“We are in a supernatural struggle, even though we already know the final outcome will be Christ’s victory over the powers of evil. This victory truly takes place every time a penitent is absolved. Nothing drives away and defeats evil more than divine mercy.”
— Pope Francis, speaking March 23 with priests and seminarians attending a course at the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican tribunal dealing with matters of conscience, the sacrament of reconciliation and indulgences, and with priests who offer confession at the major basilicas of Rome
State prohibits licensing abortion clinics after May 2
A new law in Utah prohibits licensing of abortion clinics after May 2. In addition, the law states that no abortion clinic may operate in the state on or after Jan. 1, 2024. Under the new law, abortions may only be performed in hospitals, with some exceptions. HB 467, which Gov. Spencer Cox signed into law March 15, also modifies provisions that govern what constitutes a medical emergency in relation to an abortion and modifies the conditions under which an abortion may be performed to protect the life or health of the mother.
Suspect pleads not guilty in murder of L.A. Bishop O’Connell
The man suspected of killing Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop David G. O’Connell in his Hacienda Heights home pleaded not guilty at an arraignment hearing March 22. Carlos Medina, 61, has been charged with one felony count of murder and a special allegation that he used a firearm. During the arraignment at Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown LA, Superior Court Judge Armenui Amy Ashvanian ordered that Medina remain in jail in lieu of $2 million bail, and his next scheduled court appearance is May 17, when a hearing will be set to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to require him to stand trial. If convicted, Medina faces up to 35 years to life in prison.
Starbucks workers strike at 100 stores as union, coffee giant battle over wages, health care
The frappuccinos and lattes stopped flowing at more than 100 unionized U.S. Starbucks stores as workers walked off the job March 22 in protest against alleged unfair labor practices at the coffee giant. In a March 23 statement, the Catholic Labor Network said, “Starbucks has repeatedly fired or disciplined union activists; closed stores that voted the union in; and awarded raises to workers at stores that haven’t organized while denying the same raises to workers at union stores.” The Washington Post reported that Starbucks Workers United are demanding a $20/hour nationwide wage, with credit-card tipping at all stores, a guaranteed 37-hour week for full-time employees, and a 100% employer-covered health care plan for full- and part-time workers.
Retired Milwaukee priest barred from hearing confessions
A retired Milwaukee priest has been barred from hearing confession and giving absolution, following an essay he wrote favoring legislation that would require priests to report child abuse they learn of during confession. Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki of Milwaukee said in a March 22 statement that he has “immediately removed the canonical faculties” of Father James E. Connell “to validly celebrate the sacrament of confession and to offer absolution here in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and thereby also in the Catholic Church around the world.” The move followed a March 13 opinion piece by Father Connell, published through the USA Today Network, urging “all people in Delaware” to support proposed HB 74, which would repeal that state’s clergy-penitent privilege statute and mandate priests to report instances of child abuse disclosed in the confessional.
Bishops ask Vatican to consider creation of Amazonian rite
Indigenous communities in Colombia are calling for a new rite in the church that reflects their varied spiritualities and lifestyles, Colombia’s bishops said. About half of the country’s bishops met with Pope Francis March 24 to end their ad limina visit to the Vatican, the first for Colombia’s bishops since 2012. Bishop Omar de Jesús Mejía Giraldo of Florencia, whose diocese sits along the border of the Amazon rainforest, told journalists that the pope is encouraging Colombia’s bishops to continue researching an Amazonian rite and remain close to the region’s Indigenous communities. The bishop referenced the creation of the Zairean Rite used in Congo and approved by the Vatican in 1988. Priests celebrating Mass in the Zairean Rite dress in traditional African priestly vestments and dancing is permitted among the congregants, among other liturgical differences from the Roman Rite.
Late pope’s secretary says five cousins could get small inheritance
The longtime personal secretary of Pope Benedict XVI said he recently discovered the late pope had five cousins who could inherit a small amount of money. Archbishop Georg Gänswein told reporters March 19 that the small inheritance is money left in the late pope’s private bank account; he did not specify the amount, according to La Stampa, an Italian newspaper. Archbishop Gänswein also told reporters that, following the expressed desire of Pope Benedict, he has destroyed all his late boss’ personal correspondence.
DID YOU KNOW?
Pope Francis has invited Catholics worldwide to renew the act of consecrating the church and all humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine, to Mary every March 25, the feast of the Annunciation. At the end of his general audience in St. Peter’s Square March 22, the pope recalled last year’s service “when, in union with all the bishops of the world, the church and humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine, were consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” The pope invited “every believer and community, especially prayer groups, to renew every March 25 the Act of Consecration to Our Lady, so that she, who is mother, may preserve us all in unity and peace.”
Top photo: Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, left, listens as Pope Francis speaks about confession to priests, seminarians and confessors from the basilicas of Rome during a meeting in the Vatican audience hall March 23, 2023, marking the conclusion of an annual course sponsored by the penitentiary, a Vatican court dealing with matters of conscience, confession and indulgences. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)