Bishops' requests on health care repeal bill go for naught as effort collapses
WASHINGTON— The U.S. bishops' effort urging senators to protect the poor and amend the Graham-Cassidy bill, meant to replace the Affordable Care Act, became a moot point as opposition to the bill stiffened amid frantic rewriting to get critical senators' votes and ultimately led to a decision to have no vote on it. By mid-afternoon Sept. 26, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the measure would not be put to a vote. Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine said they would not vote for the bill, which doomed the legislation. "We urge you to think of the harm that will be caused to poor and vulnerable people and amend the legislation while retaining its positive features," such as ensuring no federal funds would be used for abortion, the bishops said in a letter to all senators dated Sept. 22. Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana co-sponsored the legislation.
'Be Not Afraid' is theme for Respect Life Sunday
WASHINGTON — Respect Life Month is observed every October by the Church in the United States, beginning with Respect Life Sunday, which takes place this year Oct. 1. These events kick off the 2017-18 Respect Life Program. The theme for the coming year is "Be Not Afraid" and will be in effect through September 2018. New materials are produced each year to help Catholics understand, value and become engaged with supporting the God-given dignity of every person. The Respect Life Program materials are intended to help leaders integrate respect for human life into their work or ministry, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities. Also, action ideas and suggestions found in the customized leaders' toolkit are provided throughout the resource guide and online, but the secretariat invites anyone to build off or adapt what is offered.
Catholic groups decry end of special immigration status for Sudan
WASHINGTON — In mid-September, the Trump administration announced the end of a special immigration status for nationals from Sudan, prompting outcry from Catholic groups who say they worry about the conditions the migrants will face upon their return. The administration said that on Nov. 2, 2018, it would end what's known as Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, for Sudanese nationals who are now protected from deportation and have a work permit under that program. TPS is granted temporarily to migrants who come from countries that have experienced disruptions such as natural disasters, civil wars or other threats. Because of those unsafe conditions, they are unable to return. In the case of Sudan, the country experienced armed conflict from the 1980s until 2005. Many fled to various parts of the world and the U.S. has about 1,000 with the special status. Though the administration says it is safe to return, the U.S. Department of State warns against travel to the country because of "risks of terrorism, armed conflict and violent crime." However, it said the current TPS holders from Sudan need to start making arrangements to return or adjust their immigration status in a different way.
Bp. Caggiano: Fatima's message still important
WASHINGTON — Our Lady of Fatima's message about prayer, conversion and peace that she imparted to three shepherd children in a field in Portugal "is as important now as it has ever been since" she appeared a century ago, a Connecticut bishop told Massgoers Sept. 23 in Washington. "We come here to ask for her intercession," Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport said in his homily at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. "She might lead every human heart to answer the question, 'What is it that you are looking for?' And we will answer it: 'We are looking for your Son, and lead us to him.'" The bishop was the main celebrant of the Mass, which drew a capacity crowd to the national shrine's Upper Church.
Group issues what it calls 'filial correction' of pope's teaching
VATICAN CITY — Several dozen priests, scholars and writers have published what they described as a "filial correction" of some of Pope Francis' teachings about marriage — particularly about access to the sacraments for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics. The best-known name among the signatories is Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the traditionalist Priestly Society of St. Pius X, a group still involved in talks with the Vatican aimed at regularizing its status within the Catholic Church. The letter originally was signed by 40 people and delivered to Pope Francis in August; the writers said they did not receive a response, so they released it publicly Sept. 24, launching a website as well: www.correctiofilialis.org. The Vatican press office had no comment about the letter. U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, former head of the Vatican's top court, and German Cardinal Walter Brandmuller, former president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, did not sign the letter. Along with two other cardinals who are now deceased, they publicly released in September 2016 a critical set of questions, known as "dubia," that they had sent to Pope Francis about his teaching on the family.
Pope says Church was late fighting abuse, promises 'zero tolerance'
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has endorsed an approach of "zero tolerance" toward all members of the Church guilty of sexually abusing minors or vulnerable adults. Having listened to abuse survivors and having made what he described as a mistake in approving a more lenient set of sanctions against an Italian priest abuser, the pope said he has decided whoever has been proven guilty of abuse has no right to an appeal, and he will never grant a papal pardon. "Why? Simply because the person who does this (sexually abuses minors) is sick. It is a sickness," he told his advisory commission on child protection during an audience at the Vatican Sept. 21. Members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, including its president — Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston — were meeting in Rome Sept. 21-23 for their plenary assembly.
Vatican signs treaty to ban nuclear weapons
VATICAN CITY — The Holy See ratified and signed the new U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and the high-level Vatican diplomat who signed the treaty told a U.N. conference that the Catholic Church supports efforts "to move progressively toward a world free of nuclear weapons." Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Vatican foreign minister, signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the United Nations Sept. 20. More than 40 other countries signed it as well. The treaty would enter into force 90 days after at least 50 countries both sign and ratify it.
— Catholic News Service