Nation & world briefs


USCCB committee echoes plea for peace in Syria

WASHINGTON -- While standing in solidarity with the Church and people of Syria, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Administrative Committee echoed the plea of Pope Francis that the international community immediately take steps to bring peace to the war-torn country. Committee members said in a statement that a political solution, rather than a military response, was needed to resolve Syria's 30-month civil war. "We have heard the urgent calls of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and our suffering brother bishops of the venerable ancient Christian churches of the Middle East. As one, they beg the international community not to resort to military intervention in Syria," the statement said.

Stockton Diocese considers filing for bankruptcy

WASHINGTON -- Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, detailed the financial situation of that diocese in two recent letters to Catholics in the diocese that were read during weekend Masses at 35 parishes and 14 mission churches. The most recent letter, read during the Sept. 7-8 weekend Masses, announced the diocese's plans to consider filing for bankruptcy. The diocese has been paying for multiple clergy sexual abuse lawsuit payments and is running out of funds for future settlements. By 2010, it had settled 22 sex abuse lawsuits at a cost of $18.7 million. Currently, the diocese is making payments on three sexual abuse lawsuits and has one suit pending. If the Stockton Diocese goes through with declaring bankruptcy, it will be the 10th diocese to do so as a result of the costs of clergy sexual abuse lawsuits.


Pope hears officials' input on reforming bureaucracy

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis met with Vatican officials Sept. 10 to hear their questions and suggestions about his ongoing reform of the Vatican bureaucracy. The Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, said the meeting lasted nearly three hours and, except for a brief greeting by the pope, was devoted to remarks by the other participants. About 30 people attended, almost all of them heads of the major Vatican offices, joined by Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the commission governing Vatican City State, and Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of Rome.

Officials question decision in gender abortion case

MANCHESTER, England -- An English archbishop praised the British government for seeking clarification of a decision not to prosecute two doctors who agreed to abortions on the grounds of gender. Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark issued a statement after Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for health, questioned the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service, the organization that decides which cases should proceed to court, not to bring criminal cases against the doctors.

Canada's bishops to discuss charity at meeting

OTTAWA, Ontario -- When Canada's bishops meet in Quebec Sept. 23-27, they will be discussing charity, at home and abroad. Within the past several months, floods in southern Alberta, the fire at Lac-Megantic, Quebec and the flash flooding in Toronto highlighted the fact that Canada's bishops do not have an organized structure to respond to tragedies within the country, said Msgr. Patrick Powers, general secretary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. This year's plenary in Sainte-Adele, Quebec, will feature a "thorough conversation on charity" that features reflections on "how we can come to the aid of people right here in our own country," said Msgr. Powers.

Pope, greeting refugees, says solidarity is not a dirty word

ROME -- Speaking at an assistance center for foreign refugees in Italy, Pope Francis called on wealthy societies and the Catholic Church to do more to help and defend the rights of the needy. "Charity that leaves a poor person just the way he is does not suffice," the pope said Sept. 10 at the Rome headquarters of Jesuit Refugee Service. "True mercy, that which God gives us and teaches us, asks for justice, asks that the poor person find the way to be poor no more." In his remarks, the pope recalled his July trip to the southern Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, a major entry point into Italy for undocumented migrants from Africa. During that trip, he denounced the "globalization of indifference" and called for more welcoming policies in richer countries. As on that occasion, Pope Francis did not hesitate to strike a political note.

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