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Vatican warns against use of deconsecrated churches for nightclubs, profane purposes

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…500 Catholic churches closed down in Germany

From strip joints to nightclubs and pizzerias, the Vatican is urging Catholic countries around the world not to allow deconsecrated churches to be used for profane purposes, in the first conference dedicated to the issue.

Falling congregations, a lack of clergy and crippling maintenance costs means that thousands of Catholic churches around the world are being decommissioned and turned into restaurants, pubs, cafes and even skateboarding venues.

More than 500 Catholic churches have closed down in Germany since 2000, while in Canada one fifth of Catholic churches were deconsecrated in the same period.
In the Netherlands, an estimated 500 churches are due to fall out of religious use in the next decade.

There is a danger that they will end up being used for “inappropriate activities”, as one delegate delicately put it at the conference, titled “Doesn’t God Live Here Anymore?”
“I know of a little church in northern Ontario that was turned into a strip club,” Paul-André Durocher, the archbishop of Gatineau in Canada, told The Telegraph. “It went up in flames, thank God. That’s one of the worst examples.”

In Prague, a church was turned into an ice cream parlour, while in Arnhem in the Netherlands, a deconsecrated church became a skateboarding hall.
In Asti in northern Italy a church has been turned into a bar called “Il Diavolo Rosso” – The Red Devil.

In 2005, a late 18th century Catholic church in Liverpool was converted into a nightclub, which is “still very much regretted by the Catholic community,” said Sophie Andreae, vice-chair of the patrimony committee of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales.

“This is going to be a big issue in the future and that’s why guidance from Rome is so important.”

There was a scandal in Naples earlier this month when a former church was used for a Halloween party, with young women dressed in sexy witch outfits and leather mini-skirts sitting on the altar.

A fashion show held in a church in Florence also caused a stir. “Some of the models were rather scantily clothed,” said Monsignor Carlos Azevedo, one of the conference organisers. “People were a bit scandalised.”

In a message sent to the conference, held in a Catholic university in Rome, Pope Francis acknowledged a decline in the number of faithful and a dearth of priests but said that deconsecrated churches could be given “a new life”, preferably in service of the poor.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Vatican body that organised the event, said that turning a former church into a pizzeria or something similar amounted to “blasphemy”.

“A museum would be fine, or perhaps a community meeting place,” he said.
Delegates from around the world, including Australia, the US, Spain, Nigeria, Poland and Ireland, spoke of growing secularisation, an over-supply of churches and the headache of what to do with them.

Dioceses complained of having little say over the future use of deconsecrated churches.
In the case of the church in Ontario, when it was first sold to a local businessman he wanted to turn it into a family restaurant.

But he went bust, the church was repossessed by the bank and the next buyer turned it into a strip club.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Vatican body that organised the event, said that turning a former church into a pizzeria or something similar amounted to “blasphemy”.

“A museum would be fine, or perhaps a community meeting place,” he said.

Dioceses complained of having little say over the future use of deconsecrated churches.
In the case of the church in Ontario, when it was first sold to a local businessman he wanted to turn it into a family restaurant.

But he went bust, the church  was repossessed by the bank and the next buyer turned it into a strip club.

“The critical thing is that it carries forward so that even if the church is sold again, the covenant still applies,” said Ms Andreae.

While striptease clubs and bars are definitely out, the Vatican looks favourably on former churches being turned into social centres, soup kitchens, museums or bookshops.

“A church in my diocese was turned into a palliative care centre. That’s in keeping with the Church’s mandate,” said Archbishop Durocher.

At the end of the two-day conference, the Vatican is expected to issue guidelines for dioceses around the world on how to manage the sale of deconsecrated churches.

“Property laws differ around the world so it has to be tackled on a country-by-country basis,” said Monsignor Paul Tighe, the secretary for the Pontifical Council for Culture.

“But bishops need to explore what options there are for protecting churches when they are sold.”

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CATHOLIC WORLD

Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes

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Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump - CAN fumes

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s revelation of his conversation with United States President, Donald Trump, on the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, saying President Buhari was economical with the truth.

President Buhari had on Tuesday, revealed that at the heat of the bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, the United States President, Donald Trump, unequivocally accused him of killing Christians.

Buhari said these in his closing remarks at the two-day ministerial performance review retreat held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.

At a point, the President digressed from his prepared speech and narrated his encounter with Trump on the bloody clashes.

He said he managed to explain to the American leader that the clashes were not about ethnicity or religion.

He said, “I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited.

“When I was in his office, only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, and asked, ‘Why are you killing Christians?’

“I wonder, if you were the person, how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion, so I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and farmers, I know is older than me not to talk of him. I think I am a couple of years older than him.

“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any root, to your water point, then they will follow it. It doesn’t matter whose farm it is.

“The First Republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle route where they used meager resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.

“So, any cattle rearers that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm would be arrested, taken before the court. The farmer would be called to submit his bill and if he couldn’t pay, the cattle would be sold, but subsequent leaders, the VVIPs (very important persons) encroached on the cattle routes. They took over the cattle rearing areas.

“So, I tried and explained to him (Trump) that this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing.”

However, CAN’s Vice President and Chairman of the association in Kaduna State, John Hayab, was not impressed with Buhari’s submission, saying “Buhari and his government will never stop from amusing us with their tales by moonlight because what is happening in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Birnin Gwari, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and others cannot be described as a cultural thing.

He told Punch correspondent in an interview: “President Buhari’s weak story about his conversation with President Donald Trump further confirms why his government does not care about the killings in our country by calling them cultural things.

“Just this (Tuesday) evening, I received a report from the Kaduna Baptist Conference President about the number of their members that have been killed by bandits in Kaduna State from January 2020 to date to be 105 and our President will call it a cultural thing? All we can say is may God save our Nigeria.”

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Nuncio tasks clergy, laity on good stewardship

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Nuncio tasks clergy, laity on good stewardship

The Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi, has urged the clergy, religious and lay faithful to be trustworthy, transparent, selfless and generous stewards in the discharge of their duties in the Church, following the way of Jesus.

Archbishop Filipazzi made the call during the opening ceremony of the maiden General Assembly of the Abuja Archdiocese, which was held on at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Friday September 4.

The General Assembly, with the theme “Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja: Together in Evangelization,” saw Bishops, priests, religious men and women, and the laity gathered together to discuss means of strengthening the faith of God’s people amid the ongoing Covid-19 health crisis.

Addressing participants, Archbishop Filipazzi said that “an administrator is neither a master nor a slave who cannot decide anything, but one who is given a responsibility by the Master.” In this light, the faithful are called to be “true administrators of divine mystery” entrusted to them by Our Lord, according to their varying roles in the Church.

The Apostolic Nuncio also said “differences must not lead to division,” as everyone, though different, must strive for unity since there is no room for divisions in the body of Christ.

Archbishop Filipazzi, speaking on the upsurge in violence in northern Nigeria in a Vatican News interview on 29 August, had also called for shunning divisions along religious and ethnic lines.

Rather, he appealed for “general respect of the law and general intervention of the government” in the violent attacks which have claimed many lives and caused massive material damage.

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Assumpta CMO raises fund to roof “St Joseph’s Hall of Faith”

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Assumpta CMO raises fund to roof “St. Joseph's Hall of Faith”

The Catholic Men Organization, CMO, Maria Assumpta Cathedral Parish Owerri, joined their counterparts in the Archdiocese to celebrate Father’s Day on Sunday, August 30.

The celebration earlier scheduled for May 10 this year was differed because of Covid-19 pandemic.

The occasion began with a Pontifical Mass presided over by His Grace, Most Rev. Anthony Obinna, Archbishop of Owerri cum Parish Priest of the Cathedral Parish.

In his homily, Archbishop Obinna called on Christians to live a life of witnessing to Christ at all times. He said that the zeal to preach the word of God is like a fire that burns inside the heart of a Christian and will not abate until one bears witness to Christ. This, he said, must be done in the course of our daily lives, in our places of work, in our families, among our friends, through living life that is Christ-like.

He congratulated the Christian fathers on the occasion and appealed for support to enable them complete their building project in no distant time. His Grace also appreciated the performance of the CMO choir during the Mass.

The theme for the parish celebration is: “Catholic Men As Spiritual Heads of the Domestic Church: Implications in the Family.”

The parish CMO used the celebration to raise fund for the roofing of their building project named: “St. Joseph’s Hall of Faith.”

In his brief remark at the occasion, the Parish CMO President, Arc. Anthony Emeka Ozoude said, “We have been able to complete the block work,” adding that, “the task before us now is to put a roof on the building.”

He therefore made a passionate appeal for generous donations from members and well wishers, assuring donors that every kobo donated will be prudently applied for the purpose.

Arc. Ozoude recalled that early this year, the parish CMO executive identified a three-prong programme of focus, namely: Membership revalidation, Debt recovery and Fund raising for the roofing.

He advised members not to sit on the fence anymore as there is so much to gain spiritually, morally and even intellectually from participating in the CMO activities both at the parish, stations and prayer groups levels.

“The committed members who attend our programmes regularly have discovered this and have remained resolute in their participation,” he said.

Activities marking this year’s celebration included Retreat, visit to ailing members in their homes, thanksgiving Mass blessing of the mini altars for the 5 prayer groups of CMO etc.

Arc. Ozoude thanked in a special way, Archbishop Obinna, the Cathedral Administrator and priests working in the Cathedral for their support. He also commended the various stations and prayer groups for their cooperation.

The CMO president acknowledged the good work and sacrifice of the Planning Committee, headed by Dr. Uche Ukozor and thanked them for a job well done.

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