News Briefs

Encounter 2017 gathering blends talks, music, spirituality

NEW YORK (CNS) — Members of the Catholic lay ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation are gearing up for their annual gathering in New York City, a three-day event featuring lectures, music and socializing. Labeled a “cultural event,” the free gathering takes place Jan. 13-15 in New York City and features talks by scientists, writers, economists as well as exhibits and music. “It’s a blend of music and culture a lot of talk about different Catholic topics,” said Father Drew Curry, from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend in Indiana, who attended the event in 2013. Holly Peterson, director of communications for Communion and Liberation in New York, said the event, now in its ninth year, hopes to provide “a place of dialogue and friendship with everyone and anyone, in the heart of the city — which it truly is, in the heart of Manhattan.” Those who participate in the annual event, called Encounter, “have the unique experience of seeing proposals from a diversity of people, from all walks of life; discussions that are not afraid to look at the depth of life, from 360 degrees, and to speak about it together,” Peterson told Catholic News Service.

Benefits association, diocese file suit over HHS transgender regulation

FARGO, N.D. (CNS) — The Catholic Benefits Association, the Diocese of Fargo and Catholic Charities North Dakota filed a lawsuit Dec. 28 in U.S. District Court in North Dakota against a federal regulation scheduled to take effect Jan. 1 that redefines “sex” for anti-discrimination purposes to include sexual orientation and gender identity. The regulation from the Department of Health and Human Services requires that Catholic hospitals and health care providers perform or provide gender transition services, hormonal treatments and counseling as well as a host of surgeries that would remove or transform the sexual organs of men or women transitioning to the other gender. The HHS regulation requires group health plans to cover these procedures and services. The Catholic Benefits Association is made up of Catholic dioceses, hospitals, school systems, religious orders and other entities that offer their employees insurance and benefit programs that adhere to Catholic teaching. The regulation, which also mandates abortions be performed, affects health insurers, hospitals and health plans administered by or receiving federal funds from HHS. There is no religious exemption.

Ministry marks 20 years of helping church embrace diversity

INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) — Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin has mentioned frequently that the Archdiocese of Newark, N. J., where he is to be installed Jan. 6, has Mass celebrated in 22 languages each weekend. It’s a large number, yes. But it might be a surprise to some that across central and southern Indiana, In the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Mass is celebrated in as many five languages. Mass in Spanish is celebrated in 19 parishes in 12 cities and towns, in Vietnamese in Bloomington, and in Vietnamese, French and Korean in Indianapolis. The Masses are just one of the many accomplishments of archdiocesan Intercultural Ministry, which celebrated 20 years of service this year. The office’s current director, Oscar Castellanos, said he is grateful for his predecessors’ perseverance “and saying ‘yes’ to this particular ministry. You planted the seed so that others could continue the harvesting.” His vision is to have “more communities embracing diversity, and opening their doors and hearts to other ways of thinking, organizing, celebrating and praying. I see this ministry promoting intercultural competency through awareness, knowledge and skills that would allow our offices, schools and parishes to be enculturated in a church that is more diverse than ever,” he said.

Cleveland bishop cites vascular dementia as reason for early
resignation

CLEVELAND (CNS) — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Richard G. Lennon of Cleveland. He has headed the diocese since 2006. Bishop Lennon, who turns 70 in March, said during a news conference at diocesan offices Dec. 28 that he had developed vascular dementia, leading to his decision to submit his resignation for health reasons to the pope in November. “Recently it has come to my awareness that my health has declined to such an extent that I should resign as diocesan bishop,” he said. “Given the progressive nature of this illness,” he added. “Pope Francis has accepted my request for an early retirement.” Normally, bishops do not turn in their resignation to the pope until they turn 75, as required by canon law. The pope named Bishop Daniel E. Thomas of Toledo, Ohio, as the apostolic administrator of the diocese until the installation of a new bishop. Bishop Thomas, 57, called Bishop Lennon’s request for an early retirement “both a humble and courageous act, one that speaks volumes to his love for the local church and his desire that the people of God receive the pastoral care they need.”

‘Creating a Culture of Encounter’ for National Migration Week

WASHINGTON (CNS) — “Creating a Culture of Encounter” is the theme of 2017’s National Migration Week, an annual observance the U.S. Catholic bishops began over 25 years ago. Taking place Jan. 8-14, the week “is an excellent opportunity to highlight biblical tradition and our mission to welcome the newcomer,” said Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, who is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration. “While the observance is only a week long, it is a vital time to show welcome, compassion and solidarity with our migrant and refugee brothers and sisters,” he added in a statement. With over 65 million people forcibly displaced from their homes globally, the world is increasingly affected by migration. The USCCB said goals of National Migration Week include educating Catholic communities about migration and urging Catholics to come together to encounter immigrants and refugees in parishes, dioceses and the wider community. Educational materials and other resources for the special week are available for download at www.usccb.org/nationalmigrationweek. Posters, prayer cards, and booklets are available through the USCCB publishing service at www.usccbpublishing.org

Vatican says 3.9 million pilgrims visited during Jubilee year

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — More than 3.9 million pilgrims visited and attended papal events, liturgies or prayer services during the Holy Year of Mercy in 2016, the Vatican said. The Prefecture of the Papal Household, the Vatican office that coordinates the audiences and distributes the free tickets to papal audiences and liturgies, said a total of 3,952,140 people attended a papal event at the Vatican. The Vatican released the statistics Dec. 29. Although the total was slightly higher from the 3.2 million visitors received by Pope Francis in 2015, for a jubilee year it still fell short of the 5.9 million pilgrims who visited in 2014. Terrorists attacks in Europe throughout the year are also thought to have discouraged visitors from traveling during what are typically busy tourist seasons in Italy. The statistics released by the Vatican stand in contrast to the numbers published on the Jubilee of Mercy website, which states that over 21 million participated in the Holy Year of Mercy. The papal event statistics do not include papal events in the city of Rome or international visits made by Pope Francis.

Posted on January 4, 2017, to: