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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Father Greg Boyle among Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients

WASHINGTON — Father Greg Boyle, a Jesuit Catholic priest who is the founder and director of Homeboy Industries, was among 19 Americans awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, on May 3. The White House said the award is given to “individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors.” In comments at a ceremony to award the medals, President Joe Biden said Father Boyle “changed countless lives” through his former gang member rehabilitation ministry. Father Boyle established Homeboy Industries in 1992 to improve the lives of former gang members. The organization has evolved into the largest gang intervention, rehab and reentry program in the world. (OSV News)

Pope Francis names new bishops for Knoxville, Tenn., and Burlington, Vt.

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Father James M. Beckman, a priest of the Diocese of Nashville, Tennessee, to be the bishop of the Diocese of Knoxville, Tennessee. Bishop-designate Beckman, 61, is currently pastor of St. Henry Parish in Nashville. A Tennessee native, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1990. The appointment was publicized in Washington May 7 by Cardinal Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. Bishop-designate Beckman succeeds Bishop Richard F. Stika, who resigned June 27 and said he has “been dealing with life-threatening health issues most of his adult life” including Type-1 diabetes since 1980. After Bishop Stika’s resignation, Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre of Louisville, Kentucky, was named apostolic administrator of the Knoxville Diocese and will continue in that role until Bishop-designate Beckman’s episcopal ordination in late July, according to a diocesan news release.

Pope Francis has also appointed Msgr. John J. McDermott to be the bishop of Burlington, Vermont. Bishop-designate McDermott, a priest of the Diocese of Burlington, currently serves as the diocesan administrator. He was elected to the post in October 2023 following the appointment of then-Bishop Christopher J. Coyne as coadjutor archbishop of Hartford, Connecticut, June 26. The appointment was publicized in Washington May 6 by Cardinal Pierre. (OSV News)

WORLD

Abp. Shevchuk: Russian rededication of Catholic church for Orthodox faith a ‘sacrilege’

KYIV — The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has denounced Russia’s seizure of a Catholic church in Ukraine’s Kherson region, calling the structure’s rededication for the Russian Orthodox Church a “sacrilege.” The Church of St. Archstrategist Michael, located in the village of Oleksandrivka in the occupied Kherson region, was captured and joined to the ROC during Holy Week of the Julian calendar, said Major Archbishop Sviatslav Shevchuk in a May 2 homily at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection in Kyiv. The archbishop said that images of the confiscated church — which honors the archangel’s role as leader of the heavenly host — evoked “the words of the prophet Elijah, who cried out to the Lord, saying: ‘Lord, your prophets were killed, your altars were destroyed. I am left alone, and my life is being sought’” (1 Kings 19:14). Construction on the church began in 2017, some 11 years after the formerly Orthodox parish was officially received into the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. The seizure is part of a steady campaign by Russia to suppress the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, along with Catholicism in general and other faiths, in occupied areas of Ukraine. (OSV News)

Jordan’s king promises pope Christian holy sites will be protected

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis received assurances from Jordan’s King Abdullah II that Christian and Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem will be protected amid the Israel-Hamas war. The pope met with the king of Jordan — the Middle Eastern country that has the longest border with Israel — for 20 minutes at the Vatican May 2. King Abdullah told the pope that Jordan “will continue undertaking its religious and historical role in safeguarding holy sites in Jerusalem, under the Hashemite Custodianship,” the court of the royal family said in a post on X (formerly Twitter). Established in 1924, the custodianship refers to the role of the Hashemite royal family of Jordan in protecting the Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem. The king also stressed the need to stop settler attacks against Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank, the post continued, and also warned “of the consequences of continued Israeli violations of holy sites in Jerusalem.” King Abdullah also stressed Jordan’s commitment to safeguarding Christian holy sites in Jordan, particularly the baptism site of Jesus, “Bethany Beyond the Jordan,” the X post added. (CNS)

Vatican to update norms for investigating alleged apparitions

VATICAN CITY — The Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith will publish its new norms for the discernment of apparitions and other supernatural phenomena May 17, the Vatican press office said. Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, prefect of the dicastery, and Msgr. Armando Matteo, secretary of the doctrinal section of the dicastery, will present the document at a news conference, the press office announced May 7. The last time the Vatican’s doctrinal office issued norms for evaluating alleged apparitions and reports of supernatural events was in February 1978. At the time, the prefect, Cardinal Franjo Seper, said the norms were necessary given how news of alleged apparitions spreads rapidly thanks to the mass media. “Moreover, the ease of going from one place to another fosters frequent pilgrimages, so that Ecclesiastical Authority should discern quickly about the merits of such matters,” he wrote. (CNS)

Catholics, Buddhists must work for peace, Vatican officials say

VATICAN CITY — Catholics and Buddhists abhor war, but the increasing number of armed conflicts in the world show a need for believers to take practical steps to overcome hatred and to promote reconciliation, said officials of the Vatican Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue. Writing to Buddhists around the world preparing to celebrate Vesak, which commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha, dicastery officials said, “The continuing escalation of conflicts worldwide calls for renewed attention to the critical issue of peace and deeper reflection on our own role in overcoming the obstacles standing in the way of its growth.” The Vesak message, signed by Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, dicastery prefect, and Msgr. Indunil Janakaratne Kankanamalage, secretary, was released by the Vatican May 6. Most Buddhists will celebrate Vesak May 23 this year. (CNS)

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