Trump reinstates 'Mexico City Policy' on abortion
WASHINGTON — President Donald J. Trump issued an executive memorandum Jan. 23 reinstating the "Mexico City Policy," which bans all foreign nongovernmental organizations receiving U.S. funds from performing or promoting abortion as a method of family planning in other countries. The action was hailed by pro-life leaders. Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities, applauded the news in a statement. "This is a welcome step toward restoring and enforcing important federal policies that respect the most fundamental human right — the right to life — as well as the long-standing, bipartisan consensus against forcing Americans to participate in the violent act of abortion," he stated.
Pro-life leaders praise House bill to make Hyde Amendment permanent
WASHINGTON — U.S. House passage of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, making the 41-year-old Hyde Amendment permanent, puts the country "one step closer to getting the federal government out of the business of paying for abortion once and for all," said the president of National Right to Life. A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate. President Donald J. Trump indicated before the House vote he would sign the measure if it comes to his desk. H.R. 7, which is identical to bills that passed in 2014 and 2015, makes permanent the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits tax dollars from paying for abortion except in cases of rape, incest or threat to the woman's life. The amendment, which covers programs administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, has had to be renewed annually by Congress in its appropriations bill.
Two auxiliary bishops named for Milwaukee Archdiocese
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis named two new auxiliary bishops for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee: Father Jeffrey R. Haines, rector of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, and Father James T. Schuerman, pastor of St. Francis de Sales Parish in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The appointments were announced at the Vatican Jan. 25. Bishop-designate Haines, 58, is a native of Milwaukee, who was ordained to the priesthood in 1985 and previously served as rector of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Milwaukee since 2011. Bishop-designate Schuerman, 59, was ordained in 1986, and previously served as spiritual director of St. Francis de Sales Seminary.
Former employee sues group that advocates for victims of clergy abuse
WASHINGTON — A former director of development for Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests has charged in a wrongful termination lawsuit that SNAP is more interested in fundraising and taking kickbacks from lawyers suing the Catholic Church than in helping survivors. Gretchen Rachel Hammond, in her suit filed Jan. 17 in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago, further accuses SNAP of being "a commercial organization" and "premised upon farming out abuse survivors as clients for attorneys, who then file lawsuits on behalf of the survivors and collect settlement checks from the Catholic Church." Hammond worked for SNAP from 2011 to 2013, and is now a journalist for the Windy City Times. She claims she was fired in retaliation for a series of discoveries she made about the way settlements were being handled. SNAP president Barbara Blaine stated the allegations are not true.
— Catholic News Service
Pope confirms appointment of new Opus Dei prelate
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis confirmed the election of Spanish Msgr. Fernando Ocariz as the new prelate of Opus Dei. The 72-year-old monsignor, who had been auxiliary vicar of Opus Dei, was elected and confirmed by the pope Jan. 23, the first day of voting by Opus Dei's electoral congress, a gathering of priests and laymen. Opus Dei is a personal prelature, which is in some ways like a diocese without geographic boundaries. Msgr. Ocariz succeeds Bishop Javier Echevarria, who died in December. Born in Paris in 1944 to a family exiled during the Spanish civil war, Msgr. Ocariz was ordained in 1971.
Pope: Catholics, Lutherans must continue to seek common ground
VATICAN CITY — Although great strides have been made through 50 years of ecumenical dialogue, Catholics and Lutherans must continue to work toward becoming a full and visible sign of unity for the world, Pope Francis said. A continued "communion of harmony" will allow Catholics and Lutherans to "find further convergence on points of doctrine and the moral teaching of the church," the pope told members of a pilgrimage from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland Jan. 19. The pope met the Finnish delegation during the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.