Trinity Dome Mosaic seen as work of art, work of faith
WASHINGTON — Since its dedication in 1959, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception has had three main architectural focal points: on the exterior, its Great Dome and Knights Tower over the northeast Washington skyline, and in the interior, its dramatic Christ in Majesty Mosaic behind the main altar. With the Dec. 8 dedication of its interior Trinity Dome Mosaic completing its original architectural and iconographic plans, the national shrine has a new focal point, before it marks the centennial of the laying of its foundation stone in 2020. And Msgr. Walter Rossi, the shrine's rector, said that it is fitting that the Trinity Dome is centrally located in the nation's largest Catholic church, and that the Holy Trinity is central to the new mosaic's iconography. "The Trinity is central to the mosaic, because the Trinity is central to our Christian life and faith. This is how God has revealed himself to us as Father, Son and Spirit," Msgr. Rossi said.
New York Archdiocese paid $40 million to clergy sexual abuse victims
NEW YORK — The Archdiocese of New York has resolved claims from 189 victims of clergy sexual abuse in the amount of $40 million. The figure was contained in a report released Dec. 7 under the archdiocese's Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program. The program is part of the archdiocese's continuing effort to renew its contrition to those who suffered sexual abuse as a minor by a priest or deacon and to bring a sense of healing to victim-survivors. The report said the archdiocese was grateful to the more than 200 victim-survivors who stepped forward to participate in the program. The archdiocese also renewed "our sorrow and shame at what they were forced to endure" in the document. The report outlined the program's progress and reviewed steps the archdiocese made in dealing "vigorously" with clergy accused of abuse and preventing acts of abuse through the safe environment programs.
Iraq archbishop, Pence meet to discuss plight of persecuted Christians
WASHINGTON — Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda of Irbil, Iraq, reported that he and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence "had a substantial discussion on the needs of the Christians, and other religious minority communities, in Iraq." The archbishop met with Pence Dec. 4. The visit came during an extended visit the prelate made to the United States. Part of his trip included several events during and after the Week of Awareness for Persecuted Christians Nov. 26-Dec. 2. Pence is expected to visit the Middle East in late December. He has said his discussions there will focus on protecting religious minorities, especially Christians, the continued threat imposed by the Islamic State and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Archbishop Warda said he updated Pence "on the situation facing our people and expressed our hope that peace would soon come to Ninevah. "On behalf of our people, I expressed our gratitude for his promise of swift assistance to our communities who suffered genocide at the hands of ISIS," the archbishop said.
Pope appoints archbishops for Paris, Mexico City
MEXICO CITY — Pope Francis picked a longtime ally to lead the world's largest archdiocese. Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla was named archbishop of Mexico City Dec. 7. He succeeds Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, who submitted his resignation June 4 upon turning 75, as required by canon law. In 2007, Cardinal Aguiar collaborated with then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires — who would become Pope Francis — in writing a document on evangelization in the Americas for the Latin American and Caribbean bishops. The document, which became known as the Aparecida document for the city in Brazil in which it was written, calls for Catholics to prioritize reaching people on the peripheries of society. It has become a guide of sorts for the current papacy.
PARIS — Pope Francis has named Bishop Michel Aupetit of Nanterre as archbishop of Paris, succeeding Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, who turned 75 in November. Archbishop Aupetit, whose diocese was west of Paris, was often named as a potential successor to Cardinal Vingt-Trois, who headed the Paris Archdiocese for more than 12 years.
Pope: Migrants need more than decent laws, they need accompaniment
VATICAN CITY — The men, women and children who flee poverty and violence need to find people like St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, who have open hearts and hands to welcome them, Pope Francis said. Her charism is extraordinarily relevant today "because migrants certainly need good laws, development programs, organization, but they also and first of all always need love, friendship and human closeness," the pope said. "They need to be listened to, looked at in the eyes, accompanied" and they need God, whom they encounter in the kind of selfless love that St. Cabrini displayed, he said in an audience Dec. 9 with the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The pope met with members of the congregation founded by St. Frances as they were marking the 100th anniversary of her death. The Italian nun immigrated to New York in 1889 to minister to fellow immigrants, opening schools, orphanages and hospitals for the poor. She died Dec. 22, 1917, in Chicago and became the first U.S. citizen to be declared a saint.
Australian archbishop urges youth to be 'spiritual flamethrowers'
SYDNEY — Young Catholics must set the world on fire with their faith, Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher told about 20,000 young people gathered in a former Olympic Stadium. "You must be spiritual flamethrowers. You must have the awesomeness of an Australian bush fire, without the destruction," he said at the opening of the Australian Catholic Youth Festival Dec. 7. The opening of the three-day event included U.S. Catholic singer Matt Maher getting bishops dancing in the aisles with young people. Australian Aboriginals sang and danced, drummers mesmerized the crowd and more.
— Catholic News Service