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Nation and world briefs


Vatican officials in U.S to study alleged miracles in Father Tolton’s cause

QUINCY, Ill. — The local ABC-TV affiliate in Quincy, where Father Augustus Tolton grew up and is buried, reported April 14 that Vatican representatives were in the United States to investigate possible miracles related to the priest’s sainthood cause. Father Tolton was born into slavery and is the first recognized African American priest ordained for the U.S. Catholic Church. His cause for canonization was officially opened by the Archdiocese of Chicago in 2010, and he received the title “Servant of God.” On Dec. 10, 2016, his cause took a step forward at a cemetery in Quincy where his remains were exhumed, verified and reinterred. In June 2019, Pope Francis declared that Father Tolton lived a life of heroic virtue, giving him the title of “Venerable.” The next step is beatification, which requires verification of a miracle attributed to the sainthood candidate’s intercession. In general, a second such miracle is needed for canonization. While Father Tolton died in Chicago in 1897, he requested to be buried in Quincy, which is in the Diocese of Springfield. He and his family had fled there after escaping slavery in nearby Missouri, and it’s where he returned to minister after being ordained in Rome on Easter in 1886.

Congressman pushes for prosecution of apparent Russian war crimes

WASHINGTON — A New Jersey congressman called for prosecuting Russian President Vladimir Putin and other officials for war crimes immediately during a meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said that during the 90-minute session April 21 attended by about eight Democratic and Republican Congress members that Russia’s actions since its armed forces invaded Ukraine Feb. 24 deserve a rapid response from the world. “I believe prosecution ought to be done in the quickest most effective way,” Smith said April 22. Smith also said he urged that the pressing humanitarian crisis that exists in Europe be addressed promptly: An estimated 5 million Ukrainians have fled their homeland and millions more are displaced internally, according to the United Nations. The large number of displaced people puts them at a rising risk of human trafficking, he added.

Catholic leaders thankful for Melissa Lucio’s stay of execution

WASHINGTON — Catholic leaders were thankful that death-row inmate Melissa Lucio was granted a last-minute stay of execution April 25, but they also said her sentence shows a failure in the use of capital punishment in this country and stressed that they would continue to pray for Lucio and her family and advocate on her behalf. Lucio, 53, a Catholic mother of 14 and a grandmother, was scheduled for execution April 27 for the 2007 death of her 2-year-old daughter, Mariah, that Lucio has maintained was due to her daughter’s accidental fall down a stairwell. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which issued a stay of execution, ordered the 138th Judicial District Court of Cameron County to consider the new evidence presented by Lucio’s legal team. Lucio will remain on death row while her case goes back to trial court to examine new evidence her attorneys say shows that the toddler’s death was an accident caused by an undiagnosed injury sustained after falling down the stairs two days before she died.


Pope makes appointments to dicasteries for development, doctrine

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis formalized new appointments to the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and named the new secretaries to the restructured Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. After serving as interim prefect and interim secretary respectively since Jan. 1, Canadian Cardinal Michael Czerny has been appointed to a five-year term as prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and Italian Salesian Sister Alessandra Smerilli as the secretary of the same dicastery. Scalabrinian Father Fabio Baggio, who had been co-undersecretary of the dicastery’s Migrants and Refugees Section along with Cardinal Czerny, is now undersecretary of the dicastery with responsibility for the Migrants and Refugees Section and for special projects, the Vatican announced April 23. The pope also appointed new secretaries to the newly restructured Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. Italian Msgr. Armando Matteo, 51, currently assistant undersecretary of the congregation, is the new secretary for the doctrinal section of the dicastery, and Irish Msgr. John Joseph Kennedy, 53, is the new secretary of the disciplinary section.

Lille archbishop named to head Paris Archdiocese

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Laurent Ulrich as the new archbishop of Paris, the Vatican announced April 26. The diocese has been without an archbishop since Dec. 2, when Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Archbishop Michel Aupetit for an “ambiguous” relationship with a woman. Archbishop Ulrich will be installed May 23. In an interview with RCF Hauts-de-France and reported by Vatican News, Archbishop Ulrich, 70, said he was astonished when he heard the news of his appointment from the papal nuncio. “I fought inside myself spiritually because I told myself that this is not for me and that I am not the right person for this job,” he told the radio. “I have never aimed for a position, I have never had any ambition other than to do what the Church asked of me.” The archbishop served as a priest in the Lyon and Dijon archdioceses. In June 2000, St. John Paul II appointed him archbishop of Chambéry. Pope Benedict XVI named him to Lille in 2008.

Vatican clears Polish Cardinal Dziwisz of abuse cover-up allegations

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican has wrapped up its own investigation and dismissed allegations that Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz had covered up cases of the sexual abuse of minors by clergy in his archdiocese. In a written statement released April 22, the Apostolic Nunciature in Poland said the Vatican found the cardinal had been “correct” in his actions after it examined the findings of an investigation led by Italian Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco. Following a request by the Vatican, Cardinal Bagnasco, the retired archbishop of Genoa, was in Poland June 17-26, 2021, “to verify certain cases related to the actions of Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz” while he was archbishop of Krakow from 2005 until his retirement in 2016, the statement said. “The analysis of the collected documentation made it possible to assess these actions of Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz as correct and, therefore, the Holy See decided not to proceed any further,” it said.

— Catholic News Service

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