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Nation and world briefs


Police execute search warrant at New Orleans Archdiocese for records on abuse handling

NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana State Police executed a search warrant on the Archdiocese of New Orleans April 25 for documents related to a widening investigation into how the archdiocese has handled allegations of clerical sex abuse. Trooper Jacob Pucheu, public information officer, stated that the search took place “during a meeting with representatives and counsel for the Archdiocese of New Orleans” and the state police’s special victims unit investigators. “The Archdiocese is actively cooperating with investigators and the terms of the search warrant,” said Pucheu. “This investigation remains ongoing, and there is no additional information available at this time.” The Archdiocese of New Orleans had been ordered by a New Orleans criminal court to turn over records on how it handled allegations of clerical sexual abuse over the past several decades, part of a long-running criminal investigation involving multiple accused priests. According to The Guardian, New Orleans Magistrate Juana M. Lombard signed off on the order April 22, allowing Louisiana State Police to obtain from the archdiocese files identifying all priests and permanent deacons who had been accused of sexually abusing minors. In addition, the archdiocese must account for the dates of initial complaints and specify whether any cases had been handed over to the police, said The Guardian. The search warrant expands an investigation into retired Msgr. Lawrence Hecker, who was indicted by a grand jury in September 2023 for crimes committed between 1975 and 1976. A spokesperson with the archdiocese wrote in an email that “as always, the Archdiocese will continue to cooperate in all law enforcement investigations.” (OSV News)

Abp. Blair of Hartford, Conn., retires, is succeeded by Abp. Coyne

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Leonard P. Blair of Hartford, Connecticut, who is automatically succeeded by Coadjutor Archbishop Christopher J. Coyne. Archbishop Blair is 75, the age at which canon law requires bishops to submit their resignation to the pope. Archbishop Coyne was named coadjutor by the pope June 26. He had headed the statewide Burlington Diocese since his installation Jan. 29, 2015. Before that, he was an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis from 2011 to 2015. The resignation and the coadjutor’s succession were publicized in Washington May 1 by Cardinal Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. (OSV News)


Ukrainian archbishop meets with military officials on missing priests, detained civilians

KYIV, Ukraine — The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church recently met with Ukrainian military officials to discuss a range of issues, including Russia’s detention of two Ukrainian Catholic priests whose fate remains unknown. Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk sat down with Dmytro Usov, secretary for Ukraine’s headquarters on the treatment of prisoners of war; members of Usov’s team; and Andriy Yusov, spokesman for Ukraine’s military intelligence. Also on hand was Father Oleksa Petriv, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church’s external relations department. Along with pastoral support for Ukraine’s armed forces, the meeting also focused on Russia’s extensive detention of Ukrainian civilians in occupied areas of Ukraine, especially clergy — among them, two Ukrainian Greek Catholic priests, Redemptorist Fathers Ivan Levitsky and Bohdan Geleta. Both have been in Russian captivity since November 2022 for refusing to leave their parishioners in Berdyansk, a city in the Zaporizhzhia region. Major Archbishop Shevchuk said shortly after their capture that information indicated the two priests were being subjected to torture. (OSV News)

Italian leader says pope will join discussion on AI

ROME — Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni announced that Pope Francis would participate in a G7 “outreach” discussion on artificial intelligence when the leaders of the world’s leading industrialized nations countries meet in southern Italy in mid-June. “This is the first time a Pontiff is participating in the work of the Group of Seven and this can only bring prestige to Italy and the entire @G7,” Meloni wrote on X (formerly Twitter) April 26 in a posting that included a video announcement. Meloni, U.S. President Joe Biden and the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom, along with top officials of the European Union are scheduled to meet June 13-15 at Borgo Egnazia in Puglia. Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office, confirmed Pope Francis’ intention to participate and said he believed the pope would attend the meeting, not just send a message. (CNS)

Kenyan archbishop appeals for humanitarian aid as floods devastate the country

NAIROBI, Kenya — Amid severe floods, a leading Catholic archbishop in Kenya appealed for humanitarian support to aid thousands of displaced people, as he expressed the Church’s closeness to the affected populations. By April 29, rescue operations were continuing as the death toll surpassed 120 people due to excessive rains and floods linked to the continuing El Nino phenomenon in East Africa. El Nino is a naturally occurring climate phenomenon that starts with unusually warm water in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific and then changes weather worldwide. Floodwaters have submerged homes and public installations, and bursting rivers have swept into villages, making roads temporary riverbeds over the last several weeks. Many roads have been cut off as dams burst due to the heavy rains that began in mid-March. On April 29, a dam collapsed in western Kenya, killing at least 45 people, including 17 children. “We want to be very close to you as you go through the pain of loss and as you feel the weight of these floods,” Archbishop Anthony Muheria of Nyeri said in a recorded appeal April 28, delivered in Swahili. (OSV News)

Mexican bishop who negotiates with drug cartels hospitalized after brief abduction

CUERNAVACA, Mexico — A retired Mexican bishop known for brokering deals with drug cartel bosses was located in a hospital bed after being incommunicado for two days, though local officials say he was briefly abducted in an “express kidnapping” by unknown assailants. Retired Bishop Salvador Rangel Mendoza of Chilpancingo-Chilapa was reported missing April 29, sparking an outpouring of concern amid widespread violence in Mexico. The bishop has long been famous for trying to diminish violence in the southern state of Guerrero — which includes his former diocese — through dialogue with crime bosses and more recently helping to negotiate a peace pact between rival drug cartels. The Mexican bishops’ conference said in an April 29 statement that Bishop Rangel was hospitalized in the city of Cuernavaca, where he has resided since resigning as bishop of Chilpancingo-Chilapa in early 2022. The conference provided no details on Bishop Rangel’s condition or the circumstances of his disappearance. Morelos state prosecutor Uriel Carmona showed reporters a cellular phone picture of Bishop Rangel lying in a hospital bed and said officials were investigating an “express kidnapping,” in which victims are briefly abducted and robbed. (OSV News)

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