nigeria, more than twice the number in 2017 (894 victims). “We are gravely concerned about the rising spate of killings across the country, especially the communal clashes between farmers and herders and attacks by bandits across at least 17 states,” declared the Director Amnesty International Nigeria, Osai Ojigho.

Ethnic-religious cleansing

Behind the attacks in the southern part of Kaduna State, located in northwestern Nigeria, there hides an “Islamic agenda to drive the indigenous Christian communities out of Southern Kaduna, to ensure that Hausa-Fulani Muslims occupy the area and dominate all religious, political and socio-economic issues,” according to a study published by the Christian missionary agency Open Doors.

The report denounces the “widespread impunity” granted the perpetrators of these crimes. “To date, Hausa-Fulani Muslim herdsmen have never been arrested, prosecuted and punished in Southern Kaduna, and victims have not been adequately compensated,” observes Open Doors.

In addition, the study goes on to say, the “government has failed to sustain inter-community engagement and dialogue as a necessary process to attaining peace and stability. If the government remains biased, there is every likelihood that the conflict will continue and that Christians will be forced to leave the area and relocate — an example of ‘religious cleansing’ (i.e. ethnic cleansing based on religious affiliation).”

Although it doesn’t rule out other motives, including environmental degradation and climate change—sufficiently illustrated by the agony of Lake Chad, the area of which has drastically diminished (by 90 percent in less than half a century) [2]—in an earlier study, Open Doors had already proposed the thesis of a planned persecution of Christians in Benue State.


That fact that there might be a strategy or plan behind the violence inspires some people to use the term “genocide.” What is happening in Plateau State and in other states in Nigeria is “pure genocide,” writes the Christian Post, reporting on a press release published on June 29 by the heads of various denominations of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Plateau State.

“We reject the narrative that the attacks on Christian communities across the country as ‘farmers/herdsmen clash,’” says the declaration, which speaks of “false propaganda” and “deceit” by the government. “There is no doubt that the sole purpose of these attacks is aimed at ethnic cleansing, land grabbing and forceful ejection of the Christian natives from their ancestral land and heritage,” the document continues, denouncing in turn the impunity enjoyed by the Fulani herdsmen.

Indeed, while a court in Adamawa State condemned five young Christians to death for having attacked three herdsmen, one of whom was killed, up until now the armed herdsmen—some even with AK-47 assault rifles, also known as Kalashnikovs—are left undisturbed.

In a Twitter message, the former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, expressed his incredulity at the sentence, and asked if “Nigeria is an apartheid state where the herdsmen are above the law.” According to the Daily Post, Fani-Kayode also commented that “no Fulani herdsman has been reprimanded or jailed for killing more than 5,300 Christians in 2018.”

Although Buhari and his vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, visited Plateau State after the recent attacks, the question remains whether the president, who is ethnically Fulani, is willing to go beyond what the declaration of the CAN denominational leaders defines as a pure “cosmetics”.

Without a doubt, Nigeria is at a watershed moment. “Please don’t make the same mistake we made with the genocide in Rwanda. It happened under our noses, but no one stopped it. And we know well how that ended,” said the bishop of Gboko in Benue State, Bishop William Amove Avenya, to Aid to the Church in Need “We are convinced that what is happening is an ethnic cleansing of Christians,” he said.


1] To have an idea: with more than 190 million inhabitants, the population of Nigeria is more than half that of the United States of America (which has a population of approximately 325 million people). 

From an European perspective, the Nigerian population surpasses that of Germany (82.2 million), Italy (60.6 million), and Spain (46.6 million) put together. The entire European Union has a little more than 500 million inhabitants.



France Vs. Croatia: Two Powerful Catholic Nations To Battle For The World Cup 

France Vs. Croatia: Two Powerful Catholic Nations To Battle For The World Cup 

Who Will Win The World Cup? 

On Sunday July 15, France and Croatia will square off on the soccer pitch for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Championship. While most U.S. Catholics are only casual soccer fans, many will join more than 3 billion people around the world who are expected to watch the game.

What team will U.S. Catholics root for as two historically Catholic countries face off?

If you’re still undecided, perhaps a comparison of the Catholic life, history, and culture of France and Croatia would be helpful:

Catholic roots


During the time Jesus lived in Palestine, Croatia, along with the rest of the Balkan Peninsula, was a part of the Roman Empire- most of it a part of the Roman province of Dalmatia.

Located along the Adriatic Sea, Dalmatia, which was also sometimes referred to as Illyricum, an older Greek name, was home to Roman subjects and their religions from across the Empire. At the time Jesus lived, there was a Jewish population in the region. Some members of the Jewish community became Christians during the earliest periods of Christian evangelization.

Scripture records that Titus, a disciple of St. Paul, travelled to Dalmatia, and he might have died there. The region is mentioned in St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy.

Some old traditions hold that St. Paul might have gone to Dalmatia too, since he wrote in the Letter to the Romans about visiting “Illyricum,” but he probably was referring to a part of Greece close to modern-day Albania.

The Croatian people, who migrated to the Dalmatian region in the 6th century, probably followed tribal religions until natives to the region, along with Byzantine and Benedictine missionaries, some from France, converted them to Catholicism. By the 9th century, Croats could be considered a Christian people, and, by the end of that century, Croatian nobility had begun pledging their allegiance to the pope.


France is often referred to as the “eldest daughter of the Church,” because of the long and faithful history of the Catholic Church there.

There are many early legends that connect France and New Testament figures. One such legend says that Lazarus, Mary, and Martha were exiled from Israel and travelled by boat to France’s Mediterranean coast. Still another says that Lazarus was the first bishop of Marseille, and that he is buried in Burgundy. Some such legends say that Mary Magdalene is the sister of Lazarus and she made the trip, and then lived for 40 years in a cave in Provence — France’s famous madeleine cookies are sometimes said to be named for Mary Magdalene.

The earliest non-legendary record of the Church in France begins in the 2nd century, when 48 Catholics, included the Bishop of Lugdunum, were martyred in Lyon, which was then part of the Roman province of Gaul.

Most French people consider King Clovis I to be the founder of France. Clovis converted from paganism, and was baptized on Christmas Day in 496 by Saint Remy. Clovis’ baptism is considered to be the foundational moment of western Christendom.

The point:

Croatia is mentioned in the Bible. While France is the Church’s eldest daughter, any place mentioned in Scripture has a strong claim on ancient Christian roots. This point goes to Croatia.



Croatia’s patron saint is St. Joseph. You can’t do much better than that. Unless your patron saint is the Blessed Virgin Mary. France’s patron saint is the Blessed Virgin Mary, in addition to several other saints.

St. Jerome was born in the region of Dalmatia. So was St. Marko Krizin, a priest of the Counter-reformation, and St Leopold Mandic, a pious Capuchin missionary. St. Nicholas Tavelic was a Croatian Franciscan, who was martyred in 1391 in Jerusalem after refusing to convert to Islam, along with 3 Franciscan companions.

In 2003, Pope St. John Paul II dedicated a church to the Croatian martyrs, soldiers who were slaughtered by invading Ottoman forces in the 15th century. Hundreds of thousands of other Croats have faced martyrdom and persecution, and died holy deaths in discipleship of Jesus Christ.


St. Joan of Arc. St. John Vianney. St. Therese of Lisieux. St. Remy. St. Denis. St. Peter Faber. St. Isaac Jogues. St. Louis IX of France. St. Vincent de Paul. I’m really just getting warmed up. This category is going to France.

The point:

In its long history, Croatia has presumably given the Church many holy men and women, but many of them remain unknown. Over the centuries, the holy people of central European countries have not gained as much attention as those from western Europe. This is unfortunate. But France has a lot of saints. A lot. France gets the point.



The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is stunning. Beautiful. A gothic-style cathedral built in the 1200s, and restored in the 1880s. There are barricades around the cathedral that were built in the 1400s to hold back Ottoman invaders. Those same barricades held back the Ottomans in another invasion attempt 200 years later. Zagreb’s cathedral has also survived an earthquake. It’s a gem for the entire Church.


The cathedral at Chartres is considered to be the highpoint of Gothic art and architecture. Its stained glass is world famous. It has been imitated around the world. Built in the late twelfth century, it has been restored several times. During World War II, an American colonel snuck behind German lines to ensure it was not being occupied by the Germans. His heroism ensured that the building was not bombed by the Allies.

The point:

Chartres is famous. Zagreb’s cathedral should be more famous. One is considered the high-point of European architecture. The other held back hordes of Ottoman invaders. People hate that soccer has ties, but this is a soccer story, and this category is a tie.

The Score: Croatia 1, France 1.

So what team will Catholics root for? The Church’s “eldest daughter,” or the team whose coach loves the rosary?

Game on.



Catholic Nun Accuses Bishop Of Rape In India 

Catholic Nun Accuses Bishop Of Rape In India 

Bishop Franco Mulakkal

Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar is being investigated by authorities, after a Kerala nun accused him of raping her in 2014 and sexually abusing her on multiple occasions over two years—but the bishop strenuously denies the claims and charges that the nun is accusing him to avoid disciplinary action.

Bishop Mulakkal, 54, heads a Roman Catholic diocese in the northern India state of Punjab. He oversees the alleged victim’s Missionaries of Jesus religious congregation.
The congregation is based in Jalandhar but has a convent in the Diocese of Palai, in Kerala State.
The nun has said the rape took place during the bishop’s May 2014 visit to the convent in Kerala. In a 72-page complaint to police, filed June 29, she alleged that the bishop sexually abused her over a dozen times over two years.
For his part, Bishop Mulakkal has claimed the allegations were made in retaliation against him because he has acted against the nun’s sexual misconduct, the bishop told UCA News. He said the nun was alleged to be having an affair with the husband of her cousin.
She threatened to quit the order,” the bishop said, claiming that the nun sought a dispensation so that she could marry.
However, she “withdrew the application and continued to threaten me with sex allegations,” the bishop said, in a UCA News report published July 2.
Bishop Mlakkal claimed that when he took action against the nun, her brother threatened to kill him.
Father Peter Kavumkal, the vicar-general of the Jalandhar diocese, told UCA News that the nun’s congregation had planned to dismiss her July 2.
It is all planned and timed to blackmail the bishop from taking punitive action against her,” the priest charged, claiming that the diocese went to police first.
Fr. Kavumkal filed a June 22 complaint in both Punjab and Kerala, charging blackmail and threatening the life of the bishop.
The case has prompted various media reports and rumors, with the Times of India reporting that a prime witness for the bishop’s complaint has told the investigating officials that the bishop intimidated him into writing the threatening letter. There are conflicting reports about whether the bishop will be interrogated soon, and some reports indicate the nun has submitted to authorities text messages from the bishop as evidence.
The International Business Times of India makes other claims against the bishop, reporting that other nuns have said the bishop encouraged them to file false charges against his accuser, that there are allegations of sexual abuse from several nuns, and that the bishop sent indecent messages to his accuser and others. However, the newspaper did not provide a source for those allegations.
A police official said the nun was standing by her accusations and would be subjected to medical tests to determine whether she had been sexually assaulted.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had named Bishop Mulakkal to become Auxiliary Bishop of Delhi in 2009. In June 2013, Pope Francis appointed him Bishop of Jullundur. Fewer than one percent of the diocese’s approximately 19.3 million people are Catholic, the website Catholic Hierarchy says.
The nun is part of the Kerala-based Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, an Eastern Catholic Church in union with Rome.
The case also could involve Cardinal George Alencherry, who is both head of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly
A lay group in the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, called the Movement for Transparency, has filed a police complaint charging that Cardinal George Alencherry received the nun’s complaint six months ago but failed to report it to the police.
That claim follows other accusations against the cardinal.
In November 2017, the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly’s canonical presbyteral council publicly accused Cardinal Alencherry of involvement of dubious land deals. The council’s representatives charged that the cardinal, two senior priests and a real estate agent sold land at undervalued prices, for a loss of $10 million. They accused the cardinal of bypassing the canonical body’s authority.
In June, the Vatican bypassed the Syro-Malabar Church’s synod and suspended the administrative powers of the archdiocese’s two auxiliary bishops, all archdiocesan offices, and the archdiocesan council. A Vatican letter said Cardinal Alencherry “should absolutely not be involved” in any decisions, UCA News reports.
It tasked the new administrator with auditing the archdiocese through an independent agency and sending the results to the Vatican confidentially. The new administrator must also determine the responsibility of those “who have wounded church unity with unfounded allegations, lacking the spirit of obedience and ecclesial sense.
Pope Francis appointed Bishop Jacob Manathodath of Palghat as the archdiocese’s apostolic administrator.


Catholic News Agency 

%d bloggers like this: