Russian ambassador confirms pope helped facilitate prisoner exchanges
Russia’s ambassador to the Vatican confirmed Pope Francis helped facilitate recent prisoner exchanges with Ukraine and said the Vatican is ready to act as a mediator between Ukraine and Russia. The Italian news agency Askanews reported the ambassador, Aleksandr Avdeyev, said the exchanges of prisoners occur in accordance with the lists of military prisoners of the Armed Forces of Ukraine; the lists are handed over by Pope Francis. “In this case, we highly appreciate the personal actions of the pontiff, who is carrying out a very important humanitarian mission that allows hundreds of people to return to their families,” Avdeyev said.
Vatican confirms it is opening abuse investigation of French cardinal
The Vatican has decided to open an investigation into French Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, the retired archbishop of Bordeaux, who admitted in a public letter that he had abused a 14-year-old girl 35 years ago. “As a result of the elements that have emerged in the last few days and the statement made by the cardinal, in order to complete the examination of what happened, it has been decided to initiate an ‘investigatio praevia,'” or preliminary investigation, Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office, said Nov. 11. Bruni would not say if the decision was made by Pope Francis, although because the case involves a cardinal who is a member of Vatican dicasteries and who, at 78, is still eligible to participate in a conclave, people familiar with the workings of the Vatican assume the pope had to agree.
Clinic opens in St. Peter’s Square for World Day of the Poor
As part of the Vatican celebration of World Day of the Poor, a dozen doctors and nurses and 90 medical students set up shop in St. Peter’s Square. “We know there are people who need medical care and are not getting it, so our aim is to offer exams and blood tests and make referrals to specialists,” said Dr. Giuseppe Marinaro, an emergency room physician from Padua, who was on duty in the square Nov. 10. While the primary goal is to help the poor, especially those living on the streets around the Vatican, the presence in the square of three campers modified as clinics also is “a provocation,” said Archbishop Rino Fisichella of the Dicastery for Evangelization, which coordinates the World Day of the Poor events. “The poor exist and there are more of them than most people think. This is a reminder.”
Bishops’ commission urges action to mitigate energy crisis
The European Union’s Catholic bishops urged action to protect the bloc’s 450 million citizens against dramatic energy and food price hikes this winter. “The misuse of energy as a tool of geopolitical coercion that we are currently witnessing should prompt the international community to find institutional means for an effective, inclusive and equitable global governance of energy; a real and lasting peace will only be possible on a global ethic of solidarity and cooperation,” said the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, COMECE. “As winter approaches, we call on all who bear responsibility in public life not to abandon families and persons who are vulnerable or victims of socio-economic discrimination, unable to cope with soaring inflation and pay for heating or electricity.” The statement was published as prices skyrocketed under the impact of war in Ukraine and international sanctions against Russia after its Feb. 24 invasion.
Bishops say drought at ‘crisis level’
As Kenya’s drought reaches crisis proportions, Catholic bishops suggested enhanced post-harvest management and food banks to help guarantee food security. “The current drought situation in the country, especially in the arid and semi-arid regions, has now reached a crisis level. The consequent famine is regrettable and unacceptable. This calls for urgent and decisive action from all actors,” said Archbishop Anthony Muheria of Nyeri. He spoke while reading the bishops’ final statement to the media Nov. 10, at the end of their general meeting in the coastal city of Mombasa. Failed rains, climate change, a recent locust infestation, the war in Ukraine and inflation are being blamed for Kenya’s food crisis. A drought — the worst in 40 years, according to the U.N. — is affecting 23 out of the country’s 47 counties.
Louisiana nonprofit wins $1 million humanitarian award
A nonprofit in Shreveport, Louisiana, is this year’s winner of the Opus Prize, a $1 million award for advancing humanitarian work. Community Renewal International works in both the United States and Africa to renew cities through restoring relationships. The award was announced Nov. 3 at The Catholic University of America in Washington. The Opus Prize is awarded on Catholic university campuses each year. Community Renewal focuses on three primary strategies — Renewal Team, Haven House and Friendship House — to turn neighborhoods into safe havens of friendship and support. It boasts on its website that major crime has dropped an average of 55% in its Friendship House areas.