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Festival Sunday (Fasching Sonntag)

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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Baltimore archbishop says Mother Lange’s sainthood cause moving forward

BALTIMORE — Vatican officials are moving ahead with the cause for sainthood for Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange, Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori said Dec. 5 in Rome. If canonized, Mother Lange, the founder of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, would become the first black American saint. Mother Lange immigrated to Baltimore in the early 19th century and opened a school for black children in her small home in Baltimore’s Fells Point section. Eventually, Mother Lange founded the Oblate Sisters — the first religious order for women of African descent in the U.S. — and would operate what would later become St. Frances Academy. Mother Lange and the Oblate sisters provided Catholic education to black children in Baltimore despite the prevailing racism of the time. Archbishop Lori was in Rome with fellow bishops from Region IV — the District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands, West Virginia and the Archdiocese for the Military Services — for the “ad limina” visit. While meeting with Vatican officials, Archbishop Lori received an update on Mother Mary Lange’s cause for sainthood, which began in 1991.

Advocates for poor expect new SNAP rule will boost hunger nationwide

WASHINGTON — Catholic advocates for poor people decried a new federal rule that tightens work requirements which determine eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and is expected to result in hundreds of thousands losing food stamps. The advocates said the U.S. Department of Agriculture rule that affects able-bodied adults without dependents does not take into consideration regional differences in the economy, the lack of state job training programs and the real-life circumstances of people struggling to make ends meet. Anthony Granado, vice president of government relations at Catholic Charities USA, said the agency is concerned that more people will go hungry when the changes take effect April 1. Julie Bodnar, policy adviser in the Department of Domestic Social Development at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, agreed, saying that people’s health would be endangered. The rule affects the ability of states to waive current limits on SNAP benefits. Current law allows able-bodied adults without dependents, or ABAWDs, to receive benefits for a maximum of three months during a three-year period, provided they are working or enrolled in an education or training program for a minimum of 80 hours a month. States have been able to waive the time limit as people enter and leave the workforce.

High Court won’t take case on law requiring ultrasound before abortion

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court Dec. 9 declined to take up a challenge to a Kentucky ultrasound law that requires a physician or qualified technician to perform an ultrasound on a woman seeking an abortion and show the screen images to her. The petition to the court did not get the required four justices to sign on to hear an appeal of an April 4 ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturning a lower court decision that the law violated doctors’ freedom of speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment. The Kentucky Ultrasound Informed Consent Act law can take effect immediately. It was passed in early 2017 by Kentucky’s House and Senate and signed into law by then-Gov. Matt Bevin. A Kentucky abortion provider, EMW Women’s Surgical, filed suit against the law on free speech grounds.

WORLD

Chaldean patriarch appeals for aid to Christians in Ninevah Plain

BEIRUT — Cardinal Louis Sako, Chaldean Catholic patriarch, has appealed for Christian relief in the towns of the Ninevah Plain, the historical cradle of Christianity in Iraq. “It is still so painful to remember” the 2014 attack by the Islamic State, or IS, that forced Christians to leave their homes and was followed by the looting and destruction of houses, churches, schools and more, Cardinal Sako said from the patriarchate in Baghdad Dec. 7. “The only consolation for us at that time was to find a reliable support from different parts of the world,” he said, noting that social institutions and nongovernmental organizations helped the churches and “energetically contributed to the return of Christians in this region.” But, two years after its liberation from Islamic State militants, the Ninevah Plain area “still needs the help of our brothers and sisters who can pray and give us a hand,” so that people can remain in their homes and those who have been displaced “can return and live in dignity,” he said. The defeat of Islamic State from the region “does not mean that there is no need to help its inhabitants anymore,” Cardinal Sako said.

Indonesia to deploy 160,000 people to protect churches for Christmas

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Nearly 160,000 security personnel will be deployed to try to make Christmas and New Year celebrations in Indonesia safe, reported ucanews.org. This is an increase from last year, when nearly 90,000 security personnel guarded about 50,000 churches across the country. An official of the National Police Traffic Corps told journalists that police, military personnel and members of government agencies will guard churches and vital tourism sites during the celebrations. “These are our targets which we need to focus on. We want to make sure that everything will run peacefully there,” he said. Stanislaus Riyanta, an intelligence analyst from the University of Indonesia in West Java province, said authorities should not let their guard down in light of recent attacks in the country. He pointed to a bomb attack on a police headquarters in Medan in North Sumatra in November and the stabbing of the Indonesian security minister a month earlier.

Mexican diocese suspends evening Masses due to insecurity

CUERNAVACA, Mexico — The Diocese of Cuernavaca has suspended evening Masses due to insecurity in the city and surrounding state of Morelos, a reflection of the violence raging in parts of Mexico and its impact on the Catholic Church. Bishop Ramon Castro Castro of Cuernavaca said church services would not be celebrated after dark because people in the region just south of Mexico City did not want to venture out of their homes after dark. “These are situations where people are scared. It’s a fear that paralyzes them,” Bishop Castro told local media Dec. 4, according to the newspaper El Universal. “There are many people I know who have nothing to do with organized crime, but find themselves affected by this violence and have changed their lifestyle,” he said, adding church attendance is the southern and eastern parts of Morelos — a small state that borders the national capital — has dropped due to insecurity. The bishop also said he had registered four cases of extortion committed against women religious in the diocese.

Go to confession, let yourself be consoled, pope says

VATICAN CITY — Anyone who wants to experience the consolation and tenderness of God simply needs to go to confession, Pope Francis said at his morning Mass. Celebrating the liturgy Dec. 10 in the chapel of his residence, Pope Francis recited an imaginary conversation: “Father, I have so many sins, I’ve made so many mistakes in my life. Let yourself be consoled. But who will console me? The Lord. Where must I go? To ask pardon. Go. Go. Be bold. Open the door. He’ll caress you.” The Lord draws near to those in need with the tenderness of a father, the pope said. Paraphrasing the day’s reading from Isaiah 40, the pope said, “He is like a shepherd who pastures His sheep and gathers them in His arms, carrying the lambs on His bosom and sweetly leading them back to their mother ewes. That’s how the Lord consoles us.”

— Catholic News Service

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