Bishops back bill to protect faith-based foster care, adoption providers
WASHINGTON — Legislation introduced in the Senate and the House aims to protect “the cherished freedom of religious liberty” of faith-based foster care and adoption providers who believe children “deserve to be placed with a married mother and father,” the chairmen of three U.S. bishops’ committees said March 15. The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2021 would prevent the federal government and any state receiving federal funds for child welfare services from taking “adverse action against a provider that declines to conduct its services in a manner that would violate its religious or moral principles.” The act would cover all agencies that receive funding under Part B or Part E of Title IV of the Social Security Act. Part B covers child and family services, and Part E covers federal payments for foster care, prevention and permanency. “Child welfare providers, who serve the needs and rights of children regardless of background, enjoy the cherished freedom of religious liberty like all Americans,” the bishops wrote in a letter of support.
Pope says he, too, kneels on Myanmar streets, begging for end to violence
VATICAN CITY — As security forces in Myanmar have increased their crackdown on civilians, with disappearances, detentions and the killing of peaceful protesters, Pope Francis appealed for an end to violence and the start of dialogue. “Once again, and with much sorrow, I feel compelled to mention the tragic situation in Myanmar, where so many people, especially young people, are losing their lives for offering hope to their country,” the pope said at the end of his weekly general audience March 17. Without mentioning her name, the pope recalled the iconic gestures of Sister Ann Nu Thawng, who made headlines when photographs were published of her kneeling before police seeking to shield peaceful protesters and of her extending her arms begging police not to shoot or hurt anyone. “I, too, kneel on the streets of Myanmar and say, ‘Stop the violence,’” Pope Francis said. “I, too, spread wide my arms and say, ‘Make way for dialogue.’” Bloodshed “resolves nothing,” he said, repeating his call for dialogue to begin.
Pope: Post-pandemic world must learn from mistakes
VATICAN CITY — The uncertainty and death brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic can be an opportunity for humanity to reflect on how to build a better world, Pope Francis wrote in a new book. “The world will never be the same again. But it is precisely within this calamity that we must grasp those signs that can prove to be the cornerstones of reconstruction,” the pope said. The book, titled “Dio e il Mondo che Verra” (“God and the World to Come”), was written with Italian journalist Domenico Agasso and was to be published by the Vatican publishing house March 16. An excerpt was published March 14 on Vatican News. The pope denounced the manufacturing and trafficking of weapons where large sums of money are spent “that should be used to cure people and save lives. It is no longer possible to pretend that a dramatically vicious cycle of armed violence, poverty and senseless and indifferent exploitation of the environment has not crept in,” he said. “It is a cycle that prevents reconciliation, fuels human rights violations and hinders sustainable development.”
At Vatican trial, ex-student says he was abused at minor seminary
VATICAN CITY — A former student of the minor seminary located at the Vatican said he was sexually abused over a six-year period despite having told the rector that an older student was “bothering” him. The former student, identified as L.G., took the stand March 17 at a trial in the Vatican City State criminal court. He testified against Father Gabriele Martinelli, also a former student at the St. Pius X Pre-Seminary, who is accused of sexually abusing L.G. between 2007 and 2012. Although both were under the age of 18 when the abuse apparently began, the court accused the priest of continuing to abuse the younger student when Martinelli, not yet a priest, was already 20