September 3, 2023 // National

News Briefs: September 3, 2023

Pope Francis: Synod Is ‘Truly Important’ for the Church

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis asked a group of Italian journalists to shun fake news and a love of scandal, including when covering the Catholic Church and the upcoming assembly of the Synod of Bishops. “Help me to narrate this process for what it really is, leaving behind the logic of slogans and pre-packaged stories,” he asked the group on Saturday, August 26, as he accepted the “È Giornalismo” prize, which recognizes outstanding contributions to journalism. Pope Francis told the group he realizes how “speaking of a ‘synod on synodality’ may seem something abstruse, self-referential, excessively technical, of little interest to the general public,” but the whole process, which began in 2021 with listening sessions on the local, national, and regional levels “is something truly important for the Church.” At a moment in history “when there is much talk and little listening, and when the sense of the common good is in danger of weakening,” he said, “the Church as a whole has embarked on a journey to rediscover the word ‘together.’”

USCCB: Protecting Innocent Life Must Be Priority in Gun Rights Case

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) – Protecting the innocent “is a proper consideration” in the government regulation of firearms, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in a case relating to whether the government can prohibit a person with a domestic violence restraining order from possessing a firearm. In the fall, the court will hear oral arguments in the case, United States v. Rahimi. Besides the USCCB, members of Congress and a number of faith-based organizations and other groups that advocate for victims of domestic violence also filed amicus briefs in the case. “As the Church teaches, and this nation’s historical traditions demonstrate, the right to bear arms is not an unqualified license that must leave vulnerable family members to live in fear,” said the USCCB’s amicus, or friend-of-the-court, brief, which was filed on Tuesday, August 22. “Abused victims are precisely the people whom a just government is tasked with protecting. The Second Amendment does not stand as a barrier to their safety.” The Biden administration petitioned the high court to reverse a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit that invalidated one of the provisions of 18 U.S. Code Section 922 that bars anyone “subject to a court order” in which they were found to be a threat to a domestic partner or child from possessing firearms.

Pope Announces New Document Ahead of ‘Season of Creation’

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Ahead of the ecumenical celebrations of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation on Friday, September 1, and the monthlong “Season of Creation,” Pope Francis said he is writing a follow-up document to his 2015 encyclical on the environment. “I am writing a second part to Laudato Si’ to update it on current problems,” the pope told a group of lawyers on Monday, August 21. He provided no further information. But Matteo Bruni, Director of the Vatican Press Office, told Vatican News the letter will focus especially on recent climate crises. Muriel Fleury, who leads the communication section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, told Catholic News Service on Thursday, August 24, that the pope’s announcement was welcome news because people around the globe are worried, they listen to Pope Francis, and every group of bishops that visits the dicastery raises questions and concerns about the environment and Catholic teaching on ecology. Laudato Si’, (“On Care for Our Common Home”) was the title of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical letter on the need for an “integral ecology” that respects the dignity and value of the human person, helps the poor, and safeguards the planet.

Florida Bishop Condemns Racially Motivated Shooting

JACKSONVILLE, Florida (OSV News) – A Florida Catholic bishop condemned a racially motivated shooting on Saturday, August 26, at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, saying, “Violence and bigotry have no place in our hearts or our society.” “A senseless act of violence claimed the lives of three individuals in our community,” Bishop Erik T. Pohlmeier of St. Augustine, Florida, said in a Sunday, August 27, statement. “It has come to light that the shooter’s motivations were fueled by hatred and bigotry, as he targeted innocent lives solely because of their race,” said Bishop Pohlmeier, whose diocese has its offices in Jacksonville. “This reprehensible act reminds us of the deep-seated wounds that still afflict our society – wounds rooted in prejudice and racism.” A white gunman, identified by authorities as 21-year-old Ryan Christopher Palmeter, fatally shot three Black people at the Dollar General store in an attack authorities said they were investigating as a racially motivated hate crime. Palmeter was armed with an “AR-15 style” rifle with swastikas on it, as well as a handgun, and was wearing a tactical vest, authorities said. He fired 11 rounds at one woman sitting in her car, before he entered the store and shot two more people. The gunman died after shooting himself. Sheriff T.K. Waters of Jacksonville said at a news conference that there were “several manifestos” by the killer detailing his hatred of Black people.

First Nations Leader: ‘No Conclusive Evidence’ of Student Graves at Residential School

CAMPERVILLE, Manitoba (OSV News) – For Indigenous families seeking answers about the relatives in residential schools who never came home, an archaeological team has found “no conclusive evidence of human remains” at a former residential school site in Canada, but the results “take nothing away” from the painful experiences of former students, said an Indigenous leader. In a video statement on Facebook on Friday, August 18, Chief Derek Nepinak of the Minegoziibe Anishinabe (formerly Pine Creek First Nation) announced the conclusion of a four-week excavation in the basement of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Church in Camperville, Manitoba, site of the former Pine Creek Residential School. The 14 anomalies detected by ground-penetrating radar, or GPR, yielded animal bones and debris from a fire, but not human remains, Nepinak told media. However, “the results … should not be deemed as conclusive of other ongoing searches and efforts” at other residential school sites, said Nepinak in his video statement. Canada’s National Center for Truth and Reconciliation recorded the deaths of 21 students at the school, with survivors describing abuses taking place in the church’s basement. “We will find a pathway forward that further helps us arrive at the truths of our history,” said Nepinak. “This is (by) no means conclusive of our work to find the truth of the history of our residential school here in Pine Creek.”

Virginia Bishop: Mental Health Crisis Demands Church’s Response

ARLINGTON, Virginia (OSV News) – With National Suicide Prevention Month taking place in September, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, is urging mental health discussion and engagement, rather than avoidance and evasion. “Who of us do not know someone – even in our own families or maybe ourselves – who are struggling with significant mental health issues,” Bishop Burbidge asked in the latest edition of his “Walk Humbly” podcast, “including anxiety and depression – and even, sadly, despair; loneliness for some.” Statistics demonstrate Bishop Burbidge’s question is anything but rhetorical. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more than 1 in 5 U.S. adults live with a mental illness. In 2022, at least 49,449 Americans took their own lives, according to the CDC. That reality requires an integrated response, said Bishop Burbidge. “We recognize the whole person – we’re body; we’re soul; we’re spirit – and mental health is part of who we are,” Bishop Burbidge said.

A family mourns on Independence Day in Lviv, Ukraine, Aug. 24, 2023, as they visit the tomb of a relative, a Ukrainian serviceman who was killed in a fight against Russian troops amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine. (OSV News photo/Roman Baluk, Reuters)

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