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Nation and world briefs


Week of Prayer for Christian Unity takes on significance in 2023

WASHINGTON — The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is taking place Jan. 18-25 with coast-to-coast ecumenical observances. In Baltimore, Catholics belonging to the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, a Roman Catholic diocese with Anglican traditions established by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012, are celebrating with a solemn evensong where Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori will give the sermon. Other events planned around the U.S. include a Jan. 18 ecumenical service and concert at the Interchurch Center chapel in New York, hosted by the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute. In California, for the 17th year, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Gerasimos will lead solemn vespers together Jan. 23 at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Redwood City, California. The theme for 2023’s upcoming Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jan. 18-25 is “Do Good; Seek Justice,” taken from the first chapter of Isaiah. (OSV News)

U.S. military archbishop visits Ukraine’s military chaplains

WASHINGTON — Ukraine’s Catholic military chaplains will eventually be “catalysts for the rebuilding” of their war-torn nation, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and head of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, said. During a Dec. 27-29 visit to Lviv and Kyiv, the archbishop met with chaplains as well as Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, and leaders of Ukraine’s military chaplaincy, including Jesuit Father Andriy Zelinskyy, coordinator of chaplains for the Ukrainian Catholic Church. Archbishop Broglio also concelebrated at a funeral for three Ukrainian soldiers killed in action, extending gratitude for their sacrifice. The archbishop also said he hopes Ukraine’s military chaplains will “have a role in advising the commanders and political leaders” in their nation’s “reconstruction and rebuilding,” and urged Catholics to continue to pray for Ukraine. (OSV News)

Pope names priest as auxiliary bishop for St. Paul and Minneapolis

ST. PAUL, Minnesota — Pope Francis named Father Michael John Izen, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis who has ministered in parishes and as a pastor in his nearly 18 years of priesthood, as the next auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese. Bishop-elect Izen, 55, will serve with Archbishop Bernard Hebda and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Williams to lead the Church in the archdiocese. His ordination is scheduled for April 11 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul. (OSV News)


Pope reorganizes Rome vicariate to be more collegial, accountable

VATICAN CITY — With the same spirit and aims that behind his recent reform and reorganization of the Roman Curia, Pope Francis has overhauled the Vicariate of Rome. The vicariate, too, is called “to become more suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation” and to be at the service of a Church that reaches out to everyone, the pope wrote in a new papal instruction. Of the many changes, the pope created two new bodies: an office dedicated to safeguarding minors and vulnerable people; and an independent supervisory commission of papally appointed experts who monitor the work and administrative and economic affairs of the vicariate. The changes, which go into effect Jan. 31, were released Jan. 6 in the new apostolic constitution, “In Ecclesiarum Communione” (“In the Communion of Churches”). The new document aims to revitalize the vicariate’s mission by giving “primacy” to charity and the proclamation of divine mercy, synodality with the faithful and promoting greater collegiality. (CNS)

Priest killed in Burkina Faso is latest victim of terror attacks

TIONKUY, Burkino Faso – Father Jacques Yaro Zerbo, 67, Malian-born Catholic priest, was laid to rest Jan. 5 at the Cemetery of Pastoral Agents in Tionkuy, 150 miles west of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. The priest was killed Jan. 2 by unidentified armed men in what his bishop, Bishop Prosper Bonaventure Ky, who heads the Diocese of Dédougou, called “cold-blood murder.” Father Zerbo was on his way to Tona to accomplish a mission for his bishop when he was intercepted by unidentified armed men in the village of Soro in Gassan township found in the northwestern region of Boucle du Mouhon – one of Burkina Faso’s 13 administrative regions and a flashpoint of jihadist extremism. The killing added to a long list of persecution of Christians and other civilians and underscored the continued spread of terrorism in Burkina Faso and across the Sahel region. (OSV News)

Peace requires a ‘defense of life,’ pope tells ambassadors

VATICAN CITY — “Peace requires before all else the defense of life,” which is threatened by the “alleged ‘right to abortion,’” Pope Francis told ambassadors accredited to the Holy See. The defense of life is “jeopardized not only by conflicts, hunger and disease, but all too often even in the mother’s womb,” the pope told the ambassadors Jan. 9 during his annual meeting with them to mark the start of the new year. No one, he said, “can claim rights over the life of another human being, especially one who is powerless and thus completely defenseless.” Pope Francis called on political leaders to “safeguard the rights of those are weakest and to combat the throwaway culture that also, tragically, affects the sick, the disabled and the elderly,” and insisted governments have a “primary responsibility to ensure that citizens are assisted in every phase of human life until natural death.” The right to life, Pope Francis said, also is put at risk in places where the death penalty is still used. He cited as an example Iran where, as of Jan. 9, four people have been executed in connection to nationwide protests that the pope characterized as “demanding greater respect for the dignity of women.”

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