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The Conversation: A Catholic Perspective on End-of-Life Issues

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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Judge blocks Ohio’s ban on abortions after fetal heartbeat detected

CINCINNATI — A federal judge July 3 granted a preliminary injunction blocking an Ohio ban on abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Judge Michael Barrett of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio said in 12-page order the court conclude that the law, signed by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine in April, “places an ‘undue burden’ on a woman’s right to choose a pre-viability abortion, and … plaintiffs are certain to succeed on the merits of their claim.” The American Civil Liberties of Ohio and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against the ban on behalf of Preterm-Cleveland and other Ohio abortion providers. It was to have taken effect July 11 but is now on hold while the lawsuit makes its way through the courts. A fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, a time frame in which many women are unaware they are pregnant. The Ohio House April 10 voted 56-40 in favor of the bill. Agreeing with the House’s changes in the legislation, the Senate adopted it a short time later, 18-13, sending it to DeWine for his signature. Both votes occurred mostly along party lines with Republicans lined up in favor of it and Democrats opposed. Under the law, doctors and others who perform an abortion after a heartbeat has been detected or who fail to do an ultrasound before an abortion face being charged with a fifth-degree felony punishable by six to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Bishop calls for prayers as quakes rattle California

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Bishop Gerald R. Barnes of San Bernardino asked for prayers for those who were put in harm’s way by a pair of earthquakes that struck California on consecutive days in early July. “We ask God to comfort and console them, and we also pray for the protection of all those men and women involved in the efforts of relief and recovery in these areas,” Bishop Barnes wrote in a statement posted on the diocesan website. The church in the Diocese of San Bernardino that was hit hardest by the twin temblors was St. Madeleine Sophie Barat Mission in the unincorporated town of Trona. “The church there sustained significant damage in the earthquakes and the people of this community continue to experience displacement and uncertainty,” Bishop Barnes stated. The first quake hit July 4 with a magnitude of 6.4. A series of smaller aftershocks followed and a second quake hit with a magnitude of 7.1. No deaths were attributed to the quakes, and no serious injuries reported.

New commission to review role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration named a former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican to chair a new commission that will review the role of human rights in foreign policy. Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard Law School professor, will chair the Commission on Unalienable Rights, which is expected to elevate concerns about abortion and religious freedom. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the appointment of the 10-member commission July 8 in a brief ceremony at the Department of State. He said he hoped the commission would undertake the most comprehensive review of individual freedoms since the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the U.N. General Assembly. Pompeo said the U.S. must be “vigilant that human rights discourse not be corrupted or hijacked or used for dubious or malignant purposes.” He described how human rights claims have “proliferated,” leading some nations to be in conflict over which rights should be respected and considered valid.

WORLD

Pope names women as full members of congregation for religious

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis named six superiors of women’s religious orders, a consecrated laywoman and the superior of the De La Salle Christian Brothers to be full members of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Previously, the members had all been men: cardinals, a few bishops and several priests who were superiors of large religious orders of men. The women named members by the pope were announced by the Vatican July 8: Sisters Kathleen Appler, the U.S.-born superior of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul; Yvonne Reungoat, superior of the Salesian Sisters; Francoise Massy, superior of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary; Luigia Coccia, superior of the Comboni Sisters; Simona Brambilla, superior of the Consolata Missionary Sisters; Rita Calvo Sanz, superior of the Company of Mary Our Lady; and Olga Krizova, general president of the Volunteers of Don Bosco, a group of consecrated laypeople. Brother Robert I. Schieler, the U.S.-born superior of the De La Salle Christian Brothers, also was named a full member of the congregation along with the priests who are superiors general of the Jesuits, the Discalced Carmelites, the Augustinians, the Scalabrinians, the Capuchins and the abbot president of the Subiaco Cassinese Benedictine Congregation.

Pope gives relics believed to be of St. Peter to Orthodox patriarch

VATICAN CITY — In what Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople described as a “brave and bold” gesture, Pope Francis gave the patriarch a famous reliquary containing bone fragments believed to belong to St. Peter. The only time the bronze reliquary has been displayed publicly was in November 2013, when Pope Francis had it present for public veneration as he celebrated the closing Mass for the Year of Faith, opened by Pope Benedict XVI. The bronze case contains nine of the bone fragments discovered during excavations of the necropolis under St. Peter’s Basilica that began in the 1940s. In the 1960s, archaeologist Margherita Guarducci published a paper asserting that she had found St. Peter’s bones near the site identified as his tomb. While no pope has ever declared the bones to be authentic, St. Paul VI announced in 1968 that the “relics” of St. Peter had been “identified in a way which we can hold to be convincing.”

— Catholic News Service

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