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Nation and world briefs


Allentown, Pa., priest named bishop of his home diocese

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Msgr. Alfred A. Schlert, administrator of the Diocese of Allentown, Pa., as the diocese's new bishop. Bishop-designate Schlert succeeds Bishop John O. Barres, who was transferred in December to serve as bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, N.Y. The appointment was announced in Washington June 27 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. A native of Easton, Pa., Bishop-designate Schlert, 55, has held several administrative positions in the Allentown Diocese. He was became vicar general of the diocese in 1998. For two years, from 2008 to 2010, he also was pastor of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus Parish in Hellertown, Pa. In addition, he is vice president of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and is a member of its administrative board. He also served on the diocesan priest's council, the finance council and the College of Consultors.

Bishop from Slovakia named administrator of Eparchy of Parma, Ohio

WASHINGTON ­— Pope Francis has named Auxiliary Bishop Milan Lach of Presov, Slovakia, as apostolic administrator of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma, Ohio. The appointment was announced in Washington June 24 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. Until now Archbishop William C. Skurla of the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh has had pastoral governance of the Ohio-based eparchy. Bishop Lach, 43, was ordained an auxiliary bishop for Presov in 2013. A native of Kezmarok, Slovakia, he entered the Society of Jesus in 1995 and was ordained a Jesuit priest July 1, 2001. The Eparchy of Parma encompasses the geographical area of most of Ohio as well as Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Quebec cardinal to Catholic media: Strength of the message is God

QUEBEC CITY — St. John's experience with Jesus "transforms him into a great communicator," said Quebec Cardinal Gerald Lacroix, and he told Catholic media professionals from around the world that the same kind of experience drives their work. "The strength, the vigor is ... in the seed, in the Word of God," he told hundreds of participants in the Catholic Media Conference and the Signis World Congress June 21. In a special Mass at the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre Dame of Quebec, the cardinal moved smoothly among Spanish, English and French, asking participants from the Americas, Asia, Africa, Australia and Europe to pardon his hoarse voice. Referring to one of the Mass readings, he said St. John "shares a vibrant expression of his faith." He noted that, at the time, there was "no Facebook account yet, no tweets ... no internet ... and yet the Gospel spread all over the world."


Military says priest kidnapped in southern Philippines was seen alive

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine military said a Catholic priest abducted by terrorist gunmen in the southern Philippines was seen alive June 25, during a "humanitarian pause" in the conflict. Father Teresito Soganub, vicar general of the Prelature of Marawi, was taken hostage May 23 by terrorist gunmen who attacked the city of Marawi. Ucanews.com reported that Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, army spokesman, said the priest was seen alive in a part of the city that is still in the hands of the terrorists, who claim to have links with the Islamic State groups.

Islamic State followers said to desecrate Catholic chapel in Mindanao

COTABATO, Philippines — Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato has condemned "in the strongest terms possible" the reported desecration of a Catholic chapel by terrorist gunmen in the southern Philippines. The June 21 incident, in the village of Malagakit, occurred when about 300 gunmen of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, known as BIFF, attacked Pigcawayan town, resulting in the displacement of hundreds of residents. The BIFF, a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that has signed a peace deal with the government, has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group. Chief Inspector Reylan Mamon, Pigcawayan police chief, said the gunmen destroyed religious images inside the chapel. "The crucifix and images of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ were destroyed while the sacred hosts were thrown all over the floor," Mamon told ucanews.com.

To ease tensions, Catholics in Indonesia help Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesian Catholics have made a greater-than-usual effort to help Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr this year amid heightened religious tensions in the country, reported ucanews.com. It said Jakarta's recent tumultuous election — which saw hard-line Muslim groups orchestrate the defeat of a Christian governor — and the discovery of several terror plots have increased fears of growing intolerance in the country. As a result, the Christian community sought to counter intolerance by making a greater effort to foster a spirit of religious brotherhood during the holiday, reported ucanews.com. Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta, president of the Indonesian bishops' conference, issued a video message to the country's Muslim "brothers and sisters," to mark the end of Ramadan.

-Catholic News Service

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