January 26, 2023 // National

News Briefs: January 29, 2023

Vatican Funding for Charitable Works Totals $10.7 Million in 2022; $2.2 Million Alone Goes to Needs in Ukraine

ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine (OSV News) — The Vatican Dicastery for the Service of Charity, led by Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, spent $2.2 million in 2022 for humanitarian help in Ukraine. “Another 2 million (euros) is waiting in reserves for that purpose, since the war is still going on, and people are a bit more tired with providing help in any long-term conflict,” said Cardinal Krajewski, the Papal Almoner. The Vatican funds have been used for food, arts and language classes for children affected by war, and diesel to run power generators. Another $8.5 million worth of help — either in supplies or money — was distributed by the Dicastery for the Service of Charity in 2022 for medical supplies, food, sanitation, and lodging for people in need around the globe. With $2.2 million distributed in Ukraine, distributions total $10.7 million for charitable help in 2022.

Scottish Church Condemns Government’s ‘Gender Obsession’ after Rare Reform Veto

EDINBURGH, Scotland (OSV News) — A spokesman for Scotland’s Catholic Church has welcomed the British government’s veto of legislation allowing teenagers to change their sex on legal documents via a simple self-declaration, and criticized Scottish politicians’ “obsession with gender politics.” “We didn’t support this bill, and we were against clauses which have now been questioned by the UK government,” said Peter Kearney, Director of the Church’s Catholic Media Office. “There’s no reason to think Catholics in Scotland don’t share the opinion of the wider public, most of whom are uncomfortable and unhappy with the measure. The fact it’s been stopped, no matter by whom, is something the majority will welcome.” In a Jan. 18 interview with OSVNews, he said surveys suggested most Scots opposed the bill, which would also reduce the waiting time for a gender change from two years to three months, and would lose interest as it became mired in rival court actions. The bill, passed in the Edinburgh parliament on Dec. 22 by 89 votes to 39, allows Scottish residents to change their legal sex from age 16, without consulting a doctor or obtaining a gender dysphoria diagnosis, through a Gender Recognition Certificate overriding the sex recorded on birth and marriage documents.

Ukrainian Archbishop, Ukraine’s First Lady Discuss War, Trauma, Forgiveness During World Economic Forum

DAVOS, Switzerland (OSV News) — At the World Economic Forum, Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska and Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop Borys Gudziak of Philadelphia discussed the physical, psychological, and emotional trauma of war, forgiveness, and their dreams for Ukraine’s future. The panel discussion with Archbishop Gudziak was hosted by Ukraine House Davos in collaboration with the Jan. 17 “Ukraine Is You” project. Zelenska explained the war is teaching Ukrainians to value every life, because “tomorrow we might lose our nearest and dearest, so we must give them our care and love today.” Archbishop Borys Gudziak said Ukraine’s courage and resilience are rooted in and inspired by Catholic social teaching. He hoped Russians will renounce imperialism and understand soon that “the God-given dignity of Ukrainians is something they will defend to the last drop of blood.”

Experts: Mental Health Ministry a Dire Need Across the U.S. Church

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) — During the six months following the national 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline launch in July, more than two million calls, texts, and chat messages have streamed into its 200 call centers coast-to-coast, the Associated Press recently reported. As suicide continues to be a leading cause of American deaths, Catholics may also turn to their church for spiritual support in the midst of a mental health episode — but dioceses are discovering they need to sprint to catch up and keep pace with this deadly epidemic. According to The Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers, mental health ministry is a needed complement to the work of mental health professionals. Already 40 out of 196 U.S. dioceses have a mental health ministry. “This is a brand-new ministry in the church,” Deacon Ed Shoener, President and Founding Member of The Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers, told OSV News. “And I think it’s growing fairly rapidly for a new ministry like this, in a very ancient institution.”

Long Homilies Are ‘A Disaster,’ Keep It Under 10 Minutes, Pope Says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Lengthy, abstract homilies are “a disaster,” so preaching should be limited to 10 minutes, Pope Francis said. Speaking off the cuff to diocesan liturgical directors on Jan. 20, the pope said homilies are not academic conferences. “I sometimes hear people say, ‘I went to this parish, and yes it was a good philosophy lesson, 40, 45 minutes,’” he said. Pope Francis encouraged priests to keep their homilies to “no more than eight to 10 minutes” and always include in them “a thought, a feeling, and an image,” so that “the people may bring something home with them.” Homilies are “sacramentals” to be “prepared in prayer” and “with an apostolic spirit,” he said. But, in the Catholic Church, he said, “in general, the homilies are a disaster.” The liturgical directors were in Rome to participate in a formation course on liturgy, “Living Liturgical Action Fully,” at the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy. Pope Francis also warned against the liturgical master of ceremonies assuming too central a role during Mass. “The more hidden a master of ceremonies is, the better,” he said. “It is Christ that makes the heart vibrate, it is the meeting with Him that draws in the spirit.” Beyond a “deep knowledge” of religious celebrations, the pope said that experts on liturgy must have a strong pastoral sense to improve a community’s liturgical life, and that religious celebrations must foster the “fruitful participation of the people of God” and not just of the clergy.

At American Indian Catholic Schools, Faith and Culture Unite to Help Students ‘Be Like Jesus’

WINNEBAGO, Neb. (OSV News) — Throughout the past several decades, Catholic faith and Indigenous cultures have become deeply intertwined at American Indian Catholic schools in the U.S. While such schools were often initially founded in the 19th and 20th centuries to both convert and colonize — St. John Paul II and his successors have condemned the colonizing of peoples as incompatible with the church’s evangelizing mission — greater integration of Native culture and leadership is forging a new identity for these schools. As the Catholic Church moves into “an era of accountability” for past abuses in educating Indigenous peoples, Native educational leaders such as Deacon Don Blackbird, Principal of St. Augustine Indian Mission in Winnebago, Nebraska, remain committed to a bright vision for their schools’ future. “God reveals himself more fully in the beauty that is present in other cultures and languages,” Deacon Blackbird, a member of the Omaha Tribe, told OSV News. “That’s what Catholic education looks like here.”

Police officers guard the crime scene in Monterey Park, Calif., Jan 22, 2023, following a shooting that set off a manhunt for the suspect in the nation’s fifth mass killing this month. The shooting left at least at least 10 people dead, 10 others injured late Jan. 21, in a neighborhood where thousands attended festivities on eve of Lunar New Year. (OSV News photo/Mike Blake, Reuters)

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