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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

San Juan Archdiocese files for bankruptcy over teacher pensions

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Archdiocese of San Juan filed for bankruptcy protection Aug. 29 over unpaid teacher pensions. Civil officials on the island territory embargoed $4.7 million from various archdiocesan accounts after retired teachers from the archdiocese’s school filed a lawsuit seeking their pensions. Two years ago, the archdiocese had notified several hundred teachers that their pensions were being eliminated because payouts exceeded contributions, which led to the lawsuit. Earlier this year, a judge had ordered the archdiocese to pay $4.7 million to both retired and active teachers. Enrollment at the archdiocese’s schools have dropped sharply due to a recession on the island for the past 12 years. Many families fled to the U.S. mainland last year after the devastation wrought by, and slow recovery from, Hurricane Maria. “The archdiocese no longer has money to operate,” Carmen Conde, an attorney for the archdiocese, told The Associated Press. “The embargo caused an economic and administrative crisis.”

WORLD

Pope: Pray, act to protect clean water, guarantee access to it

VATICAN CITY — Water is a gift of God that makes life possible and yet millions of people do not have access to safe drinking water, and rivers, seas and oceans continue to be polluted, Pope Francis said. “Care for water sources and water basins is an urgent imperative,” the pope wrote in a message Sept. 1, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, an observance begun by the Orthodox Church and now celebrated by many Christians. With the world day 2018 focused on water, Pope Francis drew special attention to the more than 600 million people who do not have regular access to clean drinking water. “Access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights,” he stated, quoting from his encyclical “Laudato Si” on the environment. “In considering the fundamental role of water in creation and in human development,” he wrote, “I feel the need to give thanks to God for ‘Sister Water,’” as St. Francis of Assisi said. Water is “simple and useful for life like nothing else on our planet.”

Slovakia’s newest martyr is example for young people, says cardinal

VATICAN CITY — Like St. Maria Goretti, Slovakia’s newest martyr is a model for young people, said Cardinal Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes. With her beatification, Blessed Anna Kolesarova, who was shot at the age of 16 in front of her family for resisting rape by a drunken Soviet soldier, is upheld as an example for all Catholics, especially the young, so that they may “rediscover the beauty of authentic love as well as the virtue of purity,” he said. The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, released excerpts of the cardinal’s homily at the beatification Mass in Kosice, Slovakia, Sept. 1. People who become heroes and saints do not “improvise,” he said. Blessed Kolesarova was prepared thanks to her upbringing and solid spiritual life, “nourished by daily prayer and taking part in the sacraments.”

Suspect arrested in connection with murder of Jesuit priest in Peru

LIMA, Peru — The Peruvian National Police arrested a suspect in connection with the death of Jesuit Father Carlos Riudavets. Osman Pitug Wajush was arrested on at least two warrants, according to information posted Sept. 4 on The Jesuit Post website. The arrest came nearly a month after a cook found Father Riudavets’ body Aug. 10 at the Jesuit residence on the grounds of Valentin Salegui School, part of the Jesuits’ Faith and Joy school network. Police said Pitug was a prime suspect partly because his sister was employed at the school, allowing him access to information on the activities of the Jesuits and other school personnel. Some Jesuits have expressed doubt that Pitug had a role in the priest’s death, however, the posting stated. Police continued to investigate the murder following the arrest.

Pope urges diplomatic solution as war looms in northern Syria

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis appealed for peace and dialogue as the Syrian government and its allies prepare to launch strikes against the last major rebel stronghold in Idlib province in the country’s northwest. Speaking to hundreds of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Sunday Angelus address Sept. 2, the pope warned that “the winds of war continue to blow” in the already war-weary country. An attack against the Syrian province’s nearly 3 million people, he said, would cause “a humanitarian catastrophe. I renew my heartfelt appeal to the international community and to all the actors involved to make use of the instruments of diplomacy, dialogue and negotiations, in compliance with international humanitarian law and to safeguard the lives of civilians,” the pope said. Several world leaders had expressed concern over the looming attack and the possible use of chemical weapons by Syrian forces.

Italian church helps migrants kept aboard coast guard ship for 11 days

ROME — One hundred migrants, most from Eritrea, arrived at a Catholic-run center near Rome late Aug. 28 after officials from the Italian bishops’ conference negotiated their release from an Italian coast guard ship. They had been on the ship, the Diciotti, for 11 days. The Italian coast guard rescued some 180 migrants from an overcrowded boat at sea Aug. 15, but Italy’s interior minister, Matteo Salvini, refused to allow them to enter Italy. Eventually 13 were taken to Lampedusa for medical treatment. The boat docked in Catania, Italy, Aug. 20 and Salvini still refused to allow the migrants off the boat, insisting that other countries in the European Union had an obligation to share the burden of caring for them. Under intense international pressure, he allowed the 27 unaccompanied minors aboard to disembark Aug. 22. Then late Aug. 25, Salvini tweeted, “After so much hard work, insults, threats and inquiries, we finally have the solution for the ship Diciotti.”

Philippine immigration officials reaffirm move to deport missionary nun

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration reaffirmed its intention to deport an Australian missionary nun after earlier ordering her to leave the country. The bureau Aug. 30 dismissed a motion for reconsideration filed by Sister Patricia Fox’s lawyers, saying it failed to raise new matters that could warrant the reversal of the expulsion order, ucanews.com reported. Bureau spokeswoman Dana Krizia Sandoval said Sister Fox has 30 days on receipt of the order before it can be considered final and executory. In a statement, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, however, said the nun may not be immediately deported because the deportation order still can be subject to appeal. He said the issue also could reach the courts should Sister Fox opt to file a petition after all administrative remedies before the executive branch are exhausted. “Any adverse ruling from the (Justice Department or the Office of the President) may be reviewed by the courts,” Guevarra said.

— Catholic News Service

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