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Detroit’s new auxiliary is an archbishop and veteran Vatican diplomat

Archbishop Paul Fitzpatrick Russell. / Courtesy of aod.org.

Vatican City, May 23, 2022 / 05:22 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Monday named an archbishop who served as an apostolic nuncio in Central Asia as an auxiliary bishop of the Detroit archdiocese.

The Holy See press office said on May 23 that Archbishop Paul Fitzpatrick Russell, the former apostolic nuncio to Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan, would retain the personal title of archbishop of Novi in his new post.

Archbishop Allen Vigneron, who has led the Archdiocese of Detroit since 2009, said: “We are deeply grateful to Pope Francis for appointing Archbishop Russell as auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Detroit, and we are similarly grateful to Archbishop Russell for accepting this new ministry.”

“We are particularly glad to welcome Archbishop Russell home to Michigan, where he grew up and first heard the Lord call him to the priestly vocation. Having served the Church all over the world, Archbishop Russell brings to the Archdiocese of Detroit a valuable perspective of the universal Church and our mission to make joyful missionary disciples of all nations.”

Paul Fitzpatrick Russell was born on May 2, 1959, in Greenfield, Massachusetts, but spent much of his childhood in northern Michigan.

He studied at Saint John’s Seminary in Boston and gained a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University.

He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston on June 20, 1987.

He entered the Vatican diplomatic service in 1997, serving in the Section for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, as well as in Ethiopia, Turkey, Switzerland, and Nigeria, and as head of the diplomatic mission to Taiwan.

On March 19, 2016, Pope Francis appointed him titular archbishop of Novi and apostolic nuncio to Turkey and Turkmenistan.

Cardinal Seán O’Malley ordained Russell to the episcopate at the Cathedral of the Holy Name in Boston on June 3, 2016. Archbishop Vigneron was a co-consecrator.

Russell, who speaks English, French, Italian, Spanish, and German, was also appointed apostolic nuncio to Azerbaijan on April 7, 2018.

According to the website catholic-hierarchy.org, he resigned as nuncio to Turkey on Oct. 22, 2021, and as nuncio to Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan on Feb. 2 this year.

Russell is related to Blessed Michał Piaszczyński, a Polish priest who died in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1940 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1999.

The Detroit Catholic reported that Russell will become the 31st auxiliary bishop in the archdiocese’s history. He will serve alongside four other auxiliaries: Bishop Donald Hanchon, Bishop Arturo Cepeda, Bishop Gerard Battersby, and Bishop Robert Fisher.

On Oct. 9, Hanchon will turn 75, the age at which bishops must present their resignations to the pope.

The Detroit archdiocese serves 1.1 million self-identifying Catholics via 215 parishes in Michigan’s Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, St. Clair and Lapeer counties.

Russell will be formally welcomed to the archdiocese on July 7 during a liturgy at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit.

The 63-year-old archbishop said: “I am so happy with Pope Francis’ decision to send me home and look forward to serving as an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Detroit and immersing myself in the mission and ministry of the local Church in southeast Michigan.”

Can robots learn law? Scientists and theologians discuss the future of AI

null / Phonlamai Photo/Shutterstock.

Rome, Italy, May 23, 2022 / 04:40 am (CNA).

Will robots one day be better at medicine and law than human beings? That was one of the topics discussed by scientists and theologians at a recent gathering in Rome.

The “Topology of Intelligence” conference, hosted by the Templeton World Charity Foundation on May 19, brought together experts in engineering, mathematics, biology, philosophy, and theology.

Scholars from both secular and pontifical universities sought to describe the “connection between science and philosophy” by focusing on “complexity, reality and the research on intelligence.”

Marta Bertolaso, a professor at the Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome who helped to organize the conference, said: “I think that we are at a good moment to discuss intelligence and specifically artificial intelligence, because there are many questions around these topics.”

She explained that artificial intelligence (AI) is a term dating back to the last century, “coined precisely in order to represent how human beings try to mobilize some aspects, some functions, of our intellectual capabilities.”

Marta Bertolaso, Professor of Philosophy of Science and Human Development at the Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome. EWTN Andreas Thonhauser/Alexey Gotovskiy.
Marta Bertolaso, Professor of Philosophy of Science and Human Development at the Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome. EWTN Andreas Thonhauser/Alexey Gotovskiy.

Bertolaso said that the challenge posed by AI was not so much its technological possibilities, but how humans can use it to build new environments that are still worthy of living in. Overall, she was fairly optimistic that new developments would have a positive impact on humanity’s future.

That optimism was shared by Andrew Serazin, the president of the Templeton World Charity Foundation.

“I think that we were reminded today that within the Christian tradition, within the Catholic tradition, there’s this sense of openness of history, that we are co-creators of the future with the Divine and the Church is a way to achieve this co-creation,” he said.

Andrew Serazin, president of the Templeton World Charity Foundation. EWTN Andreas Thonhauser/Alexey Gotovskiy.
Andrew Serazin, president of the Templeton World Charity Foundation. EWTN Andreas Thonhauser/Alexey Gotovskiy.

He added that he was “tremendously optimistic about the application of science and technology,” as well as the development of AI, but only “if we retain our fundamental values of the pursuit of truth and the dignity of the person.”

Max Bonilla, international director of the Expanded Reason Institute at the University of Francisco de Vitoria in Spain, initiated the gathering in order to “bridge Church and science.” He also wanted to promote a deeper understanding of intelligence, as well as to deepen the dialogue between the empirical sciences and philosophy and theology.

The conference was organized in three parts around the concepts of expressing, defining, and understanding intelligence.

In the first part, the audience listened to the insights of Andrew Barron, a neuroethologist at Australia’s Macquarie University, who explained how bees display a certain kind of intelligent behavior in their flight patterns and navigation decisions.

The ‘Topology of Intelligence’ conference in Rome on May 19, 2022. EWTN Andreas Thonhauser/Alexey Gotovskiy.
The ‘Topology of Intelligence’ conference in Rome on May 19, 2022. EWTN Andreas Thonhauser/Alexey Gotovskiy.

In the second, the theologian and physicist Giulio Maspero discussed with theoretical physicist Mario Rasetti why it might prove difficult to ever measure general artificial intelligence, even though scientists are already studying examples of non-human intelligence such as the dance of honey bees.

A third panel highlighted that AI so far lacks the quality of self-awareness. The moment that computers become smart enough to be self-aware is still some way off — if it will ever arrive. But computers will master certain skills or arts such as medicine, law, and mathematics on an equal level and, eventually, better than humans, the conference heard. These developments will have an impact on our view of the human person, our self-understanding, and human rights.

Emphasizing that the conference was interdisciplinary, Serazin said: “The reason why this unique mix of people that we’ve brought together is so important is that something so fundamental to our self-understanding, and our understanding of how human beings flourish, requires all of the disciplines in order to arrive at truth, that truth has a wholeness that is not merely described by mathematics, or by art, or by history, but by taking these different perspectives.”

Templeton World Charity Foundation president Andrew Serazin and EWTN Rome Bureau Chief Andreas Thonhauser. EWTN Andreas Thonhauser/Alexey Gotovskiy.
Templeton World Charity Foundation president Andrew Serazin and EWTN Rome Bureau Chief Andreas Thonhauser. EWTN Andreas Thonhauser/Alexey Gotovskiy.

He added that the conference brought together both scientists and faith leaders because “communities of faith and communities of learning are pillars of our civilization.”

“These are hallmarks of the best of humanity,” he said. “And so when we think about trying to solve any problem, whether that’s climate change, or poverty, or applications of artificial intelligence, we must bring all of the resources that humanity can bring.”

Serazin concluded that his foundation’s goal was to “keep humans in the loop.” There are more and more algorithms making decisions for people. For Serazin, this is another reason why philosophers and theologians should engage with computer scientists and developers of new technology.

He said: “I think what’s so important about retaining the human perspective, and also an understanding of the human person that comes from theology and philosophy, is fundamental dignity that is located within humanity — not to outsource those decisions to algorithms or machines and to retain the decision-making authority with people. Because it is people that have, fundamentally, the moral authority to act in the world.”

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Charleston Bishop ‘Conquered Hearts’ Ministering to Hispanics in Georgia

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Down by the river

Pencil Preaching for Monday, May 23, 2022

Charleston bishop 'conquered hearts' ministering to Hispanics in Georgia

Bishop Jacques Fabre-Jeune of Charleston. / Doug Deas/The Catholic Miscellany

Denver Newsroom, May 22, 2022 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

The newly consecrated Bishop of Charleston showed a great commitment and love for the Hispanic community in the Archdiocese of Atlanta where he previously served, according to a Hispanic leader in Atlanta. 

Bishop Jacques Fabre-Jeune, a Haitian emigrant, became the Charleston diocese’ first Black bishop when he was installed on May 13. 

Fabre-Jeune had previously served as the administrator of the San Felipe de Jesús Mission in Forest Park, Georgia, south of Atlanta, a congregation which he himself described at “99% Mexican.”

Jairo Martinez, who is retired today after 16 years serving as Director of the Atlanta Archdiocese’ Hispanic Ministry Office, told CNA that despite not being a member of the Hispanic community, Fabre-Jeune endeared himself to the community with his “sense of commitment” as well as his “love for the people.”

Fabre-Jeune’s commitment to getting a new church building built for the mission, which came to fruition in 2011, “shows really how Father Jacques got to the heart of those Hispanics, because let me tell you, he conquered their hearts," Martinez said. 

Then-Father Jacque Fabre-Jeune speaks at the opening of the new church building at the San Felipe de Jesús Mission in Forest Park, Georgia, south of Atlanta. Michael Alexander/Georgia Bulletin
Then-Father Jacque Fabre-Jeune speaks at the opening of the new church building at the San Felipe de Jesús Mission in Forest Park, Georgia, south of Atlanta. Michael Alexander/Georgia Bulletin

Fabre-Jeune, a Haitian native and immigrant New Yorker who was ordained a priest in 1986, arrived at the San Felipe mission in 2008. After graduating college, Fabre-Jeune had joined the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo, also known as the Scalabrinians. The Scalabrinians were originally founded to support the spiritual needs of missionaries going to South and North America, and today its members do much to serve refugees and immigrants. 

Fabre-Jeune’s novitiate took place in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he learned to speak Spanish fluently — one of the five languages he speaks today. 

Martinez said finding clergy to minister to Georgia’s large Hispanic population is one of the biggest challenges the Hispanic Catholic community faces in the state. It is difficult, he said, to find men who are not merely bilingual, but also are willing to understand the culture. 

Many Hispanic Catholics, though they may be bilingual and speak English in most of their interactions in society, will still prefer to attend Mass and practice their faith in Spanish, he said. 

Their formation has often been done in Spanish in their native country, and they pray in Spanish. Even children of Hispanic immigrants who are native English speakers will often prefer to worship with their parents in Spanish, he said. 

"So it is important to give them an opportunity to live their spiritual life in their own language," Martinez noted. 

The San Felipe mission itself symbolizes the progress that the Hispanic community has made in Atlanta, Martinez said. When Martinez first saw the mission, it was located in a very poor area, in a run-down building, with tarps over the roof to keep out the rain. Later, in 2002, the archdiocese purchased a former Protestant church to house the Catholic congregation, and eventually under Fabre-Jeune’s leadership the community built and opened the new church building still in use today. 

San Felipe de Jesús Mission in Forest Park, Georgia. Facebook
San Felipe de Jesús Mission in Forest Park, Georgia. Facebook

During his time at the mission, Fabre-Jeune also served as the director of the Hispanic Charismatic Renewal and a member of the Archdiocese of Atlanta’s finance council. Noting Fabre-Jeune’s skills as an administrator as well as his love for his flock, Martinez said if someone had asked him a few years ago for recommendations of priests who would make good bishops, he would have suggested Father Fabre-Jeune.

In terms of the broader Hispanic Catholic community in the United States, which is growing rapidly, Martinez said Catholics in the U.S. can learn from the “simplicity” of the faith of Hispanic Catholics. Martinez also said he greatly admires the strong sense of local community and family that is present in Hispanic culture. He says he has seen the Archdiocese of Atlanta make a "huge effort" to serve the Hispanic community, and he hopes other dioceses and archdioceses will do the same.