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Pope encourages Viet Catholics to be 'good Christians and good citizens' (Fides)

In a letter to Catholics in Vietnam, Pope Francis has taken the same line that he used in a message to Chinese Catholics, encouraging them to be “good Christians and good citizens.” The Pope’s letter—written to mark an agreement to establish an office of “resident papal representative” in Vietnam—welcomed progress in negotiations between the Vatican and the Vietnamese government. The Pope said that “the Catholic faithful can foster dialogue and engender hope for the country whenever conditions favorable to the exercise of religious freedom are implemented.”

Kissinger to speak at Al Smith dinner (Pillar)

The New York archdiocese has announced that Henry Kissinger will be the featured speaker at this year’s Al Smith dinner, the annual fundraiser for Catholic charities.

The former Secretary of State, who recently celebrated his 100th birthday, was the main speaker for the dinner once before, in 1974.

No prosecution for woman who vandalized pregnancy-help center (Daily Signal)

Federal prosecutors have chosen not to press a case against a New York woman who vandalized a pregnancy-help center, instead reaching an agreement in which she will pay $2,580 in damages.

Hannah Kamke entered a guilty plea on a charge of disorderly conduct after being arrested for the vandalization of the CompassCare center. The same center had been the target of an arson attack earlier in the year; no arrests have been made in that case.

Artificial Intelligence is theme for World Communications Day 2024 (Vatican Press Office)

The theme for the 58th annual World Day for Communications will be Artificial Intelligence, the Vatican has announced.

The September 29 announcement notes: “Like all revolutions, this one based on artificial intelligence, too, poses new challenges to ensure that machines do not contribute to a large-scale system of disinformation and do not also increase the loneliness of those who are already alone, depriving us of the warmth that only communication between people can provide.”

Oklahoma archbishop decries 'archiac' execution of criminal (CNA)

Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City lamented the execution of a convicted murderer, saying that it was “fundamentally at odds with the culture of life the state of Oklahoma proclaims to be building.”

Anthony Sanchez, who was executed on September 21, had been convicted of the rape and murder of a college student in 1996.

Minority of US Catholics believe in Real Presence (Aleteia)

A minority (49%) of American Catholics believe that “Jesus Christ is truly present under the appearance of bread and wine” in the Eucharist, according to a survey by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). A bare majority (51%) see the consecrated bread and wine as “symbols of Jesus.”

In a series of questions about the Eucharist, CARA found that “only 35% responded in a way consistent with Church teaching on the Real Presence.” The study concluded, however, that most Catholics are uninformed about the Church’s teaching, rather than rejecting Catholic doctrine.

Not surprisingly, the survey found that belief in the Real Presence was much stronger among Catholics who attend Mass regularly.

In unusual move, Steubenville bishop named auxiliary bishop of Detroit (Vatican Press Office)

In an unusual move, Pope Francis has transferred Bishop Jeffrey Monforton, 60, of Steubenville (OH) to his native Detroit, where he will serve as an auxiliary bishop.

The Pontiff also named Bishop Paul Bradley, the retired bishop of Kalamazoo (MI), as the apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Steubenville.

Last year, Bishop Monforton announced his request for a USCCB consultative vote on a merger of the Steubenville diocese with the Diocese of Columbus. His request—soon tabled—was undertaken without consultation with his clergy.

Bishop Monforton is also the subject of two ‘Vos Estis’ investigations into whether he mishandled sexual abuse allegations.

Discipline of sister who led community co-founded by Father Rupnik raises questions (CNA)

Hannah Brockhaus of CNA notes the apparent contradiction between two recent actions undertaken by the Diocese of Rome. Auxiliary Bishop Daniele Libanori, SJ directed Sister Ivanka Hosta to do penance for Father Marko Ivan Rupnik’s victims; Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the Vicar of Rome, authorized a separate canonical visitation that questioned the accusations against Rupnik.

Weekly Mass attendance in US fell to 17% in 2022, with additional 5% watching online (Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate)

Weekly Mass attendance among adult Catholics in the United States fell from 24% in 2019 to 17% in 2022, with an additional 5% watching Mass weekly online because of COVID-related concerns, according to a new study published by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.

The study found that “49% percent of adult Catholics always receive Communion when attending Mass and 18% do so frequently or usually. 18% seldom receive Eucharist at Mass. 15% never receive Communion at Mass.”

49% of adult Catholics—and 88% of adult Catholics who attend Mass weekly—believe that “Jesus Christ is truly present under the appearance of bread and wine.”

Only 24% of those surveyed go to Confession at least yearly.

Vatican bank lawyer raps Secretariat of State investors, seeks damages (Crux)

As the Vatican’s financial “trial of the century” draws slowly toward its conclusion, at attorney for the Vatican bank, the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), told a Vatican tribunal that the officials of the Secretariat of State invested large sums “without any control or accuracy.”

The attorney, Roberto Lipari, urged the tribunal to find defendants guilty in the financial-misconduct case, and said they should be required to pay the IOR for “moral and reputational damage.”

Lipari charged that the Secretariat of State used the IOR “like a cash machine,” and used their ecclesiastical clout to force the bank’s cooperation. He emphasized that the investment strategy of the Secretariat of State was amateurish: “It was all managed in a self-referential way by a monsignor who’s an expert in canon law, and an accountant with no experience in financial investments.”

To illustrate his argument, Lipari pointed to a plan to invest in a project in Angola, noting that the project threatened environmental damage, the host country had a poor human-rights record, and a potential partner was an arms dealer. That project—which was pursued under the leadership of the trial’s chief defendant, Cardinal Angelo Becciu—never came to fruition.