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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Alleged abuse victim names former cardinal, Newark Archdiocese in lawsuit

NEWARK, N.J. — A day after a New Jersey victims’ rights law went into effect, a 37-year-old man represented by Minnesota attorney Jeff Anderson has filed a lawsuit against Theodore McCarrick, a former cardinal who was Newark’s archbishop from 1986 to 2000. The suit also names the Archdiocese of Newark as a defendant and alleges Vatican officials were aware of McCarrick’s behavior over his more than 60 years as a cleric and yet continued to promote him as a church leader. The plaintiff, John Bellocchio, alleges the now-laicized former prelate sexually assaulted him when he was 14 and then-Archbishop McCarrick was visiting Bellocchio’s parish in Hackensack. McCarrick, who continues to maintain his innocence, was dismissed from the clerical state by the Vatican in February. U.S. Catholics are waiting for a promised Vatican report on how it was possible for McCarrick to become an archbishop and cardinal when it seems that at least his sexual harassment of seminarians was widely known.

Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Rojas named coadjutor for San Bernardino

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Alberto Rojas, who has been an auxiliary bishop of the Chicago Archdiocese since 2011, as coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of San Bernardino, California. The appointment was announced in Washington Dec. 2 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. Bishop Gerald R. Barnes, 74, heads the San Bernardino Diocese. He turns 75 next June, the age at which canon law requires bishops to turn their resignation into the pope. As coadjutor, the 54-year-old Bishop Rojas automatically becomes head of the diocese upon Bishop Barnes’ retirement or death.Born Jan. 5, 1965, in Aguascalientes, Mexico, Alberto Rojas studied for the priesthood at St. Maria de Guadalupe Seminary in Aguascalientes and at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary in the Archdiocese of Chicago. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1997. Pope Benedict XVI named him a Chicago auxiliary June 13, 2011.

WORLD

Defend dignity of persons with disabilities, pope says

VATICAN CITY — The dignity and rights of people with disabilities are increasingly threatened by a society that discriminates and views them as a burden, Pope Francis said. In a letter marking the U.N.’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities Dec. 3, the pope said that humanity needs to “develop antibodies against a culture that considers some lives as class A and others as class B; this is a social sin! Have the courage to give a voice to those who are discriminated against because of their disability, because unfortunately in some countries, even today, it is difficult to recognize them as persons of equal dignity, as brothers and sisters in humanity,” he said. The International Day of Persons with Disabilities “aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life,” according to the U.N. website.

Catholic leaders call for peace, stability in Mideast

CAIRO — Amid deadly protests in Iraq, a people’s uprising in Lebanon and continued suffering in Syria, Catholic leaders of the Middle East called upon officials of their homelands to “ensure safety, peace and tranquility and stability for their citizens.” Meeting in Cairo November 25-29, the Council of Catholic Patriarchs of the East addressed political, economic and social difficulties that many countries are suffering as a result of unrest, violence, extremism and terrorism as well as the situation of displaced people and the inevitability of returning to their villages and homes. Massive demonstrations against the political ruling class have plagued Iraq since Oct. 1 and Lebanon since Oct. 17. Despite some confrontations with security forces and supporters of established parties, protesters in Lebanon have largely been spared the violent crackdown seen in Iraq. There, about 400 people have died and thousands have been wounded in protests. In their final statement, the patriarchs called on the political authority in Iraq “to take courageous action to get the country out of this great crisis so that the bloodshed will stop and life will return to normal by building a strong state on sound foundations, in which true democracy, justice and human dignity prevails, combating corruption.”

Pope asks Catholics to set up, be enchanted by a Nativity scene

VATICAN CITY — A Nativity scene is a simple reminder of something astonishing: God became human to reveal the greatness of His love “by smiling and opening his arms to all,” Pope Francis said in a letter on the meaning and importance of setting up Christmas cribs. “Wherever it is, and whatever form it takes, the Christmas creche speaks to us of the love of God, the God who became a child in order to make us know how close He is to every man, woman and child, regardless of their condition,” the pope wrote in his apostolic letter, “Admirabile Signum” (“Enchanting Image”). Pope Francis signed the short letter Dec. 1, the first Sunday of Advent, during an afternoon visit to Greccio, Italy, where St. Francis of Assisi set up the first Nativity scene in 1223. When St. Francis had a cave prepared with a hay-filled manger, an ox and a donkey — no statues or actors or baby, even — he “carried out a great work of evangelization,” Pope Francis said, and Catholics can and must continue that work today. “With this letter,” he wrote, “I wish to encourage the beautiful family tradition of preparing the Nativity scene in the days before Christmas, but also the custom of setting it up in the workplace, in schools, hospitals, prisons and town squares.”

— Catholic News Service

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