Nation, Wold and Vatican news

Florida school shooting an act of ‘horrifying evil,’ says Miami archbishop
MIAMI (CNS) – Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski urged community members to come together “to support one another in this time of grief” after a shooting rampage Feb. 14 at a Broward County high school left at least 17 people dead. “With God’s help, we can remain strong and resolute to resist evil in all its manifestations,” the archbishop said in a statement. “May God heal the brokenhearted and comfort the sorrowing as we once again face as a nation another act of senseless violence and horrifying evil.” In a late-night telegram to Archbishop Wenski, Pope Francis assured “all those affected by this devastating attack of his spiritual closeness.” “With the hope that such senseless acts of violence may cease,” he invoked “divine blessings of peace and strength” on the South Florida community. Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called for prayer and healing and urged all work for a society “with fewer tragedies caused by senseless gun violence.” Law enforcement officials identified the shooting suspect as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, who had been expelled for disciplinary reasons from the school where he opened fire, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

U.S. bishops who’ve seen gun violence up close call for end to ‘madness’
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput knows all too well the pain left behind after incidents like the 2018 Valentine’s Day shooting that has so far taken 17 lives at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. As archbishop in Denver, he took part in the funerals of Catholic high school students killed by fellow classmates at Columbine High School almost two decades ago. The Feb. 14 Florida killings, which authorities suspect were perpetrated by Nikolas Cruz, a former classmate of many of the dead, seemed to bring back the pain of April 20, 1999. “I sat with the parents of children murdered in the Columbine High School massacre, and buried some of their dead,” Archbishop Chaput said in statement released a day after the Florida high school shootings. “Nothing seems to change, no matter how brutal the cost. Terrible things happen; pious statements are released and the nation goes back to its self-absorbed distractions.” The Washington Post reported Feb. 15 that an analysis of online archives, state and federal enrollment figures, and news stories revealed that “more than 150,000 students attending at least 170 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus” since the massacre perpetrated by senior high school students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold at Columbine.

Archbishop: Church’s Christian anthropology is basis for social teachings
INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) – The Catholic response to today’s widely debated societal issues – from abortion to immigration to racism – must be rooted in the church’s fundamental teaching about human dignity and the “destiny of the human person,” said the archbishop of Indianapolis. In a pastoral letter addressed to the clergy, religious and lay Catholics of central and southern Indiana issued Feb. 14, Ash Wednesday, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson said he explores a number of issues widely debated in society from the perspective of Christian anthropology, which he described as “the way Christians view human dignity and the end or purpose of human society.” Catholics’ response to issues such as immigration, abortion, racism, religious liberty and drug abuse, Archbishop Thompson said, should be “deeply rooted in the church’s understanding of the origin, nature and destiny of the human person as revealed in Jesus Christ. Where we come from, who we are and where we are headed as individuals and as diverse communities of people,” he noted, “determines our rights and responsibilities in human society.”

South African bishops: Zuma’s resignation was long overdue
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) – Jacob Zuma’s resignation as president of South Africa is long overdue, the country’s bishops said, noting that his scandal-plagued presidency fostered corruption and dereliction of duty at all levels of government. “The fact that Mr. Zuma has been allowed to hold on to the highest position in the land despite long-standing and overwhelming evidence of his unfitness for office has done immense harm to our country’s international reputation, to its economy and, especially, to its poorest and most vulnerable citizens,” said the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference. Zuma, 75, resigned Feb. 14 after nine years in office. In a televised address to the nation, he said he disagreed with the way the ruling African National Congress had pushed him toward an early exit, but would accept its orders. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was confirmed as president until 2019 general elections. While for some Zuma’s resignation “may be a painful event, we call on all to accept his decision as part of our democratic process,” the bishops’ conference said in a statement issued by its president, Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town.

Vatican denies report Pope Benedict has degenerative disease
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The Vatican denied that retired Pope Benedict XVI has a degenerative neurological disease or paralyzing condition after his brother, 94-year-old Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, told a magazine that Pope Benedict had a debilitating disease. In an interview published Feb. 13 in the German weekly entertainment magazine, Neue Post, Msgr. Ratzinger said Pope Benedict suffered from a nerve disease that was slowly paralyzing him. “The greatest concern is that the paralysis could eventually reach his heart and then everything could end quickly,” Msgr. Ratzinger was quoted as saying. “I pray every day to ask God for the grace of a good death,