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Nation and world briefs


Catholic college leaders examine ways to adapt to current challenges

WASHINGTON — Presidents and school officials from Catholic colleges and universities around the country kicked off their four-day meeting in Washington by looking squarely at the challenges they face. The Feb. 1 plenary session for the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities wasted no time in getting right to what’s at stake for these schools, including their role in the modern secular world, looming financial challenges and recovering from the Church’s sexual abuse crisis. “We can adapt and make our institutions thrive in spite of how exhausting it is,” said the session’s moderator, David Livingston, president of Lewis University, a Lasallian school in Romeoville, Illinois. He urged the group of about 400 college leaders to “hold onto the love you have for your institutions” while facing the work ahead.

Children’s book inspired by pastoral teaches lessons in overcoming racism

WASHINGTON — “Everyone Belongs,” a new children’s book published by the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism and Loyola Press, “is a book about recognizing the image of God in all people, valuing our differences, righting wrongs and forgiveness,” said the ad hoc committee’s chairman. “It is my hope that ‘Everyone Belongs’ will help families, schools and parishes engage in conversation and reflection about the dignity of every person made in God’s image,” Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, said in a statement. The book is for children ages 5 to 12 and is aimed at helping young readers engage in conversations about racism. Inspired by the bishops’ 2018 pastoral letter “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love, A Pastoral Letter Against Racism,” it allows young readers to reflect on the impact of racism in our society.

Abp. Hebda to conduct further investigation on Crookston bishop

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Vatican Congregation for Bishops has authorized Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis to further investigate claims that Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner of Crookston, Minnesota, interfered with an investigation of clerical sexual misconduct, according to a Feb. 4 statement from the archdiocese. Judge Tim O’Malley, director of the Office of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, will oversee the investigation, serving as the archbishop’s delegate. The statement, which also was posted on the Crookston diocesan website, says that the investigation will continue to look into claims that the bishop, “had engaged in ‘acts or omissions intended to interfere with or avoid civil or canonical investigations of clerical sexual misconduct’ as prescribed by the ‘motu proprio,’ ‘Vos Estis Lux Mundi’ (‘You are the light of the world’).” Pope Francis promulgated the “motu proprio” (on his own initiative) in May 2019 to set new worldwide norms for reporting sexual abuse and to hold bishops accountable for abuse and/or its cover-up. It states that if a bishop is accused of misconduct, the Vatican will mandate that his metropolitan archbishop investigate the claim. Bishop Hoeppner, 70, is the first sitting U.S. bishop to be investigated under the new norms.


Seminarian killed by kidnappers in Nigeria

LAGOS, Nigeria — An 18-year-old seminarian, kidnapped along with three other seminarians, was found murdered in Nigeria. Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto confirmed the death of Michael Nnadi, who was kidnapped with the others Jan. 8 during an attack at the Good Shepherd Seminary in Kakau, in Nigeria’s Kaduna state. He said Nnadi and the wife of a doctor were arbitrarily separated from the group and killed. The bishop said the rector of the seminary identified Nnadi’s body. The three other seminarians — Pius Kanwai, Peter Umenukor and Stephen Amos — were released in late January. Nnadi’s death is the latest in a string of attacks against Christians in Nigeria, who have been targeted by terrorist groups like Boko Haram and bandits seeking ransoms.

French cardinal to offer resignation, despite abuse acquittal

LYON, France — A French cardinal welcomed an appeal court judgment that overturned his suspended jail sentence for failing to report abuse, but confirmed he will ask Pope Francis to allow him to resign. “This court decision allows me to turn a page and for the Church of Lyon to open a new chapter,” Cardinal Philippe Barbarin said at a short news conference. “I will now go to Rome to renew my request. Once again, I will hand over my office as archbishop of Lyon to Pope Francis.” The 69-year-old cardinal spoke following the Jan. 30 court ruling that quashed the jail term, imposed last March, for failing to report the accusations against Father Bernard Preynat, who currently awaits sentencing for abusing at least 75 boys. Prosecutors launched investigations against Cardinal Barbarin in 2016, after claims he had failed to take action against Father Preynat, despite knowing of the abuse accusations.

— Catholic News Service

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