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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Bishops concerned over relief bill without Hyde amendment language

WASHINGTON — If, as expected, the American Rescue Plan Act becomes law, it would pit the great need Americans have for economic relief in this pandemic against those who insist the bill must include abortion funding, said the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the chairmen of six USCCB committees. The legislation passed Congress March 10 after the House approved it 220-211, and goes to President Joe Biden for signature. He was expected to sign it. “We are grateful this legislation addresses many positive provisions ... There are provisions in this bill that will save people from extremely desperate situations and will likely save lives” the prelates said March 10 in a joint statement. “However, it is unconscionable that Congress has passed the bill without critical protections needed to ensure that billions of taxpayer dollars are used for life-affirming health care and not for abortion,” they added. The bishops were referring to Hyde Amendment language, which was not included in the version of the American Rescue Plan sent to the president, a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. The Hyde Amendment outlaws federal tax dollars from directly funding abortion except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the woman would be endangered.

Minnesota faith leaders pray for peace, justice during Floyd trial

MINNEAPOLIS — Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis prayed March 7 for peace and justice in the upcoming trial of a white former city police officer charged in the death of George Floyd, an African American. He died while in police custody last May. The archbishop gathered with over 100 other faith leaders in a downtown Minneapolis plaza. “Loving God, you are the source of all that is good in our lives,” Archbishop Hebda said in the gathering’s opening prayer. “And so, we come to you with grateful hearts, grateful for the gifts that you’ve bestowed upon those that are gathered here. Grateful for the plans that you have for our cities. Grateful for the way in which you are going to bless us beyond anything that we can imagine. We come to you today as a people who thirst for justice, but we hunger as well for peace.”

Pope taps Cdl. Tobin as member of Congregation for Bishops

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has named Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, a member of the Congregation for Bishops, the office that advises the pope on the nomination of bishops around the world. Cardinal Tobin, 68, takes the place left vacant by U.S. Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, retired archbishop of Washington, who turned 80 in November and automatically ceded his membership. The congregation is led by Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, its prefect. Nuncios, or Vatican ambassadors, around the world conduct the initial search for priests suitable for the office of bishop and forward their names to the congregation. Congregation members review the biographies of potential candidates and the comments and recommendations collected by the nuncios before making their recommendations to the pope. The congregation also advises the pope on the establishment of new dioceses or the consolidation of old ones; advises bishops’ conferences on their work; coordinates the joint activities of military ordinaries around the world; and organizes the “ad limina” visits that bishops regularly make to the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses.

Doctors seek permanent relief from mandate to do transgender surgeries

NEW ORLEANS — Attorneys for doctors and hospitals argued in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit March 3 that they shouldn’t be forced to perform gender-transition surgeries required under the Affordable Care Act, stressing this is an issue of conscience. The case focuses on a 2016 regulation issued by the Department of Health and Human Services requiring doctors to perform these procedures in children and adults or be held liable for discrimination. After the rule was first issued, Becket, a religious liberty law firm, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Texas, saying the rule violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Franciscan Alliance, a religious hospital network serving Indiana and Illinois that now goes by the name Franciscan Health, and the Christian Medical and Dental Associations. Texas, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska and Wisconsin joined in the suit. Two federal courts in 2016 placed an injunction on the mandate. Two other federal district court judges also ruled against the mandate in 2019 and 2020.

First-person accounts illustrate CARA report on what inspires vocations

WASHINGTON — A new report on vocations to men’s and women’s religious orders from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate is filled with facts that can help everyone from pastors to formation directors foster more vocations. But the report’s inclusion of first-person vignettes of factors that helped and hindered their own vocation makes for compelling reading. “The more recent cohort of women and men religious in the United States is more culturally and ethnically diverse than their older cohorts. While this diversity enriches religious life, it also challenges the leadership and the membership of religious communities to better welcome and adjust to the cultural changes in many aspects of their religious life together,” said the report, “Cultural Diversity in Vocations to Religious Life in the United States: A National Study of New Religious Members,” issued in February. “White respondents make up two-thirds of those who have entered religious life since 2005, with the other third reporting ethnic backgrounds of Asian (12%), Hispanic (11%), Black (4%), and all ‘other’ ethnicities (5%),” the report said.

WORLD

St. Andrew Kim radio drama a big hit among South Korean Catholics

SEOUL, South Korea — A radio drama on St. Andrew Kim Taegon, the patron saint of South Korea, has become widely popular among Catholics in the country. The drama based on the life, works and thoughts of St. Andrew Kim, Korea’s first native-born Catholic priest, is a tribute marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of the saint from the Diocese of Daejeon, ucanews.com reported. The South Korean Church in November officially kicked off nationwide bicentennial celebrations of the birth of one of the nation’s most revered Christian martyrs. Daejeon’s Catholic Peace Broadcasting Center, led by Father Paul Baek Hyun, scripted the drama that went on air Feb. 22 and will run through April 3. The 30-espisode show is broadcast twice daily except Sunday. The topics of the drama touch on traditional issues, such as the formation of adults and contemporary discussions such as connecting with artificial intelligence and dialogue between the past and the present ranging over two centuries.

— Catholic News Service

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