Nation/World news briefs: Dec. 12, 2022

“We who struggle to choose what is good, we can entrust ourselves to her. Entrusting ourselves, consecrating ourselves to Mary, we say to her: ‘Take me by the hand, lead me: with you I will have more strength in the battle against evil, with you I will rediscover my original beauty.'”
— Pope Francis, speaking to people gathered in St. Peter’s Square Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception

After vote, House sends Respect for Marriage Act to Biden for signature

By a vote of 258-169, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Respect for Marriage Act Dec. 8 and sent it to President Joe Biden for his signature. Biden is expected to sign the bill legalizing same-sex marriage into law. The president praised Congress for a measure the U.S. Catholic bishops and other religious leaders have said does not clearly protect the religious freedom of churches and individuals who believe in traditional marriage between one man and one woman. The House approved the measure by a wide margin in July but had to vote on it again after the Senate passed an amended version Nov. 29 in a 61-36 vote.

Advocates applaud extension of TPS for Haitian migrants residing in U.S.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas Dec. 5 announced a redesignation of Temporary Protected Status for Haiti and an extension of TPS for Haitian migrants already residing in the United States for an additional 18 months, from Feb. 4 through Aug. 3, 2024. He said this “much-needed humanitarian relief” for Haitians was compelled by current conditions in Haiti. The Caribbean nation has endured a prolonged political crisis, as well as “grave insecurity and gang crime that worsened a dire economic situation; a lack of access to food, water, fuel and health care during a resurgence of cholera; and the recent catastrophic earthquakes,” said a news release from the Department of Homeland Security.

Pope, Council of Cardinals meet, discuss synod, safeguarding, COP27

Pope Francis and his international Council of Cardinals met in-person at the Vatican Dec. 5-6, discussing the continental phase of the synod process, safeguarding and the U.N. climate change summit, the Vatican press office said. Also, “the meeting was an opportunity for a mutual exchange of updates on some current affairs in different key geographical areas and for an overall assessment of the council’s progress in recent years,” the Vatican said in a written communique Dec. 7. All seven members of the council participated: Cardinals Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state; Seán P. O’Malley of Boston; Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India; Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany; Fridolin Ambongo Besungu of Kinshasa; and Giuseppe Bertello, retired president of the commission governing Vatican City State.

After failed coup, bishops urge citizens to stand up for democracy

Peru’s bishops called for national unity and urged citizens to stand up for democracy and the rule of law as the president closed Congress and was subsequently impeached and arrested. In a statement Dec. 7, the bishops’ conference said it “emphatically and absolutely rejects the rupture in the constitutional order. The defense of democracy is the right and moral duty of peoples and citizens.” The brief statement came amid a rapidly unfolding political crisis that began with President Pedro Castillo announcing that he was closing the national Congress, instituting a “government of exception” that would rule by decree, and calling elections for a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution. Vice President Dina Boluarte was sworn in as president, becoming Peru’s first female head of state and the country’s sixth president since 2018.

Supreme Court: Buffer zones OK at Northern Ireland abortion clinics

The U.K. Supreme Court ruled that a bill to set up exclusion or “buffer” zones around abortion clinics in Northern Ireland does not violate the right to free expression upheld by the European Convention on Human Rights. The court announced Dec. 7 that the legislation to ban “direct” and “indirect” pro-life “influence” within 100 meters of abortion facilities did not infringe the right to free expression upheld by the convention, to which the U.K. is a signatory. It means that pro-life activists in Northern Ireland can legally be prohibited from quiet or silent prayer and from offering leaflets or advice about alternatives to abortions in the vicinity of any clinic.

Church urged to focus on African teens coming of age with HIV

As the international community marked World AIDS Day Dec. 1, some priests, church and agency officials said the Catholic Church must focus more on young people living with HIV in Africa. This comes at a time when the first generation of children living on antiretroviral drugs since birth enters their teenage years or early 20s. According to experts in the sector, the group is facing a host of challenges, including stigma, lack of health services and economic opportunities and misinformation, especially from social media. Many young people fear disclosing their statuses because of the stigma. But as they also struggle with the challenges, experts say the category of those taking antiretrovirals is extremely crucial in the fight against the pandemic.


 (CNS photo/courtesy U.S. Postal Service)

Every two years the U.S. Postal Service issues a traditional first-class Christmas stamp showing Mary and Jesus, and this year’s stamp features an oil-on-panel painting from the first half of the 16th century titled “Virgin and Child.” Attributed to a Florentine artist known since the late 1960s as the Master of the Scandicci Lamentation, the painting is in the Robert Dawson Evans Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The stamp was designed by Greg Breeding, co-founder and creative director of the Journey Group design firm in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is one of four art directors who regularly work with the USPS. The painting depicts Mary gazing downward at the Christ child, with one of her arms holding him protectively at his waist and the other tenderly touching his arm, while the Christ child turns his head to look out of the frame to the left.

Top photo: Pope Francis prays in front of a Marian statue at the Spanish Steps in Rome Dec. 8, 2022, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Author: Catholic News Service

Catholic News Service is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ news and information service.

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