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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Franciscan friars unify nationwide, form Our Lady of Guadalupe province

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Order of Friars Minor have formed a new, unified Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe that spans the United States coast to coast. The minister general of the Order of Friars Minor, Brother Massimo Fusarelli, established the Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe Oct. 17 during a meeting called the “synodal Chapter of Unity,” during which the province’s first minister provincial, vicar provincial and seven councilors were installed. The new province, headquartered in Atlanta, unifies more than 700 friars who were previously part of six legacy provinces, which were established over the long history of the Order of Friars Minor in the United States. Tracing their history to St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi, the friars believe combining provinces paves the way for a renewal of Franciscan life, spirituality and fraternity by living the Gospel through service to the poor and people living on society’s margins. (OSV News)

Catholic bishops reiterate moral permissibility of Covid vaccines

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Catholic bishops have reiterated the moral permissibility of the COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States for Catholics as booster shots become available ahead of flu and cold season. Asked if the moral guidance on the use of COVID-19 vaccines for Catholics issued in January 2021 applied to the latest versions of the vaccines, Chieko Noguchi, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, replied that “the guidance previously given by the USCCB and the moral principles articulated still hold under the circumstances of the new COVID vaccines.” In 2020 and 2021, shortly before vaccines were made available to the American public, the Holy See’s Congregation (now Dicastery) for the Doctrine of the Faith, Catholic bishops and theologians released statements that the COVID-19 vaccines were morally permissible for Catholics to receive. Those statements varied only slightly, as the U.S. bishops encouraged Catholics, where they had such a choice, to seek some brands of vaccines over others due to the degree of connection — although remote — to abortion-derived cell lines. The U.S. bishops’ conference in 2021 urged Catholics to select a vaccine “with the least connection to abortion-derived cell lines.” (OSV News)

Mass highlights how Catholics can support victims of domestic violence, recognize abuse

WASHINGTON — About 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner every minute in the United States. This comes out to more than 10 million women and men a year, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. To mark October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month and raise awareness of the issue, Catholics for Family Peace Education and Research on Domestic Abuse organized a Mass Oct. 7 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Msgr. Charles Antonicelli, a pastor and judicial vicar of the Archdiocese of Washington, celebrated the Mass. “In the face of this evil that touches individuals and families in all sectors of society, we come together to raise awareness and to pray for and help those who are affected by it. … We want to break the silence, break the cycle, begin the healing,” the priest said in his homily. During the Mass, it was emphasized that efforts within the Catholic Church can play a crucial role in raising awareness among community members in need about the resources accessible to them through local and national organizations. Catholics for Family Peace offers a “pastor packet” at catholicsforfamilypeace.org that includes tips on how to address domestic violence in their homilies, along with bulletin notices, prayers and social media posts. (OSV News)

WORLD

Water is a precious, finite resource to be protected, shared, pope says

VATICAN CITY — Water must be safeguarded and managed in a “wise, careful and sustainable way, so that everyone can enjoy it,” Pope Francis said. “The arbitrary management of water resources, their distortion and pollution, are particularly damaging to the poor and are a shameful affront to which we cannot remain indifferent,” he said. “Access to safe drinking water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights,” he said, citing his encyclical “Laudato Si’, On Care for Our Common Home.” The pope made his comments in a written message marking the Oct. 16 celebration of World Food Day. The theme of the 2023 celebration was: “Water is life, water is food. Leave no one behind.” The U.N. Development Program estimates: about half a billion people face water scarcity year-round; approximately 4.2 billion people lack sanitation; 2.2 billion people lack safe drinking water; and 700 million people could be displaced due to scarcity of water by 2030. (CNS)

Thousands of children will meet with Pope Francis to share their dreams

VATICAN CITY — Thousands of children from Italy and many others representing other parts of the world will meet Pope Francis at the Vatican Nov. 6 to express their hopes, dreams and questions. “It will be a meeting to show the dream we all have: to go back to having the pure sentiments of children, because the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like children,” the pope said Oct. 1 when he announced the initiative called, “Let us learn from boys and girls.” “Children teach us about transparency in relationships, about spontaneously welcoming those who are strangers, and about respect for all of creation. Dear children, I too look forward to learning from all of you!” the pope said. Cardinal José Tolentino Mendonça, prefect of the Dicastery for Culture and Education, which is sponsoring the event, told reporters Oct. 17 that the pope has repeatedly encouraged young people to use their courage to turn their dreams into reality. (CNS)

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