Cardinal Vincent Nichols said there is “great confusion” surrounding gender identity. When he was addressing the annual conference of English head teachers he appealed to them to uphold for children’s sake the values of family and community rather than individualism and self-determination. Nichols said: “In an age of fluidity, even in gender identity… there are ‘givens’ which come with birth and with solid identities.” Such foundations are so important, he continued.

In 2016, Pope Francis had spoken out on the issue, calling it “ideolo­gical colonising”, adding that the “first and last name” of this colonisation “is gender”.

Cardinal Lehmann dies aged 81

Cardinal Karl Lehmann, the former Bishop of Mainz and for almost 20 years president of the German bishops’ conference, died on March 11. He was 81.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, the current bishops’ conference president, described Lehmann as “an impressive personality, an exemplary priest, a ‘carer of souls’, an exceptionally gifted theologian and a good friend”.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier praised Lehmann as a “bridge builder between denominations and religions”.

Pope Francis recalled that Lehmann had always attempted “to be open for the questions and challenges of the times and to answer them and give people orientation in the light of Jesus Christ’s message”. In doing so, Lehmann had concentrated on that which united rather than sepa­rated denominations, different convictions or countries.

Priests in Congo feel the danger

L’Observatoire de la Christianophobie reported that Josephite Father Florent Mbulanthie Tulantshiedi, who was found in a boat on the banks of the Kasai River, was probably strangled to death. The murder is raising tension between the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Catholic Church, which has been leading protests aimed at persuading President Joseph Kabila not to seek another term as president.

The murder has raised fears that there will be more reprisals against the Church in general and Catholic priests in particular since the clergy have also been targeted by the many different armed militias active in the country. In the absence of any credible Opposition and a free press, the Church is emerging as the only credible voice that can speak up for the people of the Congo in the face of Kabila’s regime. Catholics make up nearly half of Congo’s 80 million people, and the nation’s bishops are held in high esteem.

(Compiled by Fr Joe Borg)


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