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Nation and world briefs


Bp. Baldacchino named to head Diocese of Las Cruces

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Auxiliary Bishop Peter Baldacchino of Miami as the new bishop of Las Cruces, New Mexico. The appointment was announced May 15 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican nuncio to the United States. Bishop Baldacchino, 58, is a native of Malta. He was named auxiliary bishop of Miami in 2014 and was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Newark in 1996. He replaces Bishop Gerald Kicanas, who was named temporary apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Las Cruces when Bishop Oscar Cantu was appointed coadjutor of the Diocese of San Jose, Calif.

Cdl. Dolan celebrates Mass for Sri Lanka victims, families

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan offered a heartfelt homily on Staten Island on Mother’s Day in memory of the victims of the Easter terrorist bombings in Sri Lanka that left more than 250 dead and hundreds wounded. “I offer our beloved Sri Lankan community my sympathy, and assurance of my prayers. … This has been a terrible time for you after the terrible bombings,” the cardinal said. “We love you all very much, and we cherish you here in the Archdiocese of New York. We’re happy that you’re with us. But I know part of your heart is still back home in Sri Lanka.” The cardinal was the principal celebrant of the May 12 Mass at St. Adalbert Church in Staten Island. The 420 people attending included two families who lost loved ones in April’s church and hotel bombings in Sri Lanka. “It was my sister-in-law’s daughter and three babies, and my sister-in-law’s son and two babies,” said Mary Ciciley Peries, a parishioner of St. Adalbert-St. Roch, in a brief interview after Mass. The youths, affectionately called “babies” by Peries, ranged from ages 6 to 18. Multiple arrests have been made in the bombings. The borough of Staten Island is home to a large Sri Lankan community.

Parish near Colorado school shooting responds with prayer, counseling

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — When news of a school shooting May 7 at STEM School Highlands Ranch reached St. Mark Parish, just two miles away, parish staff members immediately began calling the nine families from the parish known to have children at the school. STEM School Highlands Ranch is a charter school that draws students from across southwest Denver, encompassing several parishes in both the Diocese of Colorado Springs and the Archdiocese of Denver. Fortunately for the St. Mark parish community, none of the children from the parish had been wounded in the attack. Once it was ascertained that all the children from the parish had escaped physical harm, the next step was to offer support to the middle- and high-school students who may have witnessed the traumatic event. The parish held all-day eucharistic adoration and a prayer vigil May 9, followed by an open-house where grief counselors were available.


Pope saddened by church attack in Burkina Faso

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis expressed his closeness to and prayers for the victims of a shooting at a Catholic Church in Burkina Faso, which claimed the lives of six people. “The Holy Father has learned with sorrow about the news of the attack on the church in Dablo, Burkina Faso. He prays for the victims, for their families and for the entire Christian community in the country,” Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Vatican press office, tweeted May 13. According to the Agence France-Presse, armed persons entered the church May 12 on motorcycles and shot at churchgoers attempting to escape. Father Simeon Yampa, who was celebrating Sunday Mass, was among those killed in the attack. The gunmen then set fire to the church and several other buildings nearby before raiding a local health center. Government officials blamed the attack on Muslim extremist groups, saying that terrorist groups are now attacking religion in an evil plot to divide us,” AFP reported. Burkina Faso has seen a rise in attacks against Christians in the country in recent months.

Vienna-based group logs attacks against European Christian churches

MANCHESTER, England — Vandals and thieves have damaged at least eight Christian churches in Germany since early April. Churches have also been attacked, apparently at random, in Scotland, England, France, Poland, Spain, Italy and Austria. The cases were logged by the Vienna-based Observatory of Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe, an independent organization founded with the help of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences. Details of each of them have been posted on the observatory’s website. Police in Freiburg, Germany, are investigating a series of thefts from Catholic churches in Rheinfelden-Nollingen, Schworstadt, and Bad Sackingen from mid-April to the beginning of May.

Pope advances sainthood causes, including Brazil’s ‘Mother Teresa’

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis advanced the sainthood causes of four men and four women, including Blessed Dulce Lopes Pontes, the “Mother Teresa” of Brazil. The pope signed the decrees May 13 during a meeting with Cardinal Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes. The pope recognized the miracle needed for the canonization of the Brazilian nun, who was a member of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. Born in 1914, she was known to Brazilian Catholics as Sister Dulce, the mother of the poor. She founded the first Catholic workers’ organization in the state of Bahia, started a health clinic for poor workers and opened a school for working families. Pope Francis also authorized the publication of a decree recognizing a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Josephine Vannini, who was born in Rome in 1859 and died in 1911. She co-founded the Daughters of St. Camillus, who serve the sick and elderly.

Lebanon mourns former Maronite Catholic patriarch

BEIRUT — Church bells could be heard ringing throughout Lebanon May 12 mourning Cardinal Nasrallah P. Sfeir, the country’s retired Maronite Catholic patriarch known for defending his country’s sovereignty and independence. Cardinal Sfeir would have been 99 May 15. Cardinal Bechara Rai, Maronite patriarch since 2011, said in his Sunday homily at Bkerke a few hours later, “In this patriarchal chair, where 63 years of continuous life has lived a priest, bishop, patriarch and cardinal, we lose an icon, but we all have gained a patron in heaven.”

— Catholic News Service

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