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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Wonder Conference boldly goes to frontier of ‘science and religion’

DALLAS — The notion that science and religion are at odds has “worked a lot of mischief,” said Bishop Robert Barron, who launched the Jan. 13-14 Wonder Conference in Dallas, Texas to show “the unity of faith and reason.” Sponsored by Bishop Barron’s Word on Fire media apostolate, with support from the John Templeton Foundation, the gathering of experts in physics, philosophy, technology, theology and history drew some 1,000 attendees. Bishop Barron, who is bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, said in his keynote address he aimed to survey how the world is fundamentally knowable, the mind is not material but immaterial, and metaphysics, or knowledge about reality beyond the physical world, is inescapable. He explained scientific fact alone is not sufficient to address questions of beauty, morality or transcendence. (OSV News)

Eucharistic Revival songwriting competition seeks to inspire Catholic music

WASHINGTON — A songwriting competition aims to inspire new Catholic music as a part of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ National Eucharistic Revival initiative. The Eucharistic Revival Musical Competition, sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis, seeks entries from Catholic composers, poets and songwriters for Catholic music, with a particular emphasis on the Church’s teachings on the real presence of the Eucharist and the Church’s unity as the body of Christ. Marilyn Santos, associate director of the USCCB’s Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis, said music is a beautiful way of “expressing our faith” and that she hoped the contest would “discover these new evangelists who use music as their medium of conveying the message.” Submissions are due April 21 with winners announced June 9. (OSV News)

WORLD

Faith is a call to service and mission, pope tells U.S. seminarians

VATICAN CITY — The call to faith in Jesus always is a call to service and mission, Pope Francis told seminarians, priests and staff of the Pontifical North American College. “Whenever Jesus calls men and women, He always does so in order to send them out, in particular to the vulnerable and those on the margins of society, whom we are not only called to serve but from whom we can also learn much,” the pope said Jan. 14. The college, a seminary in Rome sponsored by the bishops of the United States, has 116 students from 55 dioceses. Msgr. Thomas W. Powers, rector of the college, told Pope Francis: “The generous young men you see in front of you want to be like Jesus, the Good Shepherd. They know the Lord will use their eyes to seek out the suffering; their mouths to preach His Word, console the afflicted and make Him present in the Eucharist; their hands to give strength to the sick and the dying and to heal those oppressed by sin; and their feet to go to the peripheries to lead the lost sheep home.” (CNS)

Pope asks lay associations to develop evangelical spirit

VATICAN CITY — Lay groups that promote popular piety, often with elements of local folklore, can be great evangelizers, but members must continue to grow in their faith and in their attachment to the Catholic Church, Pope Francis told members of Italian confraternities. Meeting with representatives of the Confederation of Confraternities of the Dioceses of Italy Jan. 16, the pope said that the organization of 2 million members is representative of the Second Vatican Council’s teaching that the laity must contribute to the “sanctification of the world.” Founded in 2000 during the Church’s jubilee year, the confederation oversees lay groups approved by the Church that promote charitable works and devotional forms throughout Italy. Many Catholic confraternities have been in existence since the Middle Ages. Pope Francis told the representatives that popular piety — expressions of faith blended with specific cultural elements — “is a powerful force of announcing (the Gospel) that has much to offer men and women of our age.” (CNS)

Health care is a universal right, not a luxury, pope says

VATICAN CITY — Health care is not a luxury, it is a right that belongs to everyone, Pope Francis told health care workers. “A world that rejects the sick, that does not assist those who cannot afford care, is a cynical world with no future. Let us always remember this: health care is not a luxury, it is for everyone,” the pope said Jan. 16 during a meeting with members of an Italian federation of professional associations of technicians and specialists working in the fields of radiology, rehabilitation and preventative medicine. He expressed his deep gratitude for their work, especially during the pandemic. “Without your commitment and effort many people who were ill would not have been looked after,” he said. “Your sense of duty inspired by the power of love enabled you to serve others, even putting your own health at risk.” In a world marked by a throwaway culture, the health professionals promote a culture of care, embodied in the good Samaritan, the pope said. (CNS)

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