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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Bishops urge any COVID vaccine be free of abortion connection

WASHINGTON — The chairmen of four U.S. bishops’ committees, joined by the leaders of several health care, bioethics and pro-life organizations, “urgently and respectfully” implored the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ensure any vaccines developed for the coronavirus “are free from any connection to abortion. To be clear, we strongly support efforts to develop an effective, safe, and widely available vaccine as quickly as possible,” the leaders wrote in a letter April 17 to Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, the FDA commissioner. “However, we also strongly urge our federal government to ensure that fundamental moral principles are followed in the development of such vaccines, most importantly, the principle that human life is sacred and should never be exploited,” they said. The chairman who signed it and their respective USCCB committees were: Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, Domestic Justice and Human Development; Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, Committee on Doctrine; and Bishop John F. Doerfler of Marquette, Michigan, the Subcommittee on Health Care Issues, which is a subcommittee of the doctrine committee.

Memphis vicar general appointed to head Diocese of Alexandria, La.

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Father Robert W. Marshall, vicar general of the Diocese of Memphis, Tennessee, as the bishop of Alexandria, Louisiana. Bishop-designate Marshall, 60, also is pastor of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Memphis. He succeeds Bishop David P. Talley, who was Alexandria’s bishop from 2017 until Pope Francis named him to be bishop of Memphis March 5, 2019. New Orleans Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond has been serving as apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Alexandria in the interim. The appointment was announced April 21 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. The newly named bishop has been vicar general and pastor at the Memphis cathedral since 2019. Before being named pastor, he was parochial administrator at the cathedral for two years.

WORLD

Pope postpones World Meeting of Families, World Youth Day

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has agreed with a recommendation by the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life to postpone by one year the next gatherings of the World Meeting of Families and World Youth Day. “Because of the current health situation and its consequences on the movement and gatherings of young people and families,” the World Meeting of Families in Rome will be pushed back until June 2022 and World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal, will be pushed back until August 2023, the Vatican announced. Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the dicastery, told Catholic News Service April 20 that now is the time his office would be signing contracts with hotels and airlines if the World Meeting of Families were still to be held in 2021, “but no one knows what will happen,” so it seemed prudent to push the meeting back a year. The dicastery also would not hold two large gatherings during the same summer, so that was one reason World Youth Day was pushed back, he said.

Nova Scotia archbishop offers condolences after largest mass shooting

TORONTO — With 19 deaths so far confirmed from the largest mass shooting in Canadian history, Halifax-Yarmouth Archbishop Anthony Mancini offered condolences to the families of those killed, particularly the family of RCMP Constable Heidi Stevenson. “Her death in the line of duty indicates the highest sacrifice that one can make on behalf of the citizens she served,” Archbishop Mancini wrote in a letter issued April 20 after a 51-year-old man went on a shooting rampage in Nova Scotia. “Our prayers go out to all the members of her family, particularly her children, and to the fellow officers of her RCMP family, who mourn the loss of her life.” Stevenson was the first victim of the weekend shooting spree identified by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. She was a 23-year RCMP veteran, a wife and the mother of two.

Retired pope, celebrating 93rd birthday, is well, secretary says

VATICAN CITY — Retired Pope Benedict XVI “is well,” although the coronavirus pandemic restrictions mean he will receive no visitors April 16, his 93rd birthday. “Thank God, all of us in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery are well,” Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the retired pope’s personal secretary, told Avvenire, the Italian Catholic newspaper. Usually for his birthday, Pope Benedict is joined by his older brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, who turned 96 in January, but Archbishop Ganswein told Vatican News that, this year, the two spoke on the phone. The day began, as usual, with Mass in the monastery chapel. The retired pope, the archbishop said, prays each day for the sick and for those suffering because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

— Catholic News Service

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