CATHOLIC VALUES COLUMNIST
Kobe Bryant, 8 others killed in helicopter crash
NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, California, on Sunday. Bryant, 41, was traveling to a travel basketball game with his daughter and others via his private helicopter, a frequent mode of transportation for the legendary Los Angeles Laker. The story, which was broken originally by TMZ, sent shockwaves throughout the NBA and the country, with testimonies and condolences flooding social media. Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the helicopter was a Sikorsky S-76 and it was not known what caused the crash. Bryant retired in 2016 and became eligible for election to the basketball Hall of Fame this year. Bryant, a Catholic, was reported to have attended Mass earlier in the day at his parish, Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Newport Beach.
Impeachment proceedings continue this week
Impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump continue this week after opening statements last week. On Monday, the president’s defense team — which includes Harvard law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz, former independent counsel Ken Starr and former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi — began laying out Trump’s defense before the Senate and Chief Justice John Roberts, who presides over the impeachment proceedings. The Senate will also decide if it will consider new witnesses and evidence after the Q&A portion is complete. Allowing for this would extend the trial, although it remains unclear as to how much the proceedings would be extended. If the trial is not extended, a final vote on impeachment, either removing or acquitting the president, could be achieved by the end of the week, according to the Associated Press. President Trump is being charged with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Cleveland bishop tapped to succeed Abp. Chaput in Philly
The Vatican announced Jan. 23 that Cleveland Bishop Nelson Perez, 58, would succeed Archbishop Charles Chaput, 75, as chief shepherd of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Bishop Perez, formerly an auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, was ordained a priest for the archdiocese and sees the appointment as a homecoming of sorts, he said in an introductory press conference. Chaput previously served as Bishop of Rapid City and Archbishop of Denver before arriving in Philadelphia in 2011. He turned 75 — the age at which bishops are required to submit their resignations by canon law — in September. Bishop Perez, a son of Cuban parents, will be installed as archbishop of Philadelphia on Feb. 18.
Coronavirus spread sparks international concern
The coronavirus originating in the capital of China’s Hubei province is spreading around the world, with at least 80 dead internationally and five cases reported in the United States as of Sunday night. The Wuhan coronavirus can reportedly be spread without an infected person exhibiting the typical symptoms, according to CNN. Thousands have been affected in China and it has spread as far as the U.S., France and Canada. The U.S.-based cases include reports from California, Arizona, Washington State and Chicago. Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said that while the risk to the general public is considered low, the threat is serious. The New York Times reported that the U.S. government plans to evacuate any Americans in Wuhan to San Francisco. The CDC is encouraging people to get flu shots to avoid misdiagnoses.
U.S. Iraqi embassy hit by rockets
The U.S. embassy in Baghdad was struck by three rockets on Sunday, according to a U.S. official speaking to CNN. The official said one person was minorly injured and no deaths were reported. The State Department responded to the report by calling on the Iraqi government to “fulfill its obligations to protect our diplomatic facilities.” According to the State Department, there have been more than 14 attacks by Iran and Iranian-supported militias on U.S. personnel in Iraq since September. Iraqi Prime Minister, Adil Abdul Mahdi, issued his own response, saying the Iraqi government is “committed to protecting all diplomatic missions and taking all necessary measures to achieve this.”
Legion of Christ face new sex abuse scandal
The Legion of Christ religious order is facing yet another sex abuse scandal, this time for a priest who abused girls as young as 6 and was let off without any punishment. Fernando Martinez Suarez, who was defrocked just last week, was the subject of accusations of abuse dating back to 1992. The Legion has faced credibility issues since it was discovered that its founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, was a notorious pedophile and rapist, fathering at least three children and turning the Legion into a cultish society of secrecy, as some observers have called it. In its response to allegations made public last week against Suarez, the Legionary responsible for taking those accusations defended his actions, saying decisions regarding Suarez were made solely by Maciel. The Legion, facing renewed calls for its suppression, announced it would join the Vatican in an investigation into the handling of Suarez’s case