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Nation and world briefs


Resources offered for 'Day of Prayer for Peace in Our Communities'

WASHINGTON — The second Day of Prayer for Peace in Our Communities will be observed Sept. 9, the feast of St. Peter Claver. "St. Peter Claver is a model for us in understanding that hard work and perseverance is required to combat the sin of racism and build community," wrote Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, in a statement Sept. 1. Like Bishop Murry, the Spanish-born St. Peter Claver was a Jesuit. He dedicated his life to ministering to people enslaved by the African slave trade, working to improve their lives and seeking to abolish the slave trade. "We must begin and end this effort in prayer together, even as we seek to act in concrete ways," Bishop Murry stated. Resources, available at www.usccb.org/racism, include a prayer card, prayers of the faithful, stories of how faith communities in the United States are working for racial justice, teaching resources and bishops' statements.

U.S. bishops, other Catholic groups back conscience protection bill

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and 32 other organizations have signed a joint letter of support for the Conscience Protection Act of 2017. The bill, which has House and Senate versions, is intended to close loopholes that ignore the conscience rights of medical professionals on abortion, according to the signed letter. "Even many 'pro-choice' Americans realize that the logic of their (opponents') position requires them to respect a choice not to be involved in abortion," rea the letter, dated Sept. 6 and addressed to senators. "Yet, with violations of federal conscience laws occurring in California, New York, Washington, Alaska, Illinois, and most recently Oregon, it is increasingly clear that the current laws offer far less protection in practice than in theory," the letter added. "Federal conscience laws do not authorize a 'private right of action' allowing the victims of discrimination to sue on their own behalf, and allowing courts to take measured action to end this discrimination," it said.

Two U.S. bishops address former sheriff's pardon

WASHINGTON — The retired archbishop of Los Angeles stated that he is "troubled" and "disgusted" with President Donald Trump's pardon of convicted former Arizona Sheriff Joseph Arpaio. In a blog post Aug. 28, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, retired archbishop of Los Angeles, bluntly addressed racial profiling that he said Latinos suffered at the hands of Arpaio, former sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona. In late July, Arpaio was found in criminal contempt of court for failing to stop detaining people he "suspected" of being undocumented immigrants. Arpaio detractors say that meant stopping people with brown skin and that was his only criteria for determining suspicion. Different judges warned Arpaio to stop his practices, but he nevertheless continued, placing him in contempt of court. Cardinal Mahony said Arpaio's tenure was marked by "harassment of our Latino brothers and sisters, and the disruption of immigrant communities. He created fear and terror among so many immigrants, and not just in Arizona. Children here in California were afraid to go to school because of what they heard from Phoenix."


New data from Britain: 53 percent of adults say they have 'no religion'

MANCHESTER, England — More than half of the people in Britain say they no longer belong to a religion, said data released Sept. 5 by NatCen Social Research. Fifty-three percent of nearly 3,000 adults interviewed for the British Social Attitudes survey said they had "no religion," NatCen reported. That figure, covering 2016, is up from 48 percent in 2015. The center said in a statement that the data reveals the proportion of people in Britain who describe themselves as having no religion is at its "highest-ever level." The proportion of nonbelievers has increased gradually since the survey began in 1983, when 31 percent of those surveyed said they had no religion. Most of the decline in religious affiliation has been among people who previously belonged to the Church of England. The survey found that 15 percent of people in Britain consider themselves to be Anglican, compared to about 30 percent in 2000. The proportion of people who say they are Catholic has remained consistent, however, at about 10 percent for the past three decades.

Ottawa hospital disaster team ready with spiritual care

OTTAWA, Ontario — Whether it's a train crash, a building collapse or a pandemic, Ottawa Hospital is ready to provide spiritual help through a team of volunteers for those affected. The hospital says its Emergency Spiritual Care Assistance Team is the first of its kind in North America. Its recently published guide has been requested by more than 25 other hospitals in Canada and the United States, said Maronite Father Nicolas El-Kada, team leader and the hospital's clinical pastoral education coordinator. Father El-Kada said research shows that for each medical casualty in a disaster or emergency, there are anywhere from four to 500 "psycho-social spiritual casualties who need spiritual support. A disaster is always chaotic," said Father El-Kada, adding that training can help people respond to "high-demand" challenges. "Everyone is screaming for help. How are you going to deal with it? A crowd of people might all be in need of support for medical, psychological, social and/or spiritual needs," he said.

— Catholic News Service 

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