December 6, 2023 // National

News Briefs: December 10, 2023

Pope Prays as Fighting in Holy Land Resumes

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The end of the temporary cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas “means death, destruction, misery,” Pope Francis said in remarks read by his aide on Sunday, December 3, after reciting the Angelus from his Vatican residence. Fighting continued in the Holy Land on Friday, December 1, after a weeklong truce. “Many hostages have been freed, but many are still in Gaza” in the hands of Hamas, the pope’s text said. “Let’s think about them, their families who had seen a light, a hope to embrace their loved ones again.” Israel and Hamas had agreed on the temporary cease-fire to allow Hamas to release hostages captured in Israel on Saturday, October 7, in exchange for the release of Palestinians jailed in Israel. The agreement also allowed aid agencies to deliver needed food, water, medicine, and fuel to Gaza.

Explosion in Philippines Kills Four During Mass

MARAWI, Philippines (OSV News) – A deadly bomb that exploded during a Mass on Sunday, December 3, killed at least four people and injured dozens at a university in a predominantly Muslim city in southern Philippines. Media reports that the explosion caused panic among dozens of students and teachers in a gymnasium, where the Mass was taking place, at Mindanao State University in Marawi, capital of Lanao del Sur province. The explosion took place at around 7 a.m. local time. Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for the deadly blast, according to Reuters and The New York Times. After praying the Angelus, Pope Francis assured the victims of his prayers. A telegram, addressed to Bishop Edwin de la Peña of Marawi, assured the people of the Holy Father’s spiritual closeness amid this tragedy, and that he commended the souls of those who died to God’s mercy and prayed for “the divine gifts of healing and consolation upon the injured and bereaved.”

Kissinger, 100, and O’Connor, 93, Die

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) – In the span of a few days in late November and early December, two people who helped shape the American political landscape for decades passed away. On Wednesday, November 29, Henry Kissinger, a former Secretary of State who shaped U.S. foreign policy, died at his Connecticut home. He was 100. Kissinger served as Secretary of State under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and advised subsequent U.S. presidents. Throughout the span of his career, Kissinger met with several popes, including Pope St. Paul VI, Pope Benedict XVI, and St. John Paul II. In 2014 remarks to New York seminarians, Kissinger said Pope St. John Paul once personally told him that “the function of the Church is to tell the truth.” On Friday, December 1, Sandra Day O’Connor, who was the first female U.S. Supreme Court justice, and often a crucial swing vote as a moderate, died in Phoenix. She was 93. In her nearly a quarter-century on the court, O’Connor became known as a pragmatist and a moderate, often considering the facts of the case to reach rulings on issues like abortion or the death penalty that varied in scope. Nominated to the court at 51, O’Connor served for 24 years before retiring in 2006. Justice Samuel Alito now holds the seat she once held.

Pope Offers Condolences to Parents of British Infant

NOTTINGHAM, England (OSV News) – Indi Gregory, an 8-month-old British girl who died on Monday, November 13, because her life support was not extended, had a Catholic funeral on Friday, December 1, in the British Nottingham Cathedral, celebrated by Bishop Patrick McKinney. Her parents battled the British courts to have her life support extended. The father of Indi, Dean Gregory, wrote a moving tribute to his daughter on the day of her funeral, where her casket arrived in a white horse-drawn carriage. He said his daughter was a “beautiful warrior.” Pope Francis sent a message to Bishop McKinney, signed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State. “His Holiness Pope Francis was saddened to learn of the death of little Indi Gregory, and he sends condolences and the assurance of his spiritual closeness to her parents, Dean and Claire, and to all who mourn the loss of this precious child of God,” the pope said. Indi had been battling a rare mitochondrial disorder since she was born in February. In September, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust brought a case against the family to the High Court arguing that life support should be removed in Indi’s “best interests.” “She had to fight to live from day one of her life,” Indi’s father said, adding that his daughter’s mission on earth was to “expose evil in the world.”

Texas Court Considers Request for Clarity on Abortion Ban

AUSTIN, Texas (OSV News) – The Texas Supreme Court on Tuesday, November 28, heard arguments in a challenge to the state’s abortion ban after a group of women alleged that the law forced them to continue pregnancies despite grave risks to their health. In March, five women who said they were denied abortions under the Texas law despite experiencing pregnancy complications filed a lawsuit challenging the law. Pro-life supporters of the law argued it already considers life-threatening situations. The case has since grown to include nearly two dozen plaintiffs. The law, which restricts abortion after six weeks gestation, is among the strictest abortion laws in the country. The lawsuit, however, does not actually seek to repeal the law but to clarify when exceptions are permitted. Texas’ highest court scrutinized both sides’ arguments, and its ruling could take several months.

Sources Say Pope to Withdraw U.S. Cardinal’s Vatican Salary

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis told the prefects of Vatican dicasteries that he saw no reason for the Vatican to continue giving U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke a monthly salary and questioned why the Vatican should be providing him with a free apartment in Rome, various sources have confirmed. “He didn’t see why he should continue to subsidize Burke attacking him and the Church,” and the pope thought “he seemed to have plenty of money from America,” a person who spoke to Pope Francis later told Catholic News Service. Riccardo Cascioli, Director of the Italian Catholic publication La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, reported on Monday, November 27, that Pope Francis announced the provisions regarding Cardinal Burke during a meeting on Monday, November 20, with the heads of the offices of the Roman Curia. A source who spoke to CNS said his understanding was that Pope Francis was not planning to evict Cardinal Burke from his Vatican-owned apartment but that he did plan to ask the cardinal to begin paying rent.

Report: More Prisoners Executed in 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) – Texas, Florida, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Alabama were the only states that carried out executions in 2023, while a majority of U.S. states have banned or paused the practice by executive order, according to a new report by the Death Penalty Information Center. However, there was an increase in executions in 2023 from the previous year: 24 people were executed in 2023, while 18 were executed in 2022. This year, the report said, was the ninth consecutive year with fewer than 30 executions. The report attributed the increase in executions from the prior year to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is Catholic, resuming the practice in the state ahead of his presidential bid. The report also noted that in November, Gallup found that a record high percentage of Americans (50 percent) said the death penalty is applied unfairly in the United States – the highest percentage since Gallup began asking the question in 2000. Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, Executive Director of Catholic Mobilizing Network, said Catholics have a role to play in abolishing the death penalty in the few remaining states that actively use it in favor of “approaches to justice that honor the sanctity of life, rather than throw it away.”

A trio from Baltimore visits Rome in late October 2023 to advocate for the sainthood causes for six Black Catholics from the United States. Joined in St. Peter’s Square by Father Willy Kingston, a friend from New York who works at the Vatican, they are Mary Sewell, Dolores Moore and Ralph Moore (no relation). (OSV News/courtesy Ralph Moore)

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