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Atlanta auxiliary named new bishop of Raleigh

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Pope Francis has named Atlanta Auxiliary Bishop Luis R. Zarama to head the Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina.

He succeeds Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, who last October was named to head the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, where he was installed Dec. 6.

Auxiliary Bishop Luis R. Zarama of Atlanta is seen in Nogales, Mexico, in this 2014 file photo. Pope Francis named the Atlanta auxiliary bishop to head the Diocese of Raleigh, N.C. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

Auxiliary Bishop Luis R. Zarama of Atlanta is seen in Nogales, Mexico, in this 2014 file photo. Pope Francis named the Atlanta auxiliary bishop to head the Diocese of Raleigh, N.C. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

Bishop Zarama, 58, has been an Atlanta auxiliary bishop since 2009. A native of Colombia, he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 1993.

Bishop Zarama will be installed as Raleigh’s sixth bishop Aug. 29 at Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral.

“Pope Francis in today’s appointment has honored the Archdiocese of Atlanta with the gift of Bishop Luis R. Zarama to become the new bishop of Raleigh,” Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory said in a statement.

“The Holy Father has chosen well even though his decision takes a deeply beloved brother and friend from our midst,” he added.

Archbishop Gregory said he joined with Bishop-designate Bernard E. Shlesinger, named an auxiliary bishop for Atlanta in May, and all the clergy, religious and laypeople of the archdiocese “in assuring Bishop Zarama of our prayers and warmest best wishes.” Bishop-designate Shlesinger is a Raleigh diocesan priest.

“I am proud to call him a brother bishop and good friend,” Bishop Burbidge said of Bishop Zarama, whom he described as “a holy, faithful and joyful bishop.”

Bishop Zarama is “known and respected for his pastoral skills, administrative abilities, zeal and kindness,” Bishop Burbidge said. “I have assured Bishop Zarama that he will be truly blessed with the support of such good priests, consecrated religious, deacons, seminarians, colleagues and lay faithful in the Diocese of Raleigh.”

Luis Rafael Zarama was born in Pasto, Colombia, Nov. 28, 1958. He attended the Conciliar Seminary in Pasto, where he graduated from high school. He attended Marian University, also in Pasto, earning a degree in philosophy and theology. He studied at the Pontifical Xavierian University in Bogota, Colombia, where he earned a degree in canon law. He was a philosophy and theology professor at the Carmelites School, the Learning School and the Colombia Military School for 11 years.

He was a priest of the Archdiocese of Atlanta Nov. 27, 1993. Then-Father Zarama’s first assignment was as parochial vicar at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Atlanta. He also was a member of the Vocations Committee.

He was the first Hispanic priest in the archdiocese to be named pastor of St. Mark Catholic Church in Clarksville, Georgia, and St. Helena Mission in Clayton, Georgia.

He became an American citizen July 4, 2000. He was named vicar general of the archdiocese in April 2006. A year later Pope Benedict XVI named him a monsignor.

In 2008 he was appointed to serve as the judicial vicar for the Atlanta archdiocese’s Metropolitan Tribunal. In July 2009, Pope Benedict named him an auxiliary bishop of Atlanta. His episcopal ordination was Sept. 29, 2009.

The Diocese of Raleigh covers 32,000 square miles. Out of a total population of over 4.8 million, there are just over 231,000 Catholics.

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N.C. priest at Phila. seminary named auxiliary bishop for Atlanta

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WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Father Bernard E. Shlesinger III, a priest of the Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina, to be an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

Bishop-designate Shlesinger, 56, is currently the director of spiritual formation at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia.

Father Bernard E. Shlesinger III, a priest of the Diocese of Raleigh, N.C., speaks during a May 15 news conference after Pope Francis appointed him as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. Bishop-designate Shlesinger, 56, is currently director of spiritual formation in the theology division at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia. (CNS/Micael Alexander, Georgia Bulletin)

Father Bernard E. Shlesinger III, a priest of the Diocese of Raleigh, N.C., speaks during a May 15 news conference after Pope Francis appointed him as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. Bishop-designate Shlesinger, 56, is currently director of spiritual formation in the theology division at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia. (CNS/Micael Alexander, Georgia Bulletin)

The appointment was announced in Washington May 15 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop-designate Shlesinger’s episcopal ordination will take place at Christ the King Cathedral in Atlanta, but the date has not yet been announced.

“I warmly welcome him to the Archdiocese of Atlanta and I look forward to working with him in service to this local church,” Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory said in a statement about the newly named bishop.

As a Raleigh diocesan priest, Bishop-designate Shlesinger “comes to us from a diocese within the ecclesiastical province of Atlanta where he has longed enjoyed the endorsement of the bishops of our province and the well-deserved respect, admiration, and affection of the clergy, religious and faithful of the Diocese of Raleigh,” the archbishop said.

“Ned is a man of prayer, prudence, and apostolic zeal,” added Archbishop Gregory, who has headed the archdiocese since 2005. “He is eminently qualified to assume these new responsibilities as auxiliary bishop in Atlanta, and I welcome him with an enthusiastic and jubilant heart. I am certain that we all will come to know and love him and discover how truly fortunate we are to have been sent this man of faith and pastoral skill.”

Since 2013, Bishop-designate Shlesinger has been director of spiritual formation in the theology division of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa., in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Before that he served in many different capacities in the Diocese of Raleigh including as a pastor, a member of the priests’ council, and director of vocations and seminary formation, 2007-2013.

“We have been blessed to have him with us for the last four years as director of spiritual formation,” said the seminary’s rector, Philadelphia Auxiliary Bishop Timothy C. Senior. “We were expecting him to return home for a new assignment in the Diocese of Raleigh. (He) will surely be a shepherd after the heart of Jesus, and the church will be blessed by his generous service as a successor to the apostles.”

Father Shlesinger is a retired U.S. Air Force pilot, serving from 1983 to 1990, when he retired with the rank of captain. He flew the C-130E Hercules while stationed at Pope Air Force Base in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Born Dec. 17, 1960, Bernard E. “Ned” Shlesinger was raised in Northern Virginia. He is the youngest of six children of Bernard E. Shlesinger Jr. and Rita Belmont Shlesinger.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg in 1983. He went on to attend Theological College in Washington, where he studied pre-theology and philosophy. He attended Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, earning a bachelor of arts degree in sacred theology in 1995. That same year he then began studies for a licentiate of sacred theology Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, also in Rome.

He was ordained a priest June 22, 1996.

The Archdiocese of Atlanta currently has one active auxiliary bishop, Bishop Luis R. Zarama. It encompasses just over 21,000 square miles across 69 counties in north and central Georgia and is home to 1.1 million Catholics, out of a total population of about 7 million.

 

Contributing to this story was Matthew Gambino in Philadelphia.

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Catholic Charities agencies begin helping Hurricane Matthew victims

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Catholic News Service

Catholic Charities agencies joined emergency response efforts in coastal communities in four Southeastern states as residents and parish staffers began returning to assess the damage Hurricane Matthew left behind.

Civilian rescuers Jeremy Blue and his father, Tommy Blue, ferry a family to safety from their flooded apartment Oct. 9 in Lumberton, N.C., after Hurricane Matthew. The powerful storm killed at least 1,000 people in Haiti and at least 33 in the U.S. (CNS photo/Jonathan Drake, Reuters)

Civilian rescuers Jeremy Blue and his father, Tommy Blue, ferry a family to safety from their flooded apartment Oct. 9 in Lumberton, N.C., after Hurricane Matthew. The powerful storm killed at least 1,000 people in Haiti and at least 33 in the U.S. (CNS photo/Jonathan Drake, Reuters)

Some evacuation orders remained in effect in South Carolina, where the storm came ashore Oct. 7, dumping up to 18 inches of rain in communities near Charleston. High water blocked some roads, preventing people from returning to their homes in South Carolina and North Carolina and others were prevented from leaving their homes as they awaited the delivery of food and water.

In Florida, churches sustained serious damage and the historic Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine in St. Augustine experienced flooding, preventing Mass from being celebrated indoors the weekend of Oct. 8-9.

One Catholic Charities official in North Carolina said that in discussions with some residents he learned that the damage and flooding caused by Matthew exceeded that of the powerful Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

Attempts to reach the Diocese of Savannah, Georgia, were unsuccessful because telephone and electrical lines were down.

Some South Carolina communities in in Horry, Georgetown and Williamsburg counties faced the possibility of flooding, even though the storm’s initial fury bypassed them. Kelly Kaminski, a regional coordinator for Catholic Charities of Charleston, said Oct. 10 that authorities were keeping an eye on rivers that continued to rise from runoff from Matthew’s torrential rains.

Many of the same people affected by the storm or worried about potential flooding continue to recover from the historical floods that swamped the state a year ago, she said.

“We’re working with over 2,000 clients just on the flood stuff. Now in addition we have to handle everything from Hurricane Matthew,” Kaminski told Catholic News Service.

Kaminski had no word on damage to churches and schools because evacuation orders in some communities remained in effect.

New flooding also was a concern in North Carolina, said Daniel Altenau, director of communication and disaster services for Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Raleigh.

“The major concern right now is that rivers are increasingly rising. The flooding is not expected to peak in some areas until Friday (Oct. 14) and may not begin to subside until the 15th,” he said.

Catholic Charities planned to begin distributing food cards to families by Oct. 11 as people either returned home or could be reached by some of the 55 to 60 agency staff members working in the affected communities, Altenau said.

“Many of our own staff has been affected, which has limited the ability to be in the community,” he said.

Up and down the North Carolina coast, churches and schools sustained damaged. Altenau said he had reports from “at least a dozen parishes” reporting damage. “The major problem is roofing issues,” he said. “But because of power being out, we aren’t able to communicate with them. We expect more reports in the coming days as well.”

Hurricane Matthew’’s worst punch missed much of the Florida coast. The most serious damage occurred in the Diocese of St. Augustine, where church properties were seriously damaged or flooded and homes were destroyed.

Kathleen Bagg, director of communications for the diocese, said downed trees littered the property of the Mission Nombre de Dios and the Shrine of Our Lady of Le Leche. A tree fell onto the roof of the Our Lady of Le Leche Chapel, she said, but did not cause damage to the interior of the structure.

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, which was renovated in time for the 450th anniversary of the city and cathedral parish, sustained enough flooding to render it unusable for Masses Oct. 8 and 9, Bagg said. Mass was celebrated in the west courtyard outside the church, she said.

Another church, St. Anastasia on a barrier island across from the center of St. Augustine, is believed to have sustained serious damaged in the storm. Authorities were not allowing residents, many of whom belong to the parish, to return to St. Anastasia Island Oct. 10.

Bagg said that power remained out for much of the region, making it difficult to contact other parishes to determine how they fared.

In Miami, parishioners at Notre Dame d’Haiti Parish began collecting donations of food for the Caribbean nation, which took a direct hit from Hurricane Matthew. Parishioners prayed Oct. 7 for the estimated 300,000 Haitians affected by the storm.

The number of deaths reached 1,000 on Oct. 9, five days after the storm’s 145-mile-an-hour winds and torrential rains slammed into the country, according to a tally by Reuters based on conversations with local officials.

However, Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency reported that 336 people had died. The agency’s accounting of casualties is lower because of a policy that requires emergency workers visit each village to confirm the number of deaths and injuries.

In the U.S., the death toll stood at 33 as of Oct. 11.

 

Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski.

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Supreme Court lets block on North Carolina ultrasound law stand

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court June 15 left a lower court ruling intact that blocked North Carolina’s law requiring physicians to perform an ultrasound on women seeking abortions, and to show it to the women and describe the fetus’ features.

The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. (CNS/Reuters)

The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. (CNS/Reuters)

Without comment, the court let stand a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling from last December that overturned the 2011 law on First Amendment grounds.

The Supreme Court also is being asked to take at least two other cases involving state restrictions on abortion. One, which has been on the court’s calendar for consideration for several weeks, asks for review of a July 2014 ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that overturned Mississippi’s requirements for hospital-like standards at abortion clinics. The 2012 law also requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals.

A Texas law requiring similar standards at abortion clinics was upheld earlier in June by the 5th Circuit. Opponents of the law have asked the Supreme Court to fast-track review of that ruling.

Meanwhile, in the North Carolina case, by declining to take the case, the court let stand lower court rulings blocking the law as violating the First Amendment rights of physicians.

The lower court said: “This compelled speech, even though it is a regulation of the medical profession, is ideological in intent and in kind.” The ruling said North Carolina’s law goes too far beyond what states have customarily done in the interest of “ensuring informed consent and in protecting the sanctity of life in all its phases.”

In other matters, the Supreme Court also June 15 issued two rulings on immigration legal procedures. In Reyes Mata v. Lynch, the court ruled 8-1 that the 5th Circuit was wrong to say it lacked jurisdiction in considering an appeal of a ruling by the Board of Immigration Appeals. In that case Noel Reyes Mata appealed to the Circuit Court after the immigration court refused to reopen his case because he missed a filing deadline. The ruling will allow him to once again ask the Circuit Court to decide whether the immigration court should reopening his case.

In the second immigration matter, the court ruled 5-4 in favor of the federal government’s authority to deny a visa to the spouse of a U.S. citizen without giving the specific reason for denying it.

Fauzia Din, a naturalized U.S. citizen, had petitioned for a spousal visa for her husband, Kanishka Berashk. The U.S. embassy in Pakistan refused the request, citing its broad discretion to deny visas on the basis of “terrorist activities.” The agency refused to elaborate to the couple about how that provision applied. Berashk had worked as a clerk for the Afghan government while it was controlled by the Taliban, the record said.

Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said that although marriage may be a fundamental right, the visa denial doesn’t affect that. Legal cases establishing a right to marry “cannot be expanded to include the right Din argues for, the right to live in the United States with one’s alien spouse,” he wrote.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had tossed out lower court rulings in favor of the government’s position, saying her right to marry included the right to a better explanation of why her husband was denied a visa.

 

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