Sunday, April 28, 2024

Churches asked to hand over building and land for asylum seekers under new plan

Why Ireland's asylum system is on the brink of collapse

The Government has written to church dioceses asking for them to make buildings or land available to help accommodate asylum seekers.

In 2022 the Government sought church land to accommodate those fleeing the war in Ukraine and has now asked for assistance again to house asylum seekers amid ongoing pressure to house 1,600 unaccommodated single males.

Joe O’Brien, Minister of State at the Department of Integration, wrote to the dioceses in early March, while also seeking more local authority lands or buildings from the County and City Management Association (CCMA).

However, he was told that local authority’s ability to provide additional buildings was “severely limited”.

Mr O’Brien said he was “disappointed with the response”, adding that the number of Ukrainians requiring so-called “rest centre” beds had dramatically decreased and that efforts should now be made to use any vacant beds to address the crisis in providing accommodation for asylum seekers.

Mr O’Brien said that the CCMA had indicated that they will keep the situation under review, “so I would be hopeful that some capacity can be found”, he said. The Dublin Fingal TD recently called for a renewed push to find extra beds for those left sleeping on the streets, warning that they are being exposed to risk.

Mr O’Brien first wrote to the CCMA last year and again in March, when he told the county managers that he was seeking “buildings that could be adapted for short-term emergency shelter or even an open space where we could erect a temporary shelter”.

Earlier this week Mr O’Brien raised concerns that Government departments had not been pushed hard enough to find extra lands or buildings. He said that former taoiseach Leo Varadkar had not put enough pressure on them to find space.

“Given the grave situation in terms of the number of people unaccommodated, many of whom are forced to sleep on the streets with all the obvious danger that entails, I feel it is incumbent on me to do everything within my power to try to assist the Trojan efforts of Minister [Roderic] O’Gorman and our officials within the Department of Integration.

“On that basis I wrote to both the CCMA and each dioceses asking them to give serious consideration to their buildings and/or land portfolio with a view to trying to identify anything at all that might help alleviate the situation.”

The Government is struggling to accommodate the number of migrants coming here seeking international protection, and has recently introduced a series of steps to speed up processing of international protection applicants, as well as limiting the accommodation provided to those fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Church fire: 'It was very deliberate'

Ballynacargy Church fire: 'It was very deliberate' | Westmeath Independent

Security is being ramped up at Ballynacargy Church after it appeared to be targeted last week.

It happened on the night of Thursday, April 18, when a candle was lit on the High Altar next to dried flowers which then went on fire.

The fire was put out by two nearby parishioners who were alerted to it by an alarm and, thankfully, minimal damage was done to the church.

It was the second such incident to take place in the area in recent months as candles were also set alight on the High Altar of Sonna Church.

In a post on Facebook, the parish said it appears these fires were lit intentionally.

“We can only conclude; that this is to cause damage and is an act of sacrilege to the Blessed Sacrament and the House of God. Therefore, for the foreseeable future, our churches will be locked and alarmed for security reasons.”

Cllr Johnnie Penrose said it was “an awful act to do”.

“It’s all cleaned off again now and the place is back to normal,” he said.

“They are very, very lucky that it wasn’t more serious and the whole place didn’t go up [in flames].

“The church needs to be locked up now for security reasons which is a shame to have to do that – we definitely need security cameras out there too.”

A parish source said they believe the fire was no accident.

“It was very deliberate,” they said.

“There is no other way around it. You know what you are doing when you light candles on the High Altar next to dry flowers.”

They also said the targeting of churches is a “sad reflection of where we are as a society”.

“We have worked so hard as a parish to fundraise all the time for restoration work,” they said.

“No matter what your faith is, churches are sacred spaces, and you should have a modicum of respect."

The incidents, while upsetting, will not deter parishioners from attending their local church, the parish source said.

“We managed to have mass on rocks years ago, so we'll manage this too.”

When the news about the fire was posted on social media, parishioners expressed their shock and anger.

"So very sorry to hear of this! You've all worked so hard to refresh both churches and my heart breaks that someone has so much hate in their heart to try to destroy something so precious. I'm so thankful it didn't spread further," one poster wrote.

"That’s absolutely disgusting God forgive them who carried out this horrific crime," another poster said.

Australian police charge another teenager for Sydney church stabbing

Grim new details are revealed about teen's alleged stabbing attack on Bishop  Mar Mari Emmanuel at Wakeley Christ the Good Shepherd Church - as he faces  court on terror charges from his

Australian police have charged another teenager with a terrorism-related offence in investigations after the stabbing of an Assyrian Christian bishop while he was giving a live streamed sermon in Sydney earlier this month.

The boy, 15, was charged with conspiring to prepare a terrorist act, New South Wales police said, adding that his case would be heard in a children's court.

The attack on Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel, injured in the 15 April attack at his church, came only days after a deadly mass stabbing in Bondi.

Gun and knife crime is rare in Sydney, one of the world's safest big cities.

Police on Thursday laid terrorism-related charges against five other teenagers, allegedly associates of a boy, 16, previously charged over the stabbing of Mr Emmanuel.

Mr Emmanuel, a bishop at the Christ The Good Shepherd Church in the Sydney suburb of Wakeley, is a social media star and a fiery critic of homosexuality, Covid vaccinations, Islam and US President Joe Biden's election.

The Assyrian Church, which has its world headquarters in Iraq, is a Christian sect with its historical origins in parts of modern Turkey, Syria and Iran.

Kidnapped review – powerfully enraging real-life drama of Vatican abduction of a Jewish boy

Director Marco Bellocchio on Kidnapped: Interview - Loud And Clear

Marco Bellocchio became an overnight sensation in 1965 when Fists in the Pocket, the Italian director’s shocking portrait of disaffected youth and dysfunctional domestic life, premiered at Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland. 

The feature, which had been rejected by Venice, was publicly pummelled by the Italian Christian Democratic Party and by his fellow film-makers Luis Buñuel and Michelangelo Antonioni as a Marxist attack on bourgeois family values. 

Pier Paolo Pasolini, conversely, praised Bellocchio, who was then in his mid-20s, and his “cinema of prose”.

“That film is almost 60 years old,” says Bellocchio. “It contained this moment in time in my life that really was full of rage and desperation. Sometimes I go to screenings where it’s presented and then debated. I’m really interested in how it still resonates with young people today. It’s not a film I could shoot now.”

Perhaps. And yet, aged 84, the director has produced a work that’s powered along by equally righteous fury. Kidnapped, which is based on a true story, and premiered in competition at Cannes last year, is a thrilling entry in the CV of a film-maker who received the French festival’s career-marking Palme d’Or d’Honneur in 2021.

What happened is maddening. One night in 1858, police arrived at the home of a Jewish family in Bologna, the Mortaras, and took their six-year-old son, Edgardo; authorities claimed that he was Catholic, as a maid had secretly baptised the boy, the sixth of eight children, when he fell sick during infancy, and must therefore be brought up by the church. 

Pope Pius IX was personally involved in Edgardo’s education even as his desperate family continued to appeal for his return. 

In one scene in the film, rabbis who try to intervene are told to go back to the “hole” of their Roman ghetto.

Steven Spielberg planned to film the story as The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, with Mark Rylance and Oscar Isaac. Julian Schnabel, the director of the Oscar-nominated The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and At Eternity’s Gate, has also attempted to bring the tale to the big screen.

For Bellocchio, this needed to be an Italian film.

“It’s not a story that was known as we were growing up,” says the director. “I read about it in parallel with Spielberg and Schnabel. We all came to the story through different books that talked about it. The book that made me interested was Kidnapped by the Vatican?, by Vittorio Messori. That book was a defence of the pope’s actions. My film is not an assault on the church. It tries to see both sides.

“Messori’s book said that the Catholic Church had the right to convert a child who had been baptised by stealth by the Catholic help of the family. The book also argued that the Holy Spirit had intervened to make the miracle of the conversion, that this Jewish child had seen the light, that he freely and spontaneously converted to Catholicism and was imbued by the divine.”

Edgardo’s abduction and enforced conversion prompted international outrage, helped bring Napoleon III behind the cause of Italian reunification and saw the papal territory shrink in size and influence. (The Mortara affair also led to alarm in the run-up to Pius IX’s beatification, in 2000.)

As Bellocchio acknowledges, it’s complicated. Edgardo later became a priest and expressed gratitude to the church. He spent the rest of his life attempting to convert Jews, including his baffled own family, as Bellocchio’s film powerfully depicts. 

“I have always ardently desired that my mother embrace the Catholic faith,” Edgardo wrote to the Le Temps newspaper, “and I tried many times to get her to do so. However, that never happened.”

“You are Irish, I am Italian; we understand the pervasive power and influence of the Catholic Church,” says the director, who has loosely based his feature on a book by the Italian author Daniele Scalise. “I’ve experienced the power of the Catholic Church in Ireland through films and books. They are in parallel with what happened in Italy. Great crimes and outrages were committed. They were not without victims.

“I latched on to this story because it’s fascinating as a moment in time of both the macro and the micro of the emancipation of Italy and the fall of the papal reign in Italy. This was not the first kidnapping of a child in Italy. It was one of the very last. But it was the embodiment of the influence of the church on the territory and the monolithic nature of religious dogma.”

Reactions to the Mortara case continue to spark debate. One of the most trenchant recent defences of the church’s actions has come from Romanus Cessario, a professor of theology and Dominican priest, who argues that they were in line with canon law – and, indeed, with civil law in Bologna at the time. 

“Christ’s authority perfects all natural institutions – the family as well as the state. This is why he said that he came bearing a sword that would sunder father and son,” Cessario writes.

Bellocchio’s film includes many contemporaneous reports and cartoons about the abduction, and its production design takes cues from Moritz Daniel Oppenheim’s painting The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, from 1862. These references inform Kidnapped’s most absorbing scenes.

“There are so many books about this,” says Bellocchio. “We found the legal documents pertaining to the inquisitor of the family and child in Bologna. Of all the sources, including Jewish sources and Catholic sources, we know that there was a meeting between Edgardo Mortara and his mother and that she tried to shake him into remembering his family and his roots.

“We know from other documents that the church felt they were obliged in their course of action. The pope visited the child many times to strengthen the argument that a miracle occurred. Once Rome was liberated by the state, Edgardo could have left, but he remained. During the trial, what you see in the movie are extracts from the trial. Everything you hear from the inquisitor’s defence lawyer, however unbelievable, was actually said.”

Kidnapped is in cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema from Friday April 26th

Pope presides at Mass in Venice, calls for inclusion and hospitality

Pope Francis presides at Mass in St. Mark's Square

“Venice is called to be a sign of beauty available to all, starting with the last, a sign of fraternity and care for our common home,” said Pope Francis on Sunday to the some 10,500 faithful gathered in the city's St. Mark's Square for Holy Mass.

During the last event of his half-day visit to Venice, the Pope presided over Mass in the magnificent St. Mark’s Square, recalling the visit's theme: “Remaining united in the love of Christ.”

“Only by remaining united in Christ,” he said, can we bring the fruits of the Gospel into the reality we inhabit: fruits of justice and peace, fruits of solidarity and mutual care; carefully made choices to preserve our environmental and human heritage.”

“We need our Christian communities, neighbourhoods, and cities to become welcoming, inclusive, and hospitable places.”

Drawing from the Gospel of John, the Pope invoked the imagery of Jesus as the vine and believers as its branches.

"Remain in me, as I remain in you. […] Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit," he said, reminding the faithful never to sever their connection with the Lord.

Just as a vineyard requires diligent care to yield good fruit, so too do our lives flourish when nourished by the sap of God's love, he explained.

Connection with Jesus sets us free

Extending his train of thought to encompass the physical and historical landscape of Venice, which is linked to wine production, an activity that implies care for the “numerous vineyards that arose on the islands of the Lagoon and in the gardens between the city’s alleys, and those in which monks produced wine for their communities,” the Pope said, “it is not difficult to grasp the message of the parable of the vine and the branches: faith in Jesus, the bond with Him, does not imprison our freedom. On the contrary, it opens us to receive the sap of God’s love, which multiplies our joy, takes care of us like a skilled vintner and brings forth shoots even when the soil of our life becomes arid.”

This is a metaphor, he added, “that can also be considered while thinking of this city built on water, recognized for its uniqueness as one of the most picturesque places in the world.”

“Venice is one with the waters upon which it sits. Without the care and safeguarding of this natural environment, it might even cease to exist. Similarly, our life is also immersed forever in the springs of God’s love,” the Pope said.

“Without the care and safeguarding of this natural environment, Venice might even cease to exist.”

Grow in action

The Holy Father elaborated further on the meaning of the theme of the visit, explaining that, "Remaining united to Christ means to grow in relationship with Him, to converse with Him, to embrace His Word, and to follow Him on the path of the Kingdom of God."

It calls us, he said, to continual growth, engagement, and action. To remain in the Lord is to embark on a journey of discipleship, where we embrace His teachings, embody His love, and bear fruits of justice, peace, and solidarity in our communities.

And against the backdrop of Venice's unique beauty, Pope Francis issued an urgent call to action. Highlighting the many challenges facing the city, from climate change and environmental degradation to social fragmentation and cultural erosion, he called for “carefully-made choices to preserve our environmental and human heritage.”

“We need our Christian communities, neighbourhoods, and cities to become welcoming, inclusive, and hospitable places,” he said.

Pope Francis to Vladimir Putin: A negotiated peace is better than an endless war

Ukraine Slams Pope Francis for Urging Kyiv to Wave 'White Flag' in War  Against Russia - Republic World

Asked during a new interview if he has any message for Vladimir Putin, the Russian president who instigated the war in Ukraine, Pope Francis stated that “a negotiated peace is better than an endless war.”

CBS News broadcast some excerpts April 24 from a new interview conducted by journalist Norah O’Donnell with Pope Francis at St. Martha House, the pontiff’s residence in the Vatican.

During the exchange, the full version of which will be released on May 19, the Holy Father reflected on world conflicts and especially on the suffering of children during wars.

O’Donnell asked the Holy Father if he had any message for Vladimir Putin regarding Ukraine, to which the pontiff replied: “Please, countries at war, all of them... Stop the war. Seek to negotiate. Seek peace. A negotiated peace is better than an endless war,” he said.

Regarding the children who are suffering the consequences of the war in Gaza, Pope Francis said that “every afternoon at 7 p.m. I call the parish in Gaza. There are about 600 people there, and they tell me what’s happening. It’s very hard. Very, very hard. And food comes in, but they have to struggle to get it. It’s very hard,” he lamented. The pope also assured that he prays a lot for peace to be achieved.

The pontiff also asked people to think about the children of Ukraine, who due to the war “forget how to smile,” which he described as “very serious.”

In the interview, Pope Francis also talked about climate change and said that those who deny it do so “because they don’t understand it or for what benefits them,” and stressed that “climate change exists.”

Regarding those who don’t see a place for themselves in the Catholic Church anymore, the Holy Father responded that in the Church “there is always a place,” noting that “the Church is very big. It’s more than a church building … you shouldn’t flee from it.”

Pope Francis’ controversial ‘white flag’ statements

When referring to the conflict in Ukraine during an interview released in March by the Swiss radio station RSI, Pope Francis said: “I think that the strongest one is the one who looks at the situation, thinks about the people, and has the courage of the white flag, and negotiates.”

The words sparked some controversy, as they were interpreted as a call for Ukraine’s surrender to Russia and had to be clarified by the spokesman for the Holy See’s Press Office, Matteo Bruni.

The Vatican spokesman clarified that the Holy Father supported “a cessation of hostilities and a truce achieved with the courage to negotiate,” rather than Ukraine’s outright surrender.

Bruni also pointed out that it was the journalist interviewing the pontiff who had used the term “white flag” when asking the question.

Church in South Korea sees 24% rise in baptisms

The number of baptisms in South Korea increased by 24% in a year, according to statistics published Wednesday by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea. 

A total of 51,307 people were baptized in the East Asian country in 2023, compared to 41,384 in 2022.

Although the year-on-year rise is sharp, annual baptisms remain well below pre-pandemic levels, when there were more than 80,000 baptisms a year.

The “Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea 2023” report, published April 24, broke down baptisms into three categories: children, adults, and “baptisms in danger of death.”

The 51,307 people who were baptized in 2023 consisted of 12,832 childrens, 34,511 adults, and 3,964 people in danger of death.

In comparison, there were 11,853 infant baptisms, 26,031 adult baptisms, and 3,500 baptisms in danger of death the year before.

The report said that the total number of Catholics in South Korea increased to 5,970,675 in 2023, a rise of 0.3% from 2022. 

Catholics account for 11.3% of the country’s total population of 52.7 million — a percentage that has remained steady for the past few years.

The Catholic Church’s expansion in South Korea in the last 30 years has been described as “explosive.” In 1995, the country was home to 2,885,000 Catholics. A decade later, in 2005, that had risen to 5,015,000. But the annual growth rate has slowed significantly. 

In a mark of the Church’s now well-established position in South Korean society, a record 80 Catholics were elected to the country’s 300-seat National Assembly following legislative elections this month.

Prominent cultural figures such as K-pop idol Rain have converted to Catholicism, further raising the Church’s profile. Other well-known Catholics include the singer and actor Taemin, the figure skater Yuna Kim, and the singer-songwriter Bada

The country’s best-known churchman is Cardinal Lazzaro You Heung-sik, prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Clergy since 2021. 

Catholicism’s visibility is likely to be further increased when the nation hosts World Youth Day in 2027. An estimated 1.5 million people from more than 200 countries attended the closing Mass at last year’s World Youth Day in Lisbon. 

According to the new bishops’ conference report, average Sunday Mass attendance in South Korea rose by 1.7% in 2023 to 805,361, meaning that 13.5% of Catholics are regular churchgoers.

That puts the country at the lower end of the Mass attendance spectrum compiled in 2023 by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, between Latvia at 11% and Canada at 14%.

The 2023 figure suggests that Mass attendance in South Korea is slowly approaching pre-pandemic levels, when more than a million people attended Mass on an average Sunday.

The new report highlighted considerable variations in Sunday Mass participation rates in South Korea’s 16 dioceses, with 11.6% of Catholics attending in the Archdiocese of Seoul and 17.7% in Diocese of Chuncheon, in the north of the country.

Seventy-five men were ordained to the priesthood in South Korea in 2023, down from 96 the year before, the report said. There were a total of 1,018 students enrolled in seminaries in 2023, compared to 1,030 in 2022.

In February this year, Archbishop Peter Chung Soon-taick ordained 16 new priests and 25 deacons for the Seoul archdiocese, which will host World Youth Day events in 2027.

There were a total of 5,669 priests in South Korea in 2023, 18 more than in 2022.

The report said that there were a total of 158,448 Korean Catholics living outside of South Korea, including more than 102,000 in the U.S. and 16,000 in Canada.

LGBT activists, dissident Catholics throw Michigan parish into chaos by ousting priest, shaming parishioners

A group of pro-LGBT activists in conjunction with dissident Catholics seeking vengeance on a conservative-minded priest have succeeded in forcing him from his parish. 

Bishop Robert Gruss of the Diocese of Saginaw, Michigan, announced earlier this month that the “unfortunate situation” surrounding Fr. Tom Held in Beal City has resulted in the priest stepping down.  

“The division, lack of charity and the wounds caused by the division in the St. Joseph the Worker Parish community has brought deep sadness to the Lord Jesus,” the bishop remarked. 

Fr. Held first drew criticism from multiple local media outlets a month ago when he issued an apology on the church’s Facebook page after an unauthorized appearance of Dominic Thrasher to preschool children.  

Thrasher, a known 44-year-old “married” homosexual activist and author from the area, was invited to the school by a teacher who a source says is not Catholic.

The children he read to were enrolled in a state-funded program that was renting space in the building.  

While never identifying Thrasher by name or saying anything about his homosexuality, Fr. Held, who was never informed about his appearance, announced that a “new vetting policy” would be put in place to ensure students are not exposed to persons who are not trained in being around children and who “do not represent the values of our Catholic faith.”

Fr. Held’s Facebook post, which has since been deleted, was used by former parishioners and left-wing activists to launch a campaign to call for his resignation

Thrasher, who claims to have been raised Catholic, complained to sympathetic media, presenting himself as unfairly targeted for his homosexuality and calling for Fr. Held’s removal.

On several weekends in April, crowds of up to 50 persons protested outside the church while Fr. Held was saying Mass. Signs that read, “There’s nothing righteous about bigotry disguised as religion” and “Love thy neighbor NO exceptions” were held by attendees.

The Catholic Church condemns homosexual activity as “intrinsically disordered,” mortally sinful, and a “sin that cries to heaven,” in accordance with Sacred Scripture and the constant Tradition of the Church. The Church also teaches that homosexual tendencies themselves are objectively disordered.

A current parishioner at the church told LifeSite that many of the individuals who were at those rallies were either not Catholic or former members. “Many of the elderly were emotionally distraught by their protests,” the person said. “After Father Tom was removed, many non-Catholics attended Mass with a visiting priest and received the Eucharist as a sign of ‘declaring victory.’ It is like our Lord was going through His passion all over again.” 

One man who decided to leave the church five years ago due to “disagreements” he had with Fr. Held told that the priest was “old school” in that he supported traditions that pre-dated the Second Vatican Council. “It was just a different experience than we were accustomed to. It was disruptive and divisive,” he alleged.  

The current parishioner has clarified that Fr. Held incorporated Latin into his Novus Ordo liturgies at various times during the year and that he also allowed for kneeling on the tongue while receiving the Eucharist, though he was somewhat flexible on the implementation of such practices. The church was “extremely liberal” before Fr. Held arrived in 2017, the person explained. “These policies are what those persons claim to be ‘abuse.’” 

The diocese issued a statement in March expressing support for the priest’s decision to revise the policy. It also announced that the superintendent of Catholic schools met with parents to discuss the situation. Bishop Gruss himself reached out to Thrasher directly with the hope of engaging in dialogue. LifeSite has not learned if the two ever had direct communication. As of the publication of this story, neither Thrasher nor the diocese has replied to LifeSite’s inquiries. 

A Facebook page titled “Remove Father Tom Held” was soon launched by his critics. Many of the posts from the 1,400 person-group are random complaints about the Catholic Church and strongly worded rejections of Catholic teaching on LGBT issues. Others allege unverified misconduct by Fr. Held.

The group has since been renamed “Rebuild BC.” Some individuals of the group have rainbow-themed profile images. Others disrespectfully refer to Fr. Held as Tom” or “Mr. Held.”

One person said that more than a dozen businesses have expressed support for their efforts.

Sue Field, a reporter for the mid-Michigan based Morning Sun, is also a member. She has posted that she hopes a wider awareness of the story will help Thrasher collect money for his fundraising campaign. She has also said she would ask the Associated Press to bring attention to the page. 

Other local media have profiled parents involved at the church. One allegedly threatened to pull their children from the school. The current parishioner who spoke to LifeSite said that those who have escalated the situation by going to the press and by causing an uproar on social media are also seeking to ruin the reputations of other current parishioners. The person said the situation at the church is extremely tense. Hundreds of letters and text messages have been sent to Fr. Held by supporters since his departure, the person revealed.  

In an apparent attempt to push back against criticisms of the priest, a website defending him was launched on April 16. It is unclear who set it up or if Fr. Held or Bishop Gruss are even aware of it. On the website, there are more than a dozen posts declaring that Fr. Held is an exemplary priest who is devoted to the Eucharist and Church teaching. Others take on claims made in the Facebook group against him. 

One section of the website addresses specific practices adopted by Fr. Held that became a point of contention between him and left-wing laity. Some of the questions in that section include, “why would a priest not allow a eulogy at a funeral mass?”, “why would a priest ask someone not to receive Holy Communion?”, and “why would a priest insist on using Latin at Mass?” 

LifeSite emailed the Saginaw diocese on Tuesday to learn if Bishop Gruss had asked Fr. Held to leave the parish to placate his pro-LGBT opponents or if he resigned on his own volition, as the statement released by the diocese says that he “has come to the decision that it would be impossible for him to bring unity to the parish, and therefore, he has tendered his resignation as the pastor, effective immediately.” 

A person who grew up in the diocese and is concerned about the situation told LifeSite that “unity can only come about from the doctrines of the Catholic faith. You can’t have unity with sin. To uphold Church teaching is to bring about unity. There is no ‘unity’ with LGBT ideology.” 

LifeSite will update this story if and when Bishop Gruss or Thrasher reply to emails. For respectful comments only, the Diocese of Saginaw can be contacted here via their website or phone at (989) 799-7910. 

Bishop Gruss made news recently for calling U.S. President Joe Biden “stupid” for not knowing the Catholic faith, which he claims to be a follower of. He walked back his use of the word “stupid” after heretical Catholic media outlets called on him to apologize. 

In his press release announcing Fr. Held’s departure, Bishop Gruss noted that visiting priests will say weekend Masses at St. Joseph’s until a full-time replacement can be found. It is not apparent what the priest’s future will look like.