#ShortNews: US: Catholics donated $7.3M in 2016 in response to natural disasters

Catholics in the United States donated $7.3 million to special collections in 2016 in response to domestic natural disasters.

Beginning in January, parishioners donated $3.2 million in response to storms in the South and Midwest the previous month. Later in the year, the faithful contributed $3.8 million in the wake of Louisiana floods and $326,000 in response to Hurricane Matthew.


#ShortNews: 1,000 vigilante killings a month in Philippines, missionary reports

The summary execution of suspected drug dealers in the Philippines is “the most cruel death penalty ever seen,” a missionary priest told the Fides news service.

Father Shay Cullen, an Irish priest, reported that there have been about 1,000 people killed in the past month, merely on suspicion of involvement in the drug traffic. He described the vigilante killings as “a monstrous crime.”

Father Cullen observed that lawmakers in the Philippines could reinstate the death penalty, and although the missionary priest made it clear that he would oppose that move, it would at least be “a legal way” to punish criminals. But the extra-judicial killings—which have been quietly encouraged by President Rodrigo Duterte—are a violation of the rule of law, he said. “The suspects are not given the opportunity to defend themselves against their accusers, which is their constitutional right.”

“This violence must stop,” Father Cullen insisted. Unfortunately, he said, the campaign of vigilante justice appears to have broad public support.


#ShortNews: Pope contrasts Magi’s ‘holy longing for God,’ Herod’s ‘cauterized conscience’

Pope Francis presided at the celebration of Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on January 6, the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, and contrasted the Magi’s “holy longing for God” with Herod’s “cauterized conscience.”

The Magi “personify all those who believe, those who long for God, who yearn for their home, their heavenly homeland,” Pope Francis preached. “A holy longing for God wells up in the heart of believers because they know that the Gospel is not an event of the past but of the present.”

He continued:

A holy longing for God helps us keep alert in the face of every attempt to reduce and impoverish our life. A holy longing for God is the memory of faith, which rebels before all prophets of doom. That longing keeps hope alive in the community of believers, which from week to week continues to plead: “Come, Lord Jesus.”

“Herod is unable to worship because he could not or would not change his own way of looking at things,” the Pope said. “He did not want to stop worshiping himself, believing that everything revolved around him. He was unable to worship, because his aim was to make others worship him. Nor could the priests worship, because although they had great knowledge, and knew the prophecies, they were not ready to make the journey or to change their ways.”

Pope Francis concluded:

The Magi experienced longing; they were tired of the usual fare. They were all too familiar with, and weary of, the Herods of their own day. But there, in Bethlehem, was a promise of newness, of gratuitousness. There something new was taking place. The Magi were able to worship, because they had the courage to set out. And as they fell to their knees before the small, poor and vulnerable Infant, the unexpected and unknown Child of Bethlehem, they discovered the glory of God.