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Nation and world briefs


Pew survey: Americans significantly favor separation of Church, state

WASHINGTON — Nearly three times as many Americans favor the federal government enforcing the separation of Church and state than want to see the government stop doing so. Fifty-four percent of those polled by the Pew Research Center on the issue favor the continued separation of Church and state, while 19% would rather the government stop enforcing it. The percentage of those opposed finished behind the 27% who said they didn’t know or refused to answer. By an even larger margin, 67% said the Constitution reflects the vision of those who wrote it, “not necessarily God’s vision” — nearly four times as great at the 18% who said the document was “inspired by God” and “reflects God’s vision for America.” These are two key findings of online polling of more than 12,000 Americans in a study released Oct. 28. In the poll, sizable majorities also said the federal government should never declare any religion as the United States’ official religion, and that it should advocate moral values “held by people of many faiths.”

Catholic hospital’s appeal of transgender patient’s lawsuit rejected by Court

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court Nov. 1 turned down an appeal from a Catholic hospital in California that was sued for refusing to perform a hysterectomy on a transgender patient. The court’s decision, issued without comment, sends the lawsuit back to state court and avoids examining whether the hospital can be sued for refusing to provide treatment it said would violate its religious beliefs. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch said the court should have taken the case. In 2016, Evan Minton sued Mercy San Juan Medical Center near Sacramento for refusing to allow the doctor to perform a hysterectomy on Minton as part of gender transition from female to male. Minton said the treatment denial was a violation of California law that bars discrimination. The hospital said it does not discriminate against transgender patients, but does not allow its facilities to be used for abortion, sterilization and euthanasia, which are contrary to Catholic teachings. It also said being required to perform this would go against the Constitution’s free exercise clause.

Supreme Court could be leaning to allow challenges to Texas abortion law

WASHINGTON — During oral arguments just shy of three hours Nov. 1, the Supreme Court closely examined — and seemed to have concerns about — how Texas’ new abortion law was framed and is enforced. The justices specifically considered if the Justice Department and if abortion providers in Texas can challenge this state law in federal court. The law, in effect since Sept. 1, bans most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy and allows individuals to sue anyone involved in helping a woman obtain an abortion. Among the justices who expressed some unease with the law’s framing were Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, which could lead to a narrow ruling to enable the lawsuits against the abortion law to proceed. Such a ruling would not address the broad scope of the law’s constitutionality but would return the cases to lower courts. Many of the justices’ comments acknowledged this is a new challenge to face court but they drew on one case in particular for some guidance. Many brought up Ex Parte Young, a 1908 Supreme Court case that said state officials could be sued in federal court to prevent them from trying to enforce unconstitutional laws.

New federation forms to focus on Hispanic family ministry issues

WASHINGTON — A new federation to focus on issues surrounding Hispanic family ministry has been formed by the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers. Called the Federation for Hispanic Family Ministry, it won’t be spun off from the parent organization. Rather, it will stay as part of the association that founded it. “The association provides this wealth of resources” that those in Hispanic ministry can access, said Mike Day, family life director for the Diocese of St. Augustine, Florida. Day was NACFLM president when the idea for a Hispanic offshoot was developed. “It’s been quite a while” since he first felt the lack of an outreach to Hispanic families in the United States, said Jake Samour, marriage and family life director for the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas, and the first president of the new federation. “I think it was obviously the V Encuentro process” that got the ball rolling to create a structure that catered to Hispanics, he said. The website of the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers is www.nacflm.org.


Nigerian troops foil attempted kidnap of bishop, says army official

LAGOS, Nigeria — Nigerian troops foiled a kidnap attempt on a bishop and his secretaries early Oct. 31. Brigadier Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, director of army public relations, said Bishop Augustine Ukwuoma of Orlu, his secretary and assistant secretary were safe and unhurt. The diocese had no immediate comment. Nwachukwu said troops responded to a distress call at about 2:30 a.m. and swiftly moved to the scene, forcing the alleged assailants to flee. The attempt to kidnap Bishop Ukwuoma came 10 months after gunmen kidnapped Auxiliary Bishop Moses Chikwe of Owerri and his driver. They were released three days later. Owerri and Orlu are in Imo state, which has had various attacks in recent months. On Oct. 9, 10 people were killed in a clash between soldiers and young people. Sixteen houses were destroyed in that incident. Nwachukwu urged citizens “to report suspicious movement.”

Church leaders: Migration policy must respect human dignity, right to asylum

VALLE DE ÁNGELES, Honduras — Bishops from Honduras and El Salvador and episcopal conference officials issued a statement Oct. 28 about their concerns over “what we are seeing on the borders of Central America, Mexico and the United States.” Joining in the statement were representatives of the Catholic Church in Guatemala and lay men and women who minister to migrants on the southern border of Mexico and the borders of the northern countries of Central America. It was issued following the close of the VII Encuentro of Bishops Oct. 25 to 28 in Valle de Ángeles. “We wish to express our shared concerns as well as proposals from the Church, to ensure that migration is respected as a right and so that forced migration comes to an end,” the group said. “As countries of origin, transit, arrival and return, we are witness” to many factors driving migration, including “structural violence,” corruption, poor economic conditions and insecurity as well as the effects of hurricanes and climate change, they said. The migration crisis “demands a rapid and integral response on the part of the governments, civil society, the Church and others,” they said.

— Catholic News Service

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