Nation & World briefs


Pope Francis' celebrity should turn eyes to Jesus

BALTIMORE -- "Like Pope Francis? You'll love Jesus." It was a well-circulated Washington Post headline in December, but it could have been the tagline for the March 18 "Francis Factor" event held at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore. As a cardinal, archbishop and four Catholic expert panelists shared insights from Pope Francis' first year, they repeatedly shifted the attention away from the pope and onto the Son of God. Pope Francis would have done no less. "The pope is a true companion of Jesus," said Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston in the evening's keynote address. Speaking to an audience of some 2,800 in Loyola's Reitz Arena, Cardinal O'Malley said the pope is enticing people to take a new look at the Church.

Dream of Guadalupe shrine to be realized in S. Philly

PHILADELPHIA -- Religious shrines or art in the public places are relatively rare in the United States but quite common in Europe, South America and other areas that have a predominantly Catholic culture. But if all goes as expected, a shrine honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe is coming to a street corner in South Philadelphia. Once in place, the shrine will fulfill a dream of Sister Paula Bierschmitt, a member of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who died in September. The shrine will include a bronze image of Our Lady of Guadalupe as she appeared on the tilma of St. Juan Diego in 16th-century Mexico. Sister Paula was an artist and the founder of the American Academy of Sacred Arts in South Philadelphia in 1993.

Bishops: Same-sex marriage ruling is 'regrettable'

LANSING, Mich. -- A U.S. District Court judge's March 21 ruling that Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional does not change the fact "marriage is and can only ever be a unique relationship solely between one man and one woman," said the state's Catholic bishops. "Nature itself, not society, religion or government, created marriage. Nature, the very essence of humanity as understood through historical experience and reason, is the arbiter of marriage, and we uphold this truth for the sake of the common good," they said in a statement released by the Michigan Catholic Conference in Lansing. "The biological realities of male and female and the complementarity they each bring to marriage uniquely allows for the procreation of children," they said.


Cdl. O'Malley, abuse survivor on Vatican commission

VATICAN CITY -- Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, four women -- including a survivor of clerical sex abuse -- two Jesuit priests and an Italian lawyer are the first eight members of the new Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Pope Francis established the commission in December. The Vatican said members would help define the tasks and competencies of the commission and help identify other potential members. Cardinal O'Malley is also one of eight members of the Council of Cardinals advising Pope Francis on the reform of the Roman Curia and governance of the Church. The first eight members of the commission include Marie Collins, who was born in Dublin. At the age of 13, she was sexually abused by a Catholic priest who was a chaplain at a hospital where she was a patient.

Vatican accepts resignation of Germany's 'Bishop Bling'

VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican has accepted the resignation of a German bishop who was at the center of controversy over expenditures for his residence and a diocesan center. Following a diocesan investigation, the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops studied the audit's findings and accepted the resignation of Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg. Auxiliary Bishop Manfred Grothe of Paderborn was appointed to serve as apostolic administrator of Limburg. Bishop Tebartz-van Elst has been at the center of controversy over the remodeling and building project in Limburg, which was estimated to have cost about $40 million. Media dubbed Bishop Tebartz-van Elst the "luxury bishop" and "Bishop Bling." Bishop Tebartz-van Elst would be assigned, "at a suitable moment," another unspecified assignment, the statement said.

Pope appoints canon law expert to economic council

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis named Msgr. Brian Ferme, a former dean of the School of Canon Law at The Catholic University of America in Washington, to be the new prelate secretary of the Vatican Council for the Economy. In his new position, the British priest will assist German Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, head of the council Pope Francis established Feb. 24 to set policies for the administrative and financial activities of all Vatican offices and bodies. The appointment was announced March 22.

-- Catholic News Service

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