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Filipino Catholic Church presents official portrait of 13-year-old girl considered for sainthood

The official portrait of Servant of God Niña Ruíz-Abad was presented to the public during the opening session of the diocesan phase of her cause for beatification and canonization at the Cathedral Church of St. William the Hermit in Laoag City on Sunday, April 7, 2024. / Credit: Portrait of Catholic Saints, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

ACI Prensa Staff, Apr 9, 2024 / 16:30 pm (CNA).

The official portrait of Servant of God Niña Ruíz-Abad was presented April 7 during the opening of the diocesan phase of her cause for canonization at St. William Cathedral in the town of Laoag located in the Ilocos Norte region of the Philippines.

If canonized, the young Filipina, who died in 1993 at age 13, could become one of the youngest saints in history.

The proceedings, including the Mass celebrated by Renato Mayugba, the bishop of Laoag, were posted on Facebook. The ceremony began with a procession of members of the Diocese of Laoag followed by the reading of Ruíz-Abad’s biography and the presentation of documents to the bishop, who approved them as legitimate.

Next, the documents were handed over to the officials of the diocesan tribunal, appointed by the local bishop, who will receive the testimonies of the people who knew the servant of God. This tribunal does not issue any ruling because it is reserved to the Vatican Dicastery for the Causes of Saints.

The documents also included testimonies of alleged miracles that may have occurred through the intercession of Ruíz-Abad before the opening of the canonization process. In one case, a student at Holy Spirit Academy in the city of Laoag had been seriously sick and said she was miraculously cured after praying to the Filipina teenager.

During the ceremony, Ruíz-Abad’s first relic was also unveiled, which consisted of a reliquary with a small piece of cloth that came from her clothing.

Ruíz-Abad, who died in August 1993, had a great impact through her devotion to God and her acts of charity despite suffering from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, an incurable heart disease that was diagnosed with when she was 10 years old.

Thirty years after her death, in July 2023, the formal request to open an investigation into the life of the Filipina teenager was approved by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

The CBCP previously noted that Ruiz-Abad could serve as a “good model of piety and fortitude” for today’s youth.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Arizona Supreme Court upholds law protecting life throughout pregnancy

The State Supreme Court building in Phoenix. / Credit: Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Apr 9, 2024 / 15:45 pm (CNA).

The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that a law protecting unborn life from abortion beginning at conception can soon take effect. 

The court ruled that state law does not guarantee a right to an abortion and that an 1864 law prohibiting all abortions can take effect in 14 days, pending any further constitutional challenges.

The 1864 law allows for exceptions in cases in which the mother’s life is in danger but does not grant exceptions for cases of rape or incest. 

The 4-2 decision issued Tuesday found that the Arizona Constitution “does not create a right to, or otherwise provide independent statutory authority” for abortion and that any guarantees to a right to abortion in the state were predicated on the now overturned Roe v. Wade precedent.

“To date, our Legislature has never affirmatively created a right to, or independently authorized, elective abortion. We defer, as we are constitutionally obligated to do, to the Legislature’s judgment, which is accountable to, and thus reflects, the mutable will of our citizens,” the ruling said.

“The Legislature has demonstrated its consistent design to restrict elective abortion to the degree permitted by the Supremacy Clause and an unwavering intent since 1864 to proscribe elective abortions absent a federal constitutional right.”

The decision negates a lower court’s ruling that a 15-week abortion limit passed by the Legislature in 2022 voided the 1864 law. 

There is a 14-day stay on the enforcement of the law.

This means that the law protecting life from conception remains blocked for now but could go into effect in a few weeks.

A new constitutional amendment guaranteeing a right to abortion will likely be on the ballot in Arizona this November. Arizona for Abortion Access PAC has filed language with the Secretary of State that could result in a vote on abortion in 2024. On April 3, the group surpassed the required number of signatures to get their initiative on the November ballot. The secretary of state’s office has yet to verify the signatures which must happen before the initiative will officially be on the ballot.

If this abortion amendment passes it would likely overrule today’s decision, invalidating most of the state’s pro-life laws.

New complaints of abuse by Father Rupnik presented to Vatican

Father Marko Rupnik. / Credit: Photo courtesy of the Diocese of Rome

ACI Prensa Staff, Apr 9, 2024 / 15:00 pm (CNA).

Five new complaints of alleged abuse committed by Father Marko Rupnik have been presented to the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, where an investigation into the case is being carried out after Pope Francis decided to lift the statute of limitations.

The new cases mark the latest development in the case of Rupnik, a Jesuit accused of having committed serious sexual, spiritual, and psychological abuse against at least 20 women over a period of decades.

As reported by the Italian news agency Ansa, the testimonies of five alleged victims were presented at the Vatican dicastery by Italian lawyer Laura Sgrò on April 3.

The complainants include two women who shared their testimony at a press conference in February, while the other three are heretofore unknown cases.

On Feb. 21, Mirjam Kovac (who said she suffered spiritual and psychological abuse but not sexual) and Gloria Branciani recounted during a press conference in Rome what they experienced in the Loyola Community, an institution co-founded by Rupnik in Slovenia in the early 1990s.

During the unusual press conference, the former women religious shared their testimony and were accompanied by Sgró, known for also being the lawyer of Pietro Orlandi, brother of Emanuela, the young woman who disappeared from the Vatican in the 1980s, as well as by her participation in the Vatileaks case.

What is known about the investigation into the case?

No update on the investigation into Rupnik had come to light since Pope Francis lifted the statute of limitations on the case last October.

As reported by the Holy See, the pontiff asked the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith to review the complaints to begin a new process.

However, the unexpected public appearance of two alleged victims marked a turn of events.

Hours after the end of the extensive and heavily attended press conference held in Rome, the Holy See’s press office issued a statement through a brief email addressed to journalists accredited to the Vatican.

The email noted that “the case is currently being examined by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith” and that “in recent months, following the order received from the pope at the end of October, the dicastery has contacted the institutions involved in various capacities in the matter to receive all the information available about the case.”

The Vatican communications department added that it is now a matter of “studying the documentation acquired to determine what procedures will be possible and useful to apply” after having expanded the scope of the search “to realities not previously contacted” and after having received their responses. 

As of yet, Rupnik has not made any statement. While his case is being examined, he has remained in Rome and has continued to exercise his priestly ministry after being incardinated into a Slovenian diocese.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Missouri governor denies clemency to death row inmate despite Catholic protests

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signs a bill in 2020. / Credit: Office of Missouri Governor/Wikimedia, CC BY 2.0

St. Louis, Mo., Apr 9, 2024 / 14:15 pm (CNA).

Republican Gov. Mike Parson of Missouri on Monday denied a request for clemency brought by convicted murderer Brian Dorsey, who is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection the evening of April 9 in the state’s first execution of 2024.

Dorsey, 52, was arrested in 2006 and later convicted of shooting and killing his cousin Sarah Bonnie and her husband Ben. Dorsey’s lawyers argued that he was in a drug-induced psychosis, as he was suffering from chronic depression and addicted to crack cocaine at the time of the killings. 

The Catholic bishops of Missouri had strongly urged the faithful to contact Parson and ask him to stay Dorsey’s execution, citing Catholic teaching on the inadmissability of the death penalty. Had Parson granted Dorsey clemency, it would have been his first time granting clemency to a death row inmate during his six-year governorship. Missouri is among the most prolific of all U.S. states when it comes to the death penalty, having carried out four executions in 2023 alone and being one of only five states to carry out executions last year.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, reflecting an update promulgated by Pope Francis in 2018, describes the death penalty as “inadmissible” and an “attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person” (No. 2267). The change reflects a development of Catholic doctrine in recent years. St. John Paul II, calling the death penalty “cruel and unnecessary,” encouraged Christians to be “unconditionally pro-life” and said that “the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil.”

Dorsey’s death sentence has garnered scrutiny. During more than 17 years spent on death row, Dorsey incurred zero infractions and served as a barber for other prisoners and wardens, staff, and chaplains — trusted using potentially deadly instruments. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, a group of 72 current and former Missouri correctional officers submitted and signed a letter vouching for his character and asking Parson to grant Dorsey clemency and commute his death sentence. 

Additionally, Dorsey’s attorneys have argued that the Missouri Department of Corrections’ execution protocols, which include the practice of “cut down,” or cutting into the person to set an IV line, will prevent Dorsey “from having any meaningful spiritual discussion or participation in his last religious rites with his spiritual adviser,” the Kansas City Star reported. 

Despite his apparent rehabilitation, the Missouri Supreme Court scheduled Dorsey’s execution last December. Dorsey has appealed his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which could still halt his execution despite Parson’s denial of clemency. 

The Missouri Catholic Conference, which advocates for public policy on behalf of the state’s five bishops, said that in addition to the fact that Dorsey “endured substantial mental and physical childhood trauma,” he also has claimed ineffective assistance of counsel, as his attorneys at the time — who were being paid a small flat fee to defend him — entered him into a plea deal without contesting the possibility of capital punishment. 

In addition to submitting a clemency request to Parson, the Missouri Catholic Conference hosted a “respectful protest” outside the governor’s office at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday. The conference had urged the public to attend the protest and to contact the governor to express their support for clemency. 

“The Catholic Church is strongly opposed to the death penalty because it disregards the sanctity and dignity of human life,” the conference noted. 

Idaho teen arrested for plot to attack churches, kill Christians for ISIS

The Department of Justice announced the arrest of Alexander Scott Mercurio, 18, after he allegedly plotted to kill Christians and burn down churches in his town to further the mission of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). / Credit: U.S. Department of Justice

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Apr 9, 2024 / 13:30 pm (CNA).

The Department of Justice (DOJ) arrested an 18-year-old man from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, who allegedly planned to kill Christians and burn down churches in his town to further the mission of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The DOJ’s criminal complaint alleges that Alexander Scott Mercurio intended to kill Christians in the nearest church, burn the building to the ground, then hijack a car and do the same at other nearby churches. He planned to handcuff his father and tape his father’s mouth shut so he could steal his guns to commit the attacks, according to the DOJ allegations.

According to the DOJ, Mercurio landed on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) radar when he tried to provide financial support to foreign terrorist organizations, including ISIS, when he was 17 years old. He later communicated with individuals whom he believed were affiliated with ISIS but were actually confidential FBI sources, the complaint alleges.

Mercurio allegedly told these sources he planned to attack the churches on April 8, which was two days before the end of Ramadan and the celebration of Eid al-Fitr. The DOJ also alleges that he swore an oath to ISIS and purchased materials with which he planned to carry out the attack, including butane canisters.

Mercurio was charged with attempting to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization and faces up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted.

“Thanks to the investigative efforts of the FBI, the defendant was taken into custody before he could act, and he is now charged with attempting to support ISIS’s mission of terror and violence,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “The Justice Department will continue to relentlessly pursue, disrupt, and hold accountable those who would commit acts of terrorism against the people and interests of the United States.”

According to messages allegedly sent by Mercurio to an encrypted group chat that sought to facilitate funds for Islamic terrorist organizations, the then-17-year-old said he had “very Christian and conservative parents.” He allegedly told an FBI source that his family “oppresses” him by discouraging him from being Muslim. 

In December 2023, when he was expressing doubts about committing an act of terror, Mercurio allegedly told one of the FBI sources that he “just want[ed] to die and have all my problems go away.” On April 3, he allegedly met with one of the FBI sources and expressed his intent to go through with the attacks. He also allegedly told sources he wanted to be a martyr for Islam.

“This case should be an eye-opener to the dangers of self-radicalization, which is a real threat to our communities,” Special Agent Shohini Sinha of the Salt Lake City FBI said in a statement. 

Seton Hall University names priest president following resignation of previous president

President's Hall, Seton Hall University. / Credit: Wikimedia/cc by sa 3.0

CNA Staff, Apr 9, 2024 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

A Catholic university in New Jersey returned to its historic tradition of naming a “priest-president” following the previous president’s abrupt resignation and lawsuit against the school. 

Seton Hall University, one of the oldest diocesan-run universities in the nation, on April 2 announced Monsignor Joseph Reilly as the 22nd president of the university. Reilly is an alumnus of the university and the current vice provost of academics and Catholic identity.

The 168-year-old university had a “priest-president” for 146 years of its history, and Reilly’s appointment marks a “return” to the tradition, the university press release noted.

Reilly will take over from interim president Katia Passerini, who took up the role after former Seton Hall president Joseph Nyre’s resignation in July 2023.

Nyre and his wife, Kelli, filed a lawsuit alleging that the former chairman of the university’s board of regents, Kevin Marino, had intimidated Nyre and sexually harassed his wife by kissing and touching her.

The suit alleged that the university violated New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act. Nyre also alleged that Seton Hall engaged in discrimination and retaliation, and breach of the separation and general release agreement.

Laurie Pine, a spokeswoman for the school, said the allegations were “completely without merit” in a February statement.

An independent financial review uncovered a series of embezzlement schemes by a “small number of trusted, longtime employees of Seton Hall Law,” Marino and Nyre announced in a joint email to the university in December 2022.

The university, which is home to Immaculate Conception Seminary and St. Andrew’s Hall seminary, also suffered under the leadership of the disgraced former cardinal and former archbishop of Newark Theodore McCarrick.

McCarrick “used his position of power as then-archbishop of Newark to sexually harass seminarians,” according to a university statement in 2019. 

Seton Hall has about 10,000 students, including 6,000 undergraduates. Cardinal Joseph Tobin, the archbishop of Newark and chair of the board of trustees, and president of the board of regents, said in an April 2 statement that he is “confident” that Reilly will be “an outstanding president.”

“In my service with Monsignor Reilly on the board of trustees, he impressed me with his abiding faith, keen intellect, and genuine care for the entire university,” he said.  

The current chair of the board of regents and the presidential search committee, Hank D’Alessandro, said that Reilly “was the ideal choice.”

“He possesses a deep faith in God and a demonstrable commitment to nurturing our students to greatness as we advance among the nation’s foremost Catholic universities,” D’Alessandro said in the statement. 

“There is no one better suited to leading the university at this moment — a time when Seton Hall stands at the cusp of extraordinary progress,” he said. 

Reilly attended Seton Hall Prep and graduated from Seton Hall University in 1987. After he was ordained a priest in 1991, he returned as rector of the college seminary in 2002. 

Reilly served as dean of the Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology from 2012 to 2022 and most recently served as vice provost of academics and Catholic identity. 

Reilly said he is both “profoundly grateful” and “exceedingly energized” to take on the role.

“Seton Hall is the place where I have come to know the truth about God, about who I am before God, and about what contribution to society that God is inviting me to make,” he said. 

In 2005, St. John Paul II named Reilly as a chaplain to his holiness, and in 2015 Pope Francis appointed him as a missionary of mercy. 

Reilly has a bachelor’s degree in sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, a licentiate in sacred theology from Pontificio Istituto Teresianum in Rome, and a doctorate in educational administration from Fordham University.   

Reilly also served on the Faithful Citizenship Strategy Committee and the Catholic Social Teaching Task Force for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

“I cannot wait to engage our community as together we strive to bring new life to the timeless Catholic mission that makes Seton Hall unique among American universities,” Reilly said. 

Baltimore archbishop attends bankruptcy hearing, listens to testimony from abuse victims

null / orgarashu / Shutterstock.

CNA Staff, Apr 9, 2024 / 12:30 pm (CNA).

Baltimore Archbishop William Lori on Monday attended a hearing at a U.S. bankruptcy court in which several witnesses testified on the abuse they endured at the hands of Church officials. 

The archdiocese said in a release on Monday that the archbishop “attended [the hearing] in which victim-survivors of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church offered statements as part of the proceedings associated with the archdiocese’s filing for Chapter 11 reorganization.” 

The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in September of last year in response to a looming wave of sex-abuse-related lawsuits. Lori at the time said filing for bankruptcy ensured that “victim-survivors will be equitably compensated” and the Church would be able to “continue its mission and ministries.”

After the sealed hearing on Monday at U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland, Lori said he was “deeply grateful to the victim-survivors for their courage today [and] moved by their heartrending experience.” 

“To the victim-survivors who long to hear that someone is sorry for the trauma they endured and for its life-altering consequences — I am deeply sorry,” the archbishop said. 

“I offer my sincerest apology on behalf of the archdiocese for the terrible harm caused to them by representatives of the Church. What happened to them never should have occurred. No child should ever, ever suffer such harm.”

The archbishop in his statement urged that “the focus today be on the courage and bravery of the women and men who offered their statements and to those they represent.”

The archdiocese said on Monday that meeting with abuse victims is “part of the Church’s pastoral response to those who have courageously reported their abuse.” 

“That response also includes comprehensive policies that seek to root out abuse from the life of the Church and support victim-survivors in ways that contribute to their healing,” the statement said.

Pope Francis appoints new bishop of Charlotte, North Carolina

Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Diocese of Charlotte Bishop Peter Jugis (left) and appointed Monsignor Michael Martin, OFM Conv, to take his place, the Vatican announced April 9, 2024. / Credit: Diocese of Charlotte

CNA Staff, Apr 9, 2024 / 10:40 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, Bishop Peter Jugis and appointed a new prelate to take his place, the Vatican announced on Tuesday.

The Holy Father “has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Charlotte, United States of America, presented by Bishop Peter Joseph Jugis,” the Holy See Press Office said in an announcement.

Jugis, 67, had served as the bishop there since 2003. The Charlotte bishopric encompasses about 20,000 square miles and includes more than 500,000 Catholics.

The Vatican said 63-year-old Monsignor Michael Martin, OFM Conv, had been appointed to replace Jugis as the leader of the southern U.S. diocese. Martin, a Baltimore native, was ordained a priest in 1989 and has served at a variety of roles in New York, Maryland, and North Carolina, including as the director of the Duke University Catholic Center.

He was most recently a parish priest of St. Philip Benizi in Jonesboro, Georgia.

The Catholic News Herald, the official newspaper of the Charlotte Diocese, said in an announcement that Jugis had retired “due to health limitations.”

“Bishop Jugis submitted his request for retirement to Rome last June, saying a chronic but non-life-threatening kidney condition made it difficult for him to preside over lengthy liturgies and travel across the 46 counties of the expansive diocese,” the News Herald said.

Jugis “will serve as administrator of the diocese until May when Bishop-elect Martin is installed,” the newspaper said, after which he “will continue to assist the diocese as bishop emeritus.”

Martin told the newspaper that he was “amazed and humbled that the Holy Father has faith in me to call me to serve the people of western North Carolina.”

“I am excited to get to know you and to listen to the ways in which together we can respond to the call of the Holy Spirit to be disciples of Jesus,” he said.

Jugis, meanwhile, said in the report that “as difficult as it is for me to leave this position that I love, I am confident that God has a plan in bringing us Bishop-elect Martin, and I will do everything I can to support his ministry.”

“It has truly been the joy of a lifetime to serve as bishop for the people of our diocese, and I believe Bishop-elect Martin will find that to be true for him as he gets to know the faithful of our diocese and sees firsthand our many ministries that are dedicated to sharing the love of Christ in our communities,” Jugis said.

The News Herald said last year that the diocese has witnessed “unprecedented growth” over the last few decades.

In 2019, confirmations in the diocese topped 5,000 for the first time. In 2023, meanwhile, diocesan schools posted record enrollment of more than 8,000 students.

Over the course of Jugins’ bishopric, the number of Catholics in the diocese “more than doubled to an estimated 530,000,” the News Herald reported.

The diocese recently announced, meanwhile, that it would build a new cathedral in Charlotte, having outgrown the original cathedral built in 1939.

More than 700 baptized on Easter in Nigeria despite rise in attacks on Christians

Bishop Gerald Mamman Musa of Nigeria’s Catholic Diocese of Katsina. / Credit: Abuja Archdiocese

ACI Africa, Apr 9, 2024 / 08:00 am (CNA).

More than 700 Christians were baptized on Easter Sunday in Nigeria’s Catholic Diocese of Katsina, where there is a rise in attacks mainly targeting Christian communities.

In an April 3 interview with ACI Africa, CNA’s news partner in Africa, Bishop Gerald Mamman Musa rejoiced at the successful celebration of Easter — the diocese’s first. The Diocese of Katsina was just erected by Pope Francis in October 2023. 

“It was a very great celebration as we had priests gathered in the cathedral for that celebration for the first time,” the 53-year-old bishop said.

“Despite the insecurity challenges we face as a diocese, we had over 700 people who were baptized and received holy Communion. That is an incredible number,” Musa said.

“This tells us that in little ways, God is at work. Even in places that are remote, even in places that you think are having a Christian minority, God is at work,” the bishop said. “And we thank God for the harvest that we have. Harvest in terms of the increasing number of members that we have.”

“We believe that with time, we will have a greater number of people who are converting to the faith, a greater number of people who are going to be baptized. We believe that we’ll have a greater number of people who will be more committed to their faith,” Musa told ACI Africa.

He continued: “The challenge we’re having, which affects evangelization, is the challenge of insecurity.”

The bishop noted that in the southern part of the state thousands of people had already been displaced by those he described as “bandits.”

He said that during the Lenten season, he visited 45 families who were displaced from local governments in Katsina state. “And they are not just the only ones,” Musa said. “There are about 300 communities that have been displaced.” 

“This affects the work of evangelization because these people have a church. They had to vacate the church to go somewhere else and live,” he said. “They want to go back to their homeland, but it is difficult because the insecurity challenge is still there.”

Musa is still hopeful that his diocese will continue to sustain new converts who have embraced the faith. 

“We want to develop a system whereby those who are converted to the faith, as well as those who are in the faith, will have a good formation. And we want to develop long-term formation,” he said.

“Formation does not end only with catechism that prepares us for holy Communion. Formation does not only end with catechism when we are preparing for baptism. But faith formation should last throughout life so that our people continue to grow in the faith,” he said.

This article was first published by ACI Africa, CNA’s news partner in Africa, and has been adapted by CNA.

Catholic bishop protests deportation by Mexican immigration authorities

Bishop Joseph Khawam is apostolic exarch for the Melkite Church in Venezuela and apostolic administrator of the Melkite Eparchy in Mexico. / Credit: Facebook screenshot/Bishop Joseph Khawam

ACI Prensa Staff, Apr 9, 2024 / 07:00 am (CNA).

A bishop of the Melkite rite, one of the more than 20 Eastern rites of the Catholic Church that are in communion with Rome, protested the mistreatment he says he received and his subsequent deportation after arriving at Mexico City International Airport.

Bishop Joseph Khawam, apostolic exarch for the Melkite Church in Venezuela and apostolic administrator of the Melkite Eparchy in Mexico, denounced that Mexican immigration authorities detained him for hours with illegal immigrants, confiscated his Vatican passport and his personal phone, and deported him to Venezuela from where he had flown to Mexico.

In a statement posted April 6 on Facebook and Instagram, the prelate of Syrian origin said he “deplores and denounces” what reportedly happened on the night of April 2-3 at the airport in Mexico’s capital city.

The statement said the Melkite bishop said that what happened to him is “a flagrant practice of racial discrimination and an insult to human dignity above all, given that his nationality of origin in the Vatican passport is Syrian and that he was treated by the authorities on this basis.”

Khawam said that what happened is “a violation of human rights and a violation of international conventions that regulate the matter.”

The prelate specified that this “is a great insult to the universal Church and the Church of Mexico in particular [in the legal capacity that he represents as apostolic administrator]” since he “was in his official clerical dress with the cross.”

In the statement, the Catholic bishop also charged that the authorities at the airport refused “to see all the documents and credentials that he carried and that accredited his legal identity as apostolic administrator in the Mexican Catholic Church.”

Khawam arrived in Mexico among other reasons to participate in the plenary assembly of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference that is being held from April 8–12.

The prelate, the statement noted, requested on several occasions that the authorities contact the apostolic nunciature in Mexico or Father Alfonso Serna, legal representative of the Meltkite Eparchy in Mexico, who was expecting him, “but the response to his request was rejected several times.”

The apostolic administrator of the Melkite Church in Mexico urged authorities to “provide a general explanation for this strange and reprehensible incident” and compensate him for the harm he suffered.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.