April 25, 2023 // National

News Briefs: April 30, 2023

Supreme Court Blocks Lower Court’s Restrictions on Abortion Pill, Leaving Drug on The Market During Litigation

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) — The U.S. Supreme Court said on April 21 it would block a lower court’s restrictions on an abortion pill, leaving the drug on the market while litigation about the drug proceeds. The court’s order was an apparent 7-2 vote, with Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito publicly dissenting. The decision froze a lower court’s ruling to stay the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the drug. The Justice Department and a pharmaceutical company that manufactures the abortion pill mifepristone previously asked the Supreme Court to intervene in the case after an appeals court allowed portions of the ruling by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk to take effect. A coalition of pro-life opponents of mifepristone, the first of two drugs used in a medication or chemical abortion, had filed suit in an effort to revoke the FDA’s approval of the drug, arguing the government violated its own safety standards when it first approved the drug in 2000. However, proponents argued mifepristone poses statistically little risk to women using it for abortion early in pregnancy, and claim the drug is being singled out for political reasons. In an April 21 statement, President Joe Biden said he would continue “to stand by FDA’s evidence-based approval of mifepristone, and my administration will continue to defend FDA’s independent, expert authority to review, approve, and regulate a wide range of prescription drugs.” On April 22, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, called the Supreme Court’s interim order “a tremendous disappointment, both for the loss of innocent preborn life from chemical abortion, and for the danger that chemical abortion poses to women.”

Judges Block Texas Executions in Day Hailed by Catholic Leaders as Victory for Life

AUSTIN, Texas (OSV News) — Texas was without any scheduled executions on April 21 after judges intervened in capital punishment cases to allow two men on death row a new opportunity to clear their names. A Texas judge on April 19 canceled the scheduled execution of a death-row inmate in the state after a new appeal in the case claimed he was wrongfully convicted on false testimony from two key witnesses in his 2001 trial. The same day, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of another Texas death-row inmate, Rodney Reed, in his efforts to seek DNA testing his appeal argues may prove his innocence. The Catholic Church teaches that the death penalty is morally inadmissible and that the Church is committed to its global abolition. Jennifer Carr Allmon, Executive Director of the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, told OSV News that, “It’s the first time in my life and in my career that we have had a day in Texas where abortion is illegal and there are no scheduled executions on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website.” Allmon said she believed the mood on capital punishment is shifting in Texas, which has a reputation for being one of the biggest death penalty states. “We had a really exciting day,” she said. “It felt like life was winning, which was really encouraging.”

Musk’s Twitter Purges ‘Blue Checks’ from Pope Francis, USCCB, Other Catholic Accounts

SAN FRANCISCO (OSV News) — On the very day Elon Musk launched SpaceX rocket Starship on its ill-fated maiden voyage toward space, that final frontier, Musk’s company Twitter did boldly go purging blue verification check marks from users who had not signed up for its paid Twitter Blue service on April 20, including Pope Francis’ Twitter accounts. The nine papal Twitter accounts, first set up under Benedict XVI in 2012, tweet a daily message from the Holy Father in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Latin, French, Polish, Arabic, and German. The Vatican press office, noting that the nine @Pontifex accounts have a total of more than 53 million followers, told CNS Rome on April 21 it understood Twitter was changing some of its policies. But it added, “the Holy See trusts that they will include certification of the authenticity of accounts.” That same day, following the loss of its blue checkmark, each papal account received a new gray verification checkmark designating “a government or multilateral organization account.” Other religious entities and organizations that have lost their blue checkmark include the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Catholic Reporter, Catholic News Service Rome, and Protestant televangelist Joel Osteen. There is now a triad of checkmark colors on Twitter. Blue marks mean an account has an active subscription to Twitter Blue, gold indicates an official business account through Twitter Verified Organizations, and gray indicates a government or multilateral organization. There also are affiliate account badges for each, as well as automated account labels for bots.

USCCB Reaffirms ‘Unwavering Solidarity’ with Nicaragua Church Under Government Persecution

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) — The U.S. bishops on April 20 reaffirmed their “unwavering solidarity” with Nicaragua’s bishops, priests, faithful, “and all men and women of goodwill” who are suffering “an intensification” of religious persecution by Nicaragua’s government. Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, Illinois, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued the statement, which noted the government’s restrictions imposed on the Catholic Church especially during Holy Week and Easter. Amid the crackdown on the Church by the regime of President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Rosario Murillo, who is Vice President, religious processions in the streets have been banned since the beginning of Lent in February. For Holy Week, the government refused to authorize the traditional Stations of the Cross that are celebrated publicly in all dioceses throughout the country. Bishop Malloy also called on the U.S. government “and the entire international community to continue to work for the release” of Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa, who was sentenced to more than 26 years in prison after being convicted of treason, undermining national integrity and spreading false news, among other charges.

Cardinal McElroy Formalizes Bond with Rome Parish

ROME (CNS) — Cardinal Robert W. McElroy of San Diego formally “took possession” of the Church of St. Frumentius as his titular church in Rome on April 23, sealing his cardinal’s identity as a member of the clergy of Rome. In ancient times, the cardinals who elected popes were pastors of the city’s parishes. “Today I come to you as a stranger, but on a deeper level, a brother through one faith in the risen Lord Jesus Christ,” he told parishioners — in Italian and English — during his homily at Mass. Just before completing the brief ceremony and celebrating Mass, Cardinal McElroy told Catholic News Service that while serving as a member of various dicasteries of the Roman Curia is a concrete way for a cardinal to serve the universal Church, having a titular parish gives him a real connection with the Diocese of Rome. And, he said, “I hope the people of San Diego will find in this parish a particular embodiment of the universal Church, so that it’s not so vague a concept.”

Countries Move to Close Dangerous Darién Gap Migration Route; Catholic Workers Hesitant about Effectiveness of Move

PANAMA CITY (OSV News) — The United States has announced a plan to halt irregular migration through the Darién Gap — a treacherous stretch of thick jungle separating Colombia and Panama — though Catholics working on immigration issues say the scheme is unlikely to contain the vast flows of people heading northward. Some 38,099 people — 1,229 per day — crossed through the Darién Gap in March, according to Panamanian immigration statistics collated by the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights think tank. That represented a 55 percent increase compared to the previous month. Two U.N. groups said on April 13 that as many as 400,000 migrants may cross the dangerous Gap this year, a colossal increase from 250,000 crossing it in 2022. “For migrants starting their trips in faraway continents, the route through the Darién Gap, although it’s expensive, is much less costly than entering another way,” Elías Cornejo, Migrant Services Coordinator for the Jesuit ministry Fe y Alegria in Panama, told OSV News. Cornejo described the agreement as an attempt to turn the Darién Gap into a “bottleneck” that would keep migrants contained far from the U.S. border. “It’s a question of political will” in Panama and Colombia, he said.

Sister Francis Dominici Piscatella, a member of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville, N.Y., looks at a birthday cake while celebrating her 110th birthday at the Dominicans’ motherhouse in Amityville April 20, 2023. The supercentenarian is the oldest nun in the United States and is believed to be the second oldest religious in the world. Also pictured is Sister Piscatella’s primary caregiver, Dominican Sister Francis Daniel Kammer, 83. The two nuns share a condominium apartment on Long Island. (OSV News photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

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