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Nation and world briefs


U.S. bishops condemn court’s denial of imam’s presence at execution

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court’s refusal to allow an imam to be present at a Muslim man’s execution Feb. 7 was “unjust treatment” that is “disturbing to people of all faiths,” according to two U.S bishops. “People deserve to be accompanied in death by someone who shares their faith. It is especially important that we respect this right for religious minorities,” wrote Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., and Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Fla., in a statement Feb. 8. They are the chairmen, respectively, of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty and the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. In a 5-4 vote Feb. 7, the Supreme Court allowed the execution of Alabama death-row inmate Domineque Ray to proceed without an imam present as Ray had requested. He had been told that only prison employees, which included a Christian chaplain, could be at his execution for safety reasons. The Supreme Court’s decision on the emergency stay was not a typical ruling following oral arguments so the court did not have to explain its decision. It only stated the inmate had waited too long to object to the prison’s decision.

Judge allows survey of Church property for border wall construction

WASHINGTON — A judge in Texas ruled Feb. 6 that the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, must allow federal officials to survey some of its property for possible construction of a border wall on it. The action had been blocked by Brownsville Bishop Daniel E. Flores, who earlier said he could not consent to it because such a structure “would limit freedom of the Church to exercise her mission.” But U.S. District Court Judge Randy Crane said surveying the land would not constitute a “substantial burden” for the Church and that federal officials could proceed. Lawyers representing the diocese opposed the survey, particularly on the stretch of land that includes the historic La Lomita chapel. The structure, in the border city of Mission, is near a levee where the government wants to build part of the proposed border wall.

LCWR issues statement on abuse of sisters

WASHINGTON — Days after the pope acknowledged abuse of nuns and sisters by priests and bishops, the largest U.S. organization of women religious thanked the pontiff for shedding “light on a reality that has been largely hidden from the public,” but the group also called for measures to address the issue. “We hope that Pope Francis’ acknowledgement is a motivating force for all of us in the Catholic Church to rectify the issue of sexual abuse by clergy thoroughly and swiftly,” said the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in a Feb. 7 statement. The statement acknowledged that “the sexual harassment and rape of Catholic sisters by priests and bishops has been discussed in meetings of leaders of orders of Catholic sisters from around the world for almost 20 years.” But while the abuse had been discussed, the group said, the information hadn’t always been acted on. LCWR, an association of the leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in U.S., has about 1,350 members and represents about 80 percent of women religious in the United States. “We acknowledge that, as sisters, we did not always provide environments that encouraged our members to come forward and report their experiences to proper authorities,” according to the statement.


Cdl. Muller warns against being silent, in error about Catholic faith

VATICAN CITY — To keep silent about the truths of the Catholic faith or to teach the contrary is a form of religious deception that comes from the anti-Christ, said Cardinal Gerhard Muller. The purpose of the Church and its members, he said, is to lead people to Jesus, so all Catholics, especially priests and bishops, “have a responsibility to recall these fundamental truths” and to strengthen the faith “by confessing the truth which is Jesus Christ Himself.” The German theologian, who was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 2012-2017, wrote what he called a “Manifesto of Faith.”

Pope updates role, authority of auditor’s office as part of reform

VATICAN CITY — As part of ongoing financial reform efforts, Pope Francis updated the role and authority of the auditor general’s office, calling it the Vatican’s “anti-corruption authority.” The Vatican announced Feb. 9 that the new statutes go into effect Feb. 16 and replace those first promulgated on an experimental basis in 2015. The work of the auditor general’s office remains largely the same: to perform a financial and compliance audit “with full autonomy and independence” of all offices of the Roman Curia, institutions connected to the Holy See and all offices of Vatican City State. It will continue to perform specific audits when requested or deemed necessary, as well as receive and investigate reports on anomalous or irregular activities concerning budgets, allocation of resources, financial records, procurement services, transactions of assets or acts of corruption, embezzlement and fraud, according to the statutes.

— Catholic News Service

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