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Nation and world briefs

Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Puerto Rican students pursue dreams at Catholic University after hurricane

WASHINGTON — Puerto Rican students studying at The Catholic University of America in Washington for the spring semester said that this opportunity not only gives them a reprieve from the damage caused by Hurricane Maria, but allows them to pursue their dreams. Many students found themselves with nowhere to study after Maria — the most powerful hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in nearly 90 years — slammed into the island in September, killing dozens and decimating local infrastructure. More than six months later, thousands of Puerto Rico’s 3.3 million residents remain without power. The Catholic University of America in Washington said in November that it would take up to 40 students who were enrolled in colleges or universities in Puerto Rico as visiting students for the spring 2018 semester, and would waive their tuition and standard student fees. The main goal is to allow the students to stay on the path to graduation, because “if they lost an entire academic year, it can be really hard to get back into the academic groove,” said Chris Lydon, vice president for enrollment management and marketing at The Catholic University of America.

Assisted suicide, abortion, school aid among issues tackled by states

WASHINGTON — Assisted suicide, abortion restrictions, health insurance coverage of abortion, financial aid for nonpublic schools and some tax relief for low-income families are among the issues being tackled by state legislatures across the country. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 15 state legislatures have adjourned, 31 state legislatures are still in session and four others have not yet convened their session. In Connecticut and Massachusetts, two of the states where the legislature is still in session, efforts to pass bills to allow doctors to prescribe lethal medication to terminally ill patients ended with no success. News reports said the measures have been shelved. In Massachusetts, opponents of assisted suicide credited the backlash lawmakers received over the bill from doctors around the state with effectively killing the bill. In Connecticut, the state Catholic conference said the “failure of the physician-assisted suicide bill will help preserve quality and truly compassionate health care in our state.”

WORLD

U.S. seminarian who carried cross at pope’s Easter Mass dies in Rome

ROME — Friends and fans called him a “gentle giant,” a faithful “prayer warrior” and a Clark Kent whose superman power was helping people grow in holiness and faith. “I believe I truly knew a saint,” one friend wrote. The written comments were among the hundreds of condolence messages, prayers and stories submitted to an “in memoriam” page on the RegnumChristi.org website for Legionary of Christ Brother Anthony Freeman of Houston. The U.S. seminarian, who was a third-year theology student at Rome’s Pontifical Regina Apostolorum University, died unexpectedly at the age of 29. He was scheduled to be ordained a deacon July 7 in Houston. He was found dead in his room April 2 after classmates realized he had not joined them for a scheduled outing. The university called Italian authorities, who were still conducting an investigation and autopsy as of April 4 to determine the cause of death.

Royal tomb guardians: Capuchin monks guard Austria’s imperial crypt

VIENNA — Few people would suspect that the order of Capuchin monks, famous for their humble imitation of St. Francis, are special guardians entrusted with the duty of caring for Austria’s imperial crypt. The Capuchin Crypt (Kapuzinergruft) lies beneath a tiny Franciscan church in Vienna. Beneath the simple wood-furnished church is a vast labyrinth of tunnels and chambers, filled with elaborate metal sarcophagi. The coffins hold the remains of 150 royal family members of the Habsburg dynasty. The Capuchins have continuously cared for the crypt and the sarcophagi, despite the collapse of the monarchy and two world wars. “The friars are supposed to pray for the deceased and preserve the burial place,” Peter Grubits, manager of the crypt, told Catholic News Service. Grubits has been manager of the crypt since 2011, a duty he describes as an honor. Caring for the tombs became a duty of the Capuchins in 1618, when Empress Anna of Tyrol’s last will asked the friars to pray for the royal family and the nation. Empress Anna chose the Capuchins due to familiarity with them and their popularity with ordinary people. Later in the 1600s, Emperor Ferdinand III decided to bury all royal family members under the church. “The Habsburgs always have been loyal Catholics. This was part of the legitimation of their claim to power,” said Grubits, explaining that Catholicism was required for leaders of the Holy Roman Empire.

-- Catholic News Service

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