Colombian nun kidnapped in Mali is being held by militants: police

By Luis Jaime Acosta

BOGOTA (Reuters) – A Colombian nun who was kidnapped more than two months ago in Mali is being held by the Macina Liberation Front Islamist militant group, Colombian national police said on Tuesday, citing intelligence reports.

Gloria Cecilia Narvaez was seized by armed men on Feb. 7 in Mali’s southern Karangasso region, where she had been working in a health center. Four people have been charged in her disappearance.

“Intelligence tells us that it is the Macina Liberation Front. We’ll have to wait for a statement from that group to know what they will demand,” General Fernando Murillo, the head of the national police’s anti-kidnapping division, told Reuters.

An international unit led by France is looking for the nun, Murillo said, but she may have been moved out of Mali by her captors, perhaps to neighboring Burkina Faso. The kidnappers have so far sent no proof of life or ransom demands, he added.

“We think she was taken by mistake – that she was not the target,” Murillo said in an interview. Neither Narvaez’s religious order nor her family has the funds to pay a ransom, he said.

The incident is the first time that Colombia, known as a kidnapping capital in the 1990s, has been involved in the search and rescue of one of its citizens in another country.

Malian prosecutors have declined to provide details about the four people charged in the case, but a security source has told Reuters they are connected to the Catholic parish from which Narvaez was abducted. Investigators previously said they suspected Islamist militants could be responsible.

Kidnapping has become a lucrative source of cash for groups like Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and al Mourabitoun. The latter is suspected of kidnapping a French-Swiss aid worker from the northern city of Gao in December.

The Macina Liberation Front is composed of Fulanis – cattle herders and farmers from central Mali. Its figurehead, Amadou Koufa, is a fiery cleric whose sermons call on Fulanis to rebuild historic empires like Massina, which once stretched over the Mopti region.

Islamist militants, who seized northern Mali in 2012 before being driven back by French forces the following year, have regrouped and are increasingly conducting raids in southern and central Mali, areas previously deemed safe.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Obama Administration To Continue Legal Action Against Nuns

The Obama administration has decided even in light of the Hobby Lobby ruling from the Supreme Court to continue their action to force nuns to pay for abortion causing drugs.

The administration filed a “supplemental brief for the government” Monday in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in their lawsuit with the Little Sisters of the Poor.  The order sued to not be forced to pay for abortion causing drugs because it violates the Christian faith.

“This Court should proceed with oral argument in these cases,” the administration wrote in the brief.  “Because of the injunctions issued in these cases, the women employed by the plaintiffs have been and continue to be denied access to contraceptive coverage.”

The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, which is overseeing the case for the Little Sisters, told the Christian Post they were disappointed that the government is going to continue to target the nuns.

“We’re disappointed that the government still insists on picking religious winner and losers and exempting church while telling the Little Sisters of the Poor they’re not religious enough,” Adele Keim said.

National Organization For Women Calls Nuns “Dirty”

The National Organization for Women, furious over the Hobby Lobby ruling and organizations that stand up against the Affordable Care Act’s mandate on abortion causing drugs, has released a list called the “Dirty 100” that includes a group of nuns.

The list, which consists of organizations that have filed lawsuits against the ACA, features the Little Sisters of the Poor as a “dirty” organization.

The Little Sisters of the Poor dedicates themselves to serving impoverished elderly people with “grace of hospitality toward the aged poor.”  The group operates 200 homes on five continents and serves over 13,000 residents.  The nuns who work in the order live communally and take vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and hospitality.

The Little Sisters of the Poor were not the only groups that the National Organization for Women says are “dirty.”  The list included Priests for Life, a pro-life group that also advocates against the death penalty and 12 Catholic dioceses.

NOW, one of the largest pro-abortion groups in the country, wants to see a significantly expanded mandate for contraception imposed on all businesses than what is in the Affordable Care Act.

Nuns Sue Strip Club Over Loud Music

A group of nuns says it’s hard to focus on their worship of God when loud music is thumping through the walls.

The Sisters of St. Charles Booromeo have filed a lawsuit against the Club Allure strip club, claiming the thumping music is disruptive.  In addition, the nuns claim the establishment is in violation of state zoning laws that require adult oriented businesses to be more than 1,000 feet from a place of worship.

The nuns have been in their Stone Park, Illinois convent for 70 years.

The nuns also say that an abundance of immoral behavior has descended on the area since the opening of the club.

“Public violence, drunkenness and litter, including empty whiskey and beer bottles, discarded contraceptive packages and products and even used condoms evidencing illicit sexual misbehavior either in the club or about its environs,” the nuns claim in their lawsuit.

The nuns also say they are praying daily for God’s intervention in the case.

Nun Wins Italian Version of “The Voice”

A Catholic nun has won the biggest singing competition in Italy.

Sister Cristina Scuccia launched into praise for God upon hearing the announcement she had won the voting for winner of “The Voice” in a landslide, capturing over 62 percent of the vote.   The nun then recited the Lord’s Prayer during her acceptance speech.

The 25-year-old said she was living out Pope Francis’ advice to Catholic clergy members to be more outgoing in their life’s work and actions.  In addition to winning a cash prize, the sister receives a recording contract from Universal Music.

However, the Sicily-born nun said that she likely will not pursue a performance career and will return to her convent for a life of prayer and reverence.

“I will go back to my priorities – prayer, waking up early in the morning, school service. That’s fundamental for me to be able to begin something new later on,” Sister Scuccia told reporters.