News Analysis

World news

Snow covers a child's face after a morning of sledding in Humboldt Park, Chicago (Getty)


Law restricting abortion put on pause
the Supreme Court (pictured) has put a temporary hold on a law that would restrict abortions in Louisiana. It would require abortion providers to have “admitting privileges” – official status – at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic. It would have dramatically reduced the number of doctors allowed to perform abortions. The Court says it needs more time to review the details.

The case could be a litmus test of the court’s new make-up. Neither of President Trump’s two appointees, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, has yet expressed a clear position on Roe v Wade, the judgment which legalised abortion, but there is speculation that both might take a strongly pro-life position.


Catholics help homeless in freezing weather
catholic agencies have been working flat out to help those, especially the homeless, who have been caught up in the Arctic weather in parts of the United States. Chicago last week hit -23°F (-31°C).

“In many ways it’s a humanitarian crisis here with the severity of weather,” said Mgr Michael Boland, CEO of Catholic Charities of the Chicago archdiocese. “It’s a really challenging time for a lot of people… It’s life or death for people on the streets,” he told the Catholic News Service.

His agency and other charities have been providing round-the-clock warming centres, as well as hot meals, coats, hats and gloves. “It’s all hands on deck,” said Ed Jacob of Chicago’s Franciscan Outreach. “It’s brutal, but we will plough through it.”


Archbishop attacks sex education bill
Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver has criticised a bill being considered in Colorado that would require schools “to either use a comprehensive sex-ed curriculum that contradicts human nature and is inconsistent with Christian values, or to provide no instruction on sexuality at all”. According to the Denver Post, sex education classes must include “information about all preventive methods to avoid unintended pregnancy”.

Archbishop Aquila said that among the bill’s other problems were that “public schools would have to promote abortion as an equal option to life, and parents wouldn’t be notified before lessons were presented on gender-identity and sexual orientation”.

Panama City

Hundreds of young people say they have a vocation
At a vocational encounter held by the Neocatechumenal Way after World Youth Day, 700 young men and 650 young women responded affirmatively when asked if they felt called to become priests or nuns.
More than 20,000 young people filled the Rommel Fernández Stadium for the event, presided over by Cardinal Seán O’Malley.

Kiko Argüello (pictured), the artist and co-initiator of the Neocatechumenal Way, spoke, asking the young people if God was calling them. Around 600 families also responded when he asked them to reflect if God was calling them to go on mission in a different country.


Cardinal urges President Maduro to go
Cardinal Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino, Archbishop Emeritus of Caracas, has said he hopes the president of Venezuela will resign.

“I hope Maduro, who always appeals to the Pope’s words, heeds those calls, and steps down from office since his administration has been absolutely harmful for the Venezuelan people,” the cardinal said last week.

Under Maduro, who returned as president after an internationally condemned election last month, Venezuela has descended into hyper-inflation and poverty despite being an oil-rich state.

Brumadinho, Brazil

Dam collapse is ‘a crime’
The Brazilian dam collapse last week is being called an environmental crime rather than an accident by Catholics on the scene. “It is a recurring event. This was not an accident, this was a crime,” said Franciscan Brother Rodrigo de Castro Amedee Peret, designated by the bishops to lead the Churches and Mining Network.

“Once again, profit is put above human lives and the environment,” said Fr Antonio Claret Fernandes, a member of the Movement of People Affected by Dams. The collapse killed 121 people and more than 200 were still missing at the time of going to press.

Newcastle upon Tyne

Oratorian bishop moves north
Bishop Robert Byrne has been appointed as the new Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, succeeding Séamus Cunningham.

Bishop Byrne, formerly provost of the Oxford Oratory, became the first Oratorian bishop in England for 140 years when he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham in 2014. He is regarded as friendly towards the Traditional Latin Mass, introducing a weekly Old Rite Mass during his time in Oxford.

He was born in Manchester in 1956 and attended St Bede’s School, King’s College London and the Pontifical College of St Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum) in Rome. Bishop Byrne’s episcopal installation will be celebrated at St Mary’s Cathedral, Newcastle, on March 25, the feast of the Annunciation.

Chur, Switzerland

Court rules on family planning funding
A Swiss court has ruled that Church taxes can be used to support a family planning advice centre. The diocese of Chur had challenged the decision of the regional Church to donate the money on condition that it not be used for anything relating to abortion. But the court ruled that the funds came from the local community of Catholics, and not from the Catholic Church itself, and that the funding did not go against either religious freedom or Church law.

Uttar Pradesh

Christians attacked
Persecution of Christians in India is at its highest in 70 years, the charity Persecution Relief has said. In 477 violent incidents last year, over a quarter in Uttar Pradesh, churches have been set on fire, services disrupted and Christians threatened by Hindu nationalist extremists.


Pray for the children of Yemen, says Francis
Pope Francis has asked Catholics to pray for the people of Yemen, especially the children, many of whom are starving in the civil war.

“The cry of these children and their parents rises before God,” he said, appealing to all parties to ensure the fair distribution of food and to work for the good of the population. He urged Catholics to “pray hard, because there are children who are hungry, who are thirsty, who have no medicine, and are in danger of death”. The Pope was speaking hours before his visit to the United Arab Emirates, which is deeply involved in the war.

Kachin State, Burma

Cardinal pleads for Chinese dam project to be stopped
A chinese-funded dam in northern Myanmar (Burma) must be stopped, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon said last week. The Myitsone Dam project on the Irrawaddy river would flood more than 200 square miles in Kachin state.

The river is Myanmar’s most sacred symbol, the cardinal said, “witness to our sorrows, joys and wounded history. She is our hope, she is our destiny.” He said the river was seen as “our mother” by the people, 80 per cent of whom live by farming. It would be lost “to the greed of a superpower”, he added: it is expected that ninety per cent of the power from the dam would go to China.