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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

USCCB president, chairmen recommit Church to pro-life initiatives

WASHINGTON — As the nation awaits the U.S. Supreme Court’s most significant abortion ruling in decades, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the chairmen of eight USCCB committees said they “join together in prayer and expectant hope that states will again be able to protect women and children from the injustice of abortion.” “As we affirm the value of every human life, we welcome the possibility of saving countless unborn children as well as sparing women and families the pain of abortion,” they said in a statement released March 21. In June or early July, the court will issue a ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which involves a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks. The decision could overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide, returning the abortion issue to the states. In their statement, Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez, USCCB president, and the chairmen of USCCB committees concerned with pro-life, domestic and international policy, evangelization and other issues recommitted the Catholic Church’s years-long outreach — through various initiatives, parishes, agencies and other entities — to pregnant women in need and their children and families. The full statement can be found online at https://bit.ly/3IB9T0d.

Thousands expected to take part in online National Prayer Luncheon for Life

DALLAS — The executive director of the March 25 National Prayer Luncheon for Life said the pro-life movement is “very hopeful” the U.S. Supreme Court will soon overturn Roe. And pro-lifers are ready for what comes next because this will not “end abortion in America,” said Karen Garnett. “The pro-life movement is prepared to fight abortion in each state,” she said. “The court will send the issue back to the states, and every state will make the determination as to how they want to address the protection of preborn human lives in their state.” She added: “We wish there were already a Human Life Amendment ensuring that no preborn child could be killed by abortion in any state, but that is not where we are.” Thousands are expected to participate in the luncheon, which will take place online from noon to 1 p.m. (CDT) at nationalprayerluncheonforlife.org.

Several states pass measures that would limit abortions in the state

BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Legislature passed a measure March 14 to ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, similar to the Texas abortion law. The measure, which now goes to Republican Gov. Brad Little, passed in a 51-14 House vote with no Democratic support. The state Senate had approved the legislation in early March that would allow family members to sue the medical provider who performed the abortion. The measure expands the state’s Fetal Heartbeat Preborn Child Protection Act, which the Idaho Legislature passed last year. Also on March 14, the Florida Senate passed a ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy; the Florida House OK’d the bill earlier in March. On March 2, Republican Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia signed into law the Unborn Child with a Disability Protection and Education Act, which will prohibit an unborn child from being aborted due to a diagnosis of a disability. He announced he had signed the bill in a tweet to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day March 21. The law also requires doctors to provide educational materials and information on the support systems available to families raising children with disabilities. “Killing an unborn child because of a disability is an extreme form of discrimination against people with disabilities,” said Karen Cross, political liaison for West Virginians for Life. The West Virginia Senate passed the bill in a bipartisan 27-5 vote March 12, the final day of the Legislature’s regular 60-day session. The House of Delegates OK’d it earlier in the day in an 81 to 17 vote. The law allows exceptions for a patient who has a “medical emergency” or a “nonmedically viable fetus.”

WORLD

Nations should fight poverty, hunger, not each other, pope says

VATICAN CITY — The real battles people should be fighting and funding are the ones against hunger, thirst, poverty, disease and slavery, Pope Francis said. Instead, vast sums of money are spent on arms for waging war, which is “a scandal” that just drags civilization backward, he said in an address to a group of Italian volunteers. “What is the point of all of us solemnly committing ourselves together at international level to campaigns against poverty, against hunger, against the degradation of the planet, if we then fall back into the old vice of war, into the old strategy of the power of armaments, which takes everything and everyone backward?” he asked. The pope made his remarks in an audience at the Vatican March 21 with volunteers representing the Italian organization “I Was Thirsty.” Founded in 2012, the group sets up projects that provide clean drinking water to communities in need around the world. The United Nations estimates more than 2 billion people live without access to safe drinking water and/or sanitation. The U.N. promotes World Water Day every March 22 to raise awareness about the importance of potable water and the need to manage freshwater sources sustainably. The pope praised the Italian volunteers for their small but vital contribution to an issue of critical importance “for the life of the planet and for peace between peoples.”

U.N. body urges inquiry into Indian Jesuit’s death

NEW DELHI — A U.N. working group urged the Indian government to conduct an independent probe into the arrest and death of Jesuit Father Stan Swamy, a prominent human rights activist who died while detained last July. Ucanews.com reported the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called Father Swamy’s tragic death while in custody a “failure” on the part of India’s government that would “forever remain a stain” on the country’s human rights record, and it referred his case to the special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. “There was no legal basis for the detention of Father Swamy,” and “the officials of the National Investigation Agency arrested him in an irregular manner,” the U.N. working group said in a November resolution, published only recently. The working group urged India “to ensure a full and independent investigation of the circumstances surrounding the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of Father Swamy and to take appropriate measures against those responsible for the violation of his rights.” Father Swamy was jailed Oct. 9, 2020, after being arrested at his home in Ranchi. The 84-year-old priest, still under arrest, died July 5, 2021, within a couple of days of his health deteriorating at a Catholic-managed hospital in Mumbai.

— Catholic News Service

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