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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Biden calls for new abortion initiatives on Roe anniversary

WASHINGTON — On the 51st anniversary of the now-overturned Roe v. Wade decision, President Joe Biden called for the restoration of Roe in federal law and said his administration would take new steps to “protect access to safe and legal medication abortion.” Biden also argued voters have rejected abortion restrictions at the ballot box. Since the Supreme Court’s June 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that reversed Roe, voters in Ohio, California, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, Vermont and Kansas either rejected new limitations on abortion or expanded legal protections for it. Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, the U.S. bishops’ pro-life chairman, rebuked Biden in a statement. “The Biden-Harris Administration reaffirmed their single-minded extremism on abortion — rather than committing real help to mothers and their unborn children,” he said. “We are all called to serve every mother in need and every child in the womb with our love and support while also advocating for life-affirming policies that assist mothers and protect their vulnerable unborn children.” (OSV News)

WORLD

Jerusalem Church official: Situation in Gaza ‘extremely catastrophic’

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories — The situation in the Gaza Strip is “extremely catastrophic,” and people are dying not only from violence but from preventable illnesses, said the CEO of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. “People are really losing their life because of no treatment, no medical care,” Sami El-Yousef, CEO, said Jan. 20. He repeatedly described the situation as “catastrophic” throughout the interview. The supplies that are being allowed in are being transported from Egypt into southern Gaza Strip. “There have been no supplies allowed into the northern part of Gaza,” including Gaza City, where most Christians are sheltering in the Catholic and Orthodox parishes, El-Yousef said. He said that during January, a black market has sprung up, and things like medicine and blankets were being sold for 10 times the amount they sold for before the war. At the beginning of the war, a Gaza medical clinic run by the Catholic charitable agency Caritas transferred most of its stock to Holy Family Catholic Parish, but all of those supplies are now depleted, El-Yousef said. (OSV News)

Armed men kidnap 6 nuns, others in Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince

MEXICO CITY — Six nuns from the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Anne were kidnapped Jan. 19 while traveling on a bus in the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince, according to the Haitian Conference of Religious. Other passengers on the bus also were taken in the abduction, the conference said in a statement. “These many kidnappings fill the consecrated people of Haiti with sadness and fear,” said the statement, signed by conference president P. Morachel Bonhomme. He prayed that “the spirit of strength be given” to the sisters “to find a way out of this terrible situation.” Bishop Pierre-André Dumas of Anse-à-Veau et Miragoâne prayed “to help us put an end to this bitter nightmare and this tragic ordeal of our people which has lasted too long.” In a statement published Jan. 19, the bishop offered himself in exchange for the hostages and denounced what he called an “odious and barbaric act.” (OSV News)

Pope: Remembering the Holocaust reminds people hatred is never justified

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis highlighted the importance of remembering and condemning the horror of the Holocaust, underlining that hatred and violence can never be justified. Praying for all victims of war and their loved ones, the pope also implored everyone, “especially those with political responsibility, to safeguard human life by putting an end to war.” “Let us not forget that war is always a defeat. The only ones who ‘win’ are weapons manufacturers,” he said at the end of his general audience in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall Jan. 24. He recalled that Jan. 27 marks International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. “May the remembrance and condemnation of that horrible extermination of millions of Jews and people of other faiths that took place in the first half of the last century help everyone not to forget that the logic of hatred and violence can never be justified because they deny our very humanity,” he said. (CNS)

Vatican appeals court finds priest guilty of ‘corrupting a minor’

VATICAN CITY — Father Gabriele Martinelli, acquitted by the Vatican City criminal court in 2021 of sexually abusing a fellow seminarian, was found guilty on appeal of “corrupting a minor” and sentenced to two years and six months in prison. Vatican News reported Jan. 23 that the appeals court, led by Archbishop Alejandro Arellano Cedillo, upheld the earlier court verdict that Father Martinelli could not be punished for acts that occurred prior to 2008 when he turned 16 and that there was not sufficient evidence to convict him of the charges of “aggravated rape and aggravated lewd acts” even after he turned 18. Father Martinelli, now 31, was accused of sexually abusing another seminarian at the St. Pius X Pre-Seminary from 2007 to 2012. (CNS)

French Catholic dioceses embrace spirit of Olympics with ‘Sports and Faith’ year

PARIS (OSV News) — The 2024 Summer Olympic Games will open in Paris in six months and in Saint-Denis, a northern suburb of the French capital, efforts are under way to build the Olympic and Paralympic Village, as well as the Olympic Aquatics Center. The area that will soon shine under the Olympic flame is however one of the poorest around Paris and the local dioceses decided that the Olympics is the best time to build relationships between local residents of very different religious backgrounds. This is based on the idea that the Olympics are “building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit,” according to International Olympic Committee. That’s why Bishop Pascal Delannoy of Saint-Denis started his own Olympic project, called “Sport and Faith.” “Residents are proud of the prospect of the Olympic Games,” Bishop Delannoy told OSV News. “But we must not forget that this department is the poorest in France, and faces many challenges.” The place is frequently mentioned for its high rate of domestic violence, brawls between young people and assaults on elected representatives. During the special year, which opened Oct. 8, communities, parishes, associations, prayer groups, catechism teams and Catholic schools help to create encounters around sports: tournaments, soccer matches, pilgrimages or table soccer competitions.

Saints are models of discipleship, not ecumenical obstacles, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Devotion to the saints should not be something that separates Christians, especially because the saints are models of following Jesus and can inspire others to do likewise, Pope Francis said. The pope welcomed an ecumenical pilgrimage from Finland that was celebrating the country’s patron, St. Henrik, or Henry, a 12th-century bishop. “There have times when the veneration of saints seemed to divide rather than unite believers — Catholics and Orthodox on the one hand, and Evangelicals on the other,” the pope told them Jan. 19. “But this should not be the case and, in fact, has never been the case in the faith of God’s holy faithful people.” Pope Francis noted that the Lutheran foundational document, the Augsburg Confession, says, “the saints should be remembered to strengthen our faith when we see how they received grace and how they were helped by faith; and to take example from their good works.” The saints, Pope Francis said, “are brothers and sisters who have walked this road all the way and arrived at the goal. They accompany us as living witnesses of Christ, our way, truth and life. They encourage us to stay on the path of discipleship even when we struggle, when we fall.”

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