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Nation and world briefs


Assisted suicide now law in N.J.; Cdl. Tobin calls it ‘morally unacceptable’

NEWARK, N.J. — Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark called New Jersey’s new law allowing assisted suicide regrettable, saying “whatever its motives and means,” it is “morally unacceptable. Every gift of human life is sacred, from conception to natural death, and the life and dignity of every person must be respected and protected at every stage and in every condition,” the cardinal wrote in a statement April 12, the day Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed the Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act, effective Aug. 1. “Those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect. Sick or disabled persons should be helped to lead lives as normal as possible,” Cardinal Tobin stated. Under the new law, which goes against the Catholic Church’s fundamental teaching on the sanctity of all human life, adults who receive a terminal diagnosis would be allowed to obtain self-administered medication to end their lives.

Georgetown students vote for student fee to pay reparations over slavery

WASHINGTON — Undergraduate students at Jesuit-run Georgetown University voted overwhelmingly April 11 to pay a new student fee that would be for reparations to the descendants of slaves owned and later sold by the school. The fee would be $27.20 per semester and the figure represents the 1838 sale of 272 enslaved individuals by the Maryland province of the Society of Jesus for the benefit of Georgetown University. According to the Georgetown University Student Association Elections Commission, which announced the results April 12, of the nearly 60 percent of undergraduates who voted, 2,541 supported the measure and 1,304 opposed it. The vote was part of a nonbinding student referendum. USA Today quoted a statement from university administrator Todd Olson, who did not commit to the fund’s establishment but said the vote provided “valuable insight into student perspectives.”

N.H. death penalty repeal bid called ‘an enormous victory for life’

CONCORD, N.H. — The New Hampshire Senate’s vote to repeal the death penalty is “an enormous victory for life,” according to the executive director of the Catholic Mobilizing Network. The New Hampshire Senate voted 17-6 April 11 to repeal the state’s death penalty law. This follows a 279-88 vote for repeal by the state House in March. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has threatened to veto the bill, but the original vote in each chamber passed by margins wide enough to override a veto. A two-thirds vote is required to override. New Hampshire has not put a prisoner to death since 1939. However, there is one man on the state’s death row, but the state’s corrections department said there are no immediate plans to acquire the drugs necessary to execute him.

Scammers in emails pose as pastors, ask faithful to buy them gift cards

JACKSON, Miss. — Scammers have taken aim at pastors and parishes across the country, including St. Louis, and even the bishop in the Diocese of Jackson in the past couple of months. Just after Christmas, parishioners at St. Richard Church in Jackson received a warning that someone pretending to be pastor Father John Bohn was using a fake email address to try to persuade people to buy gift cards for him. Father Lincoln Dall, pastor of St. Jude Parish in Pearl, and Father Albeen Vatti, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Madison, had to warn their parishes of similar schemes. Most recently, the parishes served by the Priests of the Sacred Heart in north Mississippi sent out warnings to their members. Even Jackson Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz was not immune. Twice in the past four months, someone has created an email account using his name and sent messages asking for gift cards. The Federal Trade Commission and the Office of the Attorney General of Mississippi have both sent out alerts about scams just like these. Priests and pastors will never email parishioners looking for gift cards.


Catholic leaders condemn bulldozing of crosses at site of executions

MINSK, Belarus — Catholic and Orthodox leaders condemned the bulldozing of memorial crosses at a site of communist-era mass executions. Media reports said at least 15 protesters were arrested in early April when police cordoned off an area of the Kuropaty Forest, outside Minsk, and bulldozers moved in to demolish about 70 15-foot crosses, which were taken away in unmarked trucks. The crosses marked the site where tens of thousands of execution victims were thrown in mass graves, mostly between 1937 and 1941. “I feel desperate about the removal of these crosses,” said Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, chairman of the Belarusian bishops’ conference. “Perhaps some order is needed in this place, and perhaps it was necessary to move the crosses temporarily and then replace them. We also do such things — but not without telling people,” he said.

Pope makes surprise visit to community for people with Alzheimer’s

ROME — Drawing attention to the special needs of people with Alzheimer’s disease, Pope Francis made an afternoon visit to a community of group homes designed to keep residents active and living as normal a life as possible. The pope’s visit April 12 to Emanuele Village on the northern edge of Rome was part of his continuing series of “Mercy Friday” visits, which he began during the Holy Year of Mercy in 2015-16 to highlight the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Emanuele Village consists of 14 group homes, each with six residents, as well as a small supermarket, hair salon, coffee bar and restaurant, “allowing the residents to live as normally as possible, reproducing many of the little aspects of daily life,” and helping them maintain ties with others. Pope Francis surprised many of the residents and staff who were in the village courtyard when he arrived, the Vatican said.

— Catholic News Service

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