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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Nebraska governor signs bill that bans dismemberment abortions

LINCOLN, Neb. — Saying Nebraska is “a pro-life state,” Gov. Pete Ricketts Aug. 15 signed into law a ban on dismemberment abortions, which he said stops a “horrific procedure” and is “an important step to strengthen our culture of life.” The new law, passed by the state Legislature Aug. 13, bans a second-trimester abortion procedure that removes the fetus in pieces. With the ban in place, if this type of abortion is preformed, it will be a felony that comes with a punishment of up to two years in prison and/or a fine of $10,000. “This brutal procedure has no place in a humane, civilized society,” Ricketts said during the signing ceremony on the steps of the Nebraska Capitol. Several pro-life leaders joined him for the signing, including the main sponsor of the measure, state Sen. Suzanne Geist. When she first introduced the bill, Geist called it “a brutal and unthinkable abortion method “that has no place in modern medicine and is a horrible practice in our society.”

Cincinnati archbishop calls cathedral becoming minor basilica ‘great blessing’

CINCINNATI — Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr of Cincinnati called it “a great blessing and honor” for all living and worshipping in the archdiocese to have Pope Francis elevate the city’s Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains to the status of a minor basilica. It is the first such designation for any church in the Cincinnati Archdiocese. Archbishop Schnurr announced the designation Aug. 15, the feast of the Assumption of Mary, at the beginning of Mass he celebrated. It is the 89th basilica in the United States. The title of minor basilica is given to churches around the world in recognition of their historical or cultural importance, artistic beauty and significance in the life of the Catholic Church. The title denotes a closer relationship to the pope. Such a church also must be a center of active and pastoral liturgy with a vibrant Catholic community.

Fifth lawsuit accuses retired Bishop Hubbard of Albany of alleged abuse

ALBANY, N.Y. — A fifth lawsuit has accused retired Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany of alleged sexual abuse. The lawsuit — filed the week of Aug. 10 in the state Supreme Court in Albany on behalf of a 55-year-old man currently living in South Carolina — alleges that Bishop Hubbard sexually abused the man when he was 10 on a church bus trip from the then-St. James Parish to West Point in 1975. The lawsuit also alleges abuse by Bishop Hubbard from 1974-76 when the boy was an altar boy at St. James. The bishop has vehemently proclaimed his innocence in the past, saying last year “he never sexually abused anyone.” Now 81, he retired in 2014, remaining active in ministry, but he took a leave of absence from his ministry after he was first accused of abuse in August 2019. “We cannot comment on individual cases that are in litigation,” said Mary DeTurris Poust, Albany’s diocesan director of communications, said in an Aug. 14 statement in response to the new lawsuit.

Foundation prize is ‘validation’ of all Homeboy Industries does, says priest

LOS ANGELES — For Homeboy Industries to receive the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation’s 2020 Humanitarian Prize is “validation of our work of 32 years,” said Jesuit Father Gregory Boyle, who founded the nonprofit organization with the goal of improving the lives of former gang members in East Los Angeles. The prize, which is $2.5 million in unrestricted funds, also “strengthens our resolve to create a community of kinship and healing in Los Angeles,” the priest said in a statement. “All of us at Homeboy Industries are profoundly humbled by the Hilton Foundation’s recognition.” Father Boyle was pastor of Dolores Mission Church when he started Homeboy Industries in 1988. Dolores Mission was the most impoverished Catholic parish in Los Angeles, along with Aliso Village and Pico Gardens, the two largest public housing projects west of the Mississippi. They also had the highest concentration of gang activity in the country. At that time, law enforcement agencies and the criminal justice system followed policies of arrest and mass incarceration as the main ways they dealt with gang violence.

WORLD

Taize’s New Year pilgrimage, exhibition of Shroud of Turin postponed

ROME — Tens of thousands of young Christians from across Europe were expected to see in the New Year with chants and silent prayer, including before the Shroud of Turin. But the Dec. 28-Jan. 1 Taize pilgrimage to Turin has been postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Marco Bonatti, who runs the official shroud website for the Archdiocese of Turin, confirmed Aug. 13 that with the postponement of the Taize pilgrimage, the extraordinary display of the shroud also was postponed. Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin, other Christian leaders in the city and the France-based Taize ecumencial community announced Aug. 12 that the pilgrimage would be postponed to December 2021. It will be the first time since the New Year pilgrimage began in 1978 that the event was not held.

Church social worker who had received threats shot dead in Philippines

MANILA, Philippines — A human rights activist and Church social worker was shot dead in the Philippines Aug. 17 in what colleagues say was most probably an extrajudicial killing carried out by state agents. Ucanews.com reported that Zara Alvarez, a volunteer for the Church-Workers Solidarity group in San Carlos Diocese, was gunned down in Bacolod City. She had been receiving death threats for more than a year. Her death came a week after the murder of well-known labor and agrarian reform activist Randall “Randy” Echanis, who was shot dead in his Manila home Aug. 10. Alvarez was affiliated with leftist groups Anakpawis — of which Echanis was chairman — and rights group Karapatan, which he co-founded. She once served as Karapatan’s education director and a paralegal staff member.

Focus on Christ to discover joy in serving others, pope tells religious

VATICAN CITY — Men and women religious need to live out their mission serving people by having their gaze fixed on God, not on worldly things, Pope Francis said. Keeping Jesus as one’s “first and only love” helps consecrated men and women be able, “as is our duty, to truly and mercifully love everyone we meet on our journey because we will have learned from him what love is and how to love,” the pope said in a written letter. The letter was sent to men and women religious in Brazil who were celebrating the Week of Consecrated Life Aug. 16-22. Vatican News published excerpts from the letter Aug. 17. In order to give oneself to others and serve them with joy, the pope wrote, it is necessary to “keep one’s gaze fixed on Jesus,” otherwise one risks seeing things with “worldly” eyes. The best antidote, he wrote, is to make prayer a priority because “whoever keeps their gaze fixed on Jesus learns to live for serving” others.

— Catholic News Service

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