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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Faith leaders urge halt to federal executions

WASHINGTON — Over 1,000 religious leaders have signed a joint statement urging President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr to stop the executions scheduled to take place in July and August at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. “As faith leaders from a diverse range of traditions, we call on President Trump and Attorney General Barr to stop the scheduled federal executions,” the group stated. “As our country grapples with the COVID 19 pandemic, an economic crisis, and systemic racism in the criminal legal system, we should be focused on protecting and preserving life, not carrying out executions.” Among the Catholic leaders signing on to the statement were: Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky; Bishop William F. Medley of Owensboro, Kentucky; retired Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, who is apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois; Bishop Oscar A. Solis of Salt Lake City; Bishop Thomas R. Zinkula of Davenport, Iowa; and Jesuit Father Gregory Boyle, director of Homeboy Industries.

Bishops decry sin of racism on Independence Day

WASHINGTON — Drawing from the example of the late Sister Thea Bowman, the only African American member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, and the U.S. bishops’ 2018 pastoral letter on racism, the two bishops of Mississippi denounced racism as “a plague among us.” “It is an evil and a force of destruction that eats away at the soul of our nation,” Bishop Louis F. Kihneman III of Biloxi and Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz of Jackson wrote of racism in a statement released July 4. “Ultimately, it is a moral problem that requires a moral remedy — a transformation of the human heart — and compels us to act.” The statement was among of a series of reflections and comments on racism by bishops, dioceses and organizations centered on the Independence Day holiday. The Mississippi bishops said Sister Thea offered a prophetic life of service to overcome racism in their state and took her message nationwide in an effort to “break down racial and cultural barriers.”

USCCB’s 2020 Natural Family Planning Awareness Week slated for July 19-25

WASHINGTON — Natural Family Planning Awareness Week is slated for July 19-25 this year and has as its theme: “Live the truth and beauty of God’s plan for married love!” The weeklong observance is a national educational campaign of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that celebrates “God’s design for married love and the gift of life and to raise awareness of natural family planning methods,” said a USCCB news release. The week annually highlights the July 25 anniversary of St. Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical, “Humanae Vitae” (“Of Human Life”), which affirmed Catholic teaching against artificial contraception and provides clear teaching “about God’s plan for married love and the transmission of life.” The week also includes the July 26 feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne, the parents of the Blessed Mother. Natural family planning, or NFP, involves the monitoring by a married couple of the various biological signs indicating a woman’s time of fertility and infertility. It can be used both to avoid pregnancy or to aid in becoming pregnant. Find resources on the USCCB website at https://bit.ly/2BFCQfd.

Florida priest appointed to head Savannah Diocese

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Father Stephen D. Parkes, a pastor in the Diocese of Orlando, Florida, as bishop of the Diocese of Savannah, Georgia. Bishop-designate Parkes, 55, a priest of the Orlando Diocese, succeeds now-Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer of Atlanta, who was Savannah’s bishop from 2011 until he was named to head the Archdiocese of Atlanta March 5. A native of New York state, the bishop-designate is pastor of Annunciation Church in Altamonte Springs, Florida. He was ordained for the Orlando Diocese May 23, 1998. His brother Bishop Gregory L. Parkes heads the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida. His appointment was announced July 8 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican nuncio to the United States. Bishop-designate Parkes will be ordained and installed as Savannah’s 15th bishop Sept. 23 at the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist.

WORLD

Iraqi Christians could face extinction, report states

NEW YORK — Without immediate action from the international community, Christians in northern Iraq could be endangered with extinction, warns a new report from the pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need. The report, “Life after ISIS: New Challenges for Christianity in Iraq,” is based on a survey of Christians in the liberated Ninevah Plains. With anticipated emigration, ACN says the region’s Christian population could plummet to 23,000 within four years. That is a reduction of 80% from the months before the 2014 Islamic State invasion and would move the Christian community from the category of “vulnerable” to the critical category of “endangered with extinction,” the report states. “The international community must take immediate and decisive action to tackle the problems which are threatening the continuing Christian presence in Iraq,” said Edward Clancy, director of outreach for Aid to the Church in Need-USA.

At Angelus, pope backs U.N. resolution calling for global cease-fire

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis praised the United Nations’ adoption of a global cease-fire resolution amid the coronavirus pandemic that has swept the world. “The request for a global and immediate cease-fire, which would allow that peace and security necessary to provide the needed humanitarian assistance, is commendable,” the pope said July 5, after praying the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square. “I hope that this decision will be implemented effectively and promptly for the good of the many people who are suffering. May this Security Council resolution become a courageous first step toward a peaceful future,” he said.

— Catholic News Service

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