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Nation and world briefs


Catholic Communication Campaign helps Church evangelize, inform

WASHINGTON — Catholic communications in all forms — print, digital, broadcast, social media — are essential to informing the Catholic faithful about the Catholic Church, two Church communicators told Catholic News Service. “Now more than ever, when there’s such a barrage of secular news, how does a Catholic sort out the Church’s position?” said Mary Ross Agosta, communications director for the Archdiocese of Miami. “We cannot depend on the secular press to tell our story. We need to be in that game, the media business, to tell our story, our teachings and our traditions.” Billy Atwell, chief communications officer in the Office of Communications of the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, echoed that view. “When you look around and read the news, there are a lot of things to be concerned about,” he said. But the Catholic Church’s values are not “the values of the culture” and are not reported well in the secular press, Atwell added. Support for Catholic communications comes from U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Catholic Communication Campaign. In most dioceses. the annual collection to support the CCC will be taken at Masses June 1 and 2. More information about the CCC is available at www.usccb.org/ccc.

Archbishop ‘deeply disappointed’ by Senate passing confession bill

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez said he was “deeply disappointed” by the California Senate’s passage of a bill that would attempt to force priests to disclose information about child sexual abuse that they hear in the sacrament of confession. After legislators voted 30-2 in favor of the measure May 23, the archbishop urged California’s Catholics “to continue to pray and make your voices heard on this issue, which is so vital to our faith and religious freedom.” “I continue to believe we can strengthen mandated reporting laws to protect children’s safety while at the same time preserving the sanctity of penitential communications,” he stated. “My brother bishops and I will continue to work with our lawmakers in the Assembly.” As the bill, SB 360, made its way through the Legislature, the California bishops urged lawmakers to strengthen and clarify mandated reporting requirements while maintaining the traditional protections for “penitential communications.” The bill as passed by the Senate now protects the seal of the confessional — except in cases where a priest is hearing another priest’s confession or in cases where a priest is hearing the confession of a co-worker.

Bishop Gruss named to head Diocese of Saginaw

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Bishop Robert D. Gruss of Rapid City, S.D., to head the Diocese of Saginaw, Mich. Bishop Gruss, 63, has headed the Rapid City Diocese since 2011. Pope Benedict XVI appointed him May 26, 2011, and his episcopal ordination was July 28, 2011. In Saginaw, he succeeds the late Bishop Joseph R. Cistone, who died unexpectedly Oct. 16, 2018, at age 69. Retired Bishop Walter A. Hurley of Grand Rapids, Mich., has been apostolic administrator of the diocese since Oct. 17, 2018. The appointment was announced May 24 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican nuncio to the United States. His installation as the seventh bishop of Saginaw is scheduled for July 26.


Prenatal diagnosis of illness is no excuse for abortion, pope says

VATICAN CITY — “Abortion is never the answer” to couples seeking a way to deal with a prenatal diagnosis of serious illness or disability, Pope Francis said. “Human life is sacred and inviolable and the use of prenatal diagnosis for selective purposes must be strongly discouraged because it is the expression of an inhuman eugenic mentality, which deprives families of the possibility of welcoming, embracing and loving their weakest children,” the pope said May 25. Addressing participants at a Vatican meeting on medical care for “extremely fragile” babies and on the pastoral care of their parents, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church’s total opposition to abortion is not primarily a religious position, but a human one. “Just two phrases, two questions, can help us understand this,” the pope said. “First question: Is it licit to eliminate a human life to solve a problem? Second question: Is it licit to hire a hitman to resolve a problem?” “No,” he said, “it is not licit. Never ever eliminate a human life nor hire a hitman to resolve a problem.” When there is a prenatal diagnosis of serious illness or disability, the parents need medical staff and pastoral workers to be close to them and support them, the pope told participants at the conference sponsored by the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life.

Holy Spirit keeps Christians young at heart, pope says

VATICAN CITY — The Holy Spirit keeps Christians young at heart, supporting them in times of trial and helping them praise God no matter what is going on, Pope Francis said. Celebrating morning Mass May 28, the pope told the story of a priest who asked a group of children who the Holy Spirit is. They answered, “The paralytic.” While their confusion with the word “paraclete” is understandable, the pope said that too many Christians “think the Holy Spirit is a paralytic. The word ‘paraclete’ means one who is alongside me to support me so that I don’t fall, so that I keep moving forward, so that I preserve the youthfulness of the Spirit,” the pope said. “A Christian remains young. Always. When the heart of a Christian starts to get old, one’s Christian vocation begins to diminish. You are either young at heart, have a young soul, or you are not fully Christian.” In the day’s Gospel reading, John 16:5-11, the disciples are sad when Jesus tells them He is leaving, but Jesus scolds them because, Pope Francis said, “sadness is not a Christian attitude.”

Pope: Sport strengthens friendships, brings out best of body, mind

VATICAN CITY — For young men and women, competitive sports like soccer not only help strengthen their bodies, but also help strengthen their souls in creating last bonds of friendship through teamwork, Pope Francis said. Speaking to 6,000 young people at a gathering co-sponsored by the Italian Gaming Federation of Soccer May 24, the pope encouraged them to take advantage of the opportunity to play a sport that allows them to engage with others rather than give in to the temptation “to isolate ourselves,” especially through technological advances, like social media. “Soccer is a team sport; you can’t have fun alone,” he said. “If it is played in this way, it can be good for the mind and the heart in a society that exasperates subjectivism — that is, the centrality of self — as an absolute principle.” The main sponsor of the event was the Italian sports newspaper, La Gazzetta dello Sport, and featured seasoned athletes and team owners who spoke about the value of soccer not only as a way of having fun, but also in building a foundation for their future.

— Catholic News Service

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