Wednesday 31 January 2024

Fr. James Martin addresses Irish bishops in private meeting at Marian Shrine

The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference has been addressed today by heterodox Jesuit priest Father James Martin in the Marian Shrine of Knock, Co. Mayo, where Our Lady appeared to villagers in 1879. 

The conference had not made any statement on the matter at the time of publication, nor responded to requests for comment from LifeSiteNews, but it is understood that at least one bishop privately expressed reservations about hosting the dissident Jesuit. 

 A trusted source in Ireland told LifeSiteNews that the meeting included discussions on how to implement the blessing of homosexual “couples” and even the desire to implement homosexual “marriage.”

A notoriously pro-LGBT member of the Dicastery for Communications, Martin has enjoyed increasing papal favor despite his longstanding record of promoting LGBT ideology in dissent from Catholic teaching.  

He has also promoted an image drawn from a series of blasphemous, homoerotic works showing Jesus Christ as a homosexual, promoted same-sex civil unions, and described viewing God as male as “damaging.” 

Martin was among many LGBT “Catholic” activists to praise the Vatican’s recently released Fiducia Supplicans document as a not-so tacit endorsement of homosexual relationships, with many modernist commentators and clergy chiding prelates and priests who recognize the declaration as an outright attack on truth, undermining Scriptural authority and the magisterium of the Church. 

The document was also welcomed by Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Farrell in early January, who indicated in his statement that priests should not refuse to bless homosexual couples or those in sexual relationships outside of marriage. 

Today’s meeting took place in Ireland’s most famous shrine, Knock, where, along with Our Lady, St. Joseph, St. John the Evangelist and the Lamb of God appeared in a silent apparition to 15 poor villagers on 21 August, 1879. 

That evening marked the conclusion of 100 Masses being offered for the Holy Souls in Purgatory by local priest Archdeacon Bartholomew Cavanagh.

Message of the Holy Father Francis for Lent 2024

                                                  Official Crest of Pope Francis | The official coat of arms o… | Flickr

Through the Desert God Leads us to Freedom

Dear brothers and sisters!

When our God reveals himself, his message is always one of freedom: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Ex 20:2). These are the first words of the Decalogue given to Moses on Mount Sinai. Those who heard them were quite familiar with the exodus of which God spoke: the experience of their bondage still weighed heavily upon them. In the desert, they received the “Ten Words” as a thoroughfare to freedom. We call them “commandments”, in order to emphasize the strength of the love by which God shapes his people. The call to freedom is a demanding one. It is not answered straightaway; it has to mature as part of a journey. Just as Israel in the desert still clung to Egypt – often longing for the past and grumbling against the Lord and Moses – today too, God’s people can cling to an oppressive bondage that it is called to leave behind. We realize how true this is at those moments when we feel hopeless, wandering through life like a desert and lacking a promised land as our destination. Lent is the season of grace in which the desert can become once more – in the words of the prophet Hosea – the place of our first love (cf. Hos 2:16-17). God shapes his people, he enables us to leave our slavery behind and experience a Passover from death to life. Like a bridegroom, the Lord draws us once more to himself, whispering words of love to our hearts.

The exodus from slavery to freedom is no abstract journey. If our celebration of Lent is to be concrete, the first step is to desire to open our eyes to reality. When the Lord calls out to Moses from the burning bush, he immediately shows that he is a God who sees and, above all, hears: “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey” (Ex 3:7-8). Today too, the cry of so many of our oppressed brothers and sisters rises to heaven. Let us ask ourselves: Do we hear that cry? Does it trouble us? Does it move us? All too many things keep us apart from each other, denying the fraternity that, from the beginning, binds us to one another.

During my visit to Lampedusa, as a way of countering the globalization of indifference, I asked two questions, which have become more and more pressing: “Where are you?” (Gen 3:9) and “Where is your brother?” (Gen 4:9). Our Lenten journey will be concrete if, by listening once more to those two questions, we realize that even today we remain under the rule of Pharaoh. A rule that makes us weary and indifferent. A model of growth that divides and robs us of a future. Earth, air and water are polluted, but so are our souls. True, Baptism has begun our process of liberation, yet there remains in us an inexplicable longing for slavery. A kind of attraction to the security of familiar things, to the detriment of our freedom.

In the Exodus account, there is a significant detail: it is God who sees, is moved and brings freedom; Israel does not ask for this. Pharaoh stifles dreams, blocks the view of heaven, makes it appear that this world, in which human dignity is trampled upon and authentic bonds are denied, can never change. He put everything in bondage to himself. Let us ask: Do I want a new world? Am I ready to leave behind my compromises with the old? The witness of many of my brother bishops and a great number of those who work for peace and justice has increasingly convinced me that we need to combat a deficit of hope that stifles dreams and the silent cry that reaches to heaven and moves the heart of God. This “deficit of hope” is not unlike the nostalgia for slavery that paralyzed Israel in the desert and prevented it from moving forward. An exodus can be interrupted: how else can we explain the fact that humanity has arrived at the threshold of universal fraternity and at levels of scientific, technical, cultural, and juridical development capable of guaranteeing dignity to all, yet gropes about in the darkness of inequality and conflict.

God has not grown weary of us. Let us welcome Lent as the great season in which he reminds us: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Ex 20:2). Lent is a season of conversion, a time of freedom. Jesus himself, as we recall each year on the first Sunday of Lent, was driven into the desert by the Spirit in order to be tempted in freedom. For forty days, he will stand before us and with us: the incarnate Son. Unlike Pharaoh, God does not want subjects, but sons and daughters. The desert is the place where our freedom can mature in a personal decision not to fall back into slavery. In Lent, we find new criteria of justice and a community with which we can press forward on a road not yet taken.

This, however, entails a struggle, as the book of Exodus and the temptations of Jesus in the desert make clear to us. The voice of God, who says, “You are my Son, the Beloved” (Mk 1:11), and “You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex 20:3) is opposed by the enemy and his lies. Even more to be feared than Pharaoh are the idols that we set up for ourselves; we can consider them as his voice speaking within us. To be all-powerful, to be looked up to by all, to domineer over others: every human being is aware of how deeply seductive that lie can be. It is a road well-travelled. We can become attached to money, to certain projects, ideas or goals, to our position, to a tradition, even to certain individuals. Instead of making us move forward, they paralyze us. Instead of encounter, they create conflict. Yet there is also a new humanity, a people of the little ones and of the humble who have not yielded to the allure of the lie. Whereas those who serve idols become like them, mute, blind, deaf and immobile (cf. Ps 114:4), the poor of spirit are open and ready: a silent force of good that heals and sustains the world.

It is time to act, and in Lent, to act also means to pause. To pause in prayer, in order to receive the word of God, to pause like the Samaritan in the presence of a wounded brother or sister. Love of God and love of neighbour are one love. Not to have other gods is to pause in the presence of God beside the flesh of our neighbour. For this reason, prayer, almsgiving and fasting are not three unrelated acts, but a single movement of openness and self-emptying, in which we cast out the idols that weigh us down, the attachments that imprison us. Then the atrophied and isolated heart will revive. Slow down, then, and pause! The contemplative dimension of life that Lent helps us to rediscover will release new energies. In the presence of God, we become brothers and sisters, more sensitive to one another: in place of threats and enemies, we discover companions and fellow travelers. This is God’s dream, the promised land to which we journey once we have left our slavery behind.

The Church’s synodal form, which in these years we are rediscovering and cultivating, suggests that Lent is also a time of communitarian decisions, of decisions, small and large, that are countercurrent. Decisions capable of altering the daily lives of individuals and entire neighbourhoods, such as the ways we acquire goods, care for creation, and strive to include those who go unseen or are looked down upon. I invite every Christian community to do just this: to offer its members moments set aside to rethink their lifestyles, times to examine their presence in society and the contribution they make to its betterment. Woe to us if our Christian penance were to resemble the kind of penance that so dismayed Jesus. To us too, he says: “Whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting” (Mt 6:16). Instead, let others see joyful faces, catch the scent of freedom and experience the love that makes all things new, beginning with the smallest and those nearest to us. This can happen in every one of our Christian communities.

To the extent that this Lent becomes a time of conversion, an anxious humanity will notice a burst of creativity, a flash of new hope. Allow me to repeat what I told the young people whom I met in Lisbon last summer: “Keep seeking and be ready to take risks. At this moment in time, we face enormous risks; we hear the painful plea of so many people. Indeed, we are experiencing a third world war fought piecemeal. Yet let us find the courage to see our world, not as being in its death throes but in a process of giving birth, not at the end but at the beginning of a great new chapter of history. We need courage to think like this” (Address to University Students, 3 August 2023). Such is the courage of conversion, born of coming up from slavery. For faith and charity take hope, this small child, by the hand. They teach her to walk, and at the same time, she leads them forward.[1]

I bless all of you and your Lenten journey.

Rome, Saint John Lateran, 3 December 2023, First Sunday of Advent.


Irish Church says new medical guide is paving the way for euthanasia

According to the chairperson of the Council for Life of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, there are “numerous defects” in a new ethics guide of the Irish Medical Council, which, among other things, removes a line barring medical staff from taking part in the ‘deliberate killing’ of a patient.

“I find myself wondering if this is an oversight, or is it the case that the Medical Council has now decided that it is acceptable for doctors to take part in the deliberate killing of a patient?” Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin said in a statement.

“Even if assisted suicide were to be legalized, for example, that of itself would never make the killing of patients ethical,” he said.

The bishop noted the sections on Assisted Human Reproduction and Abortion, which were in the 8th edition of the Guide, have disappeared from the 9th edition. Both activities have been legalized in the Republic of Ireland.

“This would seem to suggest that the Medical Council does not see these very significant areas of activity as involving any ethical questions or risks.  Is this simply because the law in these areas has changed.  Have actions which were previously unethical, and quite simply ‘bad medicine,’ suddenly become ethical because they are now legal?” Doran said.

“Under the heading of Conscientious Objection, I note that the Guide reflects recent legislation on Abortion, in that it requires doctors to ‘make such arrangements as may be necessary to enable the patient to obtain the required treatment.’  I am not sure how it makes sense ethically to require a doctor to assist a patient to access a procedure which the doctor, herself or himself, regards as unethical,” the bishop said.

He said these issues do not only affect doctors, and also impact the common good of our society by “radically redefining what is ‘good’ for us all.”

The bishop added that he has written to the president of the Medical Council seeking clarification, “but my letter has received neither a reply nor even an acknowledgement.”

President Dr. Suzanne Crowe has said the Medical Council does not have a position on assisted dying, and the change to the ethical guide has been misinterpreted in a statement to the Irish parliament.

The Republic of Ireland government is currently examining the possibility of legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide.

“The guide states that the medical profession must comply with, and operate within, the law. As per legislation, it is illegal for all individuals, including doctors, to take part in the deliberate killing of a person, or to assist a person to end their own life,” Crowe said.

“The removal of this paragraph was not the Medical Council taking a stance or paving the way for any possible future change, and should not be interpreted this way,” she continued.

The Iona Institute, a conservative organization that supports traditional values in Ireland, has described the new addition of the medical code as a “momentous move” that “clearly paving the way for euthanasia.”

“No longer telling doctors that they cannot take part in the deliberate killing of patients is not medical ethics, it is the opposite,” the Institute said.

“It is shameful that the Medical Council has gone down this path, clearly with the blessing of the Minister for Health. Hopefully the doctors of Ireland will push back against this incredibly retrograde step,” it said.

Bishop of Kerry: ‘Churches can be centre of community, even without weekend Mass’

Bishop's decade of achievements and challenges |

Bishop of Kerry Ray Browne has issued a pastoral letter to the Diocese of Kerry inviting people to participate in the consultation and planning process for the diocese over the next six months.

‘Moving Forward In Hope’ seeks to shape the future of pastoral areas, parishes, and local church communities, while following a vision that addresses the ‘faith-world’ of today.

In his letter, Bishop Browne said the life of the 110 local church-communities is a valuable and valued resource for people now and into the future.

“In the light of fewer clergy, we need to explore how each local church-community can thrive with local leadership acting co-responsibly with the priests ministering to the parishes of the pastoral areas,” Bishop Browne said.

“A church can still be the centre point for community life, even if there is no weekend Mass. Think of your local church community in four ways: a social/friendship community; a caring compassionate community; a praying, worshipping and sacramental community; and a community whose mission is to nourish and develop its faith, and hand it on to the next generation,” he added.

The Bishop explained that for more than fifteen years, the dioceses has had a strategy to respond to the reduction in the number of priests. With fifteen parishes currently without a resident priest, these areas are served by the priests and deacons of their pastoral area.

“With many priests set to reach retirement age of 75 in the next three years, the challenge is imminent. Greater involvement of parishioners in all aspects of church life has enabled us to adjust well. There are so many people in all our parishes to whom we owe a debt of gratitude for devoted voluntary service,” Bishop Browne said.

He cited the need to review Kerry’s parish and pastoral area structures so that they can serve people more effectively. Central to this would be a more structured engagement of laity. Moreover, a key element of the future will be the ministry of lay pastoral leaders, of whom 26 are presently in formation.

“Our first step in the process is consulting you, the people of the parishes. In February, there will be a gathering in each parish. The invitation is open to all: what do you see as the strengths and weaknesses locally, and what are your thoughts on what might be done?” Bishop Browne said.

“In parallel with this, there will be a consultation for the clergy. Our hope is that parishioners and deacons will take a structured leadership role in their pastoral areas working in a co-responsible way with the priests of the pastoral area as well as priests from abroad. This will allow priests to work across pastoral areas in a more sustainable manner. We will keep people informed as the process progresses,” he added.

Bishop Browne thanked parishioners for their prayers and involvement in contributing to parish life, and to anyone ill or coping with major difficulties. He thanked all the priests, in appointments and retired, for their dedicated and loving ministry.

“Let us thank God for the two priests ordained in the past six years and our two seminarians as we continue to pray for vocations to serve as priests in the diocese. Let us be united and confident as we face the challenges that lie ahead. We have much to be grateful for,” he said.

Bishop Browne concluded: “Please remember in your prayers this consultation and planning process. The life of St Brendan is a wonderful testimony to deep Christian faith, and to trust in God facing the future. Let us entrust our future to the intercession of St Brendan.”

Monday 29 January 2024

After Criticism, Priest Defends Nativity Scene Depicting Jesus with Two Mothers

An Italian priest has defended a Nativity scene depicting Jesus with two mothers after receiving criticism from right- wing activists in the country.

In December, Fr. Vitaliano Della Sala, pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Church in the town of Capocastello di Mercogliano, set up the parish’s Nativity scene with two figures of Mary surrounding Jesus in the manger. 

A figure of Joseph is also included off to the side of the scene, which is set before the church’s altar. He said he intended the representation to be a gesture of welcome.

The scene attracted critics from the political right wing. 

According to Reuters, “Senator Maurizio Gasparri, of the co-ruling Forza Italia party, said the LGBT creche ‘offends all those who always had respect and devotion for the Holy Family.'” 

A conservative Catholic group launched a petition asking Avellino’s Bishop Arturo Aiello to remove the scene, which the group described as “dangerous” and “blasphemous.”

The depiction of Jesus with two mothers comes as Italians grapple with whether parents in same-gender relationships should have legal rights. 

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and her allies have tried to strip such parents of municipal recognitions and sought to ban Italians from seeking surrogacy arrangements abroad.

For Fr. Della Sala, however, the Nativity scene was simply meant to be show the church’s welcoming message. Just before Christmas - and the day after the Vatican announced it would allow same-gender couples to be blessed - the priest posted on Facebook, in part:

“Many ways of being a family: ‘nothing is impossible for God’! . . .

“The contempt, even on the part of sectors of the Catholic Church, against the ‘rainbow families’ and their condemnation regardless, without a serious and honest discussion and comparison, is the brushstroke of darkness that contributes to painting the night of our time. Therefore there are two mothers in the nativity scene: This year I also see the light of Christmas shining on these families affected by inhuman and anti-evangelical criticism and condemnation.

“Every year Christmas reminds us that it is God’s intention to start again from the margins, from not only geographical borders, where people, languages, religions and cultures merge into a new and colorful Babel.”

In his reflection, Della Sala noted that it is not only society which excludes, but the church. He wrote:

“But exclusion is not only practiced within civil society, the Church also often practices exclusion, relegating to the margins authentic witnesses of Jesus Christ who clash with power, who follow new paths, those paths on which they immediately take the last ones walk, the poor of God, and over which the right-thinking people stumble, scandalized.

“Instead, the very logic of inclusiveness is the future of the Church: a Church that does not marginalize, does not use the heavy ax of judgment against anyone, a ‘Church of the excluded and not of exclusion’ (Mgr. J. Gaillot), capable to welcome, to carry everyone within.

“The liberation brought about by Jesus begins precisely in Galilee, a metaphor for all social and religious exclusion. At the ‘center’, idolized as a symbol of all power, God prefers the periphery, a symbol of all marginalization.”

Della Sala has been a controversial figure in the Italian church. 

A longtime LGBTQ+ advocate, he spoke at World Pride when it was held in Rome in 2000—and even directly criticized some cardinals by name. 

He has likewise been critical of the church for other failings, and has been active in peace efforts in some conflict zones. 

Over time, Della Sala faced censure and then sanctions, and he was removed from parish ministry altogether at one point.

But, in the era of Pope Francis, the priest’s pastoral instincts led to his rehabilitation. The sanctions were removed, returning him to parish ministry - and, in this present incident, Della Sala cited Pope Francis as an influence for why an inclusive Nativity scene was needed. He explained:

“‘I wanted to show with this scene that families are no longer just the traditional ones. . .In our parishes we see more and more children from the new types of families that exist and are part of our society, children of separated and divorced people, gay couples, single people, young mothers.'”

The Christmas season has passed and the queer Nativity scene in Capocastello di Mercogliano may be packed up. 

What remains is the truth that Fr. Della Sala preaches: There are many ways of being a family for nothing is impossible for God!

Moment volunteer police officer tells Christian singer on Oxford Street that she is 'not allowed' to perform 'church songs outside of church grounds' before walking off and sticking her tongue out to the camera

A volunteer police officer told a Christian singer that she was 'not allowed to sing church songs outside of church grounds' - before sticking her tongue out at her.

Gospel singer Harmonie London, 20, regularly performs worship music to passing shoppers on Oxford Street and has more than 300,000 subscribers on YouTube.

But she was stopped by a Metropolitan Police special constable and told: 'No miss, you're not allowed to sing church songs outside of church grounds, by the way.'

It is not entirely clear whether the officer was accusing Harmonie of breaking the law in the area, which is a council-regulated zone for busking and street entertainment. 

There are no laws against singing on pavements - and Harmonie said the incident breached Article 9 of the Human Rights Act which protects freedom of religion. 

As onlookers watched and filmed outside the John Lewis store, Harmonie protested her innocence to the officer, saying: 'You are, you are (able to sing church songs).'

But the officer continued to insist that Harmonie could not sing 'outside of church grounds unless you have been authorised by the church to do these kind of songs'.

Harmonie said 'that's a load of rubbish, you're allowed' - but the officer then walked away and another said: 'She's not saying anything anymore, thank you for your time.'

What is the Oxford Street busking policy? 

The Westminster City Council policy for Oxford Street is that it is among the busking and street entertainment regulated areas of the West End.

Policy states that there is a 'light touch licensing scheme' applicable in the area, which means anyone will 'only be able to busk in designated pitches'.

They also need to apply for a licence to perform, keep to terms and conditions of the designated pitches, and abide by the conditions of their licence.

Busking is not illegal in England and Wales but there may be certain byelaws or rules imposed by councils, such as not making too much noise.

Singers also may to told to avoid blocking pavements, not displaying notices asking for payment and only busking in certain parts of a town or for a fixed period of time.

The singer said: 'Are you saying that you don't care about the Human Rights Act?' 

She then accused the officer of 'laughing' while she was walking away. The officer then stuck her tongue out.

In a later video, Harmonie quoted Article 9 of the Human Rights Act 1998 which protects someone's right to freedom of thought, belief and religion.

Among those hitting out at the video was former Conservative minister Ann Widdecombe, who called for the officer to be 'struck off from the voluntary force'.

She told GB News: 'She really has got the law completely wrong and she was obviously enjoying herself rather too much, trying to boss this woman around.

'And there is no basis at all for saying you can't sing. I could walk down the street singing Onward Christian Soldiers and I would be committing no offence at all.' 

Norman Brennan, a former police officer and anti-crime campaigner, also tweeted: 'Folks, this is not a good look. Some of us are trying hard to help policing get back public lost support respect and confidence and this does not help.' 

And Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Concern campaign group, told MailOnline: 'One of my favourite things as I commute to work is to hear Harmonie's beautiful worship. 

'She blesses tens of thousands of people in the same way and brings harmony to the streets. We need more of this, not less. It is shocking that she has been treated like this.'

Former Metropolitan Police detective Peter Bleksley also commented on the video, tweeting: 'Lawless Britain. The woman in uniform that is…'

And former Home Office special adviser Claire Pearsall told TalkTV: 'Really should the police be going around telling people they can't sing, they can't pray, they can't think something? Why don't they go and deal with actual crime?' 

Harmonie London has become a popular Christian street singer in recent years and now has nearly 300,000 followers on each of Instagram and YouTube.

Some of her videos have attracted more than four million views. Her latest clip posted yesterday was entitled: 'Unpaid Volunteer Officer Doesn't Like Gospel Songs.'

The caption for the clip, posted at about 6pm, said: 'Special constables are volunteer police officers who invest their free time to make a real difference to our city. You will get a tremendous amount of pride from giving back to the community.'

Scotland Yard confirmed to MailOnline that the video was filmed on Oxford Street at the weekend, with officers now 'working to understand the context in which these comments were made'. The force said an update will be issued 'as soon as we can'.

Harmonie's clip of the confrontation has so far attracted more than 5,000 likes and 1,500 comments. MailOnline has contacted the singer for comment.

Westminster City Council includes the Oxford Street area among its busking and street entertainment regulated zones of the West End.

Policy states that there is a 'light touch licensing scheme' applicable in the area, which means anyone will 'only be able to busk in designated pitches'. 

They also need to apply for a licence to perform, keep to terms and conditions of the designated pitches, and abide by the conditions of their licence.

Busking is not illegal in England and Wales but there may be certain byelaws or rules imposed by individual councils, such as not making too much noise.

Singers also may to told to avoid blocking pavements, not displaying notices asking for payment and only busking in certain parts of a town or for a fixed period of time.

Special constables are volunteer officers who have the same powers as a regular officers and work at least 200 hours annually, equating to 16 hours per month.

Specials are based on one of the 12 basic command units across the 32 London boroughs and also wear the same uniform as regular officers.

Their duties include responding to 999 calls, foot and vehicle patrols, tackling antisocial behaviour, road safety initiatives and house-to-house enquiries.

They also present evidence in court, help police events and take part in 'hotspot' operations to tackle underage drinking, criminal damage and public disorder.

Those involved – who normally have a full or part-time job as well - can benefit from free travel within London and a discount on council tax within Greater London.

Other officers have been criticised for heavy-handed policing of buskers in recent years - including one in 2021 left covered in blood as he was held to the ground by five officers following an apparent row over performing in public in Bournemouth.

Also in 2011, a York busker was fined £200 for allegedly breaking Covid restrictions by playing the piano because police said it was causing people to congregate. 

And in Northampton last month, it was revealed that buskers considered a 'nuisance' in the town centre would be told to stop playing under new council rules.

Colorado church sues town over right to use RVs to shelter homeless


A Colorado church is suing the town of Castle Rock after the town said the church's use of RVs to shelter the homeless was a zoning violation.

"Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor homeless with shelter?" Mike Polhemus, lead pastor at The Rock Church, said, reading from Isaiah 58:7.

It's a scripture that the church cites as the "higher code" they abide by, and the reason they're suing the town.

"I couldn't make any money, I didn't have a place to go," said Frederick Krueger.

When Krueger's truck broke down in 2022, he found himself homeless and out of work in the middle of winter.

"All of a sudden, I didn't have any way to do anything, to be honest with you. It was kind of a bad scenario," said Krueger.

His savior came in the form of an RV behind The Rock Church, in Castle Rock.

"A godsend," Krueger said. "It really was."

Since 2019, the church has given shelter to the homeless in two RVs on the back side of their 54-acre property.

"To help those that are struggling and specifically those that want to get on their feet and have had a turn of events," said Polhemus.

Polhemus estimates they've helped about 15 people in that time.

Working with Douglas County, the church housed Krueger in the RV, then helped feed him, fix his truck, and find him a job.

"Been doing it for over a year now," said Krueger.

After a few months in the RV, Krueger was able to move into his own home.

"These guys, they never stopped," said Krueger, "had it not been for them, no one else was gonna do anything." 

But in September of 2023, after years of back and forth with the church, the town of Castle Rock officially determined the use of RVs as temporary shelters to be a zoning violation.

A town representative declined to be interviewed by CBS News Colorado but says the church itself was involved in the drafting of those zoning rules back in 2003.

The church appealed, but in December, Castle Rock's Board of Adjustment upheld the town's decision and The Rock was forced to stop sheltering people there.

"That's the dilemma we're facing," said Polhemus. "We have a staff in the town of Castle Rock who are looking to abide by the code and we are abiding by another code."

The church says it will follow that code even if it takes them to court. They've filed a lawsuit, hoping to overturn the town's decision.

"We felt like we were kind of put in a position where we have to appeal this and hopefully work with our town to come up with a solution," said Polhemus.

As the appeal moves forward, the RV that changed Krueger's life now sits empty.

"I am incredibly grateful and thankful that I made it through, and I sure wouldn't want someone not to be able to say that," he said.

"We've had a single mom with three young children that we weren't able to bring in because of the determination. So, we're trying to adhere to it, but if it becomes a life and death situation, we're gonna do what we need to do to help those who are struggling," said Polhemus.

No court date has been set yet. The church is hoping they can settle this with the town without taking things to court.

High-ranking Christian prelate warns of spread of antisemitism by church officials

File: Greek Orthodox Archbishop Elpidophoros leads a celebration of St. Nicholas Day, at the St. Nicholas National Shrine at the World Trade Center in New York on December 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Speaking on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a high-ranking Christian official of the Orthodox Church warned Sunday against the spread of antisemitism by religious and church officials.

“I am worried by the spread of antisemitism internationally,” Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, spiritual leader of Greek Orthodox faithful in North and South America, told an audience in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city.

He added that he was particularly worried that “the ointment of the Church does not heal wounds, but spreads the fire” of antisemitism, though he didn’t give any specific examples.

“Evil has a name, an identity and a history, and it is called fascism and Nazism. … It has no relation to Christian theology despite the efforts of some to dress their far-right ideology with the cloak of Christianity,” Elpidophoros said.

The archbishop and a former city mayor, Yiannis Boutaris, were made honorary members of the Jewish community in Thessaloniki, which now numbers only about 1,200.

Earlier in the day, Elpidophoros, city officials and the ambassadors of Israel and the United States commemorated the Holocaust at Eleftherias (Freedom) Square. That is where the city’s Jews were rounded up by Nazi German occupying troops in 1943 before being packed into trains and sent to concentration camps.

The vast majority went to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and about 50,000 perished.

Islamic State claims responsibility over Istanbul church attack

 Screengrab of attack in process

The so-called Islamic State group (IS) has claimed responsibility for an attack on a Roman Catholic church in Istanbul during Sunday Mass that killed one person.

The extremist group said it “attacked a gathering of Christian unbelievers during their polytheistic ceremony” inside the Santa Maria Church in the Buyukdere area in Istanbul on Sunday.

Interior minister Ali Yerlikaya said that two men he described as members of IS had been arrested over the attack. One of the suspects is from Tajikistan, and the other from Russia.

The statement claiming responsibility was published on Aamaq, the media arm of the militant group, along with photos of two masked men holding guns whom it identified as the attackers.

It described the attack as killing one person and wounding another, while Turkish authorities said no-one was injured besides the person killed.

Mr Yerlikaya said police had raided 30 locations and detained a total of 47 people as part of the investigation into the attack.

He said: “We will never tolerate those who try to disrupt the peace of our country – terrorists, their collaborators, both national and international criminal groups, and those who aim at our unity and solidarity.”

DHA, a private news agency, reported that 51 people were detained during the police raids, including 23 who were sent to holding centres awaiting deportation.

It also said the two suspects drove a car brought from Poland to Istanbul a year ago which had been never used until the day of the shooting. The attackers panicked and ran away after the weapon jammed, it said.

Istanbul police did not immediately respond to a request for information.

On January 3 this year, 25 suspected IS members were arrested across Turkey, accused of plotting attacks on churches and synagogues, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.

IS has not previously targeted places of worship in Turkey, but the militant group has carried out a string of deadly attacks in the country, including a shooting at an Istanbul night club in 2017 that killed 39 people, and a 2015 bombing attack in Ankara that killed 109.

In Riverside, she was a nobody. In Ireland, her affair with a bishop rocked the Catholic Church

See The Incredible Irish Artists on The Shortlist for The Zurich Portrait  Prize 2023 - The Gloss Magazine

Hanging from a wall in the National Gallery of Ireland is a photorealistic portrait of a stoic, gray-haired woman wearing a fuchsia shirt and slippers with a dress adorned with fuchsia flowers.

She sits in a green plastic chair on a cracked-stone porch outside a mobile home in Riverside, with palm and orange trees in the background and a pale blue sky above.

It’s a serene, Southern California scene in the halls of Dublin.

But who is this woman whose portrait was installed at the gallery in December, next to a photograph of legendary Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor? Her name is Annie Murphy, a woman unknown by almost all of her neighbors and described by her own son as “penniless.”

Yet thousands of miles away, across the Atlantic Ocean, Annie Murphy is a household name, her story a turning point in the country’s history. Three decades ago, she took on the Catholic Church when she revealed the affair she’d had with a celebrated Irish bishop — and the son he’d fathered.

Her incendiary story touched off heated debates in Ireland in an era long before #MeToo and before allegations of sexual impropriety against the church were commonplace.

“In terms of the shock it had on the Irish psyche, it was almost like the JFK assassination,” said John Cunningham, a history professor at the University of Galway.

The shock was triggered, in part, by her explicit memoir, which revealed the bishop’s secret and recounted their first kiss.

“What stunned me was the realization that he had done this before,” she wrote. “No one could kiss like that without practice.”

The story goes like this: Murphy was 25 and mid-divorce following an unhappy marriage and a miscarriage when she flew to Ireland to start fresh.

She was picked up at the airport by the then-bishop of Kerry, Eamonn Casey, who was her second cousin once removed. Murphy, an American from Connecticut, went to live at the bishop’s oceanfront home, called the Red Cliff House, in County Kerry.

Casey was an influential clergyman, outspoken and jocular, as comfortable holding forth on political issues as he was on the pastoral needs of parishes under his purview. Whether campaigning to end poverty in Ireland or refusing to meet with President Reagan over Reagan’s policies in Central America, Casey often made headlines in Ireland and abroad.

He also was known for his indulgence in fine wines, expensive foods, travel abroad and fast cars that he could whip around his diocese at breakneck speeds. His speeding was so well known it inspired folk songs about the danger Casey-driven cars posed to Kerry sheep dogs. He even once picked up a ticket in London for drunk driving.

He was a captivating speaker and a forceful presence.

“His smile was enchanting, the feel of his hand warm and gentle,” Murphy wrote in her memoir. “This was for me the strangest thing in an already strange existence. ... He certainly had charm.”

She fell in love with the bishop nearly immediately after arriving in Ireland in 1973. Casey, 21 years her senior at age 46, was equally smitten with the young woman he had welcomed into his home.

In her book, Murphy recounted their first kiss, when the bishop slipped into her room late at night.

Murphy was tormented at the beginning of the relationship, fearing that Casey would give her up due to his religious calling. But Casey told her he’d confessed and would continue their relationship.

“If God were here, He would approve of what I am doing,” Casey told Murphy, according to her book.

Casey, who valued his reputation, told her they had to keep their relationship a secret, she wrote. Even if she wanted to scream their love from the rooftops, she couldn’t.

Everything started to change when she became pregnant. The bishop wanted her to put the baby up for adoption, but she decided to keep the child. Eighteen months after the affair started, it was over and she moved back to the United States with her infant son, christened Peter, in 1974.

For the next nearly two decades, Casey made covert payments to Murphy to support their son. But once Peter became a teen, she wanted Casey to play a larger role in the boy’s life. The bishop, who represented Galway and Kilmacduagh, refused to do so. In 1990, Murphy filed a paternity suit against Casey.

The last straw came in 1992, when Murphy’s romantic partner at the time, Arthur Pennell, confronted the bishop in person in Ireland, saying that Peter wanted to spend time with him.

“Casey told Arthur something like, ‘Annie was a whore who slept with the whole town.’ He said, ‘He’s not my kid,’ ” said Peter Murphy, who heard the story from Pennell before Pennell died. “Arthur decided, ‘That’s it, I’m taking you down.’ ”

Pennell and Murphy contacted the Irish Times in 1992. It had been two years since Murphy had quietly sued Casey in New York.

The bishop, through an intermediary in the states, paid nearly $100,000 to Murphy using diocesan funds as part of the suit, but had not admitted paternity of Peter in the case, according to Conor O’Clery, a reporter for the Irish Times. That was on top of the $275 he sent each month for the first 15 years of Peter’s life.

O’Clery was dispatched to Connecticut to interview Murphy.

“It was evident the story was true. I ... found her to be a slim woman of 43, attractive, composed, but full of outrage and nervous energy, and utterly convincing,” O’Clery wrote in a 2017 article.

The revelation of the bishop’s affair and son quickly spread to the front pages of newspapers across Ireland. Shortly thereafter, the Vatican announced that Casey had resigned as bishop of Galway but remained in the priesthood.

“I did what I had to do to bring him forward to his son,” she said of Casey in a recent interview with The Times. “Sometimes I felt I’d play any card I had to to do it and I didn’t care. I was a little bit bitter, maybe ruthless, maybe ambitious, maybe all those things.”

Yes, she said, she felt bad for the bishop, but that didn’t deter her. “I told him … if my son comes to you and you deny him … I will do anything I have to to bring you forth. If it means tearing you to pieces, I will.”

For Irish boomers and Gen Xers, the name Annie Murphy conjures a different time. When the story broke, the country’s laws barred contraception, homosexual acts, blasphemy and, with rare exceptions, abortion.

“The Catholic Church was still hugely influential in Ireland,” said Sarah-Anne Buckley, an associate professor of history at the University of Galway.

People of a certain age in Ireland remember the shocking outlines of a national scandal: the young American woman and the bishop, the hypocrisy of the clergyman, the baby born out of wedlock and without a present father, the woman’s notorious appearance on an Irish late night talk show.

“I just remember people of the generation ahead of me were literally speechless and wouldn’t have talked about it because it upset them so much. It went against everything they believed about the church,” said Cunningham, the history professor. He even recalls what he was doing when he heard about the affair: driving to Ballinamore in County Leitrim to do historical research at the county library.

“Everyone I met there that day wanted to talk about Bishop Casey,” Cunningham said. “He was bishop of Galway, but a well-known national figure.”

Murphy chronicled her affair and the subsequent cover-up in “Forbidden Fruit: The True Story of My Secret Love Affair With Ireland’s Most Powerful Bishop.” It was written with Catholic-priest-turned-author Peter de Rosa and released by Little, Brown & Co. in January 1993.

Murphy remembered landing in Ireland for her book tour that year and seeing young Irish people, many of them women, waiting for her plane. The greeting was warmer than she’d expected.

“I got off the plane and they asked me what did I do? And I said I helped take the oppressive boot of the Catholic Church off the throat of Ireland,” she said. “I said, ‘Don’t worry about me, worry about Ireland.’ ”

The rest of Ireland was not as welcoming to Murphy, an American who did not seem to fear or revere the church that held such sway on the island. As she traveled through the country, she heard people yelling crude things at her when they saw her on the street. She said she worried that someone might even try to kill her, but the the name-calling proved to be the worst of it.

The signature event of the book tour came when Gay Byrne — the “undisputed leading figure in the history of Irish broadcasting,” according to the Irish Times — welcomed the 40-something Murphy to the stage for “The Late Late Show” and introduced her as “the most talked about woman in Ireland today.”

People who once knew Murphy and Casey packed the front row of the audience, waiting for their chance to be heard on the town-hall-style show. They peppered her with questions over minute details of her account of the affair with Casey — climaxing in a bizarre moment in which one friend of Casey claimed that Murphy lied in her book about the stage of the lunar cycle the night she and Casey conceived Peter. Murphy had written that there was a nearly full moon that night.

“The moon, in point of fact, was at its lowest ebb,” said Tom Flynn, in what he presumably felt was a “gotcha” moment.

Byrne at one point referred to Murphy as “coquetteish,” and chastised her for the amount of sex depicted in her book. He also suggested she was much more experienced than her clerical counterpart, who supposedly was bound by a vow of chastity, in matters of sex.

“I think she felt that Gay Byrne was not on her side, that Gay Byrne and many Irish people felt that she had taken advantage to some degree of an elderly man, although he was not much older than she,” said Peter McKay, a lawyer who represented Murphy at the time and traveled with her to Ireland in 1993. “There was an element of condescension in Gay Byrne’s attitude toward her that many in Ireland shared, the idea that she sort of waylaid the bishop.”

McKay remembered approaching Murphy during a break in the taping of the show and reminding her: “Be calm. Be dignified. Don’t let this man get the best of you in terms of temperament.”

At the end of the show, Byrne turned to Murphy and delivered a line that has been relitigated in the Irish press over and over for the next 30 years.

“Let’s end with a note and say, if your son is half as good a man as his father, he won’t be doing too badly,” Byrne said.

“I’m not so bad either, Mr. Byrne,” Murphy said, before standing and leaving the show without shaking the host’s hand. The audience applauded her quick retort.

The moment achieved late-night show immortality in Ireland. There are still Reddit threads dissecting it and articles in the Irish press about it. A YouTube clip of the episode has more than 300,000 views.

The scandal chipped away at the Catholic Church’s authority and, as one former president of Ireland put it, signaled the “beginning of the end” of deferential trust in the church.

These days, Murphy harbors no resentment toward Byrne, who she felt was just doing his job. She recognized that sharing her story would open herself up to extremely personal questions.

“I knew I walked into this and I had to accept the punches,” she said in her interview.

Among those with strong memories of Murphy’s late-night interview was the Irish painter Paul MacCormaic. A self-described feminist, MacCormaic was determined to paint Murphy as part of a portraiture project he titled “The Vanquished Writing History,” about people who had been overlooked or vilified and then crafted their own narratives. The scandal erupted so long ago — but so much had come to light since.

Finding her, however, was no easy task. Murphy had remained largely out of the public eye since 1993, although she occasionally spoke with Irish reporters when news broke about Casey.

After he died in 2017 at age 89, it was revealed that four people had accused him of child sex abuse. One of them was a niece of Casey’s, who said he had raped her as a child. She reported it to Irish authorities years later, though no charges were ever filed. Another person who accused Casey of child sex abuse received a settlement.

“I’m shocked and saddened,” said Murphy in an interview with the Irish Independent. “They [the abuse survivors] have to be heard.”

When MacCormaic began searching for Murphy, she had no cellphone and no email address, but he was finally able to contact her after learning the name of her husband, Thomas Heinchon, an American artist.

The two agreed that MacCormaic would come to California and take photos of Murphy in Riverside so he could paint her later. He visited in 2022.

“I photographed her at the trailer park she was living at. From what I can gather, she does not live in poverty but does not seem to have much spare cash,” he said.

MacCormaic entered her portrait into competition for the 2023 Zurich Portrait Prize. His piece was a finalist, meaning it was among a select few to be exhibited at the National Gallery, one of the premier art museums in Ireland.

MacCormaic tried to tell Murphy the good news but could not reach her.

The phone number he had for Murphy’s husband was no longer functioning. When he sent a letter to Riverside with a copy of the painting, it was returned with no forwarding address.

MacCormaic sought help finding her, and The Times tracked her down in New York state. That’s when she learned her picture was hanging in the National Gallery.

“I’d be a liar if I didn’t say I was kind of flattered,” she said.

You don’t hear much about Annie Murphy in California. You don’t hear anything, in fact.

Her story and the resignation of Casey merited a brief blurb in The Times in 1992, but the paper never mentioned her again.

Most neighbors in the mobile home park, where she lived until last year, had no idea about her story. One next door neighbor said she never even knew her name. Another neighbor’s jaw dropped when told Murphy’s story.

Murphy’s former home in Riverside — once described by an Irish journalist as small and plain, with pale-blue curtains and a green carpet — is now boarded up and abandoned. The porch where she posed for MacCormaic is overgrown and strewn with trash.

Murphy appears to have disappeared in a hurry, and that’s exactly what her son Peter says is the case.

When her husband, Heinchon, died in 2023, Murphy was lost. Her son came to California and took his mother back east, moving her in with her sister in New Lebanon, N.Y.

Peter said it has been strange at times to be the product of a union so well known in another country. Living his whole life in the Boston area, which is sometimes called “the parish across the pond,” he said, he has has sometimes been recognized by strangers.

For instance, he was working in a restaurant in the 1990s with an “off the boat” Irishman. The man looked at Peter and dropped the rack of glasses he had been carrying.

“‘F— me, you’re Casey’s kid,’ ” Peter recalled the man saying.

Peter said his mother’s story should be better known by Americans.

“People should know her strength. ... She took on an institution thousands of years old. One of the wealthiest world institutions,” said Peter. “She’s an all-or-nothing lady. I would want people to know her courage and her humility.”

But for Murphy, the story is a defining moment — when she took on one of the loves of her life and brought him down, destroying his reputation out of a mother’s love for her son. The memories are fading, and a recent stroke wiped away many of the most distinct ones.

Can she recall the ocean breeze half a century ago coming into her room at the house in Kerry? The sound of Casey’s laugh as the two sat in front of the fire and talked about religion and trauma? The way she would chastise him for his dangerous driving but never actually felt unsafe in the car with him? It’s almost a different life.

Back in Riverside, there was one woman in the mobile-home park who knew who Murphy was. An older Irish immigrant, a Catholic. The woman wanted to talk with Murphy about the scandal, which she felt helped ease Ireland out of the Catholic Church’s grip.

“She thought it was a good thing,” Murphy said.

The two discussed the scandal, but Murphy did not want to speak about it too much. There were other things closer to home to speak about.

“I said, ‘Let’s get past it,’” Murphy recalled. “I let it go. It was what it was.”