By Matthew Trojacek with G. Galazka, CNA and CNS photos

Pope Francis gives New Vatican role to Cardinal Turkson

On April 4, Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Peter Turkson as the new chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

The Ghanaian cardinal succeeds the 79-year-old Argentine Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, who has led both institutions since 1998.

The Pope accepted Turkson’s resignation as prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development last December.

Turkson served as the archbishop of Cape Coast, Ghana, before he was called to Rome in 2009 to be president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. (CNA)

Pope Francis receives new US Ambassador to the Holy See

Ambassador Joe Donnelly of the United States presented his credentials to Pope Francis at the Vatican’s apostolic palace on April 11.

“I look forward to deepening our ties with the Holy See. My family and I are proud to be members of the Catholic faith,” Donnelly said in a video message published by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See.

“From my childhood, through my college and law school years at the University of Notre Dame, through years of public service in Indiana and Washington, D.C., the Catholic Church has been a core part of my life and my values.” (CNA)

Pope Francis appoints new Bishop of Lourdes

Pope Francis, on March 30, appointed a new bishop, Monsignor Jean-Marc Micas, to the French Catholic diocese that is home to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, one of the world’s most-visited Marian shrines.

Micas currently serves as the French provincial superior of the Society of Priests of Saint-Sulpice (PSS), a society of apostolic life founded in 1642 that focuses on priestly formation.

The 58-year-old priest will fill the vacancy in the Lourdes diocese left when Bishop Nicolas Brouwet was reassigned as bishop of Nîmes in August 2021. (CNA)

Pope names two US-based experts to Vatican Science Academy

Pope Francis has appointed Stanley B. Prusiner, an American neurologist and Nobel Prize laureate in medicine, and Zeresenay Alemseged, an Ethiopian paleoanthropologist, to be members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

The Pope also appointed Emilce Cuda, an Argentine theologian and secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, as a member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, the Vatican said April 13. The two academies are made up of top-level scholars and experts from around the world who promote studies on issues of concern to the Vatican.

Prusiner is director of the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases and professor of neurology and biochemistry at the University of California, San Francisco.

He won the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1997 for his work in proposing the cause of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (“mad cow disease”) and its human equivalent, CreutzfeldtJakob disease.

Alemseged, who studies the origin and evolution of early human ancestors, is a professor at the University of Chicago. His field work in Ethiopia led to finding the nearly complete fossilized remains of the “world’s oldest child” — believed to be a 3.3 million-year-old human ancestor.

Cuda has taught at several universities in the United States and Argentina; she was a visiting lecturer at the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina and at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. (UCANews)

Pope Francis visits Benedict XVI ahead of Pope Emeritus’ 95th birthday

Pope Francis visited Benedict XVI ahead of the Pope emeritus’ 95th birthday on April 16. The Holy See press office said that the Pope went to the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, the retired German Pope’s residence in Vatican City, on April 13, shortly after 6 p.m. local time.

Benedict XVI celebrated his 95th birthday on April 16, Holy Saturday. He was born in 1927, also on Holy Saturday, in Marktl, Bavaria. He led the Catholic Church from 2005 to 2013, when he became the first Pope in almost 600 years to resign.

“After a brief and affectionate conversation, and after praying together, Pope Francis returned to Casa Santa Marta [his residence],” the press office said. (CNA)

Myanmar Junta frees arrested Catholic Priest

A priest from Pathein Diocese in Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Division who was arrested by the military has been released following mediation by Church officials. Father Richard Nay Zaw Aung was released on the afternoon of April 19, nine days after his arrest. “He was treated well during detention and questioning by the security forces,” a clergyman from Pathein Diocese told UCA News.

Father Aung, who is an assistant parish priest, was among 13 people, including another priest, two seminarians and laypeople with some catechists, picked up during a raid at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Sharge village, Hinthada township, under Pathein Diocese. All except Father Aung were released after being questioned for several hours. The predominantly Buddhist country has so far witnessed some 11 Catholic priests being arrested since May 2021 from Banmaw, Mandalay, Hakha, Taunggyi and Pekhon on suspicions of supporting the rebel People’s Defense Forces. (UCANews)

Pope Francis names new Catholic Archbishop of Paris

On April 26, Pope Francis named Archbishop Laurent Ulrich as the new Catholic archbishop of Paris.

Ulrich, the archbishop of Lille, northern France, succeeds Archbishop Michel Aupetit, who resigned in December.

The new Paris archbishop was born in 1951 and ordained a priest of the diocese of Dijon, eastern France, in 1979.

He was appointed archbishop of Chambéry, southeastern France, by Pope John Paul II in the year 2000. He was transferred to Lille in 2008 by Benedict XVI. (CNA)

Human Trafficking is a modern burning bush, says Myanmar Cardinal

Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon has decried the scourge of modern-day slavery as it happens all over the world including in war zones where millions are fleeing.

Spiraling conflicts in places like Ukraine and Myanmar have infused “a new and desperate urgency into this issue,” said Cardinal Bo, also president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences.

“The moral holocaust of the commodification of human fragility rages. It is compounded by unscrupulous monetizing of human tears and vulnerability,” Cardinal Bo said in a keynote address at the Santa Marta Group’s meeting at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in the Vatican on May 18.

“While thousands are exhibiting poignant shows of generosity to the war-affected, the heartless march of trafficking wolves masquerading as benign helpers rolls on,” Bo said.

He said every Christian is mandated with the mission to fight this. To be a Christian today is “to wage a war against human trafficking.” (UCANews)

Ukraine’s Way of the Cross: Papal almoner prays at mass grave

Mass graves and the deceased still lying along the roadside became a kind of “Way of the Cross” where Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, and Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas, apostolic nuncio to Ukraine, stopped and prayed.

Pope Francis sent the cardinal to Ukraine to spend the Triduum and Easter with the people there as his special envoy.

On the way back to Kyiv from Borodyanka, a town that had been under control of Russian forces, the cardinal and archbishop prayed amid the ruins and bodies of those killed, including by an unmarked mass grave, he told Vatican News on April 15.

“We found many dead and a grave with at least 80 people, buried without a name,” he said.

The scenes left them speechless, he said, but “Thank goodness there is faith and that this is Holy Week, Good Friday, when we can unite ourselves with the person of Christ and go up with him onto the cross.” (CNS)

Nigerian priest dies at the hands of kidnappers

A priest of the Archdiocese of Kaduna in Nigeria and his elder brother have lost their lives while being held captive by kidnappers.

This disclosure was contained in a statement signed by the archdiocesan chancellor of Kaduna, Father Christian Emmanuel Okewu, on May 11.

“It is with a heavy heart but with total submission to the will of God that we announce the death of Reverend Father Joseph Akete Bako. The sad event took place at the hands of his abductors between April 18 and 20,” the statement read.

“Father Akete (aged 38) was kidnapped from his residence in St. John’s Catholic Church, Kudenda, where he was serving as parish priest, on March 8.” (UCANews)

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