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Nation and world briefs for May 27

U.S.

New York upholds abortion coverage mandate; Albany Diocese to appeal

ALBANY, N.Y. — The Diocese of Albany said May 21 it planned to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court after New York’s highest court ruled the state can continue to require companies with health insurance plans to cover what it called medically necessary abortions. The Diocese of Albany, alongside other religious groups, challenged the regulation, arguing its exemption for religious employers was too narrow and could force some employers to violate their religious beliefs. A statement from the diocese said they would appeal to the Supreme Court. The challengers argued that the original regulation was intended to exempt employers with religious objections, however, it was later narrowed to cover religious groups that primarily teach religion and mostly serve and hire only those who share their faith. In effect, groups such as Catholic Charities, which seek to serve those in need regardless of their faith, wouldn’t qualify. (OSV News)

Pew study shows growing support for legal abortion

WASHINGTON — Nearly two years after the Supreme Court ruled on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision making abortion a constitutional right, a majority of Americans said they support legal abortion in all or most cases, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center. In the two years since that ruling, states have moved to either restrict abortion or expand access to it. The study found that 63% of Americans said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, an increase of four percentage points from 2021, the year prior to the Dobbs ruling. A majority of Americans — 54% — said the statement “the decision about whether to have an abortion should belong solely to the pregnant woman” describes their views extremely or very well. Meanwhile, 35% said the statement “human life begins at conception, so an embryo is a person with rights” describes their views extremely or very well. (OSV News)

Pope names coadjutor bishop for Camden, N.J.

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Auxiliary Bishop Joseph A. Williams of St. Paul and Minneapolis as coadjutor bishop of Camden, New Jersey, which is currently headed by Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan. The appointment was publicized in Washington May 21 by Cardinal Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. As coadjutor, Bishop Williams will automatically succeed Bishop Sullivan when he retires. Bishop Sullivan has served as the eighth bishop of Camden since 2013. When he turned 75 on March 17, 2020, he submitted his resignation to the pope as required by canon law. A native of Minnesota, Bishop Williams, who turned 50 on May 1, was named an auxiliary for St. Paul and Minneapolis by the pope Dec. 10, 2021. According to the diocese, Bishop Sullivan has been notified the pope will accept his resignation on his 80th birthday, March 17, 2025. (OSV News)

WORLD

New clergy arrests, information blackout spark concern in Belarus

SHUMILINA, Belarus — Leaders of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate have deplored an information blackout surrounding the arrest of two of their priests in Belarus, Fathers Andrzej Juchniewicz, chairman of Major Superiors, Delegates and Representatives of Institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life in Belarus, and Pawel Lemekh. “No one from the Catholic Church was represented at their court hearing, and no details or access were provided,” said Father Pawel Gomulak, spokesman for the religious order’s Polish province. “We’re still seeking reliable information about their current status and detention conditions, as well as about the penalties they face and how we might help them.” Both priests worked at the northeastern Vitebsk Diocese’s sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima at Shumilina, and were given 15- and 10-day detention orders, respectively, on May 10. Father Gomulak said options for assisting the two priests were limited since both are Belarusian citizens of Polish descent, while the Oblates have no legal status in the country. (OSV News)

Don’t let discord lead to death, pope says in city of Romeo and Juliet

VERONA, Italy — Adults in the world’s richest nations deserve “the Pontius Pilate Nobel Prize because we have become experts at washing our hands” of the violence and injustices in the world, Pope Francis said. Always insisting on having the last word, being concerned only for one’s own well-being, investing in weapons manufacturing and thinking that war can solve problems all contribute to a lack of peace in the world, the pope said May 18 at the “Peace Arena” in Verona. In the Verona Arena, a Roman amphitheater built in the year 30, about 12,500 people involved in popular movements and Catholic organizations committed to service, peace and justice met with the pope to pray for peace. (CNS)

Vatican publishes new norms to discern alleged supernatural phenomena

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican has published new norms for the Church to discern alleged supernatural phenomena, such as Marian apparitions and mystical visions, which streamline the discernment process for bishops, allow the Vatican to avoid making definitive judgments on the authenticity of the events and reaffirm that Catholics are not obliged to believe in the purported phenomena. In the document released May 17, Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, laid out six possible conclusions that can be reached when discerning a possible supernatural phenomenon, ranging from a declaration that an event is not of supernatural origin to authorizing and promoting piety and devotion associated with a phenomenon without affirming its divine nature. The significant development in the text, signed by Pope Francis, is that bishops and the dicastery will not generally declare that these phenomena are of supernatural origin,” though “the Holy Father can authorize a special procedure in this regard.” Rather, declarations of supernatural authenticity “are replaced either by a ‘nihil obstat’” — a judgment meaning “no objection” that finds no problematic elements with a reported phenomenon, Cardinal Fernández wrote in his presentation of the new norms. (CNS)

After 11 are massacred in Mexico’s Chiapas state, bishops warn conditions lacking for elections

MEXICO CITY — Bishops in Mexico’s southern Chiapas state have warned that conditions for holding elections are lacking after the May 12 massacre of 11 people — including two catechists — as drug cartels dispute territories and continue killing candidates ahead of the June 2 vote. They also urged the country’s three presidential candidates to “offer concrete proposals” for stopping the violence that convulsed swaths of Mexico and forced thousands to flee their homes in Chiapas — where criminal groups are battling for control over coveted routes for smuggling migrants and drugs from neighboring Guatemala. “We consider that in some regions of the state affected by violence, displacement or controlled by drug trafficking, there are no conditions for elections to take place,” Bishop Rodrigo Aguilar Martínez of San Cristóbal de las Casas said in a video statement for the Ecclesial Province of Chiapas. “We urge candidates for public office to make concrete proposals to respond to the most urgent issues: violence, insecurity, drug trafficking, poverty, land exploitation, health and education,” he continued. The bishops’ warning followed a massacre in the municipality of Chicomuselo near the border with Guatemala, where 11 people were murdered in their homes on May 12. Mexican media blamed the massacre on a criminal group aligned with the Jalisco New Generation cartel, which has been battling the Sinaloa cartel in Chiapas. (OSV News)

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