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Nation and world briefs


U.S., Mexico bishops urge political leaders to protect migrants

WASHINGTON — Catholic bishops who head the U.S. and Mexico dioceses along the border that separates them, along with the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ migration committee, issued a joint statement April 1 urging governments, political leaders and civil society to “work together to welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants.” The prelates also called on these leaders to “work with other countries in the region to eliminate conditions that compel their citizens to resort to dangerous and irregular migration.” They issued the statement in response to a humanitarian crisis that has been underway at the U.S.-Mexico border for weeks as hundreds of migrants from Central America and many other places arrive each day seeking refuge in the United States. Challenges faced at the border, with so many seeking refuge in the United States, require humanitarian solutions, the bishops said.

Texas Senate OKs abortion bills; one would ban it if court overturns Roe

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops was “thrilled to report” the state Senate passed several pro-life bills supported by the conference, executive director Jennifer Allmon said March 31. “These include our top priorities, the Chemical Abortion Safety Protocol, S.B. 394, and the Human Life Protection Act, S.B. 9. We have great hope that these bills, which provide further protections for women and unborn children, will become law,” she added in a message in the Texas Catholic Voice, the online news outlet of the Austin-based conference. On March 30, the Texas Senate approved seven bills restricting access to abortion; one of the measures bans abortion if the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturns 1973’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide. Now the measures must be taken up by the Texas House of Representatives.

Pope appoints bishop for Duluth, accepts resignation of New York auxiliary

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Father Daniel J. Felton, a priest of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, and its vicar general, to head the Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota. The pope also has accepted the resignation of Auxiliary Bishop John J. O’Hara of New York. He is 75, the age at which canon law requires a bishop to turn in his resignation to the pope. The changes were announced in Washington March 2 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio. A native of Virginia, Bishop-designate Felton, 66, also is moderator of the curia for the Green Bay Diocese. He was ordained a priest for the diocese June 13, 1981.


Myanmar cardinal says Easter must be beginning of nation’s healing

YANGON, Myanmar — Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon has called on the citizens of Myanmar, which is witnessing killings by security forces, not to give up hope. “The Way of the Cross of Myanmar will never go in vain. It will end in the resurrection of freedom, democracy and peace and prosperity to all,” he said in a homily at the Easter Vigil Mass April 3. His remarks were reported by ucanews.com. “Hundreds have been killed. A bloodbath has flown on our sacred land. Young and old and even children have been mercilessly killed.” The Southeast Asian nation has seen daily pro-democracy protests following a Feb. 1 coup that abruptly ended a 10-year democracy experiment. At least 557 people, including 44 children, have been killed and more than 2,600 arrested since the military takeover, according to a rights group which monitors casualties and arrests. Ucanews.com reported Cardinal Bo said the Resurrection is a reminder of hope and Easter must start the process of healing the nation.

Priest, six others killed by gunmen at Nigerian parish

LAGOS, Nigeria — Father Ferdinand Fanen Ngugban and six others died of gunshot wounds after armed gunmen invaded the grounds of St. Paul Parish in Ayetwar March 30, said the Diocese of Katsina-Ala. “After celebrating Mass and while he prepared to leave for the chrism Mass at St. Gerald Majella Catholic Cathedral, Katsina-Ala, to renew his priestly vows alongside his brother priests, there was pandemonium among the internally displaced persons who took refuge in the parish premises,” said a statement from the diocese. “Father Ferdinand went out to find out the cause of the confusion. He was shot in the head as he tried to take cover after sighting some armed gunmen,” the diocese said. The attack took place in Benue state. The gunmen reportedly raided the village and set houses on fire before attacking the parish.

Pope leads Via Crucis with young people in torch-lit St. Peter’s Square

VATICAN CITY — For the second year in a row, Pope Francis led the Way of the Cross from St. Peter’s Square rather than Rome’s Colosseum because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Torches dotted a long pathway winding from the stage set in front of St. Peter’s Basilica April 2. Young scouts, teens and children with their caretakers carried slender torches aloft, taking turns carrying a wooden cross around the obelisk and to the pope, who was seated on the stage. A restricted number of people were seated outside on either side of the stage; about 70 of the invited guests represented the more than 500 young people who contributed to the reflections.

Pope visits Vatican vaccination clinic for the poor

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis visited the Vatican’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Good Friday as volunteer doctors, nurses and pharmacists continued vaccinating the poor, homeless and refugees assisted by charities in Rome. The Office of Papal Charities announced March 26 that it purchased enough doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to inoculate 1,200 of “the poorest and most marginalized people who, because of their situation, are the most exposed” to the coronavirus. Guests of a shelter run by the Missionaries of Charity near Rome’s Colosseum were among the first to receive their shots March 31. By the time the pope visited April 2, the Vatican press office said, about 800 people had received the first of their two doses. “Just before 10 a.m., Pope Francis went to the atrium of the Paul VI Hall while vaccinations were underway for some people who are homeless or in difficulty and are welcomed and accompanied by various Rome associations,” the press office said.

— Catholic News Service

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