Nation and World News

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USCCB names assistant general secretary for human development

Strong net neutrality protections called critical to faith community

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Communications has urged the Trump administration to keep current net neutrality rules in place because an open internet, he said, is critical to the nation's faith communities and how they interact with their members.

"Without open internet principles which prohibit paid prioritization, we might be forced to pay fees to ensure that our high-bandwidth content receives fair treatment on the internet," stated Bishop Christopher J. Coyne of Burlington, Vt.

Pope urges bishops to exercise authority as judges in annulments

VATICAN CITY — A diocesan bishop is the sole judge in the streamlined process for handling marriage annulments, Pope Francis said.

The simplified process "is not an option that the diocesan bishop can choose, but rather an obligation that derives from his consecration and from the mission received," making the bishop the sole and exclusive authority in charge throughout the three phases of the briefer process, the pope said.

Several states sue to block exeption rule to HHS contraceptive mandate

WASHINGTON — The Little Sisters of the Poor, who have always been known for their care for the elderly poor, have been in the spotlight for the past six years with their objection to the federal government's requirement that they provide insurance coverage of contraceptives for their employees.

They hoped the issue was behind them after a new rule was issued in October by the Department of Health and Human Services granting an exemption to the contraceptive mandate for religious nonprofits who oppose the mandate on religious grounds.

Iraq Christians’ status more stable but still precarious

The ruins of the Chaldean Catholic cathedral are seen Aug. 3 in Kirkuk, Iraq. Iraq was home to about 1.5 million Christians at the start of the U.S.-led war against Iraq in 2003; some estimates put the current total at 175,000 Christians.

WASHINGTON — Although life in Iraq for Christians has stabilized since the routing of Islamic State from the country, their numbers are down from 2014, when the militant group began its insurgency, with their towns largely wrecked and infrastructure in shambles.

This was the assessment of panelists at a Nov. 28 roundtable in Washington sponsored by the Knights of Columbus in recognition of a week of "Solidarity in Suffering" declared by the U.S. Catholic Church that began Nov. 26 to raise awareness of the situation of persecuted Christians throughout the world.

Rohingya crisis shows danger of identity politics

A Rohingya family sat outside their tent Nov. 20 at a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. More than 600,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to neighboring Bangladesh from Myanmar. Myanmar considers the group undocumented Muslims from Rakhine state and has not granted them standing as a recognized ethnic group in the country.

DHAKA, Bangladesh -- The themes chosen by the local bishops for Pope Francis' visits to Myanmar and Bangladesh -- "Love and peace" and "Harmony and peace" -- sounded naive or just too "nicey-nice" to some people.

But when love, peace and harmony are missing, the situation is pretty much hell on earth. The Rohingya refugees from Myanmar now living in teeming camps in Bangladesh could testify to that.

Pope Francis, on the other hand, wanted to testify to the Gospel. And that meant emphasizing love, peace and harmony.

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