Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Poll: U.S. still considers abortion a complicated issue

WASHINGTON — Despite abortion having been part of the national debate for nearly a half-century, it remains a complex and complicated issue to a significant majority of Americans, according to a survey released April 17. Sixty-two percent of Americans "see abortion as a complicated issue," with 36 percent saying "it is simple and straightforward," stated the survey, "Young People Set to Impact the Debate on Women's Health Issues," issued by the Public Religion Research Institute. "Americans who say abortion should be either legal in all cases or illegal in all cases are more likely to say the issue is simple and straightforward than those who hold more qualified attitudes," with close to half of the absolutists declaring it simple and straightforward. By comparison, only about a quarter of those who believe abortion should be legal — or illegal — in most, but not all, cases say the issue is simple and straightforward. Robert P. Jones, PRRI's CEO, said, "Even though we're seeing younger people being more supportive, and older people being more opposed, all generations are seeing it as being a more complicated issue. The exception are people who are out on the poles ... at both ends of the spectrum."

Pope accepts resignation of U.S. Ukrainian Catholic archbishop

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Stefan Soroka of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia and has appointed Auxiliary Bishop Andriy Rabiy of the same archeparchy to be apostolic administrator. Archbishop Soroka, 66, is resigning for medical reasons. The resignation and appointment were announced in Washington April 16 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. Ukrainian-born Bishop Rabiy was named an auxiliary bishop for the archeparchy last August and his episcopal ordination took place in his native Lviv last September. He will remain apostolic administrator until a successor to Archbishop Soroka is appointed. Archbishop Soroka has headed the Philadelphia archeparchy since February 2001. In addition to Bishop Rabiy, Auxiliary Bishop John Bura also serves the archeparchy.

WORLD

African, European bishops: Globalization demands vigilance from Church

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — While globalization at its best can enable the sharing of spiritual and material riches, it also can lead to huge destruction, the bishops of Europe and Africa said after a four-day meeting in Fatima, Portugal. Globalization is a dynamic process that "affects all areas of individual, family and social life, including economics, politics, culture and religion," said an April 16 statement by the Council of European Bishops' Conferences and the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar. Twenty-five bishops were among the more than 35 participants from the two continents who met April 12-15 to discuss the effects of globalization on the church and cultures in Europe and Africa. The European and African bishops' joint statement said that, on one hand, globalization "can serve justice and peace" and "can spread noble and constructive ideas and values." Yet, globalization, "when marked by sin as is often the case today, tends to cause a profound gap between rich and poor, between powerful and weak; it strengthens the struggle for power, for growing profit and hedonism; it destroys the legacy of high culture, spirituality, and human dignity, triggering a deconstruction of the very foundations of existence," according to the statement.

Pope: Respect lives of very ill patients like Alfie Evans

VATICAN CITY — Highlighting the plight of a seriously ill toddler in Great Britain and a severely brain-damaged man in France, Pope Francis called for greater respect for every patient's life and dignity. After praying the "Regina Coeli" with people gathered in St. Peter's Square April 15, the pope asked that everyone pray for "people, such as Vincent Lambert in France, little Alfie Evans in England, and others in different countries, who have been living, sometimes for a long time, in a condition of serious infirmity, (and are) medically assisted for their basic needs." These "delicate situations," he said, are "very painful and complex. Let us pray that every sick person may always be respected in their dignity and cared for in an appropriate way for their condition, with the unanimous contribution of family members, doctors and other health-care workers, and with great respect for life," he said. Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said he strongly hoped there could be an opening of dialogue and collaboration between Alfie's parents and hospital officials so that "together they may seek the integral well-being of Alfie and caring for his life will not be reduced to a legal controversy. Alfie cannot be abandoned; Alfie, and his parents likewise, must be fully loved," the archbishop wrote in a statement released April 15.

Chilean abuse victims welcome pope's letter, call for zero tolerance

SANTIAGO, Chile — Victims of clergy sexual abuse welcomed Pope Francis' letter in which he apologized for underestimating the seriousness of the crisis in Chile. James Hamilton, Jose Andres Murillo and Juan Carlos Cruz, victims of Father Fernando Karadima, released a statement April 11 saying they appreciated the pope's letter and were "evaluating the possibilities" for meeting with the pope. "The damage committed by the hierarchy of the Chilean Church, to which the pope refers, has affected many people, not just us," the victims said. "The purpose of all our actions has always been about recognition, forgiveness and reparation for what has been suffered, and will continue to be so, until zero tolerance against abuse and concealment in the Church becomes a reality," they said.

Retired pope celebrates 91st birthday

VATICAN CITY — Retired Pope Benedict XVI had a "peaceful and familial" 91st birthday April 16, celebrating with his 94-year-old brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, who was visiting from Germany, the Vatican said. Pope Francis offered his early morning Mass for his predecessor and then sent his personal best wishes to the retired pope, who lives on the other side of St. Peter's Basilica in a refurbished monastery. The birthday evening plans, the Vatican press office stated, included a visit and performance by the Swiss Guard band. Pope Benedict was elected in April 2005 to succeed St. John Paul II. He stepped down Feb. 28, 2013.

— Catholic News Service 

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