March 26, 2024 // National

News Briefs: March 31, 2024

U.S. Bishops Ask Faithful to Pray for End to Israel-Hamas war

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) – The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace called upon the faithful to renew prayers during Holy Week for an end to the Israel-Hamas war. “As the Church enters Holy Week and Christ’s suffering on the cross and His resurrection are made present to us so vividly, we are connected to the very source of hope. It is that hope that spurs us to call on Catholics here in the United States and all those of goodwill to renew their prayers for an end to the raging Israel-Hamas war,” wrote USCCB President Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services USA and Bishop A. Elias Zaidan of the Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon, Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, in a March 23 statement. “To move forward, a cease fire and a permanent cessation of war and violence is absolutely necessary. To move forward, those held hostage must be released and civilians must be protected. To move forward, humanitarian aid must reach those who are in such dire need,” they wrote.

Russian, Ukrainian Church Leaders React to Moscow Terror Attack

MOSCOW (OSV News) – Russia’s Catholic archbishop has echoed condemnations of a March 22 terror assault that left dozens dead and injured at a Moscow concert venue, although a bishop from war-torn Ukraine warned the atrocity should also remind Russians of what his country was suffering at their hands. “Our hearts are filled with horror and pain – but we … (should) not forget our lives are in God’s hands,” said Archbishop Paolo Pezzi, who heads the Moscow-based Mother of God archdiocese. “Trusting in Him, I ask you to pray for the salvation of all whose lives are still in danger, peace for the dead, help and healing for the injured, and courage and patience for all called to help them.” The archbishop issued the statement on Saturday, March 23, following an overnight attack by gunmen on the Crocus concert hall in the capital’s Krasnogorsk suburb, which claimed more than 130 lives and an additional 100 injured. However, a Ukrainian bishop said he feared the attack would also serve as a “great provocation,” enabling Vladimir Putin’s government to “inflame international opinion” and “justify the terrible acts” committed against his country.

Study Finds Abortions Soar Post-Dobbs

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) – A recent study from the Guttmacher Institute, an organization that supports abortion access, found that the number of abortions in 2023 – the first full year since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade – increased to the highest number and rate in the United States in more than a decade. In response to this study, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, Chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Pro-Life Activities Committee, told OSV News that pro-lifers need to be “proactive” and “visible” to women seeking abortion and “show our radical solidarity so that we also transform hearts.” Bishop Burbidge called prayer in this matter “critically important,” saying the abortion pill not only kills a child in the womb, but that “we’ve heard from women how extremely upsetting and violent and painful” the experience is.

Pope Urges the Church to See the Face of Christ in Migrants

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The Catholic Church can draw closer to Jesus by accompanying migrants in their pursuit of a better life, Pope Francis said. In the faces of migrants, the Church “discovers the face of Christ,” he wrote, and like St. Veronica, who offered a cloth to wipe Jesus’ face during His passion, the Church “brings relief and hope on the ‘Way of the Cross’ of migration.” The pope wrote his comments in a letter dated Thursday, March 21, to participants at a meeting between bishops, Church officials, and migrants in Lajas Blancas, Panama, to discuss accompanying migrants. Migrant brothers and sisters “represent the suffering flesh of Christ” since they are “forced to leave their land, to face the risks and tribulations of a hard road without finding another way out,” Pope Francis wrote in his message to the group. Bishops and other members of the Church who support migrants “are the face of a mother Church that walks with her sons and daughters,” he wrote.

Five U.S. Priests Tapped to Share Insights for the Synod

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) – Five U.S. priests will travel to Rome in April to share their experiences of parish life with the ongoing Synod of Bishops on synodality. The group – selected by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as part of a 300-member worldwide delegation – also will speak with Pope Francis during the April 28-May 2 meeting. OSV News has learned that the five U.S. priests selected are Father Artur Bubnevych, Pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Byzantine Catholic Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Father Joseph Friend, Pastoral Administrator of three Arkansas parishes; Father Donald Planty, Pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Arlington, Virginia; Father Luis Navarro, Pastor of St. George Parish in Stockton, California; and Father Bill Swichtenberg, Pastor of St. Mary Catholic Community in Appleton, Wisconsin. The five will share their pastoral perspectives for consideration by the second synod assembly, which is scheduled to take place this October.

Wisconsin Bishop Resigns; Detroit Auxiliary Named Successor

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) – Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop William P. Callahan, 73, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, for health reasons, and has appointed Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Gerard W. Battersby as his successor. The resignation and appointment were publicized in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, March 19, by Cardinal Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States. Bishop Battersby, a Detroit native, was named a Detroit auxiliary in 2016. He will be installed as the 11th bishop of La Crosse on Monday, May 20, at the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman in La Crosse. Bishop Callahan has headed the west-central Wisconsin diocese for 14 years. He is two years shy of the age canon law requires bishops to submit their resignation to the pope. In a statement, Bishop Battersby said he received the news of his appointment “with joy.” He said, “The Risen One has bid me to follow Him to western Wisconsin, to the banks of the Mighty Mississippi. I leave with hope and anticipatory joy.”

Altar servers process during Palm Sunday Mass at Holy Family Church in Gaza City March 25, 2024. Over 500 Christians shelter in the parish amid the ongoing Hamas-Israel war. (OSV News photo/courtesy Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem)

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