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Nation and world briefs


Vatican temporarily suspends decree on Jesuit high school in Indianapolis

WASHINGTON — The Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education temporarily lifted a decree that had taken away the Catholic status of Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis. The decree was issued by Indianapolis Archbishop Charles C. Thompson when the school refused to dismiss a gay employee in a same-sex marriage. Its suspension is just until the congregation makes a final decision since the Midwest province of the Society of Jesus, which administers Brebeuf, has appealed the archbishop’s decision to the Vatican congregation. “We have just learned that the Congregation for Catholic Education has decided to suspend the archbishop’s decree on an interim basis, pending its final resolution of our appeal,” Jesuit Father Bill Verbryke, Brebeuf’s president, wrote in a letter Sept. 22. He said in light of the congregation’s temporary decision, Archbishop Thompson said the school is free to resume Masses, which would include a Mass for the feast of St. Jean de Brebeuf Oct. 24. Father Verbryke stressed that the temporary suspension of the archbishop’s decree “does not mean that the matter has been resolved, or that any permanent decision has been made. It also does not mean that anyone should infer that the Congregation for Catholic Education is leaning one way or the other on any of the issues at hand” he wrote.

Pres. Trump calls on world leaders to end persecution of ‘people of faith’

UNITED NATIONS — President Donald Trump called on world leaders at a Sept. 23 U.N. event on religious freedom to end religious persecution around the globe. “To stop the crimes against people of faith, release prisoners of conscience, repeal laws restricting freedom of religion and belief, protect the vulnerable, the defenseless and the oppressed,” he said, “America stands with believers in every country who ask only for the freedom to live according to the faith that is within their own hearts.” The United States “is founded on the principle that our rights do not come from government; they come from God,” Trump said. “This immortal truth is proclaimed in our Declaration of Independence and enshrined in the First Amendment to our Constitution’s Bill of Rights. The Founding Fathers “understood that no right is more fundamental to a peaceful, prosperous and virtuous society than the right to follow one’s religious convictions,” he added. “Regrettably, the religious freedom enjoyed by American citizens is rare in the world.” Trump also announced that his administration is committing an additional $25 million to protect religious freedom and religious sites and relics around the world.

Notre Dame releases study on sexual harassment among seminarians

LAS VEGAS — The University of Notre Dame Sept. 21 released a groundbreaking report that looked at sexual harassment in U.S. Catholic seminaries, revealing that just 6% of seminarians reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment or misconduct, while 90% reported none. Another 4% said they might have experienced misconduct but were not sure. Of the 10% who reported they had experienced sexual harassment or indicated they might have, 80% percent identified a fellow seminary student or religious in formation as the alleged perpetrator. Among the respondents overall, 84% percent said they felt the administration and faculty take seriously reports of harassment. Of those who reported an incident, about a third said they were not sure how seriously their report was taken or whether it was acted upon. The research, from Notre Dame’s McGrath Institute for Church Life, in collaboration with the Washington-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, came from data obtained from 149 seminaries or houses of formations in the United States. The study is titled “Sexual Harassment and Catholic Seminary Culture.”

Addiction ministry centers on power of the Eucharist

PHILADELPHIA — While belief in the Real Presence has declined sharply among American Catholics, one ministry is placing the Eucharist at the center of its expanded efforts to combat addiction. “Jesus is the answer to all our questions and the solution to all our problems,” said Father Douglas McKay, who serves as the national chaplain of the Calix Society, an international association of Catholics in recovery. “And we know where He’s at: in the Blessed Sacrament.” Based in Glenside, Pa., the Calix Society “started over an alcoholic priest back in 1947,” said Father McKay, noting that five concerned laymen, all from the Minneapolis area, petitioned to have a 5 a.m. daily Mass celebrated to pray for an addicted priest’s recovery. After several weeks, the priest was able to maintain his sobriety, and the Calix Society — named after the Latin word for “cup” — was formed. Treasurer Ken Johnston estimated there are currently some 35 Calix chapters worldwide, with more than 200 official members and a number of unregistered participants. Meetings generally begin with Mass, followed by reflection and fellowship.


Catholic school opening at least part-time seen as sign of hope in Bahamas

MIAMI — In a sign of hope, all grade levels at Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Academy in Freeport, Grand Bahama, started holding classes Sept. 23 — at least on a part-time basis. “The structure did have flooding and the junior school was not open until now, at least for a few hours each day,” said Arnold Neely, a longtime resident, who rode out Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5 storm, at Mary, Star of the Sea, which is his parish. “Schools are now opening, even if not full time, and children are trying to get back to normal. This has been a traumatic experience even for adults,” Neely said. Neely said that waters have receded in the Freeport region, allowing many aspects of daily life to return to the area. He noted that Mary, Star of the Sea — the mother parish of five other parishes in Grand Bahama — now serves as a distribution point for donated supplies while at least 200 people live in various shelters on the island.

Help unmask destructive news, pope tells journalists

VATICAN CITY — Catholic journalists need to be able to distinguish good from evil and recognize how their words can shape the world, not just describe what has happened, Pope Francis said. Reporters also can help “unmask words that are false and destructive,” but they must make sure their sources are credible while offering the correct context, interpretation and importance of events, he said during an audience with members of the Italian Catholic press Sept. 23. The pope made similar appeals earlier in the day when speaking with members of the Vatican’s own media department, the Dicastery for Communication. The Vatican department’s work in communication, he told them, must never be promotional or driven by the desire to have a bigger audience, nor must employees be tempted into feeling defeated and defensive against the wider culture. During his audience with members of the Italian Catholic Union of the Press, which was celebrating its 60th anniversary, the pope urged the journalists to be “the voice of the conscience of a journalism capable of distinguishing good from evil, humane choices from inhumane ones,” because the two sides are hard to differentiate today as they are all mixed up in “a hodgepodge.”

— Catholic News Service

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