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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Catholic school enrollment increased this school year, NCEA report says

WASHINGTON — Catholic school enrollment increased for the first time in two decades this school year, according to a preliminary report released by the National Catholic Educational Association Feb. 14. The enrollment increase was from Catholic elementary schools and grew overall by 5.8% — primarily due to the sharp rise in the number of prekindergarten students. Catholic secondary schools’ enrollment went down by 0.4% this year. Highlights of the annual report, which will be issued in March, showed an enrollment increase of 62,000 students, or a 3.8% jump. The increase does not put Catholic school numbers back to their pre-pandemic levels, though. Right now, Catholic school enrollment is 2.8% lower than it was in 2019-2020. The brief report credited the enrollment bump this year to Catholic schools’ “dedication in safely opening classrooms and supporting their communities’ needs,” but it also stressed this trend must continue.

Milwaukee priest named associate general secretary of USCCB

WASHINGTON — Father Paul Hartmann, a priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, has been appointed associate general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, effective in May. In the post, he will serve as administrator of the USCCB’s pastoral offices and a member of the executive staff. His appointment, announced Feb. 10, was made after consultation with the USCCB’s Executive Committee and with the permission of Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki of Milwaukee, according to a news release. Ordained to the priesthood in 1994, the priest has served as judicial vicar for the metropolitan tribunal in Milwaukee since 2003, along with assignments as pastor of various parishes and as president of Catholic Memorial High School, his alma mater, from 2007 to 2018.

Pope Francis accepts resignation of Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Clark

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Edward W. Clark of Los Angeles, who is 75, the age at which canon law requires bishops to turn in their resignation to the pope. Bishop Clark was appointed an auxiliary bishop by St. John Paul II in January 2001, and he was ordained to the episcopacy by Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles in March 2001. He was assigned to Our Lady of the Angels Pastoral Region, where he currently serves. He has served the Los Angeles Archdiocese for almost 50 years. A native of Minneapolis, he was ordained a priest of the archdiocese in 1972. His resignation was announced in Washington Feb. 15 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio.

WORLD

Cdl. Bo appeals to Mary to protect Myanmar

YANGON, Myanmar — Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon has sought the intercession of Mary for protection, healing and mercy for conflict-torn Myanmar, which has been in turmoil since the February 2021 military coup. “Our Lady becomes the mother of all people, of all races and all religions. The whole (of) Myanmar came here for healing and celebrating,” Cardinal Bo said in a homily at the National Marian Shrine of Nyaunglebin Feb. 11, feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. “But this year we have come here as a wounded nation, a wounded people.” Ucanews.com reported that since 1902, thousands of Catholics, Hindus and Buddhists from across the Southeast Asian country have participated yearly in the Lourdes feast at the shrine, but this year the novena and celebrations were held online due to the coronavirus and political instability.

Holy Year 2025 should ‘fan flame of hope’ after pandemic, pope says

VATICAN CITY — The Holy Year 2025 should focus on “restoring a climate of hope and trust” after the coronavirus pandemic and helping people repair their relationships with God, with each other and with the Earth, Pope Francis said. “We must fan the flame of hope that has been given us and help everyone to gain new strength and certainty by looking to the future with an open spirit, a trusting heart and far-sighted vision,” the pope wrote in a letter formally entrusting preparations for the Holy Year to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. Held every 25 years since 1470, a holy year or jubilee is a time of pilgrimage, prayer, repentance and acts of mercy, based on the Old Testament tradition of a jubilee year of rest, forgiveness and renewal.

Pope amends canons to give greater authority to bishops, conferences

VATICAN CITY — Saying he wanted to promote a “healthy decentralization” of some aspects of Church life, Pope Francis made several changes to Church law, granting greater authority to individual bishops, bishops’ conferences and synods of bishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches. The changes, the pope said, should “foster a sense of collegiality and the pastoral responsibility” of bishops and religious superiors who are closest to the matters being decided and therefore have a better understanding of what is appropriate. Pope Francis’ amendments to both the Code of Canon Law of the Latin-rite church and the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches were published Feb. 15, the day they were to go into effect.

Pope restructures the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

VATICAN CITY — As part of ongoing measures to reform the Roman Curia, Pope Francis has approved restructuring the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the oldest of the congregations. Once comprised of a doctrinal office, a discipline office and a marriage office, the new structure will see the doctrinal and discipline offices become their own special sections led by their own secretaries; the marriage office will become part of the doctrinal office. The two secretaries will serve under the congregation’s prefect. In “Fidem servare” (Preserving the Faith), published “motu proprio,” (on his own initiative) Feb. 14, Pope Francis said the main task of the congregation has been to safeguard or “keep the faith.” Over time, the congregation has seen modifications to its areas of responsibilities and how it is configured, and now, Pope Francis said, further change is needed “to give it an approach more suited to the fulfillment of its functions.”

Vatican confirms pope to visit Malta in April

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis will visit Malta April 2-3, a Vatican spokesman said. Accepting the invitation of the president, civil authorities and bishops of the Mediterranean country, the pope will visit the cities of Valletta, Rabat and Floriana and the island of Gozo, spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a written statement Feb. 10. Malta is an archipelago made up of three main islands where St. Paul and his companions washed ashore nearly 2,000 years ago. Today, more than 90% of the country’s 460,000 people profess to be Catholic. Pope Benedict XVI visited Malta in 2010 to help commemorate the 1,950th anniversary of St. Paul’s arrival and the birth of Christianity in this Mediterranean nation situated between Sicily and North Africa.

— Catholic News Service

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