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ACI Prensa's latest initiative is the Catholic News Agency (CNA), aimed at serving the English-speaking Catholic audience. ACI Prensa ( is currently the largest provider of Catholic news in Spanish and Portuguese.
Updated: 1 hour 46 min ago

Philadelphia just got a group of young Carmelite nuns

Tue, 08/08/2017 - 05:01

Philadelphia, Pa., Aug 8, 2017 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The archdiocese of Philadelphia voiced joy and gratitude for 10 young Discalced Carmelite nuns and a new chaplain who have recently transferred to the local Carmelite monastery.

“The support provided by the Carmelites to the mission of the local Church is inestimably valuable,” said Ken Gavin, director of communication for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

In comments to CNA, Gavin noted the youth and vitality brought by the new sisters, who are all in their 20s and 30s.

“As women who have dedicated their entire lives to contemplation and prayer for the good of others, they constantly seek intercession on behalf of all members of the Church, for the conversion of hearts to Christ, and for the ministries and good works of the Church to bear fruit,” he said.

The monastery increased their community from three to 13, in a recent transfer of six nuns from Valparaiso, Nebraska, and four more nuns from Elysburg, Pennsylvania.

As a member of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, Father William Allen will also be welcomed as the monastery's new chaplain.

A Mass was celebrated on July 26, the Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, to welcome the new sisters and introduce them to the community. The liturgy fell on the anniversary of the first Mass for the Carmel community in Philadelphia, marking 115 years since their arrival from Boston to Philadelphia.

A nun from the community who requested anonymity said the transferring sisters weren't aware of the anniversary, and that it served as a beautiful confirmation for them.

“It was a joyous surprise for everyone. God does those little things, just to say 'Here I am,'” she told   CNA/EWTN in an Aug. 3 interview.

She noted that the addition of the sisters is not only a wonderful event that will increase both the membership and youthful zeal within the community, but something central to Philadelphia's Catholic identity that will aid the diocese and the world by means of prayer and penance.

“Through prayer and sacrifice. We came to Carmel because we love the Church, and we love the world, we love people. And we come to sacrifice or to consecrate our lives to Jesus, who gave His life for the salvation of souls.”

“Generally, we come here for the work of redemption, which is the work of the Church of course. And that's our major work.”

The nuns offer their work and prayer for Christians throughout all of the world: the intentions of the Holy Father, the cardinals, and Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, but especially for the conversion of sinners.

This is an important aspect of the message of Saint Teresa of Avila and Our Lady of Fatima, she said, noting the Christian obligation to aid sinners who cannot help themselves.

“Those souls in mortal sin cannot help themselves. It's as though their hands are tied behind their backs. They cannot feed themselves, it is up to us, and through our prayer, to nourish them with God's mercy, to beg God's mercy upon them.”

Additionally, the community will praise God for the goodness he pours out into the world and for all those who receive his blessings.

They will also specifically pray and sacrifice for the sanctification of all their local priests – a practice of Saint Teresa, who wanted “her sisters to be warrior champions of the church to fight the spiritual battle.”

Having been involved in the French Carmelite tradition, the nun said the transition has brought about a beautiful correspondence between the French and Hispanic tradition of the Discalced Carmelite order.

The Philadelphia community stemmed from the French tradition of the Carmelites, which came to the United States from Belgium in 1790. The community of Elysburg and Valparaiso stem from the Mexican tradition of the Carmelites, which fled to San Francisco, California in fear of Mexico's religious persecution during the Cristero War in the 1920s.

Little differences in the way the sisters wear their habits or attend Mass in Latin, she said have been a delight to experience.

Former Phoenix bishop 'categorically denies' sex abuse claim

Mon, 08/07/2017 - 14:37

Phoenix, Ariz., Aug 7, 2017 / 12:37 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Bishop Thomas O’Brien, the former bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix, has denied allegations he sexually molested a young boy in the late 1970s and early '80s.

“Bishop O’Brien categorically denies the allegations,” the diocese said Aug. 3. “According to Diocese of Phoenix records, Bishop O’Brien was never assigned to any of the parishes or schools identified in the lawsuit, and no specific information has been presented which connects Bishop O’Brien to the plaintiff.

Bishop O’Brien, 81, is accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing the alleged victim several times at parishes in Phoenix and Goodyear, Ariz. from 1977-1982.

His accuser, now 47 and living near Tucson, has said he started having flashbacks of the abuse in September 2014 as he prepared for his son’s baptism, his lawyer Tim Hale told the Associated Press.

“It has turned his life upside down,” Hale said.

The Phoenix police department is investigating the allegation.

The diocese said it contacted the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office “immediately” upon learning of the allegations in September 2016.

Because the matter is pending litigation, the diocese said it would not share additional information. It expressed commitment to protecting all young people.

“We are dedicated to providing a safe environment in which every individual is valued and honored as created in the image and likeness of God. Anyone who has been a victim of abuse or who may have information concerning these crimes is encouraged to call a local law enforcement agency.”

The diocese promised continued prayers for victims of childhood abuse and pledged continued vigilance to protection efforts.

Bishop O’Brien’s handling of sex abuse charges against church employees resulted in a 2003 immunity deal. He acknowledged that he allowed employees accused of sex abuse to continue to have contact with children.

That deal said a grand jury investigating sex abuse allegations against the Church did not find evidence that the bishop engaged in sexual misconduct. But the deal did not prevent bringing charges against the bishop if there were evidence he committed sexual abuse.

After 21 years as Bishop of Phoenix, Bishop O’Brien resigned in June 2003, after being accused of striking and killing a 43-year-old man with his car in a hit-and-run accident. The bishop did not stop to help the man or to report the accident. He told investigators he didn’t realize he had hit a person, thinking the collision was with a dog, a cat, or a rock thrown at his window.

He was convicted of leaving the scene of a fatal accident, then sentenced to probation and 1,000 hours of community service.


Assisted suicide for mental health issues? A Catholic response

Sat, 08/05/2017 - 18:01

Denver, Colo., Aug 5, 2017 / 04:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- With awareness of mental health conditions on the rise, how is the Church called to respond to those who do not simply wish to end their lives, but push for the right to do so legally?

Adam Maier-Clayton was a young Canadian activist who suffered from a variety of mental health issues and began campaigning for just such a law after his symptoms worsened.

The 27-year-old, who spent the final years of his life promoting such activism, from childhood had suffered from anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. He had been to therapy and tried medication.

However, his symptoms worsened drastically at age 23, when he experimented with marijuana. He spent about a week in and out of the hospital, his father told the BBC, and began suffering severe physical pain. Any cognitive activity, such as reading, writing, or even sustained conversation, would trigger the pain, which had no evident physical cause.

Adam's new symptoms were ultimately attributed to a somatic symptom disorder. The condition is little understood, but the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5) notes that it is often co-morbid with depressive disorders.

As a result of this condition, Adam developed suicidal thoughts, according to the BBC piece. For someone in his situation, this is far from unusual, according to the DSM-5.

“Our first response to somebody who is suicidal really needs to be compassion,” Dr. Jim Langley of St. Raphael's Counseling in Denver told CNA of suicidal tendencies. “For someone to want to take their own life, they must be suffering to a large degree. The drive for survival is very, very strong in us.”

In June of last year, Canada passed Bill C-14, the country’s right to die legislation. The law allows adult persons perceived to be at the end of their life whose deterioration has been deemed irreversible to request euthanization. The Church is opposed to all forms of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.

Adam began campaigning for a change to the law, so that its provisions would be extended to people with mental disorders. He expressed frustration with the crippling nature of the disease.

However, finding a new way of life accommodated for the illness is key to finding meaning amid the suffering, Langley emphasized. That meaning is important in recovery and developing the ability to bear the suffering and thus continue living.

“Somatoform disorder can take all sorts of different forms,” he said, “but when it happens it definitely can incapacitate people in things that mean a lot to them… I'd be working with him to find more useful things that he could do with himself, whatever that is. It might even be raising awareness about somatoform disorder.”

According to Langley, “People who in general have meaningful relationships can overcome all sorts of different pain. My guess is, even if he had parents who were supportive of him taking his own life, he must have felt like he had fallen out of his community.”

Adam, however, became devoted to advocating the legalization of physician-assisted suicide for those with mental conditions perceived to be unbearable. His parents supported him in this effort.

“The legislation literally forces people to kill themselves in an undignified manner,” he said on his YouTube channel.

However, the logic of a “death with dignity” by suicide is flawed, according to Dr. Greg Battaro of the CatholicPsych Institute.

“Where they're claiming the right to choose to die, based on the dignity of the person, is an error in their logic. It's because precisely of the dignity of the person that we don't have the right to choose how we’re born or die. The dignity of the person is greater than what they presume it to be.”

Adam ultimately took his life using an illegally imported drug mixture April 13, 2017, after checking into a motel room that morning.

“My son deserved to die with dignity, with his family and his friends beside him, in his own, comfy bed,” his mother, Maggie Maier, says in her closing remarks in a YouTube video, having just read the letter he had written her before taking his life.

In that eulogy, she noted that had she and Adam's father been present, they could have been criminally prosecuted. She characterized her son as having been forced to take his own life by himself by Canada’s law.

Battaro also described the legalization of euthanasia as a “complete and utter failure of the medical system and of the government in providing the hope that people would need to actually get better.”

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) refused to comment for this story. Both the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the U.S. and the KidsHelpPhone in Canada did not respond to CNA’s request for comment.

The Center for Disease Control’s guidelines on media coverage of suicide warn against “(p)resenting suicide as a tool for accomplishing certain ends” or “(g)lorifying suicide or persons who complete suicide,” as such coverage is “likely to contribute to suicide contagion.”

“Such actions may contribute to suicide contagion by suggesting to susceptible persons that society is honoring the suicidal behavior of the deceased person, rather than mourning the person's death,” the guidelines state.

A video accompanying the BBC piece contains speakers who suggest that the exclusion of mental health cases from the Canadian law stems from a stigma around psychiatric issues.

However, legalizing suicide will not serve to fight existing stigmas around mental issues, as the advocacy of Adam and his parents suggested, but will only legitimize that aversion to mental issues further, said Battaro.

“It’s taking that avoidance to the extreme,” according to Battaro. “We’re just going to make these people disappear.”

Additionally, the “moral stigma,” as Langley described, around suicide can often save lives.

“Sometimes, it's just the desire to not want to make an immoral decision that keeps people alive, if they're suffering from a mental illness,” he said, although we must also keep in mind that their pain is often so great that moral decision-making is impaired.

How can suffering be redemptive?

In Adam's case, Battaro said, “(t)here was a total absence of understanding of anything good coming from suffering. Helping somebody process the meaning of their suffering would help move towards a different conclusion. There’s really almost nothing as unbearable as suffering without meaning, or purposeless suffering.”

Both Battaro and Langley emphasized the need to find purpose, meaning, and redemption amid the suffering of our lives.

First, as Christians, we believe that our suffering is redemptive as it is joined to Christ’s suffering on the cross, Langley said.

“If you look at the cross, that is the perfect answer to the problem of suffering. Jesus is up there on the cross, and he’s saying, ‘Me too. I suffer too.’”

But what does this purpose, this meaning of suffering look like? How do we lift our view past the notion that pain is meaningless and to be avoided at all costs?

According to Battaro, “we're talking about the invitation to join to the suffering of Christ, and to be united to him in his suffering. We see that our human concept of fulfillment is really limited unless we open it up to the Resurrection, that understanding that death is not the end, and there’s something past it, but it’s only through the doorway of suffering that we enter into the Resurrection.”

But communicating this redemptive image of our mental and physical anguish to those who do not share our beliefs requires conviction on the part of Christians, Battaro said.

“The first thing we need to do is work on ourselves, change our own understanding and pray for the grace of faith so that we can really believe in the hope of redemptive suffering ourselves, and not live lives which are catered to avoiding every ounce of suffering we can,” said Battaro.

This redemption of suffering can be found in even the hardest of cases, according to Battaro.

“For most disorders, even the one that Adam suffered from, there's hope.”

Mental illness and euthanasia – what's it like where it is legal?

The proposal to include mental illness in the criteria for euthanasia and assisted suicide is not new. Such provisions already exist both in Belgium and the Netherlands.

In the Netherlands, from 2010 to 2015, euthanasia in the case of psychiatric disorders grew from just two cases to 56.

From 2014 to 2015, 124 cases of euthanasia in Belgium involved patients with a “mental and behavioral disorder.” Five persons diagnosed with autism were killed.

According to a piece from February 2016 in the New York Times, most of those euthanized in Belgium for psychiatric reasons suffered from depression or, even more prevalent, loneliness. The depression cases were often co-morbid with issues such as substance abuse, dementia, or physical pain.

Why this Catholic priest objects to the 'private exorcist' trend

Sat, 08/05/2017 - 05:02

Denver, Colo., Aug 5, 2017 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A recent article in the Economist has some disturbing news about the rise of so-called “professional exorcists” in France and elsewhere, according to one Catholic exorcist.

“It almost seemed like the main focus was on entertainment,” Fr. Vince Lampert of the International Association of Exorcists told CNA, speaking on one of the problems with the phenomenon.

“For the purpose of any exorcism, one of the steps would be for the person to re-connect with their faith or to discover their faith for the first time. It almost seemed like people there were just thinking of evil as something that you can kind of play around with.”

Fr. Lampert is the exorcist for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, having functioned as such since 2005. While the identities of most exorcists are kept secret, Fr. Lampert often gives talks on the subject.

The Economist piece details the practice of “private exorcists” independent of the Church, claiming that the reason for a rise in popularity is two-fold: a perceived lack of interest from the Church and the benefits customers believe they receive from the “rituals.”

As far as lack of interest from the Church goes, Fr. Lampert responded that in his view, this is not the case. Rather, the Church simply wants to be cautious with cases potentially involving demonic activity, rather than rush to a quick judgment as some may want.
“The Church always wants to move very cautiously,” he said.

He described times when he has seen people who seem to desire a quick-fix to their problems or a superstitious solution, such as those offered by sangomas, a sort of shaman in South Africa that Fr. Lampert believes may be connected to the French phenomenon due to immigration.

“I will say that oftentimes I encounter people that really don’t want any connection with faith,” said Fr. Lampert.

“They just want to treat the priest-exorcist as a shaman as well. ‘There’s evil in my life, make it go away; I don’t really want there to be any responsibility on my part to pray or to grow in faith for the Church.’ They don’t want to change any aspect of their life, they just expect the priest exorcist to make all this go away.”

The business of “private exorcists” can be booming. The Economist article references one of these “professionals” as claiming to make €12,000 (over $14,000) a month from the business. True exorcisms conducted by the Church, however, never have monetary costs associated.

“The Church does view exorcism as a ministry of charity, so she helps anyone who’s in need,” said Fr. Lampert.

Additionally, the perceived positive effect of these “rituals” may actually be dangerous.

“If it’s evil at work, then somehow evil is giving the illusion that somehow what they’re doing is being efficacious, if you will, as a way to continue to play and toy with the people that somehow believe that they can combat the forces of evil independent of the presence of God,” Fr. Lampert said.

These “professionals” mistakenly seem to claim that it is through their power that they exercise their supposed spiritual authority, Fr. Lampert noted.

“Certainly, I didn’t hear any reference to Christ. It almost seemed like it was the individual who was the one casting out evil. But certainly from a Catholic perspective the exorcist would be operating within the name and the power and the glory of Christ. It’s not any power or authority that I possess on my own.”

He describes how this functions in a true exorcism.

“Ultimately, Christ would be the exorcist, because you’re calling on his name, his power, the authority that comes from Christ, and then the priest, the exorcist then, is an instrument that Christ is using.”

Furthermore, these fake rituals can do more harm than good for the person desiring them if they have issues arising from sources other than the demonic, he added.

“The Church could end up causing more harm than good if it labels a person as being possessed, and that label doesn’t allow the person to get the true help that they need, perhaps from their medical doctor or from a mental health professional. You could have these professionals who are just preying on people’s misery, and they could actually be making things a lot worse.”

Fr. Lampert described the process which someone who suspects that demonic activity has entered their life should go through.

“The number one place where people should always begin is with their local pastor, so if they’re Catholic they should talk to the local parish priest who can listen to their story. If you just call somebody blindly and say, ‘I think I’m possessed,’ you might get a non-favorable response from them. But if you go in and you say, ‘OK, there are certain things go on that I can’t figure out, can you help me?’ then that priest is going to be better equipped to make the connection between the exorcist of that diocese and that person.”

He compared this to going to a doctor for physical ailments.

“It’d be like if you need to see a medical professional, a cardiologist, you don’t just walk in and see one; you go through your family doctor who then makes the connection for you. A person should always rely on their local pastor.”

Fr. Lampert also listed a desire for “immediate gratification” as well as resistance to following Church procedures on exorcisms as reasons people turn to unqualified professionals.

If someone seeking help isn’t a practicing Catholic, “then people have to be willing to follow the procedures and the protocols that the Church has in place. Sometimes, people don’t like that, and that’s when they can turn to these so-called professionals because they will give them immediate gratification, if you will.” The Church often assists non-Catholics with these problems.

Many dioceses have an exorcist assigned within them by the local bishop. For safety purposes, their information is usually not made public, hence the need to consult first with a local pastor.

In a piece first published in the National Catholic Register in March, Fr. Lampert noted that demonic activity and the need for exorcist services in the U.S. is on the rise as well.

“The problem isn’t that the devil has upped his game, but more people are willing to play it,” Father Lampert said in reference to pornography, illegal drugs use, and the occult. “Where there is demonic activity, there is always an entry point.”

“As the acceptance of sin has increased, so, too, has demonic activity,” said Msgr. John Esseff of the Pope Leo XII Institute, which trains priests “to bring the light of Christ to dispel evil.” Msgr. Esseff was quoted in the Register article.

Fr. Lampert in the March piece noted that while true possessions are rare, exorcists also assist in the case of demonic infestation, vexation, and obsession.

According to the register piece, “(h)e explained that demonic infestation happens in places where things might move and there are loud noises. With vexation, a person is physically attacked and might have marks such as bruises, bites or scratches. Demonic obsession involves mental attacks, such as persistent thoughts of evil racing through one’s mind.”

However, he cautions against the faithful focusing too much on the devil. “The focus should be on God and Jesus Christ,” he said in the Register piece. “When I remind myself that God is in charge, it puts everything in perspective, and the worry and fear dissipates.”

“If people would build up their faith lives, the devil will be defeated.”

Why the Knights of Columbus will resettle Iraqi Christians

Fri, 08/04/2017 - 16:55

St. Louis, Mo., Aug 4, 2017 / 02:55 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The urgency of the problems facing displaced Iraqi Christians has driven a new campaign by the Knights of Columbus to resettle an entire village in their homes, says a spokesman for the Knights.

The roughly 200,000 Christians still in Iraq – down from 1.5 million in 2003 – “are increasingly feeling a sense of hopelessness over the situation,” Andrew Walther, vice president of communications for the Knights of Columbus, told CNA on Thursday.

Even with Islamic State swept out of most of Iraq, many Christian families who lived in Mosul or on the nearby Nineveh Plain are not yet able to return to their homes, three years after being displaced by the group.

With their lives as internally displaced persons surpassing the three-year mark, “it was made very clear that if there weren’t concrete steps that showed people that moving home was possible in the next 30 to 60 days, there was a very good chance that many of them would just leave for other countries in the region, for wherever they could go,” Walther said.

The Knights of Columbus announced this week that it was beginning a $2 million drive to raise and donate money to resettle an entire village of families in Karemlesh, a town on the Nineveh Plain 18 miles outside Mosul. Most of the families are Chaldean or Syriac Christians, with some Shabak families, Walther said.

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson announced the drive during his annual remarks on Tuesday at the 135th annual international convention of the Knights of Columbus. The group is an international Catholic men’s organization with over 1.9 million members in councils all over the world.

“Now we will ensure that hundreds of Christian families driven from their homes can return to these two locations and help to ensure a pluralistic future for Iraq,” Anderson said on Tuesday announcing the drive.  100 percent of the funds raised would go to help Christians rebuild their homes.

The Islamic State swept through large swathes of Syria and Iraq in 2014, giving families of Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities an ultimatum – convert to Islam, die, or leave.

“When ISIS took the town, everybody fled,” Walther said, and militants began their campaign of cultural genocide: burning homes, desecrating parishes, destroying Christian symbols, and even digging up the body of a local priest to desecrate his grave.

“They wanted not just to erase the Christians from the town, they wanted to erase whatever was reminiscent of Christianity from the town as well,” Walther said.

Many Christians fled eastward to the Kurdistan region of Iraq, where around 70,000 Christians were living in and around the city of Erbil, dependent upon aid groups for their basic needs.

Since 2014, the Knights have already provided over $13 million in aid to Christians in Iraq and Syria who have suffered persecution, most notably at the hands of Islamic State.

The Knights also helped produce a report for the U.S. State Department, which requested it, detailing the violence and forced displacement inflicted upon Christians in Syria and Iraq. The report helped lead to the State Department declaring in March of 2016 that Islamic State was committing genocide against Christians, Yazidis, and Shia Muslims in Iraq and Syria.

The Islamic State has since been forced back from much of the territory it gained, including the Nineveh Plain and Mosul. “With the departure of ISIS as a meaningful military force, you have a lot of new opportunities, in terms of rebuilding and resettling, that you didn’t have six months ago, three months ago,” Walther said.

Now, however, many Christians have still not been able to return to their homes, which were vandalized, damaged, or destroyed by Islamic State militants. Their future is in question as they are currently living as displaced persons in Kurdistan. The situation is so bleak that local Church leaders are saying that if something is not done to remedy the problem, Christians could leave Iraq for good.

If that is the case, it would be an ideological victory for Islamic State, whose “program was the de-Christianization of Iraq, the total obliteration of any religious minorities,” Walther said.

Furthermore, with Christians gone, it could further destabilize Iraq by helping eliminate religious pluralism. “Christians are an enormous example of forgiveness, and they’ve been praised by imams in Iraq, by television commentators in Egypt, for this capacity of forgiveness,” Walther said.

And if the Christians have no more roots in the land where they have lived for centuries, a priceless cultural vestige could be gone as well.

The government of Hungary has already given $2 million to move around 1,000 families back to the town of Telskuf, Walther said, providing a working example that such a plan can be successful.

“We have a proof of concept, we know this can work, and we know that if it worked in Telskuf, there’s no reason that it wouldn’t work in a town also in Nineveh that is also predominately Christian that also has its population in Erbil,” he said.

The money would go to provide materials for Christians to repair their homes from the destruction that Islamic State inflicted. “The families are actually putting their own lives back together with a little bit of assistance,” Walther said. “The idea is to make these houses habitable.”

And although a goal of $2 million is lofty, it is entirely within reach if parishes and communities all over the world pitch in, Walther said.

“An individual can do this,” he said. “A prayer group can do this. 20 people put in $100, you can send somebody home. This is one of those things where people can do a concrete, tangible action that is a meaningful step in saving Christianity in the Middle East.”

“It’s a model that can allow Christianity to be transplanted back to where it was,” Walther said. “It’s an early step, but it’s an important step if Christianity is going to survive in Iraq.”

Donations to the project can be made at or via phone at 1-800-694-5713. Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law, the Knights said.

Study finds more Americans are approving of polygamy

Fri, 08/04/2017 - 08:02

Washington D.C., Aug 4, 2017 / 06:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A new poll shows that seventeen percent of people in the U.S. now find polygamy to be morally permissible, citing an increase of acceptance among non-religious people as a major factor.

“Though polygamous societies often justify their lifestyle on religious grounds, it is Americans who do not identify with any religion who are most accepting of the practice,” said Andrew Dugan, an analyst for Gallup.

“Between 2011 and 2017, 32 percent of Americans who do not associate with a particular religion or have no religion at all said polygamy was 'morally acceptable,'” he said in a July 28 statement.

In a Values and Beliefs poll issued May 3-7, Dugan commented that while public opinion hasn't shifted greatly on certain moral issues such as abortion, polygamy's approval rating has steadily increased 10 percent since 2003.

Despite the practice of polygamy being often found in fundamentalist sects of religion, it grew most of its acceptance from non-religious people due to LGBT and pro-abortion advocacy gaining cultural traction.  

Yet no legislation has yet been passed in polygamy's favor, with the state of Utah in fact passing a bill increasing the penalty for convicted polygamists.

Statistically those actually practicing polygamy are usually in small sects of the Muslim and Mormon faith, but Dugan suggested that the raising sympathy has been a byproduct of the media.

He pointed that the approval rating really only increased after a polygamy reality show started to air in 2010. Now in the middle of its seventh season, Dugan said the show “Sister Wives” has drawn sympathy from the public by humanizing a polygamist family.

Additionally, Dugan said the increase after 2010 followed a change in the meaning of the word, switching from patriarchal and masculine centered idea to a gender neutral definition – a married individual has more than one spouse.

He doubts the practice of polygamy has increased much, but expressed it is the results of “the general tendency for those who are less religious to be more liberal on social issues.”