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Nation and world briefs


Sister Norma Pimentel one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2020

WASHINGTON — Sister Norma Pimentel, a Missionary of Jesus and executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, has received numerous awards over the years for her work in Texas with migrants along the U.S.-Mexican border, and she can now add a new title to her list: one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. In a Facebook message Sept. 22 about the honor, she gave credit to all those who work with her in the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, “restoring human dignity to those in need. It is a recognition of the generosity of the people of the Rio Grande Valley and from throughout the United States. Together we recognize that we have a responsibility. We are a people of God, people driven by the presence of God in ourselves and in others. When we see human suffering, we cannot turn our backs, we must respond,” she said. And she hopes that her name, in the magazine among athletes, politicians, activists and entertainers, will “bring more understanding and help people see more clearly what we can each do to respect all human life, especially the most vulnerable.”

Catholic officials urge Congress, Trump to adopt new COVID-19 aid bill

WASHINGTON — Top officials at seven nationwide Catholic organizations called on congressional leaders and President Donald Trump to unite behind a new legislative package to “address the public health and economic crisis facing our country and the global community” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Saying that the pandemic is causing widespread economic challenges to families and unemployed individuals as well as their respective agencies, the officials urged Congress and the White House to “put aside partisan politics and prioritize human life and the common good” by advancing talks on a new aid bill. Their plea came in a Sept. 25 letter to Republican and Democratic congressional leaders and the president as negotiations on the bill have come to a standstill. The text of the joint letter was released midday Sept. 28 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other groups that signed on to it. Disagreement in Congress has emerged over the size and extent of the relief package.

Pope appoints U.S. Archbishop Charles Brown nuncio to the Philippines

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has named U.S. Archbishop Charles J. Brown as the new nuncio to the Philippines, the Vatican announced Sept. 28. The New York native, who will turn 61 Oct. 13, has been the Vatican’s diplomatic representative in Albania since March 2017. In Manila, he succeeds Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, who Pope Francis appointed permanent observer to the United Nations in November 2019. Nuncios carry out the dual role of being the pope’s representative to the Church in their assigned country and being the diplomatic representative of the Holy See to the government of their host country. One role is coordinating the search for new bishops, soliciting information and reaction from people who know the potential candidate and forwarding the names of possible bishops to the Vatican before the Congregation for Bishops makes its recommendations and the pope makes his choice.


Cardinal Becciu resigns as prefect, renounces rights as cardinal

VATICAN CITY — In a move apparently related to Vatican financial scandals, Pope Francis accepted Cardinal Angelo Becciu’s resignation as prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes and his renunciation of the rights associated with being a cardinal, the Vatican announced late Sept. 24. The cardinal, 72, told reporters Sept. 25 that Pope Francis told him he was being investigated for embezzling an estimated 100,000 euros ($116,361) of Vatican funds and redirecting them to Spes, a Caritas organization run by his brother, Tonino Becciu, in his home Diocese of Ozieri, Sardinia. Meeting reporters at a religious institute near the Vatican, Cardinal Becciu denied any wrongdoing. “I have not made my family rich,” he said. The cardinal said he met with Pope Francis the evening of Sept. 24 and the pope told him he had lost trust in him and asked him to step down.

Vatican proposes renewal of agreement with China on bishops’ appointments

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican has proposed to the Chinese government that they extend an agreement signed in 2018 regarding the appointment of bishops, Vatican Media reported. The agreement, the details of which have never been made public, is set to expire Oct. 22. “By October a decision is expected regarding the Vatican proposal to extend the provisional agreement ‘ad experimentum’ (on an experimental basis),” wrote Andrea Tornielli, editorial director of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication. The COVID-19 pandemic and its travel-related restrictions slowed negotiations over extending the agreement, Tornielli said, but “the results have been positive, although limited, and suggest going forward with the application of the agreement for another determined period of time.” Tornielli’s article in Vatican News and in L’Osservatore Romano was published Sept. 29

Pope brings seven people closer to sainthood

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis advanced the sainthood causes of four Spanish martyrs, an Italian laywoman and two Spanish nuns who founded religious orders. The Vatican published the decrees Sept. 30, saying the pope authorized their promulgation Sept. 29. Normally the pope signs the decrees during a meeting with the prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes. However, its prefect, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, was forced to resign during a meeting with the pope Sept. 24 due to allegedly embezzling Vatican funds — an accusation the cardinal denies. The pope recognized the martyrdom of Father Francisco Castor Sojo Lopez and three other members of the Diocesan Worker Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus who were killed “in hatred of the faith” between 1936 and 1938, during Spain’s civil war. The decree clears the way for their beatification. Among the other decrees, the pope recognized the miracle needed for the beatification of Gaetana Tolomeo, who was born in Catanzaro, Italy, in 1936 and died in 1997.

Bishops hail new declaration eliminating state religion in Sudan

NAIROBI, Kenya — Sudanese people can now “worship and practice their various religious beliefs without fear,” said the general secretary of the Sudanese bishops’ conference. The official, Father Peter Suleiman, welcomed Sudan’s decision to separate religion and state. In early September, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Abdel al-Hilu, leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North rebel group, signed a declaration that says: “The state shall not establish an official religion. No citizen shall be discriminated against based on their religion.” For 30 years, under the rule of former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, authorities in Sudan harshly enforced Shariah, or Islamic law, as the law of the land. About 6% of the nation’s population is estimated to be Christian. Al-Bashir was ousted in 2019, and in early September this year, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom issued a statement noting progress the transitional government had made on ensuring religious freedom. The commission also noted the repeal of the “repressive public order law” the former regime used to “punish individuals, particularly women, who did not conform to its strict interpretation of Sunni Islam.”

Iraqi archbishop who saved ancient manuscripts nominated for EU prize

VATICAN CITY — An Iraqi archbishop who helped save hundreds of ancient manuscripts from being destroyed by Islamic State militants was among the nominees for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize. In a statement released Sept. 17, the European Parliament announced that Chaldean Archbishop Najib Mikhael Moussa of Mosul was nominated for the 2020 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, which is awarded annually “to honor exceptional individuals and organizations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms.” Archbishop Moussa, who has led the archdiocese of Mosul since 2019, “safeguarded more than 800 historic manuscripts dating from the 13th to the 19th century,” the parliament said. “These manuscripts were later digitized and exhibited in France and Italy. Since 1990, he has contributed to safeguarding 8,000 more manuscripts and 35,000 documents from the Eastern Church,” the statement said.

— Catholic News Service

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