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Nation and world briefs


ICE rule for international students rescinded

WASHINGTON —The Trump administration July 14 rescinded a rule it announced eight days ago that would have required international students to transfer or leave the country if their schools held classes entirely online because of the pandemic. According to The Associated Press, the decision was announced at the beginning of a Boston hearing in a federal lawsuit against the rule by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs said federal immigration authorities had agreed to rescind the directive and “return to the status quo.” U.S. Catholic college and university leaders had joined the nation’s higher education community in condemning the policy that would have prevented international students from remaining in or coming to the United States if their colleges use a completely online format in the fall semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The temporary final rule — guidance for the Student and Exchange Visitor Program — was issued without notice July 6 by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Supreme Court allows blocked federal execution to proceed

WASHINGTON — In a 2 a.m. decision July 14 after numerous last-minute filings, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to overturn a trial court order blocking the execution of federal death-row inmate Daniel Lewis Lee. The court’s unsigned order enabled federal executions to go forward. Lee, 47, convicted of being an accomplice in killing three family members in 1996, was executed July 14 and pronounced dead at 8:07 a.m. at the Federal Correctional Institution in Terre Haute, Indiana. Federal executions, on hold for the past 17 years, have been challenged by death-row inmates since the Justice Department announced last year these executions would resume with the use of one drug in the lethal injection. A challenge of this method continued right up until the last minute, and past it, for Lee, whose scheduled July 13 execution was blocked by a federal judge’s order. The Supreme Court’s unsigned majority opinion said the plaintiffs, Lee and three others in federal prison appealing the manner of their death sentence, had “not established that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their Eighth Amendment claim” in their dispute about the specific drug protocol to be used in the executions.

With new claims against composer, archdiocese restricts local concerts

ST. PAUL, Minn.— Catholic hymn composer David Haas is not permitted to give presentations, workshops or concerts at events hosted by Catholic entities in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and his music will no longer be used at archdiocesan events, the archdiocese announced July 8. Tim O’Malley, archdiocesan director of ministerial standards, stated the archdiocese has received new, independent reports from women in different parts of the United States alleging that Haas “engaged in inappropriate conduct” with them when they were young adults in the 1980s. The reports are “similar in nature to the conduct described in previous allegations,” O’Malley said. Haas has denied any wrongdoing. The archdiocese reported in June that it had denied Haas a letter of suitability, which states that an individual is in good standing in his or her home diocese and includes a statement affirming that no allegations of sexual abuse or impropriety have been made against him or her. In 2018, the archdiocese received two reports that Haas had “acted inappropriately” with adult women in other states.


Pope, U.S. bishops ‘saddened’ by Turkish court ruling on Hagia Sophia

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis said he was saddened after a Turkish court ruled to revert the iconic Hagia Sophia museum into a mosque. U.S. bishops echoed his statement and urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “to reverse this unnecessary and painful decision and restore Hagia Sophia as a place of prayer and reflection for all peoples.” On July 12, Pope Francis told pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square, “I think of Hagia Sophia, and I am very saddened.” Erdogan issued a decree to hand over control of Hagia Sophia to the country’s Directorate of Religious Affairs after Turkey’s highest court revoked its status as a museum July 10.

Robbers invade convent in Uganda, beat nuns while taking valuables, cash

KAMPALA, Uganda — Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni instructed security officials to carry out a thorough investigation to track down robbers who attacked a convent 75 miles west of the capital. The attackers raped and beat some of the 50 Bannabikira Sisters, known as the Daughters of Mary, in their convent in Bwanda early July 10. In response to the presidential directive, police established a post near the convent to prevent future attacks. The sisters operate schools, a dairy farm, a candle-making factory, bakery and fishponds. Sister Bernadette Namabalilwa, acting superior of the congregation, described how the assailants ”kept on beating the nuns asking for money.” The attackers fled with cash, phones and laptop computers, she said.

— Catholic News Service

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