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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

USCCB designates Dallas cathedral as The National Shrine Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe

DALLAS — Bishop Edward J. Burns of Dallas announced Oct. 3 that the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe in downtown Dallas has been granted the significant designation of a national shrine by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. A Mass is planned Dec. 12 to celebrate the national shrine status of the cathedral, which will now be known as The National Shrine Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It’s a designation Cathedral Rector Father Jesús Belmontes called befitting of the cathedral’s impact on Catholics within the diocese, around the nation and throughout Central and Latin America. The cornerstone for the cathedral was laid June 17, 1898. On Oct. 26, 1902, Bishop Edward J. Dunne, second bishop of Dallas, formally dedicated the cathedral. For many Catholics, the Dec. 12 feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe holds profound significance as it commemorates the miraculous appearance of the Virgin Mary to St. Juan Diego in Mexico in 1531, symbolizing her maternal love and care for all humanity. Tens of thousands of people make the pilgrimage to Dallas every year on Dec. 11 and 12. (OSV News)

Bishop O’Connell of Trenton, N.J., dedicates new Diocesan Shrine of Blessed Carlo Acutis

BRICK, N.J. (OSV News) — An air of both excitement and reverence permeated the parish community of St. Dominic in Brick on Oct. 1, when some 1,200 worshippers gathered throughout the church complex to witness the dedication by Bishop David M. O’Connell of Trenton of a new Diocesan Shrine to Blessed Carlo Acutis and to pray with his mother, Antonia Salzano Acutis, who was visiting from Italy. Blessed Carlo was 15 when he died from leukemia Oct. 12, 2006. He had a deep devotion to the Eucharist and became known for developing a website catalog of eucharistic miracles. He was declared venerable in 2018 and beatified in 2020. He became the first millennial to be beatified by the Church. In his homily, Bishop O’Connell used the day’s Gospel to emphasize how all are called to do the right thing for the right reason. “It’s not simply a matter of our words or what we say but rather, what we do that makes a difference in life.” After the final blessing, Antonia Acutis, Bishop O’Connell and the clergy processed out of the church to the shrine for the dedication ceremony. Following the dedication, Antonia Acutis returned to the church to address the congregation. “God wants us to be awakened toward the Eucharist,” she said, using her son’s well-known quote, “The Eucharist is the highway to heaven.” (OSV News)

WORLD

Pope names first woman secretary of dicastery for religious

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has appointed a woman for the first time to be the No. 2 official of the Roman Curia office that works with religious orders and their members. Consolata Missionary Sister Simona Brambilla will be secretary of the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Vatican announced Oct. 7. According to Vatican statistics published in February, there are nearly 609,000 professed religious women in the world. There are just under 50,000 religious brothers and just over 128,000 religious-order priests. For decades, women religious and many bishops decried the lack of women in top leadership roles at the dicastery, which is called to promote religious life, including approving the statutes of religious congregations, when the vast majority of them are communities of women. Sister Brambilla, a 58-year-old Italian, has been an external member of the dicastery since 2019. She served two terms as superior of the Consolata Missionary Sisters, leading the congregation from 2011 to May 2023. (CNS)

Nicaraguan priests kidnapped from parishes amid continued crackdown on Church

MEXICO CITY — A Nicaraguan priest has been reported kidnapped from his parish residence as the country’s increasingly totalitarian regime continues cracking down on the Catholic Church and silencing all dissenting voices. Father Álvaro Toledo was taken by police at 10:30 p.m. local time on Oct. 5, according to a Facebook post from Radio Stereo Fe, which belongs to the Diocese of Estelí. Father Toledo was identified on social media as pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Ocotal. His abduction marked the latest in a wave of kidnappings carried out against priests in the Estelí Diocese, located in the country’s northwest, where imprisoned bishop Rolando Álvarez is apostolic administrator. Three other priests have been reported abducted from their parishes in less than a week. Father Ivan Centeno, pastor of Immaculate Conception of Mary Parish in Jalapa, and Father Julio Norori, pastor at St. John the Evangelist Parish in San Juan del Río Coco, were abducted Oct. 1 by plain-clothed individuals. Nicaragua media later reported Father Cristóbal Gadea, pastor of the Our Lady of Mercy in the Diocese of Jinotega, was also abducted on the night of Oct. 1. The priest was lured from his parish residence and arrested, according to 100% Noticias. (OSV News)

Earthquake kills 2,000 in Afghanistan, with strong aftershock on Oct. 11

HERAT, Afghanistan — The death toll in one of the deadliest earthquakes to strike Afghanistan in two decades has risen to 2,000, Taliban officials confirmed on Oct. 8. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck on Oct. 7, 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Herat city in the western Herat province. Initial assessments of the United Nations indicated that the quake caused deaths across eight villages. Mahal Wadakah was the worst affected village. Following the initial quake, which struck around 11 a.m. local time, several aftershocks have occurred, with tremors felt in neighboring Badghis and Farah provinces, according to OCHA, U.N. humanitarian office. A magnitude 6.3 quake hit on Oct. 11. “Once again, children and families in Afghanistan have been affected by a devastating earthquake, this time in western Herat province,” UNICEF Afghanistan said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Oct. 7. “UNICEF Afghanistan is on the ground with our U.N. colleagues to assess the full impact. Our heartfelt condolences go out to all families affected,” United Nations Children’s Fund wrote. The presence of Church charity organizations is close to zero with the Taliban government, an official from one of the Catholic organizations said. Some try to work with local partners, however. (OSV News)

Catholic educators injured in school attack amid ongoing conflict in Cameroon

YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon — A Catholic priest and three Catholic teachers in Cameroon’s troubled southwest region are recovering from bullet wounds after they were shot in what Church authorities say was a targeted attack on the Catholic primary school in St. Martin of Tours Kembong Parish Sept. 26. The attack comes amid the country’s struggle with seven years of separatist violence, and the Catholic Church still seems to be the only possible peace-negotiating partner. According to Father Christopher Eboka, the Mamfe Diocese’s director of communications, the attackers entered the school in search of Father Elvis Mbangsi, whom they shot four times – on the left wrist, right thigh, left knee and right foot. The other teachers were each shot twice in the legs. The priest and the four teachers are recovering from their wounds at the Bamenda Regional Hospital. Despite attacks on the Church and its people, there is increasing consensus that a workable solution will only come from the Catholic Church, whose members account for 40% of Cameroon’s 27 million people. (OSV News)

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