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Nation and world briefs


Bishops: Bill would help many but its funding of abortion is ‘unacceptable’

WASHINGTON — The proposed Build Back Better Act has much-needed provisions “uplifting the common good,” but “it is completely unacceptable” the current House version of the bill “expands taxpayer funding of abortion,” the chairmen of six committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said Nov. 3. “We have been consistent in our position and reiterate that it would be a calamity if the important and life-affirming provisions in this bill were accompanied by provisions facilitating and funding the destruction of unborn human life,” they wrote in a joint letter to all members of the House and Senate. They commended “bipartisan efforts that led to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” which will create millions of jobs, improve global competitiveness and provide new funds for roads, bridges, the electric grid and other major projects. The bishops also outlined their support for social policies and programs in the Build Back Better Act to strengthen the social safety net, support workers and families, increase affordable housing, provide affordable health care coverage and protect the environment.

Nebraska releases findings of three-year review into past abuse in dioceses

OMAHA, Neb. — Nebraska’s three Catholic bishops in a joint statement Nov. 4 acknowledged “with sadness that so many innocent minors and young adults were harmed by Catholic clergy and other representatives of the Church.” “It is clear that the hurt is still felt, even if the abuse was perpetrated many years ago,” they said. “We apologize to the victims and their families for the pain, betrayal and suffering that never should have been experienced in the Church.” Archbishop George J. Lucas of Omaha, Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln and Bishop Joseph G. Hanefeldt of Grand Island issued the statement in response to Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson’s release the same day of his report on the findings of his three-year investigation into sexual abuse and sexual misconduct by priests, deacons and laity ministering in Nebraska over many decades. ” Peterson said only one of the 258 cases identified in the report could be criminally prosecuted and the victim in the one case “decided they could not participate in the prosecution.”

Pope names Pittsburgh pastor as auxiliary bishop for Pittsburgh Diocese

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Father Mark A. Eckman, pastor of Resurrection Parish in Pittsburgh, as an auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Bishop-designate Eckman, 62, is a native of Pittsburgh and was ordained a priest of the Pittsburgh Diocese May 11, 1985. He was recently named pastor at Resurrection but his first assignment after his ordination was as parochial vicar at the same parish. His appointment was announced Nov. 5 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. His episcopal ordination Mass is scheduled for Jan. 11 at St. Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh.


‘History is going to hold us to account,’ says marcher at climate protest

GLASGOW, Scotland — Thousands of Catholics took to the streets of the United Kingdom to show their support for action to halt climate change and reverse ecological degradation. Many joined the Nov. 6 Day of Action in Glasgow, Scotland, the host city of the Oct. 31-Nov. 12 U.N. Climate Change Conference. They took part in a three-mile march that drew up to 100,000 demonstrators from all over the world. It was the largest of about 100 protests in the U.K. alone and the largest demonstration since the beginning of COP26, as the conference is known. Many Catholics chanted and carried banners as they marched with such groups as the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund, and CAFOD, its English and Welsh counterpart. Others came as part of the Laudato Si Movement, which processed in front of a huge inflatable globe, or with Jesuit Missions or in parish or school groups.

Government forces arrest Salesians in Ethiopia

NAIROBI, Kenya — Ethiopian government forces raided a center run by the Salesians of Don Bosco in Addis Ababa Nov. 5 and arrested 17 people, including priests, religious brothers and employees. Most were from the Ethiopian region of Tigray and were taken to an unidentified destination. “All of them are still in prison. They are still being kept in an unknown prison. The provincial superior is among them,” said a source who could not be named for safety reasons. One Twitter post said the priests and others were accused of sending money to Tigray. Relief aid to the region has been blocked, and people are said to be starving. The most recent conflict began in November 2020 when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, launched an attack on the administration of the semi-autonomous region. Since then, thousands have died and more than 1 million people have been displaced as the conflict spread to other regions of the country.

French bishops set reforms in wake of abuse report

LOURDES, France — France’s Catholic bishops have unveiled new measures to counter sexual abuse by clergy after an October report by an independent commission estimated more than 330,000 children had been abused since the 1950s. Among 26 measures finalized during the bishops’ plenary and announced Nov. 8, a new national independent unit for recognition and reparation will be headed by jurist Marie Derain de Vaucresson, while diocesan properties and assets will be sold to finance compensation payments. The bishops also will establish a national canonical criminal court and external audit for victim support units, while arranging a confession facility for clergy and “systematic judicial record verification” for anyone working with minors. The third Sunday of Lent will be marked in France as a day of prayer for victims of “violence, sexual assault and abuse of power and conscience within the Church.”

Pope names woman secretary-general of Vatican City State governing office

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has appointed Sister Raffaella Petrini, an Italian member of the U.S.-based Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist, to be secretary-general of the office governing Vatican City State. The appointment, which includes overseeing departments as diverse as the Vatican Museums, post office and police force, effectively makes the 52-year-old Rome native the highest-ranking woman at the Vatican. The position previously had been held by a priest, who was named a bishop shortly after becoming secretary-general. Sister Petrini holds a doctorate in social sciences from Rome’s Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas and a master of science in organization behavior from the Barney School of Business at the University of Hartford, Connecticut.

— Catholic News Service

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