September 27, 2022 // National

News Briefs: October 2, 2022

Prayers Offered for Victims of Ukraine War, Calls for Peace Renewed

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNS) — Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory of Washington, D.C. joined Archbishop Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia on Sept. 21 for an ecumenical prayer service to remember those who have been killed in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and to renew calls for peace for that war-ravaged nation. Archbishop Gudziak prayed that God would “in blessed repose grant (the victims of the war) eternal rest” and “render their memory eternal.” He also prayed God would “place the souls of his servants, the victims of the war in Ukraine, which have departed from us, in the abode of the just, and give them rest in the bosom of Abraham, and number them among the just.” The prayers were offered during the Panakhyda (service for deceased) that was held in the Crypt Church at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.. The service also marked 200 days since the start of renewed hostilities by Russia against Ukraine. “We join in this evening according to the prayer of the Byzantine Ukrainian tradition to show our solidarity in the one body of Christ,” Cardinal Gregory said. “We pray for those defending their homeland so that they may be strengthened to live in the fullness of God’s love.”

Retired Archbishop Fiorenza Dies; Was Tireless Social Justice Advocate

HOUSTON (CNS) – Retired Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza, the longtime bishop of Galveston-Houston and a tireless social justice advocate throughout his priesthood, episcopacy, and in retirement, died on Sept. 19. He was 91. He lived at the Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza Retirement Residence, a priest retirement home of about 18 residents. The Beaumont, Texas, native served as Bishop of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston from 1985 to 2006 and was made Archbishop in 2004, when the diocese was elevated to the status of archdiocese by St. John Paul II. Archbishop Fiorenza also was a former President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops-U.S. Catholic Conference, now called the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, serving in the role from 1998 to 2001. “Archbishop Fiorenza was known to be a champion of civil rights and a tireless worker in overcoming the presence of racism in our community. He was also known as a great promoter of genuine renewal in the church, and in making the teachings of the Second Vatican Council known,” said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo. The cardinal succeeded Archbishop Fiorenza as head of the archdiocese in 2006.

Jesus, Present in the Eucharist, Inspires Compassion, Sharing, Pope Says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – One cannot love and worship the Eucharist without compassion for the poor and marginalized, Pope Francis said at a Mass concluding Italy’s eucharistic congress. “Let us recognize that the Eucharist is the prophecy of a new world, it is the presence of Jesus who asks us to dedicate ourselves to an effective conversion,” which includes the conversion from indifference to compassion, from waste to sharing, from selfishness to love, and from individualism to fraternity, he said in his homily on Sept. 25. The pope concelebrated the Mass at an outdoor stadium in the southern Italian city of Matera, which was host to Italy’s 27th National Eucharistic Congress Sept. 22-25. Rain, thunder, and lightning storms forced the pope to travel by airplane and car rather than by helicopter from the Vatican. In his homily, the pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading (Lk 16:19-31), in which Jesus tells the parable about the nameless rich man who “dined sumptuously each day” and ignored the poor man, Lazarus, “who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps.” Pope Francis said, “It is painful to see that this parable” is still alive today with so many “injustices, inequalities, the unequal distribution of the earth’s resources, the abuse of the powerful against the weak, the indifference to the cry of the poor, the abyss we dig every day creating marginalization.”

Papal Almoner Visits Newly Discovered Mass Grave Site in Ukraine

VATICAN CITY (CNS)Standing near a mass grave site in eastern Ukraine and seeing the delicate and solemn removal of bodies, Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, Papal Almoner, said he could only pray. “I knew I would find so many dead, but I met men who showed the beauty that is sometimes hidden in our hearts,” Cardinal Krajewski said after visiting the mass grave in the northeastern city of Izium. “They showed a human beauty in a place where there could have only been revenge. Instead, there wasn’t,” he told Vatican News in an interview published on Sept. 19. Russian forces fled the area after Ukraine launched a counteroffensive to regain occupied territory. In a forest near Izium, soldiers found a mass grave site with the remains of an estimated 500 people. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in a video message, said investigators saw evidence that some of the victims had been tortured. Similar mass grave sites were found earlier this year in other areas formerly occupied by Russian forces. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied Russia’s involvement in the atrocities, and repeated accusations that mass grave sites were staged by Ukraine, the Reuters news agency reported.

New German Study Finds Osnabrück Diocese Ignored Rights of Abuse Victims

OSNABRÜCK, Germany (CNS)Church leaders in the northern German Diocese of Osnabrück failed over decades to fulfill their duties in responding to accusations of sexual abuse, according to a study presented by the University of Osnabrück on Sept. 19. The German Catholic news agency KNA said the study found that, until recently, officials had neglected to conduct adequate monitoring of clerics after they had been removed from their posts following accusations of abuse. The main area requiring improvement was communication with victims, the project leaders said. In addition, the diocese had been defensive and bureaucratic in its handling of cases and “stingy” in its recognition payments. The study found that Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, who has been in office since 1995 and is also Deputy President of the German bishops’ conference, violated his duties “in a low single-digit range” of cases. The breaches were “negligent, but not intentional,” the study said. It added that while Bishop Bode’s plea for forgiveness had gained nationwide attention in 2010 when the abuse scandal came to light in Germany, his promise to provide all possible help to the victims was not implemented in practice in the following years. KNA reported that according to the 600-page first interim report of the study, the diocese of Osnabrück had “in some cases seriously violated its duties” to prevent further offenses even after 2000. Often, greater importance had been placed on preventing cases from becoming public, it said.

Vatican Basilica Provides Background for New Film on St. Peter

VATICAN CITY (CNS)For two weeks in October, the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica will be the screen for the nighttime showing of a short film about the life, the call, and the ministry of St. Peter. The eight-minute 3D film, using art from the basilica and from the Vatican Museums, will be projected onto the facade every 15 minutes from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. from Oct. 2 to Oct. 16. The narration is in Italian with subtitles in English. “What are the features of the church? What is its true face? That of the pope?” asked Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, Archpriest of the basilica. While all those are part of the church, the cardinal told reporters on Sept. 20, “sometimes you need to dust off the mirror” and provide a clearer, more basic image of the church to both believers and visitors, which is why the basilica wants to present to the public the life and faith of St. Peter. Conventual Franciscan Father Agnello Stoia, Pastor of the basilica, said the millions of people who cross the basilica’s threshold each year include pilgrims wanting to renew their faith, but also many visitors simply attracted by the majesty and beauty of the art, architecture, and history of the basilica. Both types of visitors must be welcomed, he said, and helped to understand why the church, built over the tomb of St. Peter, is so important to Catholics and to Christians in general.

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