May 16, 2023 // National

News Briefs: May 21, 2023

U.S. Bishops with Mexico-bordering Dioceses Reaffirm Humanitarian Commitment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) — Eight U.S. Catholic bishops whose dioceses share a border with Mexico reaffirmed their commitment to promoting human dignity and their cooperation with government officials as the Church and its partner organizations provide humanitarian aid. “Daily, we witness the human consequences of migration, both its blessings and its challenges,” the bishops said in a May 12 statement released by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “As pastors of border communities, we minister to migrants and native-born persons alike. Our congregations include asylum seekers, enforcement officers, landowners, and elected officials, who come together, not as strangers or adversaries but as sisters and brothers, equal in dignity and worth before the Lord.” The statement came the day after the May 11 expiration of Title 42, a federal U.S. public health law granting the federal government some authority to implement emergency action to prevent the spread of contagious diseases by prohibiting some migrants from entry. With the end of Title 42, U.S. immigration policy defaults to a set of laws known as Title 8. While the status of some migrants not eligible for U.S. entry under Title 42 may change, recent Title 8 policy updates suggest those migrants may face new hurdles. Both Title 42 and Title 8 have been criticized by Catholic immigration advocates as insufficient, especially for migrants seeking asylum.

Pope, Ukrainian Leader Talk About Humanitarian Situation Provoked by War

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — After literally hundreds of public prayers for peace in Ukraine and 443 days after Russia launched an all-out war on the Eastern European country, Pope Francis welcomed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the Vatican. The topics of the conversation on May 13 included “the humanitarian and political situation in Ukraine caused by the ongoing war,” Vatican press officials said. Pope Francis assured the president of “his constant prayers, evidenced by his many public appeals and continuous invocation to the Lord for peace since,” the statement continued. “Both agreed on the need for continued humanitarian efforts to support the population,” Vatican officials said. And “the pope particularly stressed the urgent need for ‘gestures of humanity’ toward the most fragile people, the innocent victims of the conflict.” Zelenskyy, in a tweet after the meeting, said he was grateful for the pope’s “personal attention to the tragedy of millions of Ukrainians.” But he also said he asked the pope “to condemn Russian crimes in Ukraine. Because there can be no equality between the victim and the aggressor.” Earlier that morning, in a speech to new ambassadors to the Vatican, Pope Francis seemed to indirectly address criticisms, including by many Ukrainians, of his attempts not to demonize and isolate Russia. Having no “political, commercial, or military aims,” the pope said, the Vatican operates on the world stage “through the exercise of a positive neutrality. Far from being an ‘ethical neutrality,’ especially in the face of human suffering, this affords the Holy See a certain standing in the international community that allows it to better assist in the resolution of conflicts and other matters.”

UK Bishop Denounces New IVF Method Resulting in First Baby Born with DNA of Three People

LIVERPOOL, England (OSV News) — An English Catholic bishop has denounced the first reported births of “three-parent” babies in the U.K. as “deeply concerning.” Auxiliary Bishop John Sherrington of Westminster said the creation of babies by mitochondrial donation treatment (MDT) was unethical because the process involved the destruction of two embryos to create a single new life. His remarks came after The Guardian newspaper reported on May 9 that the “first U.K. baby with DNA from three people” was born after the new in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure. “It shows a further step in the technical manipulation of new life with the loss of human life as part of the technique,” said Bishop Sherrington, Lead Prelate for Life Issues of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. “The technique depends on the destruction of two human lives who had inherent dignity and rights and must be protected from their creation as persons in order to create a third embryo and life,” he said in a May 11 statement published on the bishops’ conference website.

Ugandan Church Desperate to Fight a Plague of Human Trafficking in the Country

KAMPALA, Uganda (OSV News) — Government figures show that more than 24,000 Ugandans seek household jobs in the Middle East annually, driven out of the country by poverty, unemployment, domestic violence, and family breakdown. Thousands of them become victims of human traffickers. In 2021 alone, up to 28 Ugandan migrant workers died in the Middle East, according to Uganda Human Rights Commission. The situation has compelled the Catholic Church to intensify awareness campaigns to end human trafficking in the country. Bishops, priests, sisters, catechists, and other church leaders have been visiting homes, villages, churches, and public places to educate the people on the dangers of human trafficking. The church leaders want the government to strengthen and speed up efforts to reduce poverty and unemployment so that vulnerable Ugandans, especially girls and women, are not lured to travel overseas. Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu in northern Uganda encouraged others, including human rights organizations, to join the church in tackling human trafficking, a plague of the country. “We need each other to address this evil trade that is killing our people and subjecting them to inhuman conditions,” he said, urging the government to arrest anyone engaging in human trafficking. “I appeal to church leaders and other stakeholders to spread awareness about the dangers of human trafficking and report any evils that promote this illegal activity,” Archbishop Odama told OSV News.

Foster Care Is a Pro-life Issue the Church Should Fully Support, Parents Say

COLUMBUS, Ohio (OSV News) — “There are no unwanted children,” an anonymous inspiring quote declares, “just unfound families.” If that’s so, the almost 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system — approximately 100,000 of whom are legally adoptable — need only wait. But the reality, especially in post-Roe v. Wade America, presents a more complex and challenging scenario — one in which foster care must, Catholic experts urge, be viewed as a pro-life issue. “What we’re trying to do,” said Kimberley Henkel, a Ph.D. who is Executive Director of Springs of Love — a ministry that “encourages, equips, and educates Catholics to discern and live out the call to foster and adopt,” according to its website — “is to help create a culture of fostering and adoption in the Catholic Church. And we see fostering and adoption, clearly, as a very significant pro-life issue.” Henkel — who has four adopted children — added that, “Jesus commands us to care for widows and orphans in their distress, and the children in foster care are our modern-day orphans.”

Migrant women play a game with water balloons at the Cobina migrant shelter in Mexicali, Mexico, May 10, 2023. The games were part of a visit by women religious who arrived with gifts and food for the migrants to mark Mother’s Day. (OSV News photo/Rhina Guidos, Global Sisters Report)

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