Pope supports pro-life movement, sets day of prayer for peace in Africa
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — With so many direct attacks on human life, from abortion to war, Pope Francis said he is worried that so few people are involved in pro-life activities. Reciting the Angelus prayer at the Vatican Feb. 4, Pope Francis marked Italy’s Pro-Life Sunday and also called for a day of prayer and fasting for peace Feb. 23, with special prayers for Congo and South Sudan. Some 20,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus. Many of them carried the pro-life movement’s green balloons with the message, “Yes to life.” Thanking all the “different church realities that promote and support life in many ways,” Pope Francis said he was surprised there were not more people involved. “This worries me,” the pope said. “There aren’t many who fight on behalf of life in a world where, every day, more weapons are made; where, every day, more laws against life are passed; where, every day, this throwaway culture expands, throwing away what isn’t useful, what is bothersome” to too many people.
Trump immigration plan’s impact on family ‘deeply troubling,’ says bishop
WASHINGTON (CNS) — The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ migration committee said Jan. 30 that the Catholic bishops welcomed the Trump administration’s proposal to give “Dreamers” a path to citizenship, but at the same time, they are “deeply troubled” about the plan’s “impact on family unity.” On Jan. 26, the White House released a proposal offering a path to citizenship for approximately 1.8 million of the so-called Dreamers and asking for a $25 billion investment in a border wall and other security measures. The plan also calls for an end to the diversity visa program, popularly known as the “visa lottery,” and also a program that grants visa preferences to relatives of U.S. citizens or residents. The administration said its focus for immigration policy is to keep the “nuclear family” intact. “We welcome the administration’s proposal to include a path to citizenship for Dreamers. However, the proposed cuts to family immigration and elimination of protections to unaccompanied children are deeply troubling,” said Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, who is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration. He made the comments in a statement released ahead of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech.
Pro-life leaders decry Senate failure to pass 20-week abortion ban
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York decried the Senate’s failure to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would have banned abortions after 20 weeks of gestation, and called on senators to “rethink” their stance on late-term abortions. The cardinal, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, called the vote “appalling” in a statement released late Jan. 29. “The Senate’s rejection of this common-sense legislation is radically out of step with most Americans,” the statement added. Although the bill received 51 votes, under Senate rules it needed 60 votes to end debate and move to a final vote. Three Democrats joined 48 Republicans in supporting the measure. The final vote was 51-46.
Update: Strains increase between Venezuelan church leaders, president
BARQUISIMETO, Venezuela (CNS) — The strenuous relationship between the Venezuelan regime and local church leaders deteriorated further in January, with President Nicolas Maduro calling two bishops “devils in a cassock.” During his comments to the pro-government National Constituent Assembly Jan. 15, Maduro also ordered the attorney general to investigate the bishops for hate crimes. “One of those two called us a ‘plague,’” Maduro said. “It will be seen whether this constitutes a real hate crime that aims to create fighting between Venezuelans.” Maduro referred to comments made by the Bishop Victor Basabe of San Felipe and Archbishop Antonio Lopez Castillo of Barquisimeto. On Jan. 14, during the annual procession of the Divine Shepherdess, which attracts millions in the western city of Barquisimeto, both bishops spoke out against corruption, which they said has contributed to the country’s spiraling economic crisis. According to local outlet noticiasbarquisimeto.com, Bishop Basabe told the crowd that Venezuelans who have left the country “will never be foreigners” and that when they return they will all “have the task of reconstructing our country so that the plague that today devastates us becomes part of the past.”
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