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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Cardinal to miss World Meeting of Families to tend to seminary matters

BOSTON — The Archdiocese of Boston announced Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley will not attend the World Meeting of Families in Dublin Aug. 21-26. “Important matters pertaining to the pastoral care of St. John’s Seminary in the Archdiocese of Boston and the seminarians enrolled in the formation program there require the cardinal’s personal attention and presence,” said an Aug. 15 statement. Cardinal O’Malley has asked the rector of the seminary, Msgr. James Moroney, to step down while an inquiry takes place into allegations made on social media about activities there that are “directly contrary to the moral standards and requirements of formation for the Catholic priesthood.” Someone named Andrew Solkshinitz linked to a blog post in the community section of the Archdiocese of Boston’s Facebook page that describes seminarians at a “conservative seminary” drinking heavily, cuddling and engaging in sexual acts.

Judge blocks deportation for two asylum seekers

WASHINGTON — A federal judge Aug. 9 ordered the immediate return to the U.S. of two Salvadoran asylum seekers, a mother and her daughter, who were unexpectedly deported from Texas to their native country. The ruling came as the court considered their case challenging a Trump administration policy that blocks foreign nationals expressing fear of gang violence or domestic abuse from seeking asylum. U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan threatened U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions with contempt of court if the mother and daughter, whom the government had already put on a plane, were not returned. Though the flight they were on touched down in El Salvador, “in compliance with the court’s order, upon arrival in El Salvador, the plaintiffs did not disembark and were promptly returned to the United States,” the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said late Aug. 9. The woman and her daughter are part of about a dozen plaintiffs represented by the American Civil Liberties Union challenging what they say is the “gutting of asylum protections for immigrants fleeing domestic violence and gang brutality.”

Peace activists’ prayer service marks Nagasaki, Hiroshima anniversary

WASHINGTON — About 30 people from various Catholic organizations came together outside the White House for a prayer service of repentance Aug. 9 for the use of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. At the rally, which lasted about an hour, they called for the United States to apologize and repent of its use of nuclear weapons in the Second World War and for total nuclear disarmament. The atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki Aug. 9, 1945, and three days before that Hiroshima was bombed. The peace activists held a similar prayer service of repentance at the Pentagon Aug. 6 in a protest area designated by police. The Aug. 9 event opened with a speech explaining that those there stood with other anti-nuclear movements around the world.

WORLD

Pope names Venezuelan prelate to top position in Secretariat of State

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has named a Venezuelan veteran of the Vatican diplomatic corps to be the third-ranking official in the Vatican Secretariat of State. Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra, current nuncio to Mozambique, will take up his new position as “substitute secretary for general affairs” Oct. 15, the Vatican announced Aug. 15. Archbishop Pena, 58, succeeds Italian Cardinal Giovanni Becciu, the new prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes. Born in Maracaibo, Venezuela, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1985. After earning a degree in canon law, he entered the Vatican diplomatic corps in 1993, serving at Vatican missions in Kenya, Yugoslavia, at the United Nations in Geneva, in South Africa, Honduras and Mexico. Retired Pope Benedict XVI named him an archbishop in 2011 and sent him to Pakistan as apostolic nuncio there. Pope Francis named him nuncio to Mozambique in 2015.

Sexual abuse by monks covered up at schools in England, inquiry finds

MANCHESTER, England — The “appalling sexual abuse” of children as young as 7 was covered up in two leading Benedictine-run schools in England to protect the reputations of predatory monks, a government-backed investigation concluded. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse said in a report published Aug. 9 that for decades there was a “culture of acceptance of abuse behavior” at Ampleforth Abbey, near York, and at Downside Abbey, near Bristol. The report said the monasteries remained reluctant to report crimes to the police even after stringent child protection procedures were implemented in the Catholic Church in England and Wales following a series of high-profile clerical abuse scandals. “Instead, monks in both institutions were very often secretive, evasive and suspicious of anyone outside the English Benedictine Congregation,” Alexis Jay, who chaired the inquiry, said in a statement posted on the inquiry’s website. The report revealed that 10 monks from both communities have been prosecuted for child abuse or for viewing child pornography.

Spanish Jesuit murdered in Peru held up as ‘exemplary’

LIMA, Peru — A Spanish Jesuit priest who was found murdered in the boarding school where he lived was buried Aug. 12 in Chiriaco, in the Apostolic Vicariate of Jaen in Peru’s northern Amazon region. Mourners carried Father Carlos Riudavets’ coffin through the streets of Chiriaco and jammed the small community’s simple church for the funeral Mass. A cook found Father Riudavets’ body Aug. 10 at the Jesuit residence on the grounds of Valentin Salegui School, part of the Jesuits’ Faith and Joy school network. The 73-year-old priest had been bound and the body showed signs of violence, according to a statement from Peru’s Jesuit community. Father Riudavets, a native of San Lucar de Guadiana in Spain’s Huelva province, had worked in Peru’s Amazon region since 1980, serving as a teacher and later principal of the school. Although retired, he continued to live and assist there.

Cdl. Bo backs pope’s opposition to death penalty

MANDALAY, Myanmar — Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon, Myanmar, hailed Pope Francis’ admonition that imposing the death penalty is always inadmissible. The Catholic Church should never compromise its fundamental belief in the right to life, including on the issue of capital punishment, Cardinal Bo said in a statement released Aug. 10, ucanews.com reported. “Even those who committed heinous crimes do have a right to life,” he said. The cardinal said Pope Francis’ announcement Aug. 2 on the issue was an affirmation of the Church adopting a moral stance. The pope announced a change in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which previously accepted the death penalty as a “last recourse.” The new text acknowledges that the “dignity of a person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes.”

Argentina Senate rejects bill decriminalizing abortion

MEXICO CITY — The Argentine Senate voted against a bill that would have decriminalized abortion during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. Senators voted 38-31 against the measure early Aug. 9 following a 15-hour debate. The measure had been approved in June by the lower house of Congress. The Argentine bishops’ conference hailed the vote, saying the debate in the country opened an opportunity for dialogue and a chance to focus more on social ministry. The Senate debate revealed deep divisions in Argentina, where support for decriminalizing abortion drew stronger support in Buenos Aires, the capital, than in the more conservative provinces. The vote came as a movement of women and supporters of the measure filled the streets outside the Congress as voting occurred. Catholics, meanwhile, celebrated the Eucharist.

— Catholic News Service

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