Nation & World briefs

U.S.

Vatican experts OK miracle attributed to Abp. Sheen

PEORIA, Ill. -- A seven-member team of medical experts convoked by the Vatican reported there is no natural explanation for the survival of a child delivered stillborn and whose heart did not start beating until 61 minutes after his birth. The survival of the child, James Fulton Engstrom, now 3 years old and developing normally, was credited by his parents to a miracle attributable to the intercession of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, a Peoria diocesan priest who gained fame for his 1950s television show "Life Is Worth Living" and his 16 years at the helm of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. The case will next be reviewed by a board of theologians and Pope Francis to be authenticated. Final approval would lead to beatification.

Atheist group says 9/11 museum shouldn't display cross-shaped beams

NEW YORK -- A 17-foot-tall cross-shaped steel beam that was found in the wreckage two days after 9/11 became an indelible image in the months following the terrorist attacks on New York in 2001. That cross is to be displayed as a historical artifact in a permanent exhibit in the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, scheduled to open in May near the site of the former World Trade Center. But a group called American Atheists has sued in federal court to have the cross taken out of the exhibit and replaced with a plaque that would say "atheists died here, too," according to a Religion News Service story. American Atheists Inc. first sued the museum and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in 2011, arguing that displaying the cross would offend them as citizens and taxpayers and was a violation of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause.

Cdl. George to undergo new round of chemotherapy

CHICAGO -- Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George is preparing to undergo a new round of chemotherapy to address "current signs of activity of cancer cells surrounding his right kidney," according to a March 7 announcement by the Chicago Archdiocese. The cardinal has met with his medical team, which recommended the course of treatment based on the results of several recent tests. Cardinal George, 77, was diagnosed with urothelial cancer in August 2012 and underwent chemotherapy at that time. Cardinal George intends to maintain his administrative and public schedule during this current round of chemotherapy, although it may occasionally be reduced.

WORLD

Economic woes, violence leave Venezuelan charities short of food, medicine

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Deep economic problems and violent demonstrations in Venezuela have left Catholic charities struggling to supply food and medical supplies amid an increase in demand for services, said a top Catholic aid official. "The situation has been getting worse over the last year, but now we're at the point where it has become very difficult for us to even find basic (food items) or to buy medications," Janeth Marquez de Soler, executive director of Caritas Venezuela, told Catholic News Service March 10. Shortages of basic foods, rising inflation, high crime and political divisions have led to tense protests across Venezuela in the past month as opponents of President Nicolas Maduro and thousands of students have taken to the streets to demand changes. Demonstrations on several occasions turned violent, however, leaving at least 21 people dead.

Cardinals, lay experts named to economic council

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis appointed an international group of eight cardinals -- including U.S. Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston -- and seven lay experts in the fields of business, management and finance to be the first members of the Vatican's new Council for the Economy. The secretariat, headed by Australian Cardinal George Pell, implements the policies determined by the council and answers directly to the Holy Father. The pope established the council and the secretariat as part of efforts to simplify, consolidate, coordinate and oversee management structures throughout the Vatican and to improve the governance, control and reporting of the financial activities of the Vatican's different offices and bodies.

Dates for 2015 display of Shroud of Turin announced

VATICAN CITY -- The Archdiocese of Turin, custodian of the Shroud of Turin, has announced that the shroud, venerated by many as the burial cloth of Christ, will be on public display April 19-June 24, 2015. The archdiocese said the 67-day display will be the longest period of time that the 14-foot-by-4-foot linen cloth has ever been available for public viewing; providing a window of more than two months not only will allow more faithful to see it, but also will make it easier for Pope Francis to schedule the visit he has said he wants to make.

Release of kidnapped nuns was answer to prayers

BEIRUIT --The release of at least 12 Greek Orthodox nuns who were abducted in Syria in December was an answer to prayers, said regional Catholic officials. Melkite Patriarch Gregoire III Laham said March 10 that he felt "a wave of joy" along with "thousands and thousands" of other people when he heard the nuns had been freed a day earlier. Islamist rebels claimed responsibility for the abduction of the nuns in December from Syria's ancient town of Maaloula. Two Orthodox bishops and three priests, including an Armenian Catholic and Italian Jesuit, also have been abducted in Syria and remain missing.

On S. Korea trip, pope will meet youths, beatify martyrs

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis will travel to South Korea in August for Asian Youth Day and to preside over the beatification of a large group of Korean martyrs, the Vatican spokesman said. The pope will leave Rome Aug. 13 and fly to South Korea, staying in the country Aug. 14-18, according to Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman. He said no other countries would be on the itinerary. The main point of the trip, Father Lombardi said, is to participate in the youth gathering Aug. 13-17 in Daejeon, South Korea. The theme of Asian Youth Day is "Asian youth, wake up! The glory of the martyrs shines on you." Sponsored by the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences, the gathering is expected to draw delegates from 30 countries. Father Lombardi said Pope Francis also will visit South Korea's capital, Seoul, and meet President Park Geun-hye. According to the Korean Herald, Park's office issued a statement saying, "The upcoming visit by Pope Francis, a symbolic figure of (someone who has lived) a poor but honest life and (upheld) neighborliness, will be an opportunity to deliver the message of love and peace to the northeast Asian region."

-- Catholic News Service

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