February 12, 2023 // National

News Briefs: February 12, 2023

Chinese Spy Balloon Shot Down; Catholic Lawmaker Calls for ‘Frank and Sober’ National Security Conversation

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) — A Chinese surveillance balloon flying at high altitudes over the continental U.S. was shot down over the water off the South Carolina coast by U.S. military on Feb. 4, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III confirmed in a statement. The balloon, which was first spotted on Feb. 2 over Montana, moved southeast across the United States, with sightings in the Midwest and Southeast. Television footage showed a white object falling from the sky just before 3 p.m. Eastern time. “On Wednesday, President Biden gave his authorization to take down the surveillance balloon as soon as the mission could be accomplished without undue risk to American lives under the balloon’s path,” the statement said. “In accordance with the president’s direction, the Department of Defense developed options to take down the balloon safely over our territorial waters, while closely monitoring its path and intelligence collection activities.” The balloon, Austin said, was “being used by the (People’s Republic of China) in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States.”

Diplomats, Faith Leaders Gathered at U.N. Urged to Advance Religious Tolerance, Harmony Around the World

UNITED NATIONS (OSV News) — A combination of U.N. ambassadors, religious leaders, diplomats, academics, representatives of nongovernmental agencies, and several musicians gathered on Feb. 3 in a vast conference hall at the United Nations headquarters in New York City to mark World Interfaith Harmony Week. The special week, observed this year from Feb. 1 to Feb. 7, is a product of a 2010 U.N. resolution, first conceived by Jordan’s King Abdullah II, known for his commitment to religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue. The week stresses the need to advance mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue as a way to promote harmony among all people. “We all need each other to open doors for one another,” said one speaker, Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Executive Vice President of the New York Board of Rabbis. “We can’t allow harmony week to be just one week. It has to continue throughout the year and throughout our lives.”

New Translation Tweaks to Sacrament of Penance Take Effect This Lent

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) — Beginning Ash Wednesday, this year on Feb. 22, the experience of the sacrament of penance in the Roman rite will be slightly different, thanks to recently approved changes in the English translation set to come into effect. While most faithful will not notice the minor modifications to the prayer of absolution, the revisions continue efforts throughout Church history to ensure the accuracy of liturgical text translations from the Latin. The revised version states: “God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of His Son, has reconciled the world to Himself and poured out the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God grant you pardon and peace. And I absolve you from your sins in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Other recent new English translations of Roman rite liturgical books have been completed for the missal (2011), confirmation (2015), matrimony (2016), exorcism (2017), the dedication of a church (2018), the blessing of oils (2019), the baptism of children (2020), and ordination (2021).

Ukraine’s Embattled Religious Orders Keep Faith and Hope Alive Amid War

KYIV, Ukraine (OSV News) — Catholic religious orders have played a major role in channeling life-saving humanitarian aid across Ukraine since Russia’s February 2022 invasion, keeping hopes alive while continuing to minister to the country’s much-depleted Catholic communities. “Although some have had to leave, most religious priests and sisters have stayed on — and their witness has been very important for Ukrainians,” explained Father Jaroslaw Krawiec, Superior of the country’s Dominican order. Throughout the war, friars from Ukraine have been sending letters to their Dominican communities across the globe, and to journalists, describing efforts by fellow clergy to sustain church life amid scenes of devastation and despair from Lviv in the west to Izyum and Kherson in eastern Ukraine. Father Krawiec told OSV News that “no one can know all the stories of sacrifice and dedication this war has brought about, but they’ll be told one day in the histories of our religious orders.”

Free Childbirth or Reduce Cost of Raising Kids? Pro-life Leaders Mull Proposal for Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) — Some pro-life leaders  called on Congress in January to make childbirth free for mothers, while others maintain addressing the financial burden of raising children will make greater impacts on saving lives from abortion. Catherine Glenn Foster, President and CEO of Americans United for Life, and Kristen Day, Executive Director of Democrats for Life of America, co-wrote a white paper outlining the proposal called, “Make Birth Free: A Vision for Congress to Empower American Mothers, Families, and Communities.” They cited childbirth costing $19,000, with even privately insured mothers paying $3,000 out-of-pocket “simply for delivery.” Other pro-life leaders note reducing the cost of raising children may be a more effective, lifesaving policy. “There are definitely women who have abortions for economic reasons,” Patrick T. Brown of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. told OSV News. “But those economic factors tend to be longer-lasting than just the initial days around labor and delivery, and our social supports should recognize that.”

‘Hand of The Lord’ Spared Ohio Town Amid Train Derailment, Says Priest

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (OSV News) — An Ohio priest said “the hand of the Lord” prevented a Feb. 3 freight train derailment from turning deadly. Some 50 cars, 20 of which were carrying hazardous materials, caught fire after the crash in the town of East Palestine, Ohio, near the Pennsylvania border. No injuries were reported, although officials evacuated those within a one-mile radius, while issuing shelter in place orders for the rest of the area. Local faithful offered prayers of gratitude that “there was no loss of life,” said Father David Misbrener, Pastor of the Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Jude Parish communities, located in East Palestine and Colombiana, Ohio. “If you’re a person of faith, you have to believe that the hand of the Lord is in something like this.”

Asylum-seeking migrants are pictured crossing the Rio Bravo river from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Jan. 2, 2023, the border between the United States and Mexico, to request asylum in El Paso, Texas. (OSV News photo/Jose Luis Gonzalez, Reuters)

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