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Pope: World needs a new Christian model of economy

Before the Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis meets 20 members of the Global Solidarity Fund (GSF) and encourages them to continue their commitment for a more inclusive economy in line with the Catholic Social teaching and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

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Davos: Church already dedicated to themes of Forum

Fr. Leonir Chiarello, the Superior General of the Scalabrinian Missionaries, tells Vatican News in Davos the Church has already been at the forefront of many WEF Forum agenda items at a global and local level, and shares success stories.

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Davos: The Church as 'global actor of solidarity'

After the pandemic and as war is waged in Ukraine, the world economy is faced with unprecedented crises previously unimaginable. The Pope's words, 'The economy kills' characterized many of the debates at the World Economic Forum in Davos. In the debates at the 'Goal 17' Forum in Davos, in which the Catholic Church also participated, speakers warned that nations are increasingly looking to their own interests.

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Texas shootings: Pope condemns indiscriminate trafficking of arms

Pope Francis calls for an end to the indiscriminate trafficking of arms on the day after 19 children and two teachers were killed in a mass shooting at an elementary school in the US state of Texas.

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‘Laudato si’ is the blueprint in South Sudan

For years, Fr. Tim Galvin didn’t pay attention to the climate crisis. But the cries of creation and of the poor grew louder and louder. Now the Laudato si’ Animator leads his South Sudan community during Laudato si’ Week.

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America loses its only Trappist brewery, amid competitive beer market 

null / Courtesy of Spencer Brewery

Denver Newsroom, May 24, 2022 / 17:27 pm (CNA).

The first and only certified Trappist brewery in the U.S. has said that it will close, citing a lack of financial viability. The monks of St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts say they will find other ways to support their life of contemplative prayer.

“After more than a year of consultation and reflection, the monks of St. Joseph’s Abbey have come to the sad conclusion that brewing is not a viable industry for us and that it is time to close the Spencer Brewery,” Spencer Brewery said on its Facebook page May 14.

“We want to thank all our customers for their support and encouragement over the years,” the brewery added. “Our beer will be available in our regular retail outlets while supplies last. Please keep us in your prayers.”

The brewery was launched in 2014 to help provide a new source of revenue for the monks. It is just one of St. Joseph’s Abbey's endeavors. 

The Trappist monks are formally known as the monks of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance, an order more than 900 years old. They follow St. Benedict’s counsel that stresses the importance of both prayer and work.

“All our activities that we do are to support our lives of prayer. Beer was a particularly interesting and engaging activity, but we’re not here for the beer,” Spencer Brewery’s director, Father William Dingwall, told The Boston Globe.

The brewery launched in 2014. Its peak production was 4,500 barrels of beer, about 60,000 beer cases, its website reports. The brewery had hoped to expand to produce 10,000 barrels of beer annually.

Its beers were distributed domestically in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia. Foreign distribution reached eight countries. 

Dingwall said that it’s understandable the brewery’s closure announcement has surprised those outside the community, but “it’s something we’ve been mulling over for the past couple of years.” 

While the brewery generated “a great deal of interest,” Dingwall said, he thought the beer market “started to change radically” and the abbey’s brewery faced more competition from craft breweries.

The monks were not willing to open a tap room, a profitable effort for many brewers. Dingwall said the brewery was located in the middle of their abbey property just a few hundred yards from the monastery and the church.

“The brothers were not in favor of adding that kind of business at the entrance to the monastery,” Dingwall told the Boston Globe.

Brewery production has ceased and Spencer Brewery will sell its equipment and any raw materials at auction. Its beers could remain on store shelves for a few months.

The Spencer Brewery website explains the monks’ approach to prayer and to work: “As Trappists, we seek to live somewhat separate from the world so that we may engage fully with our monastic community life of work and prayer. This prayer encompasses liturgies open to the public, as well as our individual prayer time, spiritual reading, study and meditation.”

St. Joseph’s Abbey hosts guests at its small retreat house and has a gift shop. It produces other products to support its 44 community members. These products include fruit and wine jellies, jams, and preserves. Its Holy Rood Guild makes and sells liturgical vestments.

The community has six brothers in initial formation, according to the abbey website.

The Cistercian order was founded in France in 1098. The Trappist community at St. Joseph’s Abbey has roots in a group of monks that arrived in North America in 1803, in the wake of the French Revolution. Its monks founded a monastery in Nova Scotia. After suffering two major fires in the late 1800s, the community moved to Rhode Island.  Another major fire in 1950 made 140 Trappist monks homeless, at which point they moved to Spencer.

The International Trappist Association has about 20 abbey members and seeks to help members produce goods and ensure high-quality products. Its website lists 13 abbeys that sell their own beer. However, the list includes both Spencer Brewery and Achel, which ceased to be a Trappist beer in 2021. 

The Trappist association website also lists three abbeys that produce their own liqueurs and two that produce their own wine. Other Trappist products include bread, cheeses, olive oil, chocolate, cookies, honey, liturgical vestments, skin care products, and household cleaning products. 

“Any economic enterprise undertaken by member communities is marked by prayer, an attitude of responsibility, and silence,” International Trappist Association said. “The Trappists, both monks and nuns, participate in management as well as production.” 

In Belgium, the beers produced at Achel Brewery no longer bear the Trappist label after the monks of Achel Abbey left in early 2021. Its last monks left for Westmalle Abbey, which also runs a brewery. At the same time, the Achel beers are still brewed under Trappist supervision and the monks have invested in a larger brewhouse.

The International Trappist Association says it will certify beer with its brand if it is brewed within the abbey grounds by the monks or under their supervision, “with business practices proper to the monastic way of life.” The brewery must not take priority over the monastery's primary work and way of life, and should be non-profit. Any funds gained through the beer will be used for the monk's living expenses, charitable causes, or for upkeep of the monastery itself.

Cistercian monks at Mount Saint Bernard Abbey in Leicestershire became the first Trappist brewery in U.K. history when they first started beer sales in 2018. 

Trappists aren’t the only monks to try their hand at brewing.

A community of mostly U.S.-born Benedictine monks at the Monastery of Saint Benedict at Norcia, Italy began brewing in 2012. They launched their own Belgian-style beers under the name Birra Nursia and expanded sales to the U.S. in 2016. In 2017 a major earthquake killed hundreds of people and was soon followed by a major tremor that destroyed the Benedictines’ historic home, the Basilica of St. Benedict. However, their brewery was left mostly intact. They have continued to sell beer to fund the building of their new monastery.

Pope at Audience: Elderly must resist temptation to knowledge without action

At the Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis continues his catechesis on old age, and urges the elderly to hold on to their passion for justice while resisting the temptation to accumulate knowledge without turning it into action.

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Tiananmen memorial Masses won’t be held in Hong Kong this year amid security law concerns

Protesters in Hong Kong march against the extradition bill in July 2019. / Jimmy Siu/Shutterstock

Denver Newsroom, May 24, 2022 / 16:58 pm (CNA).

A Catholic group in Hong Kong will not be holding Masses this year to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre, citing concerns that doing so could run afoul of the Beijing-imposed national security laws under which several Catholic leaders have been arrested. 

The Hong Kong Catholic Social Communications Office told the Hong Kong Free Press May 24 that some staff and members of the Justice and Peace Commission of The Hong Kong Catholic Diocese had expressed concern about this year’s remembrance services, and thus the decision was made not to hold a remembrance Mass on June 4. 

“Because frontline staff and some of the members of the Justice and Peace Commission of The Hong Kong Catholic Diocese are concerned about whether holding this even [sic] will be in breach of the implemented national security law, therefore [we] won’t hold a June 4th commemoration mass,” the office said.

“According to the Catholic faith, there can be different ways to commemorate those who died. Holding masses are of course one of the means, but praying for those who died in private or in small groups is very meaningful as well.”

Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China. Hong Kongers have, historically, largely enjoyed freedom of worship and evangelization, while in mainland China, there is a history of persecution for Christians who run afoul of the government. In mainland China, people have not been allowed to hold official commemorations of the “June 4th incident” in Tiananmen, but Hong Kong has long held annual vigils to commemorate its victims.

During the 1989 clash between protestors and Chinese troops, tanks rolled into Beijing’s main city square and military forces opened fire on university students and other citizens calling for democratic reforms. The exact number of people who died in the massacre is not certain, but could be hundreds or even thousands. A diplomatic cable from the British ambassador to China at the time said that at least 10,000 people were killed, while the regime claimed that 241 people died and 7,000 were wounded.

In 2020, Hong Kong police curtailed a vigil for the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, citing public health concerns related to COVID-19 — which would have marked the first time in 30 years that a vigil for Tiananmen had not taken place in Hong Kong. 

Still, thousands of people reportedly climbed over police barriers into a park, lighting candles and observing a moment of silence for the Tiananmen victims. Elsewhere in Hong Kong, some protesters blocked streets and clashed with police, while others gathered in other parts of the city, chanting in favor of democracy. 

Last year, at least seven churches in Hong Kong offered candlelight vigil Masses on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. The Diocese of Hong Kong’s Justice and Peace Commission announced that the churches will each offer a Mass for the Dead on the night of June 4.

However, 2021 marked the second year in a row that authorities forbade a public commemoration of Tiananmen in Hong Kong, ostensibly because of COVID-19 restrictions. Hong Kong police declined to tell the Free Press whether they would allow public commemorations this year. 

The typical organizer of the city’s annual Tiananmen vigils, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, disbanded last September following a members’ vote, the Free Press reported. The Chinese government has not specifically said whether commemorating Tiananmen would be a violation of the security laws. 

Millions of citizens of Hong Kong, including many Catholics, have in recent years participated in large-scale pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, which came to a head during summer 2019. 

Beijing has in recent years tightened control over the island territory and cracked down on dissent. With the July 2020 passage of “national security laws,” the Chinese government seized more power to suppress pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, which it sees as a direct challenge to its power.

Several prominent Catholic figures have been arrested for apparent violations of the new security laws, which criminalize new categories of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces. Anyone convicted under the law will receive a minimum of 10 years in prison, with the possibility of a life sentence.

Those arrested include media mogul Jimmy Lai, a Catholic and billionaire who was detained last August and was sentenced in December 2021 to 13 months in prison on a charge of unlawful assembly, stemming from his participation in the annual Tiananmen Square vigil.

Cardinal Joseph Zen, the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, was charged in court on May 24 with four other prominent democracy advocates who were trustees of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, which helped pro-democracy protesters to pay their legal fees. The nonagenarian Zen was arrested by the authorities in Hong Kong on May 11 and was released on bail later on the same day. His trial is set to begin Sept. 19.

Father Vincent Woo, a priest of the Diocese of Hong Kong and a canon lawyer, recently said that he has observed that many Christian leaders are reluctant to speak out against the CCP’s actions, for fear of being detained, or worse, by civil authorities.

19 children and 2 adults killed in Texas shooting at elementary school

State troopers stand outside of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022. - An 18-year-old gunman killed 14 children and a teacher at an elementary school in Texas on Tuesday, according to the state's governor, in the nation's deadliest school shooting in years. / Allison Dinner/AFP via Getty Images

Denver Newsroom, May 24, 2022 / 15:29 pm (CNA).

A gunman killed at least 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, about 90 miles west of San Antonio, on Tuesday.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said May 24 the shooter, a local 18-year-old, has died, believed to have been killed by responding law enforcement. He identified the attacker as Salvador Ramos, saying he was armed with a handgun, and possibly a rifle.

The governor added, “It is believed that two responding offers were struck by rounds, but have no serious injuries.”

Some students and staff are being treated in nearby hospitals.

The incident is believed to be the worst school shooting since the 2012 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in which in the attacker killed 26.

Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio tweeted, "God have mercy on our children, their families, their communities. Darkness is dense with one more shooting in our country. Let us help one another to spark light and warmth. May we keep each other in company. Prayers are needed."

And Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth has tweeted, "Let us pray for the families of these children killed or traumatized by this evil action and let us take serious steps forward in protecting vulnerable life and promoting justices for the safety of our children."

This story was updated at 11:25 p.m. MDT.

Central American bishops support Nicaraguan clergy in face of persecution

Daniel Ortega celebrates his re-inauguration as president of Nicaragua, Jan. 10, 2012. / Cancilleria del Ecuador via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Lima, Peru, May 24, 2022 / 15:03 pm (CNA).

The bishops’ conferences of Costa Rica and Panama expressed their solidarity with the people and Catholic clergy of Nicaragua, who have been suffering persecution from the government of President Daniel Ortega.

On May 20, the state-owned Nicaraguan Institute of Telecommunications and Mail eliminated the television channel of the Nicaraguan Bishops’ Conference from its programming.

In addition, Bishop Rolando Álvarez Lagos of Matagalpa and Father Harvy Padilla, pastor of the Saint John the Baptist church in Masaya, have been followed and harassed by the government’s police.

Álvarez, who is in charge of communications for the bishops’ conference and the Catholic channel, said that what the government wants "is a mute Church, that doesn’t announce the hope of the people" and doesn’t denounce "personal sin and structures of injustice.”

"The Word of God is not chained," the bishop said during a May 21 impromptu press conference at Holy Christ of Esquipulas parish on the outskirts of Managua.

In a May 21 statement, the bishops of Costa Rica  prayed that "the Risen Lord would grant the Nicaraguan people the gift of peace, so they can have a climate of calm and brotherhood."

The Costa Rican bishops also assured their Nicaraguan counterparts of their "prayer, especially in times of trial." 

"We pray to God to allow them to remain faithful to their mission and grant them a spirit of wisdom," they said.

They also called on the Catholic people of Costa Rica "to lift up in prayer the people of Nicaragua and the bishops of that nation.”

"We reiterate the need for our Central American peoples in general to work together in the search for the common good, peace and social justice," the bishops wrote.

The Panamanian bishops also expressed  their solidarity with Bishop Álvarez "at this time when he is experiencing persecution for being a prophet in the face of the difficult situation due to the sociopolitical crisis that the Nicaraguan people are experiencing.”

“We join in prayer so that the persecution of Bishop Rolando and Father Harvy Padilla, pastor of the Saint John the Baptist Parish in the city of Masaya, who has also been restricted from living and celebrating the faith in an environment of freedom and peace, will end,” the bishops said May 21.

The Nicaraguan Bishops’ Conference also issued a statement stating that they are “going through difficult times as a nation" and that their duty "is to announce the truth of the Gospel."

“We accompany each brother who is associated with the sufferings of Christ through prayer and we invoke the Holy Spirit to be the one who illuminates the minds and hearts of all Nicaraguans,” the bishops said May 22.

There have been tensions in recent years between some Catholics and supporters of Ortega, who previously led the country for over a decade after the Sandinistas' 1979 ouster of the Somoza dictatorship. Ortega has again been president of Nicaragua since 2007, and oversaw the abolition of presidential term limits in 2014.

Ortega's government has accused many bishops and priests of siding with his opposition.

A crisis began in April 2018 after Ortega announced social security and pension reforms. The changes were soon abandoned in the face of widespread, vocal opposition, but protests only intensified after more than 40 protesters were killed by security forces.

Security forces have killed at least 320 protesters, with hundreds more arrested.

Since the protests began, there has been a series of attacks against clergy, churches and church facilities targeted by pro-government bands.

The apostolic nuncio to Nicaragua was expelled in March.