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Nation and world briefs


House bill improves system for farmworkers, farmers, say bishops

WASHINGTON — The Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019, passed by the House Dec. 11 with a 260-165 bipartisan vote, aims “to make a better system for both the farmer and the farmworkers and to create a more effective and humane agriculture industry,” said the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, the domestic policy chairman, was joined in praising the House vote by Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville of Washington, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration. They issued a statement Dec. 13. The measure, H.R. 4916, which now goes to the Senate for a vote, would improve conditions for immigrant farmworkers and their families, as well as ensure the stability of the U.S. agricultural industry, the chairmen said.

Bishop Conley of Lincoln, Neb., to take medical leave of absence

LINCOLN, Neb. — The Diocese of Lincoln announced Dec. 13 that Bishop James D. Conley will take a medical leave of absence, effective immediately. Due to serious medical issues, Bishop Conley formally requested a temporary leave of absence from Pope Francis, and the request was accepted. Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop George J. Lucas of Omaha to serve as apostolic administrator during Bishop Conley’s temporary leave of absence. In a letter to the faithful of the Diocese of Lincoln, Bishop Conley announced that he has been medically diagnosed with depression and anxiety, along with insomnia and tinnitus. “My doctors have directed me to take a leave of absence for medical and psychological treatment, and to get some much-needed rest. After prayer, and seeking the counsel of my spiritual director, my brother bishops, and my family, I have accepted the medical necessity of a temporary leave of absence,” Bishop Conley wrote.

Pope Francis accepts resignation of Sioux Falls bishop; names successor

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Paul J. Swain of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and appointed as his successor Father Donald E. DeGrood, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Bishop Swain, 76, has headed the Sioux Falls Diocese since 2006. Bishops are required by canon law to turn in their resignation to the pope when they turn 75. Bishop-designate DeGrood, 54, is a native of Minnesota and currently pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish in Savage, Minnesota. He served as the Minnesota archdiocese’s vicar for clergy from 2013 until 2017, when he was named pastor in Savage. The resignation and appointment were announced Dec. 12 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.


Pope accepts resignation of nuncio to France accused of misconduct

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Luigi Ventura, the nuncio to France, who has been under investigation for sexual misconduct in France and in Canada. Announcing the archbishop’s retirement Dec. 17, the Vatican provided no reason why he stepped down. A statement released by the nunciature in Paris said Pope Francis accepted the resignation “for reasons of age.” Archbishop Ventura turned 75, the age at which bishops must offer their resignations, Dec. 9. A French judicial official confirmed in February that the prosecutor’s office in Paris had opened an investigation into an allegation of “sexual aggression” by Archbishop Ventura. A few weeks after the French court report the apostolic nunciature in Ottawa, Ontario, confirmed it received a complaint of sexual misconduct concerning Archbishop Ventura, who was the Vatican’s ambassador to Canada from 2001 to 2009.

Mary is loving mother, humble disciple, pope says on Guadalupe feast

VATICAN CITY — Celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pope Francis said she reminds Catholics of her true essence as a woman, a mother and a “mestiza” or person of mixed race. She revealed herself to St. Juan Diego as a “mestiza” to show “that she is everyone’s mother,” and she speaks to everyone as she spoke to this indigenous saint five centuries ago, with tenderness and motherly love, the pope said in the homily during a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica Dec. 12. Seminarians and priests from Rome’s Pontifical Latin American College alternated singing their traditional guitar-accompanied songs with the Sistine Chapel choir singing parts of the Mass in Gregorian chant.

— Catholic News Service

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