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Nation and world briefs


Wuerl: ‘Enduring presence of Christ in Eucharist’ at heart of the faith

WASHINGTON — Spending time in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is an opportunity “to reflect on something at the very heart of our faith — the enduring presence of Christ in the Eucharist,” Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington said March 8. “As we make our way along our Lenten pilgrimage … we come together to recognize the presence of Jesus, not just in His words, not just in His actions, but in His enduring presence in the Eucharist,” Cardinal Wuerl said. Cardinal Wuerl made his remarks during a Mass in the Crypt Church at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington to open the national shrine’s observance of “24 Hours for the Lord.” A worldwide initiative to encourage adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, “24 Hours for Lord” was introduced by Pope Francis during the 2016 Year of Mercy.

Don’t tax Jerusalem churches, U.S. Christian leaders say in letters

WASHINGTON — U.S. Christian leaders, including the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote government and church leaders in the Holy Land to express opposition to Jerusalem’s plan to tax church properties not used for worship. The religious leaders urged the Israeli government and the city of Jerusalem not to inhibit the churches’ work in and around Jerusalem. In a separate letter, they told Holy Land church leaders they would continue to press the Israeli government on these issues. In early February, the Jerusalem Municipality announced it would begin collecting $186.4 million in property taxes from about 887 church-owned properties that aren’t houses of prayer. The proposal to levy taxes on some properties would run contrary to the unofficial historical tax-exempt status the churches have enjoyed for centuries. Franciscan Father David Grenier, general secretary of the Custody of the Holy Land, which oversees Catholic religious sites, said bank accounts of some churches were frozen in mid-February. He said some churches had been threatened with confiscation of property if the bills went unpaid, and churches were being charged retroactively for seven years. Besides Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, USCCB president, signers of the two letters included Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Armenian Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, ecumenical director and legate of the Armenian Church of America; and Bishop Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.


Central African bishop accuses U.N. forces of abuse

MADRID — A Catholic bishop in the Central African Republic accused U.N. peacekeeping troops of sexual abuse in his diocese and warned they could be guilty of crimes against humanity. “Women are selling their bodies to the Blue Helmets out of desperation,” said Bishop Juan Aguirre Munoz of Bangassou. “Many are doing this to avoid dying of hunger, and some of the abused are minors. When I asked their mothers what happened, they sank their heads.” The bishop spoke while staying in his native Spain on U.N. advice after his diocesan vicar general narrowly survived a machete attack. In an interview with Madrid’s Alfa y Omega Catholic weekly, he said up to 2,000 Muslims had been sheltering in the seminary adjoining Bangassou’s Catholic cathedral, protected by peacekeepers, since a wave of anti-Muslim violence in May 2017 left dozens dead.

Vatican: Pope to visit Baltic states in September

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican announced that Pope Francis will make a four-day trip to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in September. In a statement released March 9, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said the pope will visit five cities during the Sept. 22-25 trip, including Vilnius and Kaunas in Lithuania; Riga and Aglona in Latvia; and Tallinn, Estonia. The pope’s schedule, Burke said, “will be published shortly.” The pope’s visit coincides with the 100th anniversary of all three Baltic countries declaring their independence from Russia in 1918. Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1940 until 1991, shortly before the socialist state was dissolved.

— Catholic News Service

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