September 20, 2022 // National

News Briefs: September 25, 2022

Pope Meets Prelates Attending Weeklong Course for New Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) Close to 200 bishops at the beginning of their ministries in dioceses and eparchies around the world met Pope Francis on Sept. 19 at the end of a week of conferences. Because the COVID-19 pandemic had forced the suspension of the annual formation course for new bishops, the 2022 courses were held in multiple sessions with the first groups of bishops, more than 150 of them, meeting Pope Francis in early September, and bishops from mission territories meeting him on Sept. 17. The Dicastery for Bishops, the Dicastery for Evangelization, and the Dicastery for Eastern Churches organized the courses. The themes for the 2022 sessions included: the meaning of “a synodal church”; crisis management with special attention to handling situations and allegations of abuse; the church after the pandemic; a review of what canon law says about administering a diocese; communication and use of the media, ministry to families with special attention to the pope’s exhortation “Amoris Laetitia”; and promoting care for all people and for the environment with special attention to “Laudato Si’” and “Fratelli Tutti.”

West Virginia Bishop, Pro-Life Leaders Applaud Lawmakers for Abortion Ban

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) – Bishop Mark E. Brennan of Wheeling-Charleston and pro-life leaders of West Virginia lauded the state Legislature for passing an abortion ban on Sept. 13. The bill banning most abortions in the state, with some exceptions, now waits for Gov. Jim Justice’s signature. H.B. 302 was passed by the Senate 22-7 and by the House of Delegates 78-17. “The action taken by our elected officials to provide greater legal protection for the unborn is an important step in fostering a sincere culture of life in the Mountain State,” Bishop Brennan said in a statement. “It is clear that work remains to be done to soften hearts and create a society that values and protects every human life,” the bishop continued. “It is clear that it will take time to heal the personal and societal scars from abortion permitted for so long under the Roe regime.” He prayed that as a state, “we continue to move toward these moral and just ends.” Bishop Brennan encouraged state lawmakers “to continue to lead us in that direction by providing ample resources to support women and children, by expanding access to quality and affordable child care, by promoting paid maternity and family leave, by better protecting victims of domestic violence, by promoting and facilitating adoption, and by addressing food insecurity.”

Kazakhstan Bishop Says his Criticisms of Pope are Sign of Collegiality

NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan (CNS) – Awaiting the arrival of Pope Francis, a bishop who frequently criticizes Pope Francis told reporters that speaking up when he disagrees with the pope is an expression of “collegiality.” For example, Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan, told reporters Pope Francis’ participation in the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions – the principal reason the pope traveled to Kazakhstan – was “dangerous” because it could “undermine the uniqueness and absoluteness of Jesus Christ as savior and of our mission to preach to all nations, to all religions, Jesus Christ.” The bishop made his comments on Sept. 15 while awaiting Pope Francis’ arrival at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral in Nur-Sultan for a meeting with bishops, priests, religious, laity, and seminarians. Bishop Schneider said the congress could give the impression that the pope supports “a supermarket of religions” that people could choose freely from. “This is not correct because there is only one true religion, which is the Catholic Church, founded by God Himself, but commanded to all men, to all religions, to believe and accept His son Jesus Christ, the only savior,” the bishop said. Especially since the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church has professed its respect for other religions and for the sincere efforts of other believers to seek God, although it continues to profess its belief that the fullness of truth and the surest path to salvation is in Christianity. The Catholic Church supports and engages in interreligious dialogue to promote peace, mutual respect, and religious freedom.

In ‘Major Victory’ for Religious Rights, Court Blocks Transgender Mandate

NEW ORLEANS (CNS) – A unanimous ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans blocking the Biden administration’s transgender mandate “is a major victory for conscience rights and compassionate medical care in America,” said the attorney who represented the plaintiffs in the case. “Doctors cannot do their jobs and comply with the Hippocratic oath if the government requires them to perform harmful, irreversible procedures against their conscience and medical expertise,” said Joseph Davis, counsel at Becket, a Washington, D.C.-based religious liberty law firm. Davis made the remarks about the court’s Aug. 26 ruling permanently blocking a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate that would have forced doctors and hospitals to perform gender-transition procedures on their patients even if this violated their conscience and medical judgment. On Aug. 4, the 5th Circuit heard oral arguments in the case, Franciscan Alliance v. Becerra, which was brought by a Catholic health care network and a group of nearly 19,000 health care professionals. “Franciscan Alliance and the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration seek to carry on Jesus Christ’s healing ministry by providing the best possible care to every person who comes through our doors,” said Sister Petra Nielsen, a Sister of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, who is a member of the Franciscan Alliance’s corporate board. “We are simply asking the courts to let us keep caring for all our patients with joy and compassion – as we’ve done for over 145 years,” she said in a statement released by Becket ahead of the oral arguments.

‘We Thank You,’ San Francisco Archbishop Tells First Responders at Mass

SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) – Uniformed police, firefighters, and sheriff’s deputies stood saluting in silent tribute of their comrades who have died, as the haunting notes of “Taps” filled the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption at the annual memorial Mass for San Francisco’s police, fire, and sheriff departments. The bugle’s melody came near the end of a Mass that drew on nearly eight decades of tradition. Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco was the main celebrant of the Sept. 11 Mass. Concelebrants included Jesuit Father Edward Reese, a San Francisco Fire Department chaplain, as well as police chaplains Father Michael Quinn and Father Michael Healy. “You my dear brothers and sisters are the force of order in our city. We thank you for the great risks you take with your lives every day, every day to ensure order and our protection,” Archbishop Cordileone told the assembled men and women in uniform in his homily before he walked throughout the cathedral, blessing the first responders’ stars and shields with holy water. The archbishop told the congregation in his homily that the more we try to live as God wants, the more we and our society come close to an ordered society, to heaven. In the same way, the role of first responders is to bring order to society, he said. “This is the reason we have law enforcement and other first responders: fire, police, sheriffs, park rangers – you are the forces of order in our city,” Archbishop Cordileone said. “Again, we thank you for the great risk you take with your lives every day to ensure good order and our protection.”

Pakistani Bishops Say They Need More Help after Deadly Flooding

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNS) – Three bishops of Pakistan dioceses most affected by recent deadly monsoon flooding appealed for more funding for emergency food, repairing damaged homes, and providing medical needs for the worst-hit victims in their provinces. The South Asian country has been hit hard by record floods caused by monsoon rains and glacial melting since the rainy season began this summer. But Archbishop Benny Travas of Karachi, Bishop Samson Shukardin of Hyderabad, and Bishop Khalid Rehmat of Quetta also praised the generosity of local citizens and international aid groups during a virtual news conference hosted by the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need on Sept. 15. Pakistani Christians, a minority, are mostly impoverished. Bishop Rehmat described his sprawling province of Balochistan as all but cut off because main roads connecting to major provinces and cities such as Punjab and Karachi have been flooded and bridges broken. He said four churches in his southwest vicariate, previously not as affected by the yearly monsoons as other parts of the country, are in remote mountain areas, and no Church workers have been able to reach them. He said even the poor are donating money to help. “We have received very little help from the government, but local people, they are helping us. Christians also and Muslims also, they are helping us … but it is not enough.” As of Sept. 15, Pakistan’s disaster management office reported more than 1,500 people dead since floods started in June, submerging at least a third of the country. It also said more than 33 million people (of the 220 million population) have been affected.

Catholic Leaders Hope Scholarships Help Nigerian Orphans Get Back on Track

MAKURDI, Nigeria (CNS) – Sitting at his new desk with his classmates while enjoying learning at Mount St. Gabriel’s Secondary School in Makurdi, Peter Ogwuche thanked the Catholic Church for bringing him by offering him an education scholarship. The 17-year-old boy had dropped out of school to seek safety in a refugee camp in Makurdi, capital of Benue state, after armed militants attacked his family in the middle of the night and killed his father and mother, leaving only children who had slept in a separate room. “We survived the attack because our parents locked our bedroom door and hid the keys so the militants wouldn’t access and kill us,” he told Catholic News Service, noting that the church had already enrolled him in grade 10. “This is like a dream come true for me. I am happy that I have gone back to school. I want to study and become a teacher to impart knowledge to other refugees.” Ogwuche is among thousands of young students receiving education scholarships from the Catholic Church, government, and nongovernmental organizations to help them pursue their dreams. Most beneficiaries are school-age orphans who lost their parents in attacks and were forced from their homes by the militants. The West African nation of more than 200 million people continues to face many challenges posed by various terrorist groups and armed ethnic militants.

Musicians in traditional attire wait to greet Pope Francis before a meeting with bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated persons, seminarians and pastoral workers at the cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, Sept. 15, 2022. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

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