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Nation and world briefs


Rural life novena ends on May 15 feast of St. Isidore, patron of farmers

WASHINGTON — A rural life novena to St. Isidore, patron saint of farmers, began May 7 and ends May 15, the saint’s feast day. Four bishops have agreed to participate in the novena, according to Jim Ennis, executive director of Catholic Rural Life, sponsor of the novena — and for whom St. Isidore is also the patron. “We at Catholic Rural Life were hearing from our chapter leaders about how the pandemic was impacting their respective dioceses and rural communities,” Ennis said. “Several of them had to cancel their rural life celebrations” tied to St. Isidore’s feast. “I said, ‘Let’s do a virtual novena together, let’s expand it for the whole country.’” The novena is for farmers, farmworkers, and all in small rural communities throughout the United States. Ennis described the situation in rural America. “Rural is really getting hit by the combination of the coronavirus hitting meatpacking plants and impacting both jobs in rural communities — but also the farmers who supply those meatpacking plants,” he said. “Those are some challenges, and some farmers are really stuck between a rock and a hard place.”

Bishops urge look at COVID deaths in black communities

WASHINGTON — A group of U.S. bishops expressed sorrow over disparities in infection and death rates among African Americans in U.S. communities. “Our hearts are wounded for the many souls mourned as African-American communities across the nation are being disproportionately infected with and dying from the virus that causes COVID-19. We raise our voices to urge state and national leaders to examine the generational and systemic structural conditions that make the new coronavirus especially deadly to African-American communities,” according to the statement issued May 4. The statement, on behalf of four U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committees, was issued by Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism; Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Archbishop Nelson J. Perez of Philadelphia, chairman of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church; and Bishop Joseph N. Perry, auxiliary bishop of Chicago, chairman of Subcommittee on African American Affairs. Though an accurate rate of infections and deaths among African Americans at the national level is not yet clear, some communities are reporting high and alarming levels among their respective populations.

Pope accepts resignation of Joliet’s Bishop Conlon

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of 71-year-old Bishop R. Daniel Conlon of Joliet, Illinois, just over four months after the bishop took a medical leave of absence. Announcing the bishop’s resignation in Washington May 4, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican nuncio to the United States, also said Pope Francis had confirmed retired Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, as apostolic administrator of the diocese. When the Diocese of Joliet announced Bishop Conlon’s leave of absence Dec. 27, it did not specify the nature of his health problem. The normal retirement age for a bishop is 75. In a statement released by the diocese, Bishop Conlon said, without referring to any specific health concern, that he was grateful to Pope Francis for accepting his resignation.


Beatifications for May, June postponed due to pandemic

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican announced that due to the coronavirus pandemic, several beatifications scheduled for May and June will be postponed, including the beatification of a mentor and friend of St. John Paul II. In a statement released at the end of April, the Congregation for Saints’ Causes said the beatifications also would be delayed in order to respect social distancing measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. “Due to the ongoing pandemic situation and the necessary prudential measures that must be taken regarding religious ceremonies involving the presence of numerous faithful, at the request of the bishops concerned, the beatifications that had been set for the coming months are postponed,” the statement said. New dates have not been set. Among the beatifications that were postponed was that of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, who was primate of Poland from 1949 until his death from cancer in 1981. He was Poland’s youngest bishop when he was installed as archbishop of Warsaw and Gniezno during communist rule.

Belgium’s Brothers of Charity cut ties to their homes over euthanasia

MANCHESTER, England — Belgium’s Brothers of Charity have cut ties with their 15 homes for psychiatric patients after the Vatican stripped the institutions of their Catholic status because euthanasia was permitted on their premises. Brother Rene Stockman, superior general of the Brothers of Charity, the order that founded the homes, said May 5 the brothers had “no choice but to remain faithful” to their “charism of charity, which cannot be reconciled with the practice of euthanasia on psychiatric patients.” The centers were managed by the Provincial Association of the Brothers of Charity. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ruled that the pro-euthanasia position of the Provincial Association of the Brothers of Charity was incompatible with Church teaching on the inviolability of human life. Because the association refused to reverse its policy on euthanasia, the doctrinal congregation had “no choice” but to order the homes to cease to identify as Catholic institutions.

Pope supports interreligious prayer initiative

VATICAN CITY — Expressing his hopes for a vaccine against the coronavirus, Pope Francis also gave his support to an interreligious day of prayer and fasting for an end to the pandemic. After reciting the “Regina Coeli” prayer May 3, Pope Francis said he supported the call of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity because “prayer is a universal value.” The day of “Prayer for Humanity,” which is set to take place May 14, will be an opportunity for all believers “to pray, fast and do works of charity,” he said.

Pope makes promotions within College of Cardinals

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has expanded the ranks of the top members of the College of Cardinals, naming as “cardinal bishops” Cardinal Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, and Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Their promotions, announced by the Vatican May 1, bring to 14 the number of cardinals holding the mostly ceremonial position. It also brings to seven the number of cardinal bishops under the age of 80 and, therefore, eligible to enter a conclave to elect a new pope. Cardinal Stella is 78; Cardinal Tagle is 62. The most important task of the cardinal bishops is to elect the dean of the College of Cardinals from among their membership.

— Catholic News Service

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