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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

New Spanish-speaking Serra Club looks to inspire more vocations

Women in traditional attire participated in a procession July 2 during the National Catholic Burmese-American Conference in Owensboro, Ky. Opportunities like the NCBAC are “a wonderful way of expressing the Church — to lift up the presence of AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) communities in this country. That they have a place at the table; that their voices are here,” said Sister Myrna Tordillo, a member of the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo, and assistant director of the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Island Affairs of the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Photo Credits: Riley Greif | The Western Kentucky Catholic
HOUSTON — For every Catholic priest in the U.S., there are 1,230 Catholics in the general population. But that ratio is far greater in the Hispanic community, with 9,925 Hispanic Catholics per every Hispanic priest, according to a national report by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “There is a great need for more Hispanic priests,” said Candice Tyrrell, vice president of membership for the USA Council of Serra International. “We desperately need more priests, especially more Hispanic priests, to serve the growing Hispanic population.” After receiving permission from Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Tyrrell began working with Father Miguel Solorzano, pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Houston, and his parishioners to create the first Hispanic Serra Club within the archdiocese and the first in the United States. Father Solorzano said the newly created affiliation has met several times to organize the charter and elect officers. The Serra Club, named after the evangelizer St. Junipero Serra, is an international Catholic association of lay men and women of all ages and walks of life committed to promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

WORLD

Australians promote Billings fertility pioneers as potential saints

SYDNEY — An Australian couple who pioneered one of the world’s most successful natural fertility methods are being celebrated as potential saints by those in the medical profession who worked with them, as well as families who benefited from their innovative ovulation method, now taught in more than 40 countries around the world. Drs. John and Evelyn Billings are perhaps best known overseas for their work in pioneering the Billings Ovulation Method, which has helped women around the world determine the most fertile and infertile periods of their menstrual cycle by using mucus patterns from the cervix as the most reliable indicator of fertility. While John Billings died in 2007 and Evelyn Billings died in 2013, interest in their personal story is growing, with a dedicated website to promote their sainthood cause, based on their inspirational personal attributes and deep Catholic faith. Lynne Anderson, CEO of Billings LIFE Australia, said she is not surprised by calls for the two to be made saints. She described them as a remarkably selfless couple who were also very dedicated to the practice of their Catholic faith. “They were very devout, daily Mass attendees and, whenever they traveled overseas for conferences, they tended to stay in religious communities,” she said.

Pope modifies Opus Dei’s relationship to Curia, highlighting its ‘charism’

VATICAN CITY — Saying he wanted to highlight the spiritual gifts of Opus Dei and its contributions to the Catholic Church’s evangelizing activities, Pope Francis said it will now work with and answer to the Dicastery for Clergy, rather than the Dicastery for Bishops. In the apostolic letter “Ad Charisma Tuendum” (“For the protection of the charism”), released by the Vatican July 22, Pope Francis also said the head of the personal prelature of Opus Dei “will not be made, nor will he be able to be made” a bishop. Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz, who was elected prelate of Opus Dei and approved by Pope Francis in 2017, said that while the first two prelates of Opus Dei were bishops, “the episcopal ordination of the prelate was not and is not necessary for the guidance of Opus Dei.” Pope Francis said his decision was meant “to strengthen the conviction that, for the protection of the particular gift of the Spirit, a form of government based more on charism than on hierarchical authority is needed.”

German Synodal Path must not create new structures, Vatican says

VATICAN CITY — “It seems necessary to make it clear that the ‘Synodal Path’ in Germany does not have the power to compel bishops and the faithful to assume new modes of governance and new approaches to doctrine and morals,” said an unsigned “declaration of the Holy See.” Released by the Vatican press office in German and Italian July 21, the declaration said the Catholic Church in Germany could not “initiate new official structures or doctrines in the dioceses prior to an agreed understanding at the level of the universal Church.” Doing so, it said, “would represent a wound to ecclesial communion and a threat to the unity of the Church.” In response, the two presidents of the German Synodal Path insisted, “We never tire of underlining that the Church in Germany will not follow a ‘special German path’” and that the rules of the process have made clear from the beginning that “resolutions passed by the Synodal Assembly have no legal effect of their own accord.”

French report warns lack of upkeep poses danger to historic churches

OXFORD, England — French parliamentarians warned that thousands of historic churches, many dating from the Middle Ages, will have to be sold or demolished unless government officials allocate resources to maintain them. “Like other Western countries, France faces questions over the future of its religious heritage given society’s growing secularization,” a report for the French Senate said. “As true common goods, these buildings have not just spiritual, but also historical, cultural, artistic and architectural value. They structure landscapes, define territorial identities, and provide vectors for transmitting local and national memory, as well as contributing to the quality of the living environment,” it said. Catholic churches in France were legally declared state property more than a century ago, requiring local governments to maintain them at public expense while allowing their use for Masses. The report said more than 40,000 sites predate the 20th century, with 15,000 protected as historic monuments, but that many lacked proper maintenance, especially in rural areas.

Maronite Catholic officials denounce 12-hour detention of archbishop

BEIRUT — Maronite Catholic officials in Lebanon have denounced the detention of a Maronite bishop on the country’s southern border with Israel. The July 18 incident occurred at the border post of Lebanon’s General Security in the village of Ras Naqoura, at which Maronite Archbishop Moussa El-Hage of Haifa and the Holy Land was detained for more than 12 hours. Archbishop El-Hage, also the patriarchal exarch of Jerusalem and Palestine and Jordan, was traveling by road from his episcopal seat in Haifa, Israel, when he was taken into custody by security officers at a crossing that is reserved for religious and the diplomatic corps. Maronite officials said the archbishop was transporting aid, food and cash from his archdiocese intended for those in need in Lebanon, amid the country’s catastrophic economic collapse that has pushed nearly 80% of the population into poverty. Cardinal Bechara Rai, patriarch of Maronite Catholics, convened a meeting July 20 of the permanent council, a patriarchal authority composed of four bishops that meets in “emergency and serious cases.” Archbishop El-Hage was present.

Bishops must be good listeners, says nun who helps select them

VATICAN CITY— While the perfect bishop does not exist, he does have to be a person who knows how to get others involved in the life of the Church and to listen to everyone, including those with whom he may disagree, said a new member of the Dicastery for Bishops. French Salesian Sister Yvonne Reungoat told Vida Nueva, a Spanish publication reporting news about the Catholic Church, that “the ideal bishop does not exist.” But he has to be a shepherd who is “close to the people entrusted to him, he has to know how to involve priests, laity and religious, and people of different generations.”

“The path of synodality” is essential for this process and “it must be the usual way of animating the church to favor collegiality,” she told the publication in an interview published online July 24. In mid-July, Pope Francis named 14 new members to the dicastery responsible for helping the pope choose bishops for Latin-rite dioceses outside of the Church’s mission territories. For the first time ever, the members included women: two religious and one lay.

— Catholic News Service

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