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Oral arguments heard on religious exemption to mandate

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PHILADELPHIA — The U.S. District Court in Philadelphia heard oral arguments Dec. 14 in a suit that aims to take away the exemption granted in October to the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious employers allowing them to refuse to cover contraceptives for their employees on moral grounds.

A similar hearing took place Dec. 12 in U.S. District Court in Oakland, California. Read more »

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Cardinal DiNardo, new USCCB president, says bishops ‘intend to be attentive’

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Catholic News Service

BALTIMORE — The newly elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said he is not planning on “creating a new vision” but hopes to continue the bishops’ priorities particularly focusing on dialogue and listening to Catholics.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston addresses a news conference Nov. 15 at the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. The cardinal was elected USCCB president that morning. Seated to his left is Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, who was elected USCCB vice president. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston addresses a news conference Nov. 15 at the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. The cardinal was elected USCCB president that morning. Seated to his left is Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, who was elected USCCB vice president. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

The bishops “intend to be attentive,” said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston hours after his Nov. 15 election to a three-year term that begins at the close of the bishops’ fall assembly in Baltimore.

For the past three years, he has served as USCCB vice president, a role that typically leads to election as president. He succeeds Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky.

The cardinal said he plans to focus on the needs and concerns of Catholics, particularly members of the immigrant community who fear deportation with the recent election of Donald Trump as U.S. president. But he also said he remained hopeful about working with the new administration, saying its newness “offers options and possibilities.”

“We hope for a whole lot. This is brand new,” he told Catholic News Service.

The cardinal said he would listen to the voices of the immigrants and would work to ensure government leaders treat them with dignity, adding that the church in the U.S. has always stood with immigrants.

“We make our voices heard,” he said, “not by screaming in the streets but rather our voices are heard in the streets by our care and concern and our clarity, what we think is essential.”

Cardinal DiNardo, 67, said the key part of his role remains as a church leader, which is “where we show our shepherd’s heart.”

His Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston includes 1.3 million Catholics, 440 priests in 146 parishes and 60 schools spread over 8,880 square miles.

The cardinal, who was born in Steubenville, Ohio, was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Pittsburgh in 1977 and named a bishop 20 years later. He is a former bishop of Sioux City, Iowa. He has been archbishop of Galveston-Houston since 2006. He was named a cardinal in 2007 and participated in the 2013 conclave that elected Pope Francis.

This summer, after the shooting of police officers in Dallas in response to shootings by police officers, Cardinal DiNardo said: “These tragedies call for our prayer for healing and for change. It seems as though at times our hearts are stony and paralyzed. We need God’s spirit of mercy to melt them and reopen our hearts to the beauty of human life and to rebuilding human communities.”

 

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Big lessons learned from small actions, departing U.S. bishops’ president says

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Catholic News Service

BALTIMORE — In small and often intimate gestures, there are big lessons for bishops to learn as they exercise their ministry, said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, in his final address as president of the U.S. bishops’ conference.

“No words of Jesus are more concrete in capturing God’s mercy at work in our bishops’ conference than his call in Matthew 25: ‘What you did for one of my least, you did for me,’” he said in remarks prepared for delivery Nov. 14 in Baltimore at the U.S. bishops’ annual fall general assembly. Read more »

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U.S. bishops’ fall assembly opens in Baltimore Monday

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. bishops will discuss ways to promote peace in U.S. communities torn apart by violence, vote on ways to implement priority areas for their conference approved last year and elect new leaders during their Nov. 14-16 fall general assembly in Baltimore.

The discussion about restoring peace in the nation will stem from a report to be presented to the bishops from a task force formed this past summer after shootings by police and of police took place in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Minneapolis; and Dallas.

The U.S. bishops will discuss ways to promote peace in U.S. communities torn apart by violence, vote on ways to implement priority areas for their conference approved last year and elect new leaders during their Nov. 14-16 fall general assembly in Baltimore. Above, people demonstrate outside the White House in early July after shootings by police and of police took place in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Minneapolis and Dallas. (CNS photo/Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA)

The U.S. bishops will discuss ways to promote peace in U.S. communities torn apart by violence, vote on ways to implement priority areas for their conference approved last year and elect new leaders during their Nov. 14-16 fall general assembly in Baltimore. Above, people demonstrate outside the White House in early July after shootings by police and of police took place in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Minneapolis and Dallas. (CNS photo/Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA)

When Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, announced the USCCB Task Force to Promote Peace in Our Communities, he said there needed to be “ways of nurturing an open, honest and civil dialogue on issues of race relations, restorative justice, mental health, economic opportunity and addressing the question of pervasive gun violence.”

The task force is chaired by Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, who told reporters in September that the U.S. bishops are in beginning stages of developing a pastoral letter that will examine racism in society and the church and will encourage dialogue on the issue as well as describe steps Catholics can take to bring about healing and reconciliation.

As part of the USCCB’s 2017-2020 strategic plan, the bishops will discuss and vote on an action plan to support the five priorities they approved last November: evangelization; family and marriage; human life and dignity; religious freedom; and vocations and ongoing formation.

They also will be given an update on preparations for the convocation of Catholic leaders from all across the country taking place next July in Orlando, Fla., and focusing on “The Joy of the Gospel in America.” It is an initiative of bishops’ Working Group on the Life and Dignity of the Human Person.

The bishops will convene key leaders from dioceses and Catholic organizations from across the country “to assess the challenges and opportunities of our time,” particularly in the context of the U.S. Catholic Church, according to the USCCB.

Inspired by Pope Francis’ 2013 apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”), the convocation “will form leaders who will be equipped and re-energized to share the Gospel as missionary disciples,” the USCCB said.

Archbishop Kurtz will give his final address as USCCB president; his three year-term ends at the conclusion of the fall assembly. Also ending his three-term is the current vice president, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston.

During their meeting, the bishops will elect a new president and vice president, whose three-year terms will begin at the conclusion of the assembly. Each office is elected from a slate of 10 candidates who have been nominated by their fellow bishops.

The nominees are: New Orleans Gregory M. Aymond; Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput; Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul S. Coakley; Cardinal DiNardo; Texas Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville; Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez; Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori; Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron; Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski and New Mexico Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe.

USCCB bylaws provide that the first election is that of the president by simple majority vote of members who are present and voting. Following the election of the president, the vice president is elected from the remaining nine candidates.

In either election, if a candidate does not receive more than half of the votes cast on the first ballot, a second vote is taken. If a third round of voting is necessary, that ballot is a run-off between the two bishops who received the most votes on the second ballot.

During the meeting, the bishops also will vote for new chairmen-elect of the following five USCCB committees: Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance; Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs; Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis; Committee on International Justice and Peace; and Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People. They serve one year as chairmen-elect and then over as chairmen at the conclusion of the bishops’ fall assembly in 2017.

The nominees are:

  • Canonical Affairs and Church Governance: Bishops Robert P. Deeley of Portland, Maine, and David M. Malloy of Rockford, Illinois.
  • Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs: Bishops Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Michael C. Barber of Oakland, California.
  • Evangelization and Catechesis: Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron of Los Angeles and Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut.
  • International Justice and Peace: Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Diego and Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese of the Military Services.
  • Protection of Children and Young People: Bishops Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette, Indiana, and Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, Washington.
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Munich, Kabul attacks are call to pray for peace, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — While recent terror attacks in Germany and Afghanistan bring sorrow and death to the world, they are also a reminder for Christians to pray fervently for peace, Pope Francis said.

After reciting the Angelus prayer with thousands of visitors in St. Peter’s Square July 24, the pope conveyed his sadness at “the tragic events in Munich, Germany, and in Kabul, Afghanistan, where many innocent people have lost their lives.”

A man prays outside the Olympia shopping mall in Munich, Germany, July 23, where nine people were killed by an 18-year-old gunman. (CNS photo/Arnd Wiegmann, Reuters)

A man prays outside the Olympia shopping mall in Munich, Germany, July 23, where nine people were killed by an 18-year-old gunman. (CNS photo/Arnd Wiegmann, Reuters)

“To the extent that the difficulties seem more insurmountable and the prospects of security and peace seem more unclear, our prayer should be more insistent,” he said.

Tragedy struck Munich July 22 when 18-year-old gunman David Ali Sonboly shot and killed 9 people and wounded 35 others before killing himself during a shooting spree at a shopping center. Investigators said that they could find no clear motive and no known links to terror organizations.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, echoed the pope’s condolences in a statement following the attack in Munich, praying “that the suffering may find comfort” and “the wounded may find healing.”

“Our resolve turns toward an unwavering desire to be witnesses of love alive in the world. Against this resolve the forces of hatred and division cannot prevail. Let us draw strength from the courage of the victims and first responders in Munich so that we may continue down the path of peace, rejecting violence and that which seeks to divide us,” he said.

The following day, two suicide bombers detonated their explosives during a peaceful protest by a group of Shiite Muslims in Kabul, Afghanistan. A third bomber was killed by security forces before he could detonate his bomb.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack that claimed the lives of more than 80 people and left more than 240 wounded.

Pope Francis assured his “closeness to the families of the victims and the wounded” in both attacks.

“I invite you to join with me in prayer so that the Lord inspires in everyone resolutions of goodness and fraternity,” the pope said after his Angelus address.

The same day, a suicide bomber killed 21 people and wounded at least 35 others in an attack in a neighborhood of Baghdad. The Islamic State group also claimed responsibility for that attack.

 

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Atlanta archbishop to lead U.S. bishops’ new task force on race

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta has been appointed as chair of a new task force of the U.S. bishops to deal with racial issues brought into public consciousness following a series of summertime shootings that left both citizens and police officers among those dead.

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta  has been named to lead a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' task force to deal with racial issues. (CNS file / Michael Alexander, Georgia Bulletin)

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta has been named to lead a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ task force to deal with racial issues. (CNS file / Michael Alexander, Georgia Bulletin)

The task force’s charge includes helping bishops to engage directly the challenging problems highlighted by the shootings. Task force members will gather and disseminate supportive resources and “best practices” for their fellow bishops; actively listening to the concerns of members in troubled communities and law enforcement; and build strong relationships to help prevent and resolve conflicts.

“By stepping forward to embrace the suffering, through unified, concrete action animated by the love of Christ, we hope to nurture peace and build bridges of communication and mutual aid in our own communities,” said a July 21 statement from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In addition to creating the task force and appointing its members, Archbishop Kurtz also called for a national day of prayer for peace in our communities, to be held Sept. 9, the feast of St. Peter Claver.

Archbishop Gregory is a former USCCB president. Other task force members are Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Social Development; Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee for African-American Affairs; Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, California, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development; and retired Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, who is president of the National Black Catholic Congress.

The day of prayer, according to a July 21 USCCB announcement about the task force’s formation, will “serve as a focal point for the work of the task force.”

The task force’s work will conclude with the USCCB’s fall general meeting in November, at which time it will report on its activities and recommendations for future work.

“I have stressed the need to look toward additional ways of nurturing an open, honest and civil dialogue on issues of race relations, restorative justice, mental health, economic opportunity and addressing the question of pervasive gun violence,” Archbishop Kurtz said. “The day of prayer and special task force will help us advance in that direction.”

The task force will have bishop consultants, including Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who is USCCB vice president, as well as bishops whose jurisdictions have experienced extreme gun violence, or who otherwise bring special insight or experience on related questions. An equal or smaller number of lay consultants with relevant expertise will be appointed soon thereafter, the USCCB announcement said.

“I am honored to lead this task force which will assist my brother bishops, individually and as a group, to accompany suffering communities on the path toward peace and reconciliation,” said Archbishop Gregory in a July 21 statement. “We are one body in Christ, so we must walk with our brothers and sisters and renew our commitment to promote healing. The suffering is not somewhere else, or someone else’s; it is our own, in our very dioceses.”

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U.S. bishops’ conference president says deadly shootings call for national reflection

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WASHINGTON — The shooting of police officers July 7 near the end of a demonstration in Dallas against fatal shootings by police officers in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis earlier in the week “calls us to a moment of national reflection,” said the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

A Dallas police officer is comforted July 7 at Baylor University Hospital's emergency room entrance after a shooting attack. Snipers shot and killed five police officers and wounded seven more at a demonstration in Dallas to protest the police killing of black men in Baton Rouge, La., and a suburb of Minneapolis. Two civilians also were injured in Dallas. (CNS photo/Ting Shen, The Dallas Morning News handout via Reuters)

A Dallas police officer is comforted July 7 at Baylor University Hospital’s emergency room entrance after a shooting attack. Snipers shot and killed five police officers and wounded seven more at a demonstration in Dallas to protest the police killing of black men in Baton Rouge, La., and a suburb of Minneapolis. Two civilians also were injured in Dallas. (CNS photo/Ting Shen, The Dallas Morning News handout via Reuters)

“To all people of goodwill, let us beg for the strength to resist the hatred that blinds us to our common humanity,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, in a July 8 statement.

The archbishop described the sniper attack on the Dallas police officers “an act of unjustifiable evil.”

He said the “police are not a faceless enemy” but people offering their lives to protect others. He also said, “the suspects in crimes or routine traffic stops are not just a faceless threat” but members of families in “need of assistance, protection and fairness.”

“When compassion does not drive our response to the suffering of either, we have failed one another,” Archbishop Kurtz said.

He said the tragic shootings are reminders of the need to “place ever greater value on the life and dignity of all persons, regardless of their station in life” and hoped that in days people would look to ways of having open, honest and civil dialogue on issues of race relations, restorative justice, mental health, economic opportunity, and addressing the question of pervasive gun violence.”

Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago said: “Every corner of our land is in the grip of terror fueled by anger, hatred and mental illness and made possible by plentiful, powerful weapons.”

“It is time to break the cycle of violence and retaliation, of fear and powerlessness that puts more guns in our homes and on our streets,” he said in a statement.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia similarly pointed out violence is not an answer.

“The killings in Baton Rouge, Minnesota and Dallas have proven that by deepening the divides in our national life,” he said in a July 8 statement.

“Black lives matter because all lives matter — beginning with the poor and marginalized, but including the men and women of all races who put their lives on the line to protect the whole community,” he said.

Other bishops have also responded with statements to the recent fatal shootings.

Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik said: “If someone does something violent, it is imperative for us to reach out to each other in kindness and with respect and refrain from blanket condemnations. We must build bridges. We must tear down walls. We must break the cycle of violence.”

He also called on people to recognize that each person is an individual. “We must not judge any person based on their race or color, their national origin, their faith tradition, their politics, their sexual orientation, their job, their vocation, their uniform.”

Bishop John E. Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky, said the shootings should cause us to ask God “to show us the way to peace and how to live in harmony with each other.”

He urged Christians to be “people of hope promoting reconciliation in a very violent world” and asked: “How much more killing must we witness before sensibly and rationally addressing the prevalence of guns, the inequalities in access to justice and the violence found in human hearts?”

 

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U.S. bishops speak out against terrorist attack in Turkey

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WASHINGTON — Following the June 28 terrorist attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk airport in Turkey, the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference and Chicago’s archbishop issued statements emphasizing the need to find comfort in faith and show support the suffering with prayer and generosity.

The attack left 42 people dead and more than 230 injured.

Paramedics help people outside Istanbul's Ataturk Airport following a June 28 suicide attack. The bombings killed dozens and wounded more than 200 as Turkish officials blamed the carnage at the international terminal on three suspected Islamic State group militants. (CNS photo/Reuters)

Paramedics help people outside Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport following a June 28 suicide attack. The bombings killed dozens and wounded more than 200 as Turkish officials blamed the carnage at the international terminal on three suspected Islamic State group militants. (CNS photo/Reuters)

“Evil tests our humanity. It tempts us to linger in the terror of Istanbul, Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino (and) Orlando,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Christians should not focus on violence and let fear numb their compassion, he added, but instead should focus on faith and “reach out to our brothers and sisters in solidarity.”

“As violence picks up its deadly pace, we can draw strength from God’s endless mercy,” he added.

Chicago Archbishop Blase J. Cupich said the attack during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan “showed a deep lack of respect for faith and human life.”

In the Chicago archdiocese, Catholics joined Muslims June 27 to celebrate the annual Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago Catholic-Muslim’s “iftar,” the meal that traditionally ends Muslim fasting during Ramadan.

“Let the spirit of prayer and respect that pervaded that gathering grow in the coming weeks and months and leave no room for hatred and suspicion among our people,” the archbishop said.

He also asked Catholics of the archdiocese to dedicate themselves to working for peace and understanding in the memory of those lost and injured.

Pope Francis led pilgrims in praying for peace and for the victims of the Istanbul terrorist attack after he recited the Angelus prayer with visitors in St. Peter’s Square.

The attack took place in the international terminal and the parking lot of the airport when three suspected terrorists opened fire and, shortly after, detonated their suicide vests.

Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters that preliminary signs point to the Islamic State, according to Reuters.

The terrorist organization carried out a similar attack at Brussels Airport and the Maelbeek metro station in Belgium March 22, which killed 32 people and wounded over 300.

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‘A sword has pierced heart’ of city’, says Orlando bishop after shooting

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando Bishop John G. Noonan urged people of faith “to turn their hearts and souls” to God and pray for the victims, the families and first responders following the worst mass shooting in U.S. history June 12.

“A sword has pierced the heart of our city,” he said in a statement.

People embrace outside the headquarters of the Orlando, Fla., Police Department June 12 during the investigation of a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando. (CNS photo/Steve Nesius, Reuters)

People embrace outside the headquarters of the Orlando, Fla., Police Department June 12 during the investigation of a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando. (CNS photo/Steve Nesius, Reuters)

“The healing power of Jesus goes beyond our physical wounds but touches every level of our humanity: physical, emotional, social, spiritual,” he said. “Jesus calls us to remain fervent in our protection of life and human dignity and to pray unceasingly for peace in our world.”

The shooting rampage at a crowded nightclub in Orlando left 50 people dead, including the gunman, and 53 wounded.

Police said a lone gunman, identified as 29-year-old Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, opened fire inside the Pulse club in Orlando in the early morning hours. New reports said that Mateen, who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist group, died in a gun battle with SWAT team members.

Across the nation, reaction from church and community leaders was swift, and in cities large and small, people organized candlelit vigils for the victims and their families the night of the shooting.

“Waking up to the unspeakable violence in Orlando reminds us of how precious human life is,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“Our prayers are with the victims, their families and all those affected by this terrible act,” he said in a statement June 12. “The merciful love of Christ calls us to solidarity with the suffering and to ever greater resolve in protecting the life and dignity of every person.”

“Our prayers and hearts are with the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando, their families and our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters,” said Chicago Archbishop Blase J. Cupich.

In Orlando, priests, deacons and counselors from the Diocese of Orlando and Catholic Charities of Central Florida were serving at an aid center established by city officials.

Throughout the day June 12, church personnel were helping victims and families “on the front lines of this tragedy,” Bishop Noonan said. “They are offering God’s love and mercy to those who are facing unimaginable sorrow. They will remain vigilant and responsive to the needs of our hurting brothers and sisters.”

The bishop also asked all parishes in the nine-county diocese in central Florida to include prayer intentions during Sunday Masses.

“Today’s prayers have been offered for victims of violence and acts of terror … for their families and friends … and all those affected by such acts against God’s love,” Bishop Noonan said. “We pray for the people of the city of Orlando that God’s mercy and love will be upon us as we seek healing and consolation.”

Bishop Noonan planned to lead an evening prayer vigil for the community, called a “Vigil to Dry Tears,” at St. James Cathedral in Orlando June 13.

He said the Catholic Church “recognizes the affliction brought to our city, our families and our friends” by “this massive assault on the dignity of human life. … I hope this opportunity to join each other in prayer will bring about an outpouring of the mercy of God within the heart of our community.”

In his statement, Archbishop Cupich expressed gratitude to the first responders and civilians at the scene of the shooting. They “heroically put themselves in harm’s way, providing an enduring reminder of what compassion and bravery look like — even in the face of such horror and danger,” he said.

“In response to hatred, we are called to sow love,” he added. “In response to violence, peace. And, in response to intolerance, tolerance.”

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Pope names nuncio to Mexico to be his new representative to church in U.S. — UPDATED

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WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Christophe Pierre, papal nuncio to Mexico since 2007, to be the new apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to Mexico since 2007, has been appointed the new apostolic nuncio to the United States. (CNS photo/Mario Armas, Reuters)

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to Mexico since 2007, has been appointed the new apostolic nuncio to the United States. (CNS photo/Mario Armas, Reuters)

He succeeds Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who has been in the post since 2011. Archbishop Vigano turned 75 in January, the age at which canon law requires bishops to turn in their resignation into the pope.

As president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, shared “a heartfelt greeting and my prayerful support” of the newly named nuncio “as he embarks on his service to our country.”

“A shared closeness with the church in Mexico already creates a strong fraternal bond between us,” said the archbishop about the April 12 appointment.

“With fond affection, allow me also to thank Archbishop Vigano for his selfless contributions to the life of the Catholic Church in the United States,” Archbishop Kurtz added.

A nuncio is a Vatican diplomat with the rank of ambassador. He is responsible for diplomatic relations with the government, but also serves as the pope’s representative to the church in a given country, which includes responsibility for coordinating the search for and vetting of candidates to become bishops.

Christophe Louis Yves Georges Pierre was born Jan. 30, 1946, in Rennes in France’s Brittany region, where his family has had roots for many generations. He first attended school at Antsirabe in Madagascar, pursued his secondary education at the College of Saint-Malo in France and also spent one year in Morocco at Lycee Francais of Marrakesh.

He entered Saint-Yves seminary in Rennes in 1963, but he interrupted his studies for two years of military service in 1965 and 1966. He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Rennes at the Cathedral of Saint-Malo April 5, 1970.

Then-Father Pierre earned his master’s degree in theology at the Institut Catholique de Paris and his doctorate in canon law in Rome. He was parochial vicar of the parish of Saint-Pierre-Saint-Paul de Colombes in the Diocese of Nanterre, France, from 1970 to 1973.

He then earned a diploma at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in Rome, which provides training to priests for eventual service in the Vatican’s diplomatic corps. In 1977, he entered diplomatic service, with his first post in Wellington, New Zealand. He then served in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Brazil and at the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva.

In July 1995, St. John Paul II named him an archbishop and appointed him as apostolic nuncio to Haiti. He served there until 1999, and then was named nuncio to Uganda, where he stayed until 2007, when he was named nuncio to Mexico.

Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl said in a statement that he looked forward to welcoming Archbishop Pierre to the archdiocese “where he will make his home as he carries out his responsibilities across the country.” The apostolic nunciature is located in the nation’s capital.

“Archbishop Pierre is recognized for his distinguished diplomatic career and service to the church,” said the cardinal, who also expressed gratitude for Archbishop Vigano’s service.

“As he departs Washington and concludes his service to the church, I offer my gratitude for his many kindnesses as we worked together, particularly in anticipation of the visit of Pope Francis to the United States last September,” Cardinal Wuerl said. “Archbishop Vigano carries with him our heartfelt prayers and best wishes.”

 

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