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Cubans pray for cardinal
WASHINGTON (CNS): Archbishop Juan Garcia Rodriguez of Havana, said the health of his predecessor, Jaime Cardinal Ortega Alamino, has weakened and taken a downturn in recent days although he is in stable condition. 
 
“We have received in this archdiocese countless calls and messages manifesting caring interest in the health of Cardinal Jaime Ortega,”the archbishop wrote on Facebook on June 24. Archbishop Garcia took over the archdiocese when the Vatican accepted Cardinal Ortega’s resignation in 2016. 
 
Cuban Catholics have taken to Facebook to post updates on the cardinal’s health and to communicate with others about his condition. A June 22 post on the Facebook page of San Antonio Maria Claret parish in the city of Santiago de Cuba, asked people to pray for the 82-year-old cardinal, who “suffers from terminal cancer. Last night the health of our brother, longtime bishop and cardinal, Jaime Ortega, became extremely weak,” said the post. 
 
“It is expected that at any moment he will pass to the house of the Lord.” On June 19, Palabra Nueva, the magazine for the Archdiocese of Havana, published online photos of a visit with the cardinal, surrounded by brother bishops and smiling.
 
 
Bishops hail ruling that mentally disadvantaged woman can give birth
LONDON (CNS): English bishops welcomed a Court of Appeal ruling on June 24 overturning an earlier Court of Protection ruling that a mentally disadvantaged Nigerian Catholic woman in her 20s, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had to undergo the abortion because it was in her “best interests.” 
 
The woman has the mental age of between six and 9-years-old and is about 22 weeks pregnant. 
 
“It is both astonishing and shocking” that England’s National Health Service (NHS) “should seek to end a healthy pregnancy against the wishes of the pregnant woman, her mother and her social worker,” said Auxiliary Bishop John Sherrington of Westminster, who takes the lead on life issues for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. 
 
“Forcing a woman to have an abortion against her will and that of her close family, would have infringed her human rights and the right of her unborn child to life in a family that has committed to caring for this child. In a free society like ours, there is a delicate balance between the rights of the individual and the powers of the state, and the initial ruling upset that balance. I am therefore pleased that the recent ruling has taken the woman’s best interests into account and has upheld her rights in this case,” he said. 
 
“This case raises fundamental questions of human rights,and there is now an urgent need for the government to clarify what the limits are on the powers of the NHS to force abortions on women who do not want them,” he said.
 
Pope announces themes for upcoming WYD celebrations
VATICAN (CNS): Announcing the themes for the next three World Youth Day celebrations on June 22, Pope Francis called on young men and women to meditate on the path of Christian life that God has called them to walk. 
 
Meeting with 280 young people from 109 countries who took part in a post-synod Youth Forum in Rome, the pope said he hoped the themes of the World Youth Day celebrations for the next three years will be a “harmonious coordination” between the synod process and the next international celebration of World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2022. 
 
“Do not tune out the voice of God, who urges you to arise and follow the paths that he has prepared for you,” the pope told the young adults. 
 
 
Melkite Catholic bishops call for peace in Syria 
BEIRUT (CNS): Melkite Catholic bishops from around the world, gathering in Lebanon for their annual synod, called for reconciliation and peace in Syria. 
 
“In Syria, the war is almost over, but the horizon is unclear,” the bishops said in a statement following the June 17 to 21 gathering, which was led by Melkite Catholic Patriarch Joseph Absi. 
 
The bishops stressed that economic sanctions “are weighing on people day by day.” They demanded that “the countries involved in the war stop fuelling conflict,” and urged the world’s leaders to strive for reconciliation and peace in Syria. 
 
In seeking peace, the bishops called on the faithful “to trust the promising future and steadfastness in their blessed homelands, which have witnessed the formation and prosperity of the Church.” 
 
The bishops lamented that in the Middle East, they “feel the uncomfortable atmosphere that prevails in most of the countries where we have a presence.”

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