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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Supreme Court agrees to review legal challenge to abortion pill

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court said Dec. 13 it would take up a case concerning the abortion pill, the first major case involving abortion on its docket since the high court overturned its previous abortion precedent in last year’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision. The timing of the case could result in justices issuing their decision next summer amid the 2024 presidential campaign. A coalition of pro-life opponents of mifepristone, which is the first of two drugs used in a medication or chemical abortion, previously filed suit in an effort to revoke the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the drug, arguing the government violated its own safety standards when it first approved the drug in 2000. The FDA has argued the drug poses little risk in the early weeks of pregnancy. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s abortion statistics from 2021 showed 53% of abortions were carried out via medication, sometimes referred to as a medication or chemical abortion. The justices indicated their review would be of the lower court’s ruling rolling back FDA’s loosened regulations on the drug’s access, not its initial approval in 2000. (OSV News)

Possible Ohio diocesan merger aims to ‘advance the Gospel,’ say bishops

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two Ohio bishops told OSV News that a potential merger between their dioceses is part of their shared mission “to advance the Gospel (and) to make disciples of all nations.” In a joint letter issued Dec. 11, Bishop Earl K. Fernandes of the Diocese of Columbus, Ohio, and Bishop Paul J. Bradley, apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Steubenville, Ohio, said they “have begun very preliminary discussions regarding the potential merger of the dioceses.” The initiative, undertaken at the request of the Apostolic Nunciature, is still in its early stages, with the final decision to be made by Pope Francis after thorough consideration by the U.S. bishops and the Vatican’s Dicastery for Bishops. A possible reshaping of the diocesan territories requires both temporal efforts and spiritual discernment. Population and priestly vocational decline have prompted the inquiry, with a goal of meeting the current and future pastoral needs of the faithful in both diocesan territories. (OSV News)

WORLD

Cardinal Becciu, five others sentenced to prison at Vatican trial

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican City State criminal court sentenced Cardinal Angelo Becciu to five years and six months in prison on two counts of embezzlement and one count of aggravated fraud but found him not guilty of abuse of office or witness tampering. The 75-year-old cardinal’s attorney, Fabio Veglione, told reporters his client would appeal. The three-judge panel of the Vatican court handed down the verdicts late Dec. 16. In addition to Cardinal Becciu, five other people were sentenced to jail time ranging from three years to seven years and were ordered to pay the Vatican millions of dollars in damages. (CNS)

Vatican: Having child out of wedlock does not bar access to sacraments

VATICAN CITY — Women who have conceived a child out of wedlock and have the courage to choose life for their baby “should be encouraged to have access to the healing and consoling power of the sacraments,” said the head of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández. He was responding to a bishop expressing concern for single mothers who abstain from the sacraments fearing the rigidity of pastors and judgment from other Catholics. “It is noted that in some countries, both priests and some lay people prevent mothers who have had a child outside of marriage from accessing the sacraments and even baptizing their children,” said the cardinal’s reply, which was approved by Pope Francis. (CNS)

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