Nation and world briefs


‘World of faith under siege,’ with threats ‘multiplying’ daily, says Smith

WASHINGTON — The world is “filled with people in need,” including the unborn, trafficking victims, those “suffering the agonies of addiction and abuse, people with disabilities and still others facing famine and disease, said U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey. “In some areas, slow progress is being made,” he said in an address during the State Department’s recent second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in Washington. “New treatments are developed. Laws are passed, like the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which I authored to protect victims and aggressively prosecute those who profit from human trafficking.” But at the same time, “there has been little progress in ending religious persecution,” Smith said. “In fact, in some places like China, it’s getting worse. The world of faith is under siege,” he said.

Charismatic Congress lets ‘God settle in our hearts,’ priest tells attendees

SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb. — The 15th Annual Hispanic Charismatic Congress was held in South Sioux City, which is directly across the Missouri River from Sioux City, Iowa. The theme was “The History of Salvation is Jesus Christ.” Father Brad Pelzel, vicar general of the Diocese of Sioux City, was the principal celebrant of the opening Mass July 13. Concelebrating were Father Jeremy Wind of Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City; Father Jose Luis Mejia Lopez of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Matalan, in the Mexican state of Jalisco; and Father Jorge Espinoza Jimenez, of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Tlaquepaque, which also is in Jalisco. Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City traditionally serves as principal celebrant of the Mass, but he was in Omaha, Nebraska, participating in the 25th anniversary event for the Institute for Priestly Formation. Father Pelzel sent greetings to those in attendance at the congress from Bishop Nickless.

Crookston Diocese reaches $5 million settlement with abuse survivors

CROOKSTON, Minn. — The Diocese of Crookston announced July 17 it has reached a $5 million settlement with victims/survivors of clergy sexual abuse. The settlement resolves 15 lawsuits for sexual abuse claims filed between April 2016 and May 2017 because of the Minnesota Child Victims Act. The legislation lifted the statute of limitations on abuse cases in Minnesota, opening a three-year window that allowed victims an opportunity to file civil claims even on cases alleged to have happened decades ago. “To all victims and survivors of sexual abuse by clergy, as the bishop of Crookston I apologize for the harm done to you by those entrusted with your spiritual care. Although you can never be fully compensated for your suffering, we are thankful this litigation has now come to a good end and are hopeful this settlement offers you justice and will be helpful for healing,” Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner wrote in a letter to Catholics of the diocese.


Pope: Church needs apostolate of prevention to protect minors from abuse

VATICAN CITY — Prevention is key in protecting minors from abuse, Pope Francis said. The protection of minors is a serious concern and what is needed is “an apostolate of prevention,” he said in a video message to Catholic leaders taking part in a safeguarding course at the Pontifical University of Mexico. The monthlong course, ending July 27, was sponsored by the Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Formation for the Protection of Minors, which collaborates with the Center for Child Protection of Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University. Pope Francis greeted participants and praised the course in the video, posted in Spanish July 20 on the Vatican News site. The course was “important for all minors so that no one, no one abuses them, that no one may keep them from going to Jesus.”

Archbishop: Sedition charges against prelates, VP are ‘beyond belief’

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Church leaders said the filing of sedition charges against four Catholic bishops, three priests, and several government critics are “beyond belief.” In mid-July, the police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group filed charges of inciting sedition, cyber libel, libel and obstruction of justice against more than 40 people, including the country’s vice president and 35 members of the opposition. reported the complaint said they conspired to spread “false information” against the family of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and administration officials. It also said they were looking to “agitate the general population into staging mass protests with the possibility of bringing down the president.” “I am very saddened by this news and am greatly disturbed by this development,” said Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. “That they are accused of sedition and other criminal complaints is for me beyond belief.”

Bishop: Italian doctors should get chance to help 5-year-old London girl

MANCHESTER, England — Italian medics should be given a chance to help a London girl who British doctors believe should die, a bishop said. Tafida Raqeeb, 5, collapsed at home Feb. 9 after she developed a blood clot on her brain; she has been in a coma since. In June, doctors from The Royal London Hospital informed Shelina Begum and Mohammed Raqeeb, the child’s parents, that they could not treat her successfully and it would be in their daughter’s “best interests” for artificial nutrition and hydration to be withdrawn so she would die. But the parents now want to take Tafida to the Gaslini Children’s Hospital in Genoa, Italy, where doctors have expressed the view that they might be able to bring the girl out of the coma within months. Royal London Hospital refused permission to transfer the child, however, so the parents filed a legal challenge against the decision at the High Court July 16. The judge deferred the hearing until July 22. Auxiliary Bishop John Sherrington of Westminster, the lead bishop for life issues for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, issued a statement July 18 to say that Italian doctors should be given a chance to save the child’s life.

— Catholic News Service

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