Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Bp. Murry gives stark appraisal of Church relations with blacks

WASHINGTON — The bishop who chairs the U.S. bishops' Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism gave a sobering assessment of U.S. Catholics' treatment of blacks, from the laity to the hierarchy. "The American Catholic Church has continued to be virtually silent," said Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, "which leads us to the question: Why?" Bishop Murry spoke at a plenary session, "Church and Communities Address the Sin of Racism in Our Society," Feb. 4 during the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington. He recalled a 1983 conference that featured an address by African-American theologian James Cone. "What is it about the Catholic definition of justice that makes many persons of that faith progressive in their attitude toward the poor in Central America, but reactionary toward the poor in black America?" Bishop Murry recalled Cone asking. "It is the failure of the Church to deal effectively with the problem of racism that causes me to question the commitment to justice," Cone said. While he added he "didn't want to minimize" the Church's contribution to the struggle for racial justice, there is "ambiguity" in the Church "where racism is not addressed forthrightly."

Pope names Marist priest auxiliary bishop for Atlanta

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Marist Father Joel M. Konzen, who is principal of Marist School in Atlanta, as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Atlanta. Bishop-designate Konzen, ordained a priest in the Society of Mary in 1979 in New Orleans, has been principal of Marist School since 1999. Two years ago he received Educational Excellence Award from the Catholic Secondary Schools Department of the National Catholic Educational Association in recognition of his long and varied service to Catholic schools. His appointment was announced in Washington Feb. 5 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. The episcopal ordination of Bishop-designate Konzen, 67, will take place April 3.

WORLD

Vatican, China nearing agreement on bishops, according to reports

VATICAN CITY — Multiple news reports indicate the Vatican has made substantial progress in reaching an agreement with China's communist government on the naming of bishops for several dioceses. The news agency Reuters and The Wall Street Journal both reported Feb. 1 that the deal would involve two bishops recognized by the Holy See stepping aside to make way for two bishops chosen by the government-controlled Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association; the new bishops would have to recognize the authority of the pope and ask forgiveness for having accepted ordination without papal approval. Both articles relied on unnamed sources at the Vatican. Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, would not comment when contacted by Catholic News Service Feb. 2. However, the reports coincide with claims made by Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, retired archbishop of Hong Kong, who announced in late January that he had met personally with Pope Francis to express his opposition.

Letter in case of Chilean bishop raises questions

VATICAN CITY — Less than a week after the Vatican announced Pope Francis was sending a trusted investigator to Chile to listen to people with information about a bishop accused of covering up clerical sexual abuse, the Associated Press reported the pope was given a detailed letter from a survivor almost three years ago. The Vatican had said Jan. 30 that Pope Francis' decision to send Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta to investigate was prompted by "recently received information" in the case of Bishop Juan Barros, who was named bishop of Osorno, Chile, in 2015. Juan Carlos Cruz, a victim of Bishop Barros' mentor, Father Fernando Karadima, gave the AP a copy of an eight-page letter he wrote in 2015 to Pope Francis, graphically describing the abuse he suffered and saying that then-Father Barros was in the room watching when some of the incidents occurred. AP released its story Feb. 5. On Feb. 7, it reported that Archbishop Scicluna would fly to the United States to interview Cruz. As of Feb. 7, the Vatican had not commented. The letter appeared to contradict what Pope Francis had told reporters who accompanied him to Chile and Peru. During the trip, the pope had said that the people accusing Bishop Barros were guilty of slander and calumny because they had presented no "evidence" of the bishop's guilt.

Two Mexican priests killed in ambush

MEXICO CITY — Two priests were gunned down as they returned from Candlemas celebrations in a corner of Mexico rife with drug cartel violence and increasingly lethal for prelates. Fathers Ivan Anorve Jaimes and Germain Muniz Garcia were killed early Feb. 5 as they drove between the cities of Taxco and Iguala in Guerrero state, some 100 miles south of Mexico City. Guerrero state officials say an armed group blocked the priests' van and opened fire. The priests were traveling with four other passengers, all of whom were injured. Church officials in Guerrero condemned the slayings and called for a thorough investigation. Father Anorve was a priest of the archdiocese, while Father Muniz was part of the Diocese of Chilpancingo-Chilapa.

— Catholic News Service

Pope and Erdogan discuss Jerusalem, Mideast peace

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis welcomed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the Vatican Feb. 5 for a private discussion that included the status of Jerusalem and the need to achieve peace in the Middle East through dialogue and respect for human rights. During a 50-minute meeting, the two leaders discussed the current situation in Turkey, "the condition of the Catholic community, efforts in the reception of the many refugees and the challenges linked to this," the Vatican said in a statement. Aided by interpreters, Pope Francis and Erdogan also focused on "the situation in the Middle East, with particular reference to the status of Jerusalem, highlighting the need to promote peace and stability in the region through dialogue and negotiation, with respect for human rights and international law." The same topics were brought up during Erdogan's separate meeting with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Vatican foreign minister.

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