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Nation and world briefs


Appeals court restricts access to abortion pill, setting up potential Supreme Court review

NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans ruled Aug. 16 to restrict access to an abortion pill nationwide, finding that the government may not have followed its own rules when it loosened regulations on the drug. This ruling will not take effect unless the Supreme Court weighs in, meaning the drug will remain on the market for now. A coalition of pro-life opponents of mifepristone, the first of two drugs used in a chemical abortion, filed suit in an effort to revoke the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of a medication abortion pill, arguing the government violated its own safety standards when it first approved the drug in 2000. The FDA in 2016 and 2023 expanded the availability of the drug beyond the 2000 standard, increasing the gestational limit on the drug from seven to 10 weeks, and making the drug available via telemedicine. The appeals court’s ruling — if implemented by the Supreme Court — would roll back those expansions to their original limits. (OSV News)

San Francisco Archdiocese files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

SAN FRANCISCO — Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco announced Aug. 21 the archdiocese has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization “to facilitate settlements” with survivors of clergy abuse. The decision came after much reflection and prayer, and consultation with the archdiocese’s financial and legal advisers, he said in a letter to the faithful. In the Aug. 20 letter, he said the move was necessary due to “the impact of more than 500 civil lawsuits that have been filed against the Archdiocese under state law AB-218, which allowed individuals to bring claims for childhood sexual abuse that otherwise would have been barred due to the expiration of the statute of limitations.” Some of the claims stretch back decades, he noted, adding the bankruptcy was “the best way to provide a compassionate and equitable solution for survivors of abuse.” (OSV News)

Montana Bishop Warfel resigns; Coadjutor Bishop Fleming succeeds him

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael W. Warfel of Great Falls-Billings. Coadjutor Bishop Jeffrey M. Fleming immediately succeeds him as head of the diocese. The resignation and appointment were publicized in Washington Aug. 22 by Cardinal-designate Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. Bishop Warfel, 74, has headed the eastern Montana diocese since his installation in January 2008. Bishop Fleming, 57, was named coadjutor bishop of the diocese in April 2022. A coadjutor automatically becomes the head of the diocese upon the retirement or death of its bishop. Bishop Fleming, a native of Billings, was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Helena, Montana, in 1992. The Diocese of Great Falls-Billings covers about 94,000 square miles of Montana, which has 29,607 Catholics out of a total population of 433,562. (OSV News)


Jesuits evicted from residence after Nicaragua university seized

MEXICO CITY (OSV News) — Nicaraguan officials evicted a team of Jesuits from their home in the capital city of Managua shortly after seizing a prestigious university from the religious order — an act the Society of Jesus called a “spectacle.” The Jesuits, who worked at the Central American University — known locally as UCA — prior to its confiscation Aug. 15, were notified of the eviction in the early afternoon of Aug. 19, according to a statement from the Conference of Jesuit Provincials in Latin America and the Caribbean. “After the Jesuits showed them the title, which proved the property did not belong to the university, the agents didn’t accept the documentation and ordered them to vacate the house,” the statement said. The six Jesuits left the home with only a few personal possessions each and headed to the residence of another Jesuit community in Managua, according to a statement from the Jesuit province in Central America. The seizure of UCA sparked outrage across the region — with Catholic leaders and organizations sending statements of solidarity. Observers accused the regime of holding a grudge against the university for its role in the 2018 protests, which called for Ortega’s ouster. School officials opened the campus to wounded protesters fleeing police and paramilitaries. “It’s been a critical voice in the face of Ortega’s authoritarianism and … they wanted to punish the UCA because at times they supported the victims of the Nicaraguan repression,” Jesuit Father José María Tojeira, former rector of the UCA’s sister school in El Salvador, told local media. (OSV News)

Pope says he’s writing a new document on the environment

VATICAN CITY — Thanking a group of European lawyers for their attention to environmental protection laws, Pope Francis said he was preparing another document on the subject. “I am writing a second part to Laudato Si’ to update it on current problems,” the pope told the lawyers Aug. 21 during a meeting in the library of the Apostolic Palace. He provided no further information. “Laudato Si’, On Care for Our Common Home” was the title of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical letter on the need for an “integral ecology” that respects the dignity and value of the human person, helps the poor and safeguards the planet. The pope made his remark in the context of thanking the lawyers for their “willingness to work for the development of a normative framework aimed at protecting the environment.” He told them, “It must never be forgotten that future generations are entitled to receive from our hands a beautiful and habitable world, and that this entails grave responsibilities toward the natural world that we have received from the benevolent hands of God.” (CNS)

Pakistani Catholics in U.S. call for awareness, action after churches destroyed

PHILADELPHIA — Pakistani Catholics in the U.S. are calling for international advocacy and action following a devastating Aug. 16 attack on several Christian churches in Pakistan’s eastern city of Jaranwala. At least six churches, including St. Paul Catholic Church and the historic Salvation Army church, were set ablaze by armed Muslim mobs numbering as high as 7,000. Bibles and other religious items were destroyed, and hundreds of private homes belonging to Christians were looted, with attackers piling families’ belongings outside and setting fire to them. “We want our political leaders to raise their voice against this violence and these injustices to minorities,” Father Tariq Isaac, chaplain of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Pakistani Catholic community, said. “Our government here (in the U.S.) approves help to Pakistan, but never forces it to implement laws protecting minorities — to protect human rights, justice and peace in the community.” The violence stemmed from accusations that two Christian men had violated Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which originated under British colonial rule and were expanded in the 1980s to specifically protect Islam, the majority religion in Pakistan, from a wide range of direct and indirect affronts. (OSV News)

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