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Nation and world briefs


Texas’ 6-week abortion ban becomes law

WASHINGTON — A Texas bill banning abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy became law Sept. 1 when the U.S. Supreme Court did not act on an emergency request to put the law on hold. The law, signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in May, became effective at midnight central time Sept. 1. It is one of the strictest abortion measures in the country, banning abortions in the state after a fetal heartbeat is detectable. The law has an exception for medical emergencies but not for rape or incest. Court watchers on both sides of the issue kept vigil at the Supreme Court into the night waiting for an order that never came. Abortion providers in the state had argued that the law would prevent about 85% of abortions in the state and will likely cause many clinics to close. The Supreme Court could still act on the providers’ emergency request; it just did not respond before the law went into effect. A unique part of the Texas law is that private citizens can enforce it by suing abortion providers and anyone involved in facilitating abortions. Currently, at least 12 other states have legislation banning abortions early in pregnancy, but these bans have been blocked by courts.

Cardinal Gregory urges ongoing prayers and support for Haiti

WASHINGTON — Washington Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory celebrated an Aug. 27 Mass urging prayers and support for the people of Haiti in the wake of an earthquake and tropical storm that recently devastated that island nation. The Mass was held at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Washington, one of three churches in the Washington Archdiocese that hosts Masses for the local Haitian Catholic community. “The deep faith of the Haitian people has been tested repeatedly over these past several weeks,” the cardinal said. He also pointed out that “painful and frequent struggles, unfortunately, are no strangers to the people of Haiti,” but that “as in the past, your faith has been the very anchor of your survival.” The cantors, choir and congregation said prayers and sang hymns in Creole and French.

Catholic women’s group praised for witness of faith in challenging times

ARLINGTON, Va. — At a national gathering marking the 100th anniversary of the National Council of Catholic Women, Washington Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory thanked the women for their years of dedication to the Catholic Church. In his homily at the Aug. 26 Mass during the group’s national conference, Cardinal Gregory pointed out that just as St. Timothy was led in his faith by Lois and Eunice, his grandmother and mother, so many in the Church today “are lucky we have you.” The conference, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia, drew hundreds of women representing affiliates around the nation. Linking the women’s activities to a passage of St. Paul’s letter to Timothy, Cardinal Gregory explained: “Paul tells his young colleague that his own faith is a heritage that he received from his grandmother, Lois, and his mother, Eunice. The gifts that Timothy brought to his ministry in Ephesus, he found in the women from his own life whose gift of faith had inspired him.”

Catholic Medical Association joins lawsuit over HHS ‘transgender mandate’

PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia-based Catholic Medical Association Aug. 26 joined in a lawsuit challenging the Biden administration’s mandate that doctors and hospitals perform gender-transition procedures on any patient despite any moral or medical objections of the doctor or health care facility. “Biological identity must remain the basis for treating patients,” said Dr. Michael Parker, president of the association, a national, physician-led community of more than 2,300 health care professionals in 114 local guilds. The suit was filed Aug. 26 in U.S. District Court by Alliance Defending Freedom, a national faith-based nonprofit in Arizona that focuses on legal advocacy.


Nigerian bishops call on priests, laity to keep Eucharist at center of life

LAGOS, Nigeria — The Catholic bishops of Nigeria have called on the priests and the lay faithful to make the Eucharist central to the life of the Church rather than placing a premium on money or other transient things. In a statement at the end of their weeklong plenary meeting, they also advised priests to always ensure that “monetary matters do not distract the faithful or detract from the solemnity of the celebration.” Priests are to “celebrate the Eucharist as ‘servants’ of the mystery and not ‘masters’ of it,” the bishops said. In their Aug. 27 statement, the bishops also condemned the increasing insecurity and violence in Nigeria and called on the government to show respect for the sanctity of human life with a more strategic commitment to the fight against insecurity.

Pope sets new norms for priests providing prayer services at basilica

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has approved a brief set of new norms for the Chapter of St. Peter’s Basilica — whose priest-members provide liturgical and pastoral service in the basilica — that will only be in effect for one year while its statutes are being revised. As part of the start of a full reform of the chapter, the pope approved a series of “transitional provisions” that will go into effect Oct. 1, the Vatican announced Aug. 28. The norms include limiting Vatican sources of income for the just under 30 members and specifying who is in charge of administering and managing different assets. The Chapter of the Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican was established by St. Leo IX in 1053 for carrying out liturgical services starting with the original basilica. Its members also carried out pastoral activities and managed the vast patrimony of the basilica and its subsidiary churches as well as real estate and assets donated by benefactors or acquired by the canons.

Pope advances sainthood cause of mother of three

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis advanced the sainthood cause of a young mother of three who died of cancer after delaying chemotherapy treatment in order to save the life of her unborn child. The pope signed decrees recognizing the heroic virtues of one man and two women, including the young mother, Maria Cristina Cella Mocellin, during a meeting Aug. 30 with Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes. Born in Italy in 1969, Mocellin began contemplating her vocation at a young age with the Salesian Sisters, until she met her future husband, Carlo, at the age of 16. Despite the discovery of a sarcoma in her left leg, she went on to finish high school and marry Carlo. She had two children. However, during her pregnancy with her third child, the sarcoma reappeared. Although undergoing surgery to remove the sarcoma, Cella opted to not receive chemotherapy in order to not risk the life of her child, Riccardo, who was born in 1994. Subsequent therapies failed to treat the cancer, which spread and Cella died in 1995.

Protect human dignity from high-tech threats, pope tells Catholic lawmakers

VATICAN CITY — Lawmakers need to regulate and develop sound policies regarding today’s digital technology, specifically targeting the problems of child pornography, personal data violations, cyber attacks on critical infrastructures and fake news, Pope Francis told Catholic and Christian legislators. “Prudent legislation can guide the development and application of technology in the service of the common good,” he said at the Vatican Aug. 27. “I heartily encourage you, therefore, to make every effort to undertake serious and in-depth moral reflection on the risks and possibilities associated with scientific and technological advances, so that the international laws and regulations governing them may concentrate on promoting integral human development and peace, rather than on progress as an end in itself,” the pope said. He was speaking to members and representatives of the International Catholic Legislators Network, who were in Rome for an annual conference. The network is an independent, nonpartisan initiative founded in 2010 “to bring together practicing Catholics and other Christians in elected office on a regular basis for faith formation, education and fellowship,” according to its website.

Pope names Salesian sister interim secretary of dicastery

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has named Salesian Sister Alessandra Smerilli as interim secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, the Vatican announced. In a statement released Aug. 26, the Vatican said Sister Smerilli will also be a part of the management team of the Vatican’s COVID-19 Commission together with Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and Scalabrinian Father Fabio Baggio, undersecretary of the dicastery’s Migrants and Refugees Section. The 46-year-old Italian is an economist and professor of economic policy, an adviser to the governing office of Vatican City State, and a consultant to the Synod of Bishops. Prior to her appointment, she served as undersecretary for faith and development at the dicastery. At the dicastery, she replaces both Msgr. Bruno-Marie Duffé, who served as secretary of the dicastery since 2017, and Argentine Father Augusto Zampini, who was appointed adjunct secretary of the dicastery by Pope Francis in 2020.

— Catholic News Service

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