Celebrate freedom to live faith publicly, work to protect it, says bishop
ARLINGTON, Va. — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Religious Freedom Week June 22-29 is an opportunity for Catholics across the country to take a “stand for the freedom on which this country was founded: The freedom to live out our faith publicly,” said Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge. “This freedom includes the right to serve the common good, as our faith compels us, through various religious charities and ministries,” he said in a June 21 statement. “All Americans, regardless of faith, enjoy countless blessings made possible by this freedom,” added Bishop Burbidge, who is a member of the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty. The weeklong observance always begins on the feast of two English martyrs who fought religious persecution, Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher, and ends with the feast of two apostles martyred in Rome — Sts. Peter and Paul. Each day of the week focuses on different religious liberty topics of concern for the U.S. Catholic Church. Resources prepared by the USCCB for Catholics to “Pray — Reflect — Act” on the daily themes can be found at: www.usccb.org/ReligiousFreedomWeek.
Pope names two U.S. cardinals, Altoona bishop to Vatican supreme court
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has named U.S. Cardinals Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, and James M. Harvey, archpriest of Rome’s Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, to be members of the Vatican’s supreme court. The pope also nominated Bishop Mark L. Bartchak of Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and Cardinal Gerhard Müller, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to be among the 12 members of the Apostolic Signature, the Vatican’s highest court. Members of the Apostolic Signature serve as judges in the tribunal’s cases, which mainly involve appeals of lower-court decisions including marriage tribunals or of administrative decisions by other offices of the Holy See. The other eight members, named June 21, are: Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops; Archbishop Cyril Vasil, apostolic administrator for Eastern Catholics in Košice, Slovakia; Archbishop Celso Morga Iruzubieta of Mérida-Badajoz, Spain; Auxiliary Bishop Christoph Hegge of Münster, Germany; Auxiliary Bishop Dominicus Meier of Paderborn, Germany; Bishop Andrea Migliavacca of San Miniato, Italy; Bishop Pierantonio Pavanello of Adria-Rovigo, Italy; and Bishop Egidio Miragoli of Mondovì, Italy.
Pope names Oblate priest secretary of child protection commission
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has named Oblate Father Andrew Small secretary “pro tempore” of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Father Small, 53, had served two terms as national director for the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States, and his successor there was named in April. The Vatican June 22 announced Father Small’s appointment to the commission, which Pope Francis established in 2014. The body of experts, with input from survivors, is meant to make proposals and spearhead initiatives to improve safeguarding norms and procedures throughout the Church. Its work is separate from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s investigation and canonical prosecution of clerics accused of abuse. Father Small, who was born in Liverpool, England, but worked in the United States for many years and holds U.S. citizenship, succeeds Msgr. Robert Oliver, a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston. The commission is headed by Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley.
Ambassadors say Vatican summit should offer some hope for Lebanon
BEIRUT — Pope Francis’ meeting with Lebanon’s Christian religious leaders will “at least give a sign of hope” to the beleaguered country, said the Vatican nuncio to Lebanon. “The situation is becoming more dramatic,” Archbishop Joseph Spiteri, the nuncio, or papal ambassador to Lebanon, told Catholic News Service in mid-June. The July 1 summit at the Vatican will gather Lebanon’s Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Church leaders for “a day of reflection on the troubling situation in the country and to pray together for the gift of peace and stability,” Pope Francis said in announcing the summit. Pope Francis repeatedly has expressed his concern about Lebanon, particularly since the August 2020 Beirut port blasts. The nuncio said Pope Francis is “extremely sensitive” to the “mosaic makeup of Lebanon,” which has “always been a meeting place of different communities, different cultures, religiously affiliated groups.” About 35% of Lebanese citizens are Christian. Currently, however, Lebanon is crumbling under a multitude of socioeconomic, financial and political crises. Its currency has lost 90% of its value in the past 20 months. The economic crisis — labeled by the World Bank as one of the world’s worst since the 1850s — has pushed more than half the population into poverty. The country has been without a fully functioning government for 10 months, since officials stepped down after the Beirut port explosion.
Interfaith services pray for refugees, herald their strength, courage
WASHINGTON — On June 20, communities from around the globe celebrated World Refugee Day, established by the United Nations as an international day to acknowledge the strength and courage of people forced to flee their home countries due to conflict or persecution. Yet, the commemoration of World Refugee Day comes at a record low for refugee resettlement. Despite the long tradition of welcoming refugees in the United States, largely supported by faith-based organizations such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services, the number of refugees resettled in the United States was at its the lowest in 2020 since the founding of the resettlement program in 1980. At the same time, the past year marks a record high number of people forcibly displaced around the world. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees estimates there are currently 26 million refugees who have been forcibly displaced due to “well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, or membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”
Pope renews call for peace in Myanmar
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis called on the international community to come to the aid of the people of Myanmar who continue to suffer from violence, displacement and starvation. After praying the Angelus prayer June 20 with pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square, the pope expressed his support for an appeal by Myanmar’s bishops “calling the entire world’s attention to the heart-rending experience of thousands of people in that country who are displaced and have been dying of hunger. We plead with all to kindly allow humanitarian corridors and that churches, pagodas, monasteries, mosques, temples, as well as schools and hospitals be respected as neutral places of refuge,” he said. “May the heart of Christ touch the hearts of everyone, bringing peace to Myanmar!” The Southeast Asian country has been rocked by violence since Feb. 1 after the military seized power and overthrew the elected civilian government.
Pope advances sainthood causes, including
martyred Polish nuns
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis recognized the martyrdom of 10 nuns who were murdered by Soviet soldiers in Poland at the end of World War II and declared venerable Robert Schuman, who is considered one of the founding fathers of European unity. The pope signed the decrees during a meeting June 19 with Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes. Recognizing the martyrdom of the 10 religious women, members of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth, clears the way for their beatification. Nine of the 10 were born in Poland. According to Vatican News, Sister Paschalina Jahn and the other sisters were killed between February and March in 1945 at different locations where they were assisting the sick and the elderly. Most of the sisters were raped before they were shot. Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance — an organization dedicated to investigating war crimes committed between 1917 until 1990 — announced in March the discovery of the remains of three more nuns murdered by Red Army soldiers. While the sisters’ cause moves toward beatification, the cause of Schuman is still in its early stages with the recognition that he heroically lived the Christian virtues.
— Catholic News Service