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Nation and world briefs


Nebraska abortion advocates launch effort to put protections on ballot

LINCOLN, Neb. — The Nebraska Catholic Conference, Nebraska Right to Life, the Nebraska Family Alliance and other pro-life groups are criticizing a newly launched effort to put abortion protections on the ballot in their state in 2024. Seeking to replicate efforts to enshrine abortion protections in the state’s constitution as others have done, abortion advocates in Nebraska announced the effort at a Nov. 16 kickoff event. The proposed measure would codify abortion access in the state’s constitution through fetal viability, typically understood to be 24 weeks gestation, or if a physician decided an abortion was necessary for the sake of the mother’s life or health. In a joint statement Nov. 15, the pro-life groups called the proposed ballot measure “part of a nationally coordinated effort by the abortion industry and their allies to remove all rights from the unborn, health protections for women, and parental rights.” (OSV News)

Collection to help elderly men, women religious to be held Dec. 9-10

WASHINGTON (OSV News) — Most U.S. dioceses will take up an annual collection Dec. 9-10 to help approximately 24,000 elderly religious sisters, brothers and religious order priests pay for retirement necessities, including health care. Through the National Religious Retirement Office, the Retirement Fund for Religious collection supports religious men and women who historically dedicated their lives to Church ministries, often with little to no compensation. Consequently, many men and women religious have insufficient retirement funds, especially in the face of rising health care costs. NRRO data show 6% of reporting religious communities say they have sufficient retirement funding. The collection raised $27.6 million last year, with more than $975 million raised since the collection began in 1988. (OSV News)


Church leaders hope hostage deal will lead to end of war in Gaza

JERUSALEM — The Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, expressed his happiness at the late-night hostage-exchange agreement reached between Israel and Hamas Nov. 21, and said he hoped it “will lead to further positive development that will bring the conflict to a conclusion.” The war broke out after an Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on 22 southern Israeli agricultural communities along the border with Gaza. The cardinal’s brief statement was released to journalists in Italian and English. In a statement, the Israeli government said it had an obligation to return all the hostages home and had approved the outline of the first stage of the goal. According to the agreement, negotiated with Qatar’s help, at least 50 Israeli hostages — women and children — will be released over four days, during which there will be a pause in the fighting. The release of every additional 10 hostages will result in one additional day in the pause, they said. On Nov. 22, Pope Francis renewed his appeal for prayers for people suffering due to wars in Ukraine and the Holy Land. The truce was scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Nov. 23. (OSV News)

Pope: Acting to end abuse is ‘non-negotiable’

VATICAN CITY — The Catholic Church and all its members must end their silence about clerical sexual abuse and ensure cases are no longer covered up, Pope Francis said, adding it is “non-negotiable.” Meeting Nov. 18 with Italian diocesan and regional representatives of safeguarding programs and listening centers, the pope said it also is essential to “pursue the ascertainment of the truth and the restoration of justice in the ecclesial community, including in those cases where certain behaviors are not considered crimes by the law of the state, but are under canon law.” Cardinal Matteo Zuppi of Bologna, president of the Italian bishops’ conference, presented Pope Francis with the conference’s second annual report on safeguarding, covering the year 2022. While 81% of calls to the listening centers were to seek information, the rest were to report cases of abuse to Church authorities, according to the report, compiled by researchers at the Piacenza campus of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart. The reports involved 54 presumed victims and 32 alleged perpetrators — 31 men and one woman — almost evenly divided in thirds between priests, religious and lay Church employees. The group’s meeting with Pope Francis took place on the Italian Church’s national day of prayer, repentance and education on clerical sexual abuse. (CNS)

Sagrada Familía basilica in Barcelona inaugurates the towers of the Evangelists

BARCELONA, Spain — It seemed like one of Antonio Gaudí’s dreams come true. On Nov. 12, the pope’s nuncio to Spain, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, blessed the towers of the Evangelists of the famous Sagrada Familía basilica in Barcelona. Gaudí, a legendary Catalan architect, started working on the now-iconic basilica 140 years ago. The rector, Msgr. Josep María Turull, told the Spanish Catholic weekly Alfa y Omega that, if Gaudí were alive, he would be “very happy,” without caring about the extra century of work, because, as he used to say, the “master is in no hurry.” The architect’s work, he added, “is not the result of a dream on a summer night, but of a lot of time of meditation, work and prayer.” Archbishop Auza said during his homily Nov. 12 that each of the towers “push us to be witnesses of the Lord in the middle of the world,” like the Evangelists, “that in unison evoke the presence of Christ.” (OSV News)

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