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Nation and world briefs


Indiana abortion ban temporarily blocked as court challenge moves forward

INDIANAPOLIS — A judge issued a preliminary injunction Sept. 22 on a new Indiana abortion law that gives legal protection to most unborn babies. The ruling temporarily reinstates access to abortion in Indiana up to 22 weeks gestation as allowed by state law prior to Sept. 15, the date when S.B. 1, as the new law is known, went into effect. It banned abortion in Indiana except in cases of rape, incest and particular serious medical complications and emergencies. The injunction puts the law on hold while the judge reviews arguments for a suit filed Aug. 30 by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers operating in the state. S.B. 1 was passed by the Indiana General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb Aug. 5.


Ukraine religious leaders call for return of POWS, criticize ‘referendums’

KYIV, Ukraine — Religious leaders in Ukraine called for safe return of prisoners of war, civilian hostages and all those who were forcibly taken to Russia. In a separate statement, the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations — which includes Christians, Muslims and Jews — also called the referendums on annexation of parts of Ukraine “a mockery of democracy.” The council — which includes Ukraine’s Byzantine and Latin-rite bishops — issued the statements Sept. 23, after 215 prisoners were released in exchange for Viktor Medvedchuk, a former Ukrainian member of Parliament, as well as 54 others. Dmytro Lubinets, Ukrainian Parliament commissioner for human rights, cosigned the statement on prisoners. “Thousands of our defenders and civilians are held captive by the Russian invaders,” said the council statement. The commission appealed to the international community as well as international human rights and security organizations to work for the safe return of those being held.

Hong Kong cardinal’s trial adjourned before defense can call witnesses

HONG KONG — After only two days, the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court adjourned the trial of Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, 90, and four co-defendants, until Oct. 26. The trial began Sept. 26 and had been scheduled for five days, but the magistrate adjourned the trial when defense lawyers attempted to cross-examine police witnesses called by the prosecution. The outspoken cardinal, retired bishop of Hong Kong, was detained May 11 under the Beijing-imposed national security law. He and his co-defendants were then charged with failing to properly register their 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, which offered financial, legal and psychological help to people arrested during the 2019 protest movement. They have pleaded not guilty.

French bishops warn euthanasia would upset ethical balance

PARIS — France’s Catholic bishops warned President Emmanuel Macron’s government that “immoral legislation” to allow euthanasia risked overturning the country’s “ethical equilibrium. Over decades, a balance has been found in avoiding relentless treatment and promoting palliative care — this ‘French path’ has gained a following and says something about our country’s ethical heritage,” said the 10-member executive council of the bishops’ conference. “Our caregivers, who must face so many concrete difficulties sustaining our health system, often express how much they are attached to this balance — it gives honor to their profession and meaning to their commitment,” bishops said. “During the COVID-19 crisis, our society made weighty sacrifices to save lives.... How can it be possible, just a few months after this great national mobilization, that society now gives the impression of seeing no other answer to life’s fragility than active help in dying and assisted suicide?” the bishops asked in a statement the weekend of Sept. 24-25. The French government plans to legalize euthanasia by the end of 2023.

Pope names prefect, secretary for Dicastery of Culture and Education

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has named Portuguese Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça to be prefect of the new Dicastery for Culture and Education and has named Italian Msgr. Giovanni Cesare Pagazzi to be secretary of the dicastery. Cardinal de Mendonça, 56, had been Vatican librarian and archivist since 2018. Pope Francis named Archbishop Angelo Zani, 72, secretary of the former Congregation for Catholic Education, to be the new “archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church,” the formal title of the position previously held by Cardinal de Mendonça. The Vatican announced the changes Sept. 26, more than three months after Pope Francis’ reform of the Roman Curia went into effect. Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, 79, had been prefect of the education congregation since 2015. Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, who will celebrate his 80th birthday Oct. 18, had been president of the former Pontifical Council for Culture.

Pope Francis set to be first pontiff to visit Bahrain

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican confirmed that Pope Francis intends to visit the Middle Eastern country of Bahrain Nov. 3-6. The trip would make him the first pope to visit the archipelago nation in the Persian Gulf. “Accepting the invitation of the civil and ecclesial authorities, Pope Francis will make the announced apostolic journey,” visiting the capital of Manama and the city of Awali, said Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office, in a written statement Sept. 28. The focus of the visit will be the “Bahrain Forum for Dialogue: East and West for Human Coexistence.” Details of the trip were to be published later. The new Our Lady of Arabia Cathedral was consecrated in December in Awali, which lies 16 miles south of Manama. It is now the largest cathedral in the Persian Gulf region. Previously, Bahrain only had one church in the capital, Manama, and a chapel in the suburbs to serve the country’s more than 90,000 Catholics.

— Catholic News Service

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