Gunman opens fire during Mass in Catholic church, kills at least 4

Four people were killed and four others were injured after a gunman opened fire during Mass inside a Catholic cathedral in southeast Brazil on Tuesday, officials said. The gunman ended up killing himself, officials said. Officials said the unidentified man, armed with a pistol and a .38 caliber revolver, entered the Metropolitan Cathedral in Campinas, … Continue reading “Gunman opens fire during Mass in Catholic church, kills at least 4”

Four people were killed and four others were injured after a gunman opened fire during Mass inside a Catholic cathedral in southeast Brazil on Tuesday, officials said.

The gunman ended up killing himself, officials said.

Officials said the unidentified man, armed with a pistol and a .38 caliber revolver, entered the Metropolitan Cathedral in Campinas, a city about 60 miles north of Sao Paulo, the Folha de S. Paulo reported.

Globo News reported the man walked to the front of the church during Mass and opened fire. Then he turned the gun on himself, the military police told the newspaper.

A firefighter walks next to a victim killed at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Campinas, Brazil, Tuesday, Dec.11, 2018. Authorities say an armed man entered the cathedral in southern Brazil on Tuesday afternoon and opened fire, killing at least four people before killing himself. (Denny Cesare/Futura Press via AP)

The four people who were injured were taken to local hospitals. Their conditions were not immediately known.

“We do not have information on motivation or who the victims were," Alexandre Monteiro with the military police told O Globo newspaper. “Most [were] elderly, innocent people and he [the suspect] ended up firing on all these people. The scene is desperate, a great tragedy.”

Hamilton Caviola Filho, the local police chief, told Globo they estimate the gunman fired at least 20 rounds and there could have been a greater death toll had military police not entered the church as soon as they heard gunshots.

“I entered the church, the Mass was over. A few minutes later the gunman came in and stood in de front of a couple and opened fire,” Pedro Rodrigues told Folha de S. Paulo. “I ran away, there was no screaming, just running. And he kept firing. I’m very lucky to be alive.”

Wilson Cassante, a spokesman for the Campinas archdiocese, told The Associated Press the officiating priest had left before the shooting began. He said church officials did not recognize the shooter or have any ideas about his motive.

"It's so sad," said Cassante. "It's hard to imagine the pain this has caused."

While Brazil leads the world in total annual homicides, mass shootings are relatively rare.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lucia I. Suarez Sang is a Reporter for Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang

Florida woman, 85, fighting to keep painting of Virgin Mary on mobile home: ‘Have to kill me first’

An 85-year-old Florida woman reportedly says the lawyers representing her trailer park will "have to kill me first" before she lets them remove an illustration of the Virgin Mary that's painted on the side of her mobile home.

Millie Francis painted an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe – one of Mary’s many Catholic titles and the patroness of Mexico – on a piece of plywood on the front of her mobile home in the Bradenton Tropical Palms trailer park.

The property manager for Vanguard Property Management demanded Francis remove the painting – to which she responded, “They’ll have to kill me first,” the Bradenton Herald reported.

“You’re not going to tell this old lady what to do,” Francis told the newspaper. “This is America. As long as I have two arms and two legs, I’m going to do it.”

The illustration of Mary is on a piece of plywood placed where Francis’ front window used to be. She said the window was removed in April – with permission from the park – after Francis had persistent issues with security personnel shining flashlights into her home late at night.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do in that space,” Francis said. “I was at church during Mass just before communion. To be honest, I wasn’t concentrating much on mass because I was preoccupied with 'What am I going to do with this board?' I said, ‘Please dear Lord, help me decide on what I want to do.’”

She added: “I don’t want to say I had a vision or anything like that, but I felt enlightened and received the inspiration from our Lady of Guadalupe to paint her image. So I promised that I would.”

Francis claims it was only when the painting was finished in late October that she was told to remove it.

Janet Nowakowski, the property manager for Vanguard Property Management, told the Herald that Francis did not get permission for the painting through the park’s architectural review committee, though Francis did get permission to remove the window.

She said Francis had been given until Oct. 31 to complete the window replacement but the project wasn't completed by then and it was requested Francis remove the piece of plywood.

Nowakowski said, per park rules, Francis must resubmit her project to the architectural review committee for approval or remove the painting.

“That’s where we stand,” she told the newspaper last month. “She exceeded the time she was given to complete it and it has to go back before the committee. She has not submitted that request.”

Attorneys for the park sent Francis a letter Nov. 9 saying she had 30 days to remove the painting or face a lawsuit.

With the deadline fast approaching, Francis has remained defiant, telling the Bradenton Herald on Tuesday her painting is “not going anywhere.”

The 85-year-old claims she is being discriminated against because of her Catholic faith and says her neighbors have various decorations on their homes that they have not been asked to remove.

“If I have to go to court, then I have to go,” she said. “I don’t know what to do. I can’t take this anymore but I can’t see it coming down. It’s not hurting anyone. They don’t have to look at it if they don’t like it so I don’t understand why they are against me, but it’s going to stay.”

Vanguard Property Management did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday.

Lucia I. Suarez Sang is a Reporter for Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang

Pennsylvania court sides with some priests in abuse report, shields names

Pennsylvania's highest court says the names of 11 Roman Catholic clergy cited in a grand jury report on sexual abuse of children can't be made public.

The Supreme Court said Monday releasing the information would have violated the clergymen's state constitutional right to have their reputation protected.

The clergy challenged being named in the document before its August release.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro says that although he can't release the names, the state's bishops should.

The clergy argued they hadn't been provided an adequate opportunity to respond to the grand jury about the allegations. They also said the report stigmatized people who hadn't been convicted of crimes, and contained inaccuracies.

The jury found more than 300 priests had abused children going back 70 years, and church officials covered up abuse.

Pope lights candle to promote peace in Syria

The pope has lit a candle decorated with the faces of Syrian children suffering from war as part of a global campaign calling for peace in the Middle Eastern country.

The pope told believers gathered in St. Peter's Square on the first Sunday of the Advent season leading up to Christmas that the season "is a time of hope." The pontiff called for a halt to the civil war in Syria, which has been underway for nearly eight years.

Lifting the candle to the window, the pope urged that "these flames of hope disperse the darkness of war."

The lighting launched a global campaign for Syria, which the organization Aid to the Church in Need said involved over 50,000 children from war-torn Syrian cities.

Pope praises ‘unruly’ deaf child after he climbed on stage to play: ‘This child preaches to all of us’

Pope Francis used a child's playfulness as an opportunity to speak on freedom and following Jesus to those in attendance after a young, deaf boy ran onstage during the pontiff's general audience Wednesday.

When six-year-old Wenzel Wirth ran out to the front of the Vatican audience hall, the Swiss Guards and Vatican gendarmes stood by as monsignors read out the pope’s catechism lesson in various languages, but his Argentine-Italian mother rushed to retrieve him, explaining to Francis that her son couldn’t speak.

“Let him be, let him be,” Francis told her while the young boy ran around a little longer, tugging on the gurad's hand and playing behind pope. As the mother left the stage, a smiling Francis, who is from Argentina, leaned towards Bishop George Ganswin sitting next to him and whispered: "He is Argentinian. Undisciplined."


A child is taken away after getting up to the area where Pope Francis is sitting, right, during his weekly general audience in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican. (AP)

When Francis took to the microphone, he used the child as a lesson for the audience.

“This child cannot speak. He is mute, but he can communicate, and he has something that got me thinking: he’s free. Unruly…but he is free,” Francis added to laughter.

“It made me think, ‘Am I so free before God?’” the pope added.

"When Jesus says we have to be like children, it means we need to have the freedom that a child has before his father," Francis continued. "I think this child preaches to all of us. And let us ask for the grace of speech (for him)."


A child makes his way to the stage during Pope Francis weekly general audience, in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (AP)

The boy’s father, Ariel, said his son suffers from behavioral problems as well as speech limitations, adding that the family from Verona came to Rome and told their son he would get to see the pope.

“It was not planned,” he explained to the Associated Press. “We try to let him be free. He has to express himself, and we live without hiding his problems.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Caleb Parke is an associate editor for You can follow him on Twitter @calebparke