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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

As Calif. novena ends, Christians urged to be society’s ‘moral conscience’

SAN FRANCISCO — Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco called for Christians to be the “moral conscience” of society during a Mass marking the end of a novena against an upcoming abortion bill. From Aug. 3 to Aug. 11, Californian dioceses and archdioceses prayed a novena for the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe to defeat a measure approved by the state Senate, S.B. 24, which would require state college and university health centers to stock medication abortion pills. The state Assembly was expected to take up the bill soon after the Legislature’s Aug. 12 return from its recess. In his homily for the 9 a.m. Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral, the archbishop spoke about the culture of death’s expression in society and how Christians can respond to it. He began by citing a recent New York Times editorial that called for embracing the basic values that have historically glued American society together. “The idea is that by focusing on the common good, we can retrieve a sense of public decency,” he said. “However, let’s think about that, let’s think about it deeply. Is it really possible to retrieve a sense of common decency when we consider what is going on in our country?”

Opinion on abortion’s legality unchanged; some shifting within groups

WASHINGTON — While a survey of more than 54,000 Americans showed little change in their attitudes between 2014 and 2018 on the legality of abortion, researchers detected movement in many demographic groups, Catholics included. Natalie Jackson, director of research for the Public Religion Research Institute, said the changes in attitude reflect the nation’s political divisions. According to the survey, which was released Aug. 13, 54% of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 40% believe it should be illegal in most or all cases. “These numbers are essentially unchanged since 2014,” the survey said; then 55% of Americans said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and 41% said it should be illegal in most or all cases. In an Aug. 12 phone interview with Catholic News Service, the 1% change in the overall numbers is not statistically significant, but “everything that we are calling out as differences (from the 2014 survey) are statistically significant,” Jackson said. Catholics “mirror the rest of the country pretty closely, particularly white Catholics,” she added. Fifty-three percent of white Catholics believe most or all abortions should be legal compared to 40% who say most or all should be illegal, Jackson noted, “so they’re right in line” with the majority of Americans.

Abuse claim made against well-known Chicago priest Father Clements

CHICAGO — Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago has asked now-retired Father George Clements, 87, who is well known as a civil rights leader, an adoptive father and a national advocate of adoption, to step aside from ministry during an investigation into an abuse claim made against him. An Aug. 8 news release from the Chicago Archdiocese said the alleged abuse of a minor reportedly occurred in 1974, while Father Clements served as pastor of Holy Angels Parish in Chicago. “The allegation was referred to the archdiocesan Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review by the Chicago Police Department,” the news release said. “In keeping with our child protection policies, the allegation was reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County State’s Attorney.” The statement added that the person making the allegation “has been offered the services of the archdiocese’s Office of Assistance Ministry.” In an Aug. 8 interview with the Chicago ABC-TV News affiliate, Father Clements called the accusation “totally unfounded. Here I am, 87 years old, and I don’t know what this is all about or anything,” he said.

WORLD

On anniversary, Japan’s bishops renew hope for nuclear-free world

VATICAN CITY — With the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, the bishops of Japan renewed calls and prayers to build peace by abolishing nuclear weapons worldwide and promoting integral human development. They also expressed hope that Pope Francis’ visit in November and his expected calls for peace will strengthen people’s desire and boost efforts to bring about a nuclear weapon-free world. The first atomic bomb used in warfare was dropped by the United States on Hiroshima Aug. 6, 1945, killing more than 100,000 people. On Aug. 9 another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, killing about 74,000 people. Japan surrendered Aug. 15. St. John Paul II visited both cities during a February 1981 trip and appealed for peace, calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons around the world. His speech inspired Japan’s bishops to observe Ten Days of Prayer for Peace from August 6 to 15 every year. Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami of Nagasaki, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan, said in a message for the days of prayer that guaranteeing peace and security in the world required “not only to eliminate the nuclear threat by abolishing nuclear weapons, but at the same time to make all people richer in all aspects” through integral human development.

Pope calls on nations to protect lives, dignity of war victims

VATICAN CITY — Marking the anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, Pope Francis urged nations to recall the need to protect the life and dignity of the victims of war and armed conflict. “Everyone is required to observe the limits imposed by international humanitarian law, protecting unarmed populations and civil structures, especially hospitals, schools, places of worship, refugee camps,” he said, after praying the Angelus with visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square Aug. 11. The pope reminded people that Aug. 12 marked the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, which, he said, were “important international legal instruments that impose limits on the use of force and are aimed at protecting civilians and prisoners in time of war. May this anniversary make states increasingly aware of the indispensable need to protect the life and dignity of victims of armed conflicts,” he said. “And let us not forget that war and terrorism are always a serious loss for all of humanity. They are the great human defeat!”

— Catholic News Service

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