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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

New Archdiocese of Las Vegas called sign of Church’s ‘dynamism, vitality’ in Nevada

LAS VEGAS— In a sign of the growing Catholic community of southern Nevada and the western United States, the Archdiocese of Las Vegas has become the newest archdiocese in America. A solemn Mass Oct. 16 at the Shrine of the Most Holy Redeemer in Las Vegas formally celebrated the designation of the archdiocese and the appointment of Archbishop George Leo Thomas by Pope Francis May 30. The new metropolitan archdiocese and province of Las Vegas includes Reno, Nevada, and Salt Lake City as suffragan dioceses of the province. During the Mass, Cardinal Christophe Pierre, the pope’s representative as apostolic nuncio to the United States, placed the pallium — a woolen liturgical garment worn by a metropolitan archbishop — upon Archbishop Thomas’ shoulders. The pallium represents a pastor’s care of his flock and his unity with the pope. Pope Francis gave the archbishop the pallium in June at the Vatican. The growth in the presence of Catholics in Las Vegas and southern Nevada was a key factor in its elevation to an archdiocese. The 350,000 Catholics among a total regional population of more than 1 million in 1995 has ballooned to an estimated 750,000 Catholics among more than 2 million residents today, according to the archdiocese. This growth was “a result of the dynamism and the vitality of the Church here,” Cardinal Pierre told Massgoers. (OSV News)

Diocese of Stockton, Calif., warns of fake clergy ‘selling’ sacraments

STOCKTON, Calif. — The Diocese of Stockton has issued a warning about impostors posing as Catholic clergy and charging Spanish-speaking faithful “exorbitant fees” for celebrating the sacraments. In an Oct. 20 media advisory, the diocese alerted parishioners in the Modesto area to the scammers, who were reported to have conducted “fraudulent activities related to the sacraments and sacramentals.” The individuals have falsely assumed the identities of two actual clerics from the Archdiocese of Toluca, Mexico — Archbishop Raúl Gómez González and Father José Adán González Estrada — and have conducted “unauthorized celebrations” of baptism, confirmation and first Communion, as well as house blessings, said the advisory. The impostors also have demanded that individuals present birth certificates for the alleged sacraments, raising concerns about human trafficking and identity theft. Diocesan communications director Erin Haight said Oct. 24 that an apparent “ring of two or three people” are working together in coordinating the sham sacraments, which “are not valid.” The diocese is urging victims to contact the Modesto Police Department. (OSV News)

Georgia Supreme Court allows ‘heartbeat’ abortion ban to stand

ATLANTA — The Georgia Supreme Court rejected Oct. 24 a lower court’s ruling, allowing a Georgia law restricting abortion after six weeks gestation to remain in effect amid ongoing legal challenges. The law, a so-called “heartbeat” ban called the LIFE Act, prohibits with some exceptions abortion after fetal cardiac activity can be detected. Critics of such laws argue many women do not yet know they are pregnant at six weeks. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney called the law “unequivocally unconstitutional” last year because it was enacted in 2019, while Roe v. Wade was still in place. But the Georgia Supreme Court McBurney’s ruling in a 6-1 decision. “When the United States Supreme Court overrules its own precedent interpreting the United States Constitution, we are then obligated to apply the Court’s new interpretation of the Constitution’s meaning on matters of federal constitutional law,” Justice Verda Colvin wrote in a majority opinion. (OSV News)

WORLD

Initiative urges pope to write encyclical on nonviolence; patriarch cites ‘horrors’ of war

ROME — Amid wars around the world, particularly in Ukraine and the Holy Land, the Catholic Church needs to speak out on nonviolence as a necessary option for any hope of peace, said a representative of Pax Christi International, urging the pope to write an encyclical on nonviolence and just peace. “War, now in the Middle East, is one more example of why we have to find a different way to arrange our way of functioning together as an international community,” Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International and senior director of its Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, said Oct. 20. The initiative has appealed to Pope Francis and participants of the Synod of Bishops, she said, “to raise the issue of nonviolence in their minds as they are thinking about the future of the Church and the reality we’re facing now.” Meanwhile, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, in an Oct. 24 letter “to the entire diocese” said that the Holy Land is “going through one of the most difficult and painful periods in our recent times and history.” For over two weeks, “we have been inundated with images of horrors, which have reawakened ancient traumas, opened new wounds, and made pain, frustration and anger explode within all of us,” he said. “It is time to stop this war, this senseless violence.” (OSV News)

Nicaragua expels a dozen priests, sends them to the Vatican

Nicaragua has expelled a dozen priests held as political prisoners as the increasingly tyrannical regime continues sending clergy into exile and cracking down on the Catholic Church. The 12 priests boarded a flight for Rome Oct. 18 after an agreement for their release was reached between Nicaragua and the Vatican, according to a statement from the Nicaraguan government. The priests “will be received by the Vatican Secretary of State,” according to the statement, which called the process “an effort to preserve peace and support the Catholic community.” Imprisoned Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa, who is serving a 26-year sentence for conspiracy and spreading false information — after a trial rife with irregularities earlier this year — was not among the Churchmen removed from the Central American country. Bishop Álvarez has repeatedly refused to leave Nicaragua. His condition is unknown. On Oct. 19, Matteo Bruni, the Vatican’s spokesman, confirmed the Holy See “has been asked to receive” the priests released from prison. (OSV News)

Pope clears way for canonization of ‘Mama Antula’

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has recognized a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Maria Antonia de Paz Figueroa, an 18th-century consecrated lay woman from Argentina. The Vatican press office said the pope signed the decree, which clears the way for her canonization, during an audience Oct. 24 with Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints. The sainthood candidate, known affectionately as “Mama Antula,” was a student and later master of Ignatian spiritual exercises and, after the Jesuits were expelled from Argentina, she continued to lead Ignatian retreats. “Her exemplary Christian testimony, especially her apostolate to promote the Spiritual Exercises (of St. Ignatius of Loyola) can awaken the desire to cling to Christ and the Gospel,” Pope Francis said after her beatification in 2016. (CNS)

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