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Nation and world briefs


HHS expected to propose rule on abortion, transgender services

WASHINGTON — Leadership at the Catholic Benefits Association believes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will soon announce new regulations that may pose an existential threat to religious-based employers including Catholic hospitals. Discovery of a 74-page legal memorandum attached to a court filing from a consortium of 30 sexual rights groups last year revealed that HHS has promised to revise its mandates on health plan coverage and performance to include surgical abortion, cross-sex hormones, gender-transition surgeries, gender-affirming cosmetic surgeries and voice modification — along with a host of expanded services dealing with fertility treatments, contraception, abortifacients and sterilizations. It is believed that sometime in April, HHS could announce the proposed regulations, which would not only disallow religious exemptions but would have a broad cost and compliance impact on all U.S. employers.

U.S. nun, 83, kidnapped in Burkina Faso

WASHINGTON — Armed attackers broke into the convent at Holy Family Parish in Yalgo, Burkina Faso, and kidnapped an American nun sometime between late April 4 and daybreak April 5, said the U.S. head of the sister’s congregation. Sister Ann Lacour, U.S. congregational leader for the Marianites of Holy Cross, based in Covington, Louisiana, said 83-year-old Sister Suellen Tennyson was kidnapped “because she’s American.” The order has not received any demands for ransom, Sister Lacour told Catholic News Service late April 5. She said the order was working with U.S. Embassy officials in Burkina Faso. Speaking from the order’s worldwide headquarters in Lemans, France, Sister Lacour said three Marianite sisters — Sister Tennyson, Canadian Sister Pauline Dourin and Sister Pascaline Tougma, a Burkinabè — were in the convent on the parish compound with two Burkinabè women when the attackers, armed with guns, broke in.

Pope Francis appoints Cincinnati priest as bishop of Columbus, Ohio

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Father Earl K. Fernandes, a former staff member of the apostolic nunciature in Washington and currently a Cincinnati pastor, to head the Diocese of Columbus, Ohio. He succeeds Bishop Robert J. Brennan, whom the pope named to head the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, last September. He was installed Nov. 30. At 49, Bishop-designate Fernandes will be one of the youngest U.S. Catholic bishops. Ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati May 18, 2002, he served at the nunciature from 2016 to 2019. He has been pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish since 2019. His appointment was announced in Washington April 2 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nunciature.


Pope apologizes for treatment of Indigenous in Canada, promises to visit

VATICAN CITY — Expressing “sorrow and shame” for the complicity of Catholics in abusing Indigenous children in Canada and helping in the attempt to erase their culture, Pope Francis pledged to address the issue more fully when he visits Canada. “For the deplorable conduct of those members of the Catholic Church,” the pope told Indigenous representatives April 1, “I ask for God’s forgiveness, and I want to say to you with all my heart: I am very sorry.” Representatives of the Métis National Council, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Assembly of First Nations had asked Pope Francis for an apology for the Church’s role in running residential schools in Canada, but they asked that he apologize in Canada. The pope responded to that request as well. Saying he was impressed by their devotion to St. Anne, the grandmother of Jesus, the centerpiece of the popular Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage, scheduled this year for July 25-28, Pope Francis told them, “This year, I would like to be with you in those days.” The Shrine of St. Anne, on Lac Ste. Anne, is located in central Alberta, not far from Edmonton. “Through your voices,” he told the delegates, “I have been able to touch with my own hands and carry within me, with great sadness in my heart, the stories of suffering, deprivation, discriminatory treatment and various forms of abuse suffered by many of you, particularly in residential schools.”

Lebanese president says pope could visit in June

VATICAN CITY — Two weeks after meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican and inviting him again to visit Lebanon, President Michel Aoun tweeted that the visit could take place as early as June. The “Lebanese Presidency” Twitter account said, in Arabic, “President Aoun was informed by the papal ambassador that Pope Francis will visit Lebanon next June, provided that the date and program of the visit will be determined in coordination between Lebanon and the Holy See.” Pope Francis had invited nine Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant leaders from Lebanon to the Vatican in July for a day of prayer and reflection on challenges.

— Catholic News Service

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