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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Massachusetts judge rejects right to physician-assisted suicide

BOSTON — Patients who are terminally ill do not have a right to physician-assisted suicide, but their doctors can provide information and advise about medical aid in dying, a Massachusetts court has ruled. Suffolk Superior Court Judge Mary K. Ames said in her Dec. 31 decision that the legality of physician-assisted suicide is not one for the courts to decide. “The Legislature, not the court, is ideally positioned to weigh these arguments and determine whether, and if so, under what restrictions MAID (medical aid in dying) should be legally authorized,” Ames said in her ruling. The ruling comes in a case filed by Dr. Roger Kligler, a retired physician from Cape Cod who has advanced prostate cancer, and Dr. Alan Steinbach, who treats terminally ill patients. Patient rights groups welcomed Ames’ decision, saying that allowing any type of suicide is “too dangerous.” “We are gratified the court reaffirmed the law against assisted suicide and referred the matter to the Legislature where lawmaking belongs,” John B. Kelly, director of Second Thoughts Massachusetts, a disability rights group, said in a statement Jan. 13. “Disability rights advocates will continue to press the Legislature that assisted suicide is just too dangerous.”

Former cardinal McCarrick moves out of friary

WASHINGTON — Theodore McCarrick, the former cardinal who was laicized by the Vatican in 2019 after numerous claims of abuse by him were substantiated, moved Jan. 3 from the Capuchin Franciscan friary in Kansas where he had been living since late 2018. McCarrick made the move on his own accord, according to a spokesman for the Capuchin Franciscan province that oversees the friary. The former prelate had stayed a little over one year at St. Fidelis Friary, run by the Capuchin Franciscan order in Victoria, Kansas. The election of a new provincial for the Denver-based Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Conrad had no influence on McCarrick’s decision to leave, according to Capuchin Father Joseph Mary Elder, director of communications and vocations for the province, which also has a friary in San Antonio within its boundaries. “There was nothing on our part” that suggested McCarrick leave, Father Elder said. “He was free to stay as long as he wanted to.”

WORLD

First woman named to Vatican foreign ministry post

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis named Francesca Di Giovanni, a longtime Vatican official, as an undersecretary in the Vatican’s foreign ministry office, making her the first woman to hold a managerial position at the Vatican Secretariat of State. The Vatican announced Jan. 15 that within the Vatican Secretariat of State’s Section for Relations with States, Di Giovanni will head the multilateral sector, which deals with intergovernmental organizations and multilateral treaties. With the new appointment, the Vatican foreign ministry, led by Archbishop Paul J. Gallagher, will have two undersecretaries. Di Giovanni will serve as undersecretary alongside Msgr. Miroslaw Wachowski, who will continue to work in the area of bilateral diplomacy. In an interview with Vatican News published shortly after the announcement, Di Giovanni said that there had been a need for an undersecretary for the multilateral sector, but “I sincerely never would have thought the Holy Father would have entrusted this role to me. It is a new role and I will try to do my best to live up to the Holy Father’s trust, but I hope not to do it alone,” she said. “

Pope names bishops for Ukrainian dioceses in England, Australia

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis named new bishops for the Ukrainian Catholic dioceses in London and in Melbourne, Australia. The Vatican announced Jan. 15 that Pope Francis named Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski of the Canadian Eparchy of New Westminster, British Columbia, to be the new bishop of the Eparchy of the Holy Family of London in Great Britain. Bishop Nowakowski, 61, had led the Canadian diocese since 2007. Also Jan. 15, the Vatican said Pope Francis accepted the resignation of 76-year-old Bishop Peter Stasiuk, who had led the Eparchy of Sts. Peter and Paul of Melbourne since early 1993. To succeed Bishop Stasiuk, the pope named Redemptorist Father Mykola Bychok, who will celebrate his 40th birthday Feb. 13.

French bishops’ council OKs removing gender IDs on baptism certificates

OXFORD, England — The French bishops’ permanent council has approved a recommendation to remove gender references for parents on baptismal certificates. Bishop Joseph de Metz-Noblat of Langres, president of the French bishops’ Council for Canonical Questions, said the changes were made to bring baptismal practices into line with new gender-equality laws. In a letter to bishops dated Dec. 13, 2018, and published at the end of 2019, Bishop Metz-Noblat said the “ever-more-complex situation of families in France” had made compiling Catholic documents “sometimes difficult,” especially with baptisms. He added that his council had worked with the two other bishops’ conference commissions to produce a new baptismal formula, referring to “parents or other holders of parental authority.” The reformulation was designed to avoid any moral judgment and help dioceses confronted with problems of vocabulary, the bishop said. He added that the reformulation had now been approved by the bishops’ permanent council. “According to canon law, ministers cannot refuse sacraments to persons who opportunely ask for them, while children cannot be held responsible for the situation of their parents,” Bishop Metz-Noblat said. “This is why we are recommending you adopt this formulation, which seems more suited to our epoch.”

— Catholic News Service

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