Governor relaxes assisted suicide safeguard
Oregon, the first state to introduce assisted suicide, has loosened the rules around receiving lethal drugs. Governor Kate Brown (pictured left) signed into law last week a new exemption for terminally ill patients who are believed to be close to the end of life. Under previous legislation, all patients would have to wait 15 days between a first request for assisted suicide and a second. Now, if doctors sign a form saying the patient has less than 15 days to live, they may receive the drugs immediately.
Oregon’s law is often held up by assisted suicide campaigners as a model for other countries. However, this year the state has introduced several bills to weaken existing restrictions.
Judge who was grilled over faith is confirmed
The Senate has confirmed Brian Buescher as a district judge for the district of Nebraska. Buescher’s confirmation gained national attention last year after two senators grilled him over his membership of the Knights of Columbus, noting the organisation’s opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last week: “I can’t believe I need to repeat it here in the US Capitol, but there is nothing about living out one’s faith that is disqualifying for public service.”
In recent years Catholic judicial appointments have faced hostility, most notoriously in 2017 when one senator told nominee Amy Coney Barrett: “The dogma lives loudly within you, and that is a concern.” Barrett was also confirmed as a judge.
Morality handbook fails to win over Church
The Archdiocese of Mexico City has distanced itself from a government plan to distribute a booklet on morality. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has said he wants to “strengthen cultural, moral and spiritual values” and has teamed up with Protestant leaders. The National Fellowship of Christian Evangelical Churches has said it will distribute the booklet, an adaptation of a 75-year-old essay on moral principles. It has been criticised by secularist groups for referring repeatedly to the soul and saying nothing about “sexual diversity”.
An editorial in the Archdiocese of Mexico City publication Desde la Fe said the government’s concerns were “positive”, but that strengthening morality should start with the family.
Ponce, Puerto Rico
Bishop: governor ‘took people for idiots’
After nearly two weeks of widespread protests triggered by allegations of corruption and offensive private messages, Governor Ricardo Rossello of Puerto Rico resigned from office, becoming the first governor to do so in the island’s history, the Catholic News Service reports.
The day before Rossello announced his resignation, Bishop Rubén Antonio González Medina of Ponce, president of the Puerto Rican bishops’ conference, said the massive protests in the island’s capital, San Juan, were “a manifestation of the people and their outrage, as well as their exhaustion from having been ‘cogido de bobos’ (‘taken for idiots’)”.
Bishop says ‘all priests fear for their lives’
The Nicaraguan Church is coming under increasing pressure, with gun attacks on churches and violence towards priests, according to the Wall Street Journal. Human rights organisations say that more than 300 people have been killed by pro-government forces as President Daniel Ortega cracks down on protests.
One priest said in a plea for help: “They are defiling the churches … The government is killing us.” Bishop Rolando Álvarez told the newspaper: “I dare say that all priests, or practically all, fear for their lives.”
Archdiocese registers same-sex couple
The Archdiocese of Medellín has defended registering a same-sex couple as “Mother 1” and “Mother 2” on a baptismal certificate. Manuela Gomez conceived a child by artificial insemination, and she and Luisa Gomez wanted the child registered by a parish. Eventually they found one that would register them both as parents. Luisa told local media that Catholics said the Church was opposed to same-sex relationships, “but look, the Church is accepting us and baptising [baby] Matias. That is a big deal.”
A legal adviser to the archdiocese said: “The child is here, the child now exists. So, what do we do?”
Vatican official: pilgrimage site is ‘blessed’
The Vatican’s envoy to the controversial pilgrimage site of Medjugorje has said the site is “a place, blessed by God, of encounter and dialogue with the Lord through the Virgin”. But Archbishop Henryk Hoser reiterated that the Vatican has not approved the alleged apparitions, which began in 1981.
In May, Pope Francis permitted official pilgrimages to Medjugorje, allowing parishes, dioceses and Catholic associations to organise trips to the site. But the official announcement says that the alleged apparitions still needed examination, and that the pilgrimages “should not create in any way ambiguity in the doctrinal sense”. The Pope has said he is “sceptical” about the visionaries, some of whom claim to receive daily visions.
Syro-Malabar Church rejects ‘propaganda’
The Syro-Malabar Church has dismissed what it calls “calculated propaganda” against its leader, Cardinal George Alencherry. The Associated Press had reported that 450 priests joined a protest against the cardinal, who is accused of mishandling funds. But the Syro-Malabar Church told CNA the number was far lower.
The cardinal denies all wrongdoing, and his innocence has been defended by the Indian bishops’ conference. The Vatican has reinstated him, but without publishing the results of its investigation.
Ho Chi Minh City
The Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City has warned against two devotional movements which they say endanger the faith. One offers healing ceremonies, the other a form of Marian devotion. But the bishops of Vietnam’s most populous diocese said neither was trustworthy.
Cardinal pleads for schools to reopen
Cameroon’s most senior churchman has appealed for schools to reopen, amid clashes between English-speaking separatists and the government.
The separatists, who believe that the government is marginalising them in favour of the French-speaking majority, launched a school boycott in 2016. But the government responded with a crackdown. Cardinal Christian Tumi (pictured), Archbishop Emeritus of Douala, told Crux that hardline separatists should allow schools to reopen, “even if they are convinced that it’s necessary to continue fighting against established authority”.
African bishops consider call for youth representation
The organisation for Africa’s bishops is considering appointing a special representative for youth. The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and
Madagascar (Secam) held its 50th anniversary meeting last week. Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa of Blantyre, Malawi, told a press conference that Secam could not afford to “ignore the call of our young people today and continue with business as usual … without empowering them”.
Archbishop Msusa and Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle of Cape Coast, Ghana, said they were considering the request, made by a young speaker at the meeting.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.