Nation/World news briefs: Jan. 3, 2023


“Today, at the beginning of the year, rather than standing around thinking and hoping that things will change, we should instead ask ourselves, ‘This year, where do I want to go? Who is it that I can help?’”
— Pope Francis, speaking at Mass Jan. 1, the feast of Mary, Mother of God, and World Peace Day

Bankruptcy court approves $121 million clergy abuse settlement

A federal bankruptcy judge has approved a $121 million reorganization plan for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico, in its yearslong effort to respond to clergy sexual abuse. The archdiocese and Bankruptcy Judge David T. Thuma announced the settlement Dec. 29 during a court hearing. Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe thanked a committee of abuse survivors representing other survivors for their commitment to resolving claims against the archdiocese. In addition to monetary payments for the nearly 400 claims filed with the court, the plans under the settlement require the archdiocese to establish a public archive of documents related to decades of abuse in New Mexico and to create a fund against which future unknown claims could be made.

Holy Names University will close in May after 154 years

Citing rising operating costs, declining enrollment and an increased need for institutional aid, officials at Holy Names University in Oakland said the school will close at the end of the academic year in May. Efforts to partner with another institution to keep the 154-year-old university open were unsuccessful, said Steven Borg, chairman of the school’s board of trustees. The school was founded by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. “While we’ve had interest in long-term collaboration with potential partners, we do not have the type of interest that would sustain HNU in continuing to offer its own programs and services, so we are forced to make the difficult decision to close and designate a transfer institution in the best interest of our students,” Borg said in a Dec. 19 news release.

Authorities free Catholic bishop held 75 days in prison

Eritrean authorities have freed Catholic Bishop Fikremariam Hagos Tsalim after 75 days in prison. Bishop Tsalim, the 52-year-old bishop of Segheneity, an eparchy in the southern part of Eritrea, had spent Christmas in prison. Authorities also released Father Mihreteab Stefanos, a priest from the eparchy who had been detained with the bishop in the Adi Abeto prison, according to reports. Security agents arrest Bishop Tsalim Oct.15 at Asmara International Airport as he returned from a trip to Europe. The detention came under the government of Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, who has been in office since 1993. Eritrea, a nation in the Horn of Africa, gained its independence from neighboring Ethiopia in 1991. The country has no functional constitution or national elections.


Pope Francis will soon pack his bags for his first foreign trip of 2023, a year that promises to be as busy as ever. The pope, who celebrated his 86th birthday Dec. 17, can move quickly — in a wheelchair — and keeps saying in interviews that a functioning head and heart — not a well-functioning knee — are essential to the exercise of the papacy. And, so, his appointment book for 2023 is starting to fill up, although he usually agrees to appointments with the caveat of “God willing.”

Several events are already inked in:

  • A pastoral visit to violence-torn Congo Jan. 31-Feb. 3, followed by an ecumenical pilgrimage for peace to South Sudan Feb. 3-5 with Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury and the Rev. Iain Greenshields, moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland.
  • Pope Francis celebrates his 10th anniversary as pope March 13.
  • He is scheduled to join perhaps 1 million young people from around the globe for World Youth Day Aug. 1-6 in Lisbon, Portugal.
  • And the first session of the world Synod of Bishops meeting on “synodality” is scheduled for Oct. 4-29 at the Vatican.

Photo: The historic Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, N.M., is seen July 28, 2020. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Author: Catholic News Service

Catholic News Service is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ news and information service.

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