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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Judge stops ‘heartbeat law’ in Georgia from taking effect

ATLANTA — Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer of Atlanta said July 15 he was “deeply disappointed that a federal judge struck Georgia’s so-called “heartbeat law” on abortion. “All life is precious from the moment of conception until its natural end. As a people of faith, we must defend and protect life in all its stages,” he wrote in a statement, adding he was grateful Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp “has vowed to appeal this court decision and will support his efforts.” On July 13, District Judge Steve C. Jones of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia made permanent the temporary block he had put on the law last fall. It would have banned abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is around six weeks. It had exceptions to save the life of the mother and in the case of rape and incest if a police report is filed. It also made exceptions to allow abortions when a fetus has serious medical issues.

Pope appoints new bishops for Cleveland, Joliet

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Bishop Edward C. Malesic of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, to head the Diocese of Cleveland, and Auxiliary Bishop Ronald A. Hicks of Chicago to head the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois. The appointment of Bishop Malesic was announced July 16 and the appointment of Bishop Hicks was announced July 17 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican nuncio to the United States. Bishop Malesic, 59, has been Greensburg’s bishop since 2015. He will be the 12th bishop of Cleveland and succeeds Archbishop Nelson J. Perez, who was named by the pope to be Philadelphia’s archbishop Jan. 23. Bishop Malesic will be installed Sept. 14 at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Cleveland. Bishop Hicks, 52, is vicar general of the Chicago Archdiocese and succeeds Bishop R. Daniel Conlon, who retired in May. He was named an auxiliary bishop for Chicago July 3, 2018, and ordained a bishop Sept. 17, 2018. Bishop Hicks will be installed as the sixth bishop of Joliet at the Cathedral of St. Raymond Nonnatus Sept. 29.

WORLD

French police suspect arson was cause of fire at Nantes cathedral

NANTES, France — French police have opened an arson investigation into a fire at a Gothic cathedral in Nantes. The blaze broke out in three places in the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul July 18. Although more than 100 firefighters contained the blaze within two hours and stopped it from spreading to the main body of the church, a 17th-century choir organ at the west end of the building was destroyed with much of the choir area and multiple stained-glass windows. The mayor of Nantes immediately announced a criminal investigation into the fire because it appeared to have started at multiple locations. A volunteer at the cathedral was questioned and released by police. The cathedral in Nantes is considered to be a jewel of French architecture. It was begun in 1434 and completed in 1891. The French government has designated it as a historic monument because of its architectural significance.

Pope makes surprise visit to summer camp for kids of Vatican employees

VATICAN CITY — When Zoe, 10, showed up late for summer camp at the Vatican, she did not expect to see Pope Francis there. “I froze because it was a surprise and I had never seen him before. I liked him a lot. I was very happy and I said ‘hello,’” she told Vatican News. Zoe was one of about 100 children of Vatican employees attending a summer camp for the month of July. The children start the day with breakfast in the Paul VI audience hall and, at 9 a.m. July 20, Pope Francis made a surprise visit, walking there alone from his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae. Salesian Father Franco Fontana, a chaplain at the Vatican overseeing the program, said he had just left to make photocopies when someone told him the pope was heading to the audience hall. The priest had a car, “so I got there before the pope” to be able to welcome him, he told Vatican News. “The kids were so stunned they stayed completely silent,” he added.

Increased tensions between Armenia, Azerbaijan causes concern

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis expressed his concern over escalating hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan, prompting renewed fears of war in the Caucasus region. After praying with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Sunday Angelus address July 19, the pope offered prayers for those suffering from economic repercussions “and situations of conflict. In particular, I am following and am concerned about the renewed armed tensions in the past few days in the Caucasus region between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” he said. The conflict stems from the long-disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the region, which has an Armenian ethnic majority, proclaimed itself as an independent state, leading to a conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan from 1988 to 1994. According to a July 18 report by the Reuters news agency, 15 servicemen from Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as an Azerbaijani civilian were killed since July 12 in skirmishes near the border. Both sides have blamed each other for violating cease-fire agreements.

— Catholic News Service

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