CATHOLIC VALUES COLUMNIST
Impeachment trial results in Trump acquittal
President Donald J. Trump was acquitted by the Senate on Feb. 5 of charges that he abused the powers of the presidential office and obstructed Congress’ Ukraine investigation. Democrats had long been seeking the impeachment but fell significantly short of the two-thirds majority required to remove the president from office. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah was the only Republican in the GOP-controlled Senate who voted to convict the president of abuse of power. Democrats have responded by suggesting that they will resume investigating Trump’s interactions with Ukraine. For his part, Trump quickly claimed victory over what he and his supporters repeatedly referred to as a sham and what Trump called “evil” the day after his acquittal.
NYPD officers survive assassination attempt; suspect arrested
A gunman opened fire Sunday morning inside of a New York Police Department precinct just hours after attempting to kill two police officers. On Saturday night, a man shot at two officers sitting in their parked van; one officer was wounded. According to NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, a man walked into the 41st precinct and began shooting at uniformed officers and a civilian employee; one male lieutenant was shot. Both injured officers are expected to survive, Shea said. Police suspect 45-year-old Bronx man Robert Williams of committing the crimes, Shea said, and have taken him into custody. Both Shea and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio referred to the attacks as premeditated assassination attempts.
One year later, McCarrick report still pending
One year after his laicization, a report on disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick has not been released. However, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, told journalists Feb. 6 that the report is complete and that he believes it will be released soon. Parolin added that the report’s publication is dependent on Pope Francis’ approval. McCarrick was found guilty of serial sexual abuse and laicized in February 2019, and the Vatican’s review of its files on McCarrick is widely anticipated. Several U.S. bishops, including Lansing Bishop Earl Boyea and Tyler Bishop Joseph Strickland, have inquired about the report’s status during their ad limina visits these past few months.
U.S. soldiers killed, wounded in shootout with Afghan
Two U.S. soldiers were killed and six other service members were wounded during a shootout between them and a man wearing an Afghani military uniform on Saturday, according to officials. According to a U.S. military spokesman, reports indicated that “an individual in an Afghan uniform opened fire on the combined U.S. and Afghan force with a machine gun.” The shooting occurred during joint operations between the two military forces. According to Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry, one Afghan soldier was killed and three more were wounded during the shooting. The identity of the rogue gunman remains unknown. According to the New York Times, the shooting could prompt President Trump to quickly withdraw U.S. forces in Afghanistan if the shooting was led by an Afghan soldier.
More than 800 Chinese dead from coronavirus
The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak has officially killed more people than the 2002-2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, according to numbers from China’s National Health Commission. The number of dead was brought to 811 people as of Sunday night, Reuters reported. Among the dead is the doctor who sounded the alarm of concern regarding the coronavirus, Li Wenliang. The commission also reported that 37,198 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed. Reuters reported that the virus has spread to at least 27 countries and territories, resulting in more than 330 infections and two deaths. Many cities remain essentially shut down, with most people working from home and many schools staying closed.
Argentina to build 400 grottos for celebration of Virgin Mary
Four hundred grottos will be built in an Argentine region to commemorate the anniversary of a Marian statue being discovered in the country. An Argentine indigenous person discovered a statue of the Virgin Mary in a rock niche on a remote slope 400 years ago, leading to a widespread devotion under the title of Our Lady of the Valley. Argentine bishops declared a National Marian Year from Dec. 8, 2019 to Dec. 8, 2020, and parishioners in the town of Hualfín in Catamarca – the region where the statue was discovered – proposed the idea of building 400 grottos to commemorate the event.