Nation & World briefs

NATION

Pope Francis appoints Wichita, Miami bishops

WASHINGTON -- Pope Francis has appointed the vicar general of the Diocese of Springfield, Ill., to be bishop of Wichita, Kan., and also named a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J., as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Miami. In Kansas, Msgr. Carl A. Kemme, 53, vicar general and moderator of the curia in Springfield, will succeed Archbishop Michael O. Jackels, who was named to head the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa, in April 2013. Miami's newly named auxiliary is Msgr. Peter Baldacchino, also 53, who since 1999 has been chancellor of the Turks and Caicos Islands, a juridical mission of the New Jersey archdiocese. The appointments were announced Feb. 20 in Washington by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

'Restorative justice' urged for accused bomber

WASHINGTON -- In light of the proposed death penalty for 20-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, "Jesus weeps ... again" at the injustice, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men said in a Feb. 19 statement. "Christ calls us to love our enemies and travel the long, difficult, but humanizing and liberating road to reconciliation," the conference said. The CMSM statement came in response to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announcing the federal government will seek the death penalty against Tsarnaev, currently being held in federal prison for his alleged role in the Boston Marathon attacks. The Catholic Church opposes the death penalty in nearly all cases, saying that "the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."

WORLD

Pope names presidents for synod on family

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis named a French, a Philippine and a Brazilian cardinal to serve as the three presidents of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family in October. During a meeting Feb. 21 with the College of Cardinals, Pope Francis announced the synod presidents would be French Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris, Philippine Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila, and Brazilian Cardinal Raymundo Assis of Aparecida. The presidents will take turns running the general sessions of the synod, which will be held Oct. 5-19. The extraordinary synod will bring together presidents of bishops' conferences, the heads of Eastern Catholic churches and the heads of Vatican offices to discuss "pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelization." Pope Francis announced that the 2015 ordinary world Synod of Bishops also would focus on the theme of the family. An ordinary synod involves more bishops, including many who are elected to represent their countries' bishops' conferences.

Catholic leaders praise missioners who stay in CAR

OXFORD, England -- Catholic leaders in the Central African Republic praised the courage of missionary priests and nuns who remained in the country during the current conflict, despite offers of evacuation. "That most have remained here is the greatest act of witness our Church has given," said Bishop Nestor-Desire Nongo Aziagbia of Bossangoa, Central African Republic. "Even when life is insecure, people still look to their priests and religious as a sign of hope and to Catholic missions as places of refuge. This makes their continued presence very important," he told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview Feb. 20.

Pope: Faith without works is just spouting hot air

VATICAN CITY -- Understanding God's commandments and Church doctrine is useless if those truths aren't put into practice, Pope Francis said. "A faith without bearing fruit in life, a faith that doesn't bear fruit in works is not faith," the pope said in a Mass homily, focusing on the day's first reading from the Book of James (2:14-24). Professing the faith without giving a witness makes the Gospel "words and nothing more than words," he said Feb. 21 during his early morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives.

Cardinals outline broad family ministry approaches

VATICAN CITY -- As some 150 cardinals from around the world gathered with Pope Francis to talk about the family, their two days of discussion focused particularly on three points: the Christian vision of people and family life; essential pastoral programs to support families; and ministry to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics. Although the discussions during the Feb. 20-21 meeting were closed to the press, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, gave reporters an overview of the discussions. Retired German Cardinal Walter Kasper gave a two-hour opening presentation, laying out the biblical and theological basis of Church teaching on marriage. He also emphasized the challenge of finding ways to always fulfill two basic obligations: remaining faithful to Jesus' words about the indissolubility of marriage and embodying the mercy God always shows to those who have sinned or fallen short.

Vatican starts hiring freeze, forbids overtime

VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican announced an immediate end to new hires, wage-increases and overtime in an effort to cut costs and offset budget shortfalls. Pope Francis, with input from the Vatican's central accounting office, also determined that volunteers could be used to help provide the labor needed to make up for the hiring freeze and eventual attrition. Cardinal-designate Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, sent a letter, dated Feb. 13, to the heads of all Vatican offices, institutions and agencies. He said the budget forecast for 2014 "necessitated the immediate adoption of some measures needed to contain" personnel costs. In its last published report, the Vatican said it had a slight budget surplus of $2.7 million in 2012 after experiencing one of its largest budget deficits of the past decade in 2011.

Synod official says survey shows suffering, need to rebuild trust

VATICAN CITY -- The responses to the Vatican questionnaire about Catholics' family life reflect a great amount of suffering around the world, said the general secretary of the synod. As of Feb. 19, about 80 percent of the world's bishops' conferences and 60 percent of the Vatican congregations and councils had turned in formal responses to a questionnaire distributed by the synod office in October. Cardinal-designate Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the synod, told the Vatican newspaper Feb. 21 that the responses show "much suffering, especially by those who feel excluded or abandoned by the Church because they find themselves in a state of life that does not correspond to the Church's doctrine and discipline." The volume of responses, which also include about 700 submissions from Catholic groups and individuals, demonstrates great interest in the synod's plans to discuss the family when it meets at the Vatican Oct. 5-19, said the general secretary.

--Catholic News Service

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