Mass shootings rock US anew

CHICAGO: Two people were killed and at least 30 others were wounded in mass shootings overnight in three states, authorities said on Saturday (Sunday in Manila), stoking concerns that a spike in US gun violence could continue into summer as coronavirus restrictions ease and more people are free to socialize.

The attacks took place late Friday or early Saturday in the Texas capital of Austin, Chicago and Savannah, Georgia.

In Austin, authorities said they arrested one of two male suspects and were searching for the other after a shooting early Saturday on a crowded pedestrian-only street packed with bars and restaurants. Fourteen people were wounded, including two critically, in the gunfire, which the city’s interim police chief said is believed to have started as a dispute between two parties.

No arrests were reported by late Saturday in the two other shootings.

In Chicago, a woman was killed and nine other people were wounded when two men opened fire on a group standing on a sidewalk in the Chatham neighborhood on the city’s South Side. The shooters also got away and hadn’t been identified by mid-afternoon Saturday.

In the south Georgia city of Savannah, police said one man was killed and seven other people were wounded in a mass shooting on Friday evening, police said. Two of the wounded are children – an 18-month-old and a 13-year-old.

Savannah’s police chief, Roy Minter Jr., said the shooting may be linked to an ongoing dispute between two groups, citing reports of gunshots being fired at the same apartment complex earlier in the week.

“It’s very disturbing what we’re seeing across the country and the level of gun violence that we’re seeing across the country,” he told reporters on Saturday. “It’s disturbing and it’s senseless.”

The attacks come amid an easing of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions in much of the country, including Chicago, which lifted many of its remaining safeguards on Friday. Many hoped that a spike in US shootings and homicides last year was an aberration perhaps caused by pandemic-related stress amid a rise in gun ownership and debate over policing. But those rates are still higher than they were in pre-pandemic times, including in cities that refused to slash police spending following the death of George Floyd and those that made modest cuts.

“There was a hope this might simply be a statistical blip that would start to come down,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum. “That hasn’t happened. And that’s what really makes chiefs worry that we may be entering a new period where we will see a reversal of 20 years of declines in these crimes.”

Tracking ups and downs in crime is always complicated but violent crime commonly increases in the summer months. Weekend evenings and early-morning hours also are common windows for shootings.

Many types of crime did decline in 2020 and have stayed lower this year, suggesting the pandemic and the activism and unrest spurred by the reaction to Floyd’s death didn’t lead to an overall spike in crime.

The two mass killings in 2020 were the lowest annual total in a decade, according to a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University. The database tracks all mass killings, including shootings, defined as four or more people dead not including the perpetrator.

According to that definition, there have been 17 mass killings, 16 of those shootings, already this year, said James Alan Fox, a criminologist and professor at Northeastern University.

The Gun Violence Archive, which monitors media and police reports to track gun violence, defines mass shootings as those involving four or more people who were shot, regardless of whether they died. Overall, according to its database, more than 8,700 people have died of gun violence in the United States this year.

The GVA also found that mass shootings spiked in 2020 to about 600, which was higher than in any of the previous six years it tracked the statistic. According to this year’s count, there have been at least 267 mass shootings in the United States, so far, including the latest three overnight Friday into Saturday.

“It’s worrisome,” Fox said. “We have a blend of people beginning to get out and about in public. We have lots of divisiveness. And we have more guns and warm weather. It’s a potentially deadly mix.”

Parents lose three children to tragic accident: ‘If Jesus can forgive me, I can forgive’


Danny and Leila Abdallah / EWTN News In Depth

Washington D.C., Jun 13, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

It was a hot summer day when Danny and Leila Abdallah found out that three of their children had perished in a car accident. 

The proud parents of six, Danny and Leila never imagined that the last time they would speak with three of their children was when they gave them permission to walk down a footpath in Sydney, Australia, for ice cream. Minutes later, a car hit their children – ages nine, 12, and 13 – and their lives changed forever. 

While the Abdallahs live in Australia, Danny and Leila first met in Lebanon, they told EWTN News In Depth on June 4. From the beginning, they were attracted to each other’s faith. 

Danny’s “first question to me was, ‘Do you pray?’ And that was my sign from God,” said Leila, who was raised in a strong Catholic family.

Likewise, Danny valued Leila’s faith. “I always say the biggest decision you make in your life is who you marry, and I know that a woman that loves and fears God will be with you in your darkest hour,” he said.

They married, and later welcomed six beautiful children: Antony, Angelina, Liana, Sienna, Alex, and Michael.

“We loved every minute, every second even when we were tired and exhausted we still – we love them so much,” Danny said. “I used to say to myself my day begins when I get home.”

But a terrible tragedy shook their family last year, in February 2020. The family was celebrating a birthday when the parents let their kids walk down the street to buy some ice cream.

“I heard my sister saying to Danny, ‘Are you sure it’s okay for them to walk?’” Leila remembered. “Then he goes, ‘Yeah, they’re only walking on the footpath, what’s gonna happen?” 

A few minutes later, something unthinkable did happen. Danny and Leila received a phone call about an accident, and rushed to check on their children.

“What we saw was beyond our comprehension,” Danny remembered when he arrived at the scene. “When I saw them, I realized I had to surrender to God.”

Leila compared it to a “war zone.”  

“I started praying when everyone around me was screaming,” she said. “My immediate response, I’m like, ‘Why would God do that to us? No, He can’t take our kids. He wouldn’t do that to us.’”

They later found out more about the tragic accident. A 30-year-old under the influence of alcohol, cocaine, and other drugs lost control of his car. He drove over the sidewalk at a high speed and hit their children.

“Sometimes you see those movies where your body comes out and you look back into the, over like a top view, of what’s happening. That’s how it felt,” Danny described. “I was in shock and then I just started to fix what I could.”

He grabbed Liana who was conscious, he said. Still, “I felt in my heart that I’d lost my kids that day.”

Arriving at the hospital, four priests met with Danny and Leila and broke the news to them: 13-year-old Antony, Angelina (12), Sienna (9), and their niece, Veronique (11), did not survive.

“I was screaming, I’m like no, no, they didn’t die,” Leila recalled.

Despite their tremendous suffering and pain, the Abdallahs did not hate the driver, who was sentenced to 21 years in prison.

“I feel sorry for him,” Danny said. “I pray for him. The devil used him as a puppet.”

In a move that shocked the news media, Leila publicly forgave him.

“Forgiveness is something you practice, is something you practice all your life. Then eventually you can forgive on a bigger scale,” she explained. “And you forgive not because the others deserve to be forgiven. It’s because you deserve to be at peace.”

Her faith, she said, inspired her.

 “If Jesus can forgive me, then of course I can forgive the driver,” she stressed. “If He died on the cross for me, then of course I can pray for that driver. Our Christianity, our faith got me to forgive him.”

She offered a special message to viewers of EWTN News In Depth

“Remember that if Jesus carried his cross, we are meant to carry our cross and follow Him,” the mother concluded. “And on this earth while we’re living, enjoy every moment, hug your family tight, kiss your kids, don’t take anything for granted, because anything can change in the blink of an eye.”

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Cardinal Zen says possible restrictions to extraordinary form Mass are ‘worrying’


Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun departs the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome, Nov. 18, 2014. / Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

Rome Newsroom, Jun 12, 2021 / 06:30 am (CNA).

Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, has called possible restrictions to the celebration of the Mass in the extraordinary form of the Roman rite “worrying news.”

Zen wrote on his personal blog that “I am not considered an extremist of this liturgical form and that I worked actively, as a priest and as a bishop, for the liturgical reform after Vatican II, also trying to curb the excesses and abuses.”

“But I cannot deny, in my experience of Hong Kong, the very good that came from the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum and from the celebration of the Tridentine Mass.”

In a 2007 letter to the world’s bishops, Pope Benedict XVI explained that Summorum Pontificum enabled priests to offer Mass according to the 1962 Missal as a “Forma extraordinaria,” or extraordinary form, of the Roman Rite. The Missal published by Paul VI would remain the “Forma ordinaria,” or ordinary form, of the Rite, he said.

The extraordinary form of the Mass is sometimes also called the Traditional Latin Mass or the Tridentine Mass.

Earlier this month, a source within the Congregation for the Divine Worship told CNA the congregation might soon issue a document modifying some of the provisions of Summorum Pontificum.

Rumors about possible restrictions imposed on Summorum Pontificum spread at the end of May after Pope Francis had a closed-door question-and-answer session with the members of the Italian bishops’ conference gathered in Rome for their annual plenary assembly.

Speaking with the bishops, Francis hinted at new regulations about the celebration of the Mass in the extraordinary form, although he did not provide details, according to two bishops who attended the conference.

The sources told CNA that the pope said a third draft of the document is currently under study.

In his blog post, the 89-year-old Zen said he has worked for liturgical reform, but he “cannot forget the Mass of my childhood…”

“I felt such reverence, I was so fascinated (and still am!) by the beauty of Gregorian chant, that I think that experience has nourished my vocation to the priesthood, as for so many others,” he said.

He added that he remembers “the many Chinese faithful (and I don’t think everyone knew Latin …) participating with great enthusiasm in these liturgical ceremonies, just as I can now testify about the community that participates in the Tridentine Mass in Hong Kong.”

The cardinal said he thinks Mass in the extraordinary form “is not divisive, on the contrary it unites us to our brothers and sisters of all ages, to the saints and martyrs of all times, to those who have fought for their faith and who have found in it an inexhaustible spiritual nourishment.”

In 2020, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith sent a nine-point questionnaire about Summorum Pontificum to the presidents of bishops’ conferences worldwide, since the pope wished to be “informed about the current application” of the motu proprio.

The expected document will come from the Congregation for Divine Worship, however.

One of the proposals being considered for the document is to require priests who want to celebrate Mass in the extraordinary form to establish a specific community at a specific church.

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