Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Bishops say ‘Rosary for America’ Oct. 7 imperative for a country in crisis

LOS ANGELES — Invoking Mary’s intercession for the U.S. together as Catholics is imperative for a country beset by multiple crises, said bishops participating a virtual “Rosary for America” Oct. 7, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. The event premiered via the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ YouTube channel. Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez, USCCB president, who announced the event Sept. 30, invited several bishops from different regions of the U.S. to pray a part of the Rosary. “I think this is a fantastic way to strengthen our bonds as a Catholic community in a very challenging moment,” said Auxiliary Bishop Robert P. Reed of Boston, one of the 11 bishops participating in the event via recorded video. Bishop Reed, who prayed the decade of the Rosary dedicated to the fifth glorious mystery, pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic, recent incidents of inner-city violence, and the Nov. 3 election, as difficulties that need to be entrusted to Mary. “To face those challenges and the divisions we’re experiencing by turning to the Mother of God, and doing so together as a national Catholic community on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, is just the absolute best thing to do at this time,” Bishop Reed said.

Catholic Charities USA pledges to seek passage of new pandemic relief bill

CLEVELAND — The president of Catholic Charities USA said the agency would turn to Capitol Hill to get a pandemic relief bill passed after it called President Donald Trump’s decision to suspend talks on the legislation “heartless.” Dominican Sister Donna Markham told Catholic News Service early Oct. 7 that the president’s decision the day before to pull out of talks and to wait until after the Nov. 3 election to negotiate a bill would stress families that are struggling with unemployment because of the economic recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic. “I’m extremely concerned about the food shortage and the inability of people to purchase food for their families or to pay their rents. To deprive them of their well-being and the well-being of their children in this time seems to me to be extremely cruel,” Sister Markham said. Her comments followed the agency’s strong reaction soon after Trump said he was suspending talks with congressional Democrats on a measure. Hours after announcing the suspension of negotiations, Trump seemingly reversed course in a series of tweets in which he urged members of his administration to work with congressional Democrats on a limited package of federal stimulus measures.

Refugee cap dropped to historic low

WASHINGTON — The steep slope, appearing almost as a vertical line, is a stunning mark by the Trump administration on what was once a refugee program recognized around the world as a model to welcome the tyrannized and persecuted masses. Late Sept. 30, the administration announced it would bring the refugee cap — the maximum number of displaced people the country decides to resettle in a federal fiscal year — to a historic low: 15,000. The average during presidencies of both Republicans and Democrats had been around 95,000. But the announcement on the new cap doesn’t mean the bad news for refugees, or organizations that help them, ended there. “It’s not official, the president still has to sign it,” so no refugees can enter the country until that happens, said Ashley Feasley, director of policy for Migration and Refugee Services at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Catholics decry Cuomo’s ‘broad brush’ order to close schools in ‘hot zones’

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s order closing all schools in “hot zones” where cases of COVID-19 seem to be increasing is “a broad-brush approach that penalizes all schools, children and families needlessly,” said the New York State Catholic Conference. “We strongly urge that any action taken addresses actual problem schools where there is a sustained high rate of infection,” the conference said in an Oct. 5 statement issued on behalf of the New York Archdiocese and the Brooklyn Diocese. “The Catholic schools throughout our state and, particular in the densely populated New York City metropolitan area, have rightly been held up as a model for safety in these uncertain times,” the statement said. “Our Catholic schools opened for full-time, in-person learning weeks before the New York City public schools and have had no significant COVID-19 outbreaks to date.”

WORLD

Eventual coronavirus vaccine should belong to everyone, pope says

VATICAN CITY — An eventual vaccine for COVID-19 would belong to the world and should not be hoarded greedily by countries hosting the lab or labs that develop it, Pope Francis said. “The (coronavirus) vaccine cannot be the property of the country of the laboratory that discovered it or of a group of countries that were allied for this,” he said. “If this were so, we would not have learned anything from so much suffering,” the pope said in an interview with the Spanish edition of the magazine “Il Mio Papa” (“My Pope”) published Oct. 7. Vatican News, as well as the Spanish newspaper ABC, published excerpts of the interview. “The vaccine is the patrimony of humanity, of all humanity, it is universal; because the health of our peoples, as the pandemic has taught us, is a common heritage, it belongs to the common good,” he said.

Pope calls for peace, dialogue in Caucasus region

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis called for the use of dialogue — not weapons — for resolving the problems and conflict escalating in the Caucasus region. “I pray for peace in the Caucasus and I ask the parties in the conflict to make concrete gestures of goodwill and fraternity that can lead to the resolution of problems, not with the use of force and weapons, but through dialogue and negotiations,” he said. The pope made his remarks after praying with visitors in St. Peter’s Square for his Sunday Angelus address Sept. 27. He asked the visitors to again “pray together, in silence, for peace in the Caucasus.” He said he was following the “worrying reports about clashes” in the Caucasus region, which has seen escalating conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the long-disputed breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Philippine archdiocese tackles pandemic woes by expanding food program

MANILA, Philippines — A Philippine archdiocese has expanded a long-running food program for poor people to prevent deeper turmoil from economic hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan in Pangasinan province, north of Manila, said it is looking to increase the number of people it feeds daily from 750 as part of its Rice Porridge for the Poor program, which was launched three years ago. Rice porridge, or lugaw, is also known as the “poor man’s food” for being inexpensive. One cup of rice makes six cups of porridge. During World War II, it became the staple food for most Filipino families, especially when food was scarce.

— Catholic News Service

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