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Nation and world briefs


Archbishop Wenski named acting chair of bishops’ religious freedom efforts

WASHINGTON — Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami has been appointed the acting chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty. The appointment by Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, came June 22. He assumes leadership of the committee from Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, who died June 5. “Archbishop Wenski is an energetic leader who truly brings a servant’s heart for ministry. I deeply appreciate his willingness to step into this role and lead the important work of the Committee for Religious Liberty,” Archbishop Gomez said. The 69-year-old Florida archbishop earlier served as chairman of three USCCB committees.

Rapid City administrator named bishop of Duluth

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Father Michel J. Mulloy, diocesan administrator of the Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota, as the bishop of the Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota. Duluth has not had a bishop since Bishop Paul D. Sirba died Dec. 1, 2019, at age 59. He suffered cardiac arrest and was rushed to the hospital where lifesaving measures were unsuccessful. Bishop-designate Mulloy, 67, is a native of Mobridge, South Dakota. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, June 8, 1979, and incardinated into the Diocese of Rapid City in 1986 after being on loan to the diocese for a few years for parish ministry. His appointment as bishop was announced June 19 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican nuncio to the United States. His episcopal ordination and installation have been set for Oct. 1.

Prosecutor reverses, will continue review of claims against retired bishop

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A Wyoming prosecutor has decided to continue a criminal investigation of allegations of sexual abuse against a retired bishop, reversing course two weeks after saying he would no longer pursue the case. Natrona County District Attorney Dan Itzen discussed the case of Bishop Joseph H. Hart with Cheyenne police officials June 19, leading to the reversal, reported the Casper Star-Tribune. Cheyenne police officials, who have been investigating claims of abuse against the 88-year-old bishop, said they felt “very strongly” about their recommendation that charges be filed in the case, the newspaper said. Investigators wanted to talk with Itzen to learn why he had decided not to proceed with charges. Police said the prosecutor told them his office misunderstood the contents of police files.

Bishop says Chapter 11 filing will ensure victims will be treated ‘justly’

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Diocese of Syracuse has filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, citing the financial implications of more than 100 lawsuits alleging past child sexual abuse as well as the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. “From the start of my ministry among you, it has been my intent to make reparation to all of the victims of sexual abuse for acts perpetrated against them by clergy, employees or volunteers of the Diocese of Syracuse,” Bishop Douglas J. Lucia wrote in a June 19 letter to the faithful. “However, the growing number of CVA (Child Victims Act) lawsuits against the diocese,” he wrote, “presents a risk that those claimants who filed suits first or pursued their claims more aggressively would receive a much greater portion of the funds available to pay victims, leaving other claimants (potentially, even some who have suffered more) with little or nothing.”


Pope brings five people closer to sainthood

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis advanced the sainthood causes of three men and two women, including an Italian nun who was brutally murdered by three teenage girls who claimed it had been a satanic sacrifice. The pope signed the decrees June 19 during a meeting with Cardinal Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes. The Vatican published the decrees the same day. The pope recognized the martyrdom of Sister Maria Laura Mainetti, a 60-year-old member of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Cross, who had been killed “in hatred of the faith” when she was murdered June 6, 2000, the sixth day of the sixth month. The three girls had planned to stab her six times each to indicate the biblical “number of the beast.”

Turkish bishops won’t contest plan to turn ancient cathedral into a mosque

OXFORD, England — Catholic bishops in Turkey pledged not to contest plans to turn Istanbul’s ancient Hagia Sophia cathedral that now serves as a museum into a Muslim place of worship. In announcing their decision June 18, the bishops backed government claims that the monument’s future is a question of national sovereignty. “We are a church deprived of juridical status, so we cannot give any advice on this country’s internal questions,” the Turkish bishops’ conference said in a statement sent to Catholic News Service. “Although we would wish Hagia Sophia to retain its character as a museum, it isn’t for us to intervene or even give our opinion on a decision which solely concerns the Republic of Turkey,” the bishops said. The statement came amid international protests against Turkish government calls for the 6th-century landmark to be converted into a mosque. A plan for the conversion was expected to be approved by Turkey’s highest court July 2.

Lancet report urges phasing out institutional care for children

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — A new report calling for the phasing out of institutionalized care for children confirms what Catholic Relief Services and its partners have been saying for many years, said a CRS director. “Children belong in families, and we work to get this message to everyone,” including governments, faith organizations and civil society, Anne Smith, CRS global director for Changing the Way We Care, told Catholic News Service in a June 22 phone interview. A two-part report by 22 experts on reforming care for children was published late June 23 in The Lancet Psychiatry and The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journals. It said the institutionalization of more than 8 million children worldwide should be phased out in favor of family-based care. Institutions provide suboptimal care and are associated with many developmental delays, the report said. Children can rapidly recover when they are moved into a family environment, although some effects might last into adulthood, it said. The report “confirms what we have been saying all along,” Smith said, noting that CRS and its partners, Lumos and Maestral International, help support families around the world to keep their children with them and to reunite them with members from institutions.

— Catholic News Service

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