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Nation and world briefs


Saginaw Church records, computers seized in abuse probe

SAGINAW, Mich. — The news that law enforcement authorities served the Saginaw Diocese with a search warrant March 22 was “distressing and disheartening for the greater community and most especially our Catholic faithful,” Saginaw Bishop Joseph R. Cistone acknowledged. The bishop made the comments in a statement sent late evening March 23 to Catholic News Service and other news media. The warrant included the Saginaw diocesan offices, Bishop Cistone’s residence and the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption. Records, documents and computers were seized as part of an ongoing probe into sexual abuse allegations against a half-dozen priests of the diocese. Only one priest has been arrested and criminally charged, Father Robert DeLand, 71. He is accused of sexually assaulting two males, ages 21 and 17, in his condominium. The diocese suspended another diocesan priest, Father Ronald J. Dombrowski, after receiving a report he allegedly sexually assaulted a person when the individual was a minor. He has not been criminally charged. Since his arrest Feb. 26, news reports said, local authorities have received “numerous tips and allegations” about members of the clergy reportedly dating back as far as three decades. None of those allegations has been confirmed.

Bishops disappointed with Congress’ inaction on Conscience Protection Act

WASHINGTON — The chairmen of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life and religious freedom committees said it was “deeply disappointing” that Congress omitted the Conscience Protection Act from the congressional funding bill for fiscal year 2018. “We call on Congress not to give up until this critical legislation is enacted,” said a March 22 joint statement from Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., chair of the Committee for Religious Liberty. The Church leaders said the legislation is “an extraordinarily modest bill that proposes almost no change to existing conscience protection laws on abortion laws that receive wide public and bipartisan support.” They also said it aims to “provide victims of discrimination with the ability to defend their rights in court to help ensure that no one is forced to participate in abortion.”

Pope appoints new auxiliary bishop for San Francisco Archdiocese

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Dominican Father Robert F. Christian as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Bishop-designate Christian, 69, is a native of San Francisco. He entered the Dominicans at St. Albert Priory in Oakland, Calif., in 1970 and made his solemn profession as a Dominican in 1974. He was ordained a priest in Oakland June 4, 1976. The appointment was announced in Washington March 28 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. Since 2015, he has been master of students for the Dominican’s Western province. Earlier he was a college teacher, a professor and vice dean at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, also known as the Angelicum, and a lecturer at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.


Aborting unborn children with Down syndrome diagnosis called genocide

UNITED NATIONS — Aborting a child with a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome is a gross violation of human rights and anti-discriminatory commitments, and can be considered genocide, according to speakers at a March 20 panel at the United Nations. “Here at the United Nations there is much sincere talk and normally passionate action to fight against unjust discrimination,” said Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Vatican nuncio to the United Nations. “But as firm as these commitments are in principle, many delegations, U.N. agencies and active members of civil society tolerate gross violations of these commitments in practice.” For example, groups that claim to advance the rights and equality of vulnerable women and girls are notably silent when pre-genetic screening followed by sex-selection abortion ends the lives of those they claim to defend, Archbishop Auza said.

Guam archdiocese to move offices, sell chancery, other Church properties

HAGATNA, Guam — The Archdiocese of Agana will sell its chancery property in Hagatna and relocate its offices in September. “The move is part of archdiocesan-wide efforts related to the liquidation and sale of Church property on Guam in the midst of challenging financial times and settlement of clergy sexual abuse cases,” the archdiocese said in a statement. Church offices will be moved to the Cathedral Basilica of the Sweet Name of Mary in Hagatna, the Guam capital. “Now that the mediation process related to the sexual abuse lawsuits has been set for September, the archdiocese is in the process of evaluating these claims on an individual basis,” the March 21 statement said. “This necessitates the selling of certain properties owned by the archdiocese.”

Pope praises French policeman who gave his life to save hostage

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis joined leaders praising a French police officer who “gave his life out of a desire to protect people” during a terrorist attack. Lt. Col. Arnaud Beltrame, 44, had convinced the gunman, identified as Redouane Lakdim, to allow him to take the place of a woman Lakdim was holding hostage March 23 in a grocery store in Trebes, a small town in southern France. Lakdim had already killed the passenger in a car he had hijacked in the nearby town of Carcassonne and had shot at a group of police who were jogging near their barracks, injuring one of the officers. He then drove to the grocery store and reportedly entered shouting that he was part of the Islamic State group. Lakdim killed the store’s butcher and a shopper. Although police managed to get Lakdim to let other shoppers leave, he kept one woman with him as a human shield. Beltrame offered to take her place and, media reported, he left his mobile phone on a table with an open line so that police outside could hear what was happening. When they heard more gunshots, the police stormed the supermarket and killed Lakdim. Beltrame was seriously wounded and died later in a local hospital.

— Catholic News Service

Nation and world briefs 9

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