1. Pope extends, expands mission of envoy to Medjugorje shrine. 

By Associated Press, May 31, 2018, 8:31 AM

Pope Francis has asked his envoy to a Bosnian shrine to stay on the job indefinitely to provide pastoral support to the millions of Catholics drawn there by reports of apparitions of the Virgin Mary.

The Vatican said Thursday that Polish Monsignor Henryk Hoser’s initial mandate to investigate the needs of pilgrims in Medjugorje had ended. Francis asked him to now provide spiritual accompaniment.

The statement made no mention of the status of the Vatican’s yearslong investigation into the merits of the reported apparitions. Six youths in 1981 reported having visions of Mary there, and some say the visions have continued regularly.


2. Bolivian cardinal-designate says report on secret family slanderous. 

By Junno Arocho Esteves, Crux, May 30, 2018

Bolivian Cardinal-designate Toribio Ticona Porco denied rumors of having a wife and children in secret and threatened legal action if the reports continued.

In a statement released by the Bolivian bishops’ conference May 28, Ticona said the allegations contained in the “false report” first published in the Spanish ‘Adelante la Fe’ blog “do not correspond to the truth.”

“If these accusations persist, I will have no problem in launching a legal complaint for libel against those who promote or spread it,” he said.

Pope Francis announced May 20 that he would make the retired prelate a cardinal along with 13 other churchmen June 28.


3. State Department releases annual report on international religious freedom. 

By Catholic News Service, May 30, 2018

Everyone has “a stake in this fight” for religious freedom, said the U.S. ambassador at large for international religious freedom, Sam Brownback.

Brownback joined U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a news conference to release the annual International Religious Freedom Report, which covers the period between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2017.

Pompeo also announced the United States will host the first ministerial meeting to be held aimed at advancing religious freedom around the world. It will take place July 25 and July 26 in Washington. He said it will provide an opportunity to “break new ground,” and will not just be a “discussion group.”

Among its findings the report noted:

– The plight of the Rohingya and the Kachin people in Myanmar. Brownback noted that he visited several of the refugee camps in Bangladesh about a month ago. “The situation is dire. We must do more to help them, as they continue to be targeted for their faith.”

– In North Korea, up to 120,000 political prisoners in “horrific conditions” in camps across the country, some have been imprisoned for religious reasons. The report said there were 1,304 cases of alleged religious freedom violations in the country last year.

– In Eritrea, the government “reportedly killed, arrested, and tortured religious adherents and coerced individuals into renouncing their faith.”

– Tajikistan continues to prohibit minors from even participating in any religious activities.

– Saudi Arabia does not recognize the right of non-Muslims to practice their religion in public and imprisons, lashes, and fines individuals for apostasy, blasphemy, and insulting the state’s interpretation of Islam.

– In Turkmenistan, individuals who gather for worship without registering with the government face arrest, detention, and harassment.

-In China Falun Gong adherents, Uighur Muslims and members of other religious minorities continue to be imprisoned; with many of them dying in custody.

“We also remain very concerned about religious freedom or the lack thereof in Pakistan, where some 50 individuals are serving life sentences for blasphemy, according to civil society reports. Seventeen are awaiting execution,” Brownback said. “And in Russia, authorities target peaceful religious groups, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, equating them with terrorists.”


4. GK Chesterton’s sainthood cause may soon be opened. 

By Perry West, Catholic News Agency, May 30, 2018

As an investigation into the life of Catholic apologist G.K. Chesterton nears a close, admirers of the English writer voiced hope that his sainthood cause could soon be opened.

An investigation into the cause for Chesterton, conducted by Canon John Udris, is expected to be completed this summer.

It will then be sent to Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton, who will consult with the Vatican about whether to open the beatification cause.

Ahlquist said the decision will most likely be announced this fall.

Chesterton was born in 1874 and died in 1936 as a well-known author with many published novels, poems, plays, and philosophical and theological essays. As a result of his marriage to Frances, he developed a strong faith as a devout Anglican. In 1922, he converted to Catholicism.