March 21, 2023 // National

News Briefs: March 26, 2023

U.S. Ukrainian Catholic Leaders Applaud International Criminal Court’s Arrest Warrants for Putin

PHILADELPHIA (OSV News) — Ukrainian Catholic leaders in the U.S. are applauding the International Criminal Court’s March 17 decision to issue arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova. The ICC charged the two with the war crimes of “unlawful deportation” and “unlawful transfer” of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation. Ukraine’s government has said more than 16,200 of its children have been deported to Russia so far. While Russia does not recognize the ICC, the arrest warrants send a strong message, giving “victims a new hope that in the future justice will be done,” said Metropolitan Archbishop Borys Gudziak of Philadelphia, who heads the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the U.S. Now, Putin “is being named as an alleged criminal,” said the archbishop. “The documentation of the war crimes and the abduction of children is abundant. The victims now have a new hope that in the future justice will be done.”

Indigenous Canadians Seek Support from Catholics, Pope to Fight Violence Against Women, Girls

UNITED NATIONS (OSV News) — Women leaders from among Canada’s Indigenous nations were at the United Nations’ New York headquarters, seeking broad support, including from Pope Francis, in their ongoing campaign to stop violence against their communities’ women and girls. “We are united in our collective goal to end violence against Indigenous women,” RoseAnne Archibald, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations in Canada, said in her March 8 address to a nearly empty U.N. press room. Archibald pointed out that in much closer Canada there were “thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.” “It’s a national emergency,” said Archibald, explaining that in their view this unresolved crisis is proof of “ongoing genocide.” Michèle Audette, an Indigenous leader and Senator from Canada’s Quebec province, noted Pope Francis’ Canada visit and subsequent apologies were useful in shedding light nationally and globally on abuses of Indigenous people that Catholic authorities had “covered up” for years. She encouraged him to do more to help hold those people accountable, and to “make an official declaration … of what he saw and heard in Canada” as well as provide access to Vatican archives and return to their nations “our sacred objects from Vatican vaults.”

Wyoming Becomes First State to Ban Abortion Pills

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (OSV News) — Wyoming became the first state in the nation to specifically ban the use or prescription of abortion pills on March 17. Gov. Mark Gordon, R-Wyo., signed the law with a ruling by a federal judge in Texas still outstanding that could potentially implement a nationwide ban on the drug mifepristone amid a legal challenge brought by pro-life groups. The state’s legislature passed two pieces of legislation in March that would restrict abortion in the state, but the governor allowed the other bill to become law without his signature.

Franciscans in Holy Land Advance Next Phase of Jerusalem’s Terra Sancta Museum

JERUSALEM (OSV News) — Objects cared for by the Franciscans in the Holy Land, including a collection of 13 church bells discovered hidden in Bethlehem and dating back to the Middle Ages, have traveled to some of the great museums of the world. But now they will have a permanent home in Jerusalem as the Custody of the Holy Land moves forward toward creating a new “Historical Section” of its popular Terra Sancta Museum, which opened to the public in 2017. The museum is situated at the Church of the Flagellation, the first station of the Way of the Cross in Jerusalem. Until now, that section has been limited to archeological artifacts from the first millennium. A new section of the museum will serve as a point of dialogue and exchange with the local Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities — as well as pilgrims and visitors of all faiths and backgrounds who come to Jerusalem to explore its history and cultures. “We want to make a Christian museum here in Jerusalem so there is something Christian to occupy the space of culture even if you are only one and half percent of the population,” Franciscan Father Stéphane Milovitch, Director of the Cultural Heritage Office for the Custodia Terrae Sanctae, told OSV News. “The church is still here and has 2,000 years of presence here; it can be a bridge with the different communities.”

Church Groups Propose Ways to Meet Children’s Needs in Brazil in Wake of Bolsonaro’s Cancellation of Policies

SÃO PAULO (OSV News) — As severe childhood malnutrition grows in Brazil, church organizations have been active in proposing public policies concerning the protection of children and are taking part in State councils that define and monitor the application of such decisions. A recent study conducted by the Brazilian Society of Pediatrics showed that every day, 11 children under age 5 are hospitalized in the South American nation due to malnutrition. Between January and November of 2022, 4,135 children were hospitalized — the worst number in more than 10 years. “On his first day in office, in January of 2019, Bolsonaro extinguished the National Council for Food and Nutritional Security,” Fábio Garcia Paes, Advocacy Coordinator of the Franciscan Solidarity Service (SEFRAS) and a longtime activist for children’s rights, told OSV News. Since President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took office in January, the government has been reinstating the public policy councils or reinforcing their structure. “This week, the Children’s Pastoral Ministry will have meetings with different ministers to present the current humanitarian crisis concerning childhood malnutrition and to suggest actions,” Maristela Cizeski, a National Coordinator at the Brazilian bishops’ Children’s Pastoral Ministry, told OSV News.

Church Commits to Education, Health for India’s Tribal Peoples

ALIBAG, India (OSV News) — Although most of India’s Indigenous or tribal people are not Christian, the Catholic Church has shown a commitment to work on their behalf. Tribals, sometimes referred to as Adivasis, make up nearly 9 percent of the Indian population. The Indian Constitution ensures their educational interests, provides economic safeguards, and takes steps for political empowerment. In late February, visitors from the Pontifical Mission Societies-USA met with the animators and tribals under a shelter in the center of a rural village outside Alibag. The animators spoke of the challenges they face: children reluctant to attend school; child marriage; addiction; making villagers aware of the importance of health. Although most of the animators are not Christian, they said they share with the Catholic Church a commitment to do social work and to love one another.

Rescue workers are seen near a damaged car and rubble from a house following an earthquake in Cuenca, Ecuador, March 18, 2023. At least 15 people have died and more than 400 are injured after a 6.7-magnitude earthquake struck Ecuador’s southern coast. (OSV News photo/Rafa Idrovo Espinoza, Reuters)

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