USCCB president disinvites Bp. Bransfield from assembly
WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in consultation with the members of the USCCB Administrative Committee, has taken the highly unusual step of disinviting a fellow bishop from the conference’s fall general assembly. The decision affects Bishop Michael J. Bransfield, retired bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, who left his position in September 2018 under a cloud of allegations of sexual and financial misconduct. Pope Francis accepted Bishop Bransfield’s resignation Sept. 13, 2018. The action comes under one section of the recently adopted “Protocol Regarding Available Non-Penal Restrictions on Bishops.” Bishop Mark E. Brennan, who succeeded Bishop Bransfield, said he initiated the process under the protocol in August.
HHS proposal would
benefit some faith-based adoption agencies
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration Nov. 1 announced a proposed rule to allow faith-based adoption and foster care agencies to follow their deeply held religious beliefs and not place children with same-sex couples. Under the proposal, announced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, these agencies would not be excluded from certain federally funded programs for adhering to their belief in traditional marriage. The move would overturn an Obama administration rule. The bishops wrote in a statement Nov. 1, “To restrict faith-based organizations’ work by infringing on religious freedom — as the 2016 rule threatened to do — is unfair and serves no one, especially the children in need of these services.”
U.S. bishops set to begin ‘ad limina’ visits to Rome
VATICAN CITY — The bishops of every diocese in the United States have prepared detailed reports on the life of the Catholic Church in their dioceses and have made or are making reservations to fly to Rome. The U.S. bishops’ visits “ad limina apostolorum” — to the threshold of the apostles — begin Nov. 4 with a group from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont. Throughout November, December, January and February, another 14 groups of U.S. bishops will travel to Rome; the visits should conclude Feb. 22 with the bishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches in the United States. The preparation of the reports and the scheduling of hourlong meetings at various offices of the Roman Curia can give the visits an appearance of being a business meeting. But, as the “Directory for the ‘Ad Limina’ Visit” makes clear, the bishops’ visits are a pilgrimage with “a very definite purpose: that is, the strengthening of their own responsibility as successors of the Apostles and of their hierarchical communion with the Successor of Peter.”
Pope restructures Brazilian dioceses following synod
VATICAN CITY — Following a proposal made during the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon, Pope Francis restructured several dioceses in the Brazilian Amazon to better address the needs of local Catholics. The Vatican announced Nov. 6 that the pope restructured the Archdiocese of Belem do Para, essentially dividing the ecclesiastical territory in half to create the Archdiocese of Santarem, which borders the Brazilian state of Amazonas. He also divided the territorial prelature of Xingu, “and erected two new ecclesiastical regions: the Diocese of Xingu-Altamira and the territorial prelature of Alto Xingu-Tucuma,” the Vatican said. The new Diocese of Xingu-Altamira is comprised of 250,000 Catholics with only 10 parishes, 15 diocesan priests, nine religious-order priests, 11 seminarians, seven religious brothers and 37 religious sisters.
Pope adds Our Lady of
Loreto to universal calendar
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has approved adding the Dec. 10 feast of Our Lady of Loreto to all calendars and liturgical books for the celebration of the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours. Putting the celebration of the feast day on the universal calendar “will help all people, especially families, youth and religious to imitate the virtues of the perfect disciple of the Gospel, the Virgin Mother, who, in conceiving the head of the Church also accepted us as her own,” the decree said. The decree, dated Oct. 7, feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, was published Oct. 31 by the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments. According to tradition, the Holy House of Loreto was carried by angels from Nazareth to the Italian hillside town of Loreto in 1294 after making a three-year stop in Croatia. Tradition holds that the small house is the place where Mary was born, where she was visited by an angel and conceived Jesus through the Holy Spirit, and where the Holy Family later lived.
— Catholic News Service