May 14, 2024 // National

News Briefs: May 19, 2024

Eucharistic Congress Includes Priest, Deacon Tracks

INDIANAPOLIS (OSV News) – A special track just for priests has been added to the schedule of the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis from July 17-21, with speakers including two bishops and prominent theologians. The 90-minute “impact session” titled “Abide: The Priest Experience” will be offered on days two, three, and four of the five-day congress. Speakers during the “Abide” sessions include: theologian Scott Hahn; Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, who is Chairman of the Board of the National Eucharistic Congress Inc.; Tim Glemkowski, CEO of National Eucharistic Congress Inc.; and Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas. Meanwhile, the congress will also include a luncheon series for permanent deacons featuring Deacon Dominic Cerrato, Deacon James Keating, Deacon Omar Gutiérrez, and Deacon Joseph Michalak. The congress is the pinnacle of the National Eucharistic Revival, a three-year initiative of the U.S. bishops to deepen understanding and love for Jesus in the Eucharist. For more information, and to register, visit

Chicago Priest Apologizes for Approach to Same-Sex Blessing

CHICAGO (OSV News) – A Chicago priest has issued an apology for performing a blessing of a same-sex couple, which was filmed and posted on social media. Vincentian Father Joseph S. Williams, Pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Chicago, said in a May 8 statement, released by officials with the Vincentians’ Western Province, that he was “deeply sorry for any confusion and/or anger that this has caused, particularly for the People of God.” In April, Father Williams had blessed a same-sex union between Methodist minister Kelli Knight and her partner, Myah, before the altar at St. Vincent, with the pair in formal attire and appearing to exchange a renewal of vows. Knight afterwards posted a brief video and photographs of the blessing April 22 on her Instagram account. “The shape that the blessing took as portrayed in the video came about due to my attempt to provide for them a meaningful moment of God’s grace,” Father Williams stated, adding he later realized he had “made a very poor decision in the words and visuals.” Officials with the province said Father Williams viewed the event as a “valuable learning experience.”

Pope Again Calls for Prisoner Exchange Between Russia, Ukraine

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis reiterated the Vatican’s willingness to aid in a comprehensive prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine. “I renew my appeal for a general exchange of all the prisoners between Russia and Ukraine, assuring the willingness of the Holy See to favor any effort in this regard, especially for those who are gravely injured and ill,” he said after praying the Regina Coeli in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, May 12. In February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said more than 3,000 Ukrainian prisoners of war had been freed from Russian captivity, and the United Arab Emirates mediated an exchange of 100 prisoners between Russia and Ukraine that same month. The pope also appealed for prayers for peace in Ukraine, Palestine, Israel, and Myanmar in remarks to people gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Court: Catholic School Has Right to Employ Teachers Who Uphold Church Teaching

RICHMOND, Virginia (OSV News) – A federal appeals court on Wednesday, May 8, ruled in favor of the Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, protecting religious schools’ freedom to hire teachers who will uphold their religious beliefs. In Billard v. Diocese of Charlotte, a former substitute teacher sued Charlotte Catholic High School and the diocese for not calling him back to work as a substitute teacher after he entered a same-sex union and posted about it on Facebook. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond, Virginia, overturned a lower court ruling and reaffirmed the school’s freedom to employ teachers who will uphold the faith. “This is a victory for people of all faiths who cherish the freedom to pass on their faith to the next generation,” said Luke Goodrich, Vice President and Senior Counsel at Becket, a nonprofit law firm specializing in religious liberty, which represents the diocese pro-bono in the case. “The Supreme Court has been crystal clear on this issue: Catholic schools have the freedom to choose teachers who fully support Catholic teaching.”

Gunman Disrupts Louisiana First Communion Mass

ABBEVILLE, Louisiana (OSV News) – A first Communion Mass at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in Abbeville, Louisiana, was disrupted on Saturday, May 11, after a teenager attempted to enter the church with a rifle. Parishioners prevented the young man from entering the parish where 60 children were preparing to receive their first Communion. Police took the suspect into custody, and moments of chaos were caught on the church’s live stream as they swept the premises to see if other threats were present. Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel of Lafayette commented on the incident, saying, “We are thankful to God that a tragedy was avoided at the first Communion Mass for the children of St. Mary Magdalen in Abbeville. The quick response of the Abbeville Police Department and alert parishioners is a great example of caring for the most vulnerable in our community. Let us pray for an end to all threats of violence to innocent human life.”

Pope: Greed, Not too Many Babies, Lead to World’s Ills

ROME (CNS) – Blind, unbridled consumerism and selfishness – not the number of people on the planet and having children – are the root causes of the world’s problems, Pope Francis said. The reasons for pollution and world hunger, for example, are not based on the number of children being born, but on “the choices of those who think only of themselves, the delusion of unbridled, blind, and rampant materialism, of a consumerism that, like an evil virus, erodes at the root the existence of people and society,” he said. “Human life is not a problem, it is a gift. … The problem is not how many of us there are in the world, but what kind of world we are building.” Pope Francis made his remarks at a meeting in Rome on Friday, May 10, on Italy’s longtime decline in births and population growth. “Serious and effective family-friendly choices” need to be made, he said. For example, women should never be put in a position where they have to choose between work and child care, and young people should not carry the paralyzing burden of job insecurity and the inability to buy a home.

Worshippers hold candles May 12, 2024, at the Marian shrine of Fatima in central Portugal. Thousands of pilgrims arrived at the shrine to attend the 107th anniversary of the first apparition of Mary to three shepherd children May 13, 1917. (OSV News photo/Maria Abranches, Reuters)

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