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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Pro-life leaders decry Senate failure to pass 20-week abortion ban

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York decried the Senate’s failure to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would have banned abortions after 20 weeks of gestation, and called on senators to “rethink” their stance on late-term abortions. The cardinal, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, called the vote “appalling” in a statement released Jan. 29. “The Senate’s rejection of this common-sense legislation is radically out of step with most Americans,” the statement added. Although the bill received 51 votes, under Senate rules it needed 60 votes to end debate and move to a final vote. Three Democrats joined 48 Republicans in supporting the measure. The final vote was 51-46.

Brownback OK’d as ambassador-at-large for religious freedom

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate has confirmed Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a Catholic, to be the new U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom in the U.S. Department of State. Nominated to the post in July by President Donald Trump, Brownback was confirmed Jan. 24. The Senate vote was 49-49 and Vice President Mike Pence cast the tiebreaking vote. On Jan. 25, Brownback announced he will resign the office of governor Jan. 31. “It has been a great honor to serve Kansans as their governor since 2011 and prior to that as W.S. senator and congressman,” Brownback wrote in a letter to Kansas Secretary of State Kris W. Kobach in Topeka. “As a lifelong Kansan, I have been privileged to serve and represent my fellow citizens for most of my adult life.” He said he looks forward to continuing his public service in a new role.

WORLD

Vatican abuse expert to review new information on Chilean bishop

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis asked a longtime expert in handling abuse allegations to gather new information in Chile concerning Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno. The pope was sending Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna of Malta to review the matter after the pope received “some information recently with regards to the case” of Bishop Barros, the Vatican stated in a communique Jan. 30. Pope Francis decided to send the archbishop to the Chilean capital “to listen to those who expressed a willingness to submit information in their possession,” the communique stated. Some have accused Bishop Barros of having been aware of abuse perpetrated by his former mentor, Father Fernando Karadima. The priest was sentenced to a life of prayer and penance by the Vatican after he was found guilty of sexually abusing boys.

Pope recognizes martyrdom of religious in Algeria

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has recognized the martyrdom of a bishop, seven Trappist monks and 11 other religious men and women killed by extremists in Algeria in the 1990s. At a meeting Jan. 26 with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, Pope Francis signed the decree for the causes of Bishop Pierre Lucien Claverie of Oran, Algeria, and 18 companions, paving the way for their beatification. The 19 men and women died between 1993 and 1996, while Algeria was locked in a 10-year-long armed conflict between government forces and extremist Islamic rebel groups; the conflict left tens of thousands of people dead. Bishop Claverie and his driver were killed by a remote-controlled bomb left at the bishop’s residence, and the seven Trappist monks, who had been kidnapped from the monastery of Tibhirine, were beheaded by a group of Islamic terrorists trained by the al-Qaida network.

— Catholic News Service

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