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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

CARA report shows decline in parishes for several urban dioceses, amid general population growth

WASHINGTON — A new report shows the overall number of parishes in several U.S. dioceses has declined during the past 50 years, even as both the general population and the total Catholic population have grown — and the data points to shifts in where U.S. Catholics are now living. “Parish, Ecclesial and Socioeconomic Statistics for Eleven Dioceses between 1970 and 2020” was released April 4 by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in Washington. The 775-page report from CARA had been commissioned by the Cleveland, Ohio-based nonprofit FutureChurch, which had requested insights on trends within 11 largely urban Roman Catholic dioceses and archdioceses in the nation’s Northeast and Midwestern regions, including the Archdiocese of St. Louis. CARA’s executive director, Jesuit Father Thomas P. Gaunt, said the data aligns with his previous research on Catholic demographics in the U.S. While the nation’s South and West have experienced a boom in the number of Catholics, the Northeast and Midwest have had “a bust,” he and fellow researchers previously wrote in 2021. (OSV News)

Charlotte, N.C., bishop resigns for health reasons; Franciscan named as successor

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Peter J. Jugis, 67, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, and appointed Conventual Franciscan Father Michael T. Martin, 62, as his successor. Bishop Jugis, who has headed the diocese since 2003, is 67, eight years younger than the age at which canon law requires bishops to submit their resignation to the pope. A native of Charlotte, he was appointed the fourth bishop of the diocese by St. John Paul II on Aug. 1, 2003. He was ordained a bishop and installed as Charlotte’s shepherd on Oct. 24, 2003. Bishop-designate Martin, a Baltimore native, is a member of the Conventual Franciscan Province of Our Lady of the Angels and currently serves as pastor at St. Philip Benizi Church in Jonesboro, Georgia. The resignation and appointment were publicized in Washington on April 9 by Cardinal Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. Bishop Jugis submitted his request for retirement to Rome last June, saying a chronic but non-life-threatening kidney condition made it difficult for him to preside over lengthy liturgies and travel across the diocese’s 46 counties. (OSV News)

WORLD

Pontifical commission publishes universal safeguarding framework

VATICAN CITY — The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has reaffirmed the requirement that every diocese, Catholic religious order and institution in the world have clear safeguarding guidelines and procedures and that they are publicly accessible. The commission’s “Universal Guidelines Framework” also insists that “all reports of sexual abuse should be reported to the civil authorities” and that the local Church maintain evidence that they have cooperated with civil authorities in investigating and responding to the allegations. The pontifical commission began drafting the framework in 2022, invited comments on various drafts, including by members of the public through its website, and approved the framework for distribution during its plenary meeting March 5-8. (CNS)

Pope prays for those affected by Taiwan quake

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis expressed his closeness to and solidarity with all those affected by a deadly earthquake in Taiwan. His prayers were with all those who had died, “the injured and all those displaced, as well as for the emergency personnel engaged in recovery efforts,” said a telegram sent April 4 to Bishop John Baptist Lee Keh-mien of Hsinchu, president of the Chinese regional bishops’ conference of Taiwan. The telegram, written on the pope’s behalf, was signed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state. Taiwanese officials said at least nine people were killed and 1,067 injured after an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.4 struck the island of Taiwan on April 3 around 8 a.m. local time. Multiple aftershocks, including a 6.4 magnitude tremor, followed with more expected to hit in the coming days. Pope Francis was “deeply saddened” to learn of the loss of life and damage caused by the earthquake. (CNS)

Pope meets with family members of Hamas hostages

VATICAN CITY — Eight people united in their anguish carried into the papal library posters bearing the faces of their loved ones who are held in captivity by Hamas. The relatives of various Israeli hostages met with Pope Francis for just under an hour April 8, six months after the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas in which some 240 people were kidnapped and taken to Gaza. Vatican News reported that among those who met with the pope was Bezalel Shnaider, the aunt of Shiri Bibas — an Israeli mother taken hostage along with her two sons, 4-year-old Ariel and 9-month-old Kfir, the youngest hostage taken in the Oct. 7 attacks. In an edited video of the meeting posted on X by L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, Pope Francis touched his hand to a poster with images of the children to bless them. (CNS)

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