October 3, 2023 // National

News Briefs: October 8, 2023

Pope’s Communications Day Message to Focus on Impact of AI

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis’ message for World Communications Day 2024 will look at ways to ensure artificial intelligence is a tool that helps people communicate better and not a technology that drives people further from one another and from what is true. “Artificial intelligence and wisdom of the heart: For a fully human communication” is the theme Pope Francis has chosen for the 2024 commemoration, the Vatican Dicastery for Communication announced on Friday, September 29. Traditionally the pope’s message for the day is released on January 24, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of journalists. Most dioceses will celebrate the world day on May 12, the Sunday before Pentecost. Announcing the theme chosen by the pope, officials with the dicastery said that “the evolution of artificial intelligence systems makes it ever more natural to communicate through and with machines, so that it has become increasingly difficult to distinguish computation from thought and the language produced by a machine from that generated by human beings.” And while the technological developments bring many benefits, they also pose “new challenges to ensure that machines do not contribute to a large-scale system of disinformation and do not also increase the loneliness of those who are already alone, depriving us of the warmth that only communication between people can provide.”

U.S. Bishop Hails New Refugee Allocations

(OSV News) – Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Migration Committee, commended President Joe Biden for increasing the number of refugees eligible to enter the United States. On Friday, September 29, Biden signed a presidential determination authorizing the admission of up to 125,000 refugees during fiscal year 2024, in accordance with the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act. In a statement published on Saturday, September 30, Bishop Seitz called the number “an ambitious and meaningful goal as we reflect not only on the global need but also the challenges facing American communities, including labor shortages, a lack of affordable housing, and high inflation.” Effective on Sunday, October 1, which marks the start of the new fiscal year, the U.S. will allocate refugee admissions for 30,000-50,000 from Africa; 10,000-20,000 from East Asia; 2,000-3,000 from Europe and Central Asia; 35,000-50,000 from Latin America and the Caribbean; and 30,000-45,000 from the Near East and South Asia. “We welcome the administration’s efforts to increase resettlement from the Western Hemisphere, while reiterating that this should not come at the expense of other populations,” said Bishop Seitz.

Pope Appoints Ohio Bishop to Serve as Auxiliary in Detroit

DETROIT (OSV News) – Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton of Steubenville, Ohio, a native son of the Archdiocese of Detroit, will return home to serve as Detroit’s 32nd auxiliary bishop. Pope Francis appointed Bishop Monforton to his new position on Thursday, September 28, and named retired Bishop Paul J. Bradley of Kalamazoo, Michigan, as the apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Steubenville. Bishop Monforton, 60, will assist Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron in the pastoral care of the approximately 907,000 Catholics in the Archdiocese of Detroit, where he served for 18 years as a priest from 1994 to 2012. “On behalf of the clergy, religious, and faithful of the archdiocese, I offer a heartfelt ‘welcome home’ to Bishop Monforton,” Archbishop Vigneron said in a statement. “This is the local Church in which his priestly vocation was nurtured, and we are blessed to have him be with us once again to help lead our efforts to unleash the Gospel.”

Pope Francis Invites Children to November Gathering

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Peering just over the windowsill of Pope Francis’ studio above St. Peter’s Square, five children aged 7-10 joined the pope to announce a special gathering of children at the Vatican in November. “As you can see, beside me today are five children who represent the five continents,” Pope Francis said on Sunday, October 1, after reciting the Angelus. “I would like to announce along with them that on the afternoon of November 6, in the Paul VI Hall, I will meet with children from all over the world. … “’Let us learn from boys and girls’ is the theme for this event, sponsored by the Dicastery for Culture and Education,” the pope added. Pope Francis said the November meeting will help grown-ups “retrieve the pure sentiments of children, because the kingdom of God belongs to those who are like children. Children teach us how to be transparent in relationships, how to spontaneously welcome those who are strangers, and how to respect all of creation.” Also on October 1, the Vatican released a letter from Pope Francis to children, young adults, parents, and clergy involved in the Holy Childhood Association, which was founded in 1843 to promote missionary awareness among Catholic children and to support missionary work with children. The pope issued his letter on the 150th anniversary of the birth of the most famous member of the association, St. Thérèse of Lisieux. St. Thérèse, he wrote, teaches Christians that “with our prayer, even if we are small, we can contribute to making Jesus known and loved, silently, helping others to do good.”

Baltimore Archdiocese Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

BALTIMORE (OSV News) – The Archdiocese of Baltimore filed for Chapter 11 reorganization on Friday, September 29, to address “a great number of historic” child sex abuse cases it expects to face under a new Maryland law lifting the statute of limitations on such cases that took effect on Sunday, October 1. “After consulting with numerous lay leaders and the clergy of the archdiocese, I have made the decision I believe will best allow the archdiocese both to equitably compensate victim-survivors of child sexual abuse and ensure the local Church can continue its mission and ministries,” Archbishop William E. Lori announced. The filing was not unexpected, the archbishop said, referring to his September 5 open letter to the faithful in which he said the decision to file for Chapter 11 was being seriously considered because the new law allows abuse claims “previously barred by Maryland law” to be brought forward.

Study Shows Positive Signs of Catholic Belief in Eucharist

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) – Almost two-thirds of Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, but only 17 percent of adult Catholics physically attend Mass at least once per week, according to a newly published survey from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University. The 2022 survey of self-identified Catholics published on Tuesday, September 26, found 64 percent of respondents provided responses that indicate they believe in the Real Presence, meaning they believe Jesus is truly present under the appearance of bread and wine in the Eucharist. Titled “Eucharist Beliefs: A National Survey of Adult Catholics,” the study showed more Catholics believe in the Real Presence than a 2019 Pew Research Center study, but it still underscores the need for the National Eucharistic Revival underway, said Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis. Bishop Cozzens said the data shows many people have not had “a real encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist” and need not just catechesis, but an invitation into a living relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist “so that their lives can be changed.”

Pope Francis, Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury and the Rev. Ann Burghardt, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, join other Christian representatives for an ecumenical prayer vigil in St. Peter’s Square Sept. 30, 2023, ahead of the assembly of the Synod of Bishops. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

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