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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Pope names new auxiliary bishop for St. Paul-Minneapolis

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Father Joseph A. Williams, who is vicar for Latinos in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as an auxiliary bishop for the Minnesota archdiocese. Bishop-designate Williams, 47, is a native of Minneapolis and is pastor of the city’s St. Stephen Church. Ordained a priest of the archdiocese May 28, 2002, he also is administrator of Holy Rosary Church. His appointment was announced Dec. 10 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. When he is ordained a bishop, Bishop-designate Williams will be one of the youngest U.S. Catholic bishops. Bishop-designate Williams is scheduled to be ordained a bishop Jan. 25 at the Cathedral of St. Paul.

WORLD

Pope prays for peace in Ukraine as Russia moves troops to border

VATICAN CITY — With Russia amassing thousands of soldiers and heavy weapons on its border with Ukraine, Pope Francis prayed for peace in the region. “I want to assure you of my prayers for dear Ukraine, for all its churches and religious communities, and for all its people so that the tensions it is experiencing might be resolved through a serious international dialogue and not with weapons,” Pope Francis said Dec. 12 after reciting the Angelus prayer with visitors in St. Peter’s Square. As an aside, he said he had recently read a statistic that “saddens me greatly: more weapons were produced this year than last year. Weapons are not the right path,” he insisted. “May the Lord’s birth bring peace to Ukraine.” The foreign ministers of the G7 — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, as well as a representative from the European Union — warned Russia Dec. 12 to pull the troops and weaponry back from the border.

Pope closes Year of St. Joseph with marginalized young adults

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis closed the Year of St. Joseph with a private visit to a community in Rome that helps people experiencing marginalization, crisis or substance abuse. “Do not be afraid of reality, of the truth, of our misery,” he told volunteers and the people they assist at the Good Samaritan home Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. “Don’t be afraid because Jesus likes reality as it is, undisguised; the Lord does not like people who cover their soul, their heart with makeup.” The Good Samaritan fraternity or home is part of the worldwide “Comunità Cenacolo,” which was founded in 1983 by Italian Sister Elvira Petrozzi to offer “God’s tenderness to the cry of desperation of so many young people who were lost, deceived and disappointed,” according to the community’s mission statement.

Organization calls attention to untold number of ‘missing’ migrants

WASHINGTON — On paper, some call them “missing,” but many families of the migrants know it’s likely that they’re dead. Now, the International Organization for Migration, through the Missing Migrants Project, is hoping to shed some light on the plight of families looking for their loved ones as well the magnitude of migrant deaths. Since 2014, the project has recorded 45,427 missing migrants, just a fraction of “incidents in which migrants, including refugees and asylum-seekers, have died at state borders or in the process of migrating to an international destination.” “Behind every death is a family — mother, father, brother — searching for answers … they suffer a profound agony over their dead loved ones who are missing,” Rudi Maxwald, senior regional liaison and policy officer with the International Organization for Migration, said in a Dec. 7 webinar that focused on deaths and disappearances on migratory routes in Central and North America.

U.N. reports significant rise in hunger in Latin America, Caribbean

ROME — A report released by several U.N. agencies warned that the number of those suffering from hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean is at its highest point in 15 years. According to the “Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition 2021,” published in late November, an estimated 59.7 million people in the region suffered from hunger in 2020. That was a 30% increase, or 13.8 million additional people, compared to 2019. The new statistics, the report stated, reveal “a bleak scenario for the future of the region.” It also reported an increase in food insecurity, stating that 41% of the region’s population is “moderately or severely food insecure, which translates to 267 million people whose human right to food is not being met.” In South America, the number of those suffering from hunger increased by 18 million people between 2014 and 2020. However, the report said half of the increase, an estimated 9 million people, “occurred between 2019 and 2020 in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. This suggests an increase of 36% in the number of people living with hunger in just one year,” it said.

Pope establishes ‘Fratelli Tutti’ Foundation

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis established a new Vatican foundation that will promote initiatives based on the principles set out in his encyclical “Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship.” In a decree published by the Vatican Dec. 15, the pope said he would “gladly accede” to the request of the Fabbrica di San Pietro, the Vatican office charged with the maintenance and upkeep of St. Peter’s Basilica, “to establish a foundation of religion and worship intended to collaborate in spreading the principles set forth” in his encyclical. The “Fratelli Tutti” Foundation, he said, will “encourage initiatives linked to spirituality, art, education and dialogue with the world, around St. Peter’s Basilica and in the embrace of its colonnade.”

Pope advances several sainthood causes, including of French nun

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis recognized a miracle attributed to Blessed Marie Rivier, a French nun who founded the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, paving the way for her canonization. During a meeting with Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, Dec. 13, the pope also signed decrees advancing the sainthood causes of two other women and three men. Born in 1768 in Montpezat, France, Blessed Rivier was devoutly religious throughout her life, especially during the time of the French Revolution in which religious activities were outlawed. While many Catholic convents were closed, she founded the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary in 1796. She died in 1838 and was beatified by St. John Paul II in 1982.

— Catholic News Service

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