Nation and world briefs


Report shows NGOs follow policy barring use of aid for abortion

WASHINGTON — A Trump administration report on its reinstatement of the "Mexico City Policy" shows that nongovernmental organizations "are willing and able to comply with this policy," said the U.S. bishops' pro-life committee chairman. "That compliance does not appear to undermine delivery of appropriate health services," stated Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York Feb. 8. The cardinal made the comments in reaction to the administration's release of a six-month report on implementation of the policy, now called Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance. The policy ensures that U.S. foreign aid does not subsidize foreign nongovernmental organizations that perform or promote abortion on demand.


U.N. , Church officials decry escalating situation in Syria

ZAATARI REFUGEE CAMP, Jordan — As Syria's war soon enters its eighth year, many decry the recent dangerous escalation in the conflict, whether in the country's north, between Turkey and the Kurds, or in the south, between Iran and Israel. Speaking from the sprawling Zaatari Refugee Camp housing 80,000 Syrians near Jordan's border with Syria, the head of the U.N. refugee agency condemned the recent Israeli-Iranian confrontation over Syria, which threatens to open a new and unpredictable front in the war. The "escalation in the last few days of war in Syria is of extreme concern," Filippo Grandi told reporters on his Feb. 12 visit. Israel carried out a series of airstrikes in Syria Feb. 10, hitting Syrian as well as Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah military targets after it said an Iranian reconnaissance drone had entered its airspace. Israel also lost one of its aircraft in an attack.

Clients of prostitution are promoting human trafficking, pope says

VATICAN CITY — Prosperous nations where foreign women are forced into prostitution need to drop their hypocrisy and "face the idea that they are part of the problem, rather than turning away, proclaiming their innocence," Pope Francis said. "If many young women victims of trafficking end up on the streets of our cities, it is because many men here — young men, middle aged, older men — ask for their services and are ready to pay," the pope told a group of adults and teenagers who had taken part in a reflection on human trafficking. Meeting the group Feb. 12, Pope Francis responded to questions from the high school students and from young migrants about ways they could help fight trafficking and reach out to survivors. One of the migrants asked the pope why there was such a "surprising silence" about the reality of trafficking. Part of it is ignorance, the pope said, but much of the silence comes from embarrassment. Citizens must be "courageous and honest" enough to acknowledge people working in prostitution or slave-like conditions and reach out to help them.

4.5 million displaced in Congo 'struggling to survive,' says aid worker

WASHINGTON — Just as people are "struggling to survive" in Congo, aid agencies are struggling to meet their needs, said one aid worker. Political unrest in and around the capital, Kinshasa, is just the latest malady to afflict the Congolese citizens, said Chiara Nava, an adviser to the AVSI Foundation, an aid agency focusing on education and child protection and inspired by Catholic social teaching. She worked in the country for two-and-a-half years before taking on an advisory role.

Nun's recovery recognized as 70th official miraculous healing at Lourdes

ROME — As the Catholic Church celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, a French bishop announced the 70th officially recognized miraculous cure of a pilgrim to the Lourdes grotto where Mary appeared 160 years ago. Bishop Jacques Benoit-Gonnin of Beauvais formally declared Feb. 11 "the prodigious, miraculous character" of the healing of Sister Bernadette Moriau, a French member of the Franciscan Oblates of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who had been partially paralyzed for more than 20 years despite repeated surgeries to relieve pressure on the nerve roots of her lower back. In November 2016, the International Medical Committee of Lourdes confirmed the nun's "unexplained healing, in the current state of scientific knowledge." But it is up to the bishop, not the physicians, to declare a healing miraculous. Lourdes, close to the Pyrenees in southern France, attracts millions of visitors each year and has been a place of pilgrimage since St. Bernadette Soubirous reported the first of 18 visions of the Virgin Mary while gathering firewood in February 1858.

— Catholic News Service 

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