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Louisiana governor vetoes women’s sports bill 

Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jun 23, 2021 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) on Tuesday vetoed a bill that would have prohibited student athletes from competing in single-sex athletic events opposite their biological sex.

The state’s Senate Bill 156, the “Fairness in Women's Sports Act,” would have required publicly-funded schools to permit student athletes to compete only on teams corresponding with their biological sex, not their gender identity. Students identifying as transgender would have had to compete in the sport of their biological sex.

The governor, a Catholic, said in a statement that “discrimination is not a Louisiana value,” explaining his decision to veto the bill. The legislation, he said, was “a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist in Louisiana.” 

“Even the author of the bill acknowledged throughout the legislative session that there wasn’t a single case where this was an issue,” Gov. Edwards said of athletes identifying as transgender participating in sports opposite their birth sex.

He said the bill “would make life more difficult for transgender children, who are some of the most vulnerable Louisianans when it comes to issues of mental health.” 

“We should be looking for more ways to unite rather than divide our citizens,” he said. “And while there is no issue to be solved by this bill, it does present real problems in that it makes it more likely that NCAA and professional championships, like the 2022 Final Four, would not happen in our state. For these and for other reasons, I have vetoed the bill."

The bill passed by wide margins in the state legislature, by a vote of 29-6 in the state Senate and 78-19 in the state House. According to Baton Rouge’s The Advocate newspaper, those margins would be sufficient to override a governor's veto.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) on Wednesday called for a veto session by the legislature.

"The passage of the Fairness in Women's Sports Act (SB156) was a common-sense approach by the Legislature to protect women,” Landry said. “The Governor's disrespect for women by vetoing this bipartisan bill was both disappointing and irresponsible.”

In a statement, Christiana Holcomb, legal counsel for the group Alliance Defending Freedom, said the group is “disappointed by Gov. Edwards’s decision to ignore the best interests of women and girls and veto the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.” 

Alliance Defending Freedom is fighting a state interscholastic athletics policy in Connecticut that allows athletes to compete in sports based on their gender identity. Four girls sued over the athletics policy, saying they were discriminated against in having to compete against biological males identifying as transgender females. 

“This legislation ensures that female athletes in Louisiana are able to compete on a level playing field,” Holcomb said of the Louisiana bill. “Allowing males to compete in girls’ sports is discriminatory and destroys fair competition and women’s athletic opportunities.”

“We’ve seen increasing examples across the country of males dominating girls’ athletic competitions when competing as females, capturing championships and shattering long-standing female track records,” she said. In Connecticut, two biological male runners captured a combined 15 state track championship titles after the state’s policy went into effect in 2017.

“While we are disappointed by the governor’s veto, we are thankful to Sen. Beth Mizell for sponsoring this important legislation and to Louisiana legislators for taking a strong stand for female athletes,” Holcomb stated.

Opponents of the bill said it discriminated against transgender athletes. 

In a statement, Alphonso David, president of the LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, called the legislation “nothing more than a politically motivated bill that seeks to dehumanize transgender children.” 

Holcomb added that she hopes the Louisiana legislature will override the veto and “join states like Florida, Arkansas, West Virginia, Montana, and Idaho that have codified protections for women’s sports into law.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 35 comparable bills have been introduced in 31 states this year, an increase from 29 such bills in 2020 and just two in 2019.

Portland archbishop welcomes ‘Eucharistic Revival,’ emphasizes worthy reception of Communion

Archbishop Alexander Sample during Mass at St. John the Baptist Church in Milwaukie, Oregon, in 2019. / Ed Langlois

Denver Newsroom, Jun 23, 2021 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland, Oregon last week praised a new “Eucharistic Revival” initiative of the U.S.bishops that aims to foster deeper devotion to the Eucharist.

“It’s all intended to bring about a real revival in our faith, our love, our devotion and our living out of the Eucharistic mystery,” Archbishop Sample said Friday, as reported by The Catholic Sentinel. 

The U.S. bishops’ initiative, which will begin in the summer of 2022, aims to lead a “three year period of revival” nationwide, bringing the focus of Eucharistic revival to “any parish that desires it.” 

“I’m excited about this. I think it’s going to be great for the life of the church,” Archbishop Sample said last week.

Bishop Andrew Cozzens, an auxiliary bishop of Saint Paul-Minneapolis and chair of the U.S. bishops’ evangelization committee, presented the plan to his fellow bishops during their virtual spring meeting on June 18. 

Archbishop Sample noted the importance of receiving the Eucharist in a worthy manner, which he said serves as a call to all Catholics to constant conversion away from sin. 

The archbishop said that some Catholic public officials, by using ther office to advance abortion, are formally cooperating with grave evil, and thus could create public scandal by presenting themselves for Communion without first repenting of their position. 

He explained the need for Catholics to live their lives in conformity with Church teaching, to receive Communion.

“Our amen that we say before we receive the Eucharist is an amen not just to the fact that this is the body of Christ; rather, we are saying amen to all that that means,” Sample said. 

“That means our communion with the church, our communion with the faith, our belief in all that the church believes and professes, and that we live it in our own lives. We can’t live a life that is inconsistent. We can’t receive the Eucharist and then live in a way that is contrary to the faith,” he said. 

The bishops’ three-year Eucharistic Revival program will take place on three levels: parish, diocesan, and nationwide. 

Beginning in July 2022, dioceses across the country will be encouraged to hold Eucharistic events and make the Eucharist a primary focus. The bishops aim to provide free teaching materials on the Eucharist, developed with the help of various catechetical partners. 

Following that period, in July 2023, parishes will be encouraged to do the same, expanding Eucharistic adoration and embracing diverse Eucharistic traditions to help foster a greater love for the Eucharist among their members. Parish level initiatives could include offering teaching Masses, and small group formation. 

The revival would culminate in summer 2024 with a Eucharistic celebration event, held in a major city, that would serve as a national pilgrimage site.

The planned revival was spurred by a 2019 study by the Pew Research center, which found that just 31% of U.S. Catholics believe in the Church’s teaching on transubstantiation, that the bread and wine offered at Mass become the body and blood of Jesus. 

More than two thirds of those surveyed, 69%, reported that they believe that the bread and wine at Mass “are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.” 

At the time, Sample addressed his flock regarding the results of the survey. “These results have to be a real wake up call for all of us,” he wrote on Aug. 30, 2019. He challenged archdiocesan Catholic schools, parish religious education programs, and adult faith formation programs to put a greater emphasis on the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist.

“To simply shrug our shoulders at such disturbing news and move on with business as usual is simply not an option. We must do everything in our power to reverse this trend,” he wrote. 

“People will more easily grow lax in the practice of their faith, or drop out altogether, if they don’t understand and believe the mystery we celebrate in the Holy Eucharist and how that drives everything else we do in the ministry of the Church.”

The plan for a Eucharistic Revival comes after the U.S. bishops last week voted to draft a teaching document on the Eucharist, which would include a subsection on “Eucharistic coherence,” or worthiness to receive Communion.

In a proposed outline of the document, the bishops’ doctrine committee cited the special need for Catholic public officials to uphold Church teaching in public life, but stressed that they are not drafting any national policy of denying Communion.

Bishop Paprocki: Regarding Communion debate “There should be no unity with iniquity”

Bishop Thomas Paprocki. / Courtesy Diocese of Springfield.

Denver Newsroom, Jun 23, 2021 / 16:56 pm (CNA).

In a statement published on Wednesday, June 23, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois lambasted recent media coverage of the USCCB vote to draft a document on the Eucharist.

Among the errors pointed out in the statement were claims by several media outlets that the “Vatican had warned the Catholic Bishops of the United States not to pass this proposal.”

Said Bishop Paprocki, “That is simply false.”

To clarify the issue, the bishop continued, “In fact, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, SJ, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had written to the president of the USCCB calling for ‘dialogue . . .  first among the bishops themselves, and then between bishops and Catholic pro-choice politicians within their jurisdictions.’ In fact, bishops and politicians have been dialoguing about this issue for many years.”

He argued that the draft document was “precisely” the impetus needed to give the dialogue form and substance. USCCB procedures will now allow for regional bishops’ meetings to discuss the document and a formal debate and vote on the document—with the ability to propose amendments—at the November meeting.

Additionally, he noted that one of the “misleading arguments” was voiced by bishops and cardinals inside the USCCB. These bishops and cardinals argued that “drafting this document …would be divisive and would harm the unity of the bishops’ conference,” according to the statement.

However, Bishop Paprocki countered that “There should be no unity with iniquity.”  

“Yes, we should strive for unity, but our unity should be based on the truths of our faith as found in Sacred Scripture and the constant Tradition of the Church. No one should want to be united on the path to perdition.”

The bishop stressed that other members of the hierarchy in Latin America united in the teaching on “Eucharistic coherence”— “including Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis).” The Latin American bishops were the first to use the term “eucharistic coherence,” though they were building off of the term “eucharistic consistency” used in Sacramentum Caritatis by Pope Benedict XVI. The term has been explosive in the American context, though it has been a feature of theological and papal thought with little controversy before immersion into its current context.

Addressing yet another inaccuracy, he asserted that Eucharistic consistency isn’t simply about “abortion and euthanasia,” but the problem of grave sin “of any kind.”

While mainstream reporting has often given the impression that the bishops recently decided only one sin will prevent someone from reception of the Eucharist, “It has been the constant teaching of the Catholic Church for the past two thousand years that those persons conscious of grave sin must first repent, confess their sins to a priest, and receive sacramental absolution before receiving holy Communion,” said the bishop.

“This teaching is reflected in the Church’s canon law and sacramental discipline,” he noted.

Finally, Bishop Paprocki concluded with a description of the oath taken by a bishop at his ordination and an exhortation to his brother bishops to “have the courage to fulfill their solemn oath.”  

The oath reads: “In fulfilling the charge entrusted to me in the name of the Church, I shall hold fast to the deposit of faith in its entirety; I shall faithfully hand it on and explain it, and I shall avoid any teachings contrary to it. I shall follow and foster the common discipline of the entire Church and I shall maintain the observance of all ecclesiastical laws, especially those contained in the Code of Canon Law.”

USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat: Congress must prevent taxpayer-funded abortion

Nicole Glass Photography/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jun 23, 2021 / 16:35 pm (CNA).

The House of Representatives on Wednesday rejected an opportunity to vote on a prohibition of taxpayer-funded abortion.

On Tuesday evening, House Republican leadership and the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus co-chairs filed a motion to force debate and a full House vote on H.R. 18, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, authored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.). The members asked for a unanimous consent request to discharge the bill from committee and hold debate and a vote by the full chamber.

On Wednesday, House Democratic leadership blocked the motion to hold a vote on H.R. 18, through a “previous question” procedural maneuver. The vote to kill the maneuver – and hold a vote on the abortion funding prohibition – failed by nine votes, 218-209. Every House Democrat voted in favor of the maneuver, with the exception of Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) who did not vote.

“It is gravely wrong to force all Americans to pay for the killing of innocent babies with their tax dollars,” said Kat Talalas with the U.S. bishops’ conference Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.

“Most Americans oppose using their tax dollars to pay for elective abortions, and the failure of the House of Representatives to pass H.R. 18 is unjustifiable,” Talalas said. “Congress must act to protect millions of babies and their mothers from the tragedy of abortion and protect American taxpayers from paying for the destruction of innocent human life.” 

Smith on Tuesday evening spoke on the House floor in favor of his bill. Smith is the founder and one of the four co-chairs of the House Congressional Pro-Life Caucus; the other co-chairs are Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), and new co-chairs Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-Minn.), and Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.).

“By reason of their age, dependency, immaturity, inconvenience, fragility and/or unwantedness, unborn children have been denied justice—and the most fundamental of all human rights, the right to life. The right to life is for everyone not just the planned, the privileged or the perfect,” Smith said.

“With deep respect for my colleagues, I believe unborn children need the President of the United States and Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to be their friends and advocates—not powerful adversaries,” he said.

Republicans plan to use the “unanimous consent” procedure in the future to request a vote on H.R. 18. House Republicans used the same procedure to request a vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act in 2019 and 2020, but were denied a vote on the pro-life bill dozens of times.

The failure of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act comes after President Biden’s budget request to Congress excluded the Hyde Amendment – a long-standing federal policy that prohibits federal funding of elective abortions in Medicaid. The policy has become law each year by being attached to appropriations bills as a budget rider.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton submitted a budget request that excluded the Hyde amendment, but an amended version of the policy was later included and signed into law as part of the appropriations legislation.

House Democrats have promised to repeal the Hyde amendment in 2021, passing appropriations bills for the 2022 fiscal year that do not include the measure.

“We’re going to fight with everything we have to preserve Hyde protections,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said on June 16.

Smith said that, according to studies, Hyde has prevented millions of abortions.

“More than twenty peer-reviewed studies show that more than 2.4 million people are alive today in the United States because of the Hyde Amendment—with about 60,000 babies spared death by abortion every year,” Smith said on Tuesday evening.

“Years ago, then-Senator Biden wrote to constituents explaining his support for the Hyde amendment and said it would ‘protect both the woman and her unborn child,’” Smith said, quoting from a 1994 letter by then-Senator Joe Biden to a constituent.

Biden, in his letter, said he voted 50 times in favor of the Hyde amendment, and told constituents that “those of us who are opposed to abortion should not be compelled to pay for them.”

“I absolutely agree—those of us opposed to abortion should not be compelled to pay for them,” Smith said.

Other pro-life policies could be at risk in the 2022 fiscal year budget process. The House Appropriations Finance Committee is advancing a funding bill for the District of Columbia and various government offices, but without the Smith Amendment, which prohibits funding of abortion coverage in the federal employees health benefits program. It also would exclude the Dornan amendment, which blocks federal funding of abortions in the District of Columbia.

Priest ordained in Spanish diocese after almost 11 years without vocations

Priestly ordination / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Denver Newsroom, Jun 23, 2021 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

On June 20, Bishop César Franco of the Diocese of Segovia, Spain, ordained Álvaro Marín Molinera to the priesthood - almost 11 years after the last priest was ordained for the small diocese.

Family, friends and a broad representation of the priests and deacons of the province also attended the ordination ceremony in the cathedral.

Marín, 27, was ordained a deacon in October 2020, and received formation at the University of Ávila and the Pontifical University of Salamanca.

The last ordination of diocesan priests in the diocese was on July 4, 2010. Franco also ordained a young Claretian religious to the priesthood on June 5.

According to the newspaper El Adelantado de Segovia, the new diocesan priest chose as his motto, “I can do all things in the One who strengthens me.”

During his homily at the ordination Mass, Bishop Franco said that “the priesthood gives you the authority to confront evil, but to do this you have to imitate in your life the mystery of the cross.” 

The bishop stressed that to exercise the ministry, “you can’t be a coward, not trust in Christ or live the faith in a mediocre way,” and so he encouraged Marín to put all his strength in Jesus Christ.

The newly-ordained priest quoted St. John Vianney, the Curé of Ars: “I prostrated myself conscious of my nothingness and arose a priest forever.”

Why a bishop in Taiwan resigned only six months after installation

Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Denver Newsroom, Jun 23, 2021 / 15:30 pm (CNA).

The Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Tainan in Taiwan resigned six months after his ordination and installation on Jan. 1, 2021, citing physical and mental problems.

Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop John Lee Juo-Wang on June 19, said a report from Agenzia Fides. Bishop Lee, the first native of Taiwan to be consecrated a bishop in 30 years, cited “serious psychological and physical problems” as reasons for his resignation.

“After long prayers under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I humbly accept that I have a serious health problem,” he said in a letter to the faithful of his diocese.

He said he chose to resign “for the good of the diocese” and asked for prayers from the faithful.

“Through prayer and reading, I better understand what Saint Paul says in his Letter to the Romans (12:2): ‘Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect,” wrote the bishop.

“May the Lord bless you. May He carry you through the pandemic, give salvation to the dead, health to the sick, work for everyone,” he said.

“I also pray for priests who are victims of pressure,” added the bishop, as he urged the faithful to have “the courage to face, with the commitment of all,” the challenges of evangelization.

Bishop Lee was born on Nov. 2, 1966, in Tainan city, Taiwan, to parents who arrived as refugees from mainland China. 

One of nine siblings, he was given up for adoption. The first family that adopted him had financial problems, and he was then adopted a second time by a family that raised him as a Catholic.

He attended a Salesian school in Tainan and entered the minor seminary at the age of 12. He studied philosophy and theology at St. Pius X Seminary in Tainan.

He was ordained priest on Jan. 1, 1993, and was assigned as assistant pastor at the cathedral parish. He later became parish priest of the Holy Name of Jesus parish until 1999.

He earned a licentiate degree in dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome. He was president of the Commission for the Promotion of Vocations, and later became chancellor of the diocese in 2017, and then its vicar general in 2019.

Pope Francis appointed him bishop of Tainan on Nov. 14, 2020, and he was consecrated bishop on January 1, 2021. 

The Diocese of Tainan has a population of about two million people, 7,500 of whom are Catholics. The pope has appointed Bishop Bosco Lin Chi-nan, bishop emeritus of Tainan, as apostolic administrator of the diocese.

Chileans to pray ‘Rosary of Hope’ for drafting of new Constitution  

Un Rosario por Chile

Denver Newsroom, Jun 23, 2021 / 15:00 pm (CNA).

Beginning Wednesday, June 23, Catholics in Chile will pray a rosary every week for the Holy Spirit to guide the work of drafting a new constitution for the country.

A Rosary for Chile is the lay group that has been promoting this national “Rosary of Hope” prayer crusade since December 2020, after the country approved the constitutional process in a plebiscite by a margin of 78% in favor and 22% against.

Participants will pray a rosary every Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. The organizers are asking their fellow citizens to pray for the 155 people who were elected May 15 and 16 as members of the Constitutional Convention. That elected body will draft the Magna Carta to replace the one promulgated under the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in 1980, and which is still in force.

In October 2019, demonstrations broke out in Santiago over an increase in subway fares that was subsequently rescinded. Other regions joined in the protests, expanding their grievances to economic inequality and the cost of healthcare. 

The protests continued for about six months, were often violent, and in some cases churches were burned. The crisis led to a groundswell of support for a new constitution, as many believed the one in place was at the root of many of the country’s problems.  

The bishops of Chile have urged that the new constitution uphold fundamental rights and values, including the right to life. 

The first meeting of the members of the Constitutional Convention will be held on July 4, during which the president and vice president who will lead the process will be chosen.

In addition to asking the Holy Spirit to “guide the work of the elected constituents,” those joining the rosary initiative will pray for “the sanctification of priests, for priestly and religious vocations,” and for the “particular needs of all who join in praying,” a press release from the group A Rosary for Chile explained.

"Where human capabilities are not enough, Catholics know from centuries of experience that God and Our Lady work wonders."

"We’re sure that if we persevere" in praying this "powerful Rosary of Hope, all the supplications will receive an answer,” the organizers said.

“We invite you to take a leap of faith and trust, which can move mountains. We all need the warm embrace, the consolation, the intimate experience of an encounter with God or even an authentic miracle, which prayer expressed with faith and love makes possible,” the organizers said.

Leading US bishops praise Biden's global vaccine pledge

Joe Biden. Credit: Drop of light / Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jun 23, 2021 / 14:01 pm (CNA).

Leading U.S. bishops on Wednesday praised President Joe Biden for pledging 500 million COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries, and urged his administration to work with Catholic and other faith-based groups on vaccine distribution.

“As world leaders work together to help bring an end to this pandemic, we are grateful for President Biden’s leadership to aid the poor and vulnerable around the world who remain most at-risk,” read a statement on Wednesday from Archbishop Jose Gomez, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference (USCCB), and Bishop David Malloy of Rockford, chair of the USCCB international justice and peace committee.

The bishops responded to recent news that President Biden committed the United States to purchasing 500 million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for 100 low-income countries.

At a summit of G7 member countries last week in Cornwall, England, the United States and other countries committed to providing in total more than one billion vaccine doses for countries in need. Other G7 partners of the United States include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

“This gesture of global solidarity is timely, responding to those regions with the greatest need, particularly in Africa and South Asia,” Archbishop Gomez and Bishop Malloy.

They asked the Biden administration to partner with Catholic and other faith-based groups on vaccine distribution.

“We encourage the Administration to partner with Catholic and other well established and broad reaching faith-based health care structures throughout the developing world to facilitate and strengthen vaccine distribution as we work together to save and restore lives,” they stated.

Pope Francis, in his Easter 2021 “Urbi et Orbi” message, called vaccines an “essential tool” to combat the pandemic, and asked the international community, “in a spirit of global responsibility,” to expedite vaccine distribution “especially in the poorest countries.”

In his Christmas 2020 “Urbi et Orbi” blessing, Pope Francis said that a COVID-19 vaccine must be “for all,” and asked for “a solution for everyone: vaccines for all, especially for the most vulnerable and needy of all regions of the planet. Before all others: the most vulnerable and needy!”

Leaders of G7 countries have committed to financing and providing around 2.3 billion vaccines since 2020, according to the White House. Investment in local vaccine production will support at least one billion vaccine doses by the end of 2022, the White House claimed.

The World Health Organization said this week that the global vaccine initiative COVAX has yielded only 90 million doses in 131 countries, far fewer doses than needed to combat the spread of the virus in Asia and Africa, according to BBC News.

The aid group Catholic Relief Services also praised the Biden administration’s 500 million vaccines pledge on June 10, but said there must also be a “U.S.-led plan to get those vaccines in arms.”

Bill O’Keefe, executive vice president for mission, mobilization and advocacy at Catholic Relief Services, warned that virus cases were already “spiking in Haiti, Nepal, Brazil and across Africa.”

“The poor are getting poorer. The quicker we can vaccinate vulnerable populations, the quicker we can make up for such losses as well as prevent future loss,” he said.

Catholic missionary priest: ‘This is the hour of confession of faith’ for Church in Myanmar

Teachers protest in Hpa-An, the capital of Karen State, Burma, on Feb. 9, 2021. Credit: Ninjastrikers (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Rome Newsroom, Jun 23, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

Burmese protesters have faced a “nightmare of repression and violence,” according to a missionary priest who is close to the Catholic community in the Southeast Asian country.

“For the Burmese Church, this is the hour of confession of faith, courageous witness, and martyrdom,” Fr. Gianni Criveller told ACI Stampa, CNA’s Italian-language sister news agency.

Fr. Criveller is a missionary priest with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME). He currently serves as the dean of PIME’s International Theological Study in northern Italy.

Burma is one of the historic missions for PIME missionaries, who have been evangelizing in the country, officially known as Myanmar, since 1868.

“I have been going to Myanmar since 2018 to contribute to a training program for diocesan seminaries,” Criveller said in an interview.

In the last five months since the Feb. 1 military coup, the “people of Myanmar have returned to the nightmare of repression and violence,” Criveller said.

“The criminal military junta has denied the results of the democratic elections in November 2020, dissolved the civilian government, and arrested the leader Aung San Suu Kyi.”

Catholics have been among the hundreds of protesters who have been killed by the military crackdown on those who took to the streets opposing the coup, according to Criveller.

“Numerous Burmese nuns in Italy are in anguish over the fate of their families,” the priest said, noting that many Catholics have had to flee their homes amid the violence.

“In Myanmar, in recent months, religious, the faithful, and priests have largely taken to the streets alongside the people,” he said.

Less than 2% of Burma’s population is Catholic, yet the small local Church, led by Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, has been outspoken in calling for an end to the violence against protesters.

“Catholics are only a tiny minority, but they have an awareness of the dignity of the human person, of the primacy of conscience and of the evangelical good of freedom, whose author is Jesus himself,” Criveller said.

The missionary priest commented that he had been impressed to see Catholics stand beside Buddhists calling for freedom and peace.

“As John Paul II indicated, dialogue between believers of different faiths is for peace among peoples. Christians and Buddhists are on the street not with weapons, but with the rosary and the Buddhist pa-deé. They are a wonderful example for the Church in the world,” he said.

According to data from the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners, almost 5,000 demonstrators have been arrested since the beginning of the protests against the coup and 870 people have been killed.

“Many young Burmese are willing to die rather than live without freedom. Christians do not seek martyrdom, nor do they search for it, but they accept it to remain faithful to Jesus,” Criveller said.

The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution last week to “prevent the influx of arms into Myanmar.” One hundred and nineteen countries voted in favor of the resolution with the only vote against by Belarus; 36 countries, including China and Russia abstained.

Pope Francis has repeatedly appealed for people in Burma, most recently during his Angelus address on June 20, when the pope decried the fact that people are suffering hunger and displacement in the wake of the government’s violent crackdown.

“I join my voice to that of the bishops of Myanmar, who last week launched an appeal calling to the attention of the whole world the harrowing experience of thousands of people in that country who are displaced and are dying of hunger,” the pope said.

The country’s Catholic bishops issued a statement on June 11 appealing for peace, a humanitarian corridor in the conflict zones, and respect for the sanctity of places of worship.

The bishops also asked the Catholic dioceses of Burma “to launch into a period of intense prayer, seeking compassion in the hearts of all and peace to this nation” with daily Mass, adoration, and the rosary.

“May the Heart of Christ touch the hearts of all bringing peace to Myanmar,” Pope Francis said.

Bill proposing to legalize assisted suicide in Scotland draws criticism

HQuality/Shutterstock.

Rome Newsroom, Jun 23, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

A new bill to legalize assisted suicide in Scotland has been criticized for the impact it may have on the lives of disabled people.

The content of the bill, introduced by Liberal Democrat Liam McArthur, is expected to be discussed later this year.

Anthony Horan, the director of the Catholic Parliamentary Office, an agency of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, said: “People of all faiths and none oppose assisted suicide because it has a profoundly harmful impact not only on individuals and families affected, but also on vulnerable groups, including people with disabilities.”

“Legalising assisted suicide puts immeasurable pressure on vulnerable people to end their lives prematurely, for fear of being a financial, emotional or care burden on others, and it undermines efforts to prevent suicide,” he said.

Horan added that “the removal of protections and safeguards is inevitable.”

“It is little surprise that a majority of doctors involved in end-of-life care oppose assisted suicide,” he said. “Deliberately bringing about a patient’s death is crossing the Rubicon for a profession entrusted to always act in the best interests of the patient and to first do no harm. MSPs should be preventing suicide, not assisting it.”

One parliament member has been outspoken in criticism of the bill. Scottish Labour Party member Pam Duncan-Glancy, who has a disability, said that plans to legalize assisted suicide are “dangerous” for disabled people.

She wrote on Twitter: “I am deeply worried about this. Disabled people do not yet enjoy our right to live equally. I’d far rather we had a right to live enshrined in law, long before we have a right to die. Until all things are equal, this is dangerous for disabled people.”

“We need to make sure living is better for disabled people than death,” Duncan-Glancy added in a comment. “That means properly funded care, accessible housing, equal access to health care & jobs and so on. My fear is that, bluntly, all of that costs more & the government haven’t committed nearly enough money to it.”

Assisted suicide was last debated by the Scottish Parliament in 2015, when it was rejected by 82 votes to 36.