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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

HHS rule helps ‘restore rights of health care providers,’ say bishops

WASHINGTON — The chairmen of three U.S. bishops’ committees welcomed a final rule implemented by the Trump administration June 12 to restore “the long-standing position of the federal government that discrimination on the basis of ‘sex’ means just that and does not refer to ‘termination of pregnancy’ nor ‘gender identity.’” This final rule replaces the Obama administration’s Health and Human Services rule issued in 2016 — and vacated by a court last October — that revised the definition of “sex” in the civil rights provision of the Affordable Care Act known as Section 1557. This section provides that individuals cannot be subject to discrimination based on their race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. Under the previous rule, it included “gender identity” and “termination of pregnancy,” and HHS regulations governing its implementation had no exemption for religious organizations. The new regulation “will help restore the rights of health care providers — as well as insurers and employers — who decline to perform or cover abortions or ‘gender transition’ procedures due to ethical or professional objections,” the bishops stated June 12.

Investigations find no ‘credible evidence’ of misconduct by shrine rector

WASHINGTON — An investigation into allegations of “sexual impropriety” by Msgr. Walter R. Rossi, rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, found no “credible evidence” of such misconduct, said Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, Pennsylvania, in a June 12 statement. Bishop Bambera announced the investigation in 2019. Msgr Rossi, who has been rector at the shrine since 2005, is a priest of the Scranton Diocese. He was ordained in 1987. The investigation was undertaken “to seek out credible evidence of sexual impropriety and, if found, to determine an appropriate response,” Bishop Bambera said. “At the conclusion of its comprehensive investigation, the Diocese of Scranton found no such credible evidence.” Washington Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory issued a statement saying a separate investigation into “possible financial improprieties related to basilica assets and resources” on the part of Msgr. Rossi found “no such irregularities.”

WORLD

Church leaders urge scientists to develop ethical COVID-19 vaccine

VATICAN CITY — Spanish Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera of Valencia made headlines when he described as a “work of the devil” attempts to find a COVID-19 vaccine using cell lines created from fetuses aborted voluntarily decades ago. While his remarks June 14 were stronger than many others have used, the Vatican and bishops around the world have been urging governments and scientists to support the development of vaccines that have no connection to abortion. A spokesman for the Pontifical Academy for Life said June 15 that the academy is working on a statement specifically regarding the development of vaccines for COVID-19, which he said would follow Church teaching as explained in 2008 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the academy’s 2017 note on the importance of vaccines. In the document, “Dignitas Personae” (“The Dignity of the Person”), the doctrinal congregation said researchers have an ethical duty not to use “biological material” obtained from morally illicit procedures, especially abortion. However, the document also recognized that — apart from the question of the material used to develop a vaccine — the actual use of a successful vaccine involves “differing degrees of responsibility. Grave reasons may be morally proportionate to justify the use of such ‘biological material.’ Thus, for example, danger to the health of children could permit parents to use a vaccine which was developed using cell lines of illicit origin…”

Young Italian tech whiz to be beatified in October

VATICAN CITY — Carlo Acutis, a 15-year-old Italian teenager who used his computer programming skills to spread devotion to the Eucharist, will be beatified in October, the Diocese of Assisi announced. Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, will preside at the Oct. 10 beatification ceremony, which “is a joy that we have been awaiting for a long time,” said Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino of Assisi. The announcement of Acutis’ beatification at the Basilica of St. Francis “is a ray of light during this period in our country in which we are laboriously emerging from a difficult health, social and work situation,” the archbishop said. “In these months, we have confronted loneliness and distancing by experiencing the most positive aspect of the internet, a communication technology for which Carlos had a special talent,” Archbishop Sorrentino added.

— Catholic News Service

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