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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Study shows young adults leaving church start down that path at age 13

SANTA CLARA, Calif. —A 2018 study on young adults leaving the Catholic Church found people stopped identifying as Catholics at a median age of 13, long before they ceased attending a parish. At a Nov. 29 symposium prior to the start of the Santa Clara Faith Formation Conference, researchers from St. Mary’s Press discussed the findings from their study. Titled “Going, Going, Gone: the Dynamics of Catholic Disaffiliation,” the report presented an in-depth look at stories of the men and women who left Catholicism. Robert J. McCarty, one of the study authors, told the audience that about a third of respondents left over Church teaching, most often on same-sex marriage and homosexuality. Study participants also said they stopped identifying as Catholics because of a disbelief in religion, or a personal or familial change in their religious denomination.

High court won’t hear appeals over defunding Planned Parenthood

WASHINGTON— Pro-life leaders said they were disappointed the U.S. Supreme Court declined Dec. 10 to hear appeals from Kansas and Louisiana on lower court rulings that have stopped the states from defunding Planned Parenthood. “Complicated legal arguments don’t take away from the simple fact that a majority of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion,” stated Jeanne Mancini, who is president of March for Life. “Abortion is not health care, it is a human rights abuse,” Mancini added. “Until Planned Parenthood ceases to perform abortions, they should not receive any money from taxpayers.” Federal funds cannot be used to pay for abortion, but pro-life advocates say Planned Parenthood should not get Medicaid funding because its facilities primarily perform abortions; the organization argues that without Medicaid funds it could not provide health screenings and birth control to low-income women.

Catholic Relief Services marks 75 years of restoring people’s dignity

BALTIMORE — As Catholic Relief Services staffers and supporters spent an evening marking 75 years of service in the world, one word recurred: dignity. Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, who chaired the CRS board of directors from 2010 to 2013, spoke of it in his homily at a special Mass Dec. 5 in St. Stephen’s Chapel at the organization’s Baltimore headquarters. Every day, he said, Catholic Relief Services is “trying to bring the world that IS to the world that God intends.” In most cases, this means “giving some sense of dignity to people robbed of their dignity.” Bishop Kicanas, who often visited CRS projects when he was chairman of the board, spoke of all the places he saw this occur: in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, where children scrounge for food; in India’s Uttar Pradesh state, where CRS helps women fight infant mortality. “CRS for 75 years has been hovering over the vulnerable,” he said, calling the international relief and development agency determined, resolved and patient. “CRS will not fail,” he said, urging staffers to continue their work for another 25 years.

WORLD

Catholic groups push for strong climate deal at U.N. summit in Poland

KATOWICE, Poland — Catholic representatives worked to keep negotiations on track for a comprehensive deal to address global warming as the U.N. climate change conference entered its second and final week in Katowice, Poland. The effort was complicated by the actions of U.S., Russian, Saudi Arabian and Kuwaiti delegates, who objected to a note by the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP24, “welcoming” an October report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report warned that greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels would need to be reduced by 45 percent by 2030 for global warming kept to a maximum of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit under the 2015 Paris climate accord or risk worsening drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty. After hours of negotiations Dec. 8 and with no consensus reached, the note was dropped under U.N. protocol. Still, the Church continued to press for sustained action on climate change. “The Church is exerting pressure and showing really significant commitment. We must hope countries match this,” said Rebecca Elliott, communications director of Global Catholic Climate Movement, a coalition of more than 650 Catholic organizations.

Pope to make historic visit to United Arab Emirates

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis will visit the United Arab Emirates next year, becoming the first pope to visit the Arabian Peninsula, the Vatican announced. In a Dec. 6 statement, the Vatican said the pope will “participate in the International Interfaith Meeting on ‘Human Fraternity’” after receiving an invitation by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi. “The visit will take place also in response to the invitation of the Catholic Church in the United Arab Emirates,” the Vatican said. The trip Feb. 3-5 will take place less than a week after Pope Francis returns from his Jan. 23-28 visit to Panama for World Youth Day. Shortly after the announcement, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, welcomed the announcement of the pope’s visit in a post on his personal Facebook page.

Marking feast day, pope asks Mary’s care of families seeking refuge

ROME — In the heart of Rome, near several shops decorated for Christmas, Pope Francis prayed for Romans struggling to survive and for families in the city and around the world who face the same lack of welcome that Mary and Joseph experienced. The pope concluded his public celebration of the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8, by making the traditional papal visit to a statue of Mary erected in Rome’s historic center to honor Catholic teaching that Mary was conceived without sin. The statue is located near the Spanish Steps and Rome’s most expensive clothing and jewelry stores; it is also next to the building housing the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Instead of making a speech near the statue, the pope composes and reads a prayer, and he leaves a basket of roses at the statue’s base. In the prayer addressed to Mary, he said, “In this Advent time, thinking of the days when you and Joseph were anxious for the imminent birth of your baby, worried because there was a census and you had to leave your village, Nazareth, and go to Bethlehem — you know what it means to carry life in your womb and sense around you indifference, rejection and sometimes contempt. … So, I ask you to be close to the families who today in Rome, in Italy and throughout the world are living in similar situations.”

Kenyan priest killed taking Mass collection to bank

NAIROBI, Kenya — A Catholic priest was shot dead by unknown robbers Dec. 10 near his parish in central Kenya as he was taking the Sunday Mass offerings to the bank. Father John Njoroge Muhia of Kinoo Parish in Kiambu, part of the Nairobi Archdiocese, was accosted by four robbers on motorcycles. They obstructed the priest’s car on a rough road, forced him to stop and demanded the bag that he had in his car. One of the robbers reportedly drew a pistol, shot Father Njoroge in the chest and snatched a bag and mobile phone before escaping on the motorcycles. The priest was pronounced dead on arrival at the county hospital. “We are saddened by the killing of Father Njoroge,” Father Francis Kiarie, who has worked with the dead priest, said. “While we ask why, we condemned the act in the strongest terms possible. The killing of people of God is not unacceptable.”

Paris archbishop prays for France as fuel taxes canceled

PARIS — Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit prayed for the country Dec. 7, even as the French government dropped all fuel tax increases for 2019. The government move came after French cities were hit with weeks of violent protests, as French demanded lower fuel taxes and better purchasing power. Images of rampage at the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Elysees during the Dec. 1 weekend have been shown around the world. The demonstrations, known as the “yellow vest” protests after the high-visibility vests worn as a symbol of French citizens’ demands, were set to continue, despite the cancellation of the fuel tax increase. At least four people have died since the protests began in mid-November. On Dec. 5, Archbishop Aupetit said he believed the protests reflected a “significant suffering of many of our fellow citizens,” but he denounced the “outrageous violence” that led to violent clashes, particularly in Paris. The archbishop, who asked Christians to be peacemakers, said he would pray for the country at Notre Dame Cathedral’s 6:30 p.m. Mass Dec. 7, the eve of the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

— Catholic News Service

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