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Nation and world briefs


Abp. Hebda encourages prayers, peace after fatal police shooting

ST. PAUL, Minn. — After a night of protests and vandalism April 11 in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, following the police shooting of Daunte Wright, Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis urged prayers for justice and peace. “I hope that as a community, we might be able to pause and pray, particularly during this time of already heightened tension due to the Chauvin trial,” the archbishop said in an April 12 statement referring to the current trial in Minneapolis of former Police Officer Derek Chauvin over the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd while he was in police custody. “I am encouraged and inspired by the pleas for peace that have continued to come from the family of George Floyd” over the Wright shooting, he added. At a news conference April 12, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon, who later resigned, said it appeared from police body camera video the officer accidentally fired her gun while intending to use her Taser. The officer was later identified as Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Department. Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, was hit by a single bullet after officers stopped him for a traffic violation because the car he was driving had expired registration tags but officers then discovered that he had an outstanding warrant. According to news reports, a struggle ensued as an officer on the driver side of the vehicle began to handcuff Wright, who jumped back into the driver’s seat and was shot.

Court overturns California’s pandemic ban on in-home worship for groups

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in a 5-4 decision that California’s ban on at-home worship for Bible study groups or prayer groups violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of the free exercise of religion. The ruling, issued just before midnight April 9, came in a case brought by a couple of pastors and others in a Bible study group in Santa Clara County, California, against Gov. Gavin Newsom and other state officials. The court barred enforcement of a restriction set to expire April 15. After the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled in favor of Newsom, the group appealed to the high court, which said in its unsigned ruling the 9th Circuit’s failure to grant an injunction while the plaintiffs appealed its ruling “was erroneous.” Based on the merits of the case, the plaintiffs had shown they were “irreparably harmed by the loss of free exercise rights ‘for even minimal periods of time,’” the ruling said, adding that the state had not shown that “public health would be imperiled” by using less restrictive measures.

Pope accepts resignation of Bishop Hoeppner of Crookston Diocese

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner, 71, who has headed the Diocese of Crookston, Minnesota, since 2007. The pope also named retired Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, to serve as apostolic administrator of the 14-county diocese in northwestern Minnesota. The changes were announced in Washington April 13 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio. In 2019 Bishop Hoeppner was publicly accused of trying to cover up allegations of sexual abuse against a priest of the diocese. He has denied he thwarted such an investigation. Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis has overseen an investigation into the claims as the metropolitan for the province of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. The claims were reported to him as prescribed by “Vos Estis Lux Mundi” (“You are the light of the world”), Pope Francis’ 2019 “motu proprio” (on his own initiative) to set new worldwide norms for reporting sexual abuse and to hold bishops accountable for abuse and/or its cover-up.


Five priests, two nuns, three laypeople kidnapped in Haiti

VATICAN CITY — The latest victims of rampant kidnappings in Haiti are five priests, two nuns and three laypeople who were abducted together on their way to a parish near the capital of Port-au-Prince early April 11. Kidnapping cases happen almost daily in Haiti, which has been experiencing increasing insecurity, political turmoil and gang violence. “This new case is a reflection of the collapse of the security apparatus of the state and the country. No one seems to be safe anymore,” Redemptorist Father Renold Antoine told Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, April 12. “Outlawed groups continue to sow fear and sadness in the hearts of the population,” he said. Father Ludger Mazile, secretary of the Haitian bishops’ conference, told Agence France Presse April 12 that the kidnappers had demanded a ransom of $1 million for the group’s release.

Cardinal unveils major Vatican conference on priesthood slated for 2022

VATICAN CITY — Increasing vocations to the priesthood, improving the way laypeople and priests work together and ensuring that service, not power, motivates the request for ordination are all possible outcomes of a major symposium being planned by the Vatican in February 2022. “A theological symposium does not claim to offer practical solutions to all the pastoral and missionary problems of the Church, but it can help us deepen the foundation of the Church’s mission,” said Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and the chief organizer of the symposium planned for Feb. 17-19, 2022. The symposium, “Toward a Fundamental Theology of the Priesthood,” seeks to encourage an understanding of ministerial priesthood that is rooted in the priesthood of all believers conferred at baptism, getting away from the idea of ordained ministry as belonging to “ecclesiastical power,” the cardinal said at a news conference April 12. The gathering, the cardinal said, is aimed specifically at bishops and delegations of theologians and vocations personnel from every country.

— Catholic News Service

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