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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Bishops’ pro-life chair calls for ‘radical solidarity’ with pregnant, parenting women

WASHINGTON — U.S. pro-life efforts “must remain strong to end legalized abortion” in this nation, but all Catholics have a personal responsibility to accompany women facing difficult or challenging pregnancies, said the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities. Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, invited Catholics into a “radical solidarity” with pregnant women in a Sept. 18 statement commemorating the 50th anniversary of Respect Life Month in October. The U.S. bishops set aside the month each year “as a time to focus on protecting God’s precious gift of human life,” he said. “While ending legalized abortion remains our preeminent priority, the most immediate way to save babies and mothers from abortion is to thoroughly surround mothers in need with life-giving support and personal accompaniment. This is radical solidarity,” Bishop Burbidge said. Along with working to enshrine “pro-life laws and policies,” he said, is the need for “continual conversion of our own hearts” to transform the culture and build “a culture of life.” (OSV News)

Vandal beheads Jesus statue at Louisiana Catholic school

LOCKPORT, La. — A Louisiana Catholic parish and its school are mourning the destruction of a beloved, life-sized statue of Jesus, which was decapitated during the overnight hours of Sept. 12-13. Father James Rome, parochial administrator of Holy Savior Parish in Lockport, said the statue, located outside Holy Savior School, had been struck sometime after 10:30 p.m. Sept. 12. Father Rome said the statue had possibly been “hit from the back of the head,” since “there were cement marks on the front side” of the figure. Security cameras have so far not turned up any images of a suspect, he said. Lockport Chief of Police David Harrelson Jr. has asked for the public’s help in solving the case. Father Rome and his parishioners intend to pray for the attacker. (OSV News)

WORLD

Swiss bishops pledge action after damning abuse report

ZURICH, Switzerland — Switzerland’s Catholic bishops have vowed firm action against sexual abuse in the Church, after a pilot study identified over 1,000 victims and 500 perpetrators, as six bishops faced accusations of covering up clergy crimes. “Too many Church leaders have acted irresponsibly for decades. They have failed to take the victims seriously and protected the perpetrators,” the nine-member bishops’ conference said Sept. 12. “This guilt cannot be brushed aside.” The Fribourg-based conference was reacting to the study, commissioned from Zurich University in 2021, which was presented Sept. 12 in the northern Swiss city. It said the 135-page document highlighted grave injuries caused by “personal misconduct,” but also revealed “systemic problems.” A former abuse victim said a “much stronger focus” on victims was needed and warned that some dioceses and religious orders remained unwilling to open their archives. (OSV News)

Gabon Catholic leaders hope for better conditions with military in power

LIBREVILLE, Gabon — Two weeks after the military seized power in Gabon, a Catholic priest there said ordinary people feel more secure and hopeful, even as some analysts warn of a “contagious coup pandemic” in the former French colonies in West and Central Africa. On Sept. 4, Gen. Brice Oligui Nguema was sworn in as the transition president for the tiny central African country in ceremonies in Libreville, the capital. Nguema seized power Aug. 30, after overthrowing the incumbent president, Ali Bongo Ondimba, moments after an announcement that he had been reelected. The Catholic Church took note of the change, while observing with caution the evolution of the situation, according to Father Serge-Patrick Mabickassa, coordinator of the Gabon bishops’ Commission for Social Communication and Culture. “This takeover took place without bloodshed or other forms of violence … and remains welcomed by the population,” Father Mabickassa said through social media messaging. (OSV News)

Pope makes new appointments in Vatican offices

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has named Spanish-born Archbishop José Rodríguez Carballo, who has held the No. 2 post at the Vatican office that oversees the world’s religious orders, to be coadjutor archbishop of Mérida-Badajoz, Spain. The Vatican announced the appointment Sept. 14. Archbishop Rodríguez, 70, was minister general of the Franciscans from 2003 to 2013, when Pope Francis appointed him secretary of the then-Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. He will continue his work at the dicastery until Oct. 31. Other papal appointments the same day included: Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, 57, was named undersecretary of the Dicastery for Culture and Education, which is led by Cardinal José Tolentino Mendonça. Polish Jesuit Father Marek Inglot, 62, has been named president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, succeeding French Norbertine Father Bernard Ardura, 75, who had led the committee since 2009. (CNS)

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