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Ohio House passes heartbeat abortion bill

Columbus, Ohio, Nov 15, 2018 / 06:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Ohio House has once again passed a pro-life bill that would ban abortions after a baby’s heartbeat is detected.

“This bill basically says if there is a heartbeat you cannot abort. If there is a heartbeat, there is life…there is no debating that,” said Rep. Ron Hood, R-Ashville, according to Dayton Daily News.  

On Nov. 15, the heartbeat bill passed the House 58-35. The bill will now head to the Ohio Senate before the legislative session ends in December.  

If the bill becomes law, it would ban abortions at around six weeks, or once a baby’s heart beat is detected. It does not make an exception for incest or rape.

Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-Youngstown, pushed for an amendment which would mandate sex education in K-12 schools in Ohio. This amendment has been tabled.

The bill had originally passed in 2016, but was vetoed by Ohio Governor John Kasich (R). The recent vote in the House was two shy of the 60 votes it needs to override a potential veto.

Kasich has signed into law 18 abortion regulations or restrictions, including a 20-week ban; the heartbeat bill is the single one he has vetoed.

Pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice have opposed the bill. Catherine Ingram, D-Cincinnati, said the bill would bring back dangerous methods of abortion procedures.

In the past, the bill was supported by pro-life organizations such as the Susan B. Anthony List. However, Ohio Right to Life pushed back against the bill, noting that similar legislation in other states have been overturned by the courts.

Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, said in 2016 that the U.S. Supreme Court has also refused to hear appeals to those cases.

“Legal scholars believe that asking the Court to entertain a third heartbeat law at this time would cause irreparable harm to the pro-life movement,” he said.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, abortions increased last year by 1 percent compared to the previous year. Out of the 20,893 abortions performed in 2017, the report stated, almost half of those were conducted after nine weeks of the pregnancy.

“Abortion is an assault on the family. Abortion is an assault on Ohio because it destroys the hearts and minds of women,” said state Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, according to Dayton Daily News.

Chilean cardinal called to testify on abuse case, leaves papal advisory committee

Santiago, Chile, Nov 15, 2018 / 05:29 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A close advisor of Pope Francis has left the “C9”, the pope’s body of cardinal advisors, as he faces charges of covering up for clerical sex abuse in his home country of Chile.

Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, Archbishop Emeritus of Santiago, told Radio Cooperativa that he has officially left the Council of Cardinals, and noted that it was not a resignation but the end of his term. He said he travelled to Rome to bid farewell to Pope Francis and to thank him.

The announcement came at the same time that a Chilean court said it is summoning the cardinal on charges that he protected Father Jorge Laplagne, accused of sexual abuse of minors.

Victims of sex abuse have also filed a complaint with the Chilean court against Errazuriz for “false testimony” in the case of former priest Fernando Karadima, who has been found guilty by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the sexual abuse of minors.

The cardinal is also accused of “misinforming” Pope Francis on the role that Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid, Bishop Emeritus of Osorno, played in covering up the abuse of Karadima. Barros has also been accused of covering up of the abuse of minors committed by Fr. Pedro Quiroz.

For a time, Pope Francis publicly defended Barros, calling the accusations against him “calumny.” He apologized during a meeting with Chilean sex abuse victims for being “part of the problem” and for originally dismissing their concerns.

In May, all of the Chilean bishops presented their resignation to the Holy Father en masse. Thus far, seven of those resignations have been accepted by Francis.

In July of this year, the Chilean prosecutor’s office released a list of 266 persons who were victims of clerical sex abuse as minors, a number that the country’s bishops called “alarming.”

Prosecutor Sergio Moya could not confirm when Errázuriz was scheduled to appear before the court.

Juan Carlos Cruz, a victim of Karadima who met privately with Pope Francis in May, told Cooperativa that it was “very good news” for abuse survivors that Errázuriz was called before the courts. He added that he was “not surprised at all” that the cardinal had been accused of mishandling abuse cases.

Be close to your people, Francis tells Latin American priests

Vatican City, Nov 15, 2018 / 04:13 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis encouraged the community of the Pontifical Latin American College Thursday to avoid cultural fragmentation and to be close to their people.

“One of the phenomena currently afflicting the continent is cultural fragmentation, the polarization of the social fabric and the loss of roots,” the pope said Nov. 15 in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.

“This is exacerbated when arguments are fomented that divide and propagate different types of confrontations and hatred towards those who 'are not one of us', even importing cultural models that have little or nothing to do with our history and identity and that, far from combining in new syntheses as in the past, end up uprooting our cultures from their richest autochthonous traditions.

He spoke to the community to mark the 160th anniversary of the college's founding. He noted that it “is one of the few Roman Colleges whose identity does not refer to a nation or a charism, but which seeks rather to be the meeting place, in Rome, of our Latin American land … offering you, young priests, the opportunity to create a vision, a reflection and an experience of communion that is expressly 'Latin Americanized'.”

Francis lamented that new generations are “uprooted and fragmented”, and said that “the Church is not external to this situation and is exposed to this temptation; since she is subject to the same environment, she runs the risk of becoming disoriented by falling prey to one form of polarization or another, or becoming uprooted if one forgets that the vocation is a meeting ground.”

He added that “the invasion of ideological colonization is also suffered in the Church.”

Because of this, he said it is important at the college “to create bonds and alliances of friendship and fraternity. And not because of a declaration of principles or gestures of goodwill, but because during these years you can learn to know better and make your own the joys and hopes, sorrows and anguish of your brothers; you can name and face specific situations that our people live, and face and feel your neighbour’s problems as if they were your own.”

The Pontifical Latin American College should help create a good priestly community “if one knows how to help oneself, if one is able to lay down roots in the lives of others, brothers and sons with a common history and heritage, part of a same presbytery and the same Latin American people. A priestly community that discovers that the greatest strength it has to build history is born of the concrete solidarity among you today, and will continue tomorrow between your churches and peoples to be able to transcend the merely 'parochial' and to lead communities that know how to open up to others to interact and to promote hope.”

Latin America needs, he said, “artisans of relationship and communion, open and trusting in the novelty that the Kingdom of God can inspire today … A priest in his parish, in his diocese, can do a lot - and this is fine - but he also runs the risk of burning himself out, of isolating himself or harvesting for himself. Feeling part of a priestly community, in which everyone is important – not because it is the sum of people living together, but because of the relationships they create, this feeling part of the community – can awaken and encourage processes and dynamics capable of transcending time.”

“This sense of belonging and recognition will help to creatively unleash and stimulate renewed missionary energies that promote an evangelical humanism capable of becoming intelligence and a driving force in our continent,” Pope Francis said.

“Without this sense of belonging and work hand in hand, on the contrary, we will disperse, we will weaken and, worse still, we will deprive so many of our brothers of the strength, the light and the consolation of friendship with Jesus Christ and of a community of faith that gives a horizon of meaning and life. And so, little by little, and almost without realizing it, we will end up offering Latin America … a God without Christ, a Christ without a Church, a Church without a people ... pure re-elaborated Gnosticism.”

He said Latin America knows that “the love for Christ and of Christ can not manifest itself except in passion for life and for the destiny of our peoples, and especially solidarity with the poorest, the suffering and those in need.”

The pope said this “reminds us of the importance … of developing the pleasure of always being close to the life of our people; never isolating ourselves from them. The life of the diocesan presbyter is lived – the repetition is valid – in this identification and belonging. The mission is passion for Jesus, but at the same time, it is passion for His people. It is learning to look where He looks and to let ourselves be moved by the same things He is moved by: feelings for the life of His brothers, especially sinners and of all those who are despondent and fatigued, like sheep without a shepherd. Please, do not huddle in personal or community enclosures that keep us away from the hubs where history is written. Captivated by Jesus and members of His Body, we integrate fully into society, share life with everyone, listen to their concerns ... rejoice with those who are happy, mourn with those who mourn and offer every Eucharist for all those faces that were entrusted to us.”

Francis said the linking of the college's anniversary with the canonization of St. Oscar Romero, a sometime student, is providential, calling him a “living sign of the fruitfulness and sanctity of the Latin American Church. A man rooted in the Word of God and in the hearts of his people.”

“This reality allows us to make contact with that long chain of witnesses in which we are invited to place our roots and take inspiration from every day … Do not fear holiness, and do not fear spending your life for your people.”

“On the path of cultural and pastoral miscegenation we are not orphans; Our Mother accompanies us,” Pope Francis stated. “She wanted to be like that, mestizo and fertile, and that is how she is with us, our Mother of tenderness and strength who rescues us from the paralysis or confusion of fear, just because she is simply there, as our Mother.”

“Brother priests, let us not forget, and confidently ask her to show us the way, to free us from the perversion of clericalism, increasingly to make us 'village pastors' and not to let us become 'clerics of the state'.”

He concluded with a message for his brother Jesuits who help run the college, saying that “one of the distinctive notes of the Society’s charism is seeking to harmonize contradictions without falling prey to reductionism. This is why Saint Ignatius wanted to think of the Jesuits as men of contemplation and action, men of discernment and obedience, committed to daily life and free to leave.”

The Jesuits at the college should help the young priests “to harmonize the contradictions that life presents to them and present them without falling into reductionism, gaining in the spirit of discernment and freedom,” he said.

“Teach how to embrace problems and conflicts without fear; to handle dissent and confrontation. Teach how to reveal all kinds of 'correct' but reductionist discourse is a crucial task for those who accompany their brothers in formation. Help them to discover the art and taste of discernment as a way of proceeding to find, in the midst of difficulties, the ways of the Spirit by tasting and feeling the Deus semper maior within. Be teachers of broad horizons and, at the same time, teach how to take charge of the small, to embrace the poor and the sick, and to take on the reality of everyday life. Non coereceri a maximo, contineri tamen a minimo divinum est.”

Congressional bill aims for human rights for China’s Uyghurs

Washington D.C., Nov 15, 2018 / 04:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Legislation could help advance religious freedom and human rights in China’s far western province of Xinjiang, say U.S. lawmakers concerned about the treatment of the region’s Uyghur minority.

“The United States must hold accountable officials in the Chinese government and Communist Party responsible for gross violations of human rights and possible crimes against humanity, including the internment in ‘political re-education’ camps of as many as a million Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim minorities,” U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) said.

The bill will signal “that we will not tolerate Chinese government intrusions on American soil,” said the senator.

The bill calls for the immediate closure of reported internment camps in Xinjiang. It asks the FBI to report on harassment and intimidation of ethnic Uyghurs. It calls for the State Department to report on the scale and scope of the reported crackdown.

It also advocates the full implementation of the Frank R. Wolf Religious Freedom Act, which ensures U.S. foreign policy commitments to international religious freedom. It calls for targeted sanctions to be considered against individual human rights abusers in Chinese government, the ruling Communist Party, and in state security.

Following a two-day review of China’s record in August, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has said that up to 1 million Uyghurs could be currently held against their will and without trial in extra-legal detention, on the pretext of countering terrorism and religious extremism.

Rubio and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act in the Senate on Nov. 14. U.S. Rep Chris Smith, (R-N.J.), introduced the House version of the bill with lead Democratic co-sponsor Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-N.Y.)

“The internment of over a million Uighurs and other Muslims in China is a staggering evil and should be treated by the international community as a crime against humanity,” said Smith. “The Chinese government’s creation of a vast system of what can only be called concentration camps cannot be tolerated in the 21st century.”

A high-tech security network has been set up in Xinjian, with many police checkpoints and surveillance cameras, the Washington Post reports.

On Nov. 6 China rejected a U.N. review that criticized its human rights record in Xinjian. It has repeatedly characterized the region as a place recovering from extremism, saying it is stabilizing the area with training centers that help train former extremists for employable skills.

Chinese officials have claimed that the criticism of its human rights record is “politically driven.” They have said Islamist militants and separatists are a serious threat in the far western Xinjiang province and charge that they plot attacks and create tension between the predominantly Muslim Uighur minority and the Han Chinese majority, Reuters has reported.

Several countries have asked China to allow independent U.N. observers into the region, without success.

Smith said the legislation gives the Trump administration “the tools to take a firm stand against Beijing’s plans to erase the religious identity, culture, and language of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in China’s western province.”

He said that U.S. businesses should be barred from “helping China create a high-tech police state” in the province.

“The situation in Xinjiang and China’s treatment of its Uighur Minority is beyond abhorrent,” added Menendez. “The President needs to have a clear and consistent approach to China, and not turn a blind eye as a million Muslims are unjustly imprisoned and forced into labor camps by an autocratic regime.”

In addition to the U.S., several western countries have criticized the camps and called for them to be closed: the U.K., Canada, France and Germany.

On Oct. 10 the Congressional-Executive Commission on China emphasized what it called “the dire human rights situation inside China and the continued downward trajectory by virtually every measure,” since Xi Jinping came to power as general secretary of the Communist Party and now its president.

Rubio chairs the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, and Smith is its co-chair. The commission was created in 2000 to monitor human rights and rule of law developments in China.

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