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Nation and world briefs


Number of unaccompanied minors at border near record

WASHINGTON — With a surge in the first few months of 2021 of minors entering the United States without a parent or guardian, figures from fiscal year 2020 already have surpassed the total of unaccompanied minors who made border entries during the previous fiscal year. Statistics from U.S. Customs and Border Protection show that over 76,000 minors entered the U.S. during fiscal year 2019, which for the government runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 1. By July 6 of this year, the latest figures available from CBP show that entries for fiscal year 2020 already have surpassed that number, with the agency logging over 93,500 unaccompanied minors and with a little less than three months left to go in the fiscal year.

Policy keeping migrants out may stay in place longer

WASHINGTON — News reports say the Biden administration may not roll back at the end of July a policy that keeps migrants out of the country, citing health measures given the rising number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. Immigrant advocates were already pressuring the Biden administration to end what’s known as Title 42 of the Public Health Safety Act, a policy the Trump administration began using in March 2020 as knowledge of rising infections of the coronavirus began to surge in the U.S. — and around the world. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the policy was needed to keep people out on the Mexico and Canada borders “in the interest of public health.” Border Patrol agents were instructed to expel anyone caught trying to illegally enter the U.S. instead of processing them under existing immigration law. That policy has remained under the Biden administration with some exceptions made.


At embezzlement trial, lawyers argue against Vatican jurisdiction

VATICAN CITY — On the first day of a Vatican trial involving alleged embezzlement, money laundering and abuse of office, lawyers for 10 defendants, including Cardinal Angelo Becciu, questioned the Vatican’s jurisdiction in prosecuting their clients and insisted on needing more time to prepare their defense. After seven hours of listening to the defense lawyers and a lawyer for the Vatican Secretariat of State, Giuseppe Pignatone, president of the Vatican City State criminal court, said the trial would resume Oct. 5, when it would address the objections raised by the defendants’ lawyers. Most of the charges stem from a Vatican investigation into how the Secretariat of State used $200 million to finance a property development project in London’s posh Chelsea district, a project that incurred millions of dollars in debt. Speaking to journalists after the hearing concluded, Cardinal Becciu, a central figure in the Vatican purchase of the building, said he was present for the hearing because he was “obedient to the pope, who sent me to trial.” On July 3, an announcement that Vatican prosecutors indicted 10 individuals and entities, including Cardinal Becciu on a slew of charges related to financial mismanagement and malfeasance was the latest twist in the long saga of the Vatican’s controversial investment in a property in London. The indictments, especially of former Vatican officials, also may prove to be a litmus test for Pope Francis’ efforts to reform the Vatican’s finances, which have been marred by scandals over decades. This also is the first time in modern history that a cardinal is among those facing a Vatican criminal trial.

Cardinal urges religious to join local preparation for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY — Consecrated virgins, hermits and members of religious orders, individually and as communities, should take part in the consultations for the Synod of Bishops, because “to ensure that the synodal church is not a mirage, but rather a dream to be realized, it is necessary to dream together, to pray together and to work together,” said Cardinal João Braz de Aviz. The cardinal, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, asked consecrated men and women to participate in the diocesan-level listening sessions scheduled to begin in October as the first step of preparation for the 2023 assembly of the Synod of Bishops, discussing the theme, “For a synodal church: communion, participation and mission.” Pope Francis is scheduled to formally open the synod process at the Vatican Oct. 9-10, the synod office said. And the bishop of every diocese should open the process in his diocese Oct. 17. The diocesan phase will go through April 2022.

Pope: To feed the world, start with family farms

ROME — Restarting local economies with a focus on providing adequate food for all the world’s people means governments must involve and listen to small farmers and farming families, Pope Francis said. “Closed and conflicting — but powerful — economic interests have prevented us from designing a food system that responds to the values of the common good, solidarity and the ‘culture of encounter,’” the pope said in a message read July 26 at a preparatory meeting in Rome for the U.N. Food Systems Summit in September. The rural sector of the local and global economy provides so much of the food people consume, but people living in rural areas and working the land are rarely a priority in political and economic decision making, he said in the message read by Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, the Vatican foreign minister.

Ethiopian bishops say it’s not too late to stop war in Tigray

NAIROBI, Kenya — Expressing compassion and solidarity with the people affected by war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, the Ethiopian bishops’ conference said it is not too late to end the violence that has left thousands of people dead and 2 million more displaced. “As pastors, we can only give hope from what we have, and this is the hope that comes from our faith … to acknowledge that the only way forward, for the good of the people, is peace and reconciliation, to satisfy the demands of truth and justice, to ask for and grant forgiveness,” the bishops said July 16 at the conclusion of their planned assembly. The bishops said they prayed for peace and the protection of all people, as violence and the resulting humanitarian crisis continued to grip Tigray in northern-most Ethiopia. United Nations officials in June declared that parts of Tigray were in the midst of famine because of the war, with more than 400,000 struggling to find food.

— Catholic News Service

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