Kansas AG files appeal on telemedicine abortion law
A recent district court decision that appears to have blocked enforcement of a telemedicine abortion statute enacted by the Kansas legislature in 2015 is being appealed by Attorney General Derek Schmidt.
He made the announcement Feb. 1 at his official state website ag.ks.gov.
In a Dec. 31 ruling dismissing a challenge to the state’s 2018 telemedicine abortion statute, Schmidt states in the news release, a Shawnee County judge concluded that an injunction entered in 2011 in a different lawsuit now also prohibits enforcement of the 2015 law.
The complicated legal situation involves at least three different statutes enacted years apart and two separate lawsuits filed by different plaintiffs, he writes.
“In our view, the 2015 statute that passed the legislature with overwhelming bipartisan majorities has never had its proper day in court, yet the court has now concluded that statute is enjoined from operation,” Schmidt said.
“We are perplexed how the court reached this conclusion in a case challenging the 2018 law. That’s why we are using multiple avenues to ask the district court or the Court of Appeals, or both, to sort out and clarify the current state of the law.”

Pope to visit school for imams in Morocco in March
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis’ trip to Morocco March 30-31 will include a visit to a school training an international group of Muslim prayer leaders and preachers, including women.
He also will visit to a Caritas center assisting migrants, many of whom ended up in the North African country with hopes of eventually making it to Europe.
Returning to Rome from the United Arab Emirates Feb. 5, Pope Francis told journalists he had hoped to go to Marrakech, Morocco, in December for the signing of the U.N. Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, but protocol dictated that he make a full visit to the country and there was not time in December.
The trip in March will include a full slate of formal events, including a meeting with King Mohammed VI and a visit to the mausoleum of King Mohammed V, who negotiated the country’s independence from France and ruled until his death in 1961.
The visit to Morocco, where more than 99 percent of the population is Muslim, will give Pope Francis an opportunity to continue the reflections on Christian-Muslim relations he began in Abu Dhabi in February.
As he did in the United Arab Emirates, he is expected to highlight 2019 as the 800th anniversary of the encounter of St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil of Egypt.

Abp. Kurtz: ‘Gift of religious freedom’ at risk of ‘being taken for granted’
PHOENIX (CNS) -- Despite its prominence in the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights, “the gift of religious freedom” runs “the risk of being taken for granted, the head of the U.S. bishops’ religious liberty committee told members of Arizona’s legal profession and state legislators.
“First, we promote and defend religious freedom because we believe truth, not power, undergirds a rightly ordered politics,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky.
“Second, because our faith convictions or dictates of conscience call us to inspire a culture. “And finally, because religious freedom gives us the space to serve with integrity of faith and conscience,” the archbishop said.
He made the comments in his homily at the Diocese of Phoenix’s annual recent Red Mass, celebrated recently at St. Mary’s Basilica. The Mass is sponsored by the St. Thomas More Society.
Among those attending were judges, lawyers, government attorneys, lawmakers and law students. Archbishop Kurtz, who chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, said preserving and upholding religious freedom is intertwined with the Catholic faith and the church’s stand on the issue.

The pope’s intention
Here is Pope Francis’ prayer intention for this month:
Universal – Victims: For a generous welcome to the victims of human trafficking, enforced prostitution, and violence.

Mexican shelters strain with arrival of asylum-seekers at U.S. border
PIEDRAS NEGRAS, Mexico (CNS) – Gangs in Honduras first threatened Denia Garcia’s husband six months ago, telling him to join with them or die. Her husband, a police officer, fled to the United States, arriving successfully.
In his absence, the gangs threatened Garcia, sending her on the migrant path with her children, ages 2 and 5. Garcia, who recently arrived in this city across the U.S.-Mexico border from Eagle Pass, Texas, wants to apply for asylum in the United States, but it’s a slow process.
U.S. officials process only a small fraction of the migrants seeking asylum on a daily basis, forcing them to stay in Mexico until their names are called from long waiting lists. Some asylum-seekers also now are being returned to Mexico – under a plan known as Remain in Mexico – as their claims are adjudicated.
As she waits for her name to be called, Garcia said she had hoped to stay in the diocesan-run Dignified Border shelter in Piedras Negras, but found it unable to accommodate long stays. “We don’t know if we can stay here because supposedly it’s only (a few days) here and we were hoping for more,” she said at the shelter. “We don’t have anywhere to sleep after that.”
Asylum-seekers like Garcia arrive at legal ports of entries the length of the U.S.-Mexico border, but increasingly face long waits to lodge their petitions with U.S. officials, forcing them to spend weeks or months in unsafe Mexican border cities.

Portland archbishop’s pastoral letter calls for more chant in liturgy
PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) -- Portland Archbishop Alexander K. Sample in a new pastoral letter said that only sacred music that is characterized by sanctity, beauty and universality “is worthy of the holy Mass.”
He explained that ancient or modern music can qualify, but that Gregorian chant is the preferred music for Catholic worship.
His 21-page pastoral titled “Sing to the Lord a New Song” seeks more chant at Masses and urges all parishes in the western Oregon archdiocese to get a pipe organ.
The Jan. 25 letter emerged while Archbishop Sample was leading a pilgrimage in Panama for World Youth Day.
Among the activities was the celebration of Mass in the extraordinary form, known as the Tridentine rite, at which the archbishop preached. He said the ancient rite can “speak very powerfully” to young people.

Cardinal warns against being silent, in error about Catholic faith
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To keep silent about the truths of the Catholic faith or to teach the contrary is a form of religious deception that comes from the anti-Christ, said Cardinal Gerhard Muller.
The purpose of the church and its members, he said, is to lead people to Jesus, so all Catholics, but especially priests and bishops, “have a responsibility to recall these fundamental truths” and to strengthen the faith “by confessing the truth which is Jesus Christ himself.”
The German theologian, who was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 2012-2017, wrote what he called a “Manifesto of Faith.” Subtitled with a verse from John 14:1, “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” the five-page manifesto was released to several Catholic news sites Feb. 8.