September 7, 2022 // National

News Briefs: September 11, 2022

Catholic Charities Sets Up Water Distribution in Response to Miss. Flooding

JACKSON, Miss. (CNS) – Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi, has begun distributing water to help residents besieged by a failing water system in the state’s capital city. They are gearing up to provide water to the community through the help of Catholic Charities USA and with Catholic Charities affiliates in neighboring Louisiana. Currently, the Catholic Charities disaster response team is assisting displaced families as a result of the Pearl River flooding and it is coordinating with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency to become a distribution site for water at their office in Jackson. “We are pleased that President Biden, Governor Tate Reeves, and Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba are working together to address the water situation in Jackson,” said Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz of Jackson in a Sept. 1 statement. “We pray for long-term solutions to this problem, and a swift response to get water flowing back into all Jackson homes and businesses.” Flooding of the Pearl River is just the latest in a long string of water-related woes in Jackson. The city’s water treatment plant has struggled for years to deliver clean, safe drinking water to all sections of Jackson, its primary service area. Some days, the water comes out of taps clear; some days, it comes out brown.

Pope Calls for Prayers for Iraq, Whose People Desire Normality, Peace

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – After a series of deadly clashes erupted in Iraq, Pope Francis said “dialogue and fraternity” were needed to overcome the current situation and to become a nation of diverse communities living in peace. The pope said he was following the news of “violent events” unfolding in the country, which he fondly recalled visiting in 2021. It was during that visit, he said at the end of his weekly general audience on Aug. 31, that he experienced firsthand the people’s “great desire for normality and peaceful coexistence among the different religious communities” in Iraq. “Dialogue and fraternity are the right path for facing the current difficulties and to reach this goal” of peace, he said. He asked that people pray that God give the gift of peace to the Iraqi people. At least 30 people were killed and hundreds more injured in Baghdad in clashes on Aug. 29 and Aug. 30 when supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stormed the presidential palace after fighting with Iraqi security forces and militia groups allied with Iran.

Agencies Join Bishop’s Call for Passage of Afghan Adjustment Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNS) – Two Catholic agencies have joined a call by the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration for passage of a bipartisan bill that would provide newly arrived Afghans the opportunity to become lawful permanent U.S. residents. The Catholic Legal Immigration Network and Catholic Charities USA said action on the Afghan Adjustment Act is needed to allow Afghans who arrived in the country in the year since the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan to rebuild their lives. Companion bills in the House of Representatives and the Senate would define the legal status of the 76,000 Afghans who arrived in the U.S. after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan last August. They also would require President Joe Biden to establish an Interagency Task Force on Afghan Ally Strategy and increase support for those who assisted the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. The agencies’ advocacy for the legislation and changes in how immigration officials process the Afghan arrivals follows an Aug. 10 letter from Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville of Washington, the Migration Committee Chairman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He urged members of the Senate and House to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act “without delay.”

Pope Prays for ‘Beloved Argentina’ After Assassination Attempt Against VP

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Following the attempted assassination of Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Pope Francis expressed his concern and prayers that his home nation choose to uphold the values of a democracy and avoid the path of violence. Video showed an individual aiming a handgun at point-blank range to the vice president’s head as she was greeting people outside her home in Buenos Aires late Sept. 1. The sound of the trigger being pulled could be heard in the video, but the handgun did not fire. President Alberto Fernández said the weapon was loaded with five bullets. The suspect was apprehended immediately. In a telegram sent to the vice president, Pope Francis said he received the “troubling news of the attack endured by Your Excellency. I wish to express my solidarity and closeness during this delicate time,” he said in the message, which the Vatican published on Sept. 2. “I am praying that social harmony and the respect for democratic values always prevail against all forms of violence and aggression in beloved Argentina,” he said in the telegram. 

Gorbachev, St. John Paul had Great Appreciation for Each Other

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who died at age 91 on Aug. 30 in Moscow after a long illness, met several times with St. John Paul II, and the two often exchanged words of appreciation for each other. The two leaders met in 1989 and again in 1990, when Gorbachev was still president of the Soviet Union and was introducing political and economic reforms in his country, as well as on other occasions. Both men were key in the collapse of the Soviet Union, and Gorbachev won the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who served as papal spokesman for St. John Paul II and often reported on their meetings, later called Gorbachev the most important figure in the fall of the Berlin Wall. Commemorating the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the wall in an article published on Nov. 5, 2009, in the Rome newspaper La Repubblica, Navarro-Valls cited Pope John Paul’s support for the Polish labor union Solidarity as a key development in the pro-democracy movement in the region. But he said Gorbachev saw that the political movement in Eastern Europe was popular and unstoppable, and the Soviet leader avoided military repression and even verbal opposition. Navarro-Valls said that when Gorbachev first met with Pope John Paul in December of 1989, less than a month after the wall’s collapse, the two leaders “understood each other immediately.” “Both clearly understood the direction that history had begun to take. Both felt that freedom was not a political fact but a human dimension that was essential and not able to be suppressed,” Navarro-Valls said.

Ethiopian Bishops say ‘No More War!’ as Fighting Resumes

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) – As fighting resumed in northern Ethiopia, the nation’s bishops urged both parties to prioritize peace, saying women, children, and the elderly had been most affected. In an appeal titled “No More War!” the bishops urged “all parties to cede their weapons and return to the peace option, to prioritize dialogue and an option that will end the suffering of our citizens.” The statement was dated Aug. 18 but was released on Sept. 2. The fighting has shaped into a full-scale war between the federal government forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front since Aug. 24. The renewed fighting broke a five-month humanitarian truce the government announced in May to allow aid to reach millions of needy people in the state of Tigray. During the period, some food, medicines, and other basic needs reached the region, but Church leaders there feared it was too little, too late. Each side is blaming the opposite for the fresh fighting. The bishops said the fighting resumed as people had hopes for peace and noted that many people “are suffering from hunger, disease, and psychological damage” and have been displaced from their homes. “Our entire country is struggling under the pressure of the cost of living.”

Pakistanis reach out for food aid following heavy rains during the monsoon season in Sehwan, Pakistan, Sept. 1. Catholic Relief Services is working with partners to distribute aid for thousands affected by floods that have devastated the region. (CNS photo/Yasir Rajput, Reuters)

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