February 8, 2022 // National

News Briefs: February 13, 2022

Pakistan’s first ‘servant of God’ is 20-year-old killed by suicide bomber

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Akash Bashir, a 20-year-old volunteer security guard who was killed by a suicide bomber in 2015, is the first Pakistani to be given the title, “servant of God,” an initial step on the path to sainthood. Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore, Pakistan, informed Catholics of his archdiocese that Pope Francis had granted the title to Bashir on Jan. 31, the feast of St. John Bosco. “We praise and thank God for this brave young man, who could have escaped or tried to save himself, but he remained steadfast in his faith and did not let the suicide bomber enter the church. He gave his life to save more than a thousand people present in the church for Sunday Mass,” the archbishop said, according to Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Bashir had studied at the Don Bosco Technical Institute in Lahore and was one of the parishioners of the Church of St. John who volunteered to provide security outside the church. “Akash was on duty at the church entrance gate on March 15, 2015, when he spotted a man who wanted to enter the church with an explosive belt on his body,” Fides said. “Akash blocked him at the entrance gate, foiling the terrorist’s plan to massacre those inside the church.”

Now or never: People must overcome challenges together, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The time has come to live in a spirit of fraternity and build a culture of peace, sustainable development, tolerance, inclusion, mutual understanding and solidarity, Pope Francis said. “Now is not a time for indifference: either we are brothers and sisters or everything falls apart,” he said in a video message marking the International Day of Human Fraternity on Feb. 4. The international celebration is a U.N.-declared observation to promote interreligious dialogue and friendship on the anniversary of the document on human fraternity signed in Abu Dhabi in 2019 by Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of Al-Azhar in Egypt. The pope, the sheikh and U.S. President Joe Biden all issued messages for the commemoration. “Fraternity is one of the fundamental and universal values that ought to undergird relationships between peoples, so that the suffering or disadvantaged do not feel excluded and forgotten but accepted and supported as part of the one human family. We are brothers and sisters,” the pope said in Italian in his video message.

Survey finds path to U.S. citizenship for migrants has majority support

WASHINGTON (CNS) – Though immigration remains a polemic topic in political circles, just 44% of Americans recently surveyed by the Public Religion Research Institute said it was a “critical issue” in the U.S. A majority favored a path to citizenship for those who are in the country without legal permission. By and large, Americans had a positive view of immigrants, saying they strengthen the country, with a minority seeing immigrants as a burden to the U.S., the survey found. Those were among findings released Feb. 3 by PRRI from a survey examining American perspectives on immigration policy. The survey, conducted online between Sept. 16 and 29, interviewed a representative sample of 2,508 adults age 18 and up living in all 50 states in the U.S. It focused on welcoming views about immigration to the U.S. and whether it’s a critical issue at all. The survey looked at how political affiliation, the kind of media some respondents digested, race and sometimes age affected the answers given. It also asked questions about whether respondents viewed immigration favorably or otherwise. A majority of Americans “support offering immigrants living in the U.S. illegally a way to become citizens, provided they meet certain requirements” and nearly two-thirds support “allowing immigrants brought illegally to the U.S.” as children to gain legal resident status.

Phoenix pastor resigns after diocese learns he performed invalid baptisms

PHOENIX (CNS) – Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix said baptisms performed by a priest during years of ministry in the diocese are invalid, leading to the resignation of the clergyman on Feb. 1. In a Jan. 14 letter to the diocese, Bishop Olmsted said diocesan officials learned from the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that the baptisms were invalid because of the form used during the ritual by Father Andres Arango. “Specifically, it was reported to me that Father Andres used the formula ‘We baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’ The key phrase in question is the use of ‘We baptize’ in place of ‘I baptize,’” Bishop Olmsted wrote. “The issue with using ‘We’ is that it is not the community that baptizes a person, rather, it is Christ, and Him alone, who presides at all of the sacraments, and so it is Christ Jesus who baptizes,” the bishop’s letter said. The use of the improper form led Father Arango to resign as pastor of St. Gregory Parish in Phoenix. Bishop Olmsted said Father Arango remains a priest in good standing in the diocese and that he would be helping the diocese identify and contact people whose baptisms are invalid.

School ‘Bus’: NFL Hall of Famer Bettis goes back to Notre Dame for degree

NOTRE DAME, Ind. (CNS) – Jerome Bettis, in his football days, got the nickname “The Bus” because he was carrying would-be tacklers along with him during his punishing runs from scrimmage. Today, what Bettis is carrying is a full load of classes at the University of Notre Dame, as he strives to finish what he started in his college days more than 30 years ago – a bachelor’s degree in business. Bettis, now 49, is on track to graduate this spring and get that coveted Notre Dame diploma. If he does, the Pro Football Hall of Famer will have made good on a promise to his mother, Gladys – you may remember their Campbell’s Chunky Soup commercial from 20 years ago – that he would get his sheepskin. “I promised my mother that I would get my degree,” he said. “In my immediate family, I’ll be the first person to graduate from college,” Bettis told NBC’s “Today” show on Jan. 28. “But most importantly, I have two children. For them to see dad finish a commitment that he set out some 27 years ago, for me to complete that, I think it says a lot to them.” And at commencement exercises in May, Bettis getting a diploma means that all 21 Notre Dame football recruits from 1990 will have graduated.

Tributes mark life, legacy of late Catholic philosopher, professor, author

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CNS) – When Alice von Hildebrand wasn’t promoting her late husband’s work, the Catholic philosopher, professor and author spent most of her life “reminding women of the privilege of femininity and the gift of motherhood,” said Rachel Bulman, a blogger and popular speaker. She made the comments in a Jan. 28 appreciation she wrote on the life and work of von Hildebrand, who died peacefully at home in New Rochelle on Jan. 14. She was 98. “Alice invited women to be women, to have their power rooted in their own femininity. She believed that women could be receptive, nurturing, demure, and empathetic while also wielding the dynamism of intellect and culture,” said Bulman in an essay posted on the website wordonfire.org. Her article was among many tributes pouring in after von Hildebrand’s death. Her funeral Mass was celebrated on Jan. 22 at her parish church, Holy Family in New Rochelle. She was the wife of Dietrich von Hildebrand, a German-born Catholic philosopher and religious writer. After his death in 1977, she saw her primary mission as preserving his legacy. Alice von Hildebrand taught at Hunter College in New York City from 1947 to 1984. In retirement, she went on the lecture circuit, speaking in 35 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and in many countries in South America and in Europe. She was the author of numerous books and articles.

Demonstrators rally outside the Chinese consulate in Los Angeles ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics Feb. 3, 2022, to protest the Chinese government’s human rights record. (CNS photo/Ringo Chiu, Reuters)

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