Appeals court rules against Little Sisters of the Poor over HHS mandate
SAN FRANCISCO — The Little Sisters of the Poor lost another round in court Oct. 22 when a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled 2 to 1 against the religious order getting a religious exemption from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate under a 2017 Trump administration rule. In their majority decision in the State of California v. Little Sisters of the Poor, Judges J. Clifford Wallace and Susan P. Graber said allowing an exemption for religious groups such as the Little Sisters flies in the face of the Affordable Care Act. Wallace, who wrote the decision, said the panel “held that the religious exemption contradicts congressional intent that all women have access to appropriate preventative care and the exemption operates in a manner fully at odds with the careful, individualized, and searching review mandated by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” Judge Andrew J. Kleinfeld in his dissent said the “public fervor and litigation has never stopped” since the HHS mandate was first put in place in 2013 under the Affordable Care Act of 2010.
Students sing, dance, share faith at Holy Fire Chicago
CHICAGO — About 7,500 middle school students sang, danced and shared their faith Oct. 18 and 19 at Holy Fire Chicago, a gathering intended to help students in sixth to ninth grades reflect on and witness to their Catholic faith in a daylong event. Most of the attendees Oct. 18 were Catholic school students, while most who came Oct. 19 were religious education students or individual young people who came with their parents. Similar to the National Catholic Youth Conference, a biennial national event for high schoolers, Holy Fire engages young people with music and witness talks. The day also included opportunities for the sacrament of reconciliation and eucharistic adoration and to attend Mass celebrated by Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich. This was the fourth year Holy Fire was held in Chicago.
Plan for drug injection site latest in ‘dose of despair,’ says archbishop
PHILADELPHIA — Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia said the city’s plan to create a safe drug injection site now that it has the legal go-ahead to do so “is simply the latest dose of despair offered by a confused and suffering culture.” The culture “refuses to understand the true nature of both addiction and those who are enslaved by it,” he wrote Oct. 25 in his weekly column in CatholicPhilly.com, the archdiocesan news outlet. On Oct. 2, U.S. District Court Judge Gerald McHugh ruled in favor of the plan by the Philadelphia nonprofit group Safehouse to open a safe injection site, where people can use their own illegal opioids under medical supervision, saying it does not violate the federal Controlled Substances Act. The U.S. Department of Justice had filed a legal challenge to block the facility. Philadelphia would be the first U.S. city to open a safe injection site. It is modeled after a facility that has operated in Vancouver, British Columbia, since 2003. God “did not create us to ingest illicit drugs, even in ‘supervised’ settings,” and the Catechism of the Catholic Church makes that Church teaching clear, he said.
Report: Persecution of Christians worse in Asia; Mideast might not recover
LONDON — Christianity is disappearing from towns and cities in parts of the Middle East, warns a new report from the papal foundation Aid to the Church in Need. It also said that persecution of Christians “has worsened the most” in South and East Asia. Urgent action by the international community is needed to prevent more Christians fleeing countries, including Iraq and Syria, said the Oct. 23 report, “Persecuted and Forgotten?” It was based on a 2017-2019 study of the persecution of Christians around the world. “Each person who leaves makes it harder for those left behind,” it said. While noting that the international community has shown unprecedented concern about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, the organization said “governments in the West and the U.N. failed to offer Christians in countries such as Iraq and Syria the emergency help they needed as genocide got underway.” In parts of Africa, “Islamist violence is putting huge pressure on Christians,” Aid to the Church in Need said.
Vatican’s U.N. rep pushes for world action to
eliminate nuclear weapons
UNITED NATIONS — Expressing concern that arms control treaties are “abrogated and flouted,” the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations called on global leaders to work to rid the world of nuclear weapons. In a series of addresses to two U.N. committees, Archbishop Bernardito Auza said nations must step up to prevent a new nuclear arms race from emerging and work to reduce growing threats to peace. “Member states should spare no effort to reverse the current downward spiral of arms control and disarmament policies and dedicate themselves to elaborating new mechanisms of arms reduction leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons and general and complete disarmament,” Archbishop Auza told the committee Oct. 22. The permanent observer’s concerns focused on the human consequences of nuclear war and urged all nations to ratify and implement the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons passed by the U.N. in 2017.
Jewish, Christian, Muslim leaders sign declaration against euthanasia
VATICAN CITY — Representatives from the Catholic and Orthodox churches and the Muslim and Jewish faiths signed a joint declaration at the Vatican reaffirming each religion’s clear opposition to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. They also encouraged promoting palliative care so that dying patients could receive the best, most comprehensive physical, emotional, social, religious and spiritual care and appropriate support for their families, according to the joint statement. Pope Francis met Oct. 28 with the signatories, who presented him with a copy of the declaration they signed a few hours earlier at a Vatican ceremony. The signatories included representatives from the Vatican, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Patriarchate of Moscow and All Russia, Muslim and Jewish scholars and leaders. The declaration, titled, “Position paper of the Abrahamic monotheistic religions on matters concerning the end of life,” was prepared by the Pontifical Academy for Life and released Oct. 28.
— Catholic News Service