U.S. bishops dialogue
with abuse victims
WASHINGTON — During the last days of April, a section of the student hub on the campus of The Catholic University of America in Washington displayed a gallery of tales of pain but also of recovery and healing featuring Catholics from around the country who had experienced sex abuse by clergy. On May 1, a small group of Catholics gathered with bishops, clergy, victim advocates and others for a daylong event on the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, but also to acknowledge the pain caused, to offer comfort, express sorrow, to share a meal, to pray and extend the wish to heal a broken trust. “To see the bishops up on a platform with survivors having a discussion in front other people … my hope is that it was the beginning of a lot more conversation between leadership and survivors,” said Kathleen Chastain, a victim services coordinator from the Office of Child and Youth Protection for the Diocese of Kansas City May 2.
California attorney general opens review of Church files on abuse
LOS ANGELES — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has opened an investigation into how the state’s 12 Catholic dioceses have addressed allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests, lay Church employees and volunteers. In a letter May 2 to each diocese, Becerra requests Church officials to preserve all documents related to abuse allegations. The Los Angeles Archdiocese was among those receiving the letter, Angelus, the news outlet of the archdiocese, reported. The records being requested by Becerra’s office include allegations of sexual misconduct received by the dioceses since 1996 — including those handled in compliance with the law — as well as those of individuals accused of misconduct toward minors who may still be active in ministry.
Georgia governor signs heartbeat bill restricting state abortions
ATLANTA — Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation May 7 to ban abortions in the state once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is around six weeks. The bill’s signing comes after weeks of protests and amid outcry for legal action against it. “We will not back down. We will always continue to fight for life,” the governor said about expected legal challenges to the new law. If it is not blocked in court, the law would take effect at the beginning of next year. Current state law allows abortions up to the 20th week of pregnancy. The legislation makes exceptions to save the life of the mother and in the case of rape and incest if a police report is filed. It also makes exceptions to allow abortions when a fetus has serious medical issues.
Catholic officials pleased with new conscience
WASHINGTON — The announcement of a new conscience protection rule May 2 protecting health care workers who object to abortion procedures on religious grounds was welcome news to U.S. Catholic bishops and the president of the Catholic Health Association. President Donald Trump announced the rule at the White House Rose Garden during a speech on the National Day of Prayer. “Just today we finalized new protections of conscience rights for physicians, pharmacists, nurses, teachers, students and faith-based charities,” Trump said. The rule, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, is more than 400 pages long with specific guidelines requiring hospitals, clinics and universities that receive federal funding through Medicare or Medicaid to certify that they comply with laws protecting conscience rights regarding abortion, sterilization and assisted suicide. Under the rule, medical workers or institutions would not have to provide, participate in or pay for procedures they object to on moral or religious grounds.
Pope says study on women deacons was inconclusive
ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM NORTH MACEDONIA — The commission Pope Francis appointed to study the history and identity of women deacons did not reach a unanimous conclusion about whether deaconesses in the early Church were “ordained” or formally “blessed,” the pope said. “What is fundamental is that there was no certainty that there was an ordination with the same form and same aim as the ordination of men,” the pope told reporters flying with him from North Macedonia to Rome May 7. Pope Francis answered questions on the flight, including about the study of women deacons he commissioned in 2013. After the six men and six women on the commission finished their work, he said, there was “some agreement,” but not on the crucial question of whether women were ordained or solemnly blessed like abbesses are. “Some say there are doubts,” the pope said. “Well, then, let’s study some more. I don’t have a problem with that.”
Church attacked after Mass, Venezuelan bishop says
VATICAN CITY — While protests against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro raged across the country, National Guard forces loyal to the embattled head of state launched tear gas at churchgoers attending Mass at a local parish. In a letter published May 2 by Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Bishop Mario del Valle Moronta Rodriguez of San Cristobal said chaos erupted in Our Lady of Fatima Church when two National Guard members entered the parish on motorcycles as Mass was concluding. The bishop said that subsequently, “a horde of 40 Bolivarian National Guard members,” led by a general known as Ochoa, tried to enter the church and berated the pastor, Father Jairo Clavijo, after he forbid them from entering. “(M)embers of the Bolivarian National Guard launched tear-gas bombs in the church, causing an immediate evacuation...” Bishop Moronta said.
— Catholic News Service