April 4, 2024 // National

News Briefs: April 7, 2024

Vatican to Publish Document on Human Dignity on April 8

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Officials with the Vatican Press Office announced that the Dicastery for the Doctrine of Faith’s declaration on human dignity, said to include a faith-based critique of “gender ideologies” and surrogacy, will be released on Monday, April 8. Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, Prefect of the dicastery, and Msgr. Armando Matteo, Secretary of the doctrinal section of the dicastery, along with Dr. Paola Scarcella, a professor of medicine and Director of Catechesis for Persons with Disabilities with the Community of Sant’Egidio, are scheduled to speak at a Vatican news conference on April 8, the press office announced on Tuesday, April 2. In an interview with the Spanish news agency EFE in January, Cardinal Fernández said, “We are preparing a very important document on human dignity which includes not only social issues but also a strong critique of moral issues such as sex change, surrogacy, gender ideologies, etc.” The social issues would include anything that impacts human dignity, such as immigration, poverty, war and environmental degradation.

Baltimore Bridge Collapse Leads to ‘Inexplicable Sadness,’ Pastor Says

BALTIMORE (OSV News) – Ever since the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore collapsed in the early hours of Tuesday, March 26, Redemptorist Father Ako Walker has been acting as a spiritual support to the families of six Hispanic construction workers who are believed to have perished in the tragedy. “I am here with them as a spiritual presence during this difficult time,” said the pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus/Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, a largely Spanish-speaking parish. “They all have questions and can’t find the right answers to this situation, so I am here as a presence if anyone needs prayer or anything like that, I am available to help them.” On Wednesday, March 27, the bodies of two of the six missing workers were recovered, USA Today reported. They were identified as Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, 35, of Baltimore, and Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera, 26, of Dundalk, Maryland.

Holy Land Christians Pray for Peace Amid Subdued Good Friday

JERUSALEM (OSV News) – With a heavy police presence but few pilgrims, Jerusalem’s normally crowded Franciscan Good Friday procession made its way down the Via Dolorosa, the route Jesus Christ is believed to have walked to his crucifixion, led in hymns by Catholic scouts. As the war between Hamas and Israel nears the six-month point, the celebration was subdued and rather than the traditional scout marching band, the participants walked in prayer from station to station, ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Near the fifth station, the place where tradition holds that the Romans ordered Simon of Cyrene to help Jesus carry the cross, local Jerusalem resident Sabah Jasa watched the procession go by before joining them. “The heart hurts because there are no people here,” she said. Most West Bank Christians did not receive Israeli travel permits to cross the checkpoints into Jerusalem as they do most years during the Easter holiday. Israel imposed a closure following the October 7 Hamas attack on Israeli southern border communities, in which 1,200 people, including mainly civilians, were killed, and 254 people were taken hostage into Gaza. The ensuing war has left some 32,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip dead, a majority of whom were women and children, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health.

Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Abortion Pill Case

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) – The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday, March 26, in a case concerning mifepristone, a pill commonly used for abortion but more recently has been used for early miscarriage care. This is the first major case involving abortion on its docket since the high court overturned its previous abortion precedent in 2022. A coalition of pro-life opponents of mifepristone, which is the first of two drugs used in a medication or chemical abortion, filed suit over loosened restrictions by the Food and Drug Administration on the drug, which included making it available by mail, arguing the government violated its own safety standards in doing so. The FDA has argued the drug poses little risk to the mother in the early weeks of pregnancy. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that more than half of the abortions performed in the U.S. are chemical or medical, rather than surgical. During oral argument, justices from across the court’s ideological spectrum appeared skeptical that the pro-life doctors challenging the reduced regulations had legal standing to bring the lawsuit, with the question of standing becoming more of a focus than whether the FDA acted lawfully.

Protesters Disrupt Easter Vigil at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

NEW YORK (OSV News) – Three protesters from a group called “Extinction Rebellion (XR) NYC Palestine Solidarity” were arrested during the Easter Vigil at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York on Saturday, March 30. The men have been charged under New York state law with disruption of a religious service, a spokesperson for the New York Police Department told OSV News. Videos provided by the protesters to OSV News show five individuals involved in displaying a banner reading “Silence = Death” as the Liturgy of the Word was in progress; a separate group of three protesters stood during one of the Mass readings, with one female protester singing “Dona Nobis Pacem.” The group was ejected from the cathedral by security staff.

Report: Most U.S. Catholics Unaware of Laudato Si’

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) – A new study shows most Catholics in the United States believe environmental justice is an important issue, but only a third of them have heard of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the topic, with Mass attendance key to familiarity with Church teaching on the care for creation. “American Catholics’ Views on Climate Justice” was released on Tuesday, March 26, by officials with Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, with data drawn from a December 2023 electronic national poll of 1,342 self-identified adult Catholics in the U.S. Most of those interviewed (74 percent) prioritized Church teaching on marriage over the environment (66 percent), but researchers noted that concern for the environment among Catholics – as well as awareness of Church teaching – was stronger among those who attend Mass at least weekly. In addition, political divides on the issue were “mitigated” somewhat among Catholics who are in the pews at least once a week, Jesuit Father Thomas Gaunt, CARA’s Executive Director, told OSV News.

Pro-Life Activist Blasts Canada’s Aid-in-Dying Decision

CALGARY, Alberta (OSV News) – A Calgary judge’s decision in favor of a young woman seeking medically assisted suicide despite her father’s objections amounts to “the blatant devaluing of persons with disabilities,” Canadian anti-euthansia activist Amanda Achtman told OSV News. On Monday, March 25, Justice Colin Feasby ruled that 27-year-old “M.V.,” who has autism and ADHD, could pursue her plan to end her life through Canada’s law on “medical assistance in dying,” or MAID. Enacted in 2016, MAID exempts from criminal charges doctors and nurse practitioners who either directly administer or prescribe medication to cause a person’s death at their own request. The law includes protocols for ensuring a patient requesting MAID is fully informed and freely consents. MAID is not currently available to those whose sole condition is mental illness, and Achtman said the March 25 ruling sends an ominous message to those with autism or other “neurodivergent” conditions, who have “countless ways” to lead “flourishing lives and enrich our communities.”

Pope Francis washes the feet of an inmate at the Rebibbia women’s prison on the outskirts of Rome as he celebrates the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper March 28, 2024. The pontiff washed the feet of 12 inmates at the prison. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

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