May 18, 2021 // National

News Briefs: May 23, 2021

Advocate: S. Carolina approval of firing squad, electric chair ‘chilling’

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The passage of a bill by South Carolina lawmakers in early May to restart executions after 10 years and to add death by firing squad or electric chair as options if lethal injection drugs are not available is a “setback for South Carolina” and “stands in stark contrast to powerful efforts elsewhere to abolish the death penalty,” said a Catholic death penalty opponent. “The decade without executions in South Carolina should be seen as a mark of progress toward a culture of life, not a reason to backslide into immoral and gruesome means of killing,” said Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, executive director of Catholic Mobilizing Network. She also said the electric chair and firing squad “should have no place on the state’s list of means to address harm or bring about so-called justice. In fact, there is no reason why the state should be executing people at all,” she told Catholic News Service in a May 10 email. The measure is likely to be approved soon by the state’s governor. Lawmakers said the shortage of drugs needed to carry out lethal injections is the main reason why the state has not had any executions in 10 years. Those who favored adding other means of execution also stressed that this would be more humane since lethal injections have sometimes botched executions if an inmate’s death became prolonged. “It is chilling to think that offering a person the choice between electrocution and firing squad is somehow humane,” Vaillancourt Murphy said.

Cardinal Dolan at rosary tells India’s COVID-19 victims they’re not ‘alone’

STONY POINT, N.Y. (CNS) —     New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, joined by priests and lay faithful, prayed the rosary’s sorrowful mysteries May 8 for the people of India now suffering as COVID-19 ravages their country. About 200 Catholics, including many natives of India, joined the cardinal in prayer at Mary Help of Christians Chapel at the Marian Shrine in Stony Point. Before praying the five sorrowful mysteries, Cardinal Dolan reminded those gathered in the chapel that he also came to pray at the Salesian-run shrine March 20, 2020, as the coronavirus crisis was first unfolding in New York. “I came here to pray to Jesus through Mary, Our Lady Help of Christians, as we were getting the terrible coronavirus pandemic,” Cardinal Dolan said. “And now that we hear such desperate news from beautiful India … I thought, ‘She came through for us, and we can’t forget the great people of India.’ We are blessed with so many people in our Catholic family who come from India,” the cardinal said. “We can’t forget them. They are not alone.” Also present was Msgr. Peter I. Vaccari, president of the Manhattan-based Catholic Near East Welfare Association, who told the cardinal and the congregation that he had been in touch with CNEWA associates in India in recent days.

‘A long line’ of holy catechists have served the Church, pope notes

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Throughout history and across the globe, lay catechists have been revered as saints, and many were martyred for their refusal to renounce their faith and their vocation to teach the Christian faith to others. Formally instituting “the ministry of catechist” with a document published May 11, Pope Francis praised “the countless lay men and women who directly took part in the spread of the Gospel through catechetical instruction. Men and women of deep faith, authentic witnesses of holiness,” he said, some of those catechists founded churches and “eventually died as martyrs. The long line of blesseds, saints and martyrs who were catechists has significantly advanced the Church’s mission and deserves to be recognized, for it represents a rich resource not only for catechesis but also for the entire history of Christian spirituality,” Pope Francis wrote in the document, “Antiquum Ministerium” (Ancient Ministry). The brief document did not mention any of the beatified or canonized lay catechists by name, but many of the Catholic communities they served continue to honor them and keep their memories alive. he brief document did not mention any of the beatified or canonized lay catechists by name, but many of the Catholic communities they served continue to honor them and keep their memories alive. A catechist from the United States may soon be added to their ranks. The U.S. bishops in November gave their formal support to the sainthood cause of Nicholas W. Black Elk, a 19th-century Lakota catechist who is said to have introduced hundreds of Lakota people to the Catholic faith.

Bishops urge Catholics to sign petition against Hyde Amendment’s repeal

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Diocesan Respect Life coordinators and the Pro-Life Secretariat of the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops are encouraging Catholics to speak out against the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, legislation which bans federal Medicaid funding of abortions. “It is so important for people in our parishes to learn about the Hyde Amendment and the life-saving, conscience-protecting impact it has had for the past 45 years. Without this protection, our federal tax dollars will contribute to millions more abortions around our nation and beyond,” said Rachel Hendricks, diocesan Respect Life coordinator for the Diocese of Trenton, New Jersey. The petition can be signed at The Hyde Amendment, which first became law in 1976, prohibits use of federal Medicaid dollars for abortion except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the woman would be endangered. Named for former Representative Henry Hyde, Illinois Republican, the amendment is renewed every year as part of the appropriations bill for what is now the Department of Health and Human Services. It was excluded, however, in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act that was signed into law March 11 by President Joe Biden.

U.S. climate envoy meets pope, speaks at Vatican conference

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — John Kerry, U.S. President Joe Biden’s special envoy for climate, met privately with Pope Francis May 15, the day after giving a keynote address at a closed-door meeting of the Pontifical Academy for Sciences and the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences. Because Kerry is not a head of state, the Vatican issued no statement about the meeting, although Vatican Media released photos and a video clip of the encounter in the papal library. The video shows Kerry giving Pope Francis his autobiography, “Every Day Is Extra,” and the Pulitzer-winning environmental novel “The Overstory” by Richard Powers. Pope Francis gave Kerry a signed copy of his message for World Peace Day, a collection of his encyclicals, including “Laudato Si’” on ecology, and a sculpture of a grapevine. In an interview later with Vatican News, Kerry said he believed Pope Francis intends to participate in the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, commonly referred to as COP16, in Glasgow, Scotland, in November.

Rescuers carry Suzy Eshkuntana, 6, as they pull her from the rubble of a building at the site of Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City May 16, 2021. (CNS photo/Mohammed Salem, Reuters)

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