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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Baton Rouge bishop retires; Shreveport bishop named successor

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Robert W. Muench of Baton Rouge, La., and named as his successor Bishop Michael G. Duca of Shreveport, La. Bishop Muench, who has headed the Baton Rouge Diocese since 2002, is 75, the age at which canon law requires bishops to turn in their resignation to the pope. Bishop Duca, who turned 66 June 5, has headed the Shreveport Diocese since 2008. The changes were announced June 26 in Washington by Archbishop Christopher Pierre, the Vatican nuncio to the United States. Bishop Duca will be installed Aug. 24 in St. Joseph Cathedral in Baton Rouge.

WORLD

German bishops ignore pope’s request, resume Communion debate

WASHINGTON — The German bishops’ conference said when the bishops meet in September, they will continue to examine the issue of Communion for Protestant spouses of Catholics. The bishops published an “Orientation Guide in the Responsibility of Individual Bishops” June 27. According to DomRadio, the official news site of the Diocese of Cologne, the guide is the same handout that the bishops’ conference developed in February, but with a changed title. Although it is published, the document is not readily available for public viewing. German bishops met with curial officials at the Vatican in early May and, afterward, Pope Francis asked them not to publish the guidelines. Pope Francis clarified his position on the matter during a flight from Geneva to Rome June 21. He said the problem was not the subject matter of the debate, but rather the bishops’ approach to create new norms for the German Catholic Church at a national level. He said the guidelines the bishops were attempting to create went beyond what is foreseen by the Code of Canon Law “and there is the problem.” The code does not provide for nationwide policies, he said, but “provides for the bishop of the diocese (to make a decision on each case), not the bishops’ conference.”

Philippine bishops react to Duterte calling God ‘stupid’

MANILA, Philippines — Bishops and some politicians reacted negatively after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte questioned the logic of the Bible creation story and called God “stupid.” Ucanews.com reported that, speaking during a technology summit in the southern city of Davao June 22, Duterte questioned how Adam and Eve brought about “original sin. Adam ate (the apple), then malice was born. Who is this stupid God? This (expletive) is stupid if that’s the case,” he said. “You created something perfect and then you think of an event that would tempt and destroy the quality of your work,” added Duterte. The president, who has been at odds with Church leaders who criticized his administration’s policies, questioned the Christian concept of “original sin. .... What kind of religion is that? I can’t accept it,” said Duterte.

Ex-Vatican diplomat guilty of distributing child porn

VATICAN CITY — A Vatican court found Msgr. Carlo Alberto Capella, a former staff member at the Vatican nunciature in Washington, guilty of possessing and distributing child pornography. Judge Giuseppe Della Torre, head of the tribunal of the Vatican City State, delivered the verdict June 23, and sentenced Msgr. Capella to five years in prison and fined him 5,000 euro ($5,833). The Vatican press office said he would serve his sentence in a Vatican cell located in the building of the Gendarme Corps of Vatican City State, as the Vatican police force is formally known.

Apostolic administrator appointed for Syro-Malabar major archdiocese

VATICAN CITY— While Cardinal George Alencherry still retains the title of major archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, Pope Francis named an apostolic administrator to run the Indian archdiocese. The pope appointed 71-year-old Bishop Jacob Manathodath of Palghat to be the apostolic administrator “sede plena,” or effective head, of the archdiocese, said a Vatican press release June 22. Ucanews.com reported the Vatican also removed three prelates from their administrative duties in the same archdiocese, which has been experiencing infighting and financial controversies aggravated by disputed land deals. It is first time in the history of this Asian Church that the Vatican has suspended the administrative powers of all the bishops in a diocese, said a senior priest who asked to remain anonymous.

Jordan’s king honored for promoting a peaceful Islam, interfaith harmony

WEST CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. — King Abdullah II of Jordan has been chosen as the 2018 Templeton Prize Laureate. He has “done more to seek religious harmony within Islam and between Islam and other religions than any other living political leader,” said a June 27 announcement on the award released by the John Templeton Foundation in West Conshohocken. The Templeton Prize, established in 1972 by Sir John Templeton, aims to recognize someone “who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works.” King Abdullah will be formally awarded the Templeton Prize at a ceremony in Washington Nov. 13. Jordan’s leader was recognized for his work to promote a peaceful Islam and bring an end to religious violence in the Middle East.

— Catholic News Service

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