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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

On mission to Maui, priests, deacons help provide spiritual comfort to fire victims

LAHAINA, Hawaii — A smile. A wave. A hug. A bottle of water. An attentive and compassionate ear. A shoulder to cry on. A prayer. A ministry of presence. A steady stream of priests and deacons from across the Honolulu Diocese has been making its way to west Maui to provide spiritual support for the victims of the Lahaina wildfires Aug. 8-9. Called the Maui Mercy Mission, it was initiated 10 days after the catastrophe with a letter from Bishop Larry Silva to Hawaii’s deacons and priests. “Many of those affected by the fire simply need someone to talk to, to pray with them, and to comfort them,” he wrote. “I am asking all the priests and deacons, whether on Maui or on other islands, to consider lending spiritual support by going to Maui for a day or two to be present to those in need and to offer prayer, spiritual counsel, and your presence.” Father Arnold Ortiz, a retired parish pastor asked by Bishop Silva to coordinate the mission’s logistics, said, “Most important for the Diocese of Honolulu is to have a strong presence.” The Maui priests, deacons and sisters “have been the primary source of help,” he added, and the Maui “missionaries” help provide spiritual comfort and prayer, counseling and sacraments. (OSV News)

U.S. bishops, advocacy groups caution against government shutdown

WASHINGTON — The federal government appears to be heading toward a shutdown at the end of September, as congressional lawmakers are running out of time to pass legislation funding the government after Sept. 30. Advocacy groups, including the U.S. bishops’ conference, have cautioned against allowing that to happen, urging lawmakers to come to an agreement and keep the government open. A government shutdown occurs when Congress fails to pass some form of budget legislation, or if that is not signed into law by the president. Some types of essential government services are exempt, including Social Security payments to seniors. But many other functions of government are suspended amid shutdowns, such as paychecks for government workers, including members of the armed services. Unless lawmakers come to an agreement, the government will shut down on Oct. 1. (OSV News)

WORLD

Pope says his new ecology document is titled ‘Laudate Deum’

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis said the title of his new letter on the environment will be “Laudate Deum,” (Praise God), a frequent refrain in several psalms, including Psalm 148, which tells the heavens and the angels and the sun and moon to praise the Lord. The new document, expected to be released Oct. 4, is what the pope has described as a follow-up to his 2015 encyclical “Laudato Si’, On Care for Our Common Home.” Pope Francis revealed the title of the new document during a meeting Sept. 21 at the Vatican with rectors of Catholic and public universities from throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. He did not have a prepared text for the audience, but instead responded to questions. Vatican News in Spanish published a summary of his responses late Sept. 25. The new document, he said, is “a look at what has happened” since 2015 and a look at what still “needs to be done.” (CNS)

Vatican asks U.N. Security Council to join efforts for peace in Ukraine

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican urged members of the U.N. Security Council to be “creative and courageous artisans of peace and weavers of constructive dialogue” to find a peaceful solution to the war in Ukraine. Addressing a meeting of the U.N. Security Council in New York Sept. 20, Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, the Vatican’s foreign minister, said today the “entire international community, more than ever, cannot surrender itself and let this issue pass in silence.” He said “all member states of the United Nations, and especially those of the Security Council, are called upon to join efforts in the search for a just and lasting peace for Ukraine as an important element of the global peace of which the world thirsts.” The Security Council meeting included a speech from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who criticized the council’s structure, which gives five countries the power to veto any council resolution or decision, saying that Russia’s misuse of the veto power is “to the detriment of all other U.N. members.” Archbishop Gallagher did not discuss the subject of veto power, but said it is “undeniable that the Russian attack on Ukraine has jeopardized the entire global order which arose after World War II.” (CNS)

Kidnapped Nigerian priest has been freed

ABUJA, Nigeria — Nigerian priest Father Marcellinus Obioma Okide, who was kidnapped Sept. 17, has been freed, his diocese announced. He regained his freedom Sept. 21, according to the Catholic Broadcast Commission of Nigeria. The Diocese of Enugu confirmed the release, saying in a statement cited by Sahara Reporters it was glad that the priest had been released unharmed. The priest was reportedly abducted on his way to St. Mary Amofia-Agu Affa Parish, where he serves as parish priest. Six other people who were traveling with him also were kidnapped. According to a January report by the research organization SB Morgen Intelligence, no fewer than 39 Catholic priests were killed by gunmen in 2022, while 30 others were abducted. The report also showed that 145 attacks on Catholic priests were recorded within the same period. (OSV News)

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