Pope Francis appoints bishops to head Cleveland, Juneau, Raleigh dioceses
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Auxiliary Bishop Nelson J. Perez of Rockville Centre, N.Y, to head the Diocese of Cleveland; Atlanta Auxiliary Bishop Luis R. Zarama to head the Diocese of Raleigh, N.C.; and Vincentian Father Andrew Bellisario, currently serving in the Archdiocese of Anchorage to head the Diocese of Juneau, Alaska. The appointments of Bishop Nelson and Bishop-designate Bellisario were announced in Washington July 11 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, and the appointment of Bishop Zarama was announced July 5. Bishop Perez, 56, succeeds Bishop Richard G. Lennon, who resigned in December at age 70 citing health reasons. Bishop Perez has been an auxiliary bishop of Rockville Centre since 2012. Bishop-designate Bellisario, 60, succeeds Bishop Edward J. Burns, now head of the Diocese of Dallas. Since 2015, the Vincentian priest has served Hispanic Catholics in the Anchorage Archdiocese. Bishop Zarama, 58, has been an Atlanta auxiliary bishop since 2009. A native of Colombia, he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 1993.
Oregon Catholic Conference denounces state's abortion funding bill
PORTLAND, Ore. — Calling state lawmakers "intolerant of widely held opposing views" and religious beliefs, the Oregon Catholic Conference is denouncing a Legislature-approved bill that requires health insurers to cover abortion on demand. Gov. Kate Brown is expected to sign House Bill 3391, which was passed 33-23 in the Oregon House and 17-13 in the Senate as a way to counteract expected changes in federal health care policy. The bill increases state spending by $10.2 million to provide free coverage of exams, drugs, devices and procedures, including abortion. The state's Catholic bishops urged a veto, saying the bill "forces all Oregon taxpayers to help finance an extremist abortion agenda that does not enjoy majority support."
Campuses cannot be 'echo chambers' for one viewpoint, say observers
WASHINGTON — In the wake of several violent incidents involving controversial speakers at universities this year, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing June 20 on free speech on college campuses. This issue also prompted Catholic News Service to interview several Catholic observers and leaders in higher education who emphasized the importance of civility and dialogue in a time of violence and intolerance. The hearing was titled "Free Speech 101: The Assault on the First Amendment on College Campuses" and centered on the topics of free speech, intellectual freedom and the dangers they face on college campuses.
Nuclear weapons treaty has challenge of actual disarmament occurring
WASHINGTON — The passage of a United Nations treaty banning the possession of nuclear weapons comes at a time when the majority of the world's nations are frustrated with the slow pace of nuclear disarmament. Even with such a pact — years in the making — there is no timeline for total disarmament, arms control experts said. The real work ahead under the treaty, said Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International, is getting the world's nuclear-weapons possessing countries and dozens more that fall under the so-called "nuclear umbrella" to take seriously the call to reduce and eventually rid the world of ballistic arsenals. The final tally saw 122 nations voting for the ban. Netherlands voted no and Singapore abstained in the final count. Not present during the voting were the nuclear weapon states of the United States, Russia, China, France, United Kingdom, Pakistan and India as well as numerous countries falling under the nuclear umbrella. The U.N. has 195 member states.
Priest, 71, murdered in Mexico by robbers
MEXICO CITY — A 71-year-old priest was found murdered July 5 in suburban Mexico City, marking another attack on clergy in a country with a soaring homicide rate. Father Luis Lopez Villa, pastor of the St. Isidro Labrador Parish in the rough municipality of Los Reyes La Paz, was discovered in his home, his hands tied and stabbed in the neck. The Diocese of Nezahualcoyotl, which serves the suburbs founded by squatters on the east side of the national capital, confirmed the attack in a statement. The Mexico state prosecutor's office said assailants had entered the parish residence to commit robbery. Father Lopez was the 18th priest murdered since December 2012, when President Enrique Pena Nieto took power, according to a count by the Catholic Multimedia Organization.
Nigerian calls imposition of abortion 'cultural supremacy'
MANCHESTER, England — Western governments are "spitting in the face" of African democracy by trying to impose legal abortion against the wishes of most of the people in such countries, according to a Nigerian-born pro-life campaigner. Uju Ekeocha, the founder of Culture of Life Africa, a U.K.-based pro-life group, said wealthy nations pumping money into the promotion and funding of abortions in Africa were behaving like "old colonial masters. None of these countries has asked for this 'aid' money," she said. "In all my work with African countries, I don't know of any which is screaming, 'Come and help us, we have this abortion crisis,'" said Ekeocha, a Catholic who has dual citizenship in Britain and Nigeria. "But a lot of Western countries, in this spirit of cultural supremacy, are still trying to impose abortion in this way."
Pope will beatify Colombian martyrs
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis will beatify a priest and a bishop martyred in Colombia when he visits the country in September, a Vatican spokesman said. Vatican spokesman Greg Burke confirmed that Pope Francis will beatify Bishop Jesus Emilio Jaramillo Monsalve of Arauca and Father Pedro Ramirez Ramos. The beatification Mass will be at Catama field in Villavicencio Sept. 8, Burke stated. At a meeting July 7 with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, the pope signed decrees acknowledging the martyrdom of Bishop Jaramillo, who was murdered by Colombian Marxist guerrillas in 1989. The Colombian bishop, along with a local priest, was kidnapped by members of the National Liberation Army, known by the Spanish acronym ELN, because of his criticism of the rebel group's violent actions. Although his companion was freed, Bishop Jaramillo was shot twice in the head. Father Ramirez, known as "the martyr of Armero," was killed at the start of the Colombian civil war in 1948.
—Catholic News Service