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Nation and world briefs


U.S. Ukrainian Catholics mark Ukraine’s Independence Day with joy, hope and prayer

PHILADELPHIA — Ukrainian Catholics in the U.S. observed Ukraine’s Independence Day with a mix of solemn joy and hopeful prayer. Ukrainians around the world observed the Aug. 24 holiday — which marks the day in 1991 when Ukraine declared independence from the former Soviet Union — with rallies, religious services and cultural events. This year’s Independence Day took place amid the ninth year of Russian aggression, begun in 2014, and the second year of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. “Our soldiers are on the front line. They hold the battle, and they keep Ukraine existing,” Father Roman Pitula, rector of the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Philadelphia, said. Amid tens of thousands of documented atrocities by Russian troops in Ukraine, Scripture has been a source of strength, said Father Volodymyr Radko, a Ukrainian Catholic priest who serves in the Archeparchy of Philadelphia. Ukrainians are battling against Russia’s “long history” of aggression “not because they love war, not because of profit, but to protect the life of our family, our children, our elderly,” he said. (OSV News)

South Carolina Supreme Court upholds state’s 6-week abortion ban

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Supreme Court upheld the state’s six-week abortion ban in an Aug. 23 ruling, permitting that law to go into effect. The 4-1 ruling lifts a previous freeze on the law implemented amid a legal challenge shortly after Republican Gov. Henry McMaster signed the legislation in May. In an opinion for the majority, Justice John Kittredge wrote that the legislature “has found that the State has a compelling interest in protecting the lives of unborn children,” and that it would be “a rogue imposition of will by the judiciary for us to say that the legislature’s determination is unreasonable as a matter of law.” McMaster said in a statement that the ruling “marks a historic moment in our state’s history and is the culmination of years of hard work and determination by so many in our state to ensure that the sanctity of life is protected.” (OSV News)


Society of Jesus banned in Nicaragua

MEXICO CITY — The Nicaraguan regime has extinguished the Jesuits’ legal status and ordered the expropriation of its assets, effectively making it illegal for the Society of Jesus to operate in the Central American country. The cancellation of the Jesuits’ status on Aug. 23 follows the confiscation of the Jesuit-run Central American University a week earlier. The authorities accused the school of hosting a “center of terrorism” and seized its campus in the capital city of Managua. The Jesuit province in Central America condemned the cancellation, saying in an Aug. 23 statement that this is part of a government policy of systematic repression that violates human rights and appears “to be aimed at consolidating a totalitarian state.” The Nicaraguan interior ministry accused the Jesuits of lacking the proper oversight for a non-governmental group and failing to file tax information with the government between 2020 and 2022. (OSV News)

Syro-Malabar Church appears to be on verge of split over liturgy row

ERNAKULAM, India — The Eastern-rite Syro-Malabar Church appears on the brink of a split with dissident Catholics in a southern Indian archdiocese refusing to celebrate a synod-approved Mass Aug. 20 in open defiance of a pontifical delegate. A Vatican delegate appointed to settle the decades-old liturgy dispute has returned to Rome amid his disciplinary actions worsening the situation. “Archbishop Cyril Vasil, the pontifical delegate for the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, returned to Rome after completing his first round of mission,” said an official statement from the Syro-Malabar Church Aug. 23. The Syro-Malabar Church, one of several Eastern Catholic Churches, is in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. On Aug. 17, the Vatican delegate ordered all the priests in the archdiocese to offer the synod-approved Mass as of Aug. 20. The prelate also sought the closure of parish churches if they faced protests against his order. Only six of the 328 parishes in the archdiocese celebrated Mass in the synod-approved form. An overwhelming majority of priests and parishes stuck to their traditional Mass, in which celebrants faced the congregation. “I think now we are on a path of never going back. The feeling is to become an independent Catholic Church under the pope. We will be happy to be independent of an oppressive system,” said a senior priest of the archdiocese. (OSV News)

Church environmentalists worried about oil drilling at mouth of Amazon

SÃO PAULO — Church activists in the Amazon are worried about the Brazilian government’s plan to exploit oil in a marine area close to the mouth of the Amazon River. Oil drilling, an issue discussed in different meetings over the past months by ecclesial movements and environmentalists, has been a problem in several regions of the Amazon. While there was relevant progress recently in the struggle to restrain the oil companies’ operations in the rainforest, the pressure from those corporations is immense, and it will take much effort from Catholics to secure the protection of their “common home” in the Amazon, activists say. The project of exploiting oil about 300 miles northeast from Amazon River’s mouth has put top government officials on opposite sides: On one side is Environment Minister Marina Silva, who argues that technical studies showed that the operation would have a huge impact on the environment and local communities; and on the other is most of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s cabinet. The plan was among the topics discussed by Lula and the presidents of the other nations of the Pan-Amazon region during an Aug. 8-9 summit in Belem, Brazil. (OSV News)

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