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Nation and world briefs


Pope names bishop of Salt Lake City

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Auxiliary Bishop Oscar A. Solis of Los Angeles as bishop of Salt Lake City. Bishop Solis, 63, a native of San Jose City, Nueva Ecija, Philippines, has been an auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles since 2004. Previously, he served the Archdiocese of Manila and the Diocese of Cabanatuan, both in the Philippines, before coming to the United States in 1984. The appointment was announced Jan. 10 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. At a news conference, Bishop Solis said the visit was only his second in Utah, but he pledged to quickly learn about the Catholic community of 300,000 people. "I humbly submit myself to you as the new servant leader of the Diocese of Salt Lake City and a shepherd for the people of the state of Utah," he said.

Cdl. Tobin looks to bridge chasm between faith, life

NEWARK, N.J. — The chasm between faith and life is the greatest challenge facing the Catholic Church today, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin said at his installation Mass, and he urged the Church to be salt for the earth so that the presence of Christ does not become "a comforting, nostalgic memory." Delivering the homily at the liturgy Jan. 6, the feast of the Epiphany, Cardinal Tobin said he wanted to head off "a growing trend that seems to isolate us, convincing us to neatly compartmentalize our lives" as people attend Mass on Sunday and then doing "whatever we think we need to do to get by" the rest of the week. Cardinal Tobin said his appointment reminded him "that stakes are incredibly high" as he assumes leadership of the richly diverse Archdiocese of Newark. "If we permit the chasm between faith and life to continue to expand, we risk losing Christ, reducing Him simply to an interesting idea of a comforting, nostalgic memory. And if we lose Christ, the world has lost the salt, light and leaven that could have transformed it," he said.

Catholic-Muslim dialogue opens to support Islamic American communities

WASHINGTON — An emerging Catholic dialogue with Muslims aims to show public support for Islamic American communities. The dialogue stems from concerns expressed by U.S. bishops in the wake of "a serious uptick in violence against American Muslims ... to make sure that they are sensitive to what is going on in the (Muslim) communities," said Anthony Cirelli, associate director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The dialogue, underway since last February, will build on three existing regional Catholic-Muslim dialogues, also overseen by the secretariat. Those gatherings of Muslim and Christian scholars and religious leaders have focused largely on academic discussions and comparisons of their respective religious texts, Cirelli said. The regional dialogues — mid-Atlantic, Midwest and West Coast — have been effective in creating a better understanding among Muslim and Catholic leaders on a theological level, Cirelli explained. The national dialogue also will help Muslim leaders to better advocate for current concerns, "especially with the incoming (U.S.) administration," said Cirelli, referring to calls by President-elect Donald J. Trump and others to monitor American Muslims and limit entry of Muslim visitors from abroad.


Pope: Jesus amazed because He was humble, helpful, not a hypocrite

VATICAN CITY — Jesus astonished people with the way he taught and interacted with others because he wasn't aloof, domineering or hypocritical, Pope Francis said in the homily at Mass Jan. 10 in the chapel of his residence. "Jesus wasn't allergic to people. Touching lepers, the sick did not disgust him," whereas the Pharisees — who strolled around in fine clothes — looked down on the people and considered them ignorant, he said. The Pharisees "were removed from the people, they weren't close," the pope said. "Jesus was very close to the people and this gave Him authority."

Mexican clergy call for calm amid gas-price protests

MEXICO CITY — Mexican Catholic officials called for calm as angry protests over hikes in the government-set gasoline price consume the country. Senior clergy also called for federal officials to show sensitivity toward the plight of millions of poor and middle-class Mexicans, struggling to make ends meet, as the country's sinking currency erodes their purchasing power and higher prices for gasoline could increase costs for basics such as food and transportation. "We urge (citizens) to channel their discontent, understandable as it is, through peaceful, respectful and creative expressions," the Mexican bishops' conference stated Jan. 7. "We urge the civil authorities to seriously reconsider — given the national context and international variables — this measure, which affects everyone in our country, especially the poor." Outrage erupted almost immediately after the government announced increases of more than 20 percent, implemented Jan. 1 due to deregulation of the gasoline distribution and retailing market. The protests included peaceful marches throughout the country for more than a week, though media reported looting of at least 250 stores. Mexicans say they can't absorb the increased cost of gasoline, even those not owning a car.

— Catholic News Service 

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