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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Catholic Communications Campaign aids efforts in U.S., around the world

WASHINGTON — Sometimes, the stories of ventures helped by the annual Catholic Communication Campaign involve desperate need, as with the rehabilitation of the radio station for the Diocese of Borongan where Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 caused more than 6,000 deaths and widespread devastation across central Philippines. A grant of $42,500 from the campaign bought studio equipment and reconstruction of the transmitter and studio building, Borongan Bishop Crispin B. Varquez reported. The station remains a vital communications link in Eastern Samar province, where churches were among the few structures to survive the storm and where government help has been limited. In the United States, Catholics see the results of the campaign daily directly in their hands through social media and other media.

California bishops issue letter about care for mental illness

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California’s Catholic bishops issued a pastoral letter outlining ways the church could do a better job of serving those who struggle with mental illness, stressing that it is an “essential part of the pastoral care of the church.” The letter, “Hope and Healing,” was published in English, Spanish and Vietnamese online on the website of the California Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state’s bishops, May 1, the start of the Mental Health Awareness Month. It said all Catholics are “called to provide hope and healing to others” and in recognizing that every human life is sacred, they should not only “attend to those in our midst who suffer in body or mind” but also work with families, mental health professionals, community organizations and all individuals and institutions engaged in such work. “Those living with a mental illness should never bear these burdens alone, nor should their families who struggle heroically to assist their loved ones,” the letter stated.

Speaker Paul Ryan gives House chaplain his job back

WASHINGTON — Jesuit Father Patrick Conroy, chaplain for the U.S. House of Representatives who said he had been forced to resign, was reinstated to his post by House Speaker Paul Ryan May 3. The priest was reinstated after a letter he wrote to Ryan, R-Wisconsin, became public. In the letter, Father Conroy said he wished to retract his resignation letter and continue working during this Congress “and beyond. I have never been disciplined, nor reprimanded, nor have I ever heard a complaint about my ministry during my time as House Chaplain,” his letter said. He also mentioned displeasure that Ryan hadn’t spoken to him directly but had his chief of staff ask for his resignation. In a statement, Ryan said his original decision was made with what he thought was in the best interest of the House, but he now decided that “a protracted fight over such an important post” would not be good for the body.

WORLD

Pope asks German bishops to find unanimity on Communion question

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis asked the bishops of Germany to continue working together to find broader consensus on guidelines for allowing a Protestant married to a Catholic to receive the Eucharist. “Pope Francis appreciates the ecumenical commitment of the German bishops and asks them to find, in a spirit of ecclesial communion, a result as unanimously as possible,” the German bishops were told, according to a Vatican statement. The pope had invited six German bishops and the general secretary of the bishops’ conference to Rome for a May 3 meeting with top officials. In February, the Vatican statement said, “more than three-quarters of the members” of the German bishops’ conference approved a “pastoral handbook titled, ‘Walking with Christ — In the Footsteps of Unity: Mixed Marriages and Common Participation in the Eucharist.’” However, the Vatican said, “a not insignificant number” of bishops, including seven who head dioceses, could not give their assent to the document. “These seven turned to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.”

Pope calls dicastery to promote reflection on role of women

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has updated the statutes of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, adding among other things a specific reference to the office’s responsibility for promoting a deeper reflection on the role of women in the Church and society. “The dicastery works to deepen the reflection on the relationship between men and women in their respective specificity, reciprocity, complementarity and equal dignity,” the new statutes said. “Valuing the feminine ‘genius,’ it offers a contribution to ecclesial reflection on the identity and mission of women in the church and in society, promoting their participation.”

Central African cardinal warns against revenge after church attack

BANGUI, Central African Republic — A cardinal in the Central African Republic warned against revenge after a priest and at least 24 lay Catholics were killed during a gun and grenade attack on a Mass in the country’s capital. “For decades now, what have we done with our country: coups d’etat, mutinies, repeated rebellions?” said Cardinal Dieudonne Nzapalainga, president of the bishops’ conference. “We see the result in deaths, scenes of pillage and acts of destruction. But behind these events, I ask myself if there’s also manipulation and instrumentalization, a wish to divide the country and a hidden agenda.” Cardinal Nzapalainga spoke May 2, the day after an attack on Our Lady of Fatima Church, close to Bangui’s mostly Muslim PK5 neighborhood. After the attack, a mosque was burned.

U.S. stem-cell biologist named to science academy

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis named a pioneering U.S. scientist specializing in stem-cell research to the Pontifical Academy for Sciences. Elaine Fuchs, professor and head of the laboratory of mammalian cell biology and development at The Rockefeller University in New York, was appointed to the papal think tank, according to a Vatican press release published May 5, her birthday. Fuchs, 68, has done ground-breaking research on the biology of skin stem cells, studying how these cells make and repair tissues, how they “communicate” with other neighboring cells, and how the communication malfunctions in cancer and aging, according to the press release. The research is aimed at developing therapies that enhance wound repair and impact the stem cells of tumors, it said. Born in Hinsdale, Ill., she earned a degree in chemistry from the University of Illinois and got her Ph.D. in biochemistry from Princeton University. She was the first woman hired in the biochemistry department at the University of Chicago in 1980.

— Catholic News Service

Nation and world briefs 762

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