“Our whole life of faith is a shared experience, for we follow Jesus together. Our Lenten journey is ‘synodal,’ since we travel together along the same path, as disciples of the one Master.”
— Pope Francis, via Twitter March 4
Labor ruling vindicates Starbucks workers over coffee giant’s ‘widespread misconduct’ in union drive
Experts on Catholic social teaching about labor are applauding a March 1 federal decision in favor of Buffalo, New York-area Starbucks workers who successfully fought to unionize coffee shops in the face of tremendous opposition from the corporate giant. “I think it’s a really significant ruling of historic dimensions,” Georgetown University history professor Joseph A. McCartin, who directs that school’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, told OSV News. Administrative Law Judge Michael A. Rosas with the National Labor Relations Board, or NLRB, found that Starbucks, which operates more than 36,000 coffee stores worldwide, had violated federal labor law hundreds of times, impeding workers’ organizing efforts through “egregious and widespread misconduct.”
Biden administration to take actions to combat child migrant labor exploitation
The Biden administration recently announced it would take new actions aimed at preventing the labor exploitation of migrant children released from U.S. custody, saying there has been an increase in such exploitation. The departments of Labor and Health and Human Services said they would audit the vetting process of adults who sponsor migrant children out of government custody, and increase their efforts to investigate and prosecute cases of child exploitation. The Labor Department said it has seen a 69% increase in children being employed illegally by companies in the U.S. since 2018. In the last fiscal year, the department said it investigated and found 835 companies had illegally employed more than 3,800 children.
AG defends state abortion law after federal challenge from state’s lone abortion clinic
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is defending a state law restricting abortion in most circumstances from a legal challenge brought by the state’s lone abortion facility in federal court. After the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in June 2022, overturning the high court’s previous abortion-related precedents in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, lawmakers in several states moved to either restrict or expand access to abortion. West Virginia was among the states that enacted legislation limiting the procedure in most circumstances. Republican Gov. Jim Justice signed in September legislation banning abortion at all stages of pregnancy with narrow exceptions for victims of sexual assault or cases where there is a maternal mortality risk. The state’s only abortion facility, Women’s Health Center of West Virginia in Charleston, suspended its operations after the Dobbs ruling, and later challenged the state’s new law in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.
Pope Francis will travel to Hungary at end of April
Pope Francis will travel to Hungary April 28-30 where he will meet with government officials, refugees, academic scholars and young people in Budapest, the Vatican announced Feb. 27. The pope will arrive in Budapest April 28 and will meet with Katalin Novák, president of Hungary, and the country’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, as well as local bishops, priests and other members of Hungary’s Catholic community. The pope will only spend one full day in the country April 29, during which he will meet privately with children from a local school, speak with refugees and people in need, address young people in Hungary and meet with the local Jesuit community. Before returning to Rome late afternoon April 30, he will celebrate Mass before the Hungarian Parliament building and meet with scholars from Budapest’s Pázmány Péter Catholic University.
Pope says cardinals, top Vatican officials, must pay rent on housing
Cardinals and other senior Vatican officials who have been living rent-free in Vatican-owned apartments in Rome will now have to pay “ordinary” unsubsidized rates, Pope Francis said. A rescript written by Maximino Caballero Ledo, the prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, and signed by the pope Feb. 13 said that Vatican entities are now prohibited from offering leases, rentals or property use free-of-charge or at low-cost prices. Rate standardization also will be applied to those staying in Vatican guest houses, including the residence where Pope Francis chose to live instead of the papal apartments. Instead, properties owned by the Vatican and Vatican-related entities must charge the same rates to top Vatican officials as would be applied to those not affiliated with the Vatican. The new order applies to cardinals and top management personnel of offices of the Roman Curia, including the Roman Rota, a Vatican tribunal.
Jesuit expert appointed to Diocese of Rome’s safeguarding office
Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, papal vicar for Rome, announced Jesuit Father Hans Zollner will be a consultant for the Diocese of Rome’s office dedicated to safeguarding minors and vulnerable people. “I am committed to listening to survivors and to promoting education and formation in the field of safeguarding, and look forward to continuing to do so in this new role,” the German priest said in a written statement March 3, the same day of the announcement. A licensed psychologist and psychotherapist, Father Zollner is director of the Institute of Anthropology: Interdisciplinary Studies on Human Dignity and Care at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University. He is a professor of at the university’s Institute of Psychology and a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
DID YOU KNOW?
Three Jesuit astronomers and the 16th-century pope who commissioned the Gregorian calendar have recently been honored with having asteroids named after them. The new additions include: “562971 Johannhagen,” honoring Austrian Jesuit Father Johann Hagen, who was serving as director of the Georgetown University Observatory when Pope Pius X called him to Rome in 1906 to be the first Jesuit director of the new Vatican Observatory; “551878 Stoeger,” honoring U.S. Jesuit Father Bill Stoeger, a cosmologist and theologian who died in 2014; and “565184 Janusz,” honoring Polish Jesuit Father Robert Janusz, a philosopher and physicist on the staff at the Vatican Observatory. A working group of the International Astronomical Union also approved of the designation of “560974 Ugoboncompagni,” honoring Ugo Boncompagni, who was elected Pope Gregory XIII in 1572.
Photo: This graphic from Feb. 1, 2023, shows the names and relative orbits of 32 asteroids named after Jesuit astronomers. (CNS photo/Robert Macke, via Vatican Observatory)