Supreme Court considering Louisiana abortion law
More than 200 senators and members of Congress have signed an amicus brief supporting the abortion legislation in Louisiana.
The law, which places strict restrictions on when and where abortions can be performed, was challenged in court when it was introduced in 2014. It was barred by a district court. This was overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals last January, but in February the Supreme Court blocked the law being implemented.
Now the Supreme Court is considering a challenge to the law by an abortion clinic in Shreveport, Louisiana, saying the law puts “undue burdens” on the right to abortion.
Providence, Rhode Island
Diocese challenges new law on child sex abuse cases
The Diocese of Providence is challenging a change in the law in Rhode Island, which greatly extends the period in which childhood sexual abuse claims can be filed.
From last July the new law has extended the statute of limitations from seven years to 35 years from the victim’s 18th birthday for such cases.
In September Philip Edwardo filed a lawsuit against the diocese claiming that he had been abused by his parish priest Fr Phillip Magaldi “between 100 and 300 times” between the ages of 12 and 17, from 1979 to 1983.
The diocese says the new law is invalid because older cases of child sexual abuse had already expired under the previous law. The hearing to dismiss the lawsuit is scheduled for April 15.
Archbishop Chaput praises Christian friendship
Close Christian friendships help us get closer to God, said Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia at the beginning of the year. He was speaking to college students at the biennial Student Leadership Summit hosted by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), held at the Phoenix Convention Centre in Arizona.
Archbishop Chaput told the story of SS Basil and Gregory, who were schoolmates together in 4th-century Athens, along with the future emperor Julian the Apostate. The close friendship of Basil and Gregory was based on wisdom. “Such was the prelude to our friendship, the kindling of that flame that was to bind us together,” St Gregory wrote.
Bishop supports new bill on religious freedom
The president of Mexico’s bishops’ conference has given his support to a bill that would loosen long-held restrictions on religious groups.
The bill, which would allow religions greater access to the media and relax regulations on their ownership of property, is “framed in terms of human rights”, said Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera López of Monterrey. It would also allow greater cooperation between church and state on cultural and social development. The archbishop said that “citizens have the right to believe or not believe, the right to belong or not belong to a church or religion”.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is opposed to the bill.
Francis appoints two archbishops in Chile
Pope Frances has named two new archbishops in Santiago and Puerto Montt, in the first step towards rebuilding the Church hierarchy in Chile. In May 2018 every active bishop in Chile submitted his resignation, in the wake of the sexual abuse scandal in the country. The Pope accepted eight of the resignations.
Bishop Celestino Aós Braco of Copiapo, 74, who had been administrator of the Diocese of Santiago since last March, has been appointed archbishop there. Bishop Luis Fernando Ramos Pérez will become Archbishop of Puerto Montt.
Priest’s key defence witness killed
A peasant activist has been murdered in Brazil before he could give testimony in support of Fr José Amaro Lopes de Sousa, who among other charges is accused of leading a land protest movement. Fr Amaro succeeded the murdered American nun Dorothy Stang.
Marcio Rodrigues dos Reis was stabbed in the neck by a passenger in December when he was working as a motorcycle taxi driver. He had been the main defence witness for Fr Amaro. The police and local ranchers had tried to persuade him instead to give evidence against the priest. He was the 15th peasant killed in the region over land conflicts since 2015.
Three members of the Black Hermits group in Westray, Orkney, were informed of their excommunication on Christmas Eve.
The Diocese of Argyll and the Isles claimed that the Black Hermits had snubbed “several offers” to reconsider their views before the decision to excommunicate them was made.
In a statement Fr Stephen de Kerdrel, Sister Colette Roberts and Brother Damon Kelly said that, although they believed that Pope Francis was validly elected, he had become “a heretic, ceased being a Catholic, and was therefore no longer Pope”.
The Scottish Sun quoted Brother Damon Kelly as saying: “Paedophile priests who’ve been put in prison have never been excommunicated. It’s extraordinary.”
Patriarch condemns anti-Semitic attack
The Patriarch of Venice has condemned an anti-Semitic attack on a former left-wing politician in St Mark’s Square on New Year’s Eve. Patriarch Francesco Moraglia (pictured) was referring to the attack on Arturo Scotto, who was punched in the face on New Year’s Eve by eight youths shouting “Duce! Duce!” at him in reference to the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.
The patriarch expressed his solidarity with victims of anti-Semitic violence.
Ho Chi Minh City
Concern at ruling
Thiem Catholic convent and church in south Vietnam has been listed as a “heritage site”, raising concerns among parishioners who fear they will no longer be allowed to build on the land. Sister Maria Nguyen Thi Hau said parishioners must be allowed to erect new buildings on the site.
Murdered Christians hailed as martyrs
Vatican Cardinal Robert Sarah (pictured) has declared that 11 Nigerian Christians killed by a terrorist group affiliated with ISIS are martyrs.
On December 26 a video was released showing militants beheading 10 blindfolded captives and shooting an 11th. The murders followed a rise in the abduction of priests in the area in recent months.
“In Nigeria, the murder of 11 Christians by mad Islamists is a reminder of how many of my African brothers in Christ live faith at the risk of their own lives,” Cardinal Sarah said.
Church leaders call for an end to police violence
Burmese Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, has signed an open letter urging the government of Hong Kong to investigate alleged police brutality.
The letter, addressed to Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, referred to the use of tear gas and pepper spray on protesters and bystanders over the Christmas period, asking officials to bring “an end to impunity for serious violations of human rights, and beginning a process of democratic political reform”.
A government spokesman has rejected the letters’ claims, deeming them “biased and misleading”.
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