WASHINGTON (CNS) – Decrying President Joe Biden’s new executive order on abortion, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee said Aug. 5 that “continued promotion of abortion takes lives and irreparably harms vulnerable pregnant mothers, their families and society. Even preceding the Dobbs decision, my brother bishops and I have implored the nation to stand with moms in need, and work together to protect and support women and children,” Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori said in a statement. “It is the wrong direction to take at a moment when we should be working to support women and to build up a culture of life,” added the prelate, who heads the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Pro-life Activities. On Aug. 3, Biden signed an executive order instructing the Department of Health and Human Services “to advance access to reproductive health care services, including, to the extent permitted by federal law, through Medicaid for patients traveling across state lines for medical care.” In his statement, Archbishop Lori said: “I continue to call on the president and all our elected officials to increase support and care to mothers and babies, rather than facilitate the destruction of defenseless, voiceless human beings,” he said.

LAFAYETTE, La. (CNS) – The annual Fête-Dieu du Têche in the Diocese of Lafayette took place on the feast of the Assumption, Aug. 15, and this year’s 40-mile eucharistic procession by boat down the Bayou Têche coincides with the U.S. Catholic Church’s three-year National Eucharistic Revival now underway. “In an effort to cultivate a deeper devotion to Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist, boaters will be able to choose a patron from a list of 50 eucharistic witnesses – saints and blesseds “who exemplified a life totally dedicated to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist,” according to a news release about this year’s event. Saints known for their love of the Eucharist were highlighted, including St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Jean Vianney, St. Katharine Drexel, St. Teresa of Kolkata, as well as Blessed Carlo Acutis. “The intention for the all-day spiritual and cultural celebration will be for a ‘Renaissance Eucharistique’ in Acadiana and beyond,” the release said. Acadiana refers to the French Louisiana region – composed of 22 parishes – that is home to the Cajun people. Cajuns are descendants of the Acadians, a people exiled from present-day Nova Scotia by the British during the French and Indian War. They settled along the bayous and prairies of southwest Louisiana.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis plans to make his long-awaited visit to Ukraine before his trip to Kazakhstan in September, said Andrii Yurash, Ukraine’s ambassador to the Holy See. In a series of tweets posted Aug. 6 after meeting with the pope, Yurash said the people of Ukraine “have been waiting for the pope” since the start of the war and will “be happy to greet him before his trip to Kazakhstan.” “I am very close to Ukraine and want to express this closeness (through) my visit to Ukraine,” the pope said, according to the Ukrainian ambassador. “Moments of communication with (the) Holy Father are always inspirational,” he said in a follow-up tweet. “Especially when there is a chance to discuss and promote subjects that are ‘on the table’ for a long time, like the pope’s visit to Ukraine.” The pope expressed on several occasions his desire to not only visit Ukraine, but also Russia to plead for an end to the conflict. In an interview with Catholic News Service July 18, Yurash said that while Ukraine was ready for a papal visit, he doubted the pope would be able to visit Moscow.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis recognized the martyrdom of Hungarian Father Péter Oros, who was killed at the height of the Cold War by Soviets in Ukraine. During a meeting Aug. 5 with Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, the pope also signed decrees advancing the sainthood causes of four other men and one woman. According to the dicastery’s website, Father Oros was born in Biri, present-day Hungary, in 1917 and was ordained a priest for the Ruthenian Eparchy of Mukachevo in 1942. Some records indicate a Byzantine bishop born in the same year with a similar name. Although the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints states Father Oros was an Eastern-rite Catholic priest, it was not unusual at the time for an auxiliary bishop to be named clandestinely. After the annexation of the Transcarpathian territory in present-day Ukraine, the suppression of Eastern Catholic churches forced Father Oros into hiding. After a warrant for his arrest was issued in 1953, he was shot and killed by a police officer at a train station in Siltse, Ukraine, while attempting to flee.

LAGOS, Nigeria (CNS) – Nigerian officials identified six suspects arrested in connection with the June 5 attack that killed 40 people at St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo. Maj. Gen. Jimmy Akpor, defense department spokesman, said all were linked to the Islamic State West Africa Province group. He said the arrests were made through a joint effort of military and defense officials. Akpor said a preliminary investigation showed that “Idris Abdulmalik Omeiza was the mastermind of the terror attack on the Catholic Church in Owo as well as the attack on a police station” in Kogi state June 23. In the second attack, a police officer was killed and weapons were stolen. Omeiza is sometimes known as Bin Malik. Police also arrested Momoh Otohu Abubakar, Aliyu Yusuf Itopa and Auwal Ishaq Onimisi for the Owo attack, in which attackers sneaked into a Pentecost Mass with explosives. Akpor confirmed Aug. 10 that the four were arrested Aug. 1. On Aug. 11, Akpor said officials had arrested two more suspects: Al-Qasim Idris and Abdulhaleem Idris. Officials did not release a motive for the attack.

AACHEN, Germany (CNS) – Missio, one of Germany’s Pontifical Mission Societies, marked the third World Day Against Witch Hunts Aug. 10 by warning that the phenomenon is on the increase worldwide. The German Catholic news agency KNA said that in at least 43 countries, women, but also men and children, are in mortal danger because they are being persecuted as alleged witches, according to the 2022 World Map of Witch Hunts published by missio Aachen. Missio said it had added Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe to the map since last year. Most of the countries affected are in Africa, but the phenomenon also exists in Southeast Asia as well as Mexico, Bolivia, Guatemala and Haiti. The current missio world map is based on conservative estimates. Other lists put the number of affected countries near 60, KNA reported. Experts said more people had been killed as alleged witches and sorcerers worldwide in the past 60 years than in the 350 years of European witch hunts. The accusation of witchcraft often is triggered by sudden and inexplicable deaths or illnesses, but also by weather phenomena, Swiss Franciscan Sister Lorena Jenal said in a recent interview with KNA.

WASHINGTON (CNS) – Cuban bishops and Pope Francis asked for prayers as a major fire has caused at least one death, more than 100 injuries and left 17 firefighters missing in Cuba. The fire initially began with a lightning strike that hit a tank at an oil facility Aug. 5 and has since spread along the port city of Matanzas. Thousands were evacuated from the region as the fire spread from one tank to three. Some feared wind was spreading the contamination to other parts of the island, including to the capital, Havana, about 60 miles away. Pope Francis, in a telegram sent to the Cuban bishops via Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said he was following news about the “unfortunate accident. May the Lord grant you strength in this moment of pain and sustain the work of extinction (of flames) and (of) search and rescue,” the telegram said.