News in Brief

US nuns and sisters more ethnically diverse, study shows

Religious life in the US is becoming more multi-ethnic and more international according to a new study, Understanding US Catholic Sisters Today, commissioned by Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities (FADICA), which represents about 50 philanthropic organisations.

The report, which highlights the major findings of recent sociological studies of women religious, said only 57% of women who have entered religious life in the US over the past 10 years have been white, with 17% being Hispanic, 16% Asian and 8% black, the latter including both African-American women and women born in Africa.

Written by Kathleen Sprows Cummings, director of the University of Notre Dame’s Cushwa Centre for the Study of American Catholicism, the report claims to “help illuminate present realities of US women’s religious life” and “point toward priorities that will help ensure a vibrant future”.


Arabian Church leaders appeal for prayers

Church leaders in the Arabian Peninsula have requested prayers for Christian communities in Yemen and for the country as a whole following the destruction of a Catholic church building in Aden.

Used for Mass until late March, at which point the conflict beginning in the country made services impossible, the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Aden, already badly damaged in May during air strikes by Saudi-backed forces targeting Houthi rebel positions, was attacked again last week. 

Militants detonated explosives within the church despite – at least according to unconfirmed reports – local efforts to protect the building. Although the church’s walls remain standing its roof has been destroyed. 


Two cardinals die on one day

Bolivia’s only cardinal has died at the age of 79 on December 9, the same day that an Italian cardinal who had been a long-time Vatican diplomat died aged 94.

Santa Cruz’s Cardinal Julio Terrazas Sandoval became the first ever Bolivia-born cardinal when he received the red hat from St John Paul II in 2001, describing his appointment as a sign of “strong, decisive support for the Church in Bolivia and an encouragement to be a better shepherd of my flock”.

Cardinal Carlo Furno, meanwhile, was a diplomat for 40 years, specialising in troubled areas of the Middle East and Latin America’s poorer nations, with his work in Lebanon and Brazil being especially praised by St John Paul II, who named him a cardinal in 1994.

Expressing his condolences, Pope Francis praised how Cardinal Terrazas “generously and courageously gave his life serving the Gospel, justice and peace”, and recalled Cardinal Furno’s long and “valuable collaboration” with the Holy See.


Muslims in the CAR are ‘profoundly marked’ by Pope, says archbishop

Muslims in the Central African Republic “are the first to say that ‘the Pope came, we want peace, we do not want war any more’”, the archbishop of the country’s capital city has said.

Claiming that “the Pope has profoundly marked the Muslim community” and that Muslim youths had “laid down their weapons to speak with their Christian brothers”, Bangui’s Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga described how he had walked through a Muslim neighbourhood “as a pilgrim of peace”.

His walk through the neighbourhood was a gesture of peace after tensions had arisen following the exclusion of former President Francois Bozize from the upcoming presidential elections. 

“The Pope came as a pilgrim to invite us to peace. Now we must become pilgrims of peace in our own country”, the archbishop said.


New chapel for Iraqi Catholics

A new chapel has been consecrated for 135 displaced Iraqi Christian families in Baghdad, according to Fr Luis Montes, an Argentine priest of the Incarnate Word. 

Explaining that “there were 128 bomb attacks in Baghdad in October alone,” such that “it’s hardly surprising that the people are afraid of leaving their homes to go to Mass”, Fr Montes said that “because of the danger it was important that the Church came to them in the camp”. 

Most of the residents in ‘Camp Virgin Mary’ are Syriac Catholics who fled northern Iraq when the city of Qaraqosh was overrun by ISIS in 2014. Most hope to be able to leave Iraq for the West, Fr Montes told Aid to the Church in Need, saying “None of them still harbour hope that they will be able to return to their hometowns… there are no signs of liberation.”