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Elderly Chinese bishop recovers from coronavirus

Nanyang, China, Feb 18, 2020 / 04:23 pm (CNA).- Bishop Joseph Zhu Baoyu, Bishop Emeritus of Nanyang, has recovered from coronavirus. At age 98, he is among the oldest infected patients to have recovered.

Bishop Zhu was diagnosed with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by coronavirus, Feb. 3. He was treated at a hospital in Nanyang, in China's Henan province, and was said to be no longer infected Feb. 14.

In mainland China the fatality rate from coronavirus is 2.3%, though that figure jumps to nearly 15% for those 80 years or older.

In mainland China, the death toll of the coronavirus has reached 1,868, and more than 72,400 have been infected in the country.

Originating in Hubei province (which borders Henan), the new strain of coronavirus can cause fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. In some cases, it can lead to pneumonia, kidney failure, and severe acute respiratory syndrome.

Most of the reported cases of COVID-19 are in mainland China, but it has spread to 26 countries, with about 600 cases outside mainland China.

There have been five deaths outside mainland China, in Hong Kong, France, the Philippines, Japan, and Taiwan.

According to the Chinese health authority, 80.9% of coronavirus infections are mild, 13.8% are severe, and 4.7% are critical.

The Vatican has donated between 600,000 to 700,000 facemasks to help stop the spread of the virus.

Jinde Charities, a government-recognized Catholic group in China, has also provided $132 million worth of aid to support medical treatment.

“Given the continuing severity of the epidemic, the provision of medical supplies such as protective clothing and masks to designated hospitals remains a top priority,” the charity said Feb. 12.

“At present, the entire society, including the Chinese Catholic Church, is fighting the epidemic to save people,” it added.

Bishop Zhu was ordained a priest in 1957, and in 1995 was consecrated a bishop, having been appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Nanyang. He succeeded as ordinary in 2002, and retired in 2010 at the age of 89. He was succeeded by his coadjutor, Bishop Peter Jin Lugang.

Bishop Zhu was a bishop of the underground Church, and was long imprisoned and in re-education camps.

After his retirement he was recognized by the Chinese government, which continues to consider him the ordinary of the Diocese of Nanyang. The government did not recognize Bishop Jin's consecration until 2019, and it considers him a coadjutor.

Historic Iraqi church to be rebuilt

Mosul, Iraq, Feb 18, 2020 / 03:10 pm (CNA).- The rebuilding of a Syriac Catholic church in Mosul, Iraq, destroyed by ISIS will begin soon, the U.N.’s heritage agency (UNESCO) announced last week.

Al-Tahera church, in the old city of Mosul, was severely damaged after ISIS invaded the city in June of 2014.

Among numerous documented murders and other atrocities committed against Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities in the area, ISIS destroyed at least 28 significant religious sites in the city, one of which was the Al-Tahera church.

The church suffered extensive damage to its arcade and outer wall which must be rebuilt, as well as its remaining ceiling which will be demolished and reconstructed. Landmines inside the church will also have to be removed.

UNESCO announced in October that it was partnering with the United Arab Emirates to rebuild the church which was built in 1862. The partnership said that another church in the city, the Dominican Al-Saa'a church which dates to 1873, will also be rebuilt.

The reconstruction will be part of the agency-led “Revive the Spirit of Mosul” initiative. UNESCO says the reconstruction project will create jobs and provide further education, training, and experience for local young professionals and craftsmen.

The second largest city in Iraq, Mosul is the seat of two bishoprics in Iraq for the Chaldean Catholic and Syriac Catholic churches. Its Christian population fell from 35,000 in 2003 to only around 15,000 at the time of the ISIS invasion in 2014.

After the ISIS takeover of Mosul and the surrounding region, there were numerous reports of militants forcing Christians to convert to Islam, pay a tax, or be killed.

The Syriac Catholic Patriarch of Antioch estimated that ISIS killed 500 people in its conquest; thousands were killed during the ISIS occupation and nearly one million people fled the city.

In 2016, a report by the Knights of Columbus and In Defense of Christians documented accounts by victims or witnesses of killings, rapes, and girls and women being forced into sex slavery. A separate U.N. report said that ISIS had abducted 800 to 900 children in Mosul and subjected them to religious and military training.

In March of 2016, the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that ISIS was committing genocide against Christians, Yezidis, and Shi’a Muslims in Iraq and Syria.

ISIS was driven out of Mosul in 2017, but conditions in the city and in much of Northern Iraq remain tenuous for Christians.

Barely 40 Christians have returned to live in Mosul, according to Syriac Catholic priest Father Amanuel Adel Kloo, in an interview with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) from July of 2019. Around 1,000 other Christians commute into the city to attend the University of Mosul by day, but they leave the city at night due to continued fears of insecurity, he said.

In an April, 2019, interview with ACN, Archbishop Petros Mouche of the Syriac-Catholic Archdiocese of Mosul expressed concern at a lack of funds to rebuild homes in the region and “very few initiatives” for jobs.

Bishops and aid agencies praise coronavirus response

Washington D.C., Feb 18, 2020 / 02:41 pm (CNA).- American bishops and leaders of Catholic aid agencies have praised Vatican and U.S. responses to the coronavirus outbreak, and encouraged the faithful to stay informed about the disease.

“As communities and public health officials respond to the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in China and closely monitor its presence and progression in other parts of the world, we join in solidarity and prayer for those impacted or working to treat those infected by the disease,” said a statement from Bishop David Malloy of Rockford (IL), Sean Callahan, president of Catholic Relief Services, and Sr. Mary Haddad, RSM, president of the Catholic Health Association of the United States. 

Malloy is the chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace. 

The three organizations “hope that governments will work together in partnership to improve all nations’ capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to this virus.”

“The Catholic Church in the United States stands in solidarity with those affected by the coronavirus and their families, health workers who are valiantly trying to diagnose and treat patients, and those under quarantine awaiting results of their screening for the virus,” said the statement. 

They offered both prayers for continued healing, as well as for support for various organizations that are working to contain the outbreak and treat those who are sickened. 

The statement highlighted efforts by both the United States and Vatican. 

Earlier this month, the Vatican sent 700,000 respiratory masks to China, and “Catholic healthcare providers are at the front line of providing treatment and care to those impacted by the virus.” 

The U.S. has transported more than 17 tons of medical supplies to China, something the bishops conference said “demonstrates the critical importance of the need to work together and to invest in crucial health care systems here and in other countries, thus preventing and responding to community-wide emergencies.”

“We urge the U.S. Congress to support these efforts by protecting access to domestic health care safety net programs and by providing additional emergency international assistance to areas impacted by the virus,” said the letter.

The faithful are encouraged to follow the Centers for Disease Control for up-to-date information about the coronavirus. 

China has so far reported approximately 2,000 deaths from coronavirus, although experts have speculated that the number could be far higher. 

The coronavirus has sparked a massive public health response in China and neighboring nations, including widespread quarantines. Catholic Masses have been canceled in Hong Kong and Singapore in an effort to prevent the faithful from contracting the disease. 

Retired Bishop Joseph Zhu Baoyu of Nanyang, who is 98 years old, recently became the oldest person in China to fully recover from the coronavirus. Zhu was diagnosed with COVID-19 pneumonia on February 3, and was declared free of infection on February 14. 

Zhu’s remarkable survival has resulted in mainstream media profiles in China.

Pope Francis approves Caritas Internationalis’ new statutes

Vatican City, Feb 18, 2020 / 01:26 pm (CNA).- The Vatican announced Feb. 17 that Pope Francis had approved changes to Caritas Internationalis’ governing statutes and internal rules.

The new statutes had been in effect since May 2019 after a decree from the Vatican Secretariat of State approved changes made by the general assembly of Caritas.

Pope Francis approved the amended statutes and internal rules for Caritas Internationalis in a Jan. 13 meeting with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin. The meeting considered “the need to redefine the purpose and order of Caritas Internationalis,” according to the Vatican statement.

The changes include moving the oversight of Caritas Internationalis to the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. The international charity had been a part of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, which was absorbed by the development dicastery in 2017.

Caritas Internationalis did not disclose the changes to its internal rules. According to ACI Stampa, Caritas has encouraged women’s leadership and the presence of young people with a representative council within the organization.

As the the umbrella organization for 165 Catholic relief services throughout the world, Caritas Internationalis is the largest Catholic global aid network.

Cardinal Luis Tagle continues to serve as president of Caritas Internationalis in his new post as prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Aloysius John was elected secretary general of Caritas in May.

John said last week that Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Querida Amazonia will serve as a “road map” for Caritas Internationalis to follow.

Querida Amazonia clearly shows that caring for the environment and caring for the poor are ‘inseparable,’” John said in a press release that highlighted the organization’s accompaniment of indigenous communities’ “fight for their rights” in Brazil.

Kidnapped Nigerian priest has been released

Lagos, Nigeria, Feb 18, 2020 / 01:25 pm (CNA).- The Nigerian priest who was abducted by gunmen last week has been freed. Fr. Nicholas Oboh was kidnapped last week in the southwest region of Nigeria and was freed Tuesday evening, his diocese reported.

“I am pleased to inform this house that our priest who was kidnapped last week Thursday, Rev. Fr. Nicolas Oboh, has regained his freedom,” a spokesman for the Diocese of Uromi told Nigerian Catholic leaders in a WhatsApp message Feb. 18.

“He was released this evening,” the spokesman said. ““Many thanks for your prayers and goodwill.”

The Uromi diocese is expected to release additional details about the priest’s release.

Nigerian media reported that several children were kidnapped at the same time Oboh was abducted Feb. 13. The condition and circumstances of those children are not yet known.

Oboh’s kidnapping is the latest in a series of abductions and killings in Nigeria which have involved Catholics and other Christians; clergy, seminarians, and lay people.

Earlier this week, suspected Islamist militants in Borno state staged an arson attack which killed 30 people, including a pregnant mother and her baby. The attack also destroyed 18 vehicles filled with food supplies for the region.

Seminarian Michael Nnadi, 18, was killed in late January, weeks after he and three other seminarians were abducted from their seminary in Nigeria. The seminarians kidnapped with Nnadi have been released, but one is facing life-threatening injuries.

Also in January, Rev. Lawan Andima, a local Government Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria and the married father of nine children, was beheaded by Boko Haram.

Archbishop Augustine Obiora Akubeze of Benin City said Andima was killed “simply because he was a Christian.”

In a Feb. 7 interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Archbishop Akubeze, who is president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, warned that “The current situation in Nigeria reflects an unnecessary, unwarranted and self-inflicted tension. A politically polarized nation.”

“The President of Nigeria recently stated that he was shocked at the unabated killing of Nigerians, who are mostly Christians. Many Nigerians wonder whether the president lives in a parallel universe,” Akubeze stated.

“How can he be surprised at this time? After some of us have attended mass burials of Christians killed by Boko Haram? The government is certainly not doing enough to protect both Christians and Muslims.”

Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group that has sworn allegiance to the Islamic State, has been active in Nigeria for years. While the group has attacked both Muslims and Christians in the past, the archbishop said that recent attacks have focused on the killing and kidnapping of Christians.

Akubeze said that the situation is dire and getting worse.

“One area that I think the Western nations and the media can be of great help is to cover the stories of these atrocities in Nigeria,” Akubeze reflected.

“The number of killings is just mind boggling. Maybe with significant Western coverage, the Government of Nigeria may be put under pressure to act.”

 

A version of this story was first published by ACI Africa, CNA's African news partner. It has been adapted by CNA.

Statement from U.S. Bishops Chairman of International Justice and Peace Committee on Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan’s Pastoral Solidarity Visit to the Church in Cuba

WASHINGTON—Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued the following statement:

“I would like to congratulate His Eminence Cardinal Timothy Dolan on his recently concluded pastoral solidarity visit to the Church in Cuba. His Eminence, who traveled to the island at the invitation of the Cuban bishops, celebrated Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Caridad del Cobre in Santiago--the spiritual heart of Cuba--as well as at the Cathedral of Havana, the Adolfo Rodriguez convalescent home in Camaguey, the Carmelite Convent in Havana, among others.

“The Cardinal reiterated longstanding Holy See and USCCB policy on Cuba: Mutually beneficial trade relations, tourism, and cultural exchange with the United States are key in transforming Cuba and bringing prosperity to the Cuban people.

“Recognizing the Church's role in the development of Cuban civil society, His Eminence visited the Dominican-founded University of Havana and the tomb of Fr. Felix Varela, the great 19th century Cuban priest-patriot. The Cardinal also visited the Latin American School of Medicine and Caritas Cuba.

“In addition to expressing solidarity with our brother bishops in Cuba and meeting with Apostolic Nuncio Giampiero Gloder, His Eminence met with President Miguel Diaz-Canel. The Church in Cuba and the United States believe in the transformative power of dialogue, especially regarding the promotion of life, dignity, integral human development, and prosperity. I echo the Cardinal's expressions of solidarity and urge Cuban and U.S. leaders to work for concord and collaboration between our countries.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop David J. Malloy, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Cuba.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

Catholic Response to Outbreak of Coronavirus

WASHINGTON - Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace; Sean Callahan, president of Catholic Relief Services; and Sr. Mary Haddad, RSM, president of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, issued a statement addressing the Catholic response to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Their joint statement follows:

“As communities and public health officials respond to the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in China and closely monitor its presence and progression in other parts of the world, we join in solidarity and prayer for those impacted or working to treat those infected by the disease. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Relief Services, and the Catholic Health Association of the United States hope that governments will work together in partnership to improve all nations’ capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to this virus.

“The Catholic Church in the United States stands in solidarity with those affected by the coronavirus and their families, health workers who are valiantly trying to diagnose and treat patients, and those under quarantine awaiting results of their screening for the virus. We offer our prayers for healing and support those organizations, both domestic and international, working to provide medical supplies and assistance to address this serious risk to public health.

“In early February, the Holy See sent 700,000 respiratory masks to China to help prevent the spread of the disease. Within the United States, Catholic healthcare providers are at the front line of providing treatment and care to those impacted by the virus.  

“We also commend the U.S. government for transporting more than 17 tons of donated medical supplies to China. This response to the novel coronavirus demonstrates the critical importance of the need to work together and to invest in crucial health care systems here and in other countries, thus preventing and responding to community-wide emergencies. We urge the U.S. Congress to support these efforts by protecting access to domestic health care safety net programs and by providing additional emergency international assistance to areas impacted by the virus.

“We also urge individuals to stay informed as information becomes available by going to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.”  

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop David J. Malloy, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Sean Callahan, Catholic Relief Services, Sr. Mary Haddad, RSM, Catholic Health Association of the United States, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, coronavirus.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

Statement from U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace Committee on Nuclear Disarmament

WASHINGTON — The Committee on International Justice and Peace for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has released the following statement on nuclear disarmament.

During the recent visit of Pope Francis to Japan, the Holy Father took the opportunity to speak forcefully on the subject of nuclear weapons and the threat that they represent to the world. Speaking at Nagasaki, he emphasized the need for a wide and deep solidarity to bring about security in a world not reliant on atomic weaponry, stating, “A world of peace, free from nuclear weapons, is the aspiration of millions of men and women everywhere. To make this ideal a reality calls for involvement on the part of all: individuals, religious communities and civil society, countries that possess nuclear weapons and those that do not, the military and private sectors, and international organizations.” - Address of the Holy Father on Nuclear Weapons, Atomic Bomb Hypocenter Park (Nagasaki) Sunday, 24 November 2019.

Later that same day, Pope Francis spoke in Hiroshima, the other Japanese city to have known the horror of a nuclear explosion. Addressing the moral implications of nuclear weaponry he stated, “The use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral …” - Address of the Holy Father, Meeting for Peace, Peace Memorial (Hiroshima) Sunday, 24 November 2019.

The words of Pope Francis serve as a clarion call and a profound reminder to all that the status quo of international relations, resting on the threat of mutual destruction, must be changed. As Bishops of the United States, we have made similar appeals in the past when we stated, “the moral task is to proceed with deep cuts and ultimately to abolish these weapons entirely.” - The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace (1993).  

So too, has the international community recognized the need to move away from the threat of mutual destruction and toward genuine and universal disarmament, as reflected in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Article VI of that Treaty, which dates back to 1968, states each party of that accord will work in good faith for the end of the nuclear arms race by seeking nuclear disarmament based in “…a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

Pope Francis has used his visit to Japan to remind the faithful and all actors, states or non-states, of the moral obligation to re-commit to the work of ridding the world of nuclear weapons and the threat that they pose. That obligation weighs on the consciences of all to find a means for complete and mutual disarmament based in a shared commitment and trust that needs to be fostered and deepened.

The Committee on International Justice and Peace is grateful to the Holy Father for this renewed effort to bring about a world of peace and justice that is not based upon fear or the threat of nuclear annihilation but justice and human solidarity. As such, we also call upon our own government to be part of and indeed renew its primary responsibility in that effort. The nations which have nuclear weapons must take the lead in mutual reduction of their weapons. The non-nuclear nations too must refrain from pursuing them if Article VI of the NPT is to be the effective instrument to bring about the elimination of all nuclear weapons.

“Come, Lord, for it is late, and where destruction has abounded, may hope also abound today that we can write and achieve a different future.” (Pope Francis, Hiroshima, November 24, 2019.)

Members of the Committee for International Justice and Peace:

 
Most Reverend David J. Malloy, Chairman
Bishop of Rockford

Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera
Bishop of Scranton

Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio
Archbishop for the Military Services

Most Reverend Frank J. Dewane
Bishop of Venice

Most Reverend Michael Mulvey
Bishop of Corpus Christi

Most Reverend William F. Murphy
Bishop Emeritus of Rockville Centre

Most Reverend Alberto Rojas
Coadjutor Bishop of San Bernardino

Most Reverend Abdallah Elias Zaidan
Bishop of Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon

 

 

 
Bishop Consultants to the Committee for International Justice and Peace:

 
Most Reverend Paul S. Coakley
Archbishop of Oklahoma City
Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano
Bishop of Bridgeport
 

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Committee on International Justice and Peace, nuclear disarmament, Japan, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

President of U.S. Bishops’ Conference Issues Statement on Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Querida Amazonia

WASHINGTON—Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement regarding the release today of Pope Francis’s Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Querida Amazonia. The exhortation follows upon the Special Synod of Bishops held in Rome from October 6-27, 2019 that focused on the Amazon region.

Archbishop Gomez’s statement follows:

“Today our Holy Father Pope Francis offers us a hopeful and challenging vision of the future of the Amazon region, one of the earth’s most sensitive and crucial ecosystems, and home to a rich diversity of cultures and peoples. The Pope reminds us that the Church serves humanity by proclaiming Jesus Christ and his Gospel of love, and he calls for an evangelization that respects the identities and histories of the Amazonian peoples and that is open to the ‘novelty of the Spirit, who is always able to create something new with the inexhaustible riches of Jesus Christ.’
 
“He also calls all of us in the Americas and throughout the West to examine our ‘style of life’ and to reflect on the consequences that our decisions have for the environment and for the poor. Along with my brother bishops here in the United States, I am grateful for the Holy Father’s wisdom and guidance and we pledge our continued commitment to evangelizing and building a world that is more just and fraternal and that respects the integrity of God’s creation.”

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Keywords: Pope Francis, apostolic exhortation, Querida Amazonia, Pan-Amazon, Synod of Bishops, Laudato Si’, encyclical, ecology, environment, Archbishop José H. Gomez, USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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Media Contacts
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
(202) 541-3200

 

U.S. Bishops’ Annual Ash Wednesday Collection Supports the Catholic Church in Central and Eastern Europe

WASHINGTON— The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe has announced February 26 as this year’s date for the special collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. Dioceses may elect a different date to take up the collection to avoid conflicts with local activities. The funds collected support seminaries, youth ministry, social service programs, pastoral centers, church construction and renovation, and Catholic communications projects in 28 countries in the region.

In Baranovichi, Belarus, the parish of Divine Mercy and Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn was established in November 2013 to meet the pastoral needs of the faithful in the region. Through local efforts and funding from the collection, the dream of building a parish home for the growing number of Catholics in Baranovichi is now becoming a reality.

“The Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe provides critical witness to our hope in God and the Risen Christ in places where many people still confront obstacles to practicing their faith freely and fully,” said Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton of Steubenville and chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. “Thanks to the solidarity of Americans through the collection, their ministries are supported through both prayer and financial resources with assurances that they are not alone.”

On November 10, 2019, the Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe awarded $1.6 million in funding for 100 projects in 22 countries in the region. Information about the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, including the 2018 annual report, may be found at www.usccb.org/ccee. Promotional resources in English and Spanish for use in dioceses and parishes can be found at http://www.usccb.org/catholic-giving/opportunities-for-giving/central-and-eastern-europe/index.cfm.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton, National Collections.


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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200