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Nation and world briefs


House and Senate leaders announce federal abortion bill bans

WASHINGTON — Republican congressional leaders announced proposed legislation Sept. 13 to place a federal ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The identical bill presented to the House and Senate is called: “Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act.” It would leave in place state laws with stricter abortion restrictions. The bill was introduced to the Senate by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and to the House by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J. The bill, which is unlikely to advance with congressional Democrats and has already been criticized by leading Democrats, is a shift from what some Republican congressional leaders were saying this summer about most likely not introducing a national abortion ban.

Michigan Supreme Court says voters should decide abortion law

LANSING, Mich. — In a Sept. 8 order, the Supreme Court in Michigan said voters will decide in the upcoming November elections if a woman’s right to an abortion can be part of the Michigan Constitution. If voters approve the abortion amendment, they would strike down a state’s 1931 law that makes it a crime to perform most abortions. That law was suspended in May and a judge in September said the law was unconstitutional. The Michigan Catholic Conference, public policy arm of the state’s Catholic bishops, urged voters to vote against the proposal in November. “We are committed to defeating this extreme proposal that allows abortions up to the moment of birth and invalidates every common sense limit on abortion, such as parental consent, health and safety regulations on abortion clinics, and more,” the Catholic conference tweeted Sept. 9.


British Catholics, Pope Francis pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II

MANCHESTER, England — Catholics in the U.K. paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II following her death Sept. 8 and the end of a reign that lasted more than 70 years. Pope Francis sent a telegram addressed “To His Majesty the King, Charles III,” her son who immediately ascended to the throne. “I willingly join all who mourn her loss in praying for the late queen’s eternal rest and in paying tribute to her life of unstinting service to the good of the nation and the Commonwealth, her example of devotion to duty, her steadfast witness of faith in Jesus Christ and her firm hope in his promises,” Pope Francis said. The British sovereign died “peacefully” at Balmoral, the royal residence in Scotland, surrounded by members of her family. She was 96. Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, paid tribute using many of the queen’s own words. “On 21 April 1947, on her 21st birthday, Princess Elizabeth said, ‘I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service,’” Cardinal Nichols said. “Now, 75 years later, we are heartbroken in our loss at her death and so full of admiration for the unfailing way in which she fulfilled that declaration.”

CRS, others call for increased aid to prevent Somalia’s looming famine

NAIROBI, Kenya — Amid a U.N. warning that a famine is looming in Somalia, U.S.-based Catholic Relief Services is calling for increased humanitarian support. The U.N.’s Inter-Agency Standing Committee warned Sept. 5 that famine was unfolding in Baidoa and Burhakaba districts in southern and central Somalia. The grouping of key U.N. agencies and partners said the situation may last until March if there was no significant increase of humanitarian assistance. “With this warning, there is time to save lives,” Sean Callahan, CRS president and CEO, said. “The international community must meet the immediate needs on the ground while also doing a better job at preventing famine in the first place. We can address the myriad causes of food insecurity, like conflict and climate change.” An estimated 7.1 million people, half of them children, need emergency aid. Millions face acute hunger, the U.N. grouping said.

Eritrean government rounds up teens from church service

NAIROBI, Kenya — Places of worship have become the latest target for the forced roundup of Eritrean teens to serve as soldiers, in what clerics describe as a deteriorating situation. For two years, 15- and 16-year-olds have been taken from towns and villages. Some are ending up on the front lines in the war in Ethiopia’s northern state of Tigray, according to the sources. Father Mussie Zerai, a Catholic priest of Eritrean origin who works with migrants, said the soldiers arrived during Mass and surrounded the church in Akrur to prevent anyone from escaping. They proceeded to take the teens by force, including all the boys of the choir in their uniforms, said the priest, pointing at photographs widely circulated on social media.

— Catholic News Service

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