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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

After abuse accusation, pope accepts resignation of Duluth bishop-designate

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Father Michel J. Mulloy — who had been appointed but not installed as bishop of Duluth, Minnesota — after an allegation of sexual abuse was raised against him from the 1980s when he was a priest in South Dakota. The installation, which was announced June 19, was scheduled to take place Oct. 1. The resignation was announced in Washington Sept. 7 by Msgr. Dennis Kuruppassery, representing Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. Father James Bissonette, diocesan administrator for the Diocese of Duluth — who will continue this role until the appointment of a new bishop — said the resignation announcement was accompanied by a notification from the Diocese of Rapid City of “an accusation of sexual abuse of a minor made against Father Mulloy as a priest of that diocese.”

USCCB urges Congress, White House to reach COVID-19 relief deal

WASHINGTON — A leader with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has urged Congress and the White House Sept. 8 to reach a deal on the next COVID-19 relief package that meets the urgent needs of the nation. “Earlier this year, the leaders of our government reached a bipartisan deal that provided significant relief to those suffering from the health and economic crises that we continue to experience. Many of the good relief measures in that previous package are running out,” said Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. In a statement, the archbishop stressed that “families and individuals are having trouble affording food, housing and health care, and hunger-related crises grow internationally.” He also pointed out that many private schools must choose between reopening and permanent closure and require additional assistance to safely reopen.

USCCB president urges special collection to aid disaster-stricken dioceses

WASHINGTON — Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has asked his fellow bishops to consider having their parishes take up a special collection to aid dioceses and parishes stricken by recent natural disasters. “The traditional storm season has only just begun and already we have witnessed the devastating impact of Hurricane Laura and the California wildfires,” the archbishop wrote in a letter to his fellow bishops. “Thousands of homes, businesses, and churches have been severely damaged or destroyed and the impacts will be long-lasting.” Archbishop Gomez acknowledged the severity of the impact of COVID-19 on parish and diocesan activities and its challenging impact on fundraising, but he also expressed hope in the generosity of the faithful and their care for those in need. Funds collected will become part of the Bishops Emergency Disaster Fund and will be used to support the efforts of Catholic Charities USA and/or Catholic Relief Services, according to Archbishop Gomez.

Panelists say Father Tolton’s example offers path to racial justice

WASHINGTON — Father Augustus Tolton, who in 1886 became the first identified Black priest ordained for the United States, challenged the status quo to bring about social change. Father Tolton lived a life of joy, rooted in his desire to help others and humbly work to achieve equality and justice for all, said participants of a panel discussion about the priest’s legacy. The online presentation Aug. 29, titled “Tolton’s Legacy: A Roadmap to Unity,” was organized by the Tolton Ambassador Corps, a nationwide group of Catholics commissioned to spread awareness about the significance of Father Tolton’s cause for sainthood. The Archdiocese of Chicago opened Father Tolton’s sainthood cause in 2010. Pope Francis declared him “venerable” in June 2019 after a theological commission unanimously recognized his “virtuous and heroic life.” Father Tolton served as a parish priest in Chicago, where he died in 1897 at age 43.

WORLD

Report abuse learned in confession or go to jail, says Australian state

BRISBANE, Australia — A new law requires priests in the state of Queensland to break the seal of confession to report child sex abuse to police or face three years in jail. The law was passed by Queensland Parliament Sept. 8. It had support from both major parties and was opposed by the Catholic Church. One Queensland prelate, Bishop Tim Harris of Townsville, tweeted a link to a story on the passage of the new law and said, “Catholic priests cannot break the seal of confession.” The new law was a response to recommendations from the Royal Commission Into Child Sexual Abuse, which uncovered and documented the tragic history of abuses in religious and secular organizations, including Catholic-run schools and orphanages across the country. South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory have already enacted similar laws.

New U.K. survey: 4% of Catholics will not return to church after pandemic

MANCHESTER, England — Only a small minority of British Catholics said they would not return to worship in church when the coronavirus pandemic is fully over, according to a new survey. Just 4% of people interviewed in the study, conducted between May 19 and July 26, said they would abandon going to church when restrictions are finally lifted. The findings of the poll of 2,500 people by Catholic Voices, a group set up in the U.K. in 2010 to improve communications between the church and the media, contradict the predictions of some Catholics that the COVID-19 crisis would irrevocably accelerate the decline of collective worship among the faithful. Brenden Thompson, CEO of Catholic Voices, said he was “pleasantly surprised by many of the findings. Catholics miss their parishes and church buildings and seem eager to return, not just content with ‘virtual church,’” he said in a statement. “Many, it seems, by and large, have backed the bishops, been grateful for the efforts of clergy to livestream, and many have even felt at times closer to God and been more prayerful than usual,” he said.

— Catholic News Service

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