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Nation and world briefs


Lawsuit seeks to stop new rule for Title X funding

SAN FRANCISCO — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed suit March 4 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco to block the Trump administration’s “Protect Life Rule,” which prevents funds provided under the Title X Family Planning Program from being used in services that include abortion as a method of family planning or that make abortion referrals. He filed suit the day the rule was published in the Federal Register. It goes into effect 60 days after its publication. Twenty states and the District of Columbia were filing a joint suit against the new rule March 5 in U.S. District Court in Eugene, Ore. Becerra’s suit and the multistate suit both seek a court injunction to stop the rule from taking effect. “Contrary to pro-abortion misinformation, the ‘Protect Life Rule’ does not cut Title X funding by a single dime — it simply enforces the existing statute that draws a bright line of separation between abortion and family planning,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List pro-life organization, wrote in a statement March 4.

Report: Immigrant children in federal custody faced abuse over past 4 years

WASHINGTON — Federal documents show that the U.S. government has received more than 4,500 complaints over the past four years alleging that children in government custody because of immigration matters faced sexual abuse. But the agency in charge of keeping track of the complaints said the “data given to Congress by our agency reflects allegations much broader than ‘sexual abuse’” and could have included incidents of vulgar language. According to a Feb. 26 statement from Jonathan Hayes, acting director of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, the numbers include complaints of sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual behavior, “a catch-all category for sexual behaviors that do not rise to the level of sexual abuse or sexual harassment.” The ORR is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. Some of it involved behaviors perpetrated among children detained, according to the statement. But they do include allegations that adults charged with caring for the children abused them sexually in some form. Hayes said in the statement that the total number of incidents of alleged abuse by “facility-staff-on-minor,” basically adults who allegedly abused minors is 178 cases over four years.

Pope names bishops for Memphis, Fresno and auxiliary for Los Angeles

WASHINGTON — Just over four months after Bishop Martin D. Holley stepped down as bishop of Memphis, Tenn., Pope Francis named Bishop David P. Talley of Alexandria, La., to lead the diocese. Bishop Talley’s appointment was announced March 5 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. The archbishop also announced Pope Francis’ decisions to accept the resignation of 75-year-old Bishop Armando X. Ochoa of Fresno, Calif., and name Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Joseph V. Brennan to succeed him. In addition, Pope Francis named Philippines-born Msgr. Alejandro D. Aclan to be an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.


Colombian churches help Venezuelan soldiers who have deserted

CUCUTA, Colombia — Pvt. Andry Rosales hugged a Colombian soldier and broke into tears as he surrendered himself to this country’s military. The 21-year-old Venezuelan soldier had sneaked out of his army base across the border early in the morning and crossed into Colombia by walking on a dirt trail used each day by hundreds of migrants who enter Colombia illegally. He carried only a small backpack and wore civilian clothes, which helped him avoid Venezuelan border guards. “We have a terrible dictatorship there,” Rosales said, wiping tears from his face as he was escorted to a Colombian immigration office. “We were given orders to repress protests and shoot at people, even if they were our relatives.” As political unrest increases in Venezuela, hundreds of soldiers and police officers are deserting and seeking shelter in neighboring Colombia. The Catholic Church and other religious groups in the area are responding to this new chapter of Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis by providing shelter for these deserters and helping them to apply for asylum.

Pakistani Catholic groups join protest against military escalation

LAHORE, Pakistan — Catholic groups joined a protest against a military escalation in Pakistan and India following the recent suicide bombing in Indian-administered Kashmir, reported ucanews.com. “If we don’t end war, war will end us,” read placards held by staff of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, the Catholic Church’s human rights body in Pakistan, at the protest in front of Lahore Press Club Feb. 28. Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore also expressed solidarity with Pakistan’s armed forces in an interfaith news conference at the press club, ucanews.com reported. “All issues must be resolved through peace talks and dialogue. War is not an option,” he said. Carrying Pakistani flags, the archbishop and clerics also prayed for peace. Peace activists, including Christians nongovernmental organizations, also protested about “war mongering” and “bomb blasts.” India and Pakistan conducted airstrikes on each other’s territory in late February as tensions ran high after 40 Indian paramilitary troops were killed in a Feb. 14 suicide attack. A Pakistan-based terrorist outfit, Army of Muhammad, claimed responsibility.

Ghanaian bishops seek prayer as nation celebrates independence, Lent

ACCRA, Ghana — This year’s Lent has special significance because Ash Wednesday, March 6, marks the celebration of Ghana’s 62nd anniversary of independence, said the Ghana Bishops’ Conference. “We consider this occurrence not just as a mere coincidence or accident of history, but a special moment of grace intended by God as an occasion for sober reflection on our lives as Christians and our contributions to Ghana as citizens of this dear nation of ours,” the bishops said. It is also “a true moment of grace for our Church and our nation to pray together in gratitude to God and to seek God’s blessings in the days ahead,” the bishops said in a Lenten message issued March 2. They set aside March 3-10 as the Week of Peace and Reconciliation, a period to pray for God’s favor on Ghana. As the nation celebrates its independence, “We cannot but continue to thank God for the peace and stability we enjoy and the significant gains we are making toward economic development and prosperity.”

— Catholic News Service

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