The early Christians “understood that they were the temporary stewards of their goods: indeed, all that we possess is a gift from God and we must let ourselves be enlightened by him in the stewardship of the goods we receive.”
— Pope Francis, speaking Feb. 24 at the Vatican to members of the “Pro Petri Sede” Association, which collects donations for the pope’s initiatives and charitable efforts by the Holy See
Suspect in shooting death of LA Bishop O’Connell charged with murder
The suspect in the shooting death of Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop David G. O’Connell was formally charged with murder Feb. 22 after admitting to killing him. Bishop O’Connell was found dead of at least one gunshot wound to his upper torso in his home in the Los Angeles suburb of Hacienda Heights on the afternoon of Feb. 18. Carlos Medina, 61, faces one felony count of murder and a special allegation that he used a firearm, according to the LA County District Attorney’s Office. His formal arraignment is scheduled for March 22 at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown LA. Medina is the husband of Bishop O’Connell’s housekeeper and had done handyman work at the home, authorities said. He was arrested at his Torrance home Feb. 20, after a six-hour standoff with SWAT and LA County Sheriff’s deputies.
Catholic immigration advocates condemn proposed Biden border rule
The Biden administration Feb. 21 proposed its most restrictive border control measure to date, announcing it plans to issue a temporary rule blocking asylum-seekers who cross the border without authorization or who do not first apply for protections in other nations before coming to the United States. Catholic immigration advocates condemned the proposal. The proposed rule would introduce a “presumption of asylum ineligibility for certain noncitizens” and instead “encourage migrants to avail themselves of lawful, safe and orderly pathways into the United States,” according to the text of the document. Otherwise, it said that migrants should “seek asylum or other protection in countries through which they travel, thereby reducing reliance on human smuggling networks that exploit migrants for financial gain.” U.S. immigration policy generally differentiates those fleeing persecution in other countries from other migrants who cross the border unlawfully. The proposal, which the administration has characterized as temporary, would scale back that approach.
DeSantis disregards Catholic bishops on death penalty, oversees state’s 100th execution
Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., moved ahead with his latest execution Feb. 23, over the objections of Florida’s Catholic bishops who appealed to the governor to reverse course on capital punishment. DeSantis, who is seen as a likely contender for the 2024 Republican presidential primary but has not declared his candidacy, is Catholic. He has signed four death warrants during his tenure; and Donald Dillbecks’s was the third carried out. After meeting with his spiritual adviser and eating a final meal, he was executed by lethal injection at 6:13 p.m., becoming the 100th person executed since Florida resumed the death penalty in 1975. Dillbeck, 59, was convicted of the 1990 murder of Faye Lamb Vann in Tallahassee, fatally stabbing her while attempting to steal her car. At the time of the murder, Dillbeck had escaped from a work-release job while he was serving a life sentence for the killing of Lee County Deputy Dwight Lynn Hall in 1979, when he was 15.
Citing finances, N.Y. Archdiocese to close 12 schools at end of academic year
The Archdiocese of New York has announced that 12 of its Catholic schools will close at the end of the 2022-23 academic year and four others will be merged into two schools due to the schools’ financial outlook. “Shifting demographics and lower enrollment made worse by the pandemic” have had a “detrimental” impact on the involved schools’ “financial stability,” the archdiocese stated. “It is never a good day when we announce closures to any of our beloved schools, but the goal is always to strengthen the remaining institutions and preserve Catholic education in New York for decades to come,” New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said in a Feb. 15 statement. Five schools in the New York borough of Manhattan will close, as will six in the Bronx borough, and one in the Staten Island borough. The four schools that will be merged into two are in the Bronx.
Putin suspending nuclear treaty is ‘move in the wrong direction’
Russia’s suspension of a nuclear arms treaty with the United States weakens structures promoting global security in the nuclear age, a senior Vatican official said. “Sadly, I think this is a move in the wrong direction in terms of peace and the security of the world,” Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, Vatican foreign minister, told Catholic News Service in a phone interview Feb. 22. At the end of his state of the nation address Feb. 21, just three days before the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would suspend its participation in the New START treaty with the United States. The treaty, signed in 2010, restricted the world’s two largest nuclear-armed superpowers to a maximum of 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads — still more than enough to destroy all of Earth’s major cities — and provided for a series of mutual onsite inspections.
Bishops conference launches campaign to aid country’s 33.1 million going hungry
The National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB) announced Feb. 22 the theme for its annual Lenten Fraternity Campaign: “Fraternity and Hunger.” “The increase of the number of people living at an acute level of food insecurity cannot be overlooked,” said Auxiliary Bishop Joel Portella Amado of the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro and secretary-general of the CNBB, during a press conference to announce the campaign. According to a June 2022 study by the Brazilian Research Network on Sovereignty and Food and Nutrition Security, 33.1 million people (15.5% of the population) do not have enough to eat daily in Brazil. The number is almost double what was estimated in 2020. The report also shows that in 58.1% of households there is some level of food insecurity. According to the CNBB, the 2023 Fraternity Campaign has the objective of bringing awareness to the millions of people going hungry in the country and is a call to action by the church.
DID YOU KNOW?
A unique multifaith center of worship encompassing a church, a synagogue and a mosque was inaugurated Feb. 16-19 in Abu Dhabi as an affirmation of the principles declared in the Document on Human Fraternity signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam Ahmed el-Tayeb in Abu Dhabi in February 2019. Abrahamic Family House (AFH) will be opened to the public March 1. Visitors will be able to come to worship as well as tour the site. Inspired by the meeting between the two religious leaders, the idea of the center began to take shape in August 2019 when Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahayn, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, allocated a plot of land on Saadiyat Island for construction. Abu Dhabi is the capital of the Gulf nation of United Arab Emirates (UAE). In addition to the multi denominational church — which though inaugurated as a Catholic church will be open for worship for all Christian denominations — the center includes the Imam el-Tayeb Mosque and the Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue, the first specifically built synagogue in the Gulf in 100 years.