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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Pro-life groups’ campaign provides items to mothers, babies at border

WASHINGTON — Shoelaces, rosaries, diapers, shampoo, Chapstick, baby wipes, water. Basic things that affirm one’s humanity. These are the items that the #Bottles2TheBorder campaign fought to provide for immigrant mothers and their babies as they crossed into America. New Wave Feminists and Abby Johnson’s And Then There Were None organization, along with 50 other pro-life groups, sponsored #Bottles2TheBorder. Together, they took more than $133,000 in supplies and $72,000 in funds to respite centers on the Texas-Mexico border. The feminist pro-life group subscribes to a whole life ethic that seeks to preserve dignity at all stages of life, not just in the womb. Last December, they organized a similar initiative, delivering $10,000 to the McAllen, Texas, respite center. “You have people fleeing for their lives. And the desperation, you can see it on their face. They just want to get their families to safety, and, as someone who works in the pro-life realm, I can recognize that desperation,” said Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, founder of New Wave Feminists.

Catholic leaders object to reinstatement of federal death penalty

WASHINGTON — The July 25 announcement by the Justice Department that it is reinstating the federal death penalty for the first time in 16 years was unwelcome news for Catholic leaders who have advocated against capital punishment. “The United States’ death penalty system is tragically flawed. Resuming federal executions — especially by an administration that identifies itself as ‘pro-life’ — is wrongheaded and unconscionable,” said Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, executive director of Catholic Mobilizing Network, a group that champions restorative justice and an end to the death penalty. The execution of five inmates on federal death row will take place from December 2019 through next January.

N.J. bishop says suicide law shows ‘utter failure’ of government, society

METUCHEN, N.J. — New Jersey’s new law allowing assisted suicide, effective Aug. 1, “points to an “utter failure” on the part of government and indeed all society, said Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen. It is the failure “to care truly, authentically and humanely for the suffering and vulnerable in our midst especially those living with an incurable disease as well as the frail elderly, the infirm and those living with disabilities,” he wrote in a July 29 letter to the 650,000 Catholics in his four-county diocese. “Assisted suicide is a grievous affront to the dignity of human life and can never be morally justified,” he said. “The legal permission now granted to this practice does not change the moral law.” Bishop Checchio said that under the new law — called the Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act — the elderly “could feel undue pressure to view this as an option to prevent being a burden to others and young people will begin to think that people can and should be disposable.”

Religious sisters at forefront of fight against human trafficking, slavery

UNITED NATIONS — A worldwide network of 2,000 Catholic religious sisters marked the 10th anniversary of its efforts to combat human trafficking and slavery July 29. Speakers from the Talitha Kum organization headlined a United Nations panel on the eve of the U.N. annual observance of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. “Human trafficking is one of the darkest and most revolting realities in the world today, ensnaring 41 million men and women, boys and girls,” said Father David Charters, second secretary of the Vatican’s permanent observer mission to the United Nations. Father Charters said the international response to the global phenomenon includes three specific targets in the U.N. 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They commit the organization’s members to fight trafficking and sexual exploitation, take immediate action to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking, and end all forms of violence against and torture of children.

Puerto Rican bishops call for peace, harmony after governor’s resignation

VATICAN CITY — In the wake of the historic resignation of Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello, the people of the Caribbean island must continue to maintain their unity to overcome the social ills that led to the crisis, the Puerto Rican bishops’ conference said. In a statement signed by Bishop Ruben Gonzalez Medina of Ponce, president of the bishops’ conference and Bishop Eusebio Ramos Morales of Caguas, secretary of the conference, the bishops called on Puerto Ricans to “maintain the serenity and democratic balance that this period of government transition deserves. Let us make this a great opportunity to unite as a people and work together, without flags and parties, in the search for the common good to overcome the fiscal crisis, corruption, violence and other evils,” the July 25 statement said. Rossello resigned July 24 following the revelation of nearly 900 pages of private chats between the governor and his staff in which they made light of the victims of the 2017 hurricane as well as several violent, homophobic and misogynistic remarks aimed at political and public figures.

Supreme Court allows Trump administration to use funds for border wall

WASHINGTON — In a 5-4 vote July 26, the Supreme Court said the Trump administration could use $2.5 billion in Pentagon funds to pay for construction and repairs of a wall along the U.S-Mexico border. The order — one paragraph long and unsigned — overturns an appellate court decision that froze the funds for border wall work involving building and replacing fencing and other projects in California, New Mexico and Arizona. In lifting the freeze on these border wall funds from the Defense Department, the justices said those who initially challenged the use of Pentagon funding for the border wall — Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition— didn’t have the legal right to challenge the money’s allocation. The order, announced during the court’s summer recess, was in response to an emergency filing by the Trump administration. Earlier this year, Catholic bishops voiced their opposition to President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency in order to construct a barrier along parts of the border.

WORLD

Philippine bishop appeals for help for hundreds of earthquake victims

MANILA, Philippines — A Catholic bishop in the northernmost island of the Philippines has appealed for prayers and help for victims of twin earthquakes that rocked Batanes province July 27. Bishop Danilo Ulep of the Batanes prelature said he sent a team to Itbayat, the hardest-hit town, to assess the situation, uacnews.com reported. “Right now, all we are accepting is financial assistance because other needs like food, water, medicines, etc. are being addressed by the government,” Bishop Ulep said. The earthquakes, of magnitudes 5.4 and 6.4, killed at least eight people, injured 63. One person was reported missing. The government’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council recorded 180 aftershocks by July 28.

Rwanda Church seeks agreement with state on contraception, abortion

OXFORD, England — Rwanda’s Catholic Church said it hopes to reach agreement with the government of President Paul Kagame after senior officials accused the church of hampering birth control policy by refusing contraception and abortion at its hospitals and clinics. “What’s important is for people to know we are in a dialogue. Once we are done with talks, we’ll come up with a clear agreement,” Bishop Philippe Rukamba of Butare, bishops’ conference president, told Rwanda’s The New Times daily July 22. Bishop Rukamba spoke after meeting government officials in the capital Kigali to discuss accusations that Catholic teaching was impeding government attempts to restrict population growth. In a June 21 meeting at the parliament, Rwanda’s health minister, Diane Gashumba, said she had attempted to “educate the Church” about the need for “full family planning services,” including contraception, at all health facilities, but said the Church was “frustrating efforts to control births” by “allowing only natural contraception.”

— Catholic News Service

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