Pope Francis meets vice president Pence at Vatican
VATICAN CITY — After Pope Francis and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met privately for nearly an hour at the Vatican, Pence told the pope that his Roman Catholic mother will be pleased with the visit. “Thank you, Your Holiness. You have made me a hero,” said Pence, who was raised Catholic but became an evangelical Christian. The vice president, along with his wife Karen and daughter-in-law Sarah, arrived 10 minutes early for the meeting with the pope Jan. 24. They were welcomed by Msgr. Leonardo Sapienza, regent of the papal household. As the pope and Pence sat down in the papal library of the Apostolic Palace, the vice president relayed greetings from U.S. President Donald Trump, who met with the pope in 2017. “I wanted to extend the warmest greeting on behalf of President Donald Trump who so enjoyed his visit here,” Pence told the pope.
Abp. Chaput retires;
Bp. Perez named successor
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia and has appointed Bishop Nelson J. Perez of Cleveland as his successor. Archbishop Chaput, who has headed the Philadelphia Archdiocese since 2011, turned 75 last September, the age at which canon law requires bishops to turn in their resignation to the pope. Archbishop Perez, 58, was installed as the 11th bishop of Cleveland Sept. 5, 2017. The resignation and appointment were announced in Washington Jan. 23 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. Archbishop Perez will be installed Feb. 18 at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul. The new archbishop said he was looking forward to returning to the archdiocese where he was ordained as a priest.
Bryant relied on Catholic faith to see him through tough personal times
CALABASAS, Calif. — As the world mourned the loss of basketball great Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others killed in a tragic helicopter crash Jan. 26, many recalled how Bryant gave much credit to his Catholic faith for seeing him through the bad times and strengthening his marriage and family. A shooting guard, Bryant was drafted into the NBA at age 17 and played his entire 20-season career with the Los Angeles Lakers. He entered the NBA directly from high school and won five NBA championships. He retired at the end of the 2015-2016 season.
Remembering Holocaust is ‘a duty,’ pope says
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis said remembering the millions of men, women and children who perished in the Holocaust is a call for the world today to reflect and commit to not repeating the atrocities of the past. Speaking to pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square Jan. 26, the pope said that “in the face of this immense tragedy, this atrocity, indifference is inadmissible, and remembering is a duty. We are all called to have a moment of prayer and reflection, each one saying in his or her own heart, ‘Never again, never again!’” the pope said. International Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed around the world Jan. 27, which marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Oswiecim, Poland.
As coronavirus spreads, churches take action
HONG KONG— Some churches in China have suspended community activities, including Mass, over fears of the deadly coronavirus virus that continues to spread. The Chinese respiratory coronavirus has spread to almost every province in mainland China, which extended its Spring Festival holiday by three days to delay travel by up to 500 million people. Hankou Diocese in Hubei province announced the suspension of community activities in all its parishes as the province is on high alert to check the virus. St. Ignatius Cathedral of Shanghai Diocese said Jan. 22 it will be closed temporarily, and no prayer services or Masses will be conducted during Lunar New Year. Holy Family Catholic Church in Wuchang, which is just across the Yangtze River from Wuhan, has issued a notice suspending all Masses temporarily following a government directive. Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand are the worst affected outside the mainland, and the Diocese of Hong Kong issued guidelines that included all priests and eucharistic ministers wearing surgical masks while distributing Communion.
Cardinals Re, Sandri
elected to top posts
in College of Cardinals
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has approved the election of Italian Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re as dean of the College of Cardinals and of Argentine Cardinal Leonardo Sandri as the subdean. The Vatican announced the elections Jan. 25, about a month after Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano, 92, stepped down as dean and Pope Francis announced he was changing church law to limit the dean’s service to a five-year term, which is renewable once. Cardinal Re, who will celebrate his 86th birthday Jan. 30, had been subdean since June 2017. Because he is over the age of 80, Cardinal Re is not eligible to enter a conclave to elect a new pope. If the pope dies, it is the dean’s task to inform heads of state and diplomats accredited to the Holy See, and he presides over the meetings of the entire College of Cardinals in the days preceding a conclave to elect a new pope. As subdean, the 76-year-old Cardinal Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, would preside over the actual election of a new pope in the Sistine Chapel.
New martyrs include religious priests, laity martyred in 20th century
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis recognized the martyrdom of six religious priests and brothers and seven laypeople who were killed in the 20th century “in hatred of the faith,” clearing the way for their beatification. The pope approved the decrees during an audience Jan. 23 with Cardinal Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes. Among the soon-to-be blesseds are three Spanish priests of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and seven laymen who were killed in Guatemala between 1980 and 1991. Sacred Heart Missionary Fathers Jose Maria Gran Cirera, Juan Alonso Fernandez and Faustino Villanueva were all serving in different parts of the Guatemalan department of Quiche, where almost 90% of the population is indigenous Maya. The guerrilla movement was very strong in Quiche, making it a scene of severe repression and horrific violence during Guatemala’s 36-year civil war.
— Catholic News Service