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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

New global initiative seeks to ‘unlock’ Catechism of the Catholic Church

WASHINGTON — When is the last time you cracked open the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Odds are, it’s sitting on your bookshelf collecting dust. A new global project, Real + True, seeks to “unlock” the catechism and modernize the way Church teaching is presented to a digital age. The catechism “is not just a technical book,” said Real True co-founder Edmund Mitchell, “but it’s written to really change our relationship with Christ.” Launched Sept. 7, the initiative includes videos, social media content and a podcast organized along the four pillars of the catechism. Each month a new unit will be released, with 12 units for each pillar, totaling 48 units. Aimed at millennial and Generation Z audiences, the content is meant to supplement evangelization and catechesis efforts that already exist as well as be a resource to those seeking answers to questions online, said co-founder Edmundo Reyes. The material is free and available on realtrue.org in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French.

Number of U.S. permanent deacons declined slightly, expected to increase

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Catholic Church in 2020 had 18,075 permanent deacons serving in ministry, a decrease of 118 deacons, less than 1%, from the previous year, according to data collected by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate in Washington. Despite the slight decline, as shown in information in the Official Catholic Directory, CARA researchers expect the number of permanent deacons to grow to a projected 19,478 based on trends since 2003. Meanwhile, a total of 124 permanent diaconate formation programs in the U.S. reported 2,105 candidates enrolled during the 2020-2021 academic year, a decrease of 50 candidates, about 2%, from the previous year, researchers found. The number of permanent deacons has remained steady in recent years after steady growth with ordinations beginning in 1972. The ministry was reestablished by St. Paul VI in 1967 following the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. CARA released a report on its findings Sept. 7. The study was completed in July. A breakdown of the data collected by the center show that the share of candidates in their 30s and 40s stood at 22% in the 2020-2021 academic year.

USCCB launches initiative to address polarization in U.S. society

CLEVELAND — Polarization across society has prompted the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to launch an initiative that looks to bring people together to serve the common good. Called “Civilize It: A Better Kind of Politics,” the initiative is designed to “move forward the kind of conversations that we need to be having to overcome our divisions,” said Jill Rauh, director of education and outreach in the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, which is coordinating the effort. The USCCB introduced the initiative Sept. 7. The effort draws heavily from the teachings of Pope Francis, particularly his call in the third encyclical of his papacy, “Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship.” “We are in a situation where both in society and the Church we are experiencing a lot of division and polarization,” Rauh said. The Civilize It initiative is meant not just for political leaders, but for all people, Rauh added.

Former Cardinal McCarrick pleads not guilty; two more lawsuits filed

WASHINGTON — Former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick pleaded not guilty Sept. 3 in a Massachusetts court, where he is facing three counts of sexually assaulting a teenager in the 1970s. He was not taken under custody but was ordered to post $5,000 bail and have no contact with the alleged victim or children. The former high-ranking, globe-trotting Church official also was ordered not to leave the country and surrendered his passport. His next court appearance is Oct. 28. The day before the arraignment, a former employee and a former priest of the Archdiocese of Newark filed lawsuits alleging unpermitted sexual contact by McCarrick for incidents in 1991. The Massachusetts case is the first time, however, that McCarrick has faced criminal charges for assault of a minor, which is alleged to first have taken place at a wedding reception in 1974 and continued over the years in different states.

WORLD

Choose life by choosing to care for creation, Christian leaders say

VATICAN CITY — The recent extreme weather events and natural disasters show humanity is now paying the price of how it has been treating creation, said a joint message by three Christian leaders, including Pope Francis. For the sake of younger generations and their future, “we must choose to eat, travel, spend, invest and live differently, thinking not only of immediate interest and gains but also of future benefits,” the message said. “We repent of our generation’s sins,” the leaders said, and join together in prayer, hoping for committed action by individuals and world leaders ahead of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in November. The joint message was signed by the pope, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, an early leader in the Christian ecology movement, and Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, England. “This is the first time that the three of us feel compelled to address together the urgency of environmental sustainability, its impact on persistent poverty and the importance of global cooperation,” said the joint message dated Sept. 1, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. The message was released by the Vatican Sept. 7 and it marks the monthlong Season of Creation, which runs until Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology.

Anglican bishop to step down, join Catholic Church

MANCHESTER, England — The Anglican bishop of Ebbsfleet stepped down from office after announcing that he will become a Roman Catholic. The resignation of Bishop Jonathan Goodall was announced by Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury in a Sept. 3 statement released by Lambeth Palace. Bishop Goodall is a former ecumenical secretary to a previous archbishop of Canterbury and was ordained in 2013 to serve as a “flying bishop” of a diocese erected to cover traditionalist parishes that would not accept women priests. “I am deeply grateful to Bishop Jonathan for his ministry and many years of faithful service,” Archbishop Welby said. “My prayers are with him and Sarah, both for his future ministry and for the direction in which they are being called in their continuing journey of dedicated service to Christ,” he said.

— Catholic News Service

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