January 25, 2018 // World News

News Briefs: January 28, 2018

Cardinal, archbishop praise HHS conscience protection policies

WASHINGTON (CNS)— New policies put in place by the civil rights office of the federal Department of Health and Human Services won praise from two former presidents of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “We applaud HHS for its significant actions to protect conscience rights and religious freedom,” said a joint Jan. 19 statement by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, now chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, chair of their Committee for Religious Liberty. “We are grateful that HHS is taking seriously its charge to protect these fundamental civil rights through formation of a new division dedicated to protecting conscience rights and religious freedom,” they said. “Conscience protection should not be subject to political whims, however. Permanent legislative relief is essential,” added Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Kurtz. “We urge Congress to pass the Conscience Protection Act in order to give victims of discrimination the ability to defend their rights in court. No one should be forced to violate their deeply held convictions about the sanctity of human life.” 

Every child ‘a precious gift from God,’ Trump tells pro-life rally

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In remarks broadcast to the March for Life from the White House Rose Garden, President Donald Trump said that his administration “will always defend the very first right in the Declaration of Independence, and that is the right to life.” He invoked the theme of this year’s march, “Love Saves Lives,” and praised the crowd as being very special and “such great citizens gathered in our nation’s capital from many places for one beautiful cause” — celebrating and cherishing life. “Every unborn every child is a precious gift from God,” he said, his remarks interrupted several times by applause from the crowd gathered on the National Mall. He praised the pro-lifers for having “such big hearts and tireless devotion to make sure parents have the support they need to choose life.” “You’re living witnesses of this year’s March for Life theme, ‘Love Saves Lives,’” he said. His remarks were broadcast to the crowd live via satellite to a Jumbotron above the speakers’ stage, a first for any U.S. president, according to March for Life. During their tenure in office, President Ronald Reagan, President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush all addressed the march via telephone or a radio hookup from the Oval Office, with their remarks broadcast to the crowd. 

Thousands of youth gather to rally, pray before March for Life

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., which typically hosts professional basketball and hockey games and sold-out concerts, was filled with thousands of youth from around the country who gathered there Jan. 19 to stand up for life. The Archdiocese of Washington’s annual Youth Rally and Mass for Life preceded the 45th annual March for Life marking the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. As groups filtered into the arena before sunrise, the band Out of Darkness welcomed them with worship music. “It felt inspiring to me to see a lot of Catholics come together for something that is important to the church,” said Ashley Arevalo, a student at Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park, Maryland. “It felt important to me to be a part of it. … We were all created in (God’s) image. … Everyone should be loved for who they are, no matter the circumstance.” Grace Mesmer, a seventh-grader from Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Lexington Park, Maryland, also was struck by seeing so many of her peers in one place. “I love seeing all the other people who share the same beliefs as me,” she said. 

Pro-life marchers want their message to
transcend politics

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In a sea of printed signs and huge student groups in colorful toboggan caps at the March for Life rally, Ed York was an outlier. He’d made the two-hour drive to the National Mall Jan. 19 from his home in Martinsburg, West Virginia, not with a group on a bus pilgrimage, but only with his daughter Autumn and a small homemade placard emblazoned “As a Former Fetus, I Oppose Abortion.” He stood out in his solitary approach, but York, who has attended previous marches, didn’t mind. “This is David versus Goliath, all right,” he said. “The media’s still pumping out some old stuff about human rights. This (abortion) is going to end one day. But, you know, you have to be patient in life.” On a bright, sunny and almost spring-like morning highlighted by President Donald Trump’s remarks to the rally before the march from the White House Rose Garden and members of Congress, there appeared to be little interest from the marchers in political questions. After all, they had all made their travel plans long before they knew the list of speakers. “Certainly, to have the president show his support for March for Life is encouraging,” said Katrina Gallic, a senior at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. However, she added, involvement for others is “more than a political stance, but should be seen as an ethic for all of humanity.” 

Cardinal invokes Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in march vigil homily

WASHINGTON (CNS) — New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan invoked the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during a homily at the Jan. 18 Mass that opened the National Prayer Vigil for Life. Like “Pastor King,” as Cardinal Dolan referred to him throughout his homily, “our belief in the dignity of the human person and the sacredness of all human life propels us to concern for human life wherever, whenever, and however it is threatened, from racial antagonism to justice for immigrants, from the war-torn to the hungry,” the prelate said. And, like Rev. King, whose life was the subject of a national holiday three days prior, “our prayers and witness are about civil rights: the civil right to life and to equal protection under the law, guaranteed by our Constitution, for the most fragile, marginalized and threatened — the tiny, innocent baby in the womb,” Cardinal Dolan said. The Mass, which has attracted more than 10,000 in recent years, was celebrated at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. 

Bishops say Nigeria ‘under siege from many forces’

LAGOS, Nigeria (CNS) — With at least 80 people killed since the start of the year in conflict over fertile land in Nigeria, the nation’s bishops condemned what they call brutal massacres of innocent people. Benue, in north-central Nigeria, is the state worst hit in the latest fights. Thousands of herdsmen have moved southward to flee spreading desertification in the North, putting pressure on dwindling fertile land amid rapid population growth. Often fighting is between the mostly Muslim semi-nomadic herdsmen and predominantly Christian farmers.

Nigeria “appears to be under siege from many forces,” the bishops said in a Jan. 16 statement. “Repeatedly, innocent citizens in different communities across the nation are brutally attacked, and their sources of livelihood mindlessly destroyed,” they said, noting that “places of worship, schools, hospitals and business enterprises are torched and turned to ashes.” They urged the government to protect its citizens against “marauding herdsmen” and warned that if people resort to vigilantism in self-defense, there could be a “complete breakdown of law and order in the country.”

Ritual, consistency lead to better participation at Mass, study suggests

DETROIT (CNS) — So who really is singing “Gather Us In” at Mass? Does the pastor asking people about their week really make the Mass friendlier and more engaging? Why is the Our Father so engaging? Do people like singing new songs at Mass, or do they prefer tried-and-true hymns they have been singing for years? Two local Catholic researchers are trying to find out. John Ligas and Sacred Heart Major Seminary professor Michael McCallion presented a paper titled “Sociology of the Sacred in Post-Modernity: Ritual Dis-Attunement at Sunday Mass” during the Society for Catholic Liturgy Conference in Philadelphia last October. The study’s primary aim was to discover which parts of the Mass local Catholics were most actively engaged with, and which parts lacked participation. “We wanted to do research on tuning and dis-tuning at a typical Sunday liturgy,” Ligas told The Michigan Catholic, Detroit’s archdiocesan newspaper. Ligas is a retired orthodontist and McCallion was hired in 2005 as the sociologist on staff for the seminary’s licentiate program. 

True believers want peace for Jerusalem, pope tells imam
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians, Muslims and Jews who are sincere about their faith must be committed to protecting the special character of Jerusalem and to praying and working for peace in the Holy Land, Pope Francis wrote in a letter to the grand imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar University. Only a special, internationally guaranteed statute on the status of Jerusalem “can preserve its identity and unique vocation as a place of peace,” the pope wrote. And only when the city’s “universal value” is recognized and protected can there be “a future of reconciliation and hope for the entire region. This is the only aspiration of those who authentically profess themselves to be believers and who never tire of imploring with prayer a future of brotherhood for all,” Pope Francis wrote in the letter to Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, the grand imam. El-Tayeb hosted a meeting Jan. 17 with Christian and Muslim clerics and regional political leaders in reaction to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision in December to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to begin preparations to move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv. 

* * *

The best news. Delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to our mailing list today.