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Nation and world briefs


Trump visits Catholic school in Florida to show school choice support

ORLANDO, Fla. — Marcus Millien stood patiently as a teacher of St. Andrew School straightened his black, yellow and white necktie. She wanted to make sure he looked his best since he would be presenting his personal education story to the president of the United States. Flashing a confident smile, Millien, a junior at Bishop Moore High School in Orlando and a graduate of St. Andrew, spoke at a roundtable discussion about the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program to President Donald Trump. On March 3, the president and other dignitaries toured the predominantly black school in which 70 percent of students benefit from the school choice scholarship program. Trump was joined by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott in a tour of the school that started with a visit to a fourth-grade class. The visit, which was private, was dubbed as a listening session.

Reaction to refugee ban: concern and opposition

WASHINGTON — Within hours of President Donald Trump's new executive order March 6 banning arrivals from six majority-Muslim nations, Catholic and other religious groups joined secular leaders in questioning the wisdom of such a move, with others vowing to oppose it outright. Bill O'Keefe, vice president for advocacy and government relations at Catholic Relief Services, said in a statement, "As the world's most blessed nation, we should be doing more to provide assistance overseas and resettle the most vulnerable, not less. It is wrong, during this time of great need, to cut humanitarian assistance and reduce resettlement." Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Migration, said Trump's new order still puts vulnerable populations at risk. The new order imposes a 90-day ban on issuing visas to people from six predominantly Muslim nations; Iraq is no longer on the list. The countries are Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen. It suspends the U.S. refugee program for all countries for 120 days, and Syrian refugees are now not banned indefinitely.

Minnesota diocese files to reorganize under U.S. Bankruptcy Code

NEW ULM, Minn. — A third Minnesota diocese has filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Bishop John M. LeVoir of New Ulm said March 3 he asked diocesan attorneys to take the action in response to the enactment of the 2013 Minnesota Child Victims Act, which temporarily lifted the civil statute of limitations on child sexual abuse claims for three years. That three-year window ended May 25, 2016. The legal step was "the fairest way to resolve sexual abuse claims while allowing the Church to continue its essential work of serving people in our local communities," Bishop LeVoir said in a statement. Under the three-year window, 101 lawsuits were filed against the New Ulm Diocese and some parishes within the diocese, the statement said. "I again extend my deepest apologies on behalf of the Diocese of New Ulm to victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse as minors," Bishop LeVoir said.

Catholic men urged 'into the breach' to fight for truth

TOMS RIVER, N.J. — Most of the hundreds of men who attended the Catholic Men for Jesus Christ rally in St. Joseph Parish in Toms River have gone into the breach before. If the breach is the culture of death that has permeated the defenses of everything that is known to be good, yes, these men have been there. They've marched for life in the dead of winter; they've prayed before abortion clinics; they've stood up for God and morals in the public square. Many are among the most active members in their parishes. Every now and then though, they need a recharge, and that's what the morale-boosting speakers provided Feb. 25 during a rally in Donovan Catholic High School in Toms River and at a Mass celebrated by Trenton Bishop David M. O'Connell in St. Joseph Church. This year's theme came from an apostolic exhortation by Bishop Thomas J. Olmstead of Phoenix, "Into the Breach."


Cdl. Muller: Alleged Vatican resistance to child protection a 'cliche'

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican's doctrinal chief dismissed accusations that some Vatican officials are resisting recommendations on best practices for protecting children and vulnerable adults from clergy sex abuse. "I think this cliche must be put to an end: the idea that the pope, who wants the reform, is on one side and, on the other, a group of resisters who want to block it," said Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The congregation is charged with carrying out canonical trials and seeking justice for victims of clerical abuse, while local bishops and heads of religious orders must care for their pastoral needs, he said. Cardinal Muller responded to complaints made by Marie Collins, who resigned her post on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors March 1, citing what she described as resistance coming from Vatican offices against implementing recommendations. Cardinal Muller said Collins' accusations "are based on a misunderstanding" and that bishops and religious superiors "who are closer" to victims of clergy sex abuse are charged with their pastoral care. "When a letter arrives, we always ask the bishop that he take pastoral care of the victim, clarifying that the congregation will do everything possible to do justice. It is a misunderstanding that this dicastery, in Rome," can be aware of everything happening in all the dioceses and religious orders in the world, the cardinal said.

Irish commission finds human remains at former Church-run home

DUBLIN — The commission set up to investigate the treatment of unmarried mothers and their babies in Irish care homes during the 20th century says it has found "significant" human remains at the site of a former home in western Ireland. A spokesman for the commission said March 3 that the body was shocked by the discovery made in Tuam, County Galway, at the site formerly managed by the Bon Secours religious order. The Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation is currently probing how unmarried mothers and their babies were treated between 1922 and 1998 at 18 state-regulated institutions, many of them run by religious orders. The commission reported the "remains involved a number of individuals with age-at-death ranges from approximately 35 fetal weeks to 2-3 years," it stated.

—Catholic News Service 

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