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Nation and world briefs


Ohio legislature one vote short on abortion bill

COLUMBUS, Ohio— By one vote, the Ohio Senate failed to overturn the governor’s veto of a restrictive abortion bill. The legislation, called the “heartbeat bill,” would have prohibited abortions at the first detectable heartbeat, or as early as six weeks of pregnancy. On Dec. 27, the state senators voted 19-13 to override the governor’s veto, but it needed 20 votes to pass. Republican Senate President Larry Obhof said the legislation would come up again and with a better chance of passing, in the next session. “We will have a supermajority that is pro-life in both chambers in the next General Assembly. We’re getting sworn in in less than two weeks, and we have a governor coming in who has said he would sign that bill,” he told reporters. The legislation previously passed the Ohio House and Senate and was sent to Republican Gov. John Kasich who vetoed the bill Dec. 21.

Tucson Diocese explores what Encuentro means for its future

TUCSON, Ariz. — The vision among planners prior to the Fifth Encuentro last September was to identify and create a path to leadership in parishes, dioceses and on the national Catholic stage for bilingual, bicultural Hispanic leaders. And after the event in Grapevine, Texas, those in Hispanic ministry in the Diocese of Tucson are asking if such a goal remains realistic. At a recent follow-up session at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Casa Grande, the answer was both yes and no. “This is the moment for the laity to step up, right now. We need to take ownership among ourselves,” said Rocio Gonzalez, director of Hispanic Ministry in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and chairwoman of Region 13 for the Encuentro, encompassing Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. She told the gathering that the energy of the Fifth Encuentro process will help further prepare Hispanic Catholics for future leadership roles. “The process is working. It’s leading us as a Church to a place where we have never gone,” agreed Msgr. Raul Trevizo, Tucson diocesan vicar for Hispanic Ministry.


Top officials of Vatican press office resign

VATICAN CITY — Saying they thought Pope Francis should be “completely free to assemble a new team” for Vatican communications “at this time of transition,” the director of the Vatican press office announced he and the vice director had resigned. Pope Francis accepted the resignations of Greg Burke and Paloma Garcia Ovejero, the press office announced Dec. 31. The pope appointed Alessandro Gisotti, coordinator of social media at the Vatican Dicastery for Communication, to serve as interim director of the press office. Neither of the outgoing journalists issued a formal statement, but Burke, 59, a former U.S. television news correspondent, tweeted the comment about it being the right time for the pope to assemble a new team. Paolo Ruffini, appointed prefect in July, said in a statement that resigning was “their autonomous and free choice.”

Pope prays for new year marked by tenderness, brotherhood, peace

VATICAN CITY — A new year is a chance for a new start, a time to remember that all people are brothers and sisters and a time to nurture amazement that God became human to save all people, Pope Francis said. The Jan. 1 feast of Mary, Mother of God, also is a time to remember how strong maternal love and care are, and how they are the secret to making life more livable, the pope said during his homily at a feast day Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. The Catholic Church also marks Jan. 1 at World Peace Day, an observance the pope spoke about when, after Mass, he recited the Angelus with tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square. Mary shows to the world her son, the prince of peace, he said. “He is the blessing for every person and the whole human family. He is the source of grace, mercy and peace.” Pope Francis chose as the theme for this year’s World Peace Day: “Good politics is at the service of peace.”

Abuse expert hopes summit will include bishops’ accountability

VATICAN CITY — A member of the committee organizing Pope Francis’ February summit on the sexual abuse crisis said the meeting should include discussing ways to hold bishops accountable for handling cases correctly. Addressing members of the Roman Curia before Christmas, Pope Francis said the meeting Feb. 21-24 of the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences, the heads of the Eastern Catholic Churches and leaders of religious orders will reaffirm the Church’s “firm resolve to pursue unstintingly a path of purification.” In addition, he said, with the help of experts, the meeting will examine “how best to protect children, to avoid these tragedies, to bring healing and restoration to the victims, and to improve the training imparted in seminaries.” Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, a member of the committee organizing the February meeting, told Vatican News Dec. 27 that in addition to the goals outlined by the pope, “we want to see how we also can put on the table the question of bishops’ responsibility, so there would be greater clarity about who must do something and who checks if the things ... are, in effect, done.”

— Catholic News Service

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