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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Mass of Reparation offered at St. Patrick’s Cathedral after ‘scandalous’ funeral

NEW YORK — Two days after St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City was filled with mourners for an irreverent “homecoming” funeral for a prominent activist who identified as transgender, the cathedral’s rector acknowledged that many people “have let us know they share our outrage over the scandalous behavior” that took place at the service. Father Enrique Salvo said in a Feb. 17 statement that at New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan’s “directive, we have offered an appropriate Mass of Reparation.” “The Cathedral only knew that family and friends were requesting a funeral Mass for a Catholic, and had no idea our welcome and prayer would be degraded in such a sacrilegious and deceptive way,” Father Salvo said. According to The New York Times, hundreds packed the cathedral Feb. 15 to mourn the passing of Cecilia Gentili, 52, an Argentinian-born activist who identified as transgender and worked to decriminalize sex work. “Mass cards and a picture near the altar showed a haloed Ms. Gentili surrounded by the Spanish words for ‘transvestite,’ ‘whore,’ ‘blessed’ and ‘mother’ above the text of Psalm 25,” the paper said. The funeral’s organizer, Ceyenne Doroshow — founder and director of Gays and Lesbians Living in a Transgender Society Inc. — told the Times that she had not advised cathedral pastoral staff that Gentili identified as transgender, saying, “I kind of kept it under wraps.” (OSV News)

WORLD

Vatican announces synod assembly dates, formation of study groups

VATICAN CITY — The second assembly of the Synod of Bishops on synodality will meet Oct. 2-27 and will be preceded by several formal studies coordinated by the synod general secretariat working with various offices of the Roman Curia. The Vatican announced the dates for the assembly Feb. 17, indicating that the desire of some synod members to spend less time in Rome was not accepted. The fall assembly will be preceded by a retreat for members Sept. 30-Oct. 1, the Vatican said. And in response to a formal call by members of the first assembly of the synod, Pope Francis has agreed to the establishment of “study groups that will initiate, with a synodal method, the in-depth study of some of the themes that emerged.” (CNS)

Disappeared Ukrainian Catholic priest may be in Russian prison now, says human rights activist

OSLO, Norway — One of two disappeared Ukrainian Greek Catholic priests seized from their church in Berdiansk in November 2022 appears to have been illegally transferred to Russia, according to a human rights activist. Redemptorist Father Ivan Levitsky is likely being held in an investigation prison in Russia’s Rostov region, according to Yevhen Zakharov of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group. Zakharov recently shared the update with Felix Corley of Forum 18, a news service that partners with the Norwegian Helsinki Committee in defending freedom of religion, thought and conscience. Father Levitsky’s fellow Redemptorist Father Bohdan Geleta, who served with him at the Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos in Berdiansk, is reported to be held in a separate investigation prison in Russian-occupied Crimea. Corley said that “it does seem they (the priests) are alive,” but that he and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church do not have full confirmation of their location. (OSV News)

Russian Catholics stage ‘quiet commemorations’ for deceased dissident Navalny

MOSCOW — A senior Russian Catholic has urged Church leaders abroad to commemorate the opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, as armed police dispersed citizens mourning his death at age 47 in a remote prison camp. The Catholic, who asked not to be named, spoke as Navalny’s family requested handover of his body, amid international revulsion at the veteran dissident’s suspicious death. In an interview, she said fellow Catholics in Russia had long feared Navalny’s end was being “brought closer” by his harsh detention conditions, which included 27 punitive spells in solitary confinement over three years. She added that some Church members had defied police pressure and requested prayers in his memory, while grieving his death as “a pain and tragedy, and a loss of hope.” “Although not all Catholics agreed with everything he said and did during his short life, no one would deny his courage,” said the Catholic, a university lecturer who also works with Caritas. Navalny’s death at the strict-regime IK-3 arctic Siberian penal colony in Russia’s Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region, where he was serving a 19-year sentence, was reported Feb. 16 by the Tass Russian news agency, which said the Federal Penitentiary Service had attributed it to “sudden death syndrome.” Navalny’s mother was told she must wait at least 14 days to see the body of her son, and his wife, Yulia, said she would continue his fight against the Kremlin. Speaking Feb. 16 in Rome, the Vatican’s Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said news of Navalny’s death has caused “sadness” and surprised the Holy See, adding that he had personally hoped the opposition leader’s plight could be “resolved differently.” (OSV News)

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