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UPDATE: Local 22-year-old man in custody in July Fourth parade shooting in Illinois

First responders take away victims from the scene of a mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade on July 4, 2022 in Highland Park, Illinois. At least six people were killed and 19 injured, according to published reports. / Jim Vondruska/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 4, 2022 / 17:55 pm (CNA).

Robert E. Crimo III, a 22-year-old from Highland Park, was apprehended late Monday in connection with a mass shooting during the Chicago suburb's Fourth of July parade, authorities said.

Crimo had been identified earlier in the day as a person of interest in the shooting, which left at least six dead and 19 injured.

Authorities believe the shooter opened fire from a rooftop along the parade route with a high-powered rifle. The shooting started at 10:14 a.m. local time and set off a panicked escape from the area.

Police crime tape is seen around the area where children's bicycles and baby strollers stand near the scene of the Fourth of July parade shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, on July 4, 2022. Youngrae Kim/AFP via Getty Images
Police crime tape is seen around the area where children's bicycles and baby strollers stand near the scene of the Fourth of July parade shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, on July 4, 2022. Youngrae Kim/AFP via Getty Images

Photos from the scene showed toppled lawn chairs and children’s bicycles abandoned on the sidewalk.

Highland Park is an affluent suburb about 20 miles north of Chicago along Lake Michigan.

In a statement, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago said he was praying for the victims and first responders. He also spoke out strongly against the scourge of gun violence.

“The parade reportedly had a heavy presence of police and fire vehicles, yet this shooter was able to wound at least two dozen people before he stopped, or was stopped, and fled. Victims ranged in age from 8 to 85. Weapons designed to rapidly destroy human bodies have no place in civil society,” Cupich said.

“It is barely July, and this year the United States is already experiencing more than one mass shooting a day. Chicago Police reported at least 55 shot and 7 killed since Friday, and the holiday weekend is not yet over. Gun violence is now the leading cause of death for U.S. children,” the statement continued.

“Whatever one makes of the right to bear arms, there is plenty of room for prudential judgment in interpreting the Second Amendment so as to enact serious, broadly popular gun-safety measures. The Senate finally passed a significant, yet modest, gun-safety bill last month. But clearly more must be done,” Cupich said.

“The right to bear arms does not eclipse the right to life, or the right of all Americans to go about their lives free of the fear that they might be shredded by bullets at any moment. Gun violence is a life issue. We must continue to pray that all our officials, elected and unelected alike, will redouble their commitment to keeping safe the people they have sworn to serve.”

Nigerian Christian villagers claim military helicopter fired on them, not bandits

Photo illustration of Nigerian military uniform. / Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 4, 2022 / 11:41 am (CNA).

Residents of predominantly Christian villages in north-central Nigeria that came under attack from Fulani bandits on motorcycles June 5 maintain that a government helicopter fired on the villages’ defenders, but authorities have denied the charge, saying the crew targeted the assailants.

The fighting, which lasted for several hours, took place in a group of villages about 30 miles south of Kaduna City, the capital of Kaduna. The raid left 32 villagers dead and 29 others, chiefly women, kidnapped, according to media reports and security authorities.

In its aftermath, authorities have sought to reassure residents that the government is on their side in the bloody conflict with Fulani bandits.

“An air force helicopter (under operation whirl punch) dispatched to the area, intercepted the bandits at the last location (Ungwan Maikori) and engaged them as they retreated, before the arrival of ground troops to the general area,” Samuel Aruwan, the state commissioner for internal security, said in a June 7 statement posted on Facebook.

But eyewitnesses and others who spoke to CNA say perhaps hundreds of villagers saw the helicopter fired on armed locals who were trying to ward off more than 200 invaders.

“The whole village saw the helicopter firing at the residents,” said Jonathan Asake, the head of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) who coordinated a meeting of villagers two days after the attack. 

In addition, Rev. Denis Sani, head of the local Evangelical Church Winning All as well as an elder advisor to volunteer neighborhood watchmen, told the conflict reporter Masara Kim that no ground troops arrived to rescue residents in Makori, one of the villages that came under attack.

Sani told CNA that the helicopter fired with a submachine gun toward him and his fellow civilian guards, forcing him and his assistant, Jonah Greece, to withdraw toward the forest to gain cover. 

“We pulled back to avoid getting killed, allowing the terrorists to enter the village,” Greece told CNA.

Defending their homes

“The attack started as we were ending our church services on Sunday around noon,” said Greece, a community medical practitioner in Maikori. 

Since the village had suffered a massacre by terrorists in March 2019 and an attack earlier this year, the able-bodied men formed a defensive perimeter around the approaches to Maikori.

“There were no military or police in the village, but about 40 to 50 men gathered up their hunting rifles,” Greece explained.

Sani called for the men of the village of Maikori to position themselves behind trees and tall grass. The attackers were mounted on 70 motorbikes, three fighters on each bike.

Greece said the attackers first swarmed through the neighboring village of Dogon Noma, burning houses and firing at villagers fleeing into the forest. Then they mounted their bikes and headed into Maikori where Sani and the defenders ambushed them with their homemade hunting rifles and pump shotguns, Greece said.

At approximately 1 p.m. the villagers noticed a helicopter variously described as white or “silver” hovering over Maikori and firing vertically down at the defenders, Greece said.

Claims denied

Nigerian media have reported that the claim that the helicopter fired on village defenders has been debunked. Villagers, however, are standing by their account.

To clear the air on disputed versions of the incident seven heads of state police agencies met with village leaders on June 20 in Kufana. 

“Aruwan said while the Government had not totally succeeded in its primary assignment, it was however doing its best to ensure that they had come also to clarify some lingering ‘misrepresentations’ being championed by some enemies of progress and of the government,” Stingo Usman, a Christian community leader in Maraban Kajuru who attended the meeting, told CNA.

The service chiefs at the meeting asserted that “it was impossible that the army helicopter had fired on the residents,” Usman said. None of the service chiefs who spoke were present during the attack, he added.

According to Stingo Usman, Ibrahim Usman, the village head of Dogon Noma, contradicted Aruwan’s account. The village head told the authorities at the meeting that “a helicopter arrived and the locals thought relief had come to them until they realized that they were being attacked by both the helicopter and the bandits,” Stingo Usman related to CNA in a text message.

“The youth then had to run for their lives and from that point, the armed Fulani bandits got access to the village and burned the whole village down, and also killed two people there,” Stingo Usman wrote, recounting Ibrahim Usman’s statements at the meeting.

The representative of Kajuru County in the Nigerian House of Representatives, Yakubu Umar Barde, has called for an investigation of possible complicity between the Nigerian military and the terrorists.  

In addition, calls for an internationally led forensic investigation of complicity between Muslim terrorists and rogue military units have come from Baroness Caroline Cox, a member of the United Kingdom’s House of Lords, and Gregory Stanton, a retired U.S. Foreign Service officer and the founder of Genocide Watch.

Security officials drew criticism for failing to stop the blasphemy murder of college student Deborah Emmanuel on the campus of Shehu Shegari teachers’ college in Sokoto on May 12.

There have been additional complaints lodged against the lax response by the military and police to other attacks blamed on radicalized Fulani Islamists, including a massacre Jan. 11 in Te’Egbe, in Plateau State, and on March 20 in Kagoro in southern Kaduna.

The inactivity and in some cases complicity of the military in terrorist attacks in the past has been noted by the human rights watchdog, Amnesty International.

"Amnesty International found evidence showing that security forces received information about impending attacks and in some cases, came in contact with attackers but did nothing to stop or prevent the attacks,” the organization said in a 2018 report

“Many attacks lasted for hours, in some cases days, even in communities where security forces were not far away,” the report said.

Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes dies at 87

Cardinal Cláudio Hummes arrives for the afternoon session of the Amazon Synod, October 8, 2019. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA

Sao Paulo, Brazil, Jul 4, 2022 / 09:24 am (CNA).

Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, archbishop emeritus of São Paulo, Brazil, died on Monday after a long illness.

The cardinal, who had a significant role in the 2019 Amazon Synod, was just over a month away from his 88th birthday. He died of lung cancer, according to Brazilian journalist Mirticeli Medeiros.

His death was announced July 4 by Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, current archbishop of São Paulo, who said Hummes’ body will be present for mourning and prayers in the Metropolitan Cathedral of São Paulo.

Hummes, a member of the Order of Friars Minor, was president of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM) and the newly created Ecclesial Conference of Amazonia (CEAMA).

Pope Francis appointed Hummes relator general of the Synod on the Pan-Amazonian Region and a member of the pre-synodal council. As relator general, Hummes was responsible for writing the synod’s final report.

Hummes was also prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy from 2006-2010, after being made a cardinal in 2001.

He was known for his social activism, including in the areas of climate change, poverty, and protection of indigenous peoples.

A close friend of Pope Francis, after his election, Hummes reportedly embraced him and said, “don’t forget the poor.”

The cardinal was born in Montenegro, Brazil, on Aug. 8, 1934, to a German-Brazilian father and German mother.

He took the name Cláudio when he joined the Franciscans, and was ordained a priest in 1958.

Before becoming a bishop, he taught philosophy in seminaries and a Catholic university. He was provincial superior of the Franciscans of Rio Grande do Sul from 1972-1975 and president of the Union of Latin American Conferences of Franciscans.

Hummes studied at the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey in Geneva, Switzerland, and later became an advisor for ecumenical affairs to the bishops’ conference of Brazil.

In March 1975, he was appointed coadjutor bishop of Santo André, and the following December succeeded Jorge de Oliveira as bishop.

He became archbishop of Fortaleza in 1996 and archbishop of São Paulo in 1998.

A personal way to govern: Why Pope Francis uses Apostolic Letters the way he does

Pope Francis / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Vatican City, Jul 4, 2022 / 09:06 am (CNA).

It is no coincidence that Pope Francis chose the form of an apostolic letter to write about liturgy. Nor that he chose to write it one year after the publication of the Traditionis custodes, the motu proprio with which he abolished the liberalization of the Traditional Latin Mass by Benedict XVI.

Published on June 29 and entitled Desiderio desideravi, the document not only drives home his concerns with the liturgy. It also shines a light on the thought — and the modus operandi — of Pope Francis. 

In the 15-page apostolic letter, the pope said he wanted “to invite the whole Church to rediscover, to safeguard, and to live the truth and power of the Christian celebration.”

Pope Francis also said, after writing a letter to bishops to accompany Traditionis custodes, he wished to address all Catholics with some reflections on liturgical formation, the theological importance of the Mass, and acceptance of the liturgical documents of the Second Vatican Council.

Notably, this is the 83rd time that Pope Francis has used the form of the apostolic letter to convey an authoritative opinion. 

When it comes to expressing the pope’s teaching authority, his magisterium, an apostolic letter ranks fourth in the hierarchy of pontifical documents. The most important would be an apostolic constitution, followed by a papal encyclical, and then an apostolic exhortation.

Pope Francis, however, has always favored "light" legislative instruments, which require less effort in drafting – and do not undergo a longer approval process.

An apostolic constitution, for example, must be consistent with canon law and other prescriptions of the Church. For this reason, Praedicate evangelium, which regulates the functions and offices of the Curia, has had a long gestation period and still awaits full implementation.

The same is true of a papal encyclical, which is concerned with expressing the magisterium – and cannot be linked only to contingent moments. 

The third most important kind of document, an apostolic exhortation, is a more particular and personal instrument of the pope. In the case of a post-synodal exhortation, it will draw on the fruits of a Synod of Bishops.

It is worth noting that Pope Francis' governmental program takes the form of an apostolic exhortation: Evangelii gaudium replaced the post-synodal apostolic exhortation expected after the Synod on the Word of God in 2012.

Of that synod — the last of the pontificate of Benedict XVI — no trace remains.

When Pope Francis had to legislate, he mainly used the form of a motu proprio (the Vatican website lists 49 of them) and rescripts. These are officially called rescripta ex audientia sanctissimi, i. e. orders of the Pope, written following a personal audience.

Neither of these types of decisions require approval by the Roman Curia.

The use of the apostolic letter, like an executive order, also demonstrates a development of this pontificate: Pope Francis did not initially use these as a form of government. Ultimately, however, that is how he most of all expressed his thoughts and decisions.

Beyond apostolic letters in the form of a motu proprio, which have a legal purpose and effect, the letters of Pope Francis are also instruments for addressing the people of God. 

The document Desiderio desideravi serves a variety of purposes:

  1. It is a personal letter with which Pope Francis addresses a specific theme – the liturgy.

  2. It is a letter that carries legal clout because Pope Francis reaffirms what was decided in Traditionis Custodes – and denies any possibility of liberalization of the Traditional Latin Mass.

  3. It is a letter that never mentions his predecessor Benedict XVI, whose decision he subverts, establishing a clear rupture between the before and after.

In other words, Pope Francis is using this apostolic letter in a very particular way to reinforce a personal decision.

The government of Pope Francis is deeply personal, so much so that his own point of view is expressed as magisterium.  Pope Francis thus shows himself to be a particular kind of centralizer: Faced with the various expressions of the Church, Pope Francis does not fail to enforce unity, making choices that exclude, in fact, a plurality of forms. Whoever celebrates the Traditional Latin Mass, for Pope Francis, uses a different rite, and is outside the tradition of continuity of the Church.

We might say that whenever the Pope finds resistance, he gets around it using whatever instrument is available to him. Hence, even the use of "lighter" documents ultimately constitute a form of legislation. In the end, they are the quickest means available to the Pope to govern effectively without consulting too much.

'For the moment, no. Really!' – Pope Francis dismisses resignation rumors, says health is improving

Pope Francis / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, Jul 4, 2022 / 06:12 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has said he has no plans to resign soon and that his knee injury is healing.

Reports of Francis resigning began to spread last month in light of three events to happen in late August, including the creation of new cardinals and a day trip to the Italian city of L’Aquila, which Benedict XVI visited in 2009, four years before announcing his own resignation. 

Pope Francis told Reuters in an interview published July 4 that “all of these coincidences made some think that the same ‘liturgy’ would happen. But it never entered my mind. For the moment no, for the moment, no. Really!”

The pope did say, as in the past, that he would consider resigning one day if he could no longer run the Church due to poor health, but only “God will say” when that might be.

The 90-minute interview with Reuters took place on July 2 in the Vatican’s Santa Marta guesthouse, where Pope Francis lives. He frequently holds meetings in a reception room on the building’s ground floor.

According to Reuters, the pope arrived for the interview using a cane.

He joked, “I’m still alive!” when asked how he was doing. He also explained that he had suffered “a small fracture” in his right knee after stepping wrongly with an inflamed ligament.

The fracture is healing, he said, with the help of laser and magnet therapy. “I am well, I am slowly getting better.”

Pope Francis expressed regret that, due to the knee injury, he had to cancel a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, scheduled for July 2-7, saying the decision caused him “much suffering.”

The decision came after doctors said he needs 20 more days of therapy and rest for his knee before he travels to Canada July 24-30.

The pope also brushed off rumors that he has cancer.

Some reports have claimed Francis is suffering from colon cancer after he underwent an operation to remove part of his large intestine due to diverticulitis one year ago.

“[The operation] was a great success,” he told Reuters, adding with a laugh that “they didn’t tell me anything” about the supposed cancer, which he dismissed as “court gossip.”

He added that he does not want to have surgery on his knee because of the negative side-effects of general anesthetic.

In the interview, Pope Francis also addressed the U.S Supreme Court’s recent Dobbs decision, and answered a question about pro-abortion Catholic politicians receiving Holy Communion.

He also spoke about the war in Ukraine and reiterated his desire to visit Kyiv and Moscow.

No pope has ever visited Moscow, but Francis hinted that there may now be an opening, even if Russian authorities told the Vatican several months ago it was not the right time.

“I would like to go [to Ukraine], and I wanted to go to Moscow first. We exchanged messages about this because I thought that if the Russian president gave me a small window to serve the cause of peace,” he said.

“And now it is possible,” he said, “after I come back from Canada, it is possible that I manage to go to Ukraine. The first thing is to go to Russia to try to help in some way, but I would like to go to both capitals.”

The pope said Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin has been in contact with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about a possible trip to the Russian capital.

Pope Francis condemns abortion in new comments about Roe v. Wade decision, responds to question on Communion

Pope Francis speaks to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Paul Pelosi after Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on June 29, 2022. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Jul 4, 2022 / 03:43 am (CNA).

Pope Francis condemned abortion in new comments about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

When asked whether a Catholic politician who supports the right to choose abortion can receive the sacrament of Communion, he warned of bishops losing their “pastoral nature.”

Speaking to Reuters over the weekend, the pope said he respected the ruling in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, though he did not know enough to speak about the juridical aspects.

The interview, published July 4, said Francis compared abortion to “hiring a hit man.”

“I ask: Is it legitimate, is it right, to eliminate a human life to resolve a problem?” Pope Francis said.

He was also asked about the debate over whether Catholic politicians who promote legal abortion should be admitted to Holy Communion.

In May, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was barred from receiving Communion in her home diocese of San Francisco by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone because of her advocacy of abortion.

Pelosi (D-Calif.) reportedly received Holy Communion at a Mass with Pope Francis at the Vatican on June 29. It is not clear if the pope was aware that Pelosi attended, though the Vatican issued a photo showing the two greeting each other in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Pope Francis told Reuters: “When the Church loses its pastoral nature, when a bishop loses his pastoral nature, it causes a political problem. That’s all I can say.”

The 90-minute interview in Italian took place on July 2 in a reception room on the ground floor of the Vatican’s Santa Marta guesthouse, where the pope lives.

In addition to the abortion topic, the interview covered the pope’s health, resignation rumors, and the possibility of trips to Kyiv and Moscow.

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Cardinal Hummes, known as a defender of the poor, dies at 87

Franciscan Cardinal Claudio Hummes passed away Monday at the age of 87. His many years of ministry were dedicated in particular to the accompaniment of indigenous peoples, whose voice he brought to the Synod for the Pan-Amazonian Region in 2019.

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