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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Florida Catholic bishops applaud state passage of 15-week ban on abortion

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Catholic bishops of Florida praised the state Legislature for passing a measure to prohibit most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. H.B. 5 also includes provisions to improve infant health and analyze and reduce fetal and infant mortality. “While we continue to look forward to the day when the full protection of unborn life is recognized in law, we are encouraged that H.B. 5 further limits the grave harm that abortion inflicts upon women and children,” said Christie Arnold, associate for social concerns and respect life at the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops. The conference, which is the public policy arm of the Catholic Church in Florida, said in a March 3 news release that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has expressed support for this legislation and is expected to sign it into law.

Pope makes several episcopal appointments

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria, Illinois, and Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka of Peoria immediately succeeds him. Bishop Jenky has led the diocese for 20 years. Bishop Tylka, 51, was appointed coadjutor bishop May 11, 2020. A coadjutor automatically becomes head of the diocese upon the death or retirement of its bishop. The resignation was announced March 3 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican nuncio to the United States. On the same day, Bishop Jenky turned 75, the age at which canon law requires bishops to turn in their resignation to the pope.

Pope Francis also appointed Father Frank R. Schuster, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Federal Way, Washington, to be an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Seattle. A native of Washington state, Bishop-designate Schuster, 50, also is director of permanent deacon formation for the archdiocese. He was ordained a priest June 12, 1999. He will turn 51 in May and will be one of the youngest bishops in the U.S. Catholic Church. His appointment was announced in Washington March 8 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Raymond F. Chappetto of Brooklyn, New York, 76, who is vicar general of the diocese. The bishop turned 75 Aug. 20, 2020. Canon law requires bishops to submit their resignation to the pope when they turn 75. A native of New York, Bishop Chappetto has served the Brooklyn Diocese as an auxiliary bishop since 2012. He was ordained a priest of the diocese in 1971. His resignation was announced in Washington March 7 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio.

WORLD

Pope to make long-promised trip to South Sudan in July

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis will travel to the war-scarred countries of Congo and South Sudan in early July, the Vatican press office said. “At the invitation of their respective heads of state and bishops,” the pope will visit Kinshasa and Goma in Congo July 2-5 and Juba, South Sudan, July 5-7, said Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office. The Vatican’s announcement March 3 said further details would be provided later. The pope, Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury and the moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland have been supporting the work their counterparts in South Sudan have been doing for years to encourage peace, dialogue and reconciliation among competing political factions. Most famously, in April 2019 at the suggestion of Archbishop Welby, Pope Francis hosted a spiritual retreat at the Vatican with the leaders of all the warring political factions and clans. At the end of the retreat, Pope Francis knelt at the feet of the leaders of South Sudan, begging them to give peace a chance and to be worthy “fathers of the nation.”

Catholic social teaching brings light to darkened world, author says

ROME — With political discourse around the world seeming more bellicose than ever, a British author presented a book on Catholic social teaching and spoke of her conviction that the world needs an “ethic of communion.” Anna Rowlands, professor of Catholic social thought and practice at Durham University in England, presented her book on Catholic social teaching, “Towards a Politics of Communion: Catholic Social Teaching in Dark Times,” at the Rome residence of the British ambassador to the Holy See. Speaking at the presentation March 7, Ambassador Chris Trott, Rowlands and Canadian Cardinal Michael Czerny, interim president of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, all decried the Russian invasion of Ukraine and pointed to it as an example of the “dark times” that can and must be illuminated by lives lived well and in solidarity with the suffering.

Bishops in Japan set March 18 as day of prayer for victims of sexual abuse

TOKYO — Catholic bishops in Japan have dedicated the second Friday of Lent as a Day of Prayer and Penance for Victims and Survivors of Sexual Abuse. Archbishop Isao Kikuchi of Tokyo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan, has requested Catholics to join in prayers for the victims and survivors of sex abuse on March 18, ucanews.com reported. Archbishop Kikuchi said that in recent years cases of sexual abuse by clergy have been reported in churches around the world, and investigations reveal that many similar cases existed way back in the past. “In addition, it has become clear that among these acts by the clergy include sexual abuse committed against minors who should be protected. The Church in Japan is no exception,” said the prelate, secretary-general of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences.

Cameroon bishop dismayed by rising wave of teacher kidnappings

YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon — A bishop in Cameroon’s troubled South West region said he is saddened by the rising number of kidnappings in the country’s two violence-ravaged English-speaking areas. Bishop Michael Bibi of Buéa expressed shock over the Feb. 24 kidnapping of 11 teachers of a government-run school for blind and deaf students in the country’s North West region. “It is sad, very sad that teachers should be kidnapped simply because they are teaching,” Bishop Bibi said. “This is just one other kidnap too many,” he said. “The whole idea of kidnapping has become very rampant. The question I am asking myself is why do you kidnap and torture and even kill the very people you say you are fighting to free?” Cameroon’s English-speaking North West and South West regions have been embroiled in war for the past five years, with separatists fighting to create a new nation to be called Ambazonia. French is the primary language spoken in much of Cameroon. Since the conflict began, at least 4,000 people have been killed and more than 1 million forced to flee from their homes.

— Catholic News Service

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