Catholic News Headlines

Vatican City implements health measures over coronavirus

CNA General News - 1 hour 26 min ago

Vatican City, Feb 27, 2020 / 03:00 pm (CNA).- The Vatican has implemented special health measures and canceled some events as more than 500 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Italy.

Hand sanitizer dispensers have been installed in Vatican City offices, and there is a nurse and a doctor on call at a Vatican clinic to give immediate assistance, Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni told Vatican News. 

While there have been no diagnosed cases of the coronavirus in Vatican City, Bruni said Feb. 24 that Vatican health staff have worked with the Italian Ministry of Health on procedures which can be brought into action, and are in close contact with the regional authorities in Lazio.

“In compliance with the provisions of the Italian authorities, some events scheduled for the next few days in indoor places and with an important influx of public have been postponed," Bruni said.

With Pope Francis’ Lenten retreat scheduled for March 1-6, there are no papal audiences scheduled for next week, but conferences in Rome and other indoor events have been canceled. 

A conference schedule to take place March 5-6 at the Pontifical Gregorian University on the opening of Vatican archives of Pope Pius XII has been canceled, as has a March 2-7 communications workshop at the Pontifical Urbaniana University for global representatives of the Pontifical Missions Societies.

An event for a book on Cardinal Celso Costantini Feb. 25, at which Cardinals Pietro Parolin, Luis Antonio Tagle, and Fernando Filoni were expected to speak, was canceled due to coronavirus concerns.

As of Feb. 27, Pope Francis is still scheduled to give his Sunday Angelus address on March 1 before leaving for his Lenten retreat. 

Pope Francis did not cancel his Wednesday general audience Feb. 26, but he was later seen coughing during his Ash Wednesday Mass. 

The pope chose not to attend a scheduled liturgy with priests in Rome Feb. 27 “due to a slight indisposition,” according to the Holy See press office. However, the pope’s other appointments, such as Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta, took place as usual.

Italian authorities reported 528 cases of the coronavirus Feb. 27 with 14 deaths. Nearly all of the reported cases are in northern Italy. In response to the outbreak, Italian officials have also imposed quarantine restrictions on several towns in the Lombardy and Veneto regions, where most of the infections have occurred.

The Archdiocese of Milan suspended Masses beginning on the evening Feb. 23 until further notice. The Patriarch of Venice, Archbishop Francesco Moraglia, suspended Masses and other liturgical celebrations, including baptisms and Stations of the Cross, until Sunday March 1.

In Rome’s region of Lazio there have been just three reported cases: an Italian, who has recovered, and two Chinese tourists, who are being treated in a hospital.

“I wish to express again my closeness to the coronavirus patients and the health workers who treat them, as well as to the civil authorities and all those who are working to assist the patients and stop the infection,” Pope Francis said Feb. 26.

Archbishop tells Minnesota priests not to vote in primary

Natl Catholic Reporter - 2 hours 4 min ago
Archbishop Bernard Hebda's Feb. 25 email said it would be "prudent" for clergy to not vote in the March 3 primary because of the possibility that the voter's party choice could be made public.

US Religious Freedom Commission calls India riots 'brutal and unchecked violence'

CNA General News - 2 hours 26 min ago

Washington D.C., Feb 27, 2020 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has called on the Indian government to halt ongoing anti-Muslim violence in Delhi, home of India's capital. 

Approximately 27 people have been killed and more than 200 were injured in a series of riots in northeastern Delhi that began on Sunday. The riots started over a new citizenship law which forbids Muslim immigrants from obtaining Indian citizenship. The BBC reported that Hindu mobs targeted unarmed people, and both Hindus and Muslims have been killed in the ensuing violence. 

“The brutal and unchecked violence growing across Delhi cannot continue. The Indian government must take swift action to ensure the safety of all its citizens,” said USCIRF Commissioner Anurima Bhargava in a statement released Wednesday. 

Bhargava cited reports that police in Delhi have allowed riots to continue and said that the Indian government “is failing in its duty to protect its citizens.” 

“These incidents are even more concerning in the context of efforts within India to target and potentially disenfranchise Muslims across the country, in clear violation of international human rights standards.” 

About 14% of India’s population is Muslim. The country is approximately 80% Hindu. 

Tony Perkins, chairman of the USCIRF, echoed Bhargava’s concerns, and said that the “reported attacks against Muslims, their homes and ships, and their houses of worship are greatly disturbing.” 

Perkins said the Indian government was facing a test of the basic functions of responsible leadership. 

“One of the essential duties of any responsible government is to provide protection and physical security for its citizens, regardless of faith. We urge the Indian government to take serious efforts to protect Muslims and others targeted by mob violence,” he said Wednesday. 

President Donald Trump visited India this week. While in the country, he hosted a rally and met with the country’s prime minister, Narendra Modi. Modi, the leader of the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, said in December, 2019, that the new citizenship bill was not anti-Muslim. 

In the USCIRF’s 2019 Annual Report, India was listed as a “Tier 2” country, designating it as a country with at least some “systemic, ongoing, egregious standard” of religious-based discrimination that would merit a country being labeled a “country of particular concern.” 

The commission’s report said India's “history of religious freedom has come under attack in recent years with the growth of exclusionary extremist narratives—including, at times, the government’s allowance and encouragement of mob violence against religious minorities—that have facilitated an egregious and ongoing campaign of violence, intimidation, and harassment against non-Hindu and lower-caste Hindu minorities. Both public and private actors have engaged in this campaign.”

Retired archbishop says he won't keep quiet about pope as 'heretic'

Natl Catholic Reporter - 3 hours 39 sec ago
A Catholic archbishop has rejected a church instruction barring him from public appearances and vowed to go on denouncing "heresy and sectarianism."

Legionaries issue new norms in reporting, justice for survivors

Natl Catholic Reporter - 3 hours 10 min ago
The Legionaries of Christ has pledged to investigate all past credible claims of the abuse of minors by its members no matter how long ago the abuse occurred and to publish the names of all priests who have been convicted of abuse-related crimes.

‘Worship of initiatives’ is replacing faith, Pope Francis warns priests

CNA General News - 3 hours 26 min ago

Vatican City, Feb 27, 2020 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- In a message Thursday, Pope Francis criticized placing so much importance on Church programs that the essential teachings of the faith are lost. The pope also said a priest’s agreement with such initiatives should not be the measure of his ministry.  

“The worship of initiatives is replacing the essential: one faith, one baptism, one God the Father of all. Adherence to initiatives risks becoming the yardstick of communion,” the pope said, in a message read aloud to the priests of the Diocese of Rome Feb. 27.

Pope Francis was scheduled to deliver the speech in person at the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, but decided to remain close to the Vatican after feeling unwell, the Holy See spokesman, Matteo Bruni, said Thursday.

Instead, Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, vicar general of the Diocese of Rome, read the speech on the pope’s behalf.

In his speech, Francis outlined the different reasons why priests may become “embittered” in their ministry, noting that his observations came from many conversations with priests and are not only his opinion.

Today, he said, there seems to be a “general atmosphere” of “widespread mediocrity” – and not only in the priesthood.

“The fact remains that much bitterness in the life of a priest” is rooted in the omissions of his bishop, Francis said in a footnote of the speech.

Priests risk losing their ministry as pastors, their role as teachers of the faith, he said, as they become “suffocated” by management problems and personnel emergencies.

But, he added, “who is the catechist of that permanent disciple who is the priest? The bishop of course!”

Francis said it could be argued that priests do not usually want to be educated by bishops, but even if this is true, “it is not a good reason” for bishops to give up the “munus docendi.”

“The holy people of God have the right to have priests who teach them to believe; and deacons and priests have the right to have a bishop who teaches them in turn to believe and hope in the One Master, the Way, the Truth and the Life, who inflames their faith,” he said.

The pope also said that, as a priest, he would want his bishop to help him believe, not just make him happy, and lamented that often bishops end up only attending to their priests in times of crisis, and not making the time to listen to them outside of emergencies.

In his speech, Pope Francis also argued that another cause of bitterness in the priesthood is problems between priests.

He pointed to the financial and sexual scandals of recent years as having caused suspicion among priests and hindered meaningful bonds. “There is more ‘community,’ but less communion,” the pope said.

Francis also said that with these scandals, the devil tempts people to have a Donatist vision of the Church. Donatism is a heresy from the 4th to 6th centuries which argued that Catholic priests had to be without sin or fault for the sacraments they administer to be valid.

“We have false conceptions of the militant Church, in a sort of ecclesiological puritanism,” he said.

“The question we ask ourselves when we meet a new brother priest emerges silently: ‘Who do I really have before me? Can I trust him?’”

Prayer is important to combat this, he said.

The pope also warned priests against an “individualized conscience” – a feeling of being “more special, powerful, gifted” and therefore needing to start every new parish assignment with a “clean slate,” instead of building on the good already there from the previous pastor.

Cautioning against the risk of isolation, Francis advised priests to find an old and astute priest to be a spiritual father.

Religious sisters back pro-abortion primary challenger to Lipinski

CNA General News - 4 hours 11 min ago

Chicago, Ill., Feb 27, 2020 / 12:15 pm (CNA).- Two Catholic religious sisters on Wednesday expressed their support for a pro-abortion primary challenger to one of the last remaining pro-life Democrats in Congress. 

The campaign of Marie Newman, a Democratic candidate running in a primary against Rep. Dan Lipinski of Illinois’ third congressional district, posted a video on Twitter Wednesday featuring two religious sisters—Sisters Patricia Murphy and JoAnn Persch of the Sisters of Mercy—endorsing Newman’s bid for Congress. 

In the video, Sister Patricia Murphy cited Newman’s “incredible power to listen to people” as a reason for her support.

JoAnn Persch and Pat Murphy are Sisters of Mercy, and have fought for social justice and human rights for decades. They are two more voices for Marie, a real Democrat with real solutions for #IL03. #NewDayInIL03 pic.twitter.com/iE5nEzqzVG

— Marie Newman (@Marie4Congress) February 26, 2020

In the video, Sister JoAnn Persch said that she first met Newman “in front of Congressman Lipinski’s office” and saw her again at a local “march against hate,” but had “never met Congressman Dan Lipinski personally” in her time working in the district.

“I will respond by voting for Marie Newman,” Persch said. Murphy said in the video that Newman “will make a great congresswoman and she has my vote.”

Newman is mounting her second consecutive primary challenge to Rep. Lipinski, opposing his views on life and marriage issues while boasting of her support from pro-abortion groups. 

Lipinski, a Catholic is an eight-term member of Congress and widely known as one of the few remaining pro-life Democrats in a federal office. He is supported by pro-life groups such as the Susan B. Anthony List and National Right to Life. 

Lipinski has worked across the aisle to support pro-life measures, including signing a petition to force a vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act which would require medical care for infants who survive a botched abortion attempt. He cosponsored a “pain-capable” 20-week abortion ban in 2017, has voted to defund Planned Parenthood, and has voted against taxpayer funding of abortion. 

Newman, his challenger, has the support of several pro-abortion groups, including EMILYs List, the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), and Planned Parenthood. She supports taxpayer-funded abortion.

In a video during her 2018 campaign, Newman said she was “so proud, and pleased” to accept NARAL’s endorsement and thanked the group “for all the amazing work you do at the local level and at the national level.”

“For too long, my opponent, Mr. Lipinski, has thrown reproductive freedom and women’s rights under the bus,” Newman said, adding that she would work to promote “women’s rights, worker’s rights, working family’s rights, health care for all, immigrants and LGBTQ folks, and Americans.”

Newman narrowly lost to Lipinski in the 2018 Democratic primary for the third congressional district, which is a safely-Democratic district.

In May 2019, NARAL announced that it was once again endorsing Newman, along with Planned Parenthood Action Fund and EMILY’s List. Lipinski, the group said, was known for “siding with anti-choice activists and supporting a bigoted agenda.” Newman said in a statement that she was “honored” to receive their support.

On Monday, a coalition of pro-abortion groups including NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and EMILY’s List, announced they would devote $1.4 million to advertising to target Lipinski’s pro-life record.

The coalition’s “independent expenditures” project would involve direct mail, television ad buys and digital ads, and would “highlight” Lipinski’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act and its contraceptive mandate, support for defunding Planned Parenthood, and support for overturning Roe v. Wade at the Supreme Court, among other matters.

The sisters endorsing Newman are members of the Sisters of Mercy, which has a West/Midwest community with a “central administrative center” based in Omaha, Nebraska, and a satellite location in Chicago. According to the order’s website, Sister Patricia Murphy entered the order in 1947 and is a 70-year jubilarian. She has worked in education in Illinois and Wisconsin, and in Peru.

Persch and Murphy have been advocates for immigrants’ rights, starting the Su Casa Catholic Worker house for survivors of torture from Central America and holding regular prayer vigils outside the Chicago office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since 2007.

Their immigration advocacy took them to Washington, D.C. in 2019 when Sister Pat Murphy was among a group of demonstrators arrested at the Russell Senate Office Building. The group was protesting the treatment of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border and the practice of child immigrant detention.

In a statement to CNA on Thursday, the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas said it “does not endorse any political candidates.”

“Political endorsements made by any individual sisters represent their own personal views,” the statement read.

The religious sisters’ endorsement of Newman is not the first prominent 2020 political endorsement by a priest or religious. Fr. Frank Pavone, a priest of the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, is the co-chair of President Trump’s 2020 pro-life campaign outreach.

Newman has drawn distinctions between herself and Lipinski on other issues apart from abortion. 

She has supported Medicare-for-All and the Green New Deal, and opposed a 2017 tax law which Lipinski also voted against. She had attacked Lipinski for not supporting the Equality Act in 2019, a bill that would create protected classes in federal law for sexual orientation and gender identity and which forbade sex discrimination—a prohibition that pro-life groups warned would be interpreted by the courts to overturn abortion regulations.

Lipinski initially opposed the Equality Act but ultimately voted for it, saying that “all Americans deserve equal treatment under the law and should have these rights protected, including individuals in the LGBT community.”

The congressman has also said he still has religious freedom concerns about the bill, and that it could override the application of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Lipinski has said that “before [the Equality Act] becomes law, we must do more to ensure religious liberty.”

In prepared speech, pope warns clergy on pitfalls of bitterness

Natl Catholic Reporter - 4 hours 51 min ago
Confronting and not giving in to bitterness helps priests realize that they are not all-powerful beings but sinners who have been forgiven and called by God, Pope Francis said.

Asia Bibi seeks political asylum in France

Catholic Register Canada - News - 4 hours 58 min ago

MANCHESTER, England -- Asia Bibi is seeking political asylum in France less than a year after fleeing her native Pakistan for the safety of Canada.

The Catholic mother, who spent nearly a decade on death row in Pakistan after she was falsely accused of blasphemy against Islam, wants to live closer to French writer Anne-Isabelle Tollet, who was influential in her fight for freedom and helped her to write her autobiography, "Enfin Libre" (Finally Free).

At present, Bibi is in France to help to promote the book, which so far has been published only in French, and also to be made an "honorary citizen" of Paris.

During a Feb. 24 interview with RTL, a French radio station, Bibi declared: "My great desire is to go to France."

She said that although she had no meeting scheduled with Emmanuel Macron "obviously I would like the president to hear my request" (for asylum).

In a news release from Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic charity, Bibi confirmed that she was seeking asylum in France.

"I have found a lot of love here," she said. "I think I'd be fine."

"Obviously I am enormously grateful to Canada," she added, according to a Feb. 26 statement by the British Pakistani Christian Association, a group that campaigned for her release.

It is unclear, however, if Bibi and her family have yet made a formal application for asylum in France.

Bibi, a mother of five, had been sentenced to hang for allegedly insulting Muhammad, the founder of Islam, in June 2009 following a dispute with Muslim co-workers whom, she maintains, objected to her sharing their water supply because she was a Christian. She has always denied the blasphemy allegation.

Islamic extremists were vocal in demanding her execution and, for her own safety, she was held in solitary confinement from November 2010, when she was convicted. While she was incarcerated, she saw sunlight for just two hours a month.

"During my detention, I held the hand of Christ," she said in a Feb. 26 interview with Aid to the Church in Need. "It is thanks to him that I have stayed standing. Do not be afraid."

"It is thanks to the media that I am still alive," she added.

Bibi failed in her 2016 appeal against conviction at the High Court but, in October 2018, she was exonerated by Pakistan's Supreme Court.

The ruling inflamed tensions in Pakistan, and she was forced to remain in the country for seven months before she could join her husband and two daughters at a secret address in Canada in May 2019.

An English translation of her book is expected to be on sale by September this year.

The Need for Moral Preaching in the New Evangelization

Catholic World Report - 4 hours 59 min ago
In this article, I would like to offer an argument for the prominent inclusion of moral preaching as part of the ministry of homiletic preaching in the new evangelization. The Archdiocese of Detroit, to which [...]

Head of Ethiopian Catholic Church barred from entering Eritrea

CNA General News - 5 hours 12 min ago

Asmara, Eritrea, Feb 27, 2020 / 11:14 am (CNA).- Cardinal Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, the head of the Ethiopian Catholic Church, was prohibited from leaving the Asmara airport Saturday. The move comes after tensions between the Church and government in Eritrea.

The BBC reported that Cardinal Berhaneyesus, Ethiopian Archbishop of Addis Abeba, had been issued a visa, but officials at the airport of the Eritrean capital said Feb. 22 they had been ordered by those “higher up” not to allow him into the country.

The cardinal intended to attend an event marking the 50th anniversary of the dedication of Kidane Mehret cathedral in Asmara.

Last year the Eritrean government seized and closed a number of Catholic healthcare sites. It is believed the seizures are retaliatory, after the Church in April 2019 called for reforms to reduce emigration. The bishops had also called for national reconciliation.

In June and July 2019 the government shuttered as many as 29 Catholic hospitals, health centers, and clinics.

Eritrea's bishops framed the problem as one of religious liberty, saying: “It is our firm belief that, with the recent requisition of our clinics, a specific right of our religion has been violated, which prescribes, ‘to love others and to do good to them.’ Any measure that prevents us from fulfilling … the obligations that come to us from the supreme commandment of brotherly love is and remains a violation of the fundamental right of religious freedom.”

Eritrea is a one-party state whose human rights record has frequently been deplored, and government seizure of Church property is not new.

A 1995 decree restricting social and welfare projects to the state has been used intermittently since then to seize or close ecclesial services.

In July 2018, an Eritrean Catholic priest helping immigrants and refugees in Italy told EWTN that authorities had recently shut down eight free Catholic-run medical clinics. He said authorities claimed the clinics were unnecessary because of the presence of state clinics.

Christian and Muslim schools have also been closed under the 1995 decree, according to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom's 2019 annual report.

Eritrea has been designated a Country of Particular Concern since 2004 for its religious freedom abuses by the US Department of State.

Many Eritreans, especially youth, emigrate, due to a military conscription, and a lack of opportunities, freedom, education, and health care.

A July 2018 peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which ended a conflict over their mutual border, led to an open border which has allowed for easier emigration.

The Eritrean and Ethiopian Catholic Churches are closely linked. Both use the Alexandrian rite, and the Eritrean Catholic Church was separated from the Ethiopian Catholic Church only in 2015.

Bishop proposes rotating presidency of German bishops' conference

Natl Catholic Reporter - 5 hours 18 min ago
Just ahead of the German bishops' conference spring meeting to elect a new president, Regensburg Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer has proposed a new system for the group's leadership.

WE MUST HEAR FROM BLOOMBERG’S “KILL IT” VICTIM

Catholic League - 6 hours 32 min ago
Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on Michael Bloomberg's treatment of female employees: In the South Carolina presidential debate, Senator Elizabeth Warren commented that when she was a special-education teacher she was happy not to have a boss like Michael Bloomberg. She recounted how he allegedly said to one of his pregnant employees, "Kill It!" [...]

Canadian bishops condemn new medical suicide measures

CNA General News - 6 hours 51 min ago

Ottawa, Canada, Feb 27, 2020 / 09:35 am (CNA).- The Catholic bishops of Canada issued a statement on Wednesday, condemning parliament’s efforts to further expand medically assisted suicide to those who do not have terminal illnesses. 

The legislation, known as Bill C-7, was introduced in parliament on February 23. In addition to permitting people without terminal illnesses to end their lives, the bill also creates the possibility for patients to issue advance directives, authorizing their own death in advance. 

According to the language of the bill, it would “remove the requirement for a person’s natural death to be reasonably foreseeable in order to be eligible for medical assistance in dying,” and would “introduce a two-track approach to procedural safeguards” depending on if a person’s natural death is “reasonably foreseeable.” 

“The Catholic Bishops of Canada wish to express the greatest concern and dismay in regards to the (introduction) of Bill C-7 which seeks to expand the eligibility criteria for euthanasia and assisted suicide,” said the bishops Feb. 26. 

The bishops condemned “the lamentable legislative aim” of broadening access to assisted dying, and insisted “that every opportunity for due diligence be taken during the parliamentary process.” 

“Every effort [must] be made to understand more fully the grave implications of what is being contemplated by way of Bill C-7, including the unavoidable, negative and detrimental dangers facing those who are most vulnerable in society,” they added. 

The bishops called for the Canadian House of Commons to refer the legislation to a committee for further debate and examination prior to the bill’s second reading in parliament. If the bill were to be moved to committee, witnesses would be permitted to testify “in a manner which is fully public, transparent, and open to a wide range of voices,” they said.

The bishops expressed their hope that a committee hearing would result in “full and prudent consideration of inviolable moral and ethical principles, the common good, and concern for future generations.”

The bishops also expressed concerns about the loosening of existing safeguards for “medically assisted deaths,” drawing attention to the bill’s provision for “advance directives.” 

“This means that those who change their minds at a later date, but whose ability to communicate has since been impaired, would be left to express their refusal in potentially vague ‘words, sounds, and gestures,’” said the bishops. 

This would make it “immensely difficult and highly subjective for medical practitioners and lawyers to decipher whether or not the patient still wishes to consent to the lethal procedure,” they said. 

The bishops also noted that the government ignored an open letter signed by more than 65 Canadian disability advocacy organizations, as well as the advice of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Bill C-7 is the Canadian governments attempt to accommodate a ruling by the Quebec Superior Court, which found in September 2019 that the previous requirement that euthanasia be reserved for the terminally ill was a “human rights” violation. 

“The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada regrettably chose not to appeal the Quebec Superior Court decision,” said the bishops.

Additionally, the bishops took issue with a two-week online opinion survey on assisted dying in January. The results of that survey helped to shape the text of Bill C-7.

“The questions in this survey were framed in a manner which presupposed agreement with euthanasia and assisted suicide, including its broadening, without giving Canadians who are opposed an equal voice,” they said. 

The bishops were further concerned that although less than 1% of the Canadian population responded to the survey, “it regrettably did not ask for detailed and essential demographic data from participants,” including questions about age, gender, or disability status. The bishops noted that the online-only nature of the survey could exclude low-income, elderly, cognitively disabled, or rural Canadians, who may lack internet access.

“The online survey cannot purport to represent a ‘wide spectrum’ of the Canadian population, as has been claimed,” they said. 

“Such a flawed survey cannot be used realistically to justify Bill C-7,” said the bishops.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church condemns euthanasia, and Pope Francis recently reiterated the Church’s rejection of the practice. 

The bishops are now calling on Canadians to “make their voices heard,” and they “strongly urge members of Parliament to acknowledge the giftedness of life as an inalienable right not to be taken away by others.”

Congressman seeks investigation of church's sex abuse deals

Natl Catholic Reporter - 7 hours 6 min ago
A congressman is asking the Department of Justice to investigate settlements to two men who say they were victims of clergy abuse at a Catholic school in Mississippi.

Indian Christian leaders condemn Delhi communal violence

Vatican News - 7 hours 43 min ago
Christian leaders have called on church institutions to open their doors to the victims of the riots in the spirit of Lent.

Barr, DeVos speak at religious broadcasters forum

Natl Catholic Reporter - 7 hours 43 min ago
U.S. Attorney General William Barr warned a group of Christian broadcasters on Feb. 26 that the decline of religion in America is undermining liberal democracy.

Pope Francis names 4 new bishops for US dioceses

CNA General News - 7 hours 56 min ago

Vatican City, Feb 27, 2020 / 08:30 am (CNA).- Pope Francis has appointed four new bishops to serve in American dioceses. The appointments, announced Thursday, include three new auxiliary bishops for the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, and one new auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of San Diego, California.

The appointments include a Benedictine monk who currently leads the American-Cassinese Congregation.

The Vatican announced Feb. 27 that Fr. Ramon Bejarano will be consecrated as auxiliary bishop for San Diego. The three new auxiliary bishops for the Newark archdiocese are Msgr. Gregory Studerus, Fr. Michael Saporito, and Abbot Elias Lorenzo.

Abbot Lorenzo, 59 is a monk of St. Mary’s Abbey in Morristown, New Jersey, who was previously prior of the Benedictine Abbey of Sant’Anselmo in Rome. Lorenzo has served as abbott president of the American-Cassinese Congregation, an association of 25 Benedictine monasteries, since 2016.

Born in Brooklyn, NY, Lorenzo entered the Benedictine monastery in 1983 after receiving a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Don Bosco College Seminary. He went on to earn a license in canon law from Catholic University of America, and master’s degrees in counseling psychology and in liturgical theology. After his ordination in 1989, Lorenzo served as a director of liturgy for the abbey, vice president of Delbarton School, and president of the International Commission for Benedictine Education.

Msgr. Gregory Studerus, a priest of the Newark archdiocese, has served as episcopal vicar of Hudson County since 2015. Before entering seminary, Studerus worked as an elementary school art teacher and served in the National Guard. He holds a Master of Divinity from Immaculate Conception Seminary.

Msgr. Studerus, 71, has been pastor of St. Joseph of the Palisades Church, the largest Hispanic parish in the Newark archdiocese, for 15 years. 

The other auxiliary bishop-elect for the Archdiocese of Newark is Fr. Michael Saporito, who currently serves as pastor of St. Helen Parish in Westfield, NJ.

A native of Newark, Saporito, 57, has served six parishes in the archdiocese since his ordination in 1992, including St. Joseph in Maplewood and St. Elizabeth in Wyckoff. Saporito studied accounting at Rutgers University before entering Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University in South Orange.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Archbishop of Newark, welcomed the appointments, and said that the pope had shown a “special concern for the life and the mission of Archdiocese of Newark.” 

“In selecting Msgr. Studerus, Abbot Lorenzo, and Father Saporito for service as bishops, the Holy Father gives new impetus to this local Church as we continue to walk forward in faith.”

“I am delighted to share my responsibilities with these three dedicated missionary disciples,” Tobin said.

Pope Francis also appointed a new auxiliary bishop of San Diego Feb. 27, Fr. Ramon Bejarano, who currently serves as pastor of St. Stanislaus Parish in Modesto, CA.

Born in Laredo, TX, Bejarano, 50, spent much of his childhood in Chihuahua, Mexico, before moving with his family to California, where he was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Stockton in 1998. The bilingual priest earned a master’s degree in philosophy from the Diocesan Seminary of Tijuana, and a Master of Divinity from Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon. He previously served as pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Turlock, CA and as founding pastor of Holy Family Parish in Modesto. 

The four new auxiliary bishop appointments come one week after all of the current U.S. bishops completed their ad limina visits to Rome to meet Pope Francis and pray at the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul.

Pope skips penance service with Rome clergy due to mild cold

Natl Catholic Reporter - 8 hours 18 min ago
Pope Francis did not attend a traditional penitential service with priests of the Diocese of Rome due to a mild cold, the Vatican said.
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