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Nation and world briefs


U.S. climate envoy meets pope, speaks at Vatican conference

VATICAN CITY — John Kerry, U.S. President Joe Biden’s special envoy for climate, met privately with Pope Francis May 15, the day after giving a keynote address at a closed-door meeting of the Pontifical Academy for Sciences and the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences. Because Kerry is not a head of state, the Vatican issued no statement about the meeting, although Vatican Media released photos and a video clip of the encounter in the papal library. Pope Francis gave Kerry a signed copy of his message for World Peace Day, a collection of his encyclicals, including “Laudato Si’” on ecology, and a sculpture of a grapevine. In an interview later with Vatican News, Kerry said he believed Pope Francis intends to participate in the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, commonly referred to as COP16, in Glasgow, Scotland, in November.

Galveston-Houston vicar for clergy named auxiliary bishop

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Father Italo Dell’Oro, vicar for clergy of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, as an auxiliary bishop for the Texas archdiocese. Bishop-designate Dell’Oro, 67, is a priest of the Congregation of Somascon Fathers. Born in Italy, he came to the United States in 1985 to work in New Hampshire at a school run by his religious congregation. In 1992 he was transferred to the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, where he has been vicar of clergy since 2015. He also is episcopal vicar for marriage affairs. The appointment was announced May 18 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio.


Pope names Jesuit to be bishop of Hong Kong

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has named Jesuit Father Stephen Chow Sau-yan, a native of Hong Kong and provincial of the Jesuits’ Chinese province, to be the new bishop of Hong Kong. The appointment of the 61-year-old Jesuit, who also serves as supervisor of the Jesuits’ Wah Yan colleges in Hong Kong, was announced by the Vatican May 17. In an article published in November in Hong Kong’s Ming Pao Weekly magazine, Father Chow said one of his roles at the colleges is to be “a bridge” between members of the school community — both staff and students — who have divergent views on how much autonomy Hong Kong should have from the central Chinese government. “Do you know how a bridge works?” Father Chow asked the magazine. “A bridge must be stepped over by people, so that it can bring people to the other side. Being a bridge, in a sense, entails bearing the burden. My words may not cater to both sides, but at least, it brings people from the two sides to come together in the middle. Otherwise, there is no future for society,” he said, according to the English translation of the article, which was published on the Chinese province’s website.

Pope accepts resignation of Polish bishop accused of cover-up

WARSAW, Poland — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Jan Tyrawa of Bydgoszcz, the latest bishop accused of covering up sexual abuse by clergy. The bishops’ conference said the Vatican had “conducted proceedings on reported negligence” in line with the pontiff’s May 2019 motu proprio, “Vos estis lux mundi,” and had also taken account of “other difficulties” facing Bishop Tyrawa. Poland’s Catholic Wiez bimonthly said May 12 Bishop Tyrawa had reappointed Father Pawel Kania to Bydgoszcz’s Divine Providence Parish after the priest had been detained by police and suspended from another diocese for propositioning boys and storing child pornography on his computer. It added that Father Kania had cared for altar boys and taught religious classes to children at his new parish from 2006 to 2009, before being jailed in 2015 for seven years. In February 2020, a court ordered the Bydgoszcz Diocese to pay $40,000 in damages to one of Father Kania’s victims, an order upheld on appeal in December.

Atrocities still occurring in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, says priest

NAIROBI, Kenya — A priest from the Catholic Eparchy of Adigrat in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray says killings, abductions and rape are still occurring in the region where a military offensive launched in November. The targets for killings are men and boys, who are being eliminated by armed forces and their allies, and women and girls, who are being repeatedly raped to weaken any resistance, according to the priest. The cleric’s allegations come as individuals and organizations accuse the Ethiopian troops and their allies of ethnic cleansing and genocide. The Ethiopian forces, the Amhara region special forces and Eritrean soldiers continue to hold their positions, and there are no signs they will withdraw anytime soon. “They want to annihilate Tigray. By killing the men and boys, they are trying to destroy any future resistance. They want to make sure that nobody can question their actions in future,” said the priest, who did not wish to be named to protect his safety. “They are raping and destroying women to ensure that they cannot raise a community in future. They are using rape and food a weapons of war.” Earlier in May, Patriarch Mathias, head of the 36 million-member Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, urged international intervention in Tigray while alleging that the Ethiopian army and its allies were committing a genocide.

Keep focused on peace, unity, pope tells Myanmar Catholics

VATICAN CITY — Celebrating a Mass for peace in Myanmar, Pope Francis urged the country’s Catholics to “keep the faith. To keep the faith is to keep our gaze lifted up to heaven, as here on earth, battles are fought and innocent blood is shed,” he said at the Mass May 16. “To keep the faith is to refuse to yield to the logic of hatred and vengeance, but to keep our gaze fixed on the God of love, who calls us to be brothers and sisters to one another.” Pope Francis had invited Catholics from Myanmar living in Rome to the Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica. The congregation included about 100 women religious and about 70 priests and seminarians studying in Rome or working at the headquarters of their religious orders. Father Bosco Mung Sawng, a priest from Myanmar studying at the Pontifical Urbanian University in Rome, spoke on their behalf at the end of the liturgy, thanking Pope Francis and telling him, “This Mass is a great occasion for healing, not only for those of us here, but for the thousands of Catholics in Myanmar and for the Myanmar diaspora throughout the world. Myanmar is now in God’s hands. Our tears, our bitter discouragement (and) our shattered peace, call for divine intervention,” he said.

— Catholic News Service

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