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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Bishop Strickland removed from Diocese of Tyler

TYLER, Texas — Pope Francis has removed Bishop Joseph E. Strickland from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, the Holy See Press Office announced Nov. 11. Simultaneously, Francis appointed Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, as apostolic administrator of the Tyler Diocese. No reason was given for the removal, which comes after a tenure that saw the bishop frequently clash with the Vatican, often through social media posts, over what he saw as an erosion of orthodoxy under Pope Francis. On Oct. 31, Bishop Strickland addressed a Rome event where he read from a letter, attributed to a “dear friend,” that accused Pope Francis of not being the true pope; the bishop then later said the pope was backing an “attack on the sacred.” Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston released a public statement Nov. 11, where he said that after the apostolic visitation of the Diocese of Tyler took place months earlier it was recommended that the continuation in office of Bishop Strickland “was not feasible.” He revealed that Bishop Strickland declined to resign from office on Nov. 9, resulting in the Holy Father removing him from office two days later. (OSV News)

Survey shows shift in how younger U.S. priests view themselves, priesthood

WASHINGTON — A closer look at the largest survey of U.S. Catholic priests in 50 years has revealed “a major shift in how priests view themselves and their priesthood,” said researchers. Compared to their older peers, younger priests are far more likely to describe themselves as theologically orthodox or conservative, politically conservative or moderate, and prepared to be “first responders” to the abuse victims they encounter in their ministry. Furthermore, researchers noted “a significant proportion of American priests say that they had ‘personally experienced sexual harassment or abuse or suffered sexual misconduct’ during their formation or time in seminary.” The findings were detailed in “Polarization, Generational Dynamics, and the Ongoing Impact of the Abuse Crisis: Further Insights from the National Study of Catholic Priests,” a November 2023 report released by The Catholic Project, an initiative from The Catholic University of America designed to foster effective collaboration between the clergy and the laity of the Church in the wake of the sexual abuse crisis. The report noted these trends have been decades in the making and said qualitative interviews with respondents pointed to “two watershed moments” that shape priests’ perception of themselves: the Second Vatican Council and the clergy sexual abuse crisis of 2002. (OSV News)

Court grants Sisters of Life protection from investigation of pregnancy resource centers

NEW YORK — The Sisters of Life, the community of women religious founded in New York City to protect human life and serve pregnant women in need, have prevailed in their lawsuit against an attempt to seek the internal records of their pregnancy resource centers. On. Nov. 8, the state of New York agreed to a federal court order forbidding state officials from demanding the order’s information or punishing the sisters for refusing to provide it. In Sisters of Life v. McDonald, a case brought in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the order was represented by Becket, a Washington-based public interest law firm specializing in religious liberty cases. The state’s demand for the order’s records was the result of a package of six abortion-related statutes signed by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who said the state was commissioning “a task force to study the impact of limited-service pregnancy centers.” Sister Maris Stella, vicar general of the Sisters of Life, said in a statement the judge’s order “will protect us as we continue our ministry.” (OSV News)

WORLD

‘Truly compassionate society protects its most vulnerable,’ U.K. bishops say after baby’s death

NOTTINGHAM, England — British bishops expressed their condolences to Dean and Claire Gregory, parents of 8-month-old Indi who died Nov. 13 after neither a court battle nor Italian citizenship granted to the infant prevented the British courts from halting her life support. Following the death of baby Indi, Bishop Patrick McKinney of Nottingham and Bishop John Sherrington, Lead Bishop for Life Issues and Auxiliary of Westminster, wrote in a statement that they learned about the death of the child with “deep sadness,” assuring the parents “of our prayers and those of all the Catholic Community, including Pope Francis, at this sad time.” “As a baptized child of God, we believe that she will now share in the joy of heaven after her short life which brought deep joy to her parents who loved and protected her as a precious gift of God,” the bishops said. (OSV News)

Pope calls for access to humanitarian aid in Gaza, Sudan

VATICAN CITY — World leaders must ensure that humanitarian aid reaches the people affected by the ongoing wars in Gaza and Sudan, Pope Francis said. “In Gaza, let the wounded be rescued immediately, let civilians be protected, let far more humanitarian aid be allowed to reach that stricken population,” he said after praying the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square Nov. 12. “May the hostages be freed, including the elderly and children.” Hamas militants held 239 Israeli hostages in Gaza as of Nov. 12. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Nov. 11 that a cease-fire in Gaza would be possible only after a release of all the hostages. Yet the next day the pope publicly asked that “the weapons be stopped.” He also appealed to leaders to support access to humanitarian aid in Sudan, where a civil conflict that began in April has led to the deaths of more than 9,000 people and displaced 5.6 million. The pope asked Sudanese leaders to “work in search of peaceful solutions” with the help of the international community. (CNS)

Pope to address U.N. climate conference, inaugurate ‘Faith Pavilion’

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis will travel to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates Dec. 1-3 to address the U.N. climate conference and to help inaugurate the Faith Pavilion where religious leaders and organizations will meet to share information and strategies for convincing governments to take real steps to protect the environment. The conference, commonly known as COP28, “can represent a change of direction, showing that everything done since 1992 (with the adoption of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change) was in fact serious and worth the effort, or else it will be a great disappointment and jeopardize whatever good has been achieved thus far,” the pope wrote in “Laudate Deum” (“Praise God”), a follow-up document to his 2015 encyclical “Laudato Si’, On Care for Our Common Home.” Releasing the schedule for the pope’s trip Nov. 9, the Vatican said he would address the conference Dec. 2 — the closing day of the World Climate Action Summit — and spend the rest of the day in “private bilateral meetings.” (CNS)

Doctrinal dicastery says transsexuals can be baptized

VATICAN CITY — If it would not cause scandal or confusion among other Catholics, “a transsexual — even one who has undergone hormone treatment and gender reassignment surgery — may receive baptism under the same conditions as other faithful,” said a document from the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. The document, signed Oct. 31 by Pope Francis and by Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, was posted on the dicastery’s website Nov. 8. A note published with it said the document was a response to letter submitted in July by Bishop José Negri of Santo Amaro, Brazil, “containing some questions about the possible participation in baptism and weddings by transexual persons and homo-affective persons.” The questions about weddings involved whether transexual or other LGBTQ+ persons could be witnesses at a Catholic wedding. The response to both questions was that “there is nothing in current universal canonical legislation that prohibits” either from serving as a witness at a Catholic marriage. Responses to the questions about baptism were longer, more nuanced and urged pastoral prudence to minister to the people in question, safeguard the sacrament and prevent scandal. (CNS)

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