In Brief

In Brief St Junipero Serra
Archbishop says truth of saint’s ministry is in love of indigenous

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez has asked Catholics of the archdiocese to invoke the intercession of St Junipero Serra “for this nation that he helped to found”.

“In this hour of trial in our nation, when once again we are confronting America’s shameful legacy of racism, I invite you to join me in observing St Junipero’s feast day, July 1, as a day of prayer, fasting and charity,” Archbishop Gomez said in an open letter to Catholics, in Spanish and English.

He addresses the recent controversies in California surrounding public monuments to St Junipero Serra, “the Apostle of California”.

On June 19 a statue of the saint in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park was toppled and desecrated. A Serra statue in the plaza outside Nuestra Senora Reina de los Angeles in downtown Los Angeles also was torn down.

The nation may reach a consensus not to honour historical figures, Archbishop Gomez said, but “elected officials cannot abdicate their responsibilities by turning these decisions over to small groups of protesters, allowing them to vandalise public monuments”.


Pope asks prayers for Syria, Yemen, Ukraine

With the coronavirus pandemic continuing, Pope Francis has asked people to also remember the ongoing crises in Syria and Yemen, and he offered prayers to the thousands of people in western Ukraine suffering the effects of violent flooding.

After reciting the Angelus prayer on Sunday with visitors in St Peter’s Square, the Pope noted that the European Union and the United Nations were to hold their fourth conference on “supporting the future of Syria and the region”.

Because of the pandemic, the conference was to be held virtually.

A statement from the EU said that “with the conflict entering its 10th year, the situation in Syria and the region remains highly critical: the dire humanitarian situation, with millions of Syrians internally displaced and having sought refuge in Syria’s neighbouring countries, is now being further compounded by the consequences of Covid-19 pandemic”.

Pope Francis asked Catholics to “pray for this important meeting, so that it may improve the dramatic situation of the Syrian people and neighbouring peoples, particularly Lebanon, in the context of serious socio-political and economic crises that have been made even more difficult by the pandemic”.


Kenya to demolish Catholic hospital to reclaim forest land

St Mary’s Mission Hospital is one of the structures marked for demolition in a Kenyan government move to repossess illegally acquired Ngong forest land.

Since 2017, the hospital has been run by the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi, who won a six-year legal battle over its control. Before that, it was run by former Maryknoll Fr William Fryda.

“The issue of the hospital having been built on public forest land came up about five years ago, but since the matter was in court, it could not be resolved then. I think the church and the nuns are aware of it,” Fr Joachim Omollo Ouko, an Apostle of Jesus priest who is familiar with the facility, told Catholic News Service.

On June 26, Keriako Tobiko [pictured], Kenya’s secretary for the environment, said the government would repossess all land held by illegal developers inside the forest where the hospital stands. “Except the areas that were lawfully degasetted, all other parcels of this forest whether people have titles or not, whether they have built structures for business or residential houses, will be reclaimed,” said Tobiko.