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Nation and world briefs


Georgia house passes fetal heartbeat bill; legal challenges to follow

WASHINGTON — Georgia has just added itself to the list of states that aim to protect unborn life once a fetal heartbeat is detected. The Georgia House of Representatives March 29 passed H.B. 481, entitled the “Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act.” The House, which has remained under Republican control since 2010, got the bill through on a 92-78 vote. The bill is now bound for the desk of Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who has repeatedly expressed his dedication to the bill and the pro-life cause generally. The bill prohibits abortions past the point that a fetal heartbeat is detectable in the womb, which in most cases occurs around six weeks of pregnancy. A notable exception includes when a pregnancy is “medically futile,” which is when “an unborn child has a profound and irremediable congenital or chromosomal anomaly that is incompatible with sustaining life after birth.” Ostensibly then, genetic conditions such as Down syndrome where an unborn child can still survive outside the womb are not legitimate grounds for abortions under the bill.

Texas looking into city vote to bar restaurant chain over marriage views

SAN ANTONIO — The marketplace, not elected officials, should decide whether a company should open an outlet in a particular location, said San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller. In a statement March 27, he stated he has been asked what he thinks of the San Antonio City Council’s 6-4 vote March 21 “to exclude Chick-fil-A from the list of concessionaires that could operate at San Antonio International Airport” because the company is known for its support of traditional marriage. “It is best in this circumstance that elected officials not restrict a restaurant chain’s right to conduct business,” Archbishop Garcia-Siller said. “Let the marketplace decide, and consumers will select which businesses to support — or not support — with their dollars, as they always do.”


‘Spiritual combat’ must be part of fight against sex abuse, pope says

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT TO ROME — To fight clerical sexual abuse, the Catholic Church must have clear laws and procedures, but it also must engage in “spiritual combat,” because it is obvious the devil is at work, Pope Francis said. After the Vatican summit on abuse in February, the pope said, he read a newspaper article that said he had “washed his hands and blamed the devil” for the abuse crisis. Speaking to reporters March 31 on his way back to Rome from Morocco, the pope said stopping abuse requires a multi-pronged approach, including prayer and penance. Pope Francis said that is why he asked the U.S. bishops not to vote in November on a new code of conduct for bishops and new procedures for handling allegations raised against bishops. Instead, he asked the bishops to have a retreat and wait until after the February summit to decide how to move forward. Some things, like the abuse crisis and child pornography, he said, “cannot be understood without the mystery of evil.” “We in the Church will do everything to end this scourge,” the pope said.

Vandals, arsonists target French Catholic churches

MANCHESTER, England — Vandals and arsonists have targeted French churches in a wave of attacks that has lasted nearly two months. More than 10 churches have been hit since the beginning of February, with some set on fire while others were severely desecrated or damaged. St. Sulpice, the second-largest church in Paris, after Notre Dame Cathedral, had the large wooden door on its southern transept set ablaze March 17. Investigators confirmed March 18 that the fire was started deliberately, according to the website of the Vienna-based Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe, an independent organization founded with the help of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences. In early February, in the Church of Notre-Dame-des-Enfants in Nimes, near the Spanish border, intruders drew a cross on a wall with excrement then stuck consecrated hosts to it. The tabernacle was broken and other consecrated hosts were destroyed, prompting Bishop Robert Wattebled of Nimes to issue a statement Feb. 8 to say that the desecration was so severe that the church building could not be used until penitential rites of purification had been carried out.

Countries selling arms have no right to talk about peace

VATICAN CITY — Nations that actively engage in arms dealing and help foment war in other countries should not expect to find peace in their own lands, Pope Francis said. During a wide-ranging interview with the Spanish news program, “Salvados,” which aired March 31, the pope was asked his opinion by journalist Jordi Evole regarding the Spanish government’s sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia, which is currently engaged in a conflict with Yemen. The pope said that while he was saddened by the country’s action, Spain “isn’t the only country” involved in arms dealing. Countries that sell arms, he said, “have no right to talk about peace. They are fomenting war in another country, and then they want peace in their own land.” He said it has a “boomerang” effect in which there’s always a price to pay when taking a life. “If you start war over there, you’re going to have it at home whether you want it or not.”

Franciscans give Jordan’s king award for his peace, dialogue work

AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan’s King Abdullah II urged greater cooperation to take on serious challenges worldwide as he was awarded a top Catholic peace prize by the Conventual Franciscans of the Sacred Convent of Assisi in central Italy. The annual award, known as the Lamp of Peace, recognizes King Abdullah II’s tireless promotion of peace in the troubled Middle East, support of interreligious dialogue, welcome of refugees and educational reforms. “To me, the Lamp of Peace of St. Francis symbolizes how peace lights our way forward to a better future for all people, of every faith and country and community,” Abdullah told a packed St. Francis Basilica, housing the saint’s relics and the renowned fresco series of his life. “But it is our task to provide the fuel for that light, and what fuels global peace is mutual respect and understanding,” Abdullah emphasized, receiving strong applause. “It is only by combining our efforts that humanity will meet today’s serious challenges — to solve global crises; heal our earth’s environment; and include everyone, especially our youth, in opportunity,” the king told the assembly.

— Catholic News Service

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