“In the name of God, of the God to whom we prayed together in Rome, of the God who is gentle and humble in heart, the God in whom so many people of this beloved country believe, now is the time to say, ‘No more of this.’ … No more bloodshed, no more conflicts, no more violence and mutual recriminations about who is responsible for it, no more leaving your people athirst for peace. No more destruction: it is time to build! Leave the time of war behind and let a time of peace dawn!”
— Pope Francis, speaking Feb. 3 to political leaders in South Sudan during an ecumenical pilgrimage to the world’s youngest nation, which has experienced war and violent conflicts for nine of the 11 years since its independence
Lawmakers walk back proposal to reduce prisoners’ sentences in exchange for organ donation
Massachusetts lawmakers walked back Feb. 2 a proposal to reduce sentence time for incarcerated individuals who donate their organs or bone marrow. Human rights and Catholic advocates raised ethical concerns about the proposal ranging from the informed consent of prisoners to the commodification of human organs. As originally introduced, the bill, HD.3822, would have reduced the prison sentences of incarcerated individuals from 60 days up to a year, “on the condition that the incarcerated individual has donated bone marrow or organ(s).”
After Biden comments, U.S. bishops say they have ‘united position’ on abortion
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops affirmed its “united position” in opposition to taxpayer funding for abortion procedures, invoking the teaching of Pope Francis, following recent remarks by President Joe Biden. During a Jan. 30 gaggle with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, a reporter said to Biden, “Catholic bishops are demanding that federal tax dollars not fund abortions.” Biden replied, “No, they are not all doing that,” adding, “nor is the pope doing that.” The USCCB’s president, Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, refuted the president’s remarks in a Feb. 1 statement. He said the U.S. bishops are united in their opposition to both abortion and the use of taxpayer funds to finance those procedures.
Consecrated persons have ‘special role’ in fulfilling church’s mission, pope says
While Pope Francis was “on mission” in Africa he urged consecrated persons to embody the church’s missionary spirit in spreading the Gospel. In his message read out to consecrated persons gathered for Mass on World Day for Consecrated Life in Rome’s Basilica of St. Mary Major Feb. 2, the pope said that consecrated persons have a “special role” to be examples among God’s people derived from their “total dedication to God and his kingdom, in poverty, chastity and obedience.” The theme for World Day for Consecrated Life 2023 is “Brothers and Sisters on Mission.”
U.S.-born priest to lead Vatican body overseeing selection of world’s bishops
Pope Francis has chosen Chicago-born Bishop Robert F. Prevost of Chiclayo, Peru, to succeed Canadian Cardinal Ouellet as prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. The Vatican announced Jan. 30 the retirement of Cardinal Ouellet and the appointment of Bishop Prevost, whom Pope Francis named an archbishop. The archbishop, who is 67, holds degrees from Villanova University in Pennsylvania and the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and a doctorate from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. An Augustinian friar, he joined the Augustinian mission in Peru in 1985 and largely worked in the country until in 1999 when he was elected head of the Augustinians Chicago-based province. From 2001 to 2013, he served as prior general of the worldwide order. In 2014, Pope Francis named him bishop of Chiclayo, in northern Peru.
American Jewish tourist is arrested in Jerusalem for vandalizing statue of Jesus
Israeli police arrested an American Jewish tourist Feb. 2 for vandalizing a statue of Jesus at the Franciscan Church of Flagellation in the Old City. In a statement condemning the attack against a Christian site — the fifth in Jerusalem in five weeks — the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land said it was following the incident “with concern and strongly condemn this growing succession of serious acts of hatred and violence against the Christian community in Israel.” Franciscan Custody officials noted that in a period of just over a month, a Christian cemetery in Jerusalem had been vandalized, anti-Christian graffiti scrawled on the walls of an Armenian monastery, and a Christian-owned restaurant attacked by a group of radical settler youth. Armenians also were attacked by settler youth earlier in the week in Jerusalem. In northern Israel, a Maronite center was vandalized as well, they said.
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The papal property at Castel Gandolfo, with its vast gardens and diverse livestock, will now be the home of a new scientific and educational center dedicated to promoting integral ecology, sustainability, and a circular and generative economy. Pope Francis established the new Laudato Si’ Center for Higher Education Feb. 2 because he wanted “to make a tangible contribution to the development of ecological education by opening a new space for training and raising awareness,” the Vatican City governor’s office said in a written news release. The initiative, called the “Borgo Laudato Si'” project, will have “the beauty of the Villa Barberini gardens and the papal villas as the natural setting for developing a center for education in integral ecology, open to all people of goodwill,” it said.