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Nation and world briefs


Bridgeport priest named rector of Pontifical North American College

ROME — Msgr. Thomas W. Powers, vicar general of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut, has been named rector of the Pontifical North American College, the U.S. seminary in Rome. His appointment by the Vatican Congregation for Clergy was announced March 30 and goes into effect July 1. The current rector, Father Peter Harman, has completed a six-year term. In a press release from the college, Bishop Robert P. Deeley of Portland, Maine, and chairman of the board of governors of the college, which nominates the candidate, said, “Monsignor Powers is extremely well-suited to serve as our next rector, given his extensive experience in seminary formation, his many pastoral skills and his prior work in Church governance and administration.”

Sister Norma Pimentel to receive peace award from Iowa interfaith group

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Sister Norma Pimentel, whose work with asylum-seekers has been recognized by Pope Francis, Time magazine and others, will receive the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award April 21 in Davenport. Bishop Thomas R. Zinkula of Davenport will present the award to Sister Pimentel in Christ the King Chapel at St. Ambrose University. Sister Pimentel, 68, a member of the Missionaries of Jesus, has ministered to migrant people crossing into the United States for years. The Quad City Pacem in Terris Coalition, an interfaith group, nominated Sister Pimentel as the award’s 50th recipient for her dedication in serving migrant people and asylum-seekers as executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley in the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Bishop Zinkula endorsed the nomination, which the Diocese of Davenport administers. The award honors St. John XXIII and commemorates his 1963 encyclical, “Pacem in Terris” (“Peace on Earth”), which called on humanity to secure peace among all nations.

Court rules in favor of inmate’s prayer request during execution

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court March 24 ruled in favor of a Texas prisoner who wanted his pastor to pray aloud over him and place his hands on him in the execution chamber. Although the 8-1 decision specifically focused on the case of prisoner John Ramirez, it also will likely impact the cases of other death-row prisoners with similar requests. Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the majority opinion, said: “It is possible to accommodate Ramirez’s sincere religious beliefs without delaying or impeding his execution.” Ramirez — sentenced to death for the murder of a convenience store clerk in 2004 — had asked that his Southern Baptist pastor be able to lay hands on him and pray aloud with him during his execution. When the Texas prison system rejected his request, Ramirez challenged it in court, saying the state was violating his religious beliefs. The lower courts sided with the state, saying the prison system has a compelling interest to keep executions safe and orderly.

Pope accepts resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Paul Sanchez of Brooklyn

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Paul R. Sanchez of Brooklyn, New York, who currently is vicar for Queens. He is 75, the age at which canon law requires bishops to submit their resignation to the pope. His resignation was announced March 30 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio. A native of Brooklyn, Bishop Sanchez has been a Brooklyn auxiliary since 2012. He was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI and was ordained a bishop by Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio July 11, 2012.


Ukrainian archbishop tearfully recounts the horrors, heroism of war

ROME — With his voice often trembling and tears sliding down to his beard, the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church spoke via Zoom about the death and destruction Russia is raining down on his people and his country. Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halych repeatedly apologized for the tears and acknowledged the contrast between his daily video messages of encouragement to his people and his talk during the webinar March 29 sponsored by Rome’s Pontifical Oriental Institute. He started the videos to keep in touch with his people and “just to let people know that I am alive, the city of Kyiv lives,” he said, his voice breaking. “Forgive me for my tears, but I think I can (cry) with you,” he said.

Everyone is the prodigal son in need of mercy, pope says at Angelus

VATICAN CITY — God always forgives and joyously welcomes back everyone who returns to him, even after a life of mistakes and sin, Pope Francis said. “God does not know how to forgive without celebrating! And the father celebrates because of the joy he has because his son has returned,” the pope said before reciting the Angelus prayer March 27 with visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square. The pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading about the parable of the prodigal son, “who has returned home after having squandered all his possessions,” Pope Francis said. “We are that son, and it is moving to think about how much the Father always loves us and waits for us,” he said. But the older son in the parable who becomes indignant because he has always obeyed his father “is also within us and we are tempted to take his side,” he said.

— Catholic News Service

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