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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Supreme Court hears arguments in Affordable Care Act case.

WASHINGTON — On Nov. 10, when the fate of the Affordable Care Act faced the Supreme Court for the third time since it was signed into law 10 years ago, the justices seemed willing to leave the bulk of the law intact even if they found one part of it to be unconstitutional. The possible way forward during the two-hour oral arguments by teleconference was set by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The two justices repeatedly stressed that they didn’t see how it was necessary to strike down the entire health care law even if its individual mandate, requiring each person to buy health insurance, was invalidated. Roberts stressed that the move by Congress three years ago to drop the penalty for not buying health insurance did not indicate its intent to do away with the entire health care legislation.

WORLD

Ethiopian bishops urge end to fighting in Tigray region

NAIROBI, Kenya — Catholic bishops in Ethiopia urged the government and armed soldiers in the semi-autonomous region of Tigray in the country’s north to immediately end fighting and begin peace negotiations as concerns grew over the conflict’s potential to descend into civil war. The bishops spoke as a military offensive against the region ordered by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed entered its sixth day Nov. 9. Abiy’s order followed an attack on an Ethiopian army base in the Tigrayan capital, Mekelle. According to reports, armies from the two sides were fighting and producing casualties, including at least six deaths, but news from the region was limited Nov. 9. “We, the Catholic Bishops of Ethiopia urge both parties to immediately stop the armed conflict and start peaceful dialogue for the benefit of the people and resolve their differences in the spirit of understanding, mutual respect and trust,” Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel of Addis Ababa, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Ethiopia, said in a statement.

Cardinal Tumi, 90, released after being kidnapped with 12 others

VATICAN CITY — After armed men abducted Cardinal Christian Tumi along with a dozen other people in the northwest region of Cameroon Nov. 5, local reports said he was released Nov. 6. It was still unclear as of midday Nov. 6 who else in the convoy had been freed or was still being held. After the cardinal’s capture, Bishop George Nkuoof Kumbo told Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, “We have faith that the cardinal and the others will be released safe and sound. We are looking for all possible ways to ensure their release.” Cardinal Tumi, the 90-year-old retired archbishop of Douala, was abducted in the late afternoon on the road to Kumbo along with King Fon of the Nso people, who are native to the northwest region. The king was reportedly heading back to his traditional palace after years of self-imposed exile because of fighting in the area. Archbishop Samuel Kleda of Douala told Vatican News Nov. 6 that the cardinal phoned while he was being held and said he had been interrogated, but not hurt, by his kidnappers. According to Fides, Cardinal Tumi has been actively engaged in trying to resolve a crisis that has engulfed Cameroon’s Anglophone regions in the northwest and southwest, which had once been British-ruled territory.

Pope meets with missionary priest freed after two-year captivity

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis met with Father Pierluigi Maccalli, a member of the Society of African Missions, who was freed more than two years after he was kidnapped in Niger. “It was a very, very beautiful meeting. I was very emotional, especially when telling the pope what I had lived through,” Father Maccalli told Vatican News Nov. 9, a month after his release. Father Maccalli also said he thanked the pope for his prayers “and he answered, ‘We supported you, but you supported the Church.’ I was speechless in front of those words; I, a little missionary, and he told me that. I truly have no words,” he told Vatican News. Father Maccalli was serving in a parish in Bomoanga, Niger, when militant extremists from Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin, a branch of al-Qaida in Mali, kidnapped him in September 2018.

Pope expedites transfer of management of Secretariat of State assets

VATICAN CITY — After the Vatican Secretariat of State missed a Nov. 1 deadline to hand over the management and monitoring of its own assets to two separate Vatican bodies, Pope Francis set up a commission to make the transfer and external oversight happen. The pope established the commission, whose mandate went into effect “immediately,” during a Nov. 4 meeting with top Vatican officials to “bring to completion in the next three months, the provisions set forth in the letter to the secretary of state,” said Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni in a statement released Nov. 5. The Vatican also released a copy of Pope Francis’ letter to Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State. Dated Aug. 25, the letter said that by Nov. 1, all assets held by the Secretariat of State must be managed by the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, which handles the Vatican’s investment portfolio and real estate holdings. It also said the control or supervision of those assets would be handled by the Secretariat for the Economy. Pope Francis also said the Vatican should disinvest “as soon as possible” from a controversial property development deal in London and from the Centurion Global Fund based in Malta, which has seen significant losses while incurring exorbitant management fees.

Pope blesses statue of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis blessed a statue of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal as it was to begin a pilgrimage throughout Italy to mark the 190th anniversary of Mary’s apparitions to St. Catherine Laboure. It was during the second apparition, in November 1830, that St. Catherine said Mary told her to make medals of the image she was seeing — Mary, standing on a globe, with the words “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you” written as an oval frame around her. Mary promised the French saint that everyone who wore one of the miraculous medals “will receive great graces.”

— Catholic News Service

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