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Defiant Texas nuns seek restraining order against bishop, Carmelite association

Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth, Texas, and Rev. Mother Teresa Agnes Gerlach of the Most Holy Trinity Monastery in Arlington, Texas. / Credit: Diocese of Fort Worth; Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity Discalced Carmelite Nuns

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Apr 23, 2024 / 18:15 pm (CNA).

In direct defiance of a Vatican decree, a Texas monastery of cloistered nuns is asking a judge to grant a restraining order against the parties the Vatican has tasked with overseeing the monastery — an association of Carmelite monasteries and Diocese of Fort Worth Bishop Michael Olson.

The request, filed by the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity in Arlington on Monday, came just days after the Vatican issued a decree concerning the governance of the monastery. That decree entrusted the monastery to the Association of Christ the King in the United States — an association of Carmelite monasteries — and named its president, Mother Marie, as the lawful superior of the monastery. 

The decree also ordered the monastery to regularize its relationship with the bishop, with whom the nuns have feuded over the past year.

If the District Court of Tarrant County grants the monastery’s request, it would prevent Olson, Mother Marie, and any representatives of the diocese or the association from entering the premises. 

Before filing for the restraining order, the nuns indicated their intent to defy the Vatican’s decree, labeling it “a hostile takeover that we cannot in conscience accept” and warned Mother Marie and the association that they are not welcome there.

The dispute between the diocese and the monastery began in April of last year when Olson launched an investigation into the former prioress, the Reverend Mother Superior Teresa Agnes Gerlach, over alleged sexual misconduct with a priest. The prioress, who was defrocked by the bishop, admitted to sexual conduct occurring through the phone and through video chats, but later recanted her confession and claimed she was medically unfit and recovering from an operation when it was given.

The situation escalated when the monastery filed a lawsuit against the bishop, accusing him of illegally seizing property from the nuns during his investigation. The claim was later dismissed by a judge. The Vatican originally granted the bishop the role of pontifical commissary over the monastery, which gave him temporary governing authority over the nuns, but the monastery never recognized that authority.

Michael Anderson, a lawyer representing the diocese, said in a statement provided to CNA that the monastery’s argument in its request for a restraining order “is basically a rehash of the lawsuit filed last year,” which was dismissed by a judge. He said the only new part of this filing is the addition of the Carmelite association.

“The Arlington nuns’ decision to file suit on this basis is squarely at odds with an affidavit filed in the first lawsuit, wherein Ms. Gerlach testified that the [monastery] only answers ‘directly to the pope,’” Anderson said. “Apparently this no longer applies since the catalyst for this new lawsuit was a decision by the Holy See.”

What the monastery is arguing

The restraining order makes legal arguments against the bishop and the association and includes an affidavit signed by Gerlach — whom the Vatican no longer recognizes as the monastery’s legitimate superior.

In its request for a restraining order, the monastery states that Olson attempted to take over “full governing powers” and “full governing responsibility” of the monastery. It said that now the Association of Christ the King in the United States is seeking to take over management of the monastery “under the guise of some religious backdoor.”

Although the bishop’s authority was recognized by the Vatican and the association’s authority was decreed by the Vatican, the monastery states that it is a legal nonprofit corporation that is protected under “laws of the State of Texas.” It states that neither the bishop nor the association has any legal authority to govern the monastery, according to state law. 

The monastery asserts that both the bishop and the association are “trying to utilize a religious back door to usurp the laws of the State of Texas to take over the management and assets of the [monastery].”

In an affidavit, Gerlach states that if the nuns lose their ability to govern the monastery, “it would allow the defendants to remove us from our home, as they already have threatened to do.” 

“The level of emotional trauma and infliction of psychological distress this whole episode has caused me personally and the sisters is incomprehensible,” she said. “We have never faced such moral violence and adversity. These actions are affecting my emotional and physical well-being as well as that of our sisters. I pray they be stopped.”

A spokesperson for the diocese told CNA that the monastery “is not owned by the diocese and the diocese has no interest in owning the property.”

The Vatican has not yet issued any orders in response to the monastery’s most recent defiance of its decrees.

Biden targets Trump in Florida speech on abortion

President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop at Hillsborough Community College’s Dale Mabry campus on April 23, 2024, in Tampa, Florida. / Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Apr 23, 2024 / 17:45 pm (CNA).

President Joe Biden on Tuesday called for a national right to abortion during a campaign speech in Tampa, Florida, in which he blamed the overturning of Roe v. Wade on former President Donald Trump. 

Speaking to a crowd of supporters at Hillsborough Community College, Biden, a Catholic, called the overturn of Roe v. Wade “a political deal” made by Trump with “the evangelical base of the Republican Party to look past his moral and character flaws.” 

He criticized Republicans as “extreme” for passing laws to protect unborn life, particularly singling out a Florida six-week abortion limit set to go into effect on May 1 as “bizarre.” 

“Let’s be clear, there is one person who is responsible for this nightmare, and he’s acknowledged and he brags about it, Donald Trump,” Biden said. 

“Trump is literally taking us back 150 years,” he went on, adding that Trump is responsible for efforts to limit abortion as well as in vitro fertilization and the chemical abortion drug mifepristone. 

Though Trump recently said he would not sign a national abortion ban into law, Biden accused Trump of currently secretly working with Republicans in Congress to pass a federal abortion limit. 

“Now women in America have fewer rights than their mothers and their grandmothers had, because of Donald Trump,” he said. “It was Donald Trump who ripped away the rights of women in America. It will be all of us who will restore those rights for women.” 

Urging people to vote this November, he pledged to enshrine a national right to abortion. 

“We’ll teach Donald Trump and the extreme MAGA Republicans a valuable lesson: Don’t mess with the women of America,” he said. “Elect a Democratic Congress and Kamala and I will make Roe v. Wade the law of the land again.” 

Biden also praised a pro-abortion amendment that will be on the Florida ballot in November and could enshrine a right to abortion into the state constitution. 

If passed, the amendment would change the Florida Constitution to include a provision reading: “No law shall prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion before viability or when necessary to protect the patient’s health, as determined by the patient’s health care provider.”

Biden endorsed the effort to add the abortion amendment to the state constitution, saying: “Let’s get this done.” 

“Since the [Supreme] Court said that states should make the decision, states all over the country from Ohio, Kansas, Michigan, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Virginia, women and men of every background voted in record numbers to protect reproductive freedom,” Biden said. “This November, you can add Florida to that list. You can. Are you ready to do that? You’ve got to show up and vote.” 

Trump campaign responds

Michael Whatley, chairman of the Republican National Committee, responded to Biden’s speech by telling CNA that the incumbent president’s “radical abortion agenda — refusing to support any limits and allowing abortion up to the moment of birth — is wildly out of touch with most Americans.”

“But that will not stop him from pitching it to Florida voters,” he went on. “Biden must have forgotten that thousands of Americans have fled from extremist Democrat policies to prosperous and pro-life states like Florida.” 

Karoline Leavitt, national press secretary for the Trump campaign, told CNA that though Biden “may be a self-proclaimed Catholic, or a ‘cafeteria Catholic’ as he was recently described by the Catholic archbishop of Washington, D.C.,” his actions “prove he does not deserve the vote of Catholic Americans.” 

“Biden supports abortion up until birth, his Department of Justice targets and imprisons pro-life activists, and Biden’s FBI plotted to infiltrate Catholic Masses to spy on attendees,” she said. “President Trump will end Biden’s discrimination against all Christians and stand for religious freedom, as he did in his first term.” 

Floridians weigh in

In response to Biden’s speech, Lynda Bell, president of Florida Right to Life, told CNA that she was “not surprised but disgusted.” 

Bell called the Florida abortion amendment touted by Biden “radical,” stating: “Biden doesn’t care about women, Biden doesn’t care about girls, Biden doesn’t care about safety, Biden cares about votes. If he thinks sacrificing babies through birth will get him a vote, then he’ll do it. The man has zero principles.” 

A group of pro-life Floridians from Turning Point USA also held a “rally for life” outside the building where Biden gave his speech.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also criticized Biden for making a trip to Florida to advocate for abortion and said his efforts to win Florida would be in vain. 

“He’s coming down to try to support a constitutional amendment that will mandate abortion up until the moment of birth, that will eliminate parental consent for minors, and that’s written in a way that is intentionally designed to deceive voters,” DeSantis said. “So, all I can tell you is Floridians are not buying what Joe Biden is selling and in November we’re going to play an instrumental role in sending him back to Delaware where he belongs.” 

Democrats place hopes on abortion

Vice President Kamala Harris also hit the campaign trail this week advocating for a national right to abortion. 

At a stop on her “Reproductive Freedoms” tour in La Crosse, Wisconsin, on Monday, Harris slammed Trump as the orchestrator of the overturning of Roe v. Wade and urged supporters to send “Joe and me to the White House.” 

John White, a professor of politics at The Catholic University of America, told CNA that though he believes pro-abortion voters will turn out to the polls in large numbers, he does not think they will be able to win the state.

“Abortion is a motivating factor in this year’s election,” White said. “If the past is prologue, it is an issue that helps Democrats, he added.

However, White noted that in recent years the Sunshine State has “moved rather decidedly toward the Republicans.”

“The abortion amendment on the ballot does make the state more competitive and Republicans may have to spend more money defending their candidates than they counted on doing,” he concluded.

Pro-lifers dismayed at Massachusetts pro-abortion governor’s appearances at Catholic school events

Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey walks across the campus of St. John's Prep in Danvers, Massachusetts, on April 9, 2024. / Credit: Screenshot of St. John's Prep Facebook page last visited April 19, 2024

Boston, Mass., Apr 23, 2024 / 16:45 pm (CNA).

Pro-lifers in the Archdiocese of Boston are criticizing Cardinal Seán O’Malley over two recent appearances at Catholic education events by the pro-abortion governor of Massachusetts.

Earlier this month, Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey, a Democrat who supports legal and publicly funded abortion and who has taken steps to make abortions easier to obtain, spoke at a fundraiser for The Catholic Schools Foundation, which raises money for Catholic schools in the archdiocese and helps poor students attend.

O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, is the chairman of the board of trustees of the foundation, though he was in Rome at the time of the gala and did not attend it.

Healey also recently visited a Catholic school north of Boston, speaking to students and answering questions.

C.J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts, called Healey’s appearances “a grave scandal.” 

“Cardinal O’Malley should be ashamed of himself. Is Maura Healey an inspiring role model for Catholic students?” Doyle said.

Thomas Harvey, chairman of the Massachusetts Alliance to Stop Taxpayer Funded Abortions, called including Healey at the Catholic events “really disgraceful,” and he placed the blame on O’Malley.

“Maura Healey is a huge proponent of killing babies in the womb, in direct defiance of Catholic teaching, and yet here she is being presented to impressionable Catholic students as if she were a Catholic role model,” Harvey told the Register by text. “And the clear message being sent to Catholic students here is that killing babies in the womb is just not that big a deal.”

In June 2004, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approved a document called “Catholics in Public Life,” which states: “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors, or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

Terrence Donilon, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston, pointed out that Healey was not an honoree at the gala or during her earlier appearance at the Catholic school.

Since Healey is the governor of the state, Donilon said, Cardinal O’Malley has worked with her “on a number of issues important to Catholics and the wider community,” including public funding for the archdiocese’s charitable work providing “basic needs assistance, job training, child care services, and immigration and refugee assistance to thousands of residents,” as well as building “badly needed affordable housing” and trying “to stem gun violence.” 

“At the same time, the cardinal has been a leader in the pro-life movement for over 50 years and his commitment in being a staunch promoter of life is well known and unwavering,” Donilon said.

O’Malley, 79, a Capuchin Franciscan, has frequently attended the March for Life in Washington, D.C., and has spoken at pro-life rallies. Last week, The Boston Globe published a column by O’Malley urging state legislators to oppose a bill that would legalize physician-assisted suicide.

But critics such as Doyle claim that O’Malley during his time as archbishop has seemed to mix easily and uncritically with abortion-supporting Catholic politicians, including the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy (whose funeral Mass he celebrated), the late Boston mayor Thomas Menino, former Boston mayor Marty Walsh, and the current governor, Healey, with whom he co-authored a column in The Boston Globe in September 2017 on immigration.

Donilon, O’Malley’s spokesman, addressing Healey’s participation in The Catholic Schools Foundation gala last week, said that “the governor has been a vocal supporter of Catholic education. … Our Catholic schools save cities and towns hundreds of millions of dollars in education costs. Our families benefit from an outstanding education based in an excellent faith-based environment.” 

Gov. Maura Healey speaks to students at St. John's Prep on April 9, 2024. Credit: Screenshot of St. John's Prep Facebook page last visited on April 9, 2024.
Gov. Maura Healey speaks to students at St. John's Prep on April 9, 2024. Credit: Screenshot of St. John's Prep Facebook page last visited on April 9, 2024.

Who is Maura Healey?

Healey, 53, was elected Massachusetts attorney general in 2014 with an endorsement from Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund. She served two terms as attorney general before being elected governor of Massachusetts in November 2022. 

As an elected official, Healey has frequently supported public policies that clash with Catholic teachings on life and sexuality.

She has verbally attacked pro-life pregnancy centers, steered state government money to private abortion funds, and, in April 2023, quietly arranged for the flagship campus of the state-run University of Massachusetts to purchase 15,000 doses of abortion pills.

Healey’s administration in June 2023 successfully proposed a curriculum framework for public schools that calls for teaching between third and fifth grades “the differences between biological sex and gender identity” and “how one’s outward behavior and appearance does not define one’s gender identity or sexual orientation.”

Healey also supports same-sex marriage. In February, she nominated her former same-sex partner for a seat on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which is the state’s highest court. She is currently living with a woman.

Two appearances

Healey appeared Thursday, April 11, at the annual gala of The Catholic Schools Foundation at a hotel in Boston.

“So I didn’t have the benefit of going to Catholic school,” Healey said, according to a text of her remarks provided by a spokesman. “My mom went to Catholic school, and my nephew goes to Catholic school; we have priest[s] at the dinner table every Sunday. But I do know, both having been your attorney general and now as your governor, what your work means. And I can see that experience firsthand.” 

She also said she wants to find ways “to partner” with the foundation “in the important work that you [are] doing.” 

“And I want you to know that, as governor, I value our vibrant mix of education, our public schools, our private schools, and our religious schools,” Healey said. 

Two days earlier, on Tuesday, April 9, Healey spent about 50 minutes with a group of 120 students at St. John’s Preparatory High School, a Catholic boys’ school founded by the Xaverian Brothers in Danvers, about 18 miles northeast of Boston, according to a description of the visit published on the school’s website. The school is in the Archdiocese of Boston, though it is not run by the archdiocese. 

Healey had never visited the school before, “but it was quickly clear her personal values are closely aligned with those of the Xaverian Brothers,” the school’s write-up states. 

Healey emphasized leadership and empathy during her remarks. The governor also told the students that while she believes in civil discourse, “there are some basic values that have kept our society intact,” and she told students they should “call out hate when you see it.”

“We can have differences of opinion on things,” Healey said, according to the school’s write-up, “but, to me, equality has got to abide. Respect for the dignity and worth of each person is something I call on people to really adhere to.”

Robert Joyce, a lawyer and member of the board of the Pro-Life Legal Defense Fund, which provides legal representation for pro-lifers, said that St. John’s Prep last fall turned down an offer he made to provide a pro-life assembly for students featuring a canon lawyer, a physician, and a vocations director. (The head of school, Edward Hardiman, did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.)

Joyce called Healey’s recent appearances at the gala and at the school “abominations for Catholic education.”

“They send the clear message to Catholic students and parents that critical, fundamental precepts of the Catholic faith are not all that important. In simple terms, they declare that protection of innocent unborn life and the defense of traditional marriage are negotiable with these Catholic educators,” Joyce indicated.

Healey is also a featured speaker at the annual Spring Celebration of Catholic Charities Boston scheduled for Wednesday, May 29, at the Boston Harbor Hotel in Boston. O’Malley is expected to receive an award at the event for his work in welcoming immigrants.

Healey and the Catholic Church 

Healey does not often talk about religion in public, but she occasionally identifies herself as a Catholic.

In October 2018, when she was state attorney general, she led off a brief column in The Boston Globe with the words: “As a member of law enforcement and as a Catholic …” 

In April 2022, when Healey criticized Bishop Robert McManus of Worcester for calling for a Catholic school to take down a rainbow flag, she added, according to “And I speak as a Catholic …” 

In October 2022, during a debate while she was running for governor, Healey used a Catholic reference while defending herself from a claim by her Republican opponent that a bill she had supported effectively legalized infanticide, as the National Catholic Register subsequently reported. “You know, my mom goes to Mass every morning,” Healey said.

Healey is widely thought of as a potential candidate for other offices. She would be an obvious Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts if either of the two incumbents (both in their 70s) leaves office.

Additionally, just hours before her appearance at The Catholic Schools Foundation gala, Healey participated in an event at Northeastern University in Boston honoring former Massachusetts governor and 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis. The moderator floated Healey as a potential future candidate for president of the United States, to applause from the audience.

This story was first published by the National Catholic Register, CNA’s sister news partner, and is reprinted here on CNA with permission.

More than 50,000 sign petition to recognize 171 killed in Sri Lanka attack as martyrs

The Vatican ambassador to Colombo, Archbishop Brian Udaigwe (third from left) and Sri Lanka's Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith (fourth from left) take part in a remembrance service during the fifth anniversary of the Easter Sunday suicide attacks at St. Anthony Church in Colombo on April 21, 2024. / Credit: ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP via Getty Images

ACI Prensa Staff, Apr 23, 2024 / 16:05 pm (CNA).

More than 50,000 Catholics have asked the Church in Sri Lanka to recognize as martyrs the 171 victims of the 2019 Easter massacre in the island nation.

On April 21, 2019, Easter Sunday, eight suicide bombers attacked two Catholic churches, a Protestant church, and three luxury hotels, killing 269 people and leaving more than 500 injured.

Of the victims, 171 were Catholic faithful who were attending Mass at St. Sebastian and St. Anthony Churches in Colombo, the capital of the Asian country.

Five years after the tragedy, on Sunday, April 21, the local Church announced that it will begin the procedures to recognize the martyrdom of the 171 Catholics, who were remembered with various initiatives, including a petition with more than 50,000 signatures that was presented to the archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Albert Malcolm Ranjith.

The Archdiocese of Colombo will now send an official request to the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints to proceed with the opening of the diocesan phase of the beatification cause.

“The collection of signatures and raising awareness among the faithful has been underway since the beginning of Lent. Among the people there is full awareness of the gift of faith of those innocent people, murdered in the church while celebrating the resurrection of Christ,” Father Jude Chrysantha Fernando, director of the archdiocese’s communications office, told the Vatican news agency Fides from Colombo.

The priest said that on Sunday “there was a large participation of the faithful in the celebrations: in the morning memorial Masses were held in all churches and a special ceremony was held in the presence of Cardinal Ranjith at St. Anthony Church in Colombo” as well as with other religious leaders and civil authorities.

In Colombo thousands of people observed “a solemn two-minute moment of silence, which was also observed in churches across the country, to honor and remember those who lost their lives” on Easter 2019.

“It was a moment of great spiritual intensity for the Catholic community of Sri Lanka: The memory of these ‘heroes of the faith’ is alive and a source of inspiration for many,” Fernando told Fides.

In the Mass held at St. Anthony Church, Ranjith noted that the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka has been asking for justice for five years and demanding that an international and independent investigation into the 2019 attacks be carried out.

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

Bishops: Catholic Church in Spain unjustly singled out in plan to address sexual abuse

Archbishop Luis Argüello and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. / Credit: Archdiocese of Valladolid; La Moncloa

ACI Prensa Staff, Apr 23, 2024 / 15:00 pm (CNA).

The Spanish government approved today in the Council of Ministers a plan to implement recommendations made in a report on sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. 

While recognizing some good points in the plan, the Spanish Bishops’ Conference (known by its Spanish acronym CEE) issued a statement strongly objecting to what it called unfair treatment and discrimination against the Church by the government.

Before giving details of the government’s plan, the minister of the Presidency, Justice, and Relations with the Legislature, Félix Bolaños, extrapolating data from a survey commissioned by the People’s Ombudsman, estimated that in Spain there are about 440,000 adults who were victims of sexual abuse as minors, representing 1.13% of the adult population in Spain.

“Around half of these abuses would have been committed by [male] religious of the Catholic Church,” Bolaños claimed.

The bishops, however, noted that “reparation measures cannot be proposed that, following the ombudsman’s report, would leave out nine out of 10 victims.”

Consequently, “the Church cannot accept a plan that discriminates against the majority of victims of sexual abuse,” the bishops emphasized.

Furthermore, the prelates pointed out that “the text presented is part of a condemnatory judgment of the entire Church, carried out without any type of legal guarantee, a public and discriminatory targeting by the state.”

The CEE stressed that “by focusing only on the Catholic Church, it addresses only part of the problem. It’s a biased analysis and covers up a social problem of enormous dimensions.”

For the bishops, the changes in the law provided for in the government’s plan “question the principle of equality and universality that any process that affects fundamental rights must have.”

The plan, which will be in effect until 2027, is structured around five key points: 1) recognize and make reparation, 2) care for victims, 3) prevent, 4) train and raise awareness, and 5) report and investigate the first point.

In addition, the government announced it will organize a public event with the victims of sexual abuse committed within the Catholic Church intended to be a type of “symbolic reparation,” and mechanisms also will be established for material reparation “that it is adequate and that it is sufficient in financial terms.”

During his appearance, Bolaños said that the government’s idea “is to do it in collaboration, hand in hand with the Catholic Church.” Last Friday, he held a meeting with the recently elected president of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Luis Argüello of Valladolid.

At that meeting, according to the statement from the Spanish bishops, “the CEE already gave Minister Bolaños its critical assessment of this plan that only focuses on the Catholic Church,” although it expressed its willingness to collaborate “in the areas of its responsibility and competence, but always to the extent that it addresses the problem as a whole.”

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

A year after earthquake, Aleppo’s St. George Church rises again

Over a year after the earthquake that hit Syria and Turkey in February 2023, restoration of Aleppo's Church of St. George has been completed. / Credit: Abdul Kareem Daniel

Aleppo, Syria, Apr 23, 2024 / 14:15 pm (CNA).

This year’s feast of St. George was a particularly joyful one in the Syrian city of Aleppo, especially for the Melkite Greek Catholic community.

The church is reopening its doors after undergoing restoration due to damage from a February 2023 earthquake. Additionally, Archbishop George Masri of the Melkite Archdiocese of Aleppo and its environs will celebrate his golden jubilee.

The celebrations took place during the visit of Patriarch Joseph Absi, the current patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, who presided over the Divine Liturgy in the restored church on the evening of April 23. The evening before, there was a procession along Holy Bible Street followed by vespers.

Restoration of the Church of St. George in Aleppo after the February 2023 earthquake. Credit: Father Fadi Najjar
Restoration of the Church of St. George in Aleppo after the February 2023 earthquake. Credit: Father Fadi Najjar

In an exclusive interview with ACI Mena, CNA’s Arabic-language news partner, Father Fadi Najjar, principal of Providence Private School, which is adjacent to and belongs to the church, explained that last year’s earthquake caused cracks in the church walls on both the right and left sides, allowing rainwater to leak inside. The exterior facade was also shattered, with falling stones damaging the stairs.

“The first step was removing the loose stones from above to protect people, especially since the church hall had sheltered the displaced for over a month, providing meals,” Najjar explained. “The restoration then began, taking about a year under Archbishop Masri’s direct supervision. The cracks were sealed, the exterior facade restored, the interior repainted, the stone polished, and new stairs built.”

Regarding Providence School, Najjar said that classroom walls had also cracked while sanitation systems were damaged. “We didn’t just restore the school. Rather, we began a complete renovation, taking advantage of the summer vacation. In five months, the building rose beautifully from the ashes,” he explained.

“New classrooms are being opened, the language lab revived, bathrooms added, as well as a TV/cinema hall, playroom, and aerobics studio. About 150 seats will be restored, walls repainted, floors polished, and stonework whitened — all thanks to funding from the Salla charity. Aid to the Church in Need covered the church’s restoration costs,” he added.

The Church of St. George in Aleppo before and after the restoration work. Credit: Joseph Nono
The Church of St. George in Aleppo before and after the restoration work. Credit: Joseph Nono

Najjar revealed that Masri strongly supported the school’s renovation, expressing deep appreciation for the contractor, engineer Joseph Nono, who was entrusted with both the church and school projects.

Notably, Absi’s Aleppo visit included stops at the Dar Al-Nahda Music Institute under artist Shady Najjar’s direction and a dinner for men and women named after St. George born between 1960 and 1980. He has also planned a tour of Aleppo’s Old Square.

This article was originally published in ACI Mena, CNA's Arabic-language news partner, and has been translated and adapted by CNA.

‘An unprecedented opportunity’: Augustine Institute announces move to St. Louis 

The Augustine Institute's new facilities in Florissant, Missouri. / Credit: Boeing Company and Augustine Institute

CNA Staff, Apr 23, 2024 / 13:30 pm (CNA).

The Augustine Institute, a Catholic educational and evangelization apostolate based in Denver for nearly two decades, announced on Tuesday that it will be moving its operations to a new campus in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. 

The institute, founded in 2005 as a Catholic graduate theology school, currently has an enrollment of 550 students. It says on its website that it exists to serve “the formation of Catholics for the new evangelization” by “equip[ping] Catholics intellectually, spiritually, and pastorally to renew the Church and transform the world for Christ.”

The organization announced on Tuesday that it had purchased the former Boeing Leadership Center in Florissant, Missouri, just outside of downtown St. Louis. The school will “begin transitioning its operations over the next few years,” it said in a press release. 

The nearly 300-acre property “offers an unprecedented opportunity to expand our Graduate School of Theology and further our mission to help Catholics understand, live, and share their faith,” institute President Tim Gray said in a Tuesday press release. 

The Boeing facility, a former retreat center that went on sale in March, offers “state-of-the-art facilities” for the group’s Catholic mission, Gray said. 

The president told CNA this week that the Augustine Institute “wasn’t even in a search mode” when they learned of the facility.

“Some of the leadership at the Archdiocese of St. Louis told us about this property when it became available,” he said. 

The property was on the market for nearly a year before the institute began exploring it. “A couple of different buyers tied it up, but those deals fell through,” he said. “We found out about it toward the end of November, and it wasn’t until December that we started looking into it.”

Gray himself visited the campus in January; within several weeks the institute had purchased the property. 

“My head’s still spinning,” he said. “Just a few months ago this was not even on our radar.”

‘We have a big vision for this property’

Archbishop of Denver Samuel Aquila said in the institute’s press release this week that the discovery of the property was “providential” for the organization. 

“It will allow the institute the opportunity to remain faithful to its mission while continuing to grow,” the prelate said, calling the purchase “the realization of a long-standing hope for a campus environment for students, faculty, and expanded theology programs.”

In addition to its graduate school, the Augustine Institute offers sacramental preparation resources, a Bible study app, an apologetics course for high school seniors, and other instructional and catechetical materials. 

Much of that material is in digital format. Gray said this week that the new property will allow the Augustine Institute to expand from digital into “a national center for Catholic conferences, retreats, evangelization, and fellowship.”

The institute had largely outgrown its facilities in Denver, he told CNA. 

“We’ve been growing here and we’ve filled up our building,” he said. “We love Denver, it’s been great for us. But we didn’t have student housing. Housing is very expensive in Denver and it’s hard to recruit people to move out here. Those were challenges we were facing.”

The organization had to work quickly to raise enough funds to realize the sale, he said. 

“We had to raise a lot of money in just a few months so we could purchase this campus in cash,” he said. “We also had to raise enough money to have a reserve fund for the operations of such a large campus.” The institute amassed $50 million over the course of several months, he said.

The Augustine Institute is expecting to hold its 2024-2025 graduate school year at the new property starting in September. 

The Augustine Institute's new facilities in Florissant, MO. Boeing Company and Augustine Institute
The Augustine Institute's new facilities in Florissant, MO. Boeing Company and Augustine Institute

Mitchell Rozanski, the archbishop of St. Louis, said in the press release that the facility could become “the premier center for the new evangelization in the United States.”

The institute “can foster a new era of collaboration with Catholic organizations nationwide,” the archbishop said, “and invite more people to encounter Jesus Christ and his Church.”

PHOTOS From the subway to the sacred: Brooklyn’s breathtaking Eucharistic Revival

Brooklyn Bishop Robert Brennan leads a Eucharistic procession inside a packed Louis Armstrong Stadium in Brooklyn, New York, on April 20, 2024. / Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

New York City, N.Y., Apr 23, 2024 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

I’d never ridden the subway with a bishop before.

But then again, how many of us have? 

Bishop Robert Brennan from the Diocese of Brooklyn is not your typical bishop — and I mean that with the utmost respect for the men who hold the office. Each is unique, endowed with their own personalities, charisms, and abilities. So perhaps don’t go telling your bishop he needs to start riding mass transit just yet.

He’s striking in the way he carries himself: You can sense a deep spirituality and humility within him. He’s genuinely kind and attentive — a true pastor.

If there were a contest for “Most Likely to Ride the Subway With His Flock,” I believe Brennan would win hands down.

Bishop Robert Brennan takes a ride on the subway alongside other faithful heading to the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Eucharistic Revival on April 20, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Bishop Robert Brennan takes a ride on the subway alongside other faithful heading to the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Eucharistic Revival on April 20, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

I first met him in 2021, upon his eventful reassignment to Brooklyn. He had barely settled into the Diocese of Columbus, Ohio, in 2019 — where the paint in his office was probably still drying — only to be moved, much to the sorrow of the Columbus flock.

On the bright side, he’s a Mets fan. Though their recent performance hasn’t been much of a consolation, maybe his prayers will give them a boost.

Bishop Robert Brennan is greeted by one of New York’s finest as he arrives at the Court Street Station on April 20, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Bishop Robert Brennan is greeted by one of New York’s finest as he arrives at the Court Street Station on April 20, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

So, early on Saturday morning, in anticipation of the Eucharistic Revival at Louis Armstrong Stadium in Flushing Meadows, he boarded the 7 train with members of his flock in tow. With each stop, more of the faithful joined, filling the carriages.

And they did exactly what you would expect a group of Catholics on a subway to do: They sang, they chanted, “Viva Cristo Rey!” and they laughed with a joy so palpable it electrified the air.

By the time we rolled into Mets-Willets Point Station, it felt like a rolling celebration.

Brooklyn Bishop Robert Brennan carries the Blessed Sacrament and monstrance during a Eucharistic procession at Louis Armstrong Stadium on April 20, 2024. Credit:: Jeffrey Bruno
Brooklyn Bishop Robert Brennan carries the Blessed Sacrament and monstrance during a Eucharistic procession at Louis Armstrong Stadium on April 20, 2024. Credit:: Jeffrey Bruno

That would have been enough to fill our hearts, but it was just the warmup.

The day unfolded with thousands traversing the borough to join a daylong celebration of the diocese’s Eucharistic Revival.

I could speak volumes about the day, but there was one moment — a moment that shook me to the core.

It was during the Eucharistic procession, a winding path around the stadium’s exterior, mostly out of sight — until the point of entrance.

Bishop Robert Brennan carries the Blessed Sacrament during a Eucharistic procession at Louis Armstrong Stadium on April 20, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Bishop Robert Brennan carries the Blessed Sacrament during a Eucharistic procession at Louis Armstrong Stadium on April 20, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

As Brennan, carrying Christ, became visible to the gathered crowd, applause erupted — not just any applause, but one of overwhelming joy.

It was the kind of spontaneous outpouring that occurs when words fall short and emotions soar.

Crowds adore the Blessed Sacrament as the monstrance makes its way to the altar at the Diocese of Brooklyn Eucharistic Revival on April 20, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Crowds adore the Blessed Sacrament as the monstrance makes its way to the altar at the Diocese of Brooklyn Eucharistic Revival on April 20, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

They were applauding for Christ.

The sound wrapped around the stadium, penetrating hearts and souls, as evidenced by the smiling, tear-streaked faces turning toward him.

I’ll leave it at this: Something breathtaking happened in Queens that Saturday.

Brooklyn Bishop Robert Brennan carries the thurible around the altar inside Louis Armstrong Stadium on April 20, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Brooklyn Bishop Robert Brennan carries the thurible around the altar inside Louis Armstrong Stadium on April 20, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

And in mid-July, that same breathtaking event will unfold at the heart of the United States.

Priests who concelebrated Mass with Bishop Robert Brennan at Louis Armstrong Stadium on April 20, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Priests who concelebrated Mass with Bishop Robert Brennan at Louis Armstrong Stadium on April 20, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

In three weeks, the Catholic faithful will kick off four historic and unprecedented pilgrimages, each originating from one of the four compass points of our great land.

Brooklyn Bishop Robert Brennan celebrates Mass for thousands gathered at Louis Armstrong Stadium on April 20, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Brooklyn Bishop Robert Brennan celebrates Mass for thousands gathered at Louis Armstrong Stadium on April 20, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

Together, they will travel more than 6,500 miles with more than 100,000 participants converging on the 10th Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis from July 17-21 — the first congress in 83 years.

A woman prays during Mass during the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Eucharistic Revival at Louis Armstrong Stadium on April 20, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
A woman prays during Mass during the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Eucharistic Revival at Louis Armstrong Stadium on April 20, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

Proclaiming Christ the King, the giver of all gifts, fully present in the Blessed Sacrament to the entire world.

What a beautiful time to be alive.

What an incredible gift to have faith.

What a breathtaking reality to know and love Jesus Christ.

But all of that pales in comparison to the truth that we are known and loved by him.

Praise God.

Brooklyn Bishop Robert Brennan celebrates Mass inside Louis Armstrong Stadium on April 20, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Brooklyn Bishop Robert Brennan celebrates Mass inside Louis Armstrong Stadium on April 20, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

This story was first published by the National Catholic Register, CNA’s sister news partner, and is reprinted here on CNA with permission.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. urges ‘massive subsidized day care’ plan to reduce abortion

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. / Credit: Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Apr 23, 2024 / 11:45 am (CNA).

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is embracing a “massive subsidized day care initiative” to reduce abortions in the United States without restricting legal access to the procedure.

In a new webpage recently added to Kennedy campaign’s website, the candidate unveiled a policy platform the campaign is calling “More Choices, More Life.” 

The candidate’s plan is to redirect money that is currently used to support military aid to Ukraine and put it toward federal funding for day care to help families in poverty. Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to provide $61 billion to Ukraine, with the government having already provided more than $110 billion in aid since Russia invaded the country. 

The campaign promises that a Kennedy presidency would “safeguard women’s reproductive rights.”

Kennedy, who is the son of former Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy, first launched his presidential bid in the Democratic primary in April 2023. In October he switched his party registration and declared he would run as an independent.

“This policy will dramatically reduce abortion in this country, and it will do so by offering more choices for women and families, not less,” the webpage states.

“A lot of women, when they get pregnant, feel they can’t afford to have a baby,” the campaign says. “There isn’t a lot of support to raise a child in this society. You can’t call yourself pro-life if you are concerned only with life before birth. What about after birth? We have to make our society as welcoming as possible to children and to motherhood.”

Per the proposal, the federal government would fund 100% of day care costs for children who are under the age of 5 years old and living below the poverty line. For families living above the poverty line, their day care costs would be capped at 10% of the family’s income. 

Only single-location small businesses that provide day care services — or parents who stay home with their children — would be eligible for subsidies. The plan would not provide subsidies to corporate day care chains or hedge funds that own day care chains.

The campaign added that Kennedy supports strengthening adoption infrastructure and increasing the child tax credit. The website also noted that the candidate would fund organizations that support women in pregnancy and the months after birth. 

“There is a lot we can do to reduce abortions — by choice, not by force,” the campaign says. “As president, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will make it easier for women to choose life. He will give them more choices than they have today, we will see a lot fewer abortions and a lot more flourishing families.”

Kennedy has not made abortion a major part of his campaign. When asked about a proposal to prohibit abortion at the federal level in August of last year, the candidate initially said he would back a three-month restriction. However, his campaign later claimed that he misunderstood the question and “does not support legislation banning abortion.”

Kennedy later voiced support for in vitro fertilization (IVF), which often discards human embryos, destroying human lives in the process. His running mate, Nicole Shanahan, has said she does not support “anyone having control over my body” but that she “would not feel right terminating a viable life living inside of me.”

The Washington Post reported this week that the Kennedy campaign said the candidate opposes former President Donald Trump’s plan to leave abortion policy to the states and that Kennedy further opposed an Arizona Supreme Court ruling that allowed a near-total abortion ban from the 1860s to go into effect in the state. 

Kennedy “makes his position plain but does not dwell on the subject,” the campaign said, according to the Post.

The Post said that Kennedy’s new day care plan was posted shortly after the paper’s reporters contacted the staff about the candidate’s abortion policies. 

Although Kennedy has generally supported legal access to abortion, a pro-abortion group called Reproductive Freedom for All recently launched a television advertisement in Michigan and Wisconsin that accuses the independent candidate of not supporting abortion strongly enough. 

“Kennedy Jr. and Shanahan mean we’d be less safe from dangerous abortion bans and get more attacks on IVF,” the 30-second advertisement claims. “Kennedy Jr. and Shanahan would put your reproductive freedom at risk.”

Although Kennedy is polling in a distant third place behind Biden and Trump, he is polling better than any third-party candidate since Reform Party candidate Ross Perot in the 1990s. According to poll averages between Jan. 22 and April 2 from RealClearPolling, Kennedy is averaging just under 12% in a three-way race.

Redeemed from sexual libertinism, prostitution, and occult, Fran Orvich tells his story

Orvich said he wanted to share his experience with same sex attraction “so that the Lord might touch hearts and that people repent and try returning to a chaste life." / Credit: Fran Orvich

ACI Prensa Staff, Apr 23, 2024 / 07:00 am (CNA).

For the last five years Fran Orvich, 30, has been living chastely following a conversion process that began after a traumatic childhood and years of sexual libertinism.

The young man shared his conversion process in a telephone interview with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, “for the glory of God and the salvation of souls and to give light, hope, and salvation to these poor brothers of ours who are in the Church and are very confused.”

Specifically, Orvich said he wanted to share his experience with same-sex attraction “so that the Lord might touch hearts and that people repent and try returning to a chaste life.”

A difficult childhood

While only five years have passed since his conversion, to explain what he has experienced Orvich referred back to his childhood. “I had to grow up with a father who beat my mother, an alcoholic, a womanizer always using foul language. It was a hostile, terrible environment.”

The young man related that he was “wounded within his mother’s womb” because his father mistreated his mother during her pregnancy. “He never said ‘I love you’ to me,” he related, so his father became an absent figure to him: “My father was there, but I have never had him as a father.”

Orvich described his mother as “a woman of unwavering faith, of prayer” who, due to the family situation, adopted a “protective” role. In addition, as he was the youngest of three brothers, he said, “they bullied me a little.”

As a child, he began looking at pornography — a habit that continued to increase — so that “when I was 8 or 9 years old, I was already doing things with three boys my age. Not deep into it, but it was already totally perverted,” he explained.

Orvich’s school years were difficult. A shy and quiet boy, his classmates ostracized him. He still recalls the day a teacher put him in front of the blackboard to do a simple addition problem. He didn’t know how to do it and the teacher encouraged his classmates to laugh at him. That left a deep wound that would only be healed years later during his conversion process.

‘I opened doors to evil’ through the occult

When he turned 12, he fell into daily masturbation. During high school he continued viewing pornography and entered the world of the occult. “I opened the door to evil,” he acknowledged, through various esoteric practices.

The high-school Orvich wasn’t like the grade-school Orvich: “I was the rebel, the bully, the class clown, the good-looking dude.” At that time he had five girlfriends and the homosexual acts of his childhood were just a memory of misdirected curiosity. 

At one point, however, he began to become interested in a boy at the school. “I started to notice a boy in the classroom next door. He started to get my attention and something awakened in me. I started fooling around and I kind of liked that fooling around,” but it didn’t reach the sexual level.

Some time after that, at age 16, Orvich said, “I was with the first boy.” He hid this relationship from his family and carried on the liaison in secret until, at the age of 18, there was a big fight at home between his parents. “My father wanted to hit my mother and at 18 I wasn’t going to allow it,” he recounted.

His father called him a “faggot” — “he was always using that word” — and Orvich responded: “Yeah, what’s up!” His father’s reaction was very aggressive: “He wanted to kill me with a sickle, he threw a chair at me and I dodged it,” he said, describing the incident.

Abandoned by his family, he fell into prostitution

“Having just turned 18, my soul was at rock bottom,” he said, and he was terribly lonely. “I didn’t have a Christian friend, a good friend to tell me: ‘Don’t worry, come to my house.’” He said he had faith, because his mother had instilled it in him, but “I didn’t go to Mass, I didn’t do anything, I didn’t pray.”

Given the difficult situation at home, the boy with whom he had a relationship at the time took him in: “He is the only one who didn’t fail me, because my whole family failed me, they left me stranded.” However, that relationship ended badly and Orvich was forced to look for a room to rent.

He was just a kid who had barely left his parents’ home. “What do I do with my life now?” he thought. He tried a door-to-door sales job that didn’t go well until he made a dramatic decision: “I prostituted myself.”

“It was something very painful, very humiliating and terrible. I don’t wish anyone to go through that situation. Now I can talk about it, because the Lord is healing me, but before I couldn’t,” Orvich told ACI Prensa.

Fortunately, that only lasted a week, because a cousin of his called and offered him a place to live with his aunt and uncle. In the family it was already known as “official” that Orvich was homosexual.

Out of rage toward his father — “I hated him and wanted him dead” — he participated in a television program. “I made the biggest fool of myself in history and the devil deceived me in such a powerful way,” he said of the program, where he acknowledged his homosexuality in front of the cameras.

Orvich regrets the episode, especially because of the scandal it caused, particularly for his parents. “I ignored the commandment to honor your father and mother,” he said.

‘I knew this wasn’t normal’

At the time, through social media, Orvich was “totally involved in the gay world.” However, in retrospect, he emphasized that he was always uncomfortable with the lifestyle.

“I was not pro-LGBTQ. I wasn’t, because I knew this wasn’t normal. I said to myself: This is what happened to me, because it is what it is. But I wasn’t okay with it.”

Despite this, the young man frequented Chueca (a gay haunt in Madrid, Spain) because “when you are so full of demons, of lust, well in the end the body demands from you for what it demands from you.”

He had a series of toxic relationships and was emotionally dependent. “In the end, in men I was looking for the figure of my father, but I sexualized it,” he recalled.

Baptized at age 22 

Despite his mother’s faith, various family circumstances led to Orvich not being baptized during his early years. At age 22, however, he sought the sacrament: “Despite being ‘stuck in a bad situation,’ I told my mother that I wanted to be baptized.”

Finally, without much formal preparation due to his parents’ business activities, he was baptized.

Despite this, Orvich continued with his esoteric practices: “They dealt me cards and I loved the whole subject of spirits.” Deep down, he recognized “it was a God tailored to me, because I believed, but I did whatever I felt like.”

Three years went by in which Orvich spent a lot of time cultivating his outward image and going to the gym, which led him to work as a model making good money.

The spiritual turnaround in his life came at age 25, when a newborn nephew was on the verge of death. It came as a powerful jolt to his soul that led him to pray fervently for the child’s life. “The Lord told me in my interior: ‘This is the last chance.’ He said it to me like that,” Orvich related.

“I understood what I was doing wrong, the condition of my soul. I realized all of it and said: It’s over, I renounce this.” 

Asked for his take on Fiducia Supplicans, Orvich commented that "what is being said a lot is 'God loves you' and, in fact, God loves us a lot. But what is being omitted is that you have to convert." Credit: Fran Orvich
Asked for his take on Fiducia Supplicans, Orvich commented that "what is being said a lot is 'God loves you' and, in fact, God loves us a lot. But what is being omitted is that you have to convert." Credit: Fran Orvich

‘I no longer want other loves’

So Orvich decided to go to confession “to a good priest.” He describes what it was like receiving the sacrament of forgiveness.

“I have always wanted to find love and peace. I didn’t find it in men, nor in money, nor in fame, because I was always empty. I made my confession and told all my sins, because I had incredible enlightenment from the Holy Spirit,” he recounted.

“When the priest gave me absolution, I felt so much love!” he continued. “I felt God’s forgiveness, his mercy. That was something incredible for me. I was on cloud nine, with a weight lifted off my shoulders.”

“I couldn’t stop crying and asking the Lord for forgiveness. I felt so loved, so loved! And when I knew this love of God, I said: I no longer want other loves, because I have been unhappy, nothing more, I have suffered a lot. I want to be with this love, I want to be with Jesus.”

Thus began a process of faith formation, including devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and divine mercy. Orvich had “an incredible thirst for God, to love him, to worship him, to serve him, to make amends, to do penance.”

And, following that path of conversion, he participated in an Ephphatha (“Be opened,” cf Mk 7:34) Retreat where, in front of the Blessed Sacrament, “face to face with the Lord, I cried a lot and asked for forgiveness for what I did,” he said.

Forgiving his mother

He also felt the need to ask forgiveness from his mother. She had been praying for seven years and told him: “Son, the Lord finally heard my prayers. He has already taken out the dagger that I had in my heart for you. Blessed be the Lord.”

For Orvich, it’s important to explain how his mother related to him. “She didn’t agree with my sin, but she loved me. She didn’t tell me ‘bring your boyfriend whenever you want and introduce him to me,’ no. She told me twice ‘I don’t agree with this, with your life,’ but always with a lot of love and a lot of mercy.”

Some time later, after a process, he was able to ask his father for forgiveness. “He also asked for my forgiveness and I experienced a very powerful release, a weight was taken off my shoulders.”

‘The Holy Virgin is key’

Orvich has been living chastely for five years. “I don’t want to be with anyone, I want to be with Jesus Christ, I want to be in his Church. The things of God are what make me truly happy and give me peace.”

Despite his determination, he recognizes that he has temptations, “attacks from the devil,” which he understands are “part of the purification” he must undergo. To combat them he tries to go to daily Mass and receive Communion, pray the rosary, and do penances.

He has also consecrated himself to the Virgin Mary in accord  with the 33-day process advocated by St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort.

“The Holy Virgin is key in my fight against the demon that will always try to set me back. I have to be in a constant struggle. The Lord gives you perseverance.”

As part of this spiritual battle, in addition to his work, Orvich is a “missionary on social media,” through his Facebook and TikTok profiles, where he tries to “witness to young and old, giving the Word of God, a breath of peace and joy.”

Spiritual and psychological help

In order to live this new life, Orvich needed significant spiritual and psychological help, beginning with closing the doors he had opened through the occult.

“If St. Mary Magdalene had seven demons, imagine me,” said Orvich, who has undergone “deliverance” prayer. In fact, he assumes he is “still in the process.”

In other areas, he is aware that “the psychological part and the spiritual part go together,” which is why he looked for “a good psychologist priest, who will not lead me to evil but who will lead me to God” and has found him. “The Lord has given me an excellent psychologist priest who addresses all these issues of same-sex attraction.”

Fiducia Supplicans

Near the end of the extensive conversation with ACI Prensa, Orvich did not hesitate when asked about his impressions of the Vatican document Fiducia Supplicans, which approves of blessings for same-sex couples.

“It caused me a lot of pain and sadness,” he said, because the document “is very confusing, very ambiguous, it doesn’t give light. It can confuse many souls.”

“What is being said a lot is ‘God loves you’ and, in fact, God loves us a lot. But what is being omitted is that you have to convert,” Orvich emphasized, recalling the words of Jesus: “Whoever wants to follow me, let him deny himself.”

Along these lines, he added: “If we want to be in communion with the Lord, we have to try to do things right. We’re sinners and we fall, but you have to be on the road to conversion, every day. The Holy Curé of Ars already said there is no greater charity than saving a soul from hell by telling the truth.”

Message to parents of children with same-sex attraction

Finally, ACI Prensa asked Orvich to freely say anything he would like to share about his experience and that he considers essential. He had a twofold message for parents of children who experience same-sex attraction.

On the one hand, he advised parents to “love their children, but do not accept their sin. Because if you accept it, it will be useless for you to pray.” Driving that point home, he emphasized: “By confirming them in sin we are not helping them, we are condemning them.”

The second essential idea he wants to convey to parents is to “never tire of praying for your children, because prayer has a lot of intercessory power.”

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