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Nation and world briefs


Supreme Court blocks lower court's lifting of travel ban

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily blocked part of a lower court ruling that would have allowed certain refugees into the country even though they had been banned by a presidential executive order. The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to overturn part of the ruling by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that said grandparents, grandchildren, cousins and other close relatives of people in the United States should not be prevented from entering the country. The government sought the immediate intervention of the Supreme Court, saying that action was needed to stop lower courts from unraveling the travel provisions that were approved earlier by the top court.

Bannon remarks revive anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant views

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — When former White House strategist Steve Bannon criticized the Catholic Church and the U.S. bishops for their views on immigration, he resurrected widespread 19th-century anti-Catholic nativist charges against the Church and immigrants to the United States. In an interview Sept. 10 on the CBS-TV program "60 Minutes," Bannon said that the bishops of the United States had "an economic interest in illegal immigration" as "they need illegal aliens to fill the pews." Bannon, a Catholic, was responding to the bishops' defense of young people, called "Dreamers," and support for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, that protected them from arbitrary deportation. DACA is currently under legislative review and the bishops' concern is that it will be abandoned. Bannon's complaint of a political and economic ulterior motive for the U.S. Catholic Church's traditional support of immigrants is a persistent anti-Catholic legend of American politics: that unthinking American Catholics will vote in lock-step with the dictates of the pope.

Church leaders pray for victims of quake

CARTAGENA, Colombia — Church leaders prayed for Mexicans and Guatemalans affected by the magnitude 8.1 earthquake that struck the Pacific Coast. At the end of Mass Sept. 8 in Villavicencio, Colombia, Pope Francis prayed "for all the people who are suffering because of the earthquake last night in Mexico." In an early morning tweet, the Mexican bishops' conference prayed, "God strengthen us as brothers in the faith to (be) available to those that have suffered in this strong earthquake." Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called for prayers "for the victims and their families, as well as for emergency personnel and rescuers."


Indian Salesian priest abducted in Yemen freed

VATICAN CITY — Indian Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was abducted by Islamic State militants in Yemen and held captive for more than a year, was freed. According to Oman's state-run news agency ONA, Father Uzhunnalil was "rescued" by Oman authorities "in coordination with the Yemeni parties." Upon his release, the Salesian priest "expressed thanks to God almighty and appreciation to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos (of Oman). He also thanked his brothers and sisters and all relatives and friends who called on God for safety and release," ONA reported Sept. 12. Father Uzhunnalil was kidnapped March 4, 2016, from a home for the aged and disabled run by the Missionaries of Charity in Aden, Yemen. Four Missionaries of Charity and 12 others were murdered in the attack. He met with the pope on Sept. 13.

Vatican reform process 'nearly complete,' C9 member says

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis' international Council of Cardinals — the so-called C9 — is nearly done with its work of advising the pope on a major reform of the Vatican bureaucracy, the secretary of the council said. Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, secretary of Pope Francis' Council of Cardinals, told Vatican Radio Sept. 11 that "as far as the reform process of the Roman Curia is concerned, it is even more than three-quarters of the way there — it is almost complete." "It is nearly complete at the level of proposals made to the pope," he said. The Council of Cardinals was meeting at the Vatican Sept. 11-13. Pope Francis, who returned from his visit to Colombia Sept. 11, didn't attend the first day's meeting.

New nuncio named for Israel

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has named Italian Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli to be the new Vatican nuncio to Israel and apostolic delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine. The 64-year-old Vatican diplomat succeeds Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, who retired in August at the age of 75. He had served in the Holy Land for five years. Archbishop Girelli moves to the Middle East from Singapore, where he served as apostolic nuncio and simultaneously held the post of nonresident papal representative to Vietnam. Born in Predore, Italy, March 13, 1953, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1978 for the Diocese of Bergamo. In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI named him an archbishop and nuncio to Indonesia and East Timor. In 2011, he was transferred to Singapore.

Belgian brothers group to keep offering euthanasia at psychiatric facilities

OXFORD, England — Belgium's Brothers of Charity Group, which runs 15 centers for psychiatric patients, has rejected a Vatican order to stop offering euthanasia. In a statement Sept. 12, the organization said it had not been given a chance to explain its "vision statement and argumentation." It added that it "always took into account shifts and evolutions within society," and "emphatically believed" its euthanasia program was consistent with the doctrine of the Catholic Church. "In our facilities, we deal with patients' requests for euthanasia for mental suffering in a nonterminal situation with the utmost caution," said the organization, whose board members include Herman Van Rompuy, a former European Council president and former Belgian prime minister. "We take unbearable and hopeless suffering and patients' requests for euthanasia seriously. On the other hand, we want to protect life and ensure euthanasia is performed only if there is no more possibility of providing a reasonable treatment perspective to the patient," the statement said.

Manila cardinal asks churches to ring bells to remember drug-war deaths

MANILA, Philippines — Manila's cardinal has ordered church bells to be rung in that archdiocese every evening starting Sept. 14 to remember the thousands of people killed in the government's campaign against drug dealers and addicts. The archdiocese joined a long list of dioceses across the country that started commemorating the deaths by tolling church bells nightly. In a letter dated Sept. 8, Manila Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle again called attention to the sustained killings of mostly poor people, either in police anti-drug operations or unexplained deaths that human rights groups have called vigilante murders. "With pain and horror, we continue to get daily news of the killings around the country," said Cardinal Tagle. "We cannot allow the destruction of lives to become normal. We cannot govern the nation by killing. We cannot foster a humane and decent Filipino culture by killing."

— Catholic News Service 

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