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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

U.S. bishop named administrator of Byzantine eparchy in Canada

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Bishop Kurt R. Burnette of the Byzantine Ruthenian Eparchy of Passaic, New Jersey, to be the apostolic administrator of the Slovakian Eparchy of St. Cyril and Methodius in Toronto. Bishop Burnette, 64, remains the head of the Passaic-based eparchy, which covers Byzantine and Ruthenian Catholics living in New England and on the East Coast of the U.S. He has been the bishop in Passaic for seven years. His appointment as apostolic administrator was announced in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Vatican nuncio to the United States. The Vatican announced the same day Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of Bishop Marian Andrej Pacák, 47, a member of the Redemptorist congregation, who since Sept. 15, 2018, had headed the eparchy for Canada’s 3,500 Slovak Byzantine Catholics. Pope Francis named then-Father Pacák as eparch July 5, 2018. His episcopal ordination was Sept. 2, 2018, in Slovakia, followed by his enthronement as eparchial bishop in Toronto on Sept. 15 of that year. Bishop Burnette has headed the Passaic-based eparchy since 2013.

U.S. archbishop, nuncio to Switzerland, announces retirement

VATICAN CITY — U.S. Archbishop Thomas E. Gullickson, the papal nuncio to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, announced on his blog Oct. 17 that he would be retiring at the end of the year. He turned 70 in August, the age at which nuncios can step down; the normal retirement age for bishops is 75. “The Holy Father and I both think it is time. No real story to tell,” he said in a brief email. According to his blog, he will be moving from Bern, Switzerland, home to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, after his Dec. 31 retirement date. Describing a “discernment path” for deciding when to retire, Archbishop Gullickson wrote that the pope’s positive response was the “unquestionable sign.” But, he wrote, he also has been encouraged in prayer and by “the warm welcome to come home to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, from so many quarters, both official and personal.”

WORLD

Demonstrators burn two churches in Chile on anniversary of protests

SANTIAGO, Chile — Demonstrators burned two Catholic churches in Chile, where gatherings to mark the one-year anniversary of mass protests against inequality descended into chaos. Church officials and media reports described the Oct. 18 gatherings through the country as mostly peaceful, but unrest broke out late in the day, with some protesters entering and vandalizing parishes in Santiago, the national capital. Videos posted on social media showed the spire of Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Santiago burning, then crashing to the ground as a nearby crowd cheered. St. Francis Borgia Church also was vandalized, and religious items were stolen, a church official said. The parish is home to institutional ceremonies for the “Carabineros,” Chile’s national police, a force unpopular with protesters over accusations of it employing repressive tactics, including 345 eye injuries from the use of pellets shot from anti-riot weapons, according to a U.N. report.

Armenian Orthodox leader warns of possible genocide in disputed territory

VATICAN CITY — The patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Catholicos Karekin II, said the escalating violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh region has the potential to become another genocide of the Armenian people. “What else is it if not genocide to indiscriminately bomb civilians, churches, the historical monuments of a people in spite of all international laws,” he said in an interview with the Italian daily, La Repubblica, Oct. 19. Only by recognizing the disputed territory’s self-proclaimed independence can “a possible new holocaust” be avoided, he added, referring to the 20th-century Armenian Genocide when about 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks in 1915-18. Since 1988, Armenia and Azerbaijan have had an undeclared war over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, which lies inside Azerbaijan, but has an ethnic Armenian majority. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the region proclaimed itself an independent state, leading to waves of conflict and relative stability as well as a broken cease-fire agreement. For decades, the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe has been trying to negotiate a permanent resolution to the conflict.

Pope accepts resignation of bishop accused of failing to act on abuse

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis accepted the resignation of a Polish bishop accused of negligence after a documentary claimed he repeatedly transferred a priest accused of sexually abusing children. The Vatican announced Oct. 17 that the pope accepted the resignation of 68-year-old Bishop Edward Janiak of Kalisz and named Archbishop Grzegorz Rys of Lodz as apostolic administrator “sede vacante.” In June, the Vatican had appointed Archbishop Rys as apostolic administrator “sede plena,” indicating that the see was not vacant. Bishop Janiak’s failure to act when told about allegations of abuse perpetrated by a diocesan priest drew a public outcry following the May 16 release of the documentary, “Hide and Seek,” produced by Polish filmmakers Marek and Tomasz Sekielski. The film was a follow-up to their 2019 documentary “Tell No One,” which exposed the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church in Poland and has garnered nearly 24 million views on YouTube.

French bishops, Muslim leaders condemn beheading of teacher

PARIS — France’s Catholic bishops have joined Muslim leaders in condemning the beheading of a teacher in a Paris suburb. “We will defend schools and those who form them, so ignorance can be fought everywhere,” said Archbishop Laurent Ulrich, president of the bishops’ Council for Catholic Education. “We will not back down in trusting in fraternity between people, formed through dialogue between social groups, religions and cultures, between knowledge, faith and reason. As Catholics, we assure the Muslims of our country that we will always be in dialogue with them.” The Lille-based archbishop was reacting to the Oct. 16 beheading of Samuel Paty, a history and geography teacher, outside his school at Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. According to the Associated Press, the killing is suspected to be related to Paty showing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in class. In an Oct. 19 statement, Archbishop Ulrich said Catholics felt “deeply united” with educators everywhere after the outrage and would stand with others in an “educational pact” for “social friendship, dialogue and fraternity.”

— Catholic News Service

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