“Christ, in his abandonment, stirs us to seek him and to love him and those who are themselves abandoned, for in them we see not only people in need, but Jesus himself.”
— Pope Francis, in his homily for Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square April 2
Governor signs funding bill for pregnancy help centers
Republican West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice March 29 signed into law a measure supporters say will help mothers both during and after pregnancy. The bill, HB 2002, establishes the West Virginia Mothers and Babies Pregnancy Support Program and grants funding to the state’s pregnancy help centers. The state’s Legislature allocated $1 million for the first year of the program and prohibited facilities that provide or refer for abortion from the funding. The bill also increases West Virginia’s adoption tax credit from $4,000 to $5,000 and makes adopted children eligible for additional state early-intervention services.
Legislature overrides governor’s veto of bill restricting transgender procedures for minors
Republican state lawmakers in Kentucky March 29 overrode the Democratic governor’s veto of a bill impacting minors who identify as transgender. Gov. Andy Beshear had vetoed the measure, but the GOP holds supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature, allowing lawmakers to override that veto. The Kentucky law bans gender reassignment surgery for anyone under 18, as well as the use of puberty blockers or hormones, among other interventions, for minors. It also requires students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their biological sex rather than their self-perceived gender identities.
Hate crimes targeting religions on rise; crimes against Catholics increase 260%
In 2021, Canadian police services received 3,360 statements related to hate crimes, a 27% increase compared to 2020, with a 260% growth against Catholics, according to a new study by Statistics Canada. In 2020, 2,646 hate crimes had been reported to police. According to the federal agency, this spike in hate crimes is largely due to more incidents “targeting religion, sexual orientation and race or ethnicity.” In 2021, 884 hate crimes targeting a religion were reported. According to analyst Warren Silver, of Statistics Canada, this is an increase of 67% compared to 2020 figures. The majority of offenses in 2021 were nonviolent ones such as mischief against religious property or places of worship. These represented 707 reports while 177 other crimes were violent offenses, notably assaults (52) and threats (74).
Reflection group’ to help decide status of Father Rupnik’s mosaics at Lourdes
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, one of the most famous sites of Marian apparitions worldwide, is facing an important decision: what to do with Father Marko Rupnik’s mosaics that decorate the façade of the Basilica of the Rosary. The mosaics, installed in 2008 for the 150th anniversary of the apparitions in Lourdes, depict the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. “These mosaics were commissioned from the workshop of a renowned artist: Father Marko Rupnik, a Jesuit of Slovenian origin. Like all works of art, they are appreciated by some, less so by others, but the vast majority of pilgrims and visitors to Lourdes emphasize their beauty,” Bishop Jean-Marc Micas of Tarbes and Lourdes wrote in a statement March 31. Father Rupnik has been accused of spiritual, psychological or sexual abuse by multiple adult women over the course of almost 40 years. The Jesuits confirmed Feb. 21 that 14 new allegations had been reported.
Cardinal disappointed, disagrees with departing abuse expert’s concerns
Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, expressed his surprise, disappointment and disagreement with statements challenging the commission’s effectiveness made by a prominent safeguarding expert who resigned from the advisory body. However, “the commission has a plenary meeting scheduled in the next few weeks during which we can address these and other matters more fully as a group,” the cardinal said in an updated statement March 30. Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, a leading expert in the field and member of the commission since it was founded in 2014, stepped down in mid-March but gave the reasons for his departure in a public statement March 29, saying it was due to urgent “structural and practical issues that led me to disassociate myself” from the papal commission.
Pope Francis prays for migrants killed in ‘tragic’ fire near U.S.-Mexico border
Pope Francis prayed for the victims of a “tragic” fire that killed at least 38 people and injured some 29 others at a migrant processing center in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, March 27. During his greeting to the Spanish-speaking faithful at his March 29 general audience in St. Peter’s Square, the pope dedicated a silent prayer to the victims and their families. Mexican authorities said the fire broke out when the migrants set mattresses on fire after learning they would be deported. The migrant processing center in Ciudad Juárez sits across from El Paso, Texas, along the United States’ border with Mexico. The dead and dozens injured included people from Guatemala, Honduras, Venezuela, El Salvador, Colombia and Ecuador who were seeking entry to the United States.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Archdiocese of Hartford is investigating a possible Eucharistic miracle at one of its parishes, where Communion hosts seemingly multiplied during a March 5 Sunday Mass. Father Joseph Crowley, pastor of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Thomaston, Connecticut, said in a YouTube livestream of his March 12 homily that an unnamed extraordinary minister of the Eucharist at the previous week’s liturgy had begun to run out of Communion hosts — only to find that “all of a sudden there (were) more hosts in the ciborium.” The St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish is comprised of three church locations — St. Thomas, Immaculate Conception and St. Casimir — and the alleged multiplication of Communion hosts took place at St. Thomas. The minister continued to distribute the hosts to some “100, 150 people in the congregation,” after which “there was the same amount, if not more hosts” in the ciborium, said Father Crowley, who had celebrated the March 5 liturgy. “What happened is Our Lord multiplied himself. … I have no doubt. I know what I gave the person. I know what (was) returned (to the tabernacle). It was just very obvious and plain to me as to what happened.” David Elliott, associate director of communications for the Archdiocese of Hartford, told OSV News that the archdiocesan judicial vicar, Father George S. Mukuka, “has been looking into the possibility of a Eucharistic miracle” at the parish. Following the investigation, the judicial vicar will prepare a report for Hartford Archbishop Leonard P. Blair, “who will make a determination from there” regarding the event’s supernatural nature, said Elliott.
Photo: Caregivers push the sick and disabled past Father Marko Rupnik’s mosaics at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in southwestern France in this May 16, 2014, file photo. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)