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Weaving Ourselves Whole: Exploring Your Life's Story

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SSND Summer Service Week

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Nation and world briefs


Despite opposition, assisted suicide law takes effect in nation's capital

WASHINGTON — The District of Columbia has joined six states in the country in allowing doctors to prescribe lethal medications to terminally ill patients who want to end their lives. Although the District of Columbia City Council voted 11-2 Nov. 15 to approve the "Death with Dignity Act" and Mayor Muriel Bowser signed it into law in December, it still faced possible defeat by federal lawmakers. The Home Rule Act of 1973 gives the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives a small window in which they have the right to overturn District laws. Pro-life advocates and proponents for the terminally ill, the elderly and the disabled — who vehemently reject assisted suicide, saying it would lead to abuse and harm the city's most vulnerable populations — had hoped Congress would act on the measure. On Feb. 13, the House Oversight Committee approved a resolution to cancel the law, but the resolution never made it to the floor for a full House vote. Feb. 17 was the deadline for Congress to cancel the District's law. Since the deadline passed with no action, the law went into effect Feb. 18.

USCCB committee chairs applaud decision on transgender directive

WASHINGTON — The chairmen of two U.S. bishops' committees Feb. 24 praised President Donald Trump's repeal of the Obama administration's directive on transgender access to bathrooms. The guidance, issued last May by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education, "indicated that public pre-K through 12 schools, as well as all colleges and universities, should treat 'a student's gender identity as the student's sex,'" said the bishops' joint statement. The document "sought to impose a one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with sensitive issues involving individual students," stated Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Catholic Education. In rescinding the directive, the Trump administration said that addressing of transgender access to bathrooms is best left to the states and local school districts, not the federal government.

Vandalism at Jewish cemeteries decried, called hateful actions

PHILADELPHIA — Responding to the destruction of about 100 gravestones at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput Feb. 27 deplored the "senseless acts of mass vandalism." The gravestones were discovered toppled over from their bases the previous morning at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Northeast Philadelphia. The archbishop issued a statement in which he called on the clergy, religious and laypeople of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia "to join in prayerful solidarity with the families of those whose final resting places have been disturbed. Violence and hate against anyone, simply because of who they are, is inexcusable." The incident at Mount Carmel Cemetery mirrors gravestones destroyed at another Jewish cemetery near St. Louis about a week before. In a statement Feb. 24, the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski of Springfield, Mass., expressed solidarity and support for the Jewish community and also called for the rejection of such hateful actions.


Sainthood causes of eight men, women advance

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis advanced the sainthood cause of two medical doctors and six religious — many of whom died just a generation ago. The pope approved the decrees during an audience Feb. 27 with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes. The pope recognized the martyrdom of Salesian Father Titus Zeman, who secretly shuttled Salesians to Italy out of communist-controlled Czechoslovakia when religious orders were banned in the 1950s and members were sent to concentration camps. He eventually was arrested and jailed. Although he was released from prison in 1964, he suffered ill health because of his imprisonment and died in 1969. The pope recognized the heroic virtues of five other men and two women.

Don't worry how it's spent, always give homeless a handout, pope says

VATICAN CITY — People who don't give money to the homeless because they think it will be spent on alcohol and not food should ask themselves what guilty pleasures they are secretly spending money on, Pope Francis said. "There are many excuses" to justify why one doesn't lend a hand when asked by a person begging on the street, he said in an interview published the day before the beginning of Lent. But giving something to someone in need "is always right," and it should be done with respect and compassion because "tossing money and not looking in (their) eyes is not a Christian" way of behaving, he said.

New style of 'ad limina' visit with pope begun

VATICAN CITY — For decades, the visits bishops are required to make to the Vatican were known for their formality and routine style, but Pope Francis launched "a whole new style of 'ad limina' visits," a Chilean bishop said. The bishops were expecting "to have a long meeting with a speech and then individual meetings," as in the past, Auxiliary Bishop Fernando Ramos of Santiago, secretary of the Chilean bishops' conference, said. Instead, the Vatican informed the prelates that they were going to have a meeting with the pope and the prefects of several Vatican congregations and offices. "We were told that this was going to be a new way of doing things that was beginning with us, that looks for a more fruitful, more incisive dialogue between the representatives of the local churches and the pope with his main collaborators," Bishop Ramos said.

— Catholic News Service 

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