February 4, 2024 // National

News Briefs: February 4, 2024

Ohio Lawmakers Veto Governor Over New Gender Law

COLUMBUS, Ohio (OSV News) – Ohio lawmakers voted on Wednesday, January 24, to override Republican Governor Mike DeWine’s recent veto of legislation that bans certain types of medical or surgical gender reassignment procedures for minors who identify as transgender and also prohibits athletes from competing on sports teams corresponding with their self-perceived gender identity opposite their biological sex. The Ohio Senate voted on January 24 to override DeWine’s veto of House Bill 68 after the state’s House did so on Wednesday, January 10. The bill will become law, scheduled to go into effect in April, but it has a grandfather clause for youth already undergoing transgender treatments. Officials with the Catholic Conference of Ohio said on January 24 it provided testimony in support of HB 68 in both the House and Senate, “emphasizing that experience of gender incongruence among young people are serious and individuals must be met with compassion, charity, and personal accompaniment without resorting to medical interventions that harm a developing body.” The officials added, “We are grateful to the Ohio House and Senate for prudently addressing these concerns through HB 68 and ensuring it becomes Ohio law.”

Bishop Flores to Lead Webinars on Scripture and Synodality

WASHINGTON (OSV News) – An upcoming webinar series hosted by a U.S. bishop explores synodality through the prism of Jesus Christ’s words to His disciples at the Last Supper. Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas, leads “John 14 and Synodality,” with the four sessions taking place on Zoom on February 14 (Ash Wednesday) at 4 p.m. EST, Wednesday, March 6, at 3 p.m. EST, and Tuesday, March 19, at 4 p.m. EDT. Participants can obtain more information about and register for the sessions at usccb.org/synod. Bishop Flores, who serves as Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Doctrine, has shepherded the synodal process in the U.S. Launched by Pope Francis, the first session of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on synodality took place October 4-29 in Rome. Ahead of the concluding session of the synod, which will take place in Rome this coming October, dioceses across the U.S. have been asked by the Vatican officials to hold additional listening sessions in the next few months.

Another Bishop Ordained in China

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – For the second time in less than a week, a Chinese bishop was ordained with the approval of both Pope Francis and the Chinese government. Vatican officials said Father Anthony Sun Wenjun, 53, was ordained to the episcopacy on Monday, January 29, in Weifang, about 320 miles south of Beijing. On the day of his ordination, it was announced that the pope had erected the Diocese of Weifang on April 20, designating the Church of Christ the King in the Qingzhou district of the city to be the new cathedral. April 20 also was the date that Pope Francis nominated Bishop Sun Wenjun “in the framework of the provisional accord between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China,” the Vatican officials said. On Thursday, January 25, Bishop Thaddeus Wang Yuesheng was ordained the bishop of Zhengzhou, also in accordance with the Vatican-China agreement, which was originally signed in 2018 and has been renewed every two years since.

Haiti Archbishop Says Six Nuns Freed from Captivity

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (OSV News) – The six nuns kidnapped in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Friday, January 19, have been freed, and the archbishop of the capital was overjoyed and thankful at the news. “We give thanks to God! Thank you for your support,” Archbishop Max Leroys Mésidor of Port-au-Prince, President of the bishops’ conference in Haiti, told Vatican News on Thursday, January 25, the day their release was announced. Officials with the archdiocese confirmed to Aid to the Church in Need that the nuns were freed on Wednesday, January 24. Released with the sisters were those who were with them on the bus and the driver. The release followed the pope’s January 21 appeal for the release of the sisters and for “social harmony” on the troubled island. The Latin American bishops’ council, CELAM, had announced January 24 as a day of prayer for the release of the nuns, who are members of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Anne. The women, along with other passengers, were abducted by armed men while traveling on a bus in Port-au-Prince, according to the Haitian Conference of Religious.

Proper Use of AI Requires Human Wisdom, Human Heart, Pope Says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – While artificial intelligence can be a formidable tool to facilitate communication and exchange information, it cannot provide the uniquely human wisdom needed to promote the good of people and their communities, Pope Francis said. “No doubt, machines possess a limitlessly greater capacity than human beings for storing and correlating data, but human beings alone are capable of making sense of that data,” the pope wrote in his message for World Communications Day, which will be celebrated on Sunday, May 12. Using artificial intelligence for the good of humanity is “not simply a matter of making machines appear more human, but of awakening humanity from the slumber induced by the illusion of omnipotence, based on the belief that we are completely autonomous and self-referential subjects, detached from all social bonds and forgetful of our status as creatures,” the pope said. The theme for the 2024 World Communications Day is “Artificial Intelligence and the Wisdom of the Heart: Toward a Fully Human Communication.” The pope’s message was released on Wednesday, January 24, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists.

Pope Calls for Global Cease-Fire

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Today’s wars and conflicts have put humanity on the brink of the abyss, Pope Francis said, calling for a worldwide cease-fire. “I will never tire of reiterating my call, addressed in particular to those who have political responsibility: stop the bombs and missiles now, end hostile stances” everywhere, the pope said in an interview with La Stampa, an Italian newspaper, published on Monday, January 29. “A global cease-fire is urgent: either we do not realize it or we are pretending not to see that we are on the brink of the abyss,” he said. Asked specifically about the situation in Israel and Palestine, the pope said that the Oslo Accord is “very clear with the two-state solution. Until that agreement is implemented, real peace remains distant.” The pope also called for peace after praying the Angelus with visitors in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, January 28.

A man holds a banner with an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe as pro-life activists gather for the 10th annual OneLife LA event in Los Angeles Jan. 20, 2024. Nearly 7,000 people attended the event titled “10 Years Together as ONE” under a steady rain that participants said only made them more determined to speak out for and celebrate the dignity of life. (OSV News photo/Victor Aleman, Angelus News)

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