October 10, 2023 // National

News Briefs: October 15, 2023

U.S. Bishops, Pope React to Attack on Israel

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) – U.S. Catholic bishops, including Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, Illinois, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, called for prayers for peace in the Holy Land following Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel and decried “continued tensions and violence that erupted into warfare between Gaza and Israel.” “The world is once again shocked and horrified by the outbreak of ferocious violence in the Holy Land. Reports have surfaced indicating large numbers of wounded and dead, including many civilians,” Bishop Malloy said on Sunday, October 8. Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, also called for prayers for peace and said, “It is my hope and prayer that the international community will work together to help ensure a peaceful and just resolution for the good of all.” Speaking to thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray the Angelus on October 8, Pope Francis said he is following events in Israel and Gaza “with apprehension and sorrow.” He said: “The violence has exploded even more ferociously, causing hundreds of deaths and casualties. … I express my closeness to the families and victims. I am praying for them and for all who are living hours of terror and anguish.” Pope Francis added: “Let it be understood that terrorism and war do not lead to any resolutions but only to the death and suffering of so many innocent people. War is a defeat! Let us pray that there be peace in Israel and in Palestine.”

Dallas Cathedral Designated as National Shrine Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe

DALLAS (OSV News) – Bishop Edward J. Burns of Dallas announced on Tuesday, October 3, that the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe in downtown Dallas has been granted the significant designation of a national shrine by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. A special Mass is planned for December 12 to celebrate the national shrine status of the cathedral, which will now be known as The National Shrine Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It’s a designation Cathedral Rector Father Jesús Belmontes called befitting of the cathedral’s impact on Catholics within the diocese, around the nation, and throughout Central and Latin America. For many Catholics, and especially those with roots in Latin America, the December 12 feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe holds profound significance as it commemorates the miraculous appearance of the Virgin Mary to St. Juan Diego in Mexico in 1531, symbolizing her maternal love and care for all humanity. Tens of thousands of people make the pilgrimage to Dallas every year on December 11 and 12.

Earthquake Kills Thousands in Afghanistan

HERAT, Afghanistan (OSV News) – The death toll in one of the deadliest earthquakes to strike Afghanistan in two decades has risen to more than 2,400 people, Taliban officials confirmed on Sunday, October 8. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck on Saturday, October 7, 25 miles west of Herat city in the western Herat province. “Once again, children and families in Afghanistan have been affected by a devastating earthquake, this time in western Herat province,” UNICEF Afghanistan said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on October 7. “UNICEF Afghanistan is on the ground with our U.N. colleagues to assess the full impact. Our heartfelt condolences go out to all families affected,” United Nations Children’s Fund wrote. The presence of Church charity organizations is close to zero given the repression from the Taliban government, an official from one of the Catholic organizations told OSV News. Some try to work with local partners, however. “Our humanitarian partners have begun relief efforts, sending medical and trauma support to regional hospitals, as well as emergency shelter, food assistance, and other supplies to the affected area,” Anne Bousquet, Catholic Relief Services’ Country Representative for Afghanistan, told OSV News over email.

Pope Names First Woman Secretary of Dicastery for Religious

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis has appointed a woman for the first time to be the No. 2 official of the Roman Curia office that works with religious orders and their members. Consolata Missionary Sister Simona Brambilla will be Secretary of the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Vatican officials announced on Saturday, October 7. According to Vatican statistics published in February, there are nearly 609,000 professed religious women in the world. There are a little less than 50,000 religious brothers and a little more than 128,000 religious-order priests. For decades, women religious and many bishops decried the lack of women in top leadership roles at the dicastery, which is called to promote religious life, including approving the statutes of religious congregations, when the vast majority of them are communities of women. Sister Brambilla, a 58-year-old Italian, has been an external member of the dicastery since 2019. She served two terms as Superior of the Consolata Missionary Sisters, leading the congregation from 2011 to May 2023.

Reconstruction of Notre Dame in Paris Is ‘Sign of Hope’

PARIS (OSV News) – By the end of the year, the Notre Dame Cathedral silhouette in Paris will be restored: Its entire 315-foot-high spire will once again crown the transept crossing, hidden beneath a 330-foot-high scaffolding. The biggest reconstruction in France’s modern history is “a sign of hope for everyone,” the Rector-Archpriest of Notre Dame Cathedral, Father Olivier Ribadeau Dumas, told OSV News. A statement from officials with the public institution Rebâtir Notre-Dame de Paris (“Rebuilding of Notre Dame”) mentions “spectacular results” and that progress is on schedule for the cathedral’s reopening on December 8, 2024, as initially announced. The spire collapsed dramatically during the fire that devastated France and the world on April 15, 2019, destroying part of the nave vaults and the transept crossing. The spire will be gradually unveiled through the first half of 2024, when it is covered with its roof to protect the wooden framework. In 2018, before the fire, there were close to 12 million visitors a year to Notre Dame. An estimated 14 million to 15 million a year are expected once the cathedral reopens.

Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Dies at 51

CHICAGO (OSV News) – Auxiliary Bishop Kevin M. Birmingham of Chicago, former Secretary to Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, died unexpectedly on Monday, October 2, at age 51. He was just a few days shy of his 52nd birthday. “He passed away in his sleep,’’ Archdiocesan Spokesperson Yasmin Quiroz told local media. The Chicago Sun-Times daily newspaper reported that the cause of death “was unclear, and Quiroz said foul play was not suspected.” “The Church has lost a wonderful priest and bishop today, and I lost a dear friend and valued colleague,” Cardinal Cupich said in a statement. “From the start of his ministry, Bishop Kevin Birmingham was a devoted and joyful priest. He felt called to serve Latino Catholics especially, and he learned Spanish in order to do so. He served in my office for six years as priest-secretary, always with dedication and attention to every detail, a role in which his reputation for kindness only grew. May we honor his memory by continuing to do as he did, and model the love God has for His children in all we do.” Born Oct. 7, 1971, in Oak Lawn, Illinois, the late bishop was ordained a priest for the Chicago archdiocese on May 24, 1997, and was named an auxiliary bishop by Pope Francis on September 11, 2020.

Palestinians carry a woman in the aftermath of Israeli strikes, following a Hamas surprise attack at Beach refugee camp, in Gaza City, Oct. 9, 2023. The Hamas-Israel war has entered a new phase, with more than 1,100 dead. Meanwhile pilgrims from all over the globe are in the Holy Land, with countries like Poland evacuating its citizens on military planes. (OSV News photo/Mohammed Salem, Reuters)

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