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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

US bishops sue EEOC over regulation adding abortion to pregnant worker protections

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and other Catholic groups filed suit May 22 against a federal agency for including abortion in regulations implementing a law meant to add workplace protections for pregnant workers. Final regulations for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in April, granted workers protections for time off and other job accommodations for pregnancy-related medical conditions like miscarriage, stillbirth and lactation — but also for abortion, which was opposed by many of the bill’s supporters, including the USCCB. Chieko Noguchi, USCCB spokeswoman, said May 23 the conference “enthusiastically supported passage of this law, because it had nothing to do with abortion.” The EEOC, “which is an unelected federal agency, hijacked the law, which doesn’t mention abortion at all,” she said. “And they’re mandating that employers accommodate employee abortions, and it also prevents us from encouraging employees to choose life.” (OSV News)

La. governor signs bill reclassifying abortion pills as controlled dangerous substances

BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana lawmakers enacted legislation May 23 that would classify drugs used for both early abortion and miscarriage as controlled dangerous substances and would criminalize improperly possessing the pills, such as lacking a valid prescription or their use outside the context of a professional medical practice. The state Senate voted 29-7 to concur with the House version of the bill previously introduced in the Senate by Republican state Sen. Thomas Pressly. In its original Senate version, Senate Bill 276 makes it a crime to intentionally give an abortion-inducing drug to a pregnant woman without her consent, something Pressly said happened to his sister, Catherine Herring, in another state. The House amended the bill to include this drug reclassification and approved it May 21 in a 64-29 vote. Republican Gov. Jeff Landry signed the first-of-its-kind legislation into law hours after it arrived on his desk May 23. The legislation classifies mifepristone and misoprostol — the combination of drugs used in a chemical or medication abortion — as controlled dangerous substances, a category also including medications that can be abused including narcotics. (OSV News)

Florida priest admits biting woman as last-resort defense to save the Eucharist

ST. CLOUD, Fla. — A Florida priest has admitted to biting a woman who attempted to receive holy Communion in what he and eyewitnesses said was an aggressive, desecrating manner. Father Fidel Rodriguez, 66, parochial vicar at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in St. Cloud, was questioned by police following an altercation during Pentecost Sunday Mass on May 19. In police body camera footage obtained by OSV News, Father Rodriguez explained to officers in detail how he had bitten the woman on the hand after she had seized the hosts in the ciborium he held and seemed poised to cast them on the floor, despite his repeated requests to let them go and leave the church. He said the woman was angry that he had denied her Communion at an earlier liturgy that morning, as she did not appear to understand the guidelines for proper reception of the sacrament. The woman, who reported the incident to police with her same-sex partner, alleged the priest had assaulted her as she tried to get “a cookie” at the liturgy. Father Rodriguez was not arrested; the case has been referred to the state attorney for review. The Diocese of Orlando issued a statement in support of Father Rodriguez, saying that while it “does not condone physical altercations such as this, in good faith, Father Rodriguez was simply attempting to prevent an act of desecration of the holy Communion, which, as a priest, (he) is bound by duty to protect.” (OSV News)

WORLD

Pope apologizes for using ‘homophobic’ slang

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis “never intended to offend or express himself in homophobic terms, and he extends his apologies to those who were offended by the use of a term, reported by others,” that is considered vulgar in Italian, the Vatican press office said. Six days after Pope Francis had a closed-door meeting with members of the Italian bishops’ conference, a notorious Italian gossip website reported that the pope used a derogatory slang term in Italian to describe some seminaries as being marked by a gay culture. The website, Dagospia, said the pope used the term May 20 when responding to a bishop’s question about admitting gay men to seminaries as candidates for priesthood. Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office, said May 28, “Pope Francis is aware of articles that recently came out about a conversation he had, behind closed doors, with the bishops of the CEI,” the Italian acronym for the Italian bishops’ conference. “As he has had the opportunity to state on several occasions, ‘In the Church there is room for everyone, for everyone! No one is useless, no one is superfluous, there is room for everyone. Just as we are, everyone,’” Bruni said. (CNS)

Pope tells Christians, Buddhists to work together for peace

VATICAN CITY — Christians and Buddhists must be willing to work together to “bring a ray of hope to a desperate humanity,” Pope Francis said. Speaking to a delegation of Buddhist monks from the Wat Pho monastery in Bangkok, Thailand, May 27, the pope recalled the Buddhist-Christian colloquium which brought 150 participants from across Asia to Thailand in November 2023 to reflect on the theme of healing humanity and the earth. “Today humanity and the earth, our common home, are indeed wounded!” he said during the meeting at the Vatican. “So many wars, so many people who have lost everything and have been forced to flee, so many children affected by violence.” Pope Francis noted that one of the outcomes of the colloquium was agreement on the need to work together in today’s “interconnected and interdependent” society. “In light of this truth, I urge you to work together with everyone… to promote a friendship that sustains peace and fraternity and builds a more inclusive world,” he said. (CNS)

Global charity Mary’s Meals expands school-feeding program to Mozambique

MAPUTO, Mozambique — Mary’s Meals, a global charity organization committed to ending child hunger, has expanded its school feeding program to the southern African country of Mozambique — a place reeling from a climate change-induced drought and devastating floods that continue to plunge millions of people across southern Africa into extreme hunger. The charity currently serves 2.4 million children worldwide by providing daily school meals in regions where various factors hinder access to education, including hunger, conflict and weather-related disasters. Over 1.5 million children already benefit from Mary’s Meals in Mozambique’s neighboring countries, such as Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi, each of which has declared a state of emergency due to drought. The expansion into Mozambique aims to bring vital nutrition to more than 5,000 children residing in the Mabalane District of Mozambique’s Gaza province, according to Mary’s Meals Catholic founder and CEO, Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow. (OSV News)

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