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Nation and world briefs


At congress, deacons’ ministry of presence will be in forefront

NEW ORLEANS — The 18,000 deacons in the United States exercise a ministry of presence, bringing the healing and hope-filled message of Jesus Christ to people they encounter daily in their parishes, other ministries and workplaces. That diaconal ministry of presence will be front and center July 22-26 in New Orleans. About 2,800 people — including 1,300 deacons, along with their wives and children — will attend the 2018 National Diaconate Congress. The theme of the gathering, held only three times since the inaugural congress in New Orleans in 1994, is “Christ the Servant: Yesterday, Today, Forever.” Deacon Ray Duplechain, executive director of the Office of the Permanent Diaconate for the Archdiocese of New Orleans and chair of the National Association of Diaconate Directors, said,“This is certainly a chance for us to hear what the Church and the bishops have to say about the diaconate, and we will be listening intently to both the affirmation and the challenges,” he told the Clarion Herald, New Orleans’ archdiocesan newspaper.

Jesuit aims to stem decline of faith with launch of catechetical website

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Jesuit Father Robert J. Spitzer, former president of Gonzaga University, launched a cutting-edge catechetical website to confront the rising tide of unbelief spurred by an increasingly skeptical, science-saturated society. Developed through Father Spitzer’s Magis Center, based in Garden Grove, Credible Catholic offers 20 downloadable “modules” that equip Magis Center learners with evidence-based arguments for core Christian beliefs. The catechetical website is www.CredibleCatholic.com. “The Credible Catholic modules correspond to fundamental apologetics in light of modern scientific methods,” said Father Spitzer, author and co-host of the Eternal Word Television Network program, “Father Spitzer’s Universe.” “For example, I approach the Resurrection through evidence, but I respond to every Scripture passage, too,” he said.


Nicaraguan bishops to pray for exorcism as violence continues

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Police and paramilitaries in Nicaragua have attacked another parish in an indigenous community as churches and clergy come under attack for trying to protect populations protesting authoritarian rule. Gunfire was directed at Mary Magdalene Parish in Monimbo, “where the priest is seeking shelter,” tweeted Managua Auxiliary Bishop Silvio Jose Baez July 17. Father Augusto Gutierrez, pastor at Mary Magdalene Parish, told Spanish radio: “It’s been four hours of attack with heavy military weapons, destroying churches. … It’s genocide. There’s no other name for it.” Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, apostolic nuncio to Nicaragua, stated in a message July 17: “Violence cannot solve the political crisis and guarantee future peace in Nicaragua. Crying for the dead and praying for their families, I call the consciences of everyone to truce and a return to the national dialogue.” As attacks on Catholic clergy continued and anti-government protesters were besieged, the country’s bishops said they would pray an exorcism prayer. The bishops said July 20 would be a day of prayer and fasting “as an act of atonement for the profanation carried out in recent months against God.” On that day, “We will pray the prayer of exorcism to St. Michael Archangel.”

India’s Sister Prema condemns trafficking, says nuns not involved

NEW DELHI — Facing child trafficking allegations at one of its homes for unmarried mothers in India, the Missionaries of Charity said the order condemns the actions of individuals involved and stressed that these are unrelated to the order. A baby born in Nirmal Hriday (Tender Heart) home in the eastern Indian city of Ranchi was not handed over to state adoption authorities after the mother had declared her intention to do so, Sister Mary Prema Pierick, superior general of the Missionaries of Charity, said in a July 17 statement from Kolkata. “We are fully cooperating with the investigations and are open to any free, fair and just inquiry,” Sister Prema said, noting that “false news” “and “baseless innuendos” are being spread. “While we place our full trust in the judicial process that is underway, we wish to express regret and sorrow for what happened,” she said. The order condemns “in unequivocal terms” the individual actions “which have nothing to do with the Congregation of the Missionaries of Charity,” she said.

Presidents-delegate named for upcoming Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY — As his delegates to preside over sessions of the Synod of Bishops in October, Pope Francis has chosen four cardinals from countries where young people are facing special challenges. The Vatican announced July 14 the pope’s appointment of the presidents-delegate: Cardinals Louis Sako of Baghdad, the Chaldean patriarch; Desire Tsarahazana of Toamasina, Madagascar; Charles Bo of Yangon, Myanmar; and John Ribat of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. The synod will meet at the Vatican Oct. 3-28 to discuss “young people, faith and vocational discernment.” As presidents-delegate, the cardinals will alternate presiding over the synod sessions. The four cardinals come from areas in the world that reflect several major issues outlined in the synod’s “instrumentum laboris” (“working document”).

Congolese cardinal doesn’t fear death but is careful what he eats

OTTAWA, Ontario — There is no room for fear in the life of Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo. “A cardinal does not have fear,” said the outspoken leader of one of most violent and volatile countries in Africa. “It is a mission to defend the faith, to the cost of shedding one’s blood. I’m not afraid to do that.” Cardinal Monsengwo’s condemnation of the current regime has put him in a dangerous position, but he says he does takes measures to stay safe. “Naturally, I am prudent,” he said in a July 9 interview in French. “I don’t eat just anything; I don’t drink just anything.” When he’s at home, the two women who prepare and serve his food are his nieces, he said. “No one else enters into the kitchen.” The cardinal visited Ottawa July 5-13 at the invitation of Canada’s Congolese community. The cardinal, a frequent critic of Congolese President Joseph Kabila, asked for continued prayers for his country as its political and economic situation continues to deteriorate. Kabila failed to hold elections as promised in a 2016 deal brokered by the Catholic Church. Later, a Church-brokered accord allowed the president to stay in office, alongside an opposition head of government, pending elections by the end of 2017. However, in November, Congo’s Electoral Commission said the ballot would be postponed until Dec. 23, 2018.

— Catholic News Service

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