Nation and World News

Bishops urge action on conscience protection for health care workers

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The chairmen of the U.S. bishops' pro-life and religious freedom committees have asked U.S. Catholics to contact members of Congress and urge them to enact the Conscience Protection Act as part of the funding bill for fiscal year 2018.

Congress faces a March 23 deadline to approve an omnibus appropriations measure that likely would fund the government through the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. Lawmakers will consider whether to include the Conscience Protection Act of 2017 in the bill.

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Bishop Pepe of Las Vegas retires; Bishop Thomas to succeed him

Pope appeals for end to inhumane fighting, evil of war in Syria

A rescue worker carried an injured girl amid destroyed buildings Feb. 21 in rebel-held eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, Syria.

VATICAN CITY — Calling the war in Syria "inhumane," Pope Francis called for an end to the fighting, immediate access to humanitarian aid and the evacuation of the injured and infirm.

"My thoughts often turn to that beloved and martyred Syria where the war has intensified, especially in eastern Ghouta," he said Feb. 25 after praying the Angelus with people gathered in St. Peter Square.

Rome’s Colosseum bathed in red in honor of modern martyrs

The Colosseum in Rome was lit in red Feb. 24 to draw attention to the persecution of Christians around the world.

ROME — Rome's Colosseum, long a symbol of the persecution of early Christians, was bathed in red light late Feb. 24 as a reminder of and a prayer for the thousands of Christians being persecuted for their faith today.

The family of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death under Pakistan's highly criticized anti-blasphemy laws, and Rebecca Bitrus, a Nigerian Christian who was held in captivity for two years by Boko Haram terrorists, told their stories before the red lights were shined on the Colosseum.

Supreme Court declines DACA case

Sisters of Mercy and others prayed inside the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington Feb. 27 as part of a “Catholic Day of Action for Dreamers” protest to press Congress to protect “Dreamers,” as those covered under DACA program are known.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court dealt a blow to the Trump administration's effort to end a program in March that protects young adults brought to the U.S. without legal permission as minors.

On Feb. 26, the court declined to hear and rule on whether the administration has the right to shut down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA program.

In September, President Donald Trump announced his administration was ending the program, giving lawmakers until March 5 to find a legislative solution to protect the young adults benefiting from DACA.

Nearly 50,000 baptisms registered in China in 2017, says Vatican agency

The Catholic Church in China registered 48,556 baptisms in 2017, according to a report by Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. In this Dec. 24, 2006, file photo, a man is baptized during a Christmas Eve Mass on the outskirts of Xining in northwestern China's Qinghai province.

VATICAN CITY — The Catholic Church in China registered 48,556 baptisms in 2017, reflecting the vitality and missionary strength of the Catholic communities there, according to a report by Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

The figures likely are incomplete, however, given the difficulty of procuring data from Catholic communities in the rural parts of China, the report said.

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