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Nation and world briefs


Colorado’s repeal of death penalty praised

WASHINGTON — Catholic leaders praised Colorado Gov. Jared Polis for signing a death penalty repeal bill into law March 23, making Colorado the 22nd state to abolish the death penalty. He also commuted the sentences of the state’s three death-row inmates to life in prison without the possibility of parole. “We thank Gov. Jared Polis for signing this historic piece of legislation, and we commend the many state senators and representatives who worked hard to make this important change to our state law,” the Colorado Catholic Conference said in a March 23 statement. The conference, the public policy arm of the state’s Catholic bishops, said that for many years it has supported efforts to repeal the death penalty and it was “grateful for the determination and commitment it took for the state legislature to pass this bill.”

Kathleen McChesney, abuse victims advocate, to receive Laetare Medal

WASHINGTON — Kathleen McChesney, a former FBI executive assistant and the first person to lead the U.S. bishops’ Office of Child and Youth Protection, will receive the 2020 Laetare Medal from the University of Notre Dame. “It is often the church’s darkest moments that call forth great faith and courage,” said Notre Dame’s president, Holy Cross Father John Jenkins, announcing the award. He said the university was recognizing McChesney’s efforts in response to the Church’s abuse crisis and honoring her “courage, tenacity and love for the Church in a tireless pursuit of justice for victims, accountability for abusers and measures that prevent this crisis from continuing.” When she heard she was to receive the award, McChesney said it would further challenge her. “I think there is a significant responsibility with such an honor that one has to live up to every day forward,” she said in a statement.


Pope plans extraordinary ‘urbi et orbi’ blessing March 27

VATICAN CITY — In response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis said he will give an extraordinary blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world) at 6 p.m. Rome time March 27. The formal blessing — usually given only immediately after a new pope’s election and on Christmas and Easter — carries with it a plenary indulgence for all who follow by television, internet or radio, are sorry for their sins, recite a few prescribed prayers and promise to go to confession and to receive the Eucharist as soon as possible. After reciting the Angelus prayer March 22 from the library of the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis announced his plans for the special blessing, which, he said, would be given in an “empty” St. Peter’s Square because all of Italy is on lockdown to prevent further spread of the virus. With the public joining him only by television, internet or radio, “we will listen to the word of God, raise our prayer (and) adore the Blessed Sacrament,” he said. “At the end, I will give the benediction ‘urbi et orbi,’ to which will be connected the possibility of receiving a plenary indulgence.”

Vatican issues decree for Holy Week liturgies with pandemic restrictions

VATICAN CITY — While conferences and meetings can be postponed for months because of the coronavirus pandemic, the liturgies of Holy Week and Easter cannot, with the exception of the chrism Mass, said the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments. “By the mandate of the supreme pontiff for the year 2020 only,” the congregation issued guidelines March 20 for celebrating the Triduum and Easter liturgies without the presence of the faithful. “Easter is at the heart of the entire liturgical year and is not simply one feast among others. The Easter triduum is celebrated over the arc of three days, which is preceded by Lent and crowned by Pentecost and, therefore, cannot be transferred to another time,” according to the “Decree in the Time of COVID-19.” Because the chrism Mass is not formally part of the Triduum, they said, a bishop can decide to postpone its celebration. Usually the Mass is celebrated in the Holy Week and includes a gathering of all the priests of the diocese to renew their priestly promises and a blessing of the oils used in sacraments. Where public Masses have been canceled, the decree said, the bishops, in agreement with their bishops’ conference, should ensure that the Holy Week liturgies are celebrated in the cathedral and in parish churches. The faithful should be advised of the times for the celebrations, so that they can pray at home at the same time.

A united humanity will rise from pandemic-stricken world, pope says

VATICAN CITY — As more countries continue to lockdown and isolate to stem the spread of the coronavirus, “we can only get out of this situation together as a whole humanity,” Pope Francis said. In an interview published in the Italian newspaper La Stampa March 20, the pope said that although Christians must live this moment in history with “penance, compassion and hope,” both believers and nonbelievers “are all in the same boat” and must confront the challenge together. “What helps us is synergy, mutual collaboration, the sense of responsibility and the spirit of sacrifice that is generated in many places,” he said. “We do not have to make a distinction between believers and nonbelievers; let’s go to the root: humanity. Before God, we are all His children.” Reflecting on the Lenten season, the pope said that acts of prayer and fasting are an exercise that “trains us to look at the others with solidarity, especially those who suffer.”

— Catholic News Service

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