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Nation and world briefs


Experts: Mental health ministry a dire need across the U.S. Church

WASHINGTON — During the six months following the national 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline launch in July, more than 2 million calls, texts and chat messages have streamed into its 200 call centers coast-to-coast, the Associated Press recently reported. As suicide continues to be a leading cause of American deaths, Catholics may also turn to their church for spiritual support in the midst of a mental health episode — but dioceses are discovering they need to sprint to catch up and keep pace with this deadly epidemic. According to The Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers, mental health ministry is a needed complement to the work of mental health professionals. Already 40 out of 196 U.S. dioceses have a mental health ministry. (OSV News)

Historically Black Catholic university announces new medical college

NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana, which for decades has placed the most African American graduates into medical schools across the country each year, will open a College of Medicine in a partnership with Ochsner Health, executives of Xavier and Ochsner announced Jan. 17. The new medical school, expected to open within four to five years, has as its primary goals building a pipeline of African American doctors for a health care field in which people of color are underrepresented and extending the founding mission of St. Katharine Drexel “to promote a more just and humane society,” said Xavier President Reynold Verret. He said talks are underway about the location of a new facility for the medical school. (OSV News)


Pope to preach peace amid violence on visit to Africa

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’ fifth trip to the African continent will highlight gestures of peace and reconciliation, consoling the victims of violence but also emphasizing the importance of each person sowing peace in the family, the neighborhood and the nation. The pope is scheduled to travel to Kinshasa, Congo, Jan. 31-Feb. 3 before making an ecumenical pilgrimage to Juba, South Sudan, Feb. 3-5 with Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury and the Rev. Iain Greenshields, moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. “It is enough, or it should be enough, that the pope is going to support the peace process; but the fact that he and his colleagues have committed to doing this as a joint visit should be understood to be a spectacular commitment to the peace process itself,” said Chris Trott, the British ambassador to the Holy See and former British envoy to Sudan and South Sudan. Although the civil wars in both Congo and South Sudan officially have ended, the people continue to suffer from horrific acts of violence, which force the large-scale displacement of communities and keep much of the population in poverty. (CNS)

God’s word, mercy must be shared with everyone, pope says

VATICAN CITY — The Word of God, which heals and raises people up, is meant for everyone, Pope Francis said. Jesus “wants to reach those far away, he wants to heal the sick, he wants to save sinners, he wants to gather the lost sheep and lift up those whose hearts are weary and oppressed,” the pope said. “Jesus ‘reaches out’ to tell us that God’s mercy is for everyone,” he said in his homily during Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica Jan. 22, the Church’s celebration of Sunday of the Word of God. During the Mass, the pope also formally installed seven men and women in the ministry of catechist and three others in the ministry of lector. Pope Francis gave each of the lectors a Bible and the catechists a crucifix. In his homily, the pope said the Lord invites everyone to conversion and invites His disciples to actively “spread the light of the word” to everyone. “May it not happen that we profess a God with an expansive heart yet become a Church with a closed heart — this, I dare say, would be a curse,” he said. “May it not happen that we preach salvation for all yet make the way to receive it impractical; may it not happen that we recognize we are called to proclaim the kingdom yet neglect the Word, losing ourselves in so many secondary activities or discussions.” (CNS)

Pope, bishops call for peace as violent protests in Peru turn deadly

LIMA, Peru — Peru’s bishops pleaded for peace as violent protests against the country’s current president and legislature have claimed the lives of dozens of people. “We deplore the violence that has been unleashed because violence only begets more violence,” the Peruvian bishops’ conference said in a message published Jan. 20. “The death of more than 50 Peruvian brothers and sisters is a deep wound in the heart of our people, as well as the suffering of all the wounded, civilians and police.” According to the Associated Press, the protests and violent clashes between police and protestors have led to the indefinite closure of Machu Picchu, the 15th-century Incan citadel. The civil unrest blocked transportation to and from Machu Picchu, resulting in hundreds of visitors left stranded at the ancient site. In their message, the bishops of Peru said the violent protests are a source of “great pain” and said the senseless deaths “must not go unpunished.” “In Peru, we are all needed to build the homeland,” the message said. “Let’s stop hurting each other! No more confrontations! This situation demands dialogue, listening and resolve.” (OSV News)

Vatican funding for charitable works totals $10.7 million in 2022

ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine — The Vatican Dicastery for the Service of Charity, led by Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, spent $2.2 million in 2022 for humanitarian help in Ukraine. “Another 2 million (euros) is waiting in reserves for that purpose, since the war is still going on, and people are a bit more tired with providing help in any long-term conflict,” said Cardinal Krajewski, the papal almoner. The Vatican funds have been used for food, arts and language classes for children affected by war, and diesel to run power generators. (OSV News)

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