Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Catholic leaders criticize Biden administration appeal on transgender health care rules

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration has filed an appeal April 20 of a Jan. 19 federal court’s ruling to block an Affordable Care Act provision barring discrimination by health insurers and providers against transgender people. The regulation was issued in 2016 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services requiring doctors to perform these procedures in children and adults or be held liable for discrimination. Catholic and other opponents of the provision, Section 1557, call it a “transgender mandate” and say it forces doctors and hospitals to perform gender-transition procedures against their moral conscience and professional medical judgment. “This is bad for patients, doctors and religious liberty,” said Luke Goodrich, senior counsel at Becket, a law firm in Washington that focuses on religious liberty cases.

Research with fetal tissue from abortion called ‘deeply offensive’

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee April 20 called on the Biden administration to fund research “that does not rely upon body parts taken from innocent children killed through abortion. The bodies of children killed by abortion deserve the same respect as that of any other person,” said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities. “Our government has no right to treat innocent abortion victims as a commodity that can be scavenged for body parts to be used in research,” he said. His remarks were a reaction to a notice the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, posted April 16 in the grants area of its website announcing the end of a Trump administration ban on research involving human fetal tissue acquired from elective abortions. In addition, NIH and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will no longer convene the Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board. Archbishop Naumann said in his statement, “It is also deeply offensive to millions of Americans for our tax dollars to be used for research that collaborates with an industry built on the taking of innocent lives.”

Wisconsin opens investigation of sexual abuse in the state’s dioceses

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Department of Justice is opening a statewide investigation of abuse by clergy and faith leaders within the state’s five dioceses. “We’re conducting this review to promote greater accountability and to promote healing for victims” as well as improving the response to abuse and preventing future abuse cases, said Attorney General Josh Kaul during an April 27 news conference outside the Wisconsin State Capitol. Leaders of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and the dioceses of Green Bay, La Crosse and Madison, acknowledged in statements released as Kaul was meeting with reporters that they joined the attorney general during a teleconference April 26 to discuss the planned investigation. The Superior Diocese did not respond to requests for comment. Each diocese also said the review will look at historical cases rather than reports of new allegations of sexual abuse.

WORLD

Pope calls for global prayer marathon for end of pandemic

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has called for a global prayer marathon for the entire month of May, praying for the end to the pandemic. “The initiative will involve in a special way all shrines in the world” in promoting the initiative so that individuals, families and communities all take part in reciting the rosary, “to pray for the end of the pandemic,” said the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization in a press release April 21. “It is the heartfelt desire of the Holy Father that the month of May be dedicated to a prayer marathon dedicated to the theme, ‘from the entire Church an unceasing prayer rises to God,’” it said. The theme refers to the miraculous event recounted in the Acts of the Apostles (12:1-12) when all the Church prayed for Peter, who was imprisoned until God sent an angel to free him, illustrating how the community comes together to pray in the face of danger and how the Lord listens and performs a miracle.

Pope proclaims sainthood of venerated Dominican laywoman

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis issued a decree declaring the sainthood of Blessed Margaret of Città di Castello, a much-loved Italian Dominican laywoman. The decree is what the Vatican terms an “equipollent” or equivalent canonization; when there is evidence of strong devotion among the faithful to a holy man or woman, the pope can waive a lengthy formal canonical investigation and can authorize the person’s veneration as a saint. The Vatican announcement April 24 said the pope declared her a saint after the cardinals and bishops who are members of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes recommended doing so. Born to noble parents around 1287, St. Margaret was blind and had a severe spinal curvature. Her parents, determined to keep her out of public view, kept her in seclusion in a walled room of a parish. Taking her to a shrine known for miraculous cures in the Umbrian town of Città di Castello, St. Margaret’s parents abandoned her there when she was not healed. Helped by the townspeople, she was given shelter in various homes and eventually welcomed by Dominican nuns. Despite the hardship and rejection she endured, St. Margaret was known for her joyful disposition and was later accepted as a lay Dominican. Since her death in 1320, hundreds of miracles have been attributed to her intercession.

Catholic leaders urge India to deploy military to help with pandemic

NEW DELHI — As COVID-19 continues to claim thousands of lives daily in India, some Catholic leaders have called on the federal government to deploy the military to deal with the crisis before it worsens. “The second wave of COVID-19 is surely a national calamity, and the entire nation is struggling as thousands are dying and hundreds of thousands are getting infected daily,” said Auxiliary Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas of Ranchi, former secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India. “The federal government should consider deploying military personnel to assist the civil administration to effectively deal with this alarming situation of people living in fear,” he told ucanews.com April 27. “Whenever the country faced national calamities such as a flood, drought, earthquake, cyclone or any such crisis, the Indian military played a crucial role to restore normalcy,” said Bishop Mascarenhas. “It is high time that the government deployed the army and other wings of the defense forces with their huge resources and trained manpower to tide over this calamity that has already crippled the economy and taken a huge toll on its population.”

Priests arrested after bishop-designate shot in South Sudan

VATICAN CITY — Gunmen broke into the home of the bishop-designate of Rumbek, South Sudan, shot him in both legs and fled, according to church news reports. Three local priests have been arrested. In stable condition after emergency surgery at a local hospital, Italian-born Bishop-designate Christian Carlassare, 43, was to be transferred to a hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, for a transfusion and further medical care, according to Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. “Do not pray for me but for the people of Rumbek who are suffering more than me,” said the bishop-designate, who is a Comboni missionary, in a statement reported by the Comboni mission website, Nigrizia.it. The attack occurred shortly after midnight April 26 when two gunmen entered his residence, shot at the door of his room, then fired at least three bullets into his legs, according to Fides. He had arrived in Rumbek April 16 after serving as vicar general of the Diocese of Malakal since 2020. Father James Oyet Latansio, general secretary of the South Sudan Council of Churches, told Catholic News Service April 27 that three priests had been arrested in connection with the incident. They are suspected to have been part of the network and conspiracy that led to the attack.

— Catholic News Service


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