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Nation and world briefs


Migrant children will suffer most under new detention rule, bishop says

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ migration committee said Aug. 23 sees “heartbreaking consequences for immigrant children” in a final rule issued by the Trump administration that allows the federal government to hold immigrant children in family detention indefinitely. The new rule was issued jointly by the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services that will end a long-standing legal agreement put in place in 1997— known as the Flores Settlement Agreement — to ensure the safety and care of children in immigration detention settings. Pope Francis has deemed immigrant children “the most vulnerable group among migrants,” and they will be most affected by this new rule, said Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, who is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration. “(This) is an attempt by the administration to circumvent existing obligations and undermine critical protections for these children,” the bishop wrote in a statement. “This rule will jeopardize the well-being and humane treatment of immigrant children in federal custody and will result in children suffering long-lasting consequences of being held for prolonged periods in family detention. We oppose this rule that we believe is unlawful and inhumane. Countless children will be harmed by this new rule and this is simply not acceptable,” he said.

Bishops welcome proposed rule on religious employers’ rights

WASHINGTON — The chairmen of three U.S. bishops’ committees Aug. 21 welcomed a proposed rule from the U.S. Department of Labor aimed at clarifying religious protections that may be invoked by federal contractors, including faith-based organizations. “Faith-based groups should have the opportunity to compete on a level playing field as they seek to partner with the federal government to provide critical social services,” the bishops wrote in a statement. “These proposed rules protect religious liberty, a core constitutional right, by clarifying existing religious exemptions consistent with federal law and recent Supreme Court precedent.” The statement was issued by Bishop Robert J. McManus of Worcester, Massachusetts, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty; Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; and Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage. The proposed rule would clarify that religious organizations may make employment decisions “consistent with their sincerely held religious tenets and beliefs without fear of sanction by the federal government,” the Labor Department said in announcing it Aug. 14.

Threats to dignity, sanctity of life seen advancing at ‘breakneck speed’

WASHINGTON — A globetrotting warrior for life and human dignity has taken up a new gauntlet as president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, where he will use his global expertise and Catholic bioethics education to defend against what he termed life-degrading “science fictions” that are becoming reality. Joseph Meaney, former director of international outreach and expansion for Human Life International, assumed the presidency of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, taking over from the former president of 22 years, John Haas. The new president earned his doctorate in bioethics from the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome. In an interview with Catholic News Service, Meaney said he foresees helming a difficult and fast-paced battle against an encroaching “culture of death. There are a lot of things developing at breakneck speed. We are at an unprecedented point in U.S. history. We have never seen this speed of scientific change,” Meaney said.

Federal appeals court allows Indiana abortion facility to remain open

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — A federal court of appeals issued a narrow opinion that allows a South Bend abortion clinic to continue operating, at least for the time being. The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago upheld an injunction Aug. 22 that permits the Whole Woman’s Health Alliance to remain open without a state-required license until a lawsuit on the license is settled. The case is scheduled for a full hearing in 2020. Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill Jr. had asked to court of appeals to reverse the injunction that allowed the clinic to open in June. The clinic provides medication-induced abortions. The appeals court also modified an earlier ruling that called into question Indiana’s abortion licensing requirements. The Indiana Department of Health had denied Whole Women’s Health Alliance the necessary license in May, leading clinic administrators to sue the state. The alliance charged that Indiana’s licensing and regulatory requirements for abortion providers were unconstitutional.


Syriac Catholic Church reestablishes diocese in northern Iraq

BERUIT — To support the faithful and encourage them to stay in their homeland, the Syriac Catholic Church has re-established a diocese for the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan celebrated the new diocese at a Mass at Queen of Peace Syriac Catholic Church in Irbil, Iraq, Aug. 24. In his homily, he commended the faithful for being “the embodiment of the living faith, and a testimony to the challenge and steadfastness amid takfiri terrorism and in the face of evil forces that wanted to kill hope in your believing souls. I say and repeat: You have carried the cross on the example of the Savior, our divine teacher, and you have persevered in your faith, your heritage and your hope, which has been admired around the world, East and West alike,” Patriarch Younan said. Archbishop Nathaniel Nizar Semaan heads the new Diocese of Hadiab-Irbil and all Kurdistan. Previously, the area was under the Mosul Archdiocese’s jurisdiction. .

— Catholic News Service

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