We begin in Rome today at the Pope’s weekly general audience where he continued his catechesis on Baptism. He invited parents and godparents to teach children to make the sign of the cross correctly. “The sign of the cross”, he said, “is a reminder of who we are and to whom we belong”. Here now is a report from Vatican News.
Now, before the General Audience today, Tom Evans, the father of the seriously ill child Alfie Evans, met with the Pope pleading for "asylum" so that his son, who has a rare brain disease, may receive care in Italy, and not be euthanized in England. CNS has this report.
During the private meeting, the child’s father asked the Pope to speak out publicly in support of Alfie during the general audience, which the Holy Father gladly did.
This plea to the Pope comes as Alfie’s parents are fighting to take the child to Rome for further treatment at Bambino Gesu hospital but, a high court ruling in the UK is preventing that from happening after judges concluded that the child is in a semi-vegetative state and further treatment would be futile.
In China, Catholics in the Henan province are being warned that churches and other Catholic venues will be closed if they do not adhere to the revised government regulations on religious affairs.
UCAN News is reporting that a clampdown on religious freedom has intensified in China in recent months, with crosses removed from churches, church-run kindergartens forcibly closed, and minors banned from entering churches.
New government rules include a ban on religious venues holding any training sessions and a ban on children being brought to church by parents.
The Religious Affairs Bureau in the country adopted the principle of separating education and religion, so religions must not intervene in national and public education. The government is warning Catholics to follow "the principle of religion and education separation" and threatened that if anyone did not follow the rules, authorities would pursue the person responsible and close the venue.
And finally tonight, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops addressed the media today in a press conference, to provide clarity on their response to residential schools issue and also to set the record straight about the misconceptions that Pope Francis has “refused” to apologize to Indigenous peoples of Canada for the Church’s role in the historic Residential School abuses.
A recent letter from the CCCB President, Bishop Lionel Gendron to Indigenous Peoples has been widely misunderstood and reported by media that the Pope has refused to apologize to Indigenous Peoples, causing an uproar among the native community and undermining current reconciliation efforts.
The press conference held today in Ottawa at Parliament Hill was an opportunity for the Bishops to provide facts and clarity on reported misinformation and misunderstandings.
I will have more details and commentary from the press conference on tomorrow's show so be sure to tune in. In the meantime, all the materials provided by the Bishops to media is available on our website listed below.
That is all that we have time for today. Join us again tomorrow, when I bring you more news and stories from the Perspectives of a Catholic Lens.