31 October 2022, The Tablet

Church in the World: News Briefing

Church in the World: News Briefing

FBI agents in San Francisco work outside the home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Oct. 28, 2022, where her husband, Paul Pelosi, was violently assaulted after a break-in at their house.
CNS photo/Carlos Barria, Reuters.

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone and Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez, president of the US bishops’ conference, offered prayers for the recovery of Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was struck with a hammer by a man in their home. “Please join me in praying for the swift recovery of Paul Pelosi and comfort for his wife and family too,” Cordileone, the archbishop of San Francisco, said in a statement. “Mother Mary hear our prayer.” Gomez also condemned the attack: “I join with Archbishop Cordileone in offering my prayers for the full recovery of Paul Pelosi and comfort for his family following the terrible attack,” Gomez said. “This violence … should have no place in our communities, our political process, or our great nation.” The House Speaker was not in San Francisco at the time of the attack, a spokesperson said.

The US bishops’ conference sent a letter to members of Congress urging policies that demonstrate a “radical solidarity” with women and children in wake of the Supreme Court’s decision leaving the issue of abortion to the individual states. “We are praying and working for changes in hearts and minds, circumstances and policy, that will help everyone to treasure each and every fellow human being in a society oriented to supporting children and their parents,” the bishops wrote. “In other words, we hope for the day when abortion is unthinkable because society has successfully reckoned with the challenges of raising children in the modern world and has decided to make the full flourishing of children and their families the highest goal, without anyone being excluded.” 

 A settlement between the diocese of Buffalo, New York and that state’s Attorney General will, for the first time, provide direct government oversight of priests who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor. Bishop Michael Fisher said, “We hope that these initiatives, along with our commitment to producing an additional detailed annual compliance audit by an independent auditor, will provide further evidence of our commitment to the level of accountability and transparency that all Catholic faithful and the broader public rightly deserve and require.”

Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary general of the General Secretariat of the Synod, said Catholic climate negotiators have “just to follow” Pope Francis’ encyclical on the “Care for Our Common Home” at COP27 this month. COP27, the 27th annual UN meeting on climate, will take place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from 6 to 18 November. At a press conference in the Vatican on Thursday last week the cardinal said he is optimistic that the Church “will be more conscious” in promoting ecological justice because “we listen to each other in a synod way.”

The family of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, a Melkite Catholic who was shot dead in the West Bank last spring, briefly met Pope Francis during the general audience on Wednesday last week. Palestinian officials and Abu Akleh’s family accuse Israel of intentionally targeting and killing the 51-year-old journalist. Israel has acknowledged that Israeli fire probably killed Abu Akleh, but vigorously denies allegations that a soldier intentionally targeted her. Abu Akleh’s niece Lina Abu Akleh said she hoped the Pope would put pressure on the US and other states to independently investigate the killing. The niece and her own parents, Anton and Lisa, shook hands with the Pope during the audience and attended a memorial Mass for Shireen, at the Basilica of Saint Mary in Cosmedin in Rome.

Catholic organisations and religious orders are calling on US President Joe Biden to undertake diplomatic means to prevent nuclear war with Russia. In a 26 October letter to Biden sent by the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, the organisations said: “We urge you to show great restraint, and to do everything in your power to de-escalate the conflict [in Ukraine], to seek dialogue with Russia, and take immediate, concrete steps toward nuclear disarmament.” Susan Gunn, director of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, said in a statement: “We hope President Biden is inspired by his Catholic faith, to see beyond the boundaries of race, religion and nation to keep pursuing diplomacy and dialogue, and not get caught in an escalation of arms but rather keep turning attention to the care for our common humanity that makes us all brothers and sisters on this one Earth.”

Bishop Sébastien-Joseph Muyengo of Uvira says the Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo is under attack in the east of the country as various militias seek control of natural resources. He was addressing the security situation following the attack on a Catholic hospital in Maboya in the country’s North Kivu province on 20 October. “There is no doubt that the act was premeditated and prepared,” the bishop told Crux. Rather than weaken the Church, Muyengo said, “the situation we are living in in the East of the country simply makes us grow in faith and hope.”

The Italian Bishops’ Conference signed an agreement with the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors last week to provide support for safeguarding initiatives, particularly in the global south. Fr Andrew Small, the commission’s secretary, noted that it is part of the commission’s mandate to help bishops’ conferences implement national listening centres and accessible reporting mechanisms for victims and survivors of abuse. According to Fr Small, of the 114 bishops’ conferences, “I would estimate that about 70-80 don’t really have these really publicly established, mostly in the global south.” The commission, Small said, has asked bishops’ conferences to donate to a special Memorare Fund, named after the Marian prayer of the same title.

The number of reported abuse cases in Belgium has risen considerably, the Church has said. Reported cases in the year to the end of June 2022 rose to 86, it said. There were only 59 cases reported in the previous year until the end of June 2021, and lower totals for years before that. In 2017, there were only eight.

The Church began its annual record of reported cases in 2012. The statement noted that 42 percent of complaints were filed in the French-speaking region of Belgium and 58 percent come from its Flemish speakers. Previously, reports in French represented only one-fifth of the total and reports in Flemish made up the rest.

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