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Nation and world briefs


Cdl. Dolan to probe abuse allegations against Brooklyn bishop

WASHINGTON — The Archdiocese of New York has confirmed it has begun an investigation of an abuse claim against Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, New York, who was threatened with a lawsuit by an attorney in November, alleging the prelate had abused a child decades ago while serving as a priest in New Jersey. The bishop immediately denied the accusation Nov. 13, vowing to “vigorously defend” himself against the claim. Under new protocols concerning accusations against Church higher-ups, the metropolitan archbishop, in this case Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, is charged with investigating any accusation made against another bishop in his region. In a Jan. 21 statement, the bishop wrote he “looks forward to the investigation of the allegation made against him and having his good name cleared and restored.” Under new protocols set forth in the papal decree “Vos Estis Lux Mundi,” or “You are the light of the world,” the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith asks the metropolitan of the region to begin the probe.

Supreme Court to reexamine contraceptive mandate for religious employers

WASHINGTON — The Little Sisters of the Poor are once again going to the Supreme Court. The order of women religious who care for the elderly poor have been down this road before, twice defending their right to not comply with the government’s health law requiring employers to provide contraceptive coverage in their health plans. Now the court is about to look at the Affordable Health Care’s contraceptive mandate from a different angle, examining if the Trump administration can legally allow religious employers to opt out of the mandate. In 2013, religious groups and houses of worship were granted a religious exemption by the Supreme Court from the government’s mandate in the Affordable Care Act to include coverage of contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs in their employee health plan. Three years later, religious nonprofit groups challenged the requirement that they comply with the mandate and the court sent the cases back to the lower courts with instructions for the federal government and the challengers to try to work out a solution agreeable to both sides.

Hearing cites successes, undone work in protecting trafficking victims

WASHINGTON — On the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, a Jan. 15 hearing to celebrate the act cited numerous successes — including the passage of four subsequent bills to further clamp down on trafficking — but noted work yet to do to keep both children and adults safe from others who would exploit them for sex or cheap labor. Rep. Christopher Smith, R-New Jersey, co-chair of the House’s Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, said few in Congress signed on when he first sponsored the bill. “For most people at that time — including lawmakers — the term ‘trafficking’ applied almost exclusively to drugs and weapons, not human beings,” he said. The act, Smith said, included a number of “sea change” provisions, “including treating as a victim — and not a perpetrator of a crime — anyone exploited by a commercial sex act who had not attained the age of 18 and anyone older where there was an element of force, fraud or coercion.” He added, “Thousands of human traffickers have been prosecuted and jailed pursuant to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.”


Legionaries to investigate after report exposes abuse cover-up at school

VATICAN CITY — The Legionaries of Christ vowed to cooperate with an investigation after a report stated that the congregation failed to address sexual abuse and cover-ups at one of its prestigious schools in Mexico. The Associated Press reported Jan. 20 that the Legionaries failed to investigate abuses committed by Father Fernando Martinez Suarez at its elite Cumbres School in Cancun despite reforms established nearly a decade ago after it was revealed that the congregation’s founder, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, abused dozens of children. In a statement released by the religious congregation Jan. 20, the Legionaries said they would work with the Vatican as well as civil authorities. An investigation conducted by the congregation and published in late November revealed that reform supervisor Cardinal Velasio De Paolis and then-superior general German Father Sylvester Heereman were made aware of the abuse allegations against Father Martinez, but “did not consider a canonical investigation.”

Integral development for all is a moral duty, pope tells leaders at Davos

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis told global business and government leaders that everyone has the moral responsibility to seek the integral development of all people, but especially those who are in need, suffering injustice or whose lives are threatened. “The moral obligation to care for one another flows from this fact,” which must never be forgotten, that “we are all members of the one human family,” he said in a message read to those attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Likewise, this means putting the human person, “rather than the mere pursuit of power or profit, at the very center of public policy,” he wrote.

Spanish bishops launch marriage prep course that could last 2-3 years

MADRID — Catholic couples in Spain will undergo up to three years of marriage preparation under an initiative by their bishops to reverse the country’s high rates of divorce. The Spanish bishops launched Together on the Way (“Juntos en Camino”), a program to help couples to succeed in their vocation to marriage amid a divorce rate that sees about 40% of marriages collapse within five years and nearly 60% within 15 years. The new course could last between two and three years; it replaces preparation courses that lasted between five and 20 hours. Speaking at a news conference in Madrid mid-January, Bishop Mario Iceta Gavicagogeascoa of Bilbao said he did not believe previous courses were adequate. “What can we do in five hours?” asked Bishop Iceta, president of the Spanish bishops’ subcommission for family and the defense of life.

— Catholic News Service

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