November 15, 2023 // National

News Briefs: November 19, 2023

Pope Joins Knights, Dames of Holy Sepulchre in Praying for Peace

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis joined leaders of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in praying for peace in Israel and Palestine, “sharing the great sorrow of the Mother Church of Jerusalem. We are sadly witnessing a tragedy unfolding in the very places where the Lord lived, where he taught us through his humanity to love, to forgive, and to do good to all,” the pope said on Thursday, November 9. “And, instead, we see them torn apart by tremendous suffering that is striking the innocent most of all, so many innocent people dead.” The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem was established by the pope in the late 1800s to support the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem with prayers, financial assistance, and regular pilgrimages. The central leadership of the order, the heads of its regional lieutenancies, and the bishops who assist as grand priors of the lieutenancies were in Rome November 6-10 for their “consulta” or general assembly. The focus of the meeting was to be on the education and formation of members, but it included regular updates and discussions about the ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas and its impact on the local Catholic community. In September, the order’s North Central Lieutenancy held its annual Investiture ceremony in Fort Wayne.

Doctrinal Dicastery says Transsexuals Can Be Baptized

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – If it would not cause scandal or confusion among other Catholics, “a transsexual – even one who has undergone hormone treatment and gender reassignment surgery – may receive baptism under the same conditions as other faithful,” said a document from officials with the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. The document, signed on Tuesday, October 31, by Pope Francis and by Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, was posted on the dicastery’s website on Wednesday, November 8. A note published with it said the document was a response to a letter submitted in July by Bishop José Negri of Santo Amaro, Brazil, “containing some questions about the possible participation in baptism and weddings by transexual persons and homo-affective persons.” The questions about weddings involved whether transexual or other LGBTQ+ persons could be witnesses at a Catholic wedding. The response to both questions was that “there is nothing in current universal canonical legislation that prohibits” either from serving as a witness at a Catholic marriage. Responses to the questions about baptism were longer, more nuanced, and urged pastoral prudence to minister to the people in question, safeguard the sacrament, and prevent scandal.

Study: Younger U.S. Priests Likely to Identify as Theologically Conservative

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) – A closer look at the largest survey of U.S. Catholic priests in 50 years has revealed “a major shift in how priests view themselves and their priesthood,” researchers with The Catholic Project stated. Compared to their older peers, younger priests are far more likely to describe themselves as theologically orthodox or conservative, politically conservative or moderate, and prepared to be “first responders” to the abuse victims they encounter in their ministry. The findings were detailed in “Polarization, Generational Dynamics, and the Ongoing Impact of the Abuse Crisis: Further Insights from the National Study of Catholic Priests,” a November 2023 report released by The Catholic Project, an initiative from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., designed to foster effective collaboration between the clergy and the laity of the Church in the wake of the sexual abuse crisis. According to the report, these trends have been decades in the making, and qualitative interviews with respondents pointed to “two watershed moments” that shape priests’ perception of themselves: the Second Vatican Council and the clergy sexual abuse crisis of 2002.

Mass Marks Founding of U.S.’s First Seminary for Black Seminarians

BAY ST. LOUIS, Mississippi (OSV News) – The first four African Americans to be ordained Catholic priests at St. Augustine Seminary in 1934 “stood tall in the midst of segregated times,” said retired Bishop J. Terry Steib of Memphis, Tennessee. “They were the men who stood tall, who served the Lord in some trying times. These are men who are role models for us,” the bishop said at a recent Mass celebrated to mark the centennial of the founding of the first seminary in the U.S. to train Black men for the priesthood. Between its inception and closure in 1968, the seminary produced numerous priests, nine of whom later became bishops, including Bishop Steib, the principal celebrant of the centennial Mass on Sunday, October 29, on the seminary grounds. In the Church’s history among Black people in the United States, the opening day of “the first seminary for young men of their race with a vocation to the priesthood … will be long remembered as an epoch-making forward step,” Bishop Steib said.

Pope: No War Is Worth Loss of Even One Life

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – While nations have a right to defend themselves and a responsibility to protect their citizens, “no war is worth the loss of the life of even one human person, a sacred being created in the image and likeness of the Creator,” said a papal message to the Paris Peace Forum. “No war is worth the tears of a mother who has seen her child mutilated or killed,” the message said. “No war is worth the poisoning of our common home.” Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Apostolic Nuncio to France, read the message on Friday, November 10, the first day of the two-day forum of government, business, and civic leaders discussing the theme, “Seeking Common Ground in a World of Rivalry.” “At a time when we are helplessly witnessing the multiplication of armed conflicts, with their attendant suffering, injustice, and sometimes irreversible damage to our common home, the pope wishes for this forum to be a sign of hope,” said the message, which was signed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State.

Bishop Condemns ‘Heinous’ Killings

YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon (OSV News) – The bishop of Mamfe in Cameroon’s volatile South West region has strongly condemned the “massacre” that took place on Monday, November 6, in Egbekaw village in his diocese that left at least 20 people dead and several others injured. “Up till this moment, we cannot find any reasons to justify this heinous act,” Bishop Aloysius Fondong Abangalo of Mamfe explained. The attack was carried out by gunmen suspected of being separatist fighters. “It was a very horrible incident that started around 3 a.m. when we started hearing threatening voices,” said Enu Hannibal, a security officer working for Caritas Mamfe. “They started knocking on people’s doors threatening to kill all of them. Those who opened their doors were killed. Those who didn’t open their doors, the assailants forced them open, and shot them. People’s houses were also burnt, and we later on discovered charred bodies in those burnt houses. Some were raped before being killed. Even children were killed. I was a witness to what happened,” he told OSV News.

Supreme Knight Patrick E. Kelly, center, presents a $10,000 check to representatives of St. James Catholic School in Denver during a Nov. 6, 2023, ceremony at Annunciation Catholic School, also in Denver. An Annunciation student received the 1 millionth coat given away in the Knights’ Coats for Kids program since it was launched in 2009. The Knights distributed nearly 1,000 new coats to underprivileged children at Annunciation, St. James and three other Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Denver and gave each of the five schools $10,000 during the Nov. 6 ceremony. (OSV News photo/Paul Haring, Knights of Columbus)

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