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Nation and world briefs


Bishops show support for initiative to stop bullying of LGBT youth

NEW YORK — At least 10 U.S. Catholic bishops have signed a statement supporting the Tyler Clementi Foundation in standing up for at-risk LGBT youth in the United States and speaking out against bullying directed at them. “As we see in the Gospels, Jesus Christ taught love, mercy and welcome for all people, especially for those who felt persecuted or marginalized in any way; and the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that LGBT people are to be treated with ‘respect, compassion and sensitivity,’” the bishops said in a statement released by the foundation Jan. 25. The New York-based foundation is named for Tyler Clementi, a victim of anti-gay cyberbullying, who committed suicide Sept. 22, 2010, at age 18. After his death, his family created the foundation to end online and offline bullying in schools, workplaces and faith communities. “All people of goodwill should help, support, and defend LGBT youth — who attempt suicide at much higher rates than their straight counterparts,” the bishops said.

Vatican exonerates retired Wyoming bishop of sexual abuse, but issues rebuke

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith exonerated retired Bishop Joseph H. Hart of Cheyenne of seven accusations of sexual abuse of minors and determined that five other accusations “could not be proven with moral certitude,” the Diocese of Cheyenne said. However, the congregation issued a canonical rebuke of Bishop Hart “for his flagrant lack of prudence as a priest and bishop for being alone with minors in his private residence and on various trips,’” the diocese said Jan. 25. The diocese also said the congregation rebuked Bishop Hart, 89, “for his disregard of the urgent requests that he refrain from public engagements that would cause scandal among the faithful due to the numerous accusations against him and the civil and canonical investigations and processes being conducted in his regard.” To survivors of sexual abuse, Bishop Steven R. Biegler of Cheyenne wrote in the diocesan statement, “I support and believe you.”


Former Vatican bank president sentenced for embezzlement

VATICAN CITY — A former president of the Vatican bank and his lawyer were found guilty of money laundering and embezzling millions of euros from property sales. According to a statement released by the Vatican Jan. 21, Angelo Caloia, who served as president of the Institute for the Works of Religion from 1999 to 2009, and his lawyer, Gabriele Liuzzo, were sentenced to 8 years and 11 months for skimming profits from the sale of Vatican properties. Giuseppe Pignatone, president of the Vatican tribunal, handed down the sentence and ordered Caloia and Liuzzo to pay a fine of 12,500 euros (US$15,200) each as well as return to the Vatican bank millions of euros frozen in their accounts at the beginning of the investigation. Lamberto Liuzzo, Gabriele’s son, was also found guilty for his involvement and was sentenced to five years and two months in prison. He was also ordered to pay a fine of 8,000 euros (US$9,730).

Pope adds more women to biblical commission

VATICAN CITY — Renewing the membership of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, a body of scholars that engages in research for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Pope Francis added two more women experts. With the addition of Benedicte Lemmelijn, an Old Testament scholar from Belgium, and Maria Armida Nicolaci, a New Testament scholar from Italy, five women are now part of the 20-member commission. The Vatican announced Jan. 25 the nine new members Pope Francis appointed, and the commission posted the names of the 11 appointed to another term. Pope Francis appointed the first women to the commission in 2014 and renewed their appointments. They are: Bruna Costacurta, an Old Testament scholar who taught at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University; Spanish Sister Nuria Calduch-Benages, a Missionary Daughter of the Holy Family of Nazareth, who specializes in Old Testament Wisdom literature and teaches at the Gregorian; and Mary Healy, a professor of Sacred Scripture at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.

Failure to remember Holocaust will lead world down same path

VATICAN CITY — Remembering the Holocaust and its victims is not only an act of solidarity but also serves as a warning to humanity that such horrors could happen again, Pope Francis said. Before concluding his weekly general audience Jan. 27, the pope marked the observance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day by calling on the world to “remember the Shoah” and to “be aware of how this path of death began, this path of extermination, of brutality. To remember also means to be careful because these things can happen again, starting with ideological proposals to save a people and ending up destroying a people and humanity,” he said. International Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed around the world Jan. 27, the anniversary of the liberation in 1945 of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Oswiecim, Poland.

Pope ‘deeply saddened’ by suicide bombings in Iraq

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis expressed his condolences to Iraqi President Barham Salih after two suicide bombings in Baghdad claimed the lives of dozens of people in a crowded commercial area. In a telegram sent Jan. 21 to Salih, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said the pope “was deeply saddened to learn” of the attack at a clothing market in Tayaran Square. “In deploring this senseless act of brutality, he prays for the deceased victims and their families, for the injured and for the emergency personnel in attendance,” Cardinal Parolin said.

Pope advances sainthood causes of pro-life geneticist Lejeune, others

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis advanced the sainthood causes of eight men and women, including the pro-life French geneticist, Jerome Lejeune, and English Sister Elizabeth Prout, founder of the Sisters of the Cross and Passion. The pope signed the decrees Jan. 21 during a meeting with Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes. The Vatican published the decrees the same day. Pope Francis recognized the heroic virtues of Lejeune, the Catholic physician and researcher who was one of the three discoverers of the extra chromosome that causes Down syndrome. He devoted his life to protecting unborn children with Down syndrome from so-called “therapeutic abortion,” which he regarded as a grave corruption of medicine.

— Catholic News Service

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