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Nation and world briefs


Abp. Naumann calls HHS proposed rule on Title X ‘terrible policy’

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has published a proposed rule to rescind the Trump administration’s enforcement of a Title X provision that “draws a bright line between abortion and family planning,” as the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee chairman has described it. Title X, enacted by the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act of 1970, covers reproductive health care services for low-income patients such as wellness exams, cervical and breast cancer screenings, contraceptives, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. Section 1008 of the law states that “none of the funds appropriated under this title shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.” In February 2019, the Trump administration implemented the “Protect Life Rule” enforcing Title X’s ban on taxpayer funds from being used to promote or provide abortion as family planning. The Biden administration’s proposed rule to rescind this “is terrible policy,” said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, pro-life committee chairman.

Archbishop prays for victims, a stop to ‘senseless violence’

INDIANAPOLIS — Expressing sorrow for the loss of life in yet another mass shooting in the U.S., this time at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson prayed for the victims and their families. He also prayed that “these senseless acts of violence will stop. Once again our nation is mourning the loss of lives in a mass shooting and this time it is eight of our own neighbors who were killed at the Indianapolis FedEx Ground center,” Archbishop Thompson said. “We pray for the victims and loved ones of those who were murdered as well as those who were injured.” Eight people were killed and several others were wounded by a gunman who then killed himself.

FDA criticized for lifting in-person requirement to use abortion drug

WASHINGTON — The decision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s acting commissioner to suspend enforcement of the agency’s in-person prescribing requirement for the abortion drug endangers women’s health and possibly their lives, pro-life leaders said. On April 12, Dr. Janet Woodcock said the FDA will “exercise enforcement discretion” regarding its own requirement for mifepristone as long as President Joe Biden’s declaration of a public health emergency for COVID-19 remains in place. The brand name for mifepristone is Mifeprex. Also called RU-486, it is used to end pregnancies during the first 10 weeks. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said April 16 it was difficult to see the FDA’s decision “as anything other than callous capitulation to the requests of abortion activists without regard for the health and safety of the women involved.”

USCCB migration chairman urges raising cap on refugee admissions

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ migration committee said April 19 he is disappointed that President Joe Biden announced he will not increase the 15,000 cap on the number of refugees who can be resettled in the United States for the current fiscal year. The historically low cap was put in place by the Trump administration last Sept. 30 for fiscal year 2021, which for the federal government began Oct. 1. “The number of refugees who will be welcomed this year is far short of what we can do as a country, and is not an adequate response to the immense resettlement need,” said Washington Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration.


Forced Islamization in Congo provinces worries Catholic bishops

NAIROBI, Kenya — When an attack occurs in eastern Congo, the main causes are believed to be the illegal exploitation of mineral resources, competition for land and politics. But forced Islamization — linked to extremists with ties to the Islamic State group — is emerging as a new twist in violence in the mineral-rich provinces, said the country’s Catholic bishops. The extremist group is Allied Democratic Forces and is originally from western Uganda. It is among hundreds of militias groups behind the deadly cycle of violence in Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu provinces. Insecurity in eastern Congo “has many actors and so many goals. Islamization is one of them. Economic interest is another. Islamization through ADF actions … is a major issue of concern for the Catholic Church,” Archbishop Marcel Utembi Tapa, president of Congolese bishops’ conference, told Catholic News Service. “ADF’s strategy is to kidnap and force victims to join the Islamic faith.”

Pope prays newly beatified martyrs inspire greater fidelity to God

VATICAN CITY — The Catholic Church’s newest blesseds are six “meek disciples of Christ,” who showed heroic courage defending the Eucharist from profanation when French troops sacked their Italian monastery in 1799 and scattered the Blessed Sacrament on the floor while searching for any valuables they could carry away, Pope Francis said. “May their example spur us to a greater commitment to fidelity to God, one capable also of transforming society and making it more just and fraternal,” the pope said April 18, the day after the Cistercian monks of Casamari Abbey were beatified. Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, who was named prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes in October, presided over the Mass and beatification at the abbey, about 60 miles southeast of Rome. The French troops shot Father Siméon Cardon, who was the prior, and five other Cistericans who scrambled to recover consecrated hosts after the invaders broke open the tabernacle and scattered them on the floor.

Police fire tear gas into Haitian bishops’ Mass for freedom

MIAMI — A “Mass for the freedom of Haiti,” led by Haitian bishops, turned violent at the end when police fired tear gas into the church. The Miami Herald reported the April 15 Mass in Pétion-Ville, a suburb of Port-au-Prince, included the nation’s 11 bishops and a packed crowd that overflowed into the streets. The Mass was part of a national strike in response to recent kidnappings of clergy and religious in Haiti and growing anarchy in the Caribbean nation. The church and other entities had called for the strike. The Miami Herald said some members of the congregation made it out of the church, but some passed out in the pews. “The violence has reached a high point — we see that this is the deepest point ever reached in this country and we cannot go deeper,” Fiammetta Cappellini, Haiti-based country representative for the Milan-based AVSI, told Catholic News Service by phone April 14.

Head of Ukrainian Catholic Church grateful for papal support amid tension

VATICAN CITY — The head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church thanked Pope Francis for publicly voicing concern about the ongoing war in Eastern Ukraine and the increased presence of Russian troops on border. In an interview with Vatican News April 20, Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halych, major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, said he wanted to express “profound gratitude for the Holy Father for his prayer and for his support to the suffering people of Ukraine. We are truly grateful to the Holy Father above all for his empathy and his prayer for Ukraine, for our people who are in such sorrow because once again, we are living in a moment of great fear,” he said. After praying the “Regina Coeli” prayer April 18, the pope expressed his “deep concern” about violations of the cease-fire and about increased military activity in the region.

Sponsor a gargoyle: New fundraiser launched for Notre Dame in Paris

PARIS — A novel fundraising approach to restore one of the most iconic monuments in the world, the Cathedral of Notre Dame, enables donors to have a piece of history. On April 15, Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris unveiled an interactive website — restorenotredame.org — that allows people to donate by adopting or sponsoring pieces of precious art and artifacts that were damaged in a 2019 fire. Donors can engage with the objects of their choosing and select which they’d like to invest in restoring, whether it is a painting or statue. Funds can also go toward the cathedral’s restoration as a whole if the person prefers. On April 15, 2019, a fire broke out in the attic and completely consumed the timber roof and spire. The burning debris and melted lead from the roof fell on top of a stone vault below. Most sections of the cathedral remained intact due to the rib vaulting, and most of the precious art and religious relics were saved.

— Catholic News Service

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