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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Pope Francis names new bishop for Diocese of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Msgr. Jerome Feudjio, vicar general and chancellor of the Diocese of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, to head the diocese. He succeeds Bishop Herbert A. Bevard of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, whose resignation was accepted by Pope Francis Sept. 18, 2020. The pope had named now-Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory of Washington to serve as apostolic administrator. St. Thomas is a suffragan diocese of the Archdiocese of Washington. Bishop-designate Feudjio, 55, also is rector of Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral in the city of Charlotte Amalie. He was ordained a priest of the diocese Sept. 29, 1990. The appointment was announced in Washington March 2 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio.

WORLD

At least 18 die in Myanmar coup protests; nun protects demonstrators

YANGON, Myanmar — Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon called for patience and tolerance on a day when at least 18 anti-coup protesters were shot dead by Myanmar security forces. Media reported Sister Ann Nu Thawng, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis Xavier, stood in front of troops Feb. 28, the bloodiest day since the Feb. 1 military coup. Eyewitnesses said she got on her knees, raised her hands toward heaven and implored: “Don’t shoot, don’t kill the innocent. If you want, hit me.” Her actions shocked the agents, who did not shoot and stopped their advance. “Today, the riot has been severe nationwide,” according to a tweet on @CardinalMaungBo, an unofficial account with a web link to the Archdiocese of Yangon. “The police are arresting, beating and even shooting at the people. With (eyes) full of tears, Sr. Ann Nu Thawng begs & halts the police to stop arresting the protesters.” The tweet said about 100 protesters escaped from police because of the nun. In a homily earlier, Cardinal Bo said the streets of Myanmar have seen so much pain, suffering and resistance, reported ucanews.com. “Let us all believe in the power of love and reconciliation,” Cardinal Bo said in his homily.

Congo’s bishops say diplomat’s death drew attention to insecurity

NAIROBI, Kenya — As they mourned the killing of the Italian ambassador to their country, Congo’s Catholic bishops said the nation’s deaths, massacres, kidnappings and displacement underlined the toxic state of security, especially in the mineral-rich eastern regions. The Feb. 22 killing of Italian Ambassador Luca Attanasio and two others shocked the country and the international community, but it also drew attention to the cycle of violence troubling regions rich in gems and minerals, the bishops said in a statement released after a late-February Standing Committee meeting in Kinshasa, the Congolese capital. The ambassador, his Italian bodyguard and their driver were killed when their car, part of a U.N. convoy, was attacked in Goma, Congo. “Total insecurity reigns here. If it is possible to kill a diplomat of this rank in such a manner, think about what can happen to ordinary villagers,” Bishop Sebastien Muyengo Mulombe of Uvira told Fides, news agency of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. In the week of the diplomat’s death, at least 32 people were killed in the eastern Congo provinces of North Kivu and Ituri.

Catholic agencies welcome access to Ethiopian region

NAIROBI, Kenya — Catholic relief agencies in Ethiopia welcomed a move by the government to allow more access in Tigray, the semi-autonomous region in the north, where a military operation displaced millions and left an unspecified number of people dead. Amid increased international calls for unrestricted access, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali announced Feb. 24 that 135 personnel from bilateral and multilateral organizations had been cleared to travel and undertake aid work in the region. Seven international media organizations, including The New York Times, the BBC and Reuters, also were granted access. “This is all what the humanitarian agencies have been seeking. They have been asking for access to the region so that they can provide the much needed services to the people,” Andre Atsu, the Jesuit Refugee Service regional director in Eastern Africa, told Catholic News Service. JRS is one of the agencies providing humanitarian assistance in the region, where half of the 6 million population is reportedly displaced.

With Lebanon on verge of collapse, thousands rally to support cardinal

BEIRUT — Thousands of Lebanese rallied Feb. 27 to show their support for the positions of Cardinal Bechara Rai as the country teeters on the verge of collapse from multiple crises. The rally was at Bkerke, the seat of the Maronite Catholic Church, north of Beirut. Speaking from a window of the patriarchate, Cardinal Rai, Maronite patriarch, told the crowd: “You have come from all over Lebanon, of all ages, despite the dangers of the coronavirus, to support two proposals, that of neutrality and that of an international conference for Lebanon under the auspices of the U.N. You have come to ask for the salvation of Lebanon.” Muslims and Druze were among those who attended, including Sunni, Shiite and Druze sheikhs. “Failure to respect neutrality is the sole cause of all the crises and wars that the country has gone through,” Cardinal Rai stressed.

— Catholic News Service

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