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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Historians’ approval moves Father Tolton’s sainthood cause forward

CHICAGO — The canonization cause of Father Augustus Tolton received important approval from the Vatican’s historical consultants earlier this year, moving the cause forward. Father Tolton, a former slave, is the first recognized U.S. diocesan priest of African descent. Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George opened his cause for canonization in 2011, giving the priest the title “servant of God.” The consultants in Rome ruled in March that the “positio” — a document equivalent to a doctoral dissertation on a person’s life — was acceptable and the research on Father Tolton’s life was finished, according to Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Joseph N. Perry, postulator for the cause. “They have a story on a life that they deem is credible, properly documented. It bodes well for the remaining steps of scrutiny — those remaining steps being the theological commission that will make a final determination on his virtues,” Bishop Perry explained. Once the Congregation for Saints’ Causes “approve it, then the prefect of that congregation takes the case to the pope,” he added.

New director named for USCCB’s laity, marriage, family, youth secretariat

WASHINGTON — Dominic Lombardi, head of the Secretariat for Catholic Life and Evangelization in the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has been named executive director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. Msgr. Brian Bransfield, USCCB general secretary, made the appointment and announced it May 14. Lombardi will take the post June 11, succeeding Andy Lichtenwalner, who had served in the position since January 2012. “Dominic brings a wealth of academic knowledge and lived experience in the realms of family life, youth ministry, personal formation and Church teaching to the conference,” Msgr. Bransfield wrote in a statement.

WORLD

Pope: Be inspired by Mary, Christ’s first lay disciple

VATICAN CITY — During a quick morning visit to Tuscany, Pope Francis praised two lay communities there that are dedicated to living out the Gospel values of reciprocal love and cooperation. Meeting families and children who live a communal way of life in Nomadelfia, near Grosseto, and members and friends of the Focolare movement in Loppiano, near Florence, May 10, the pope encouraged them to hold true to their founders’ missions and Jesus’ example of being close to the people. “Don’t forget that Mary was a layperson,” he said. “Jesus’ first disciple was lay,” and this should be a great inspiration to all laypeople.

Vatican OKs sainthood cause for Iraqi priest, deacons killed in Mosul

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican has given its permission for the opening of the sainthood cause of an Iraqi priest and three deacons who were murdered by gunmen in Mosul. The Congregation for Saints’ Causes gave the “nihil obstat” (“no objection”), permitting a diocesan bishop to open a local inquiry into a candidate’s sanctity, according to Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, May 14. Chaldean Father Ragheed Aziz Ganni, his cousin Deacon Basman Yousef Daud, and Deacons Wahid Hanna Isho and Gassan Isam Bidawed were killed June 3, 2007, in front of the Holy Spirit Church in Mosul. Father Ganni had just finished celebrating Mass for Pentecost.

— Catholic News Service

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