U.S. nun’s killer to serve rest of time under house arrest in Brazil

U.S. nun’s killer to serve rest of time under house arrest in Brazil

The man who confessed to killing a U.S.-born nun in 2005 in Brazil’s Amazon has been released from prison.

Rayfran das Neves Sales, who served a little less than eight years of a 27-year sentence for shooting Sr. Dorothy Stang, a member of the Notre Dame de Namur Sisters, will carry out the rest of his sentence under house arrest.

Sales was one of the four other men accused of plotting and carrying out the assassination of Stang. Two other accomplices are in jail serving sentences from 17 to 30 years, while the rancher said to be the mastermind of the plot remains free, waiting for a retrial scheduled for September.

There’s more to NCR than what you read online. Preview our Spirituality special section from the July 19 edition.

Stang, a native of Dayton, Ohio, had lived in the Amazon region for nearly four decades and was a naturalized Brazilian. She worked closely with the Brazilian bishops’ Pastoral Land Commission in favor of land rights for the poor and for sustainable development in the region. The work she did angered many large landowners, and she had received death threats.

A lawyer for the Pastoral Land Commission, Jose Batista, told local media the decision showed that “crime pays” and said it would encourage criminal activities in the region.

Over the years several Catholic bishops in the region have received death threats from large landowners, usually due to their work with landless peasants and the indigenous population.




Her death still hurts, but it is better now

Her death still hurts, but it is better now

Paris Jackson, the 15-year-old daughter of the late singer Michael Jackson, cut her wrists and swallowed a bottle of pills June 6. As she recovers, one in six high school students will seriously consider ending their lives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds. Our daughter, Karla, was one of those young adults who found the pain of being human unbearable, and took her own life. What was it all about, and how can a parent bear it?

It was 10 years ago on a dreary, damp, overcast Monday, around 1 p.m. in a windowless, bare, cinder block room just large enough for a king-size bed, a bedroom converted from a storeroom in a vending machine repair shop, in an aging industrial section of the west end of Tulsa, Okla., that our 26-year-old, beautiful, charming, loving, occasionally brilliant, multitalented, bipolar daughter found a hidden .22 caliber rifle, propped it up between the bedspring and the mattress, rested it on her chest, reached down, pulled the trigger, probably with her right thumb, and died instantly as the bullet ripped through her body, severing her aorta with what the medical examiner later described as a “perforating contact gunshot wound of the chest.”

Our soul has been weeping ever since.

I miss her. Her mother and her twin brother miss her. We will always miss her. I want to always miss her. But I want to accept missing her. Someday I will. Her death still hurts, but it’s getting better now.

At first, grief emotions attacked from everywhere. There was anger in my oatmeal, regret in the trees in my neighbor’s backyard, depression drove my car to the grocery store, and frustration hijacked my dreams, my TV, treadmill and prayer.

There’s more to NCR than what you read online. Preview our Spirituality special section from the July 19 edition.

Why did Karla do it? She didn’t do it because God abandoned her or she abandoned God. She didn’t do it because we didn’t love her. She didn’t do it because of a broken relationship, despair over money, failure at college, or drugs.

She did it because our love and the love of friends could not penetrate the depth of her loneliness. She did it because she had bipolar disorder, which sometimes is fatal. She did it because she felt she was an endless burden on the universe. She did it because she had attempted suicide previously, which disabled her innate desire to live. She did it because she saw no other way to end her emotional pain.

All legitimate answers. But they didn’t end our questioning, like they would if it had been cancer or an accident. These “Why?” and “What if?” questions hunted me down like tornados swirling into my head and twisting my life into debris. But now, 10 years later, I no longer feel the need to ask the “why” question. The mystery remains and as I pray to see it with the eye of my soul, I know that the answer is “hidden in the mystery of God” (Ephesians 3:9). That is sufficient. That is why it is better now.

Time alone does not heal, not even after all these years. Time alone just helps us get used to the pain. It takes time and work — for me, grief work. Reading helps. Spiritual direction with my pastor is critical. Prayer, personal and within my church community, is vital. Honest sharing with my family, my wife, Fran, in particular, is essential. Supporting other people who struggle with the mental illness of a loved one or who lost someone to suicide keeps me grounded on my own grief journey.

Fran and our son, Kevin, and I have now assimilated Karla’s suicide into our life. I now remember not her death but her life — her vitality, charm, intelligence, beauty, personality, laughter, passions and flaws — without the grimy filter of suicide. I can now laugh, talk, read, watch TV, cut the grass, take vacations, grieve other deaths and illnesses, argue politics, critique my church, try to lose weight and go shopping without recalling her. That’s assimilation. She is clearly not forgotten, and she remains my child, but her pain no longer dominates my life.

Our family focuses on Karla’s lifelong search for spiritual wholeness. We pray with her the prayer that she prayed. It is Karla’s serenity prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Show me the trace of you in everyone I know.
Gently turn my gaze back home, toward simplicity, grace and gratitude.
Remind me that we are all imperfect, holy and free.
Open me to know and embrace your peace.




People in Central African Republic being killed ‘like flies,’ says prelate

People in Central African Republic being killed ‘like flies,’ says prelate

The leading prelate in the Central African Republic has again denounced the violence that has accompanied the rule of the Islamist rebel movement Seleka, which gained power in March.

“I can’t remain silent while the sons of this country are the victims of the worst kind of barbarism,” Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga of Bangui preached at a Mass commemorating the first anniversary of his episcopal ordination. “I can’t remain silent while Central Africans are being tortured and killed, squashed like flies.”

“I can’t remain silent while our mothers and sisters are being raped,” the 46-year-old prelate added during his July 21 homily. “I can’t remain silent while the dignity of the Central African is being trampled underfoot, while innocent people are being robbed, while the just and well-earned fruit of our country is being destroyed and looted as though we were in a house of cards. I can’t remain silent when impunity reigns and a dictatorship of arms is being set up.”

ACN (Aid to the Church in Need) News reported that the prelate denied he has “political ambitions and power aspirations.”

“I am a shepherd, not a political fighter,” he said. “I dare to hope that one or other person will hear in my voice the Central African people’s cry of suffering.”


3 churches attacked in Egypt

3 churches attacked in Egypt

Three Coptic Orthodox churches in Minya, a city of 250,000 in north-central Egypt, were attacked on July 27, an English-language Egyptian newspaper reported.

“They threw Molotov cocktails at Al-Azraa and Anba Ebram churches but were not able to break in as nearby Muslims and Christians were securing the churches,” said Ishak Ibrahim, of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, who added that an attempted attack on a third Minya church was repelled.



A church of the Poor . For the Poor

A church of the Poor . For the Poor


Pope Francis appears to have made this his Vision Statement. He has said nothing new. There are several Church documents that speak about the same thing. Unfortunately the translation into action has not been so pronounced.

 What then should be the response of the church……………….. “Church”, we means, principally, not the Church as institute, but Church as the people of God. We are asking ourselves what we doing as individual Christians and as members of Christian communities about the needs of our fellow human beings. I would like to focus on one area only – JUSTICE.

If it is asked “what is  a Christian?” several answers can be given, but one of them will certainly have to be “ A Christian is a  witness.” A Christian is a Christ-bearer to to-days people – another Christ – “to bear witness to the “truth” that God has revealed. God reveals himself to us as the liberator of the oppressed and the liberator of the oppressed and defender of the poor. To be a Christians then is to bear witness to justice by words, by deed and by our lives.

In what ways can we bear witness to justice in the world in which we live. First, by a habitual respect for the rights of others  e.g how we treat the people that report to us. Are we truly servant leaders? Second, by being conscious of how sinfully wasteful we are to the resource of our planet e.g the manner in which we use water and energy, how we contribute to pollution. Third, to show by the simplicity of our lives that the enrichment of the human condition does not consist in having or using more things e.g to  stop comparing ourselves with the Joneses.

The Church is obliged to live and administer its own goods is such a way that the Gospel is preached to the poor. Christians and Christian communities must show by their lives that they have good news for the poor. Pope Fancies has begun to lead by example. Just as we might budget our funds to be able to give alms, so we might budget our time to be able to give service. In doing so we share with our neighbor not only what we possess but what we are…. We might add that our service should be aimed also in helping the poor and powerless to help themselves.  

Finally by using a witness to freedom with responsibility. The Churches should not only recognize everyone’s right to suitable freedom of expression and thought but should herself be a model of openness and mutual trust.

 Witnessing to justice naturally leads us to consider action for justice. The Church document propose four major areas:

  1. Denunciation of injustice
  2. Concretely live more simply
  3. No unjust profit or unjust advantage taken people or in business.
  4. Change unjust structures

It is a question of confronting Gospel values with the concrete life of to-day in its many areas. The subject is vast and will need more space for elucidation. What is important is that we once again look deeply at our-selves, the way we lived and work; also that way our Small Christian Communities are organized and are running; confront both with Gospel values and challenge them to live and work for justice in our milieu.

By Tonu Martyris .

“Bharat Chodo”

“Bharat Chodo”

Amir Khan’s recent advertisement “Abortion Bharat Chodo” is a sign for all Indians that we need to stand for Justice in whatever form it may be. Today we have to stand against the evils of the nation like abortion, euthanasia, corruption, terrorism and other evils of the nation that are breaking and diving the nation.Today we need to fight against the evils of the society and also make the nation an evil-free nation. The government should introduce a law where people could complain against those people who are fostering such evils like abortion, euthanasia, corruption, terrorism ans other evils of the nation. Let us all stand again stand evils of the society like abortion, euthanasia, corruption, terrorism and other evils of the nation.

By Cajetan peter D’souza

Habent papam Can the Vatican become more democratic under Pope Francis?

Can the Vatican become more democratic under Pope Francis?

Pope Francis was a popular archbishop of Buenos Aires, noted among other things for the simplicity of his lifestyle and his sympathy for the poor. It remains to be seen how that translates into the papacy.

I am both annoyed and gratified by the adulation he has received for riding buses rather than limousines. It does not speak well of the Church’s leaders when reaching into one’s pocket to pull out a bus fare like the rest of us is considered extraordinary. It does speak well of Francis, though, that he has avoided the sort of behavior we have come to regard as the norm in bishops.

The new pope lived through a terrible period of Argentinian history as people struggled to restore democracy. Perhaps that experience will give him the incentive to restore at least some degree of democracy in the Church.

Critics of the collegiality called for by Vatican II and subverted by Francis’s immediate predecessors often claim that “the Church is not a democracy.” They are grammatically correct. The Church is not, in the present tense, a democracy. However, in the past, the Church was, indeed, a democracy. Ecumenical councils voted on dogma. Bishops, including the bishop of Rome, were elected by the people.

One of the more interesting examples of that was the election of Pope St Fabian in 236. He was an out-of-towner who happened to be in Rome while Roman Christians were assembled to elect a new bishop after the martyrdom of Pope Anterus. (In those days, election to the papacy was election to martyrdom).

It happened that a dove landed on Fabian’s head, and when the crowd saw it, they took it to be a sign of divine favor. So they acclaimed him pope, a ministry he exercised for 14 years until his martyrdom. Historical knowledge of his papacy is limited, but there is some evidence that he did a respectable job of it.

Today, of course, neither pigeons nor the People of God in Rome or anywhere else choose the pope. Instead, 115 elderly appointees came together in isolation and elected a “law king” (the Japanese word for “pope”) for some 1.2 billion Catholics throughout the world.

Neither do Catholics have any say in the bishops of their dioceses. The democratic system that produced bishops like St Ambrose (who wasn’t even baptized when he was elected) and St Augustine has been replaced by the pope choosing bishops and assigning them to various sees regardless of their connection – or lack of connection – to the local Church.

Even parishes must welcome or endure priests sent to them on the say-so of officials who need not answer to the community or its needs, talents and hopes.

When Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran came out on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica and announced “Habemus papam!” – we have a pope – he meant his “we” to refer to the Church. But, it could as easily be taken to mean “we cardinal electors.” The rest of us could justly say “Habent papam” – they have a pope – since we had no involvement in the choice beyond saying our prayers.

Whether Francis becomes our pope in more than name will depend upon what he does in the few years he will have in that role. One thing he should do is to return the Church to its ancient faith in the Holy Spirit working through the voice of the People of God.

It may take a long time to wean the Church from being an absolute monarchy, but a pope who has taken the name of a humble servant of all can begin the process. Perhaps then the announcement of his successor might be “habemus” in the fullest sense of the word.

 Fr Bill Grimm MM is the publisher of ucanews.com based in Tokyo




Power and the papacy: just how much influence will Pope Francis have?

Power and the papacy: just how much influence will Pope Francis have? 

Pope Francis will not follow Tony Blair

Infallible he may be, but the Pope will not have a Clause Four moment and tear up Catholic doctrine

Power and the papacy: just how much influence will Pope Francis have?

Power and the papacy: just how much influence will Pope Francis have?

Tony Blair, in an interview in 2009 with a gay magazine called Attitude, said, “There are many fantastic things this Pope stands for, but…” Among the buts was Pope Benedict’s antipathy to homosexual activity.

Mr Blair saw the Pope’s predicament in terms of party politics: “You can either A: hold on to your core vote and say, ‘Let’s not break out because we might lose what we’ve got.’ Or B: say, ‘Let’s accept the world is changing and work out how to lead that change and reach out.’ ’’ There is some truth in Mr Blair’s metaphor, but it’s pretty far below the surface.

A surprisingly large section of the media has been looking forward to the new pontificate because a new pope might change the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, the ordination of women, contraception, even abortion.

They are wrong not because the Pope is so powerful that he can resist change, but because the Pope isn’t really powerful at all. True, he has gathered to himself the right to appoint any bishop in the world. This had previously been, not something that the pious people in the pew could do, but something that posturing princes in their palaces wanted to control. Long after Henry VIII broke with Rome and became Supreme Governor of the Church of England, Spain, through its Most Catholic King merrily went on choosing bishops and thumbed its nose at the papacy.

Secular powers also enjoyed vetoing the election of popes. In 1846, Metternich was determined to veto the election of Cardinal Mastai-Ferretti, but his delegate got to the conclave too late, and the unwanted cardinal was elected, as Pius IX, remaining on the throne while wars echoed around him until 1878.


Truth and Lies about Poverty

Truth and Lies about Poverty

In 1753 John Wesley said, “So wickedly, devilishly false is that common objection, ‘They are poor, only because they are idle’.”

Yet today church-goers and the general public alike are willing to believe that the key factors driving poverty in the UK are the personal failings of the poor – especially ‘idleness’.

Truth and Lies about Poverty

The lies we tell ourselves: ending comfortable myths about poverty

This report from the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church, the Church of Scotland and the United Reformed Church lays bare six myths about the poor which enable the majority to live with the comfortable assumption that both poverty and wealth are deserved.

Download the full report Truth and lies about poverty

Tell your MP

Let your MP know that you care. We have sent a copy of this report to every MP in the country. Now they need to know that their constituents care about this issue. We want you to write to your MP – ask them to ensure that they read the report and listen to its recommendations. Email your MP now!

Tell your local newspaper editor

Use Church Action on Poverty’s web tool to ask the editor, journalists and readers of your local newspaper to think carefully about the labels they use – and the people behind those labels.

Meet your MP

Set up a meeting with your MP to talk about the issues raised in the report, and to ask them to help stop lies about poverty permeating public debate.

More resources

Truth and Lies references and data

Pocket guideTruth and Lies handy pocket guide

You’re stuck down the pub/cafe/watercooler with people repeating the old chestnuts they’ve read in the [insert name of newspaper]. But now you can pull out this handy pocket guide and refute those myths with facts. Print it out and stick it in your pocket. Or print a few and share them round.


spendShare the Truth and Lies Infographics

The true facts about poverty told in arresting images. Share them on Facebook, Twitter, or create your own.



Truth and Lies about Poverty

Use the Truth and Lies about Poverty Twitter avatar

Right-click the image and save to your computer, then edit your twitter profile and upload the image.

Please use the hashtag #liesaboutpoverty


Read real-life stories from people who have experienced poverty in the UK. Listen to Sarah’s story here.
Neil’s story here.

Resources for churches

Find a short list of helpful resources to help churches respond to poverty here

See Applecart’s short and sweet video Poor People – The Factual Facts based on the Truth and lies report.

Use or adapt this Powerpoint presentation to explain the Truth and lies about poverty report


On 7 June, churches and charities from all four nations of the UK, came together to write to the Prime Minister to ask that government ministers cease to say untrue things about those in poverty.

Read the full letter to David Cameron

  • Letter to Prime Minister docx and pdf
  • Appendix 1 explaining the errors in detail. docx and pdf
  • Appendix 2 outlining misleading coverage prompted by the claims. docx and pdf