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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Catholic community gathers in prayer, offers support to those affected by bridge collapse

BALTIMORE — Several hours after the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed into the Patapsco River March 26, more than 200 people, many of them still in a state of shock, gathered in prayer at a 5:30 p.m. Mass at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore. The bridge collapsed about 1:30 a.m. after a 900-foot container ship seemed to have problems with its power and collided into one of the bridge’s support pilings. Six construction workers who had been working on the bridge at the time of its collapse were missing and presumed dead. Two other construction workers were rescued, one of them hospitalized. There were also several cars that plunged into the river. In his homily at the somber liturgy, Archbishop William E. Lori encouraged prayers for those whose lives were lost, their survivors and all whose lives and livelihoods will be impacted by the collapse. He also encouraged the congregation to resolve to love those God has placed in their lives and to let them know how much they are loved. According to a March 26 statement from the Port of Baltimore, vessel traffic into and out of the port has been suspended until further notice. (OSV News)

U.S. bishops ask faithful to pray for end to Israel-Hamas war

WASHINGTON — The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace called upon the faithful to renew prayers during Holy Week for an end to the Israel-Hamas war. “As the Church enters Holy Week and Christ’s suffering on the cross and His resurrection are made present to us so vividly, we are connected to the very source of hope. It is that hope that spurs us to call on Catholics here in the United States and all those of good will to renew their prayers for an end to the raging Israel-Hamas war,” wrote USCCB President Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services USA and Bishop A. Elias Zaidan of the Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon, International Justice and Peace committee chairman, in a March 23 statement. “To move forward, a cease fire and a permanent cessation of war and violence is absolutely necessary. To move forward, those held hostage must be released and civilians must be protected. To move forward, humanitarian aid must reach those who are in such dire need,” they wrote. (OSV News)

WORLD

Darién jungle is migrants’ ‘via crucis,’ Pope Francis says

PANAMA CITY — As bishops from Colombia, Costa Rica and Panama visited two migrant camps on the northern edge of the Darien jungle, Pope Francis called the treacherous trek to a better life the migrant “via crucis.” The “human caravan passes through the Darién Gap, a jungle that is a triumph of nature, but which today has become a real via crucis,” the pontiff wrote in a March 19 message to the bishops as they met in Panama March 19-22. Pope Francis warned that the crisis in the Darién Gap “not only highlights the limits of migration governance in the Western hemisphere, but also feeds a thriving business that allows for the accumulation of illicit profits from human trafficking.” The region’s bishops called on governments in Latin America to “respect the fundamental rights” of migrants and refugees transiting through their territories as they head to the U.S. In a March 22 statement, they also said they will try to find ways for their dioceses to be closer to migrants and called on the nations where the migrants are headed to come up with public policies that “facilitate their economic, social and cultural integration, and knock down the legal and physical barriers” faced by millions of migrants and refugees. The apostolic nuncio to Panama, Archbishop Dagoberto Campos Salas, read a papal message to migrants: “Don’t forget about your human dignity.” (OSV News)

Pope dismisses abusive former Belgian bishop from clerical state

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has dismissed the former bishop of Bruges, Belgium, from the clerical state 14 years after Pope Benedict XVI accepted his resignation following his admission that he sexually abused his nephew. Roger Vangheluwe, 87, was informed March 20 by the apostolic nunciature in Brussels that Pope Francis had ordered his laicization effective March 21 after “serious new elements” in his case led the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith to review his file, Vatican News reported. After a new investigation, which included listening to the Belgian cleric’s defense, the dicastery presented the case to Pope Francis March 8 with the recommendation that he be removed from the clerical state. Pope Francis approved the recommendation during an audience March 11 with Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernández, dicastery prefect, Vatican News said. The Belgian Catholic website Kerknet.be reported that the nunciature’s announcement concluded by saying, “The Holy Father once again expresses his closeness with the victims of abuse and remains committed to eradicating this scourge in the Church.” (CNS)

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