Northern Ireland census shows more Catholics than Protestants
More people in Northern Ireland now identify as Catholic than Protestant for the first time in the history of the jurisdiction, new census figures reveal. The data has led to calls for a referendum for voters to decide whether to remain part of Britain or join with the rest of Ireland and form a new country. It comes 101 years after Northern Ireland was established in the six northeastern counties on the island of Ireland, remaining part of Britain when the 26 southern counties won independence from British rule. The proportion of the resident population that is either Catholic or brought up Catholic is 45.7%, compared to 43.5% Protestant.
Welcome, support, accompany all migrants, pope says
Marking the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis called on everyone to work together to build a more inclusive and fraternal future. “Migrants are to be welcomed, accompanied, supported and integrated,” he said Sept. 25 before praying the Angelus with those gathered for an outdoor Mass closing Italy’s National Eucharistic Congress in the southern Italian city of Matera. “Let us renew our commitment to building the future in accordance with God’s plan: a future in which every person may find his or her place and be respected; in which migrants, refugees, displaced persons and the victims of human trafficking may live in peace and with dignity,” he said.
Church says no to processions after police surround parish
Police in Nicaragua have thwarted the celebration of feast day processions for patron saints in a city considered iconic for the ruling Sandinista regime, which continues increasing its repression of the Catholic Church.BPolice have surrounded parishes in the city of Masaya, 18 miles south of the capital, Managua, to prevent parishioners from removing statues of their patron saints and holding processions, according to videos posted on social media. In a Sept. 17 statement, the Archdiocese of Managua said processions in Masaya to celebrate St. Michael the Archangel Sept. 29 and St. Jerome Sept. 30 would not be allowed “for security reasons.”
‘Enough is enough,’ say bishops after kidnapping, church burning
Catholic bishops in Cameroon’s war-torn English-speaking regions said they were left in “shock and utter horror” following the burning of a church and the kidnapping of five priests, a nun and three laypeople. The incident occurred Sept. 16 at the St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Nchang, in southwestern Cameroon. The people kidnapped were taken to an unknown destination in the surrounding forests. The kidnappers, identified only as separatists, are asking the church to pay a ransom of $50,000, a request the church has rejected.
Bishops speak against transport of migrants
Several U.S. Catholic bishops criticized the actions of Republican politicians who have recently begun to send out of their states groups of women, children and men seeking refuge. They said these politicians are falsely telling the migrants that work, food and other benefits await them if they get on planes to other locales, but instead the only thing they find on the other end of the trip is confusion. “The problem is not the refugees, it is leaders that cannot accept: We are one with humanity,” San Antonio Archbishop García-Siller said, adding that he would be praying for “conversion of heart” and for the protection of brothers and sisters in need. He was one of several bishops to speak out after two groups of mostly Venezuelan migrants were flown Sept. 14 to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Bill calls for protecting pregnancy care centers, investigating attacks
House sponsors of a new bill to protect pregnancy centers said the measure would require the Biden administration to publicly disclose how it is handling the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators of violent attacks on pregnancy resource centers around the country. “My goal is to foster an environment where no woman feels like their only option is abortion, and I am committed to supporting women and children at every stage of life,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., who co-sponsored the bill with Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J. The Protect Pregnancy Care Centers Act of 2022 quickly garnered 28 co-sponsors. Nearly 70 acts of violence against such centers have been recorded since May, when a draft opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case was leaked.
Top photo: A man walks past a Marian mural in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Feb. 20, 2013. Data from the 2021 census showed 45.7% of respondents identified as Catholic or were brought up Catholic, compared with 43.5% identifying as Protestants, the first time in more than a century that Catholics outnumber Protestants. (CNS photo/Cathal McNaughton, Reuters)