Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Reports say Callista Gingrich will be nominated as Vatican ambassador

WASHINGTON — Callista Gingrich, wife of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, will be Donald Trump's nominee for U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, two U.S. news outlets are reporting. The New York Times and CNN reported May 14 that the official announcement of the nomination is waiting to be approved by the Office of Government Ethics. In a news briefing May 15, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer wouldn't confirm Gingrich's nomination and said "nothing's official until it's announced," when asked about the matter. Callista Gingrich, 51, a former congressional aide, is the president of Gingrich Productions, which produces documentaries as well as other materials related to her husband, Republican Newt Gingrich, who served from 1995 until 1999 as the 50th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. She is a longtime member of the choir at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

After furor over remarks, DNC chair to meet with pro-life Dems' head

WASHINGTON — After a furor erupted over his statement that the Democratic Party should support only those candidates who support legal abortion, Democratic National Committee chairman Thomas Perez will meet with the head of Democrats for Life of America, Kristen Day. In an interview May 16, Day said she had sought the meeting with Perez before he issued his statement prior to Democrat Heath Mello's loss May 9 in the mayor's race in Omaha, Neb. "We're still working on the date," said Day, who added she had been able to meet with previous DNC chairs Terry McAuliffe and Howard Dean, but not Perez's predecessor, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Perez was criticized in pro-life circles when he said, "Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman's right to make her own choices about her body and her health. That is not negotiable."

N.C. priest named auxiliary bishop for Atlanta

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Father Bernard E. Shlesinger III, a priest of the Diocese of Raleigh, N.C., to be an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. Bishop-designate Shlesinger, 56, is currently the director of spiritual formation at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia. Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, announced the apointment May 15 in Washington. Bishop-designate Shlesinger's episcopal ordination will take place at Christ the King Cathedral in Atlanta, with the date still to be announced.

WORLD

Vatican finance watchdog intensifies outreach to foreign authorities

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican's financial watchdog agency has beefed up its investigations with increased outreach to foreign authorities in a continued effort to prevent suspected money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Given the growing number of agreements it has made to share information with foreign financial intelligence authorities and the "increasing complexity of potential money laundering schemes," the Vatican Financial Intelligence Authority (AIF) made more than 700 requests to foreign authorities in 2016 — up from about 200 requests in 2015 and just 20 requests in 2014.

Pope expresses doubts about Medjugorje

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM PORTUGAL — While the investigations into the very first alleged apparitions at Medjugorje must continue, Pope Francis said he has doubts about claims that Mary continues to appear in the village of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Asked May 13 about the authenticity of the Marian apparitions, which reportedly began in 1981, the pope referred to the findings of a commission chaired by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the retired papal vicar of Rome. "The report has its doubts, but personally, I am a little worse," the pope told reporters traveling with him from Fatima, Portugal. "I prefer Our Lady as mother, our mother, and not Our Lady as head of the post office who sends a message at a stated time. This isn't Jesus' mother." Three of the six young people who originally claimed to have seen Mary in Medjugorje in June 1981 say she continues to appear to them each day; the other three say Mary appears to them once a year now.

Priest stabbed while celebrating Mass in Mexico

MEXICO CITY — A priest was stabbed at the altar while celebrating Mass May 15 in Mexico City's Metropolitan Cathedral. The priest, Father Miguel Angel Machorro, was stabbed three times, according to media reports. Father Machorro was rushed to the hospital and underwent emergency surgery. His condition was listed as "delicate, but stable," according to media reports. In a tweet, Mexico City Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera offered prayers for the injured priest, "so that he is healthy and returns to his normal duties." The suspect was arrested at the scene. Mexico City security officials said the suspect identified himself as John Rock Schild, an American citizen, "approximately 28 years old" and an artist.

Bishop urges international help for Somalia's drought

NAIROBI, Kenya — Bishop Giorgio Bertin of Djibouti urged the international community to focus on alleviating the drought in Somalia as 6 million people experience severe food shortages and contend with the al-Shabab extremist group. Bishop Bertin, who also is apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Mogadishu, Somalia, expressed fear that the country may slip into a famine if action was delayed. "The Somali government, international community and Somali diaspora should map out the most affected areas and find the best way to respond to the immediate needs of local population," Bishop Bertin told Catholic News Service May 12.

World Youth Day logo shows symbols for Mary, Panama

PANAMA CITY — A logo depicting symbols for Mary, Panama and the Panama Canal was selected as the winning design to promote World Youth Day 2019. The design by Amber Calvo, 20, a Panamanian student studying architecture, was chosen from 103 entries submitted for the event that will take place Jan. 22-27, 2019. The final decision by the WYD Executive Committee 2019 and the Vatican's Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life was between three finalists. Calvo's design is in the shape of a stylized heart. It is two shades of blue with a red cross. The artwork includes a silhouette of Mary on the right at the moment she says, "Thy will be done" to God. The Panama Canal flows through Mary, symbolizing the pilgrim's path through Mary to Jesus.

— Catholic News Service 

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