September 19, 2023 // National

News Briefs: September 24, 2023

Pope to Global Leaders: Save Children, the Planet ‘Before It’s too Late’

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Kicking off a global meeting of leaders in New York on Monday, September 18, Pope Francis told the global community via video conference to take action to ensure peace for future generations and stop climate change “before it’s too late.” Asked what ordinary people can do to address society’s towering problems, Pope Francis responded: “We are in need of a great and shared assumption of responsibility,” adding that “no challenge is too great if we each meet it with personal conversion and the personal contribution that each of us can make to solve it from an awareness of what makes us part of one destiny.” Pope Francis continued, saying: “Difficulties can bring out the best or the worst in us. Therein lies our challenge: fighting selfishness, narcissism, division, with generosity and humility.” In his opening talk, Pope Francis urged the leaders to “work together to stop ecological catastrophe before it’s too late,” again sharing that he decided to write another document on the subject eight years after the publication of his encyclical Laudato Si’. The document, which Pope Francis has said will be an apostolic exhortation, is expected to be released on Wednesday, October 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.

Court: Christian Group Should Be Reinstated as Public School Club

SAN FRANCISCO (OSV News) – A federal appeals court on Wednesday, September 13, found that a public school district in California must reinstate a Christian student group. The club asks its leaders to embrace their core religious beliefs, and the district alleged it discriminated against LGBTQ+ students. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 9-2 decision that the San Jose Unified School District likely violated the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ First Amendment right to free exercise of religion when it revoked its status as a recognized high school student club. According to court documents, as part of FCA’s Christian Character and Mission requirements, student leaders must also conform to FCA’s Sexual Purity Statement, which states that “God desires His children to lead pure lives of holiness,” and that “the appropriate place for sexual expression is in the context of a marriage relationship. The biblical description of marriage is one man and one woman in a lifelong commitment.” A lower court previously found that the requirement discriminated against LGBTQ+ students, which the appeals court overturned.

Cleveland Diocese Issues ‘Sexuality and Gender Identity’ Policy

CLEVELAND (OSV News) – The Diocese of Cleveland recently issued a new policy governing the approach to “sexuality and gender identity” in its parishes and schools. A letter to the diocese from Bishop Edward C. Malesic dated Wednesday, August 30, said that in the midst of “a polarizing and tense time in our culture,” the diocese would issue the new policy as part of efforts to “accompany our brothers and sisters in Christ with compassion, mercy, and dignity so that we might lovingly help them navigate the confusion and arrive at the truth.” The policy states that “the Church recognizes that there are and will be persons who experience gender dysphoria and/or gender confusion. Such experiences can be complex and emotional to work through and, for some, incredibly burdensome and painful.” It requires, among other measures, that “only pronouns that accurately reflect a person’s God-given biological sex shall be used when addressing that person,” and that all persons must present themselves as their biological sex and use corresponding bathrooms or other facilities.”

Syriac Catholic Bishops’ Synod in Iraq Called ‘Unprecedented’

BEIRUT, Lebanon (OSV News) – Syriac Catholic bishops from around the world met for their annual ordinary synod in Iraq, the first to be held outside Lebanon – where the patriarchal seat is located – in more than 125 years. The gathering, held Sunday, September 10, through Friday, September 15, with Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan as presider, took place in the new headquarters of the Archdiocese of Mosul and its dependencies in Qaraqosh, from where Christians were expelled by ISIS in the summer of 2014. “Convening an Ordinary Synod of the Bishops of our Syriac Catholic Church outside Lebanon, and most particularly in Iraq, is an unprecedented historical event not happening in modern times,” Patriarch Younan told OSV News. In a statement at the conclusion of the synod on September 15, the bishops said they had focused on what Syriac Catholics are suffering as a result of “difficult conditions, persecution, acts of violence, terrorism, displacement, killing, destruction, and the uprooting of a large number of faithful from the land of their fathers and grandfathers.” Patriarch Younan told OSV News that the situation of Christians in Iraq “in general is improving” but they still face “many challenges.”

Cardinal George Remembered in D.C. Event

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) – On Thursday, September 14, memories of the late Cardinal Francis E. George (1937-2015) flowed at a discussion at The Catholic University of America of Michael Heinlein’s biography, “Glorifying Christ: The Life of Cardinal Francis E. George, O.M.I.,” published by OSV. Archbishop of Chicago from 1997 to 2014, Cardinal George was defined by “his humility,” his “beautiful mind” and a sincere quest to learn about people, said Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez. As a result of polio Cardinal George contracted at 13, he “turned to the cross as a way of making sense of what was happening,” Heinlein said. With his pain, Cardinal George developed the discipline to focus on his intellect and develop into a gentle, compassionate force who refused to have his defenses of Catholic orthodoxy pigeonholed into political categories. “I think his life truly was an offering, and that’s why he continued to push himself every day, because it wasn’t about him,” Heinlein said. Heinlein recounted that when first made Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal George resisted being labeled liberal or conservative. He responded, “The Catholic faith is not liberal or conservative. The Catholic faith is true, and I will preach that.”

Praying for Vocations Means Understanding Church’s Needs, Pope Says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – While vocations to the Catholic priesthood and religious life are declining in developed countries around the world, prayers for vocations should not try to “convince” God to send more workers for the Church but seek to better understand the needs of its people, Pope Francis said. Meeting with a group of Rogationists and Daughters of Divine Zeal at the Vatican on Monday, September 18, the pope praised the example of their founder, St. Hannibal di Francia, who made praying for vocations central to the charisms of the congregations he began. St. Hannibal, he said, “understood that the first thing to do was pray, certainly not to convince God to send shepherds, as if he did not care for his people, but to let himself be overwhelmed by the deep passion of his paternal and maternal love, to learn – by praying – to be sensitive to the needs of his children.” The pope urged those walking in the path of St. Hannibal to communicate God to the world through their example. “This is your mission,” he told them, “for even today the Lord is calling, and so many young people need credible witnesses and guides who, by showing them the beauty of a life spent in love, will help them to say ‘yes.’”

OSV News photo/Libyan Red Crescent Ajdabiya via Reuters
Members of Libyan Red Crescent Ajdabiya work in an area affected by flooding in Derna, Libya, on Tuesday, September 12. Authorities in Libya estimated that more than 5,100 people have died and 10,000 are reportedly missing as of Monday, September 18. Millions of cubic meters of water destroyed the city after two dams failed during Storm Daniel.

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