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Nation and world briefs


Pew: Social hostility toward religion down, government hostility high

WASHINGTON — Social hostilities against religious believers and churches dipped in 2019, according to a Pew Research Center report issued Sept. 30. Government hostilities toward religion, though, remained at their highest level since Pew started conducting this research a dozen years ago. In 2019, 43 countries had either “high” or “very high” levels of social hostilities, down from 53 countries in 2018, and down from a peak of 65 countries in 2012, the report said. On the government side, 180 countries had at least one instance, at some level, of government harassment against religious groups, compared with 175 countries in 2018. But 75 countries had either high or very high levels of overall restrictions on religion in 2019, down from 80 in 2018.

Advocates say fixing immigration is necessary to spur U.S. economy

WASHINGTON — For former Arizona state Sen. Bob Worsley, getting the country’s immigration woes under control is about one thing: “the economy, the economy, the economy. We have people who want to work, standing at the border. We need them to come and help us. Restaurants are opening fewer days, opening fewer tables, hotels aren’t servicing rooms like they used to. I mean, we’re in dire need,” said Worsley, a Republican businessman, one of three panelists who spoke Sept. 28 capping a two-day online conference on immigration law and policy. The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Georgetown University Law School and the New York-based Migration Policy Institute sponsor the annual event that gathers experts to discuss how immigration law and policy can respond to the realities the country is facing. Though worker shortages could be alleviated with the labor immigrants can provide, lack of bipartisanship proves to be an obstacle to any meaningful movement on the immigration front, panelists said.


Refugee crisis is a crisis of solidarity, top Vatican official tells UNHCR

VATICAN CITY — Countries hosting millions of refugees are not receiving adequate support, and the situation is made worse when other nations forge agreements that trap migrants and refugees, often indefinitely, “at strategic points along their journey,” said a top Vatican official. “The fact that millions of our fellow brothers and sisters remain in limbo is a crisis in solidarity. It should challenge our conscience as a family of nations to seek strategies that engage with all countries as equal partners,” said Francesca Di Giovanni, an undersecretary in the Vatican’s foreign ministry office. She spoke Oct. 5 as head of the Vatican delegation to the executive committee of the U.N. High Commissioner’s Program for Refugees in Geneva. The current system in place for handling those who are forcibly displaced has been “entirely overwhelmed” and “struggles to respond adequately,” making displacement, within and across borders, “one of the most pressing challenges of our times,” she said.

Pope, religious leaders, thank world’s teachers for their dedication, sacrifice

VATICAN CITY — A former educator himself, Pope Francis and other religious leaders helped celebrate World Teachers’ Day by promoting a global alliance aimed at creating an “open and inclusive” education for everyone. The representatives of different religions thanked the world’s teachers “for your dedication and sacrifice as you carry out the noble mission of educating young people. And we wish to encourage you to continue on your journey, despite the difficulties and challenges of our time, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic,” they said in a joint message Oct. 5. They called on government leaders to hold the teaching profession in high esteem, including by guaranteeing fair pay, creating better working conditions and offering assistance in continuing education for teachers.

Synodal Assembly votes show Catholics support reforms in German Church

BERLIN — The second Synodal Assembly of German Catholics ended Oct. 2 with overwhelming support for a range of proposals that, if adopted, would bring widespread reform to the Church. The assembly — 230 members including laity, academics, clergy and bishops — wrestled for three days in Frankfurt with decisions on which direction the Church should take in the future. Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of the German bishops’ conference and co-president of the Synodal Path project, said afterward: “Texts have been debated that are not just texts, but dreams put into words of how we want to change the Church in Germany: a Church that is participatory, gender-just and going on this path with the people.” Four topics are being discussed in the Synodal Path: the position of women in the Church, future management and division of power, Catholic sexual morality and priestly celibacy. The assembly considered 13 of 16 texts discussed earlier in synodal forums, and 12 were adopted on first reading. The texts put to the vote received an approval rating of between 76% and 92%, suggesting that three-quarters of those present were in favor of reforms. However, the decisions of the Synodal Path have no binding legal force in the Church.

‘Awakening of the silent majority’: Pro-lifers take to streets in Mexico

MEXICO CITY — Thousands of protesters took to the streets across Mexico in marches promoted as “pro-woman and pro-life” and repudiating a recent Supreme Court decision decriminalizing abortion. Marches in at least 89 cities across the country were “put together on short notice,” said Auxiliary Bishop Alfonso Miranda Guardiola of Monterrey, secretary-general of the Mexican bishops’ conference, which helped promote the Oct. 3 demonstrations. “We hope this is the start of an awakening in our population,” Bishop Miranda told Catholic News Service. “(It’s) the defeat of the spiral of death and silence; the awakening of the silent majority in favor of life.” The largest march occurred in Mexico City, with thousands of demonstrators streaming through the streets and shouting, “Yes to life!” At the iconic Angel of Independence monument they sang the national anthem and held a rally.

Pope appoints new members to International Theological Commission

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis appointed a dozen new members to the International Theological Commission, including two professors from The Catholic University of America, the Vatican announced. The 12 new members include Robin Darling Young, associate professor at Catholic University’s School of Theology and Religious Studies and an expert in early church history, and Reinhard Huetter, professor of fundamental and dogmatic theology. Announcing the appointments Sept. 29, the Vatican also said Pope Francis named Msgr. Piero Coda, a consultor for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as the commission’s secretary general. Established in 1969, the International Theological Commission is a papally appointed board of religious and lay theologians who advise the doctrinal congregation.

— Catholic News Service

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