“There is a mission in the faith, a mission to rescue people and bring them out of the world and into the church. In the NBA, we have a mission as well, to be a leader of men, young men, as you see in the influx of younger players into the league. There is a responsibility not only to lead younger players on the floor, but also to lead them off the floor. I approach my role as a father, a husband, and a man of faith in that way. Looking for leaders to help me develop as a disciple.”
— Andrew Jones III, assistant coach of player development for the NBA’s Detroit Pistons
‘Great joy’ as Vatican declares Miraculous Medal Shrine a minor basilica
The Vatican decree elevating the Miraculous Medal Shrine in Philadelphia to the status of minor basilica brings “great joy” to the entire Philadelphia Archdiocese, said Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez. “The Miraculous Medal Shrine is a great gift drawing souls closer to Christ through the intercession of the Blessed Mother,” he said in a statement issued Jan. 25, the day the basilica designation was announced. The Basilica Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, as it is now called, is a Marian devotional destination in the Germantown section of Philadelphia and is a ministry of the Vincentians in their congregation’s Eastern province.
School choice measure gives more opportunities for Catholic schools
A new law passed swiftly by the Iowa Legislature on Jan. 24 gives more families the opportunity to choose between sending their children to private or public schools in Iowa, beginning with the next school year, 2023-24. The bill has been a top priority of Gov. Kim Reynolds, who reintroduced it this year after an earlier version failed last year. Republicans, who control the House and Senate, supported the bill. A public hearing held Jan. 17 attracted both supporters and opponents of the measure, which has an estimated cost of $341 million annually. Parents who choose to send their children to an accredited private school will receive $7,598 per student through an ESA (Educational Savings Account) allocated by the state for use of qualified tuition, fees and other expenses under the bill. Currently, the state provides the same amount, $7,598, to public school districts for each child attending a public school in their district, according to the Iowa Catholic Conference.
Former priest Frank Pavone faces sexual misconduct allegations
Embattled former priest and pro-life activist Frank Pavone is facing accusations of sexual misconduct that took place prior to his laicization in November 2022. Pavone, national director of the nonprofit Priests for Life, was the subject of at least two reports sent to the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, “during or before 2010,” according to a Jan. 24 article in The Pillar, an online outlet that covers the Catholic Church. The Pillar’s article cited allegations of inappropriate behavior by Pavone toward several Priests for Life employees. The Pillar noted reports also were submitted to the Archdiocese of New York, for which Pavone was ordained in 1988 and where he served as a priest until he transferred to the Diocese of Amarillo in 2005, where he was incardinated. Due to what he called years of “disobedience and scandalous behavior,” Amarillo Bishop Patrick J. Zurek moved in 2017 to have Pavone dismissed from the clerical state, a process that was finalized Nov. 9, 2022.
Vatican rejects proposed governing council of bishops and laity in Germany
Germany’s bishops do not have the authority to establish a permanent decision-making body of bishops and laypeople that top Vatican officials said would supersede the authority of the country’s bishops’ conference, according to a letter from the officials published Jan. 23. The letter was signed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops. In their message to Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of the German bishops’ conference, the Vatican officials addressed questions surrounding the establishment of a “Synodal Council” to advise the church in Germany “on major developments in the church and in society” and “take fundamental decisions” on matters that go beyond the diocesan level. The council was approved in September by bishops and lay members of the country’s Synodal Assembly. The assembly is responsible for discussing, amending and voting on documents related to concerns addressed by Germany’s Synodal Path, which was launched in 2019 in response to the country’s clerical abuse scandal.
Day of Consecrated Life is time to renew missionary zeal, cardinal says
The religious-order brothers, sisters and priests and the hermits, monks and consecrated virgins who serve God and the Catholic Church are called to stoke the “missionary fire” in their souls, said Cardinal João Bráz de Aviz. “To live mission in God’s way as consecrated persons, we need the breath of the Spirit, who oxygenates our consecration, who widens our tent, who does not allow the desire to go out and reach out to others to proclaim the Gospel fade or be eclipsed,” said the cardinal, who is prefect of the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. In a letter preparing for the celebration Feb. 2 of the feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the World Day for Consecrated Life, Cardinal Bráz de Aviz pointed to the Catholic Church’s preparations for the Synod of Bishops on synodality, its focus on mission, and the image of “enlarging the tent” used in the working document for the synod’s continental meetings.
Government ups Catholic persecution with secret trial convictions
Four clergymen, two seminarians and a diocesan journalist were convicted in Nicaragua on charges of conspiracy to undermine national integrity and spreading false information, according to local media — charges the men denied and which critics condemned as an escalation of the persecution of the Catholic Church in the Central American country. The seven individuals — three priests, two seminarians, a deacon and a cameraman — were found guilty Jan. 26 in a secretive trial, in which they were denied representation by lawyers of their choice. Fathers Ramiro Tijerino, José Luis Díaz and Sadiel Eugarrios; Deacon Raúl Antonio Vega; seminarians Darvin Leiva and Melkin Centeno ; and cameraman Sergio Cárdenas are expected to be sentenced Feb. 3, according to the Nicaraguan Human Rights Center. Prosecutors have asked the court for sentences of 10 years in prison.
DID YOU KNOW?
Having come to know Jesus through the Scriptures and in the Eucharist, Catholics are called to share with others the hope and joy that come from faith and that endure even when life gets difficult, Pope Francis said. The connection between the missionary call of every disciple and the gift of Jesus present in the Eucharist was at the center of Pope Francis’ message for World Mission Sunday, which will be celebrated Oct. 22. The Vatican released the text of the message Jan. 25. The theme the pope chose for the 2023 celebration is “Hearts on fire, feet on the move,” which he said was inspired by the story of Jesus and the disciples on the road to Emmaus after the resurrection. The Bible says the disciples’ hearts “burned within them” as Jesus explained the Scriptures and how they recognized him when he broke bread with them, and they set off to share the good news with others.
Read the text of the pope’s message in English and Spanish.
Top photo: Detroit Pistons assistant coach Andrew Jones III, right, stands with Father John McKenzie outside Christ the King Church in Detroit Dec. 12, 2022, where Jones is currently taking OCIA classes and plans to become a Catholic during the Easter vigil. The NBA coach said his wife and three children, who are Catholic, were an impetus for his decision to investigate the Catholic faith. (OSV News photo/Daniel Meloy, Detroit Catholic)