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Nation and world briefs


Biden administration unveils changes in ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy

WASHINGTON — Biden administration officials announced Jan. 3 additional legal help for migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. who are being forced to stay in Mexico under a Trump-era policy that has been difficult to revoke. Even as the administration seeks in its own way to make improvements to the Migrant Protection Protocols, or “Remain in Mexico” policy, government officials have asked the Supreme Court to step in and end it. The policy, also known as MPP, keeps asylum-seekers waiting across the southern border until their cases can be heard by U.S. immigration courts. Immigrant supporters have long complained about the danger and conditions migrants face while they wait in dangerous border towns. But U.S. government officials said they now have a system in place to transport migrants safely to shelters and provide access to legal representation, two main complaints about the policy. In 2018, with cooperation from Mexico, the Trump administration implemented the policy, seeking to deter asylum-seekers from entering the United States.


Catholics hold funeral after Myanmar massacre; attacks continue

YANGON, Myanmar — For Christians in Chin and Kayah states, there were no Christmas and New Year celebrations due to fighting. They have borne the brunt of a decades-old civil war and faced oppression and persecution at the hands of the military, reported ucanews.com. On Dec. 29, Catholics in Kayah’s Hpruso Township held a funeral for 35 civilians — all Catholic — killed by troops and their bodies set on fire Christmas Eve in Mo So village. Ucanews.com reported local sources said the funeral was led by catechists, because the military would not allow a local priest to officiate. The killings shocked the world and drew swift condemnation from Cardinal Charles Bo, who called it a “heartbreaking and horrific atrocity. The fact that the bodies of those killed, burned and mutilated were found on Christmas Day makes this appalling tragedy even more poignant and sickening. As much of the world celebrated the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, the people of Mo So village suffered the terrible shock and grief of an outrageous act of inhumanity,” he said. Cardinal Bo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar, urged the military “to stop bombing and shelling innocent people, to stop destroying homes and churches, schools and clinics” and to begin “a dialogue with the democracy movement and ethnic armed groups.”

With foreign donation license denied, Missionaries of Charity ration food

KOLKATA, India — Since Christmas, the Missionaries of Charity have been strictly rationing the food and daily use items for their regular 600 beneficiaries at their motherhouse and Shishu Bhavan, a children’s orphanage. On Jan. 2, the breakfast of tea, bread, and eggs was cut short by an hour. “As long as you did it to one of these, my least brethren, you did it to me,” said Razia, a beneficiary of the Missionaries of Charity, as she waited for the nuns to give her the weekly provisions. She lives with her two sick children across the road from the motherhouse and says she visits the tomb of St. Teresa and prays for the “difficult times to pass.” The Indian Home Ministry has not approved the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act license of the Missionaries of Charity on the grounds of some “adverse reports.” However, the nuns do not express their disappointment with the central government’s action and continue the routine of prayers and service. A spokeswoman for the order said the nuns are looking into the lack of FCRA approval and will appeal the ruling.

China forbids foreigners from spreading religious content online

HONG KONG — On Dec. 22, the Chinese government issued a new norm that proscribes all foreign institutions and individuals from spreading religious content online. China cited national security interests for enacting the new law, the first of their kind to monitor online religious affairs, reported ucanews.com. The new rules were made two weeks after Chinese President Xi Jinping attended a national religious work conference. In his address to that conference Dec. 4, Xi stressed making religions Chinese in orientation and developing them in the Chinese context. The United States, the United Nations and others have criticized China’s repression of 1 million Uyghur Muslims, in Xinjiang province, where China allegedly is holding Uyghurs in detention camps. Michelle Bachelet, U.N. high commissioner for human rights, has sought to visit Xinjiang for years to verify the prosecution of Uyghur Muslims on religious grounds, but a U.N. spokesman said so far, no such visit had been made possible by the Chinese government. China denies abuses in Xinjiang and says its policies and detention camps are meant for vocational training and to curb Islamic extremism.

September 2022 date set for beatification of John Paul I

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis will beatify Pope John Paul I Sept. 4 at the Vatican, according to Stefania Falasca, a journalist and vice postulator of the late pope’s sainthood cause. In October, Pope Francis had signed a decree recognizing a miracle attributed to the intercession of Pope John Paul I, clearing the way for his beatification. At the time, a date for the ceremony was not announced. Writing Dec. 23 in Avvenire, the daily newspaper owned by the Italian bishops’ conference, Falasca said the date had been set. Pope John Paul I, an Italian who was born Albino Luciani, served only 33 days as pontiff; he died in the papal apartments Sept. 28, 1978, three weeks shy of his 66th birthday, shocking the world and a Church that had just mourned the death of St. Paul VI. The miracle approved in his cause involved a young girl in Buenos Aires, Argentina, who developed a severe case of acute encephalitis, experienced uncontrollable and life-threatening brain seizures, and eventually entered septic shock.

Vatican pays tribute to 22 Church workers murdered in 2021

VATICAN CITY — In situations of extreme poverty, war or civil tensions, 22 Catholic Church workers were murdered in 2021, according to Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Presenting its annual list of missionaries killed during the year Dec. 30, the news agency explained, “We use the term ‘missionary’ for all the baptized, aware that ‘in virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples.’” None of the 13 priests, one religious brother, two religious sisters and six laypeople “carried out striking feats or actions,” Fides said, but they gave witness to their faith. In publishing the list, Fides said it was not looking only at Church workers killed in traditional mission territories and it was not proclaiming any of them as “martyrs” in the technical sense of having been killed out of hatred for their faith. While not included in the count, the Fides report also paid tribute to the 35 “innocent civilians, all of whom were Catholic,” who died Dec. 24, reportedly at the hands of the Myanmar military in Mo So village in Kayah state as they were fleeing fighting in the area. The victims, including elderly women and children, were shot and then their bodies were burned.

Desmond Tutu, known for commitment to justice, peace, dies at age 90

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s compassion and sense of humor, as well as his commitment to justice and processes of peace, were among the many reasons he was an icon, said Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg. The retired Anglican archbishop of Cape Town — who in 1984 won the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his efforts to bring about a peaceful transition to a society with equal rights for all — died in Cape Town Dec. 26 at the age of 90. When he was asked at a meeting of young people why he was always so positive, Archbishop Tutu told them, “I’m a prisoner of hope,” Bishop Dowling said. The blasphemy of apartheid, Archbishop Tutu said repeatedly, “is that it can make a child of God doubt that he or she is a child of God.”

— Catholic News Service

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