House bill's 'life protections' said laudable, other aspects 'troubling'
WASHINGTON — The inclusion of "critical life protections" in the House health care bill is laudable, but other provisions, including those related to Medicaid and tax credits, are "troubling" and "must be addressed" before the measure is passed, said the chairman of the U.S. bishops' domestic policy committee. Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Fla., who is chairman of the bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, sent a letter March 17 to House members. Regarding life protections in the bill, Bishop Dewane stated: "By restricting funding which flows to providers that promote abortion and prohibiting federal funding for abortion or the purchase of plans that provide abortion — including with current and future tax credits — the legislation honors a key moral requirement for our nation's health care policy." Among the "very troubling features" of the bill are the Medicaid-related provisions, he said.
Abp. Chaput describes how he believes U.S. lost its way
VATICAN CITY — "We are passing through a revolution of sorts in America," says Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput. Following such upheavals in the nation's moral life as the "normalization of pornography, premarital sex, divorce (and) transgenderism," the 2015 Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage was "a symbolic overthrow of traditional Catholic sexual morality," he says. It was to help Catholics understand such changes, the archbishop says, that he wrote his new book, "Strangers in A Strange Land: Living the Catholic Faith in a Post-Christian World." For example, he said, "expressing concern about the change in the meaning of marriage is considered to be old-fashioned or retrogressive or bigoted and that leads people to be afraid to even talk about it."
South Dakota priest named bishop of Cheyenne
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has named Father Steven Biegler, a priest of the Diocese of Rapid City, S.D., to head the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyo. Bishop-designate Biegler, who turns 58 March 22, is currently vicar general of his diocese and pastor of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Rapid City. The appointment was announced March 16 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. Bishop-designate Biegler succeeds then-Bishop Paul D. Etienne, who was named last October to head the Archdiocese of Anchorage, Alaska. The episcopal ordination and installation of Cheyenne's ninth bishop will take place June 5.
Pope apologizes for Catholics' participation in Rwanda genocide
VATICAN CITY — Meeting Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Pope Francis asked God's forgiveness for the failures of the Catholic Church during the 1994 Rwanda genocide and for the hatred and violence perpetrated by some priests and religious. "He implored anew God's forgiveness for the sins and failings of the Church and its members, among whom priests and religious men and women who succumbed to hatred and violence, betraying their own evangelical mission," said a Vatican statement released March 20 after the meeting of the pope and president. Some 800,000, and perhaps as many as 1 million people — most of whom belonged to the Tutsi ethnic group — died in the ferocious bloodshed carried out from April to July 1994.
Famine, worsened by war, threatens South Sudan
VATICAN CITY — Some 5 million people in South Sudan — half of its total population — are on the brink of starvation and a quarter of a million children are already severely malnourished, a representative from the U.S. bishops' Catholic Relief Services said. Famine has already gripped 100,000 people in Unity State and other parts of the nation, and if emergency food and aid don't get to people soon, "people will start starving to death or they will die of dehydration," Jerry Farrell, country representative in South Sudan for CRS, said March 21. With so much fertile land in the country, the food shortages and famine are man-made, Farrell said, a result of almost four years of violence, displacement, climate change and economic collapse with the rate of inflation nearing 800 percent.
Archbishop: St. Patrick was 'undocumented migrant'
ARMAGH, Northern Ireland — The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland has urged Irish people and those of Irish descent celebrating St. Patrick's Day to remember the plight of migrants. Archbishop Eamon Martin — St. Patrick's modern-day successor as archbishop of Armagh — used his message for the March 17 feast to recall that St. Patrick was first brought to Ireland as a slave by traffickers. The archbishop said that "as Irish people, we cannot think of Patrick without acknowledging the enormous humanitarian and pastoral challenges facing growing numbers of people who find themselves displaced and without status in our world. This is so shockingly exemplified by the refugee crisis here in Europe," he said.
— Catholic News Service