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Nation and world briefs for Nov. 28

U.S.

Cardinal Dolan says Senate’s marriage bill threatens religious liberty

WASHINGTON — A bill on same-sex marriage advancing in the Senate is “a bad deal for the many courageous Americans of faith and no faith who continue to believe and uphold the truth about marriage in the public square today,” said New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan. “It is deeply concerning that the U.S. Senate has voted to proceed toward potential passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would essentially codify the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell (in 2015) that found a constitutional right to same-sex civil marriages,” the cardinal said Nov. 17. The Respect for Marriage Act “does not strike a balance that appropriately respects our nation’s commitment to the fundamental right of religious liberty,” said the cardinal, who is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty. The Senate advanced the measure with a 62-37 vote Nov. 16.

Maryland AG files motion to release sex abuse report covering 80 years

BALTIMORE — Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh filed a motion Nov. 17 to allow release of the office’s report of its investigation of child sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The investigation began in late 2018. Although the attorney general’s office has a policy of not confirming ongoing investigations, the archdiocese announced at that time that it was cooperating with the AG’s office. Frosh’s motion filed with the Circuit Court for Baltimore City said that at the request of his office, the grand jury issued a subpoena in January 2019 to the archdiocese for “all documents from the archdiocese from the last 80 years relating to allegations of sexual abuse and the response by the archdiocese to these allegations.” The motion said the forthcoming report identifies 115 priests who were prosecuted for sexual abuse and/or identified publicly by the archdiocese as having been “credibly accused” of sexual abuse, and an additional 43 priests accused of sexual abuse but not identified publicly by the archdiocese. The investigation identified more than 600 victims, the motion said.

Rockville Centre auxiliary is named coadjutor for Providence, R.I.

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Auxiliary Bishop Richard G. Henning of Rockville Centre, New York, as coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island. The pope also accepted the resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Robert C. Evans of Providence, who has served the diocese as an auxiliary since 2009. On Sept. 2, he turned 75, the age at which canon law requires bishops to submit their resignation to the pope. Bishop Henning, 58, has been a Rockville Centre auxiliary since 2018. A coadjutor automatically becomes head of the diocese upon the death or retirement of its bishop. The changes were announced Nov. 23 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican nuncio to the United States.

WORLD

Vatican will do whatever possible to broker cease-fire, pope says

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican is willing to do whatever it takes to broker a cease-fire and bring an end to the war in Ukraine, Pope Francis said. “We are continually watching as the situation evolves” concerning ways the Vatican’s diplomatic efforts could help, he said in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa. Vatican News published the interview Nov. 18. The Vatican Secretariat of State is working diligently every day, looking at every possibility and “giving weight to every opening that could lead to a real cease-fire and real negotiations,” he said. “The Holy See is willing to do everything possible to mediate and end the conflict in Ukraine. We are trying to develop a network of relationships that will foster a rapprochement between the parties, to find solutions. Also, the Holy See does what it must to help the prisoners,” he said, as well as provide humanitarian support. On Nov. 23, the pope rememebered the victims of Russia’s current aggression and the millions of victims of a Soviet-engineered famine 90 years ago. “Let us pray for peace in the world and an end to all conflicts, with a special thought for the terrible suffering of the dear and tormented Ukrainian people,” the pope said Nov. 23 at the end of his weekly general audience. He said, “Next Saturday (Nov. 26) is the anniversary of the terrible genocide of Holodomor, the extermination by starvation artificially caused by (Josef) Stalin in Ukraine in 1932-33. Let us pray for the victims of this genocide and pray for so many Ukrainians — children, women and the elderly, babies — who suffer the martyrdom of aggression today,” the pope said.

Before World Cup, Church leaders highlight human rights concerns in Qatar

OXFORD, England — European Church leaders have urged awareness of human rights issues during the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, amid continued criticism that the Gulf state was allowed to host the tournament. “Women continue to be held back in Qatar, while non-Islamic religions, including Christianity, are only granted limited freedom, and sexual minorities subjected to criminal prosecution. All of this expresses, not just from a Western viewpoint, a repressive state and social order,” said Bishop Stefan Oster of Passau, who heads Germany’s Catholic DJK Sportjugend sports association. The bishop issued the statement Nov. 17 as final preparations were made for the 2022 World Cup, Nov. 20-Dec. 18. The bishop said Qatar’s mostly foreign population was subject to “strict regulations,” while female domestic workers were often isolated and had trouble “upholding their rights against employers.” The situation had worsened, Bishop Oster said, during construction of stadiums and other sites for the World Cup. He said health and safety standards had been “catastrophic,” with “countless accidents and far too many deaths” among low-wage laborers.

Pope suspends Caritas Internationalis officers, appoints administrator

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has suspended the secretary-general and other top officers of Caritas Internationalis, appointing a temporary administrator to oversee improved management policies and to prepare for the election of new officers in May. Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, whose second term as Caritas president was to end in May, also loses his position, although he is to assist the temporary administrator in preparing for the future by taking “special care of relations with the local churches and the member organizations,” said the papal decree published Nov. 22. Caritas Internationalis is the umbrella organization for 162 official Catholic charities working in more than 200 countries; it includes the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities USA, along with others. Pope Francis appointed Pier Francesco Pinelli, a business management consultant, to oversee the Vatican-based offices of the general secretariat.

Pope taps layman as new secretary of Laity, Family, Life

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has named a Brazil-born husband, father of two children and teacher of religion in an Italian school to be the secretary of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life. The pope’s choice of Gleison De Paula Souza, who teaches in the southern Italian town of Galatina, was announced by the Vatican Nov. 17. He succeeds Schonstatt Father Alexandre Awi Mello, who was elected superior general of his order in August. Souza, 38, was born in Brazil’s Minas Gerais state. From 2005 to 2016, he was a member of the Sons of Divine Providence but left the community without being ordained to the priesthood. He holds a bachelor’s degree in theology from the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome and a master’s in philosophy from the University of Salento in Lecce.

— Catholic News Service

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