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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Holy Cross Family Ministries suggests six steps to foster family prayer

NORTH EASTON, Mass. — Holy Cross Family Ministries in North Easton suggested six ways to help families engage in prayer especially during the Advent and Christmas seasons. “As we round out 2020, Holy Cross Family Ministries wants to encourage families to take time to reflect and rejoice in prayer,” said a news release. “There is no right or wrong when it comes to praying with your family.” The six ways were: Create a sacred space no matter where you are; take turns leading prayer; form a routine of prayer; include special intentions; choose a prayer candle; and try again, since “grace before meals won’t be perfect every time.”This Advent and Christmas season “may look differently than years past,” said the Holy Cross Family Ministries news release. “Remember, the family that prays together stays together.”

Doctrine committee sets standards for evaluating, improving church hymns

WASHINGTON — Expressing concern for the doctrinal soundness of some of the lyrics of Catholic hymns now available for use in Catholic liturgies, the U.S. bishops’ doctrine committee in a forthcoming report suggests guidelines for bishops in evaluating hymn lyrics and for selecting hymnals being considered for use in churches. An accompanying memo said the document is to “assist bishops in their oversight of liturgical celebrations in their dioceses and in the granting of the imprimatur.” It also encouraged bishops to “share this resource with composers and hymn publishers in their dioceses” as well as “diocesan worship officers, pastors and parish musicians.” The committee document identified six areas of particular concern, a principal one being the treatment of the Eucharist. It warned that “a steady diet” of doctrinally deficient hymns “would erode Catholic sensibility regarding the fullness of Eucharist teaching, on the Mass as sacrifice and eventually on the Church, as formed by that sacrifice.”

Washington Archdiocese sues over D.C.’s 50-person cap on church attendance

WASHINGTON — The Archdiocese of Washington has petitioned the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to lift the 50-person cap on indoor religious gatherings in D.C. In a lawsuit filed Dec. 11 with the court, the archdiocese contended this restriction, imposed by a Nov. 23 executive order issued by the District’s Mayor Muriel Bowser, violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the First Amendment’s free exercise clause, and the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech, assembly and association. The archdiocese claimed the District’s hard cap on religious services singles out religious groups for more restrictive COVID-19 limitations on public gatherings than those placed on businesses and other venues in the city.

South Carolina bishop says Vatican finds abuse claim against him unfounded

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone of Charleston said a Vatican investigation into a sexual abuse allegation against him “has no semblance of truth and is thus unfounded” in a letter to the priests of the diocese. “While not surprising to me, it is very welcomed news as it confirms what I have adamantly stated; I am innocent of the accusation that was made against me,” he wrote in the letter dated Dec. 4. The diocese released the letter in a Dec. 6 news release. Bishop Guglielmone expressed gratitude for the encouragement and prayers offered by the priests during what he termed a difficult time. The plaintiff alleged that Bishop Guglielmone sexually abused him in 1978 or 1979. At the time, Bishop Guglielmone was serving as a priest at St. Martin of Tours Church in Amityville, New York.

WORLD

Nativity scene is reminder of hope amid suffering, pope says

VATICAN CITY — The image of baby Jesus nestled in the manger is a much-needed reminder during the pandemic that God gives the world the gift of hope in troubled times, Pope Francis said. Meeting with delegations from Castelli in Italy’s Abruzzo region and from Kocevje, Slovenia — responsible, respectively, for the Nativity scene and Christmas tree in St. Peter’s Square — the pope said that Christmas “reminds us that Jesus is our peace, our joy, our strength, our comfort. But, to receive these gifts of grace, we need to feel small, poor and humble like the characters of the Nativity scene. Even in this Christmas, amid the suffering of the pandemic, Jesus — small and defenseless — is the ‘sign’ that God gives to the world,” he said Dec. 11. The Nativity scene featured several life-sized ceramic statues in a contemporary art style that “has its roots in the traditional working of Castelli’s ceramics,” said a statement from the commission.

After shipwreck, bishops denounce treatment of Venezuelan refugees

VATICAN CITY — After a boat carrying refugees was allegedly denied entry into Trinidad and Tobago and subsequently shipwrecked, Venezuelan bishops said the treatment of migrants fleeing the country constitutes a serious human rights violation. In a statement Dec. 14, the Venezuelan bishops’ conference said that remarks from authorities in Venezuela and Trinidad trying to criminalize humanitarian organizations helping refugees were “unacceptable and inadmissible. Far from accepting their responsibility and adopting the necessary measures” to ensure no such tragedy occurs again and that the human rights of migrants is protected, the bishops said the authorities were trying to blame international agencies and the humanitarian helping Venezuelan migrants, “which is a particularly vulnerable group with respect to its human rights and humanitarian situation.” Venezuela has been in a severe economic spiral since 2014, and millions of people have fled the country.

Vatican City will aim for net-zero carbon emissions

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis pledged Vatican City State would achieve net-zero carbon emissions before the year 2050, and he urged everyone in the world to be part of a new culture of care for others and the planet. “The time has come for a change in direction. Let us not rob the new generations of their hope in a better future,” he said in a video message for a global summit. Pope Francis was one of about 75 leaders who contributed to the Climate Ambition Summit, which was held online Dec. 12. Co-hosted by the United Nations, the United Kingdom and France, and in partnership with Chile and Italy, the meeting marked the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

— Catholic News Service

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