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Nation and world briefs


Arizona governor signs bill to expand school choice

PHOENIX — The Arizona Catholic Conference hailed the expansion of an Arizona school choice program that will allow any kindergarten through 12th-grade student to use state funds to pay for private school or other educational expenses. "Yesterday was a historic day for school choice in Arizona as we furthered our reputation as the national leader in school choice!" said the conference in an April 7 statement after Gov. Doug Ducey signed S.B. 1431. The legislation will make the Empowerment Scholarship Account program, or ESA, open to all Arizona students by the 2020-21 school year. "When parents have more choices, kids win," Ducey tweeted before signing the bill April 6. The Arizona program will be the most comprehensive of its kind in the U.S.

Catholic leaders in Syria criticize U.S. missile strikes

WASHINGTON — Two prominent Catholic leaders in Syria criticized the U.S. missile strikes against their nation, wondering why they occurred before investigations into the origins of chemical attacks reported April 4. But U.S. President Donald Trump said Syrian President Bashar Assad "launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians" and "choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. No child of God should ever suffer such horror," he said April 6, announcing that he had ordered the strike against the air base from which he said the chemical weapons attack was launched. Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph Younan called the attack an aggression and told Catholic News Service: "It is a shame that the United States administration didn't wait until an honest United Nations investigation was thoroughly made into what is said to be a chemical air strike in Khan Shaykun."

Pope names priest from Oklahoma diocese as auxiliary bishop for Seattle

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Msgr. Daniel H. Mueggenborg, a pastor in the Diocese of Tulsa, Okla., to be an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Seattle. Bishop-designate Mueggenborg, who was ordained for the Tulsa Diocese in 1989, is currently pastor of Christ the King Parish in Tulsa. The appointment was announced April 6 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. "We congratulate Msgr. Mueggenborg on his appointment and knowing we will miss him, we wish him a fruitful ministry in the Archdiocese of Seattle," Tulsa Bishop David A. Konderla said in a statement. He is the second priest from the Diocese of Tulsa and eastern Oklahoma to be appointed a bishop. In 2016, Oklahoma native Msgr. Peter B. Wells was named an archbishop and appointed apostolic nuncio to South Africa.


Egypt's attacks won't stop pope's visit for peace, says Vatican official

VATICAN CITY — Despite recent and repeated terrorist attacks against Egypt's minority Christian communities, Pope Francis will not cancel his visit to Egypt. "The pope's trip to Egypt proceeds as scheduled," Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, told Catholic News Service by email April 10. The pope is scheduled to meet governmental and interfaith leaders during an April 28-29 visit to Cairo. "Egyptians are looking forward to Pope Francis' visit, although the atmosphere at present is heavy," Father Rafic Grieche, spokesman for the Egyptian bishops, said April 10, the day after the attacks. "The pope's mission is to be beside his brothers at the time of difficulty. Now is the real time that he can bring peace and hope to the Egyptian people as a whole and to the Christians of the East, in particular."

Bishop: Fight Boko Haram in spiritual realm, too

LAGOS, Nigeria — The Catholic bishop of a diocese at the center of the Boko Haram insurgency said the militants need to be fought on several levels."The battle against Boko Haram should not be limited to the physical realm, but it needs to be fought in the spiritual realm for it is a demonic attack," Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme of Maiduguri told reporters. The bishop praised the current Nigerian government for its successes in the ongoing war against terrorism but urged it to end all violence in northeastern Nigeria. In mid-March, Borno Gov. Kashim Shettima said 100,000 people had been killed by Boko Haram militants in his state since the insurgency started in 2009. He also said 2.1 million people have become displaced within the state. The governor said the figures were based on estimates from community leaders.

Philadelphia native named nuncio to Great Britain

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis appointed Philadelphia native Archbishop Edward J. Adams nuncio to Great Britain. He succeeds Italian Archbishop Antonio Mennini, 69, who returns to Rome as an official of the Vatican Secretariat of State. The Vatican made the announcement April 8. The archbishop, 72, had been serving as the nuncio to Greece since 2011. Born in Philadelphia and a graduate of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, the archbishop was ordained by the late-Cardinal John Krol in 1970. After further studies in Rome, he joined the Vatican diplomatic service in 1996 serving as apostolic nuncio to Bangladesh, then Zimbabwe and then the Philippines.

Pope: Scientists must defend creation from distorted use of biotech

VATICAN CITY — Scientists working in the field of biotechnology are called to use science to protect creation and to prevent methods that seek to control it, Pope Francis said. The responsible use of the "enormous and growing" power of science is a "fundamental cornerstone" of humankind's actions in promoting the development of plant, animal and human life, the pope told a committee charged with establishing scientific norms for the Italian government. "You also are asked to foresee and prevent the negative consequences that can cause a distorted use of the knowledge and ability to manipulate life," he said April 9.

— Catholic News Service 

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