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What’s Happening in the Church?

1. Pope’s letter on mercy and abortion
Pope Francis released an apostolic letter “Misericordia et Miseria,” which, among other things, authorized Catholic priests to lift certain canonical disciplines surrounding women who have had abortions – asking “every priest … be a guide, support and comfort to penitents on this journey of special reconciliation.”

2. Pope’s message for Jan. 15, 2017 World Day of Migrants and Refugees
Pope Francis’ 2017 message will draw attention to the plight of child migrants who are exploited unscrupulously, enslaved as laborers or soldiers and caught in up in drug trafficking; and reflect on the need for protection and long-term solutions in the face of the situation of child migrants.

3. Pope to visit Fatima for 100-year celebration of Our Lady
In May 2017, Pope Francis will visit Fatima, Portugal for the 100-year anniversary of Mary’s appearance; and in 2013, at the Portuguese shrine dedicated to her, the pope requested his pontificate be consecrated to Our Lady of Fatima.

4. Pope Francis is watchful of new policies from the United States’ new president
Eugenio Scalfari, former editor of La Repubblica, said the pope told him he will make no judgments about the new president of the United States and was only interested in the impact his policies would have on the poor, as well as migrants and refugees.

5. Jubilee pilgrims to Rome exceed 20 million
The Pontifical Council for New Evangelization, which organized jubilee events, says that the number of people who have registered to pass through the Holy Doors of the Roman basilicas has exceeded 20 million.

6. Vatican’s UN envoy sees rise of racism in hostility to migrants
Archbishop Bernardito Auza said that the world’s nations have taken steps against racial bias but “much of the progress on eliminating racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia is in serious risk of being eroded, sometimes intentionally.” … and is “often politically motivated.”

7. Japanese bishops’ conference issues call for renunciation of all nuclear power
The Japanese bishops’ conference has released a statement “The Abolition of Nuclear Power: An Appeal from the Catholic Church in Japan” calling for the renunciation of all nuclear power, including the peaceful use of nuclear power to generate energy.

8. Resilience of persecuted Christians is the focus of new film “Under Caesar’s Sword”
The 26-minute film shows Christian communities that have suffered religious freedom violations and interviews Christian families, refugees and regional leaders – the film and discussion guide available for free at ucs.nd.edu/film.

9. Voters reject nearly all ballot measures on issues of Catholic concern
Voters passed an assisted suicide measure in Colorado and three states voted in favor of reinstating the death penalty, four states voted in favor of legalized recreational marijuana – however, two states did vote for minimum wage increases and gun control measures passed in three states.

10. Pro-life vow eliminated from statutes for Pontifical Academy for Life
The pope has shifted the focus of the office, and the new statutes – while retaining a commitment to “the defense of the dignity of each single human being” – also adds a mandate for the academy to environment concerns.

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