Nation and world briefs


Network social justice lobby unveils '21st Century Poverty' campaign

WASHINGTON — Network, the nun-led Catholic social justice lobby, launched its "21st Century Poverty" campaign on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14. But don't count on the campaign lasting just for Lent, according to Network's grassroots mobilization manager, Meg Olson. "This is something we've been thinking about for a long time," Olson told Catholic News Service. She said it can be "a different way to talk about the 'Mend the Gap' public policy campaign" Network unveiled in 2016. Olson said she expects this campaign to last for at least two years and possibly longer. "Lent is just the beginning," she added, noting it could take "at least two years of challenging stereotypes and misconceptions. ... There were things that were constructed in the Thirties, the Forties, the Fifties, and also during the War on Poverty (in the 1960s), and how they're no longer serving our society."

U.S. military auxiliary bishop named Rockville Centre auxiliary

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Auxiliary Bishop Robert J. Coyle of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services to be an auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York. Bishop Coyle, 53, was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Rockville Centre in 1991 and was an associate pastor in the diocese in the 1990s. He served 24 and a half years on active and reserve duty for the U.S. Navy. He retired from the Navy Reserve Jan. 1, 2013.


Ex-Chilean seminarian: Meeting with Vatican abuse investigator 'intense'

NEW YORK — A former Chilean seminarian who accused a current bishop of abuse cover-up met with a Vatican investigator and said he finally felt he had been heard. Juan Carlos Cruz met for nearly four hours Feb. 17 with Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, a longtime expert on clergy sex abuse. Cruz, who currently lives and works in Philadelphia, said that this is the first time he felt Church officials had listened to how, as a seminarian, he was sexually abused by Father Fernando Karadima, a Chilean priest. Cruz maintains that now-Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno, Chile, witnessed some of the abuse. In a statement Feb. 17, Cruz called his meeting "a good experience," one he described as emotional and at times "very intense and very detailed." He also said he thought it was "eye-opening" for the archbishop. "I leave here very hopeful today," Cruz told reporters after the meeting.

Pope renews membership of child protection commission

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has named nine new members to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, including abuse survivors or the parents of survivors, the Vatican said. However, respecting "the right of each person to disclose their experiences of abuse publicly or not to do so," the commission said Feb. 17, "the members appointed today have chosen not do so publicly, but solely within the commission." Pope Francis re-appointed Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston to be president of the commission, which the pope originally established in 2014. The terms of the original members had expired in December. The first group of members had included two survivors who were very public about their experience of abuse as children. The new members, whose appointments were announced by the Vatican Feb. 17 include: Benyam Dawit Mezmur, an Ethiopian who was chair of the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2015-17; Indian Sister Arina Gonsalves, a certified counselor and consultant on abuse cases; Neville Owen, a judge and former chair of the Australian Catholic Church's Truth, Justice and Healing Council; Sinalelea Fe'ao, chief education officer for the Diocese of Tonga and Niue; and Myriam Wijlens, a canon law professor from the Netherlands.

Head of Catholic physicians' group warns of threats to conscientious objection

VATICAN CITY — No physician should be forced to choose between violating his or her conscience and facing professional sanctions when defending human life, said the president of the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations. Dr. John Lee, the federation president, wrote a letter in early February to the World Medical Association protesting proposed changes in the WMA's ethical policy statements on abortion and on euthanasia. The changes apparently will be discussed at the WMA council meeting in Latvia in April. The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, reported on Lee's letter Feb. 16. The two proposals, Lee said, would "facilitate worldwide abortion and euthanasia by curtailing doctors' conscientious objection" by using "deceptive language, pressure on doctors by national regulatory bodies and legal force to weaken national laws protecting human life."

No youths should feel excluded from pre-synod meeting, cardinal says

VATICAN CITY — As the Catholic Church prepares to welcome youths from around the world to a preparatory meeting for the Synod of Bishops on youth, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri said the Church is using every means of communication available to listen to young people from all walks of life. Speaking to journalists Feb. 16, Cardinal Baldisseri, the general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, said social networks will allow young people to follow and interact "with their peers in Rome" attending the March 19-24 pre-synod meeting. "In short, even through the new technologies of communication, the pre-synod meeting wants to broaden as much as possible the audience of young people involved so that no one should feel excluded," Cardinal Baldisseri said.

Pope updates resignation norms for bishops, prelates

VATICAN CITY — Updating the norms and regulations governing the resignation of bishops and of Roman Curia department heads who aren't cardinals, Pope Francis said they will continue to hold office until he accepts their resignations. The update was published in a document titled "Imparare a congedarsi" ("Learning to say farewell") and was given "motu proprio," meaning on the pope's own initiative. The new rules went into effect Feb. 15, the same day it was released by the Vatican press office. The Code of Canon Law previously stated that a resignation that requires acceptance "lacks all force if it is not accepted within three months" while one that doesn't require acceptance "takes effect when it has been communicated by the one resigning."

— Catholic News Service 

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