Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Global biotech company ends use of aborted fetal cell lines for vaccines

WASHINGTON — Catholic pro-life leaders say they are seeing some progress in the development of vaccines with the use of ethical animal cell lines instead of cell lines derived from abortions. A case in point is the decision by Sanofi Pasteur to no longer use an aborted fetal cell line in producing its polio vaccines, a move recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Sanofi Pasteur, the largest biotech company in the world devoted entirely to vaccines, requested the agency’s approval for switching from using an aborted fetal cell line called MRC-5 to using an ethical animal cell line to produce its polio combination vaccines Pentacel and Quadracel. The vaccines division of the French multinational pharmaceutical company Sanofi is one of the companies currently developing a COVID-19 vaccine by utilizing “cell lines not connected to unethical procedures and methods.” Inovio and the John Paul II Medical Research Institute are other such companies. Sanofi Pasteur also recently ended production of its stand-alone polio vaccine, Poliovax, which also had been manufactured using MRC-5, according to the president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, based in Philadelphia. The corporation will retain another stand-alone polio vaccine, IPOL, that is ethically produced.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is remembered as ‘jurist of historic stature’

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18 at age 87, has been described in countless tributes as a cultural icon and a giant despite her small size. Ginsburg was surrounded by her family at her home in Washington when she died from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. The second woman appointed to the court, who served there for more than 27 years, is primarily remembered for her pioneering work for gender equality and for writing pointed dissents and asking tough questions. In anti-death penalty and pro-immigrant opinions, she sided with Catholic Church leaders, but she differed with them in her support for legalized abortion, same-sex marriage and the mandate that contraception be covered in all health insurance plans.

Pope accepts resignation of Bishop Bevard of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Herbert A. Bevard of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands and named Washington Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory as apostolic administrator. St. Thomas is a suffragan diocese of the Archdiocese of Washington. The Virgin Islands Consortium, an online news site, reported Sept. 18 that Bishop Bevard, 74, had been hospitalized after falling ill “several weeks ago,” was later airlifted and was recovering in North Carolina after receiving medical care at mainland hospitals. His resignation was announced in Washington Sept. 18 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, papal nuncio to the United States.

House passage of Pregnant Workers Fairness Act called ‘huge win for women’

WASHINGTON — The National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd said House passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Sept. 17 is a “huge win for women.” The measure, H.R. 2694, prohibits employment practices that discriminate against making reasonable accommodations for job applicants or employees affected “by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.” This applies to private sector employers with over 15 employees as well as public sector employers. Under the bill, pregnant workers cannot be denied employment opportunities, retaliated against for requesting a reasonable accommodation, or forced take paid or unpaid leave if another reasonable accommodation is available. It also says that workers denied a reasonable accommodation under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act “will have the same rights and remedies as those established under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These include lost pay, compensatory damages and reasonable attorneys’ fees.”

WORLD

Abraham Accords called ‘truly historic milestone’ in Middle East peace

WASHINGTON — A Catholic congressman who is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee called the Middle East peace accord signed Sept. 15 at the White House a “momentous pact” he hopes “is the beginning of several future peace accords to strengthen peace within the region. The United States has again brought strength to Israel — one of our strongest allies in the region — and strength brings peace,’” U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, wrotein a statement. President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump and Vice President Mike Pence welcomed Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed and Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani to the White House, where the leaders signed the document, which is being called the Abraham Accords. “It is important to note, after decades of conflict, this is the first such agreement between Israel and any major Arab country since 1994,” said Smith.

Intended as inclusive, encyclical title will be in Italian, official says

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’ encyclical on fraternity and social friendship will be released with an Italian title that will not be translated into different languages, reported Vatican News. Much the same way the pope’s first encyclical, “Laudato Si’,” was released, not with a formal Latin title, but rather with an Italian phrase used by St. Francis of Assisi, the title of the pope’s third encyclical will be published as “Fratelli Tutti,” which is another phrase used by the medieval saint. The Vatican has announced the encyclical will be published Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. In Italian, “fratelli” means “brothers” or “brothers and sisters” since, like with many Romance languages, the masculine form of nouns is traditionally used when referring to males and females collectively. “Tutti” means “all,” so the phrase could be translated as “Brothers and Sisters All,” even though it is being taken from St. Francis of Assisi’s “sixth admonition” to the friars, all of whom were men.

Pope: Coronavirus vaccine must be for all, not just rich

VATICAN CITY — As countries around the world scramble to find a vaccine for COVID-19, Pope Francis again called for an ethical distribution of the vaccine to everyone, especially those who are struggling financially. Addressing members of the Italian Pharmaceutical Bank, a charitable organization that provides medicine to the poor, the pope said that the economic crisis generated by the pandemic has shed a light on poverty in the world, including “pharmaceutical poverty. I repeat that it would be sad if, in providing the vaccine, priority was given to the wealthiest, or if this vaccine became the property of this or that country, and was no longer for everyone. It must be universal, for all,” he said Sept. 19.

— Catholic News Service

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