New Apostolic Nuncio to Egypt appointed Pope Francis has named 66-year-old Italian Archbishop Bruno Musarò to be the new Apostolic Nuncio to Egypt and Delegate to the League of Arab States. Archbishop Musarò was formerly the Apostolic Nuncio to Cuba from August 2011 to February 5, 2015. He takes over his new office from Archbishop Jean-Paul Aimé Gobel who held the post from January 2013. Musarò has enjoyed a long career in the diplomatic service of the Holy See, covering the posts of Apostolic Nuncio to Peru, Guatemala, Seychelles, Mauritius, Madagascar and Panama. Additionally, he was Apostolic Delegate to the Comoro Islands from 1999 to 2004.
Pope Francis appoints Lt. Col. Christoph Graf new Swiss Guard commander
Pope Francis has appointed Lieutenant Colonel Christoph Graf as the new commander of the Pontifical Swiss Guard. Graf joined the military unit in 1987. He replaces Colonel Daniel Anrig, who retired last month, and had been commander since 2008. For more than 500 years, the 110-man unit has been responsible for the safety of the Pope, including the security of the Apostolic Palace.
Nuncio to Bosnia-Herzegovina welcomes news of Pope’s visit
Archbishop Luigi Pezzuto, Apostolic Nuncio to Bosnia-Herzegovina, has welcomed the news of Pope Francis’s upcoming visit to Sarajevo on June 6.
Speaking to Vatican Radio, he explained that the nation and the city of Sarajevo, “the Jerusalem of Europe,” is “a place where a lot of cultures, religions and also Christian confessions gather together.” And he points out that especially considering the fact of the recent war from which the country is still emerging, “the message of the Pope in view of peace and rebuilding a society” is fundamental.
“In this context, I am sure that the visit of Pope Francis will be not only be useful, but necessary for the local Catholic Church and for all the religions that are here,” he said.
Canadian bishops “very disappointed” in Supreme Court decision
The unanimous February 6 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada to overturn the country’s ban on physician-assisted suicide demonstrates the tendency in culture to “set individual rights over any other consideration,” said the president of the Canadian episcopal conference.
Archbishop Paul-André Durocher said Canada’s Catholic bishops are “very disappointed” in the decision of the Supreme Court to “open the door” to physician- assisted suicide.
Pope Francis encourages Greek bishops in hard times
Faced with the “prolonged economic-financial crisis” which has hit Greece, the country’s clergy should not tire of encouraging everyone to have hope in the future, in contrast to a “so-called culture of pessimism” — that’s what Pope Francis told Greek bishops on their ad limina visit to Rome. Pope Francis recalled “the spirit of solidarity with which every Christian is called to give concrete witness in daily life constitutes the yeast of hope.” He urged them to maintain “constructive relations” with Greek authorities and members of society in order to promote a future of solidarity “in an attitude of dialogue and collaboration also with the other European countries.”
Pope to Lithuanian bishops: defend Church from modern dangers
Lithuania’s clergy have been “heroic” in defending the Church in times of persecution — that’s what Pope Francis told Bishops from the Baltic nation, who are in Rome for their ad limina visit. If Lithuania was for many years “oppressed by regimes founded on ideologies contrary to human dignity and freedom,” the former Soviet state is now faced with “other dangers such as secularism and relativism,” the Pope said.
The Holy Father invited the prelates to “tirelessly announce the Gospel and Christian values” and to “constructive dialogue with all, even those who do not belong to the Church or are far from the religious experience.” With its full membership in the European Union, Lithuania, the Pope warned, is exposed to an “influx of ideologies that would introduce elements of destabilization for families, fruit of a poorly understood sense of personal freedom.” He encouraged them to provide pastoral guidance to support and strengthen families.
Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson: immigration reform, not harsh enforcement bills
Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona, testified on behalf of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security in opposition to three enforcement-only bills. Collectively, the bills would harm immigrant and refugee children; criminalize undocumented persons and those who provide them with basic needs assistance, including religious and church workers; and permit states and localities to create and enforce their own immigration laws.
In his statement Bishop Kicanas said the three bills “would take our nation in the wrong direction” and fail to fix our nation’s immigration system. Instead, he urged the subcommittee to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation, including a path to citizenship for the undocumented.
Eritrean priest nominated for Nobel Prize
Fr. Mussie Zerai, an Eritrean Catholic priest and president of the humanitarian organization Hebshia, has been nominated for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize for his work helping refugees who attempt the dangerous sea crossing from Libya to Sicily. An estimated 156,000 lives have been saved since Operation Mare Nostrum was launched in October 2013 to rescue immigrants in dilapidated boats floundering in the Straits of Sicily.
Fr. Zerai’s efforts were spurred by the October 2013 tragedy of at least 366 immigrants from the Horn of Africa drowning off the coast of Lampedusa, an island off Sicily.
A European Union program called Triton took over the patrol of the borders of the Mediterranean, and Fr. Zerai’s initiative came to an end in November 2014. However, Triton does not extend out to sea, and Fr. Zerai says that now “if you have an accident in international waters, no one intervenes, unless you are fortuitously close to a merchant ship that decides to give aid.” What is needed, he says, is “not only surveillance, but relief.” No end will come to the problem, says Fr. Zerai, unless it is addressed “at its root” — in the sub-Saharan countries these refugees are fleeing through Libya, where groups like ISIS have gained control.
New UN Observer Named
(Zenit) Pope Francis appointed the 52-year-old Spaniard, Msgr. Fernando Chica Arellano as a new Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the organizations and bodies of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO, IFAD and WFP). Born in Mengíbar, Spain on June 24, 1963, Chica Arellano earned a degree in theology and was ordained a priest on April 19, 1987. Having entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See on July 1, 2002, he worked in the Apostolic Nunciature in Colombia, in the Papal Representation at the UN to Geneva, and in the Section for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State.
OBITUARY: Karl Josef Cardinal Becker, SJ (April 18, 1928-February 10, 2015)
The eminent theologian Cardinal Karl Josef Becker, S.J., passed away on February 10 after months of grave illness. Ordained a priest in 1958, 10 years after entering the Society of Jesus, Fr. Becker, SJ, (as he preferred to be known even after his elevation to the cardinalate in 2012) was for more than four decades missioned to the Pontifical Gregorian University, serving as Professor of Dogmatic Theology. In addition to his academic work, Cardinal Becker served as a Consultor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, making particular contributions to the 1997-1999 dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation that produced the Joint Declaration on Justification, and taking part in the eight sessions (2009-2011) of the working group of the Ecclesia Dei Commission with the Society of St. Pius X.