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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 (www.aciprensa.com) is currently the largest provider of Catholic news in Spanish and Portuguese.
Updated: 2 hours 22 min ago

Archbishop Chaput: Paul VI would not be surprised by the #MeToo movement

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 21:01

Washington D.C., Apr 4, 2018 / 07:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- “The #MeToo movement, emotional wreckage, sexual disease and date rape are the realities we’ve inherited from the sexual revolution. Paul VI would not be surprised,” said Archbishop Charles Chaput in a speech Wednesday.

“The Church in Humanae Vitae identified and rejected sexual exploitation of women years before that message entered the cultural mainstream,” said Chaput.

The Archbishop of Philadelphia spoke April 4 on the need to heal the wounds in human sexuality and marriage by embracing God’s vision for love and marriage. He was delivering the opening keynote for a symposium at the Catholic University of America celebrating the 50th anniversary of the publication of Humanae vitae.

The April 4-6 conference gathers scholars from across the US in Washington, D.C., to discuss the encyclical, from the philosophical underpinnings of the Church’s teaching on contraception to pastoral initiatives with natural family planning.

Chaput pointed out how prescient was Blessed Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical on the regulation of birth in its predictions of the societal effects of widespread use of contraception.

Humanae vitae predicted that the pill would contribute to increased objectification of women and conjugal infidelity.

“Turn on the radio or TV and see how this has played out … As late as the 1980s, much of our popular entertainment still showed casual sex as affectionate, healthy and fun, with few if any consequences,” explained Chaput.

“Today’s film and TV dramas are very different. They’re far more wounded and vastly more cynical. Lena Dunham’s cable series ‘Girls,’ and the short story ‘Cat Person’ published by New Yorker magazine and the media uproar it created, are just two of the most obvious examples,” he continued.

The encyclical also accurately predicted and warned that governments would implement birth control as a form of population control (ten years before China introduced its One Child Policy).

Bl. Paul VI expressed concern that contraception would “mislead human beings into thinking they had unlimited dominion over their own bodies, relentlessly turning the human person into the object of his or her own intrusive power,” said Chaput.

“Much of the moral conflict, broken family life, social unraveling, and gender confusion that seems so common today stems – directly or more subtly – from our disordered attitudes toward creation, and our appetite to master, reshape and even deform nature to our wills. We want the freedom to decide what reality is. And we insist on the power to make it so,” he said.

“Each of his [Paul VI’s] warnings has come true, in ways more tragic than he could imagine,” said Chaput.

In the face of the fulfillment of these predictions, “Our mission now, as always, is not to surrender to the world as it is, but to feed and ennoble the deepest yearnings of the world – and thereby to lead it to Jesus Christ, and his true freedom and joy,” affirmed Chaput.

“Men and women fall in love with each other because they see a reflection of God’s beauty and goodness in each other - body, mind, and soul. God is a communion of persons united in a love so fruitful that it overflows into the created world. That world gives glory to God and reflects his attributes, especially that crown of creation, human beings. We’re uniquely created in the image and likeness of God. God has therefore made our love fruitful, like his own, and called us to take part in the creation of new life,” he said.

“Humanae Vitae is remembered for the great ‘no’ that Paul VI uttered, and rightly so. But we often forget that his ‘no’ came only after an even more powerful ‘yes’ to the beauty of marital love,” explained the archbishop.

“Pope Paul begins Humanae Vitae by noting four key elements of married love. Married love is human. It’s an act of the free will by which a man and woman are joined, body and soul, in a communion of life. It’s also total, a gift of one’s whole life and self. It’s also faithful, a gift made exclusively to one person until death. And marriage is finally fruitful, overflowing to new life like the love of the God in whose image we are made,” Chaput continued.

Bl. Paul VI called us to lives of self-giving love and self-denial, the archbishop said.

“The Church believes what she believes about human sexuality because of what she believes about the meaning and dignity of the human person as a whole. We care for the poor and work against injustices like human trafficking for the same reasons we believe that sexual love is reserved for marriages between men and women who are open to children,” explained Chaput.

He argued firmly against the popular narrative that Christian sexual morality is repressive, pointing out an irony that “beneath all of today’s enlightened talk about liberating human sexual behavior is a contempt for the weakness and inefficiency of the flesh.”

It is contraception that “presupposes that a woman’s body should work like a man’s in order for a woman to flourish and be free,” with its treatment of “her fertility and biological rhythms are problems and weaknesses; in effect, a disease that needs to be managed,” said Chaput.

“And yet it’s the Church – not the pharmaceutical industry with its profits and manufactured infertility, or the doctors who deal with the pill’s collateral health damage, or the abortion industry that cashes in lavishly on the failures of contraception, but the Church – that gets criticized as abnormal and intrusive. Nothing speaks more nakedly to the doublethink we now accept as the rhythm of our daily lives,” he said.

“Pope Francis warns that our desire for mastery and autonomy has created a human crisis similar to the crisis of our natural environment,” said Chaput.

He quoted Pope Francis’ article in the book “Not Just Good, but Beautiful: The Complementary Relationship between Man and Woman”, in which the Roman Pontiff wrote, “marriage and the family are in crisis. We now live in a culture of the temporary, in which more and more people are simply giving up on marriage as a public commitment. This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom, but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.”

Facebook apologizes for blocking Steubenville's ad

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 20:21

Steubenville, Ohio, Apr 4, 2018 / 06:21 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Facebook has apologized for what it called a “mistake” in rejecting a theology ad from Franciscan University of Steubenville, on the grounds that an image of the cross was too violent and sensational.

“Your image, video thumbnail or video can’t contain shocking, sensational, or excessively violent content,” was Facebook’s response, according Tom Crowe, web communications director for Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Used to promote Steubenville’s master’s programs in theology, catechetics, and evangelization, the image was of the San Damiano Cross, a 12th century cross most commonly associated with the university’s patron, Saint Francis of Assisi.

On Monday, a Facebook spokesperson apologized for the error, stating “sometimes we make mistakes.”

“This image does not violate our ad policies. We apologize for the error and have already let the advertiser know we approved their ad,” the spokesperson continued.

Since other ads with this image have been approved, Crowe told Fox News it was likely that this was not “systemic religious bigotry” but a one-off mistake, possibly from a low-level Facebook employee with a grudge against Christianity.

“Facebook approved other ads with the exact same image, which again leads me to believe it wasn’t an algorithm, but was a low-level staffer who skims many, many ads and just had something personal against this one,” he said.

Crowe was never given the exact reason behind the error, but the mistake did spur him to write a reflection on the culture’s view of the cross and its rejection of Christ.

“The San Damiano Cross. Jesus in glory, reigning from his cruciform throne. This is what the monitors at Facebook consider excessively violent, sensational, and shocking,” he wrote in an article on the university’s website, titled “He was Rejected.”

“And indeed, the Crucifixion of Christ was all of those things. It was the most sensational action in history: man executed his God.”

However, Crowe said, the violence only emphasizes Christ’s love for humanity.

“It was not the nails that held Jesus to the cross: he was God, he could have descended from the Cross at any moment,” said Crowe, quoting Catholic author Fr. Mike Schmitz.

“No, it was love that kept him there. Love for you and for me, that we might not be eternally condemned for our sins but might have life eternal with him and his Father in heaven.”

Worcester bishop rebukes 'blasphemous' writings of Holy Cross professor

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 19:14

Worcester, Mass., Apr 4, 2018 / 05:14 pm (ACI Prensa).- The Bishop of Worcester has issued a sharp rebuke to the College of the Holy Cross after it came to light that its Chair of New Testament Studies, Tat-siong Benny Liew, had written a book a decade ago suggesting that Christ was a “drag king” who had “queer desires.”

In a March 30 statement published on the Diocese of Worcester’s website, Bishop Robert McManus called for the college to ask Liew to clarify his views on the nature of Christ, and ask him to disavow his previous writings, or at the very least clarify whether or not he still would defend his past views.

“In light of the controversy caused by Professor Liew’s writings, Holy Cross has a duty to, at least, ask Professor Liew if he rejects the biblical positions he penned some ten years ago or if he supports and defends those positions today,” said McManus.

If Liew were to walk back his past claims, McManus said he should do so in a public manner, “as so not to create confusion” about Christ’s nature.

If he does not, McManus said that the school is risking the integrity of its religious mission.

“If he does not, then it is my duty as the Bishop of Worcester to clearly state that such teaching is a danger to the integrity of the Catholic faith and, in prudence, warn the Catholic faithful committed to my pastoral care that such unorthodox teaching has no place in a Catholic College whose mission is to promote and cultivate the Catholic intellectual tradition.”

Bishop McManus said the conclusions Liew reached are “both false and perverse,” and he was “particularly concerned” that his book was displayed by the Religious Studies Department.

College of the Holy Cross President Fr. Philip Boroughs, SJ defended Liew, saying that while he disagreed with his ideas and interpretation of Christ and his sexuality, “Academic freedom is one of the hallmarks of a liberal arts education.”

McManus took issue with Boroughs’ defense, saying that while academic freedom is indeed a “critical” part of a Catholic institution, “how that academic freedom is exercised, particularly in the fields of Theology or Religious Studies, cannot provide cover for blatantly unorthodox teaching.”

Liew’s writings became widely known after an article written by Holy Cross senior Elinor Reilly was published last month in the independent campus publication The Fenwick Review. A group is planning a demonstration and public rosary on campus asking Liew either to “disavow his attack against Christ” or to quit his position.

The College of the Holy Cross did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

Martin Luther King's legacy: faith, hope and sacrifice

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 18:58

Washington D.C., Apr 4, 2018 / 04:58 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Fifty years after the death of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Catholics can still learn much from his legacy, said a leader in the largest predominantly black Catholic organization in the U.S.

“Dr. King’s legacy is one of faith and overcoming external forces working against you. His life, work, and ultimate sacrifice illustrate that we are called to work for the greater good,” Percy Marchand, associate director of the Knights of Peter Claver, told CNA April 3. “Dr. King’s legacy is a shining example of self-deprecation and personal sacrifice for one’s fellow man.”

“Dr. King would not want us to look upon this day in sadness,” Marchand continued. “He would want us to look at it with inspiration and rededication; with hope and commitment; with love and compassion – even for our enemies or those who don’t love us.”

The Knights of Peter Claver is a New Orleans-based Catholic fraternal order present in about 39 states and in South America. Its membership is significantly African-American but open to all practicing Catholics without regard to race or ethnicity. Many of its members played a role in the U.S. civil rights movement of the mid-20th century, in which King, a Baptist minister, was the most prominent leader.

On Wednesday, the order joined in observing the 50th anniversary of the 1968 assassination of King in Memphis, Tenn. Catholic Bishop of Memphis Martin D. Holley led celebrations of two Masses and a “Walk of Faith” from a Catholic church to the National Civil Rights Museum in time for a program and a moment of silence.

Knights of Peter Claver Supreme Knight James Ellis and executive director Grant Jones were among those in attendance at the Memphis events.

“Dr. King was just a young man when he accepted the challenge that would ultimately lead him to being one of the most influential and powerful leaders in our history,” Marchand told CNA. “He wasn’t a millionaire. He wasn’t famous. He hadn’t ‘made it.’ We must each look at our lives and ask what we are doing to lead, to serve, to positively impact the world in which we live.”

“Our Catholic faith is rooted in humanity and teaches us that we were created in the image and likeness of God,” he continued. “Therefore, we have no room for promotion or tolerance of racism.”

While many Catholics were involved in the civil rights movement from the start, “there were many more who were actively fighting against civil rights and still more who stood silent,” Marchand noted, stressing that Catholics must be “strong in our faith” and must live out Catholic social teaching.

“We must directly face the evils that tend to divide us or negatively impact others,” he said. “This is what our Teacher, Jesus Christ, illustrated through His own life.”

“Dr. King taught us to be principled and genuine in our faith and actions. He taught us not to lower ourselves or compromise our values. He taught us to have faith and be obedient to our Heavenly Father rather than dwell on worldly problems,” said Marchand, adding that King “allowed God to lead his path and ultimately, his message prevailed.”

Marchand suggested many Catholics needs to improve their efforts to truly understand diversity and inclusion.

“The Church must be bold and purpose-driven when it comes to standing up for what is right and just – for all people,” he said.

Historically, some in the Catholic Church failed to stand up against segregation and racism, Marchand said.

“While the Church has certainly become more diverse in the years since the civil rights movement, Catholics in the South who had known slavery and segregation as a way of life, looked at those systemic issues as natural.”

As Church leaders started to take a stronger stance in rejecting segregation, Catholics were called by their faith to “turn away from hate and divisiveness,” he said, and the Church allowed many Catholics to “come together and begin the process of healing.”

In Marchand’s view, race relations within the Church have significantly improved since King’s day.

“In culturally diverse parishes across the country social interactions in various ministries have provided opportunities for all Catholics to learn and understand each other better,” he said. “Divisions remain in the Church to this day. We still have what are considered ‘White parishes’ and ‘Black parishes’ but the differences tend to be more about worship style and comfort rather than exclusion and hate.”

The Knights of Peter Claver were founded in Mobile, Ala. in 1909 by four priests and three Catholic laymen to serve African-Americans and other racial minorities. Its founders were concerned the Catholic Church would lose black Catholics to fraternal and secular organizations, at a time when racism in some parts of the South sometimes curtailed participation in parish life and Catholic associations.

In their opposition to segregation, the Knights of Peter Claver worked with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Urban League. One of its leading officers, civil rights attorney A.P. Tureaud, worked with future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall to help overturn segregation laws. The order’s New Orleans headquarters hosted early meetings that led to the launch of the civil rights movement.

The order has six divisions, including the Ladies of Peter Claver and two separate junior divisions for young men and young women.

A Knights of Peter Claver spokesman told CNA that many local units of the organization would hold their own commemorations of King.

Supreme Court declines to hear pro-life group's undercover video appeal

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 14:14

Washington D.C., Apr 4, 2018 / 12:14 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal from a pro-life group seeking to release undercover footage detailing alleged misconduct in the abortion industry.

The cases – David Daleidan et al. v. National Abortion Federation et al. and Troy Newman v. National Abortion Federation et al. – were appealed this past August after a lower court sided with the National Abortion Federation in the lawsuits.

The Supreme Court’s decision not to take up the case means that the lower court decisions will stand, and additional footage may not be released.

David Daleidan is the project lead at the Center for Medical Progress, a pro-life group that released a series of undercover videos in 2015 allegedly demonstrating the illegal sales of body parts from aborted babies.

The released videos appeared to show various Planned Parenthood and StemExpress executives discussing, often callously, their practices for obtaining and selling fetal body parts. Daleidan alleged that Planned Parenthood was profiting from these sales, which is illegal under federal law.

Other videos appeared to show abortion doctors describing how they would perform illegal late-term abortions in violation of state laws, utilizing a series of loopholes, and one cracked a joke on camera about how her “biceps appreciate” when a drug kills the fetus before it is delivered.

At stake in the current lawsuits are several other unreleased videos that were shot at the 2014 and 2015 annual meetings of the National Abortion Federation. Daleidan attended the conference and filmed portions of it while using an alias.

The National Abortion Federation – a nonprofit that represents abortion clinics – filed suit in 2015 to prevent the videos from being released, claiming they were illegally recorded. Daleidan has defended himself against these allegations by saying he is a citizen journalist, and the videos were protected as part of his work as a reporter.

On Twitter, Daleidan said that the Department of Justice’s ongoing investigation of Planned Parenthood means that the unreleased footage will “only grow more and more relevant” until it will be eventually released.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">As <a href="https://twitter.com/TheJusticeDept?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TheJusticeDept</a> continues to investigate <a href="https://twitter.com/PPact?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@PPact</a> for the criminal sale of baby body parts, the undercover footage that Judge Orrick continues to suppress will only grow more and more relevant until it can finally be revealed to the public.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PPSellsBabyParts?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PPSellsBabyParts</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ShutThemDown?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ShutThemDown</a> <a href="https://t.co/NtWNfld1zb">https://t.co/NtWNfld1zb</a></p>&mdash; David Daleiden (@daviddaleiden) <a href="https://twitter.com/daviddaleiden/status/980971235268952064?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 3, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

The Center for Medical Progress claims to have many more hours of unreleased video of abortion providers.

 

MLK’s example means no sitting on the sidelines, Catholic bishops say

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 05:16

Washington D.C., Apr 4, 2018 / 03:16 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Bells will ring out in honor of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 50th anniversary of his assassination April 4, and Catholic bishops say it is a time for Christians to ask God what they need to do to counter racism.

“The moment is also an opportunity for us to pause and reflect individually on what we are doing to build the culture of love, respect and peace to which the Gospel calls us and to also ask ourselves how we seek to help our brothers and sisters still suffering under the weight of racism,” the bishops said.

April 4 marks the 50th anniversary of the civil rights leader’s 1968 assassination in Memphis, Tenn. Commemorations will include a moment of silence and a worldwide bell-ringing campaign.

The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and The King Center in Atlanta will begin to ring bells at 6:01 p.m. Central Time. The City of Memphis bells will follow at 6:03 p.m. Nation-wide, bells will begin to ring at 6:05. Then international participants will begin two minutes later.

In Washington, D.C., the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception will also take part. Its bells will peal 39 times, King’s age at his death, “in homage to Dr. King’s legacy and his many contributions including the principle of non-violent resistance,” the U.S. bishops said.

The tolling of the basilica’s bells will be broadcast live on the basilica’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/nationalshrine/

In Memphis, local Catholics will participate in the commemoration.

Memphis Bishop Martin D. Holley, who is African-American, will celebrate 9 a.m. Mass at Immaculate Conception Cathedral with visiting bishops and Catholic clergy of Memphis. There will be a period of reflection after Mass, followed by a time of reflection and then a rosary at St. Peter’s Church.

Bishop Holley will say Mass at the National Shrine of St. Martin de Porres and help lead a “Walk of Faith” from St. Peter’s Church to the National Civil Rights Museum in time for the program and the moment of silence.

The U.S. bishops’ administrative committee offered Catholics questions for reflection.

“What are we being asked to do for the sake of our brother or sister who still suffers under the weight of racism? Where could God use our efforts to help change the hearts of those who harbor racist thoughts or engage in racist actions?” the bishops asked.

They said inspiration can be found in King’s steadfastness in non-violent resistance, “even in the face of years of ridicule, threats and violence for the cause of justice.”

“Dr. King came to Memphis to support underpaid and exploited African-American sanitation workers, and arrived on a plane that was under a bomb threat. He felt God had called him to solidarity with his brothers and sisters in need,” the bishops said.

They cited King’s final speech the night before he was killed, in which he noted the threats against him and voiced his preference for a long life.

“But more important to him, he said, was his desire to simply do the will of God,” the bishops said.

Their statement cited the Gospel of John: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.”

James Earl Ray, a small-time criminal with a prison record and a history of hatred for African Americans and King in particular, pleaded guilty to the 1968 assassination, then recanted and claimed he was a peripheral figure in a broader conspiracy. A Congressional committee concluded in 1978 that Ray was the killer, although others might have been involved, Ray’s 1998 New York Times obituary said.

“Our faith urges us to be courageous, to risk something of ourselves, in defending the dignity of our neighbor who is made in the image of God,” the bishops continued. “Pope Francis reminds us often that we must never sit on the sidelines in the face of great evil or extreme need, even when danger surrounds us.”

“We can best honor Dr. Martin Luther King and preserve his legacy by boldly asking God—today and always—to deepen our own commitment to follow His will wherever it leads in the cause of promoting justice.”

The bishops noted the many events put on by The King Center this year, listed at its website www.MLK50Forward.org.

What the pope said when Martin Luther King was killed

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 20:00

Memphis, Tenn., Apr 3, 2018 / 06:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., was fatally shot outside his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

King is remembered as the most visible leader of the civil rights movement, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, and as the founding president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. But he was first a pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, and remained active in pastoral leadership throughout his life.

On the day after King was killed, Pope Paul VI expressed remorse during his Angelus address, saying that the civil rights leader was “a Christian prophet for racial integration.”

Shortly after King’s death, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Council of Churches, the Synagogue Council of America, and the Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops in the Americas released an interfaith statement, mourning their colleague in ministry.

We “bow together in grief before the shameful murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a unique apostle of the non-violent drive for justice, [and] affirm that no service of remembrance or local memorial is equal to the greatness of his labor or the vastness of our national need.”

The faith leaders also applauded the efforts of Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1968, encouraged Americans to support measures favoring integration, and pled with government officials to fund legislation aimed at fighting poverty.

We “affirm that only through massive contributions by the American people can this nation duly honor the life-offering of Martin Luther King, Jr. and responsibly lift up the burden of the poor and oppressed in our land.”

The statement also promised to implement coordinated efforts among religious communities to fight poverty.

We “declare our intention to take immediate steps to develop a coordinated sacrificial effort on the part of the American religious community to help the disadvantaged,” the statement read.
 
Faith leaders were not the only ones to pay tribute to King after his assassination.

On the night King was killed, Senator Robert Kennedy, a Catholic, spoke to the people of Indianapolis, urging them to greater compassion and a deterrence from violence. Kennedy spoke during a stop on his 1968 campaign for President, delivering the news to a multiracial crowd that King had been assassinated.

“What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black,” he said on April 4, 1968.

Kennedy referenced the assassination of his own brother, President John F. Kennedy, which had taken place in 1963.

“For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I can only say that I feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man. But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to go beyond these rather difficult times,” Kennedy said.

The senator urged Americans to take up King’s efforts, pray for King’s family and the nation, and join in solidarity those longing for peace.  

“The vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land,” he added.

“I shall ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, that's true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love--a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.”

Commentary: Why ‘CINO’ label isn’t helping the Church

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 18:02

Denver, Colo., Apr 3, 2018 / 04:02 pm (CNA).- On Monday, Villanova University won the NCAA basketball tournament for the second time in three years. The University of Notre Dame won the women’s tournament on Easter Sunday, beating Mississippi State with a last-second 3-pointer from junior Arike Ogunbowale, who had beaten Connecticut with a last-second shot just two days earlier.

Ogunbowale was a heavily recruited college prospect, but she chose Notre Dame after attending a Catholic high school, because she wanted to grow in faith.

From many corners, though, as these Catholic colleges celebrate their victories, I’ve been hearing a familiar criticism: that Villanova and Notre Dame, like many schools, aren’t “really” Catholic colleges - that they’re “CINO” - Catholic in Name Only.

The CINO label usually gets applied to Catholic colleges, hospitals, and other institutions which seem to have wavered in fidelity and enthusiasm for the fullness of truth, or to have rejected directly tenets of the faith.

Of course, with a few notable exceptions, many Catholic colleges in the United States seem to jettison their Catholicity whenever it’s inconvenient, or to choose only those parts of being Catholic that appeal to donors, students, and faculty. Their administrators seem often to be afraid of alienating anyone who thinks doctrine old-fashioned or intolerant, or, perhaps, to think those things themselves.

It is a scandal when Catholic colleges compromise the faith to appeal to the elite tastemakers of secular academia, or when chronically dissenting campus ministry programs and theology departments are more likely to alienate students from faith than to form them as disciples. It’s discouraging when “serious” universities seem to be embarrassed by serious Catholicism. It’s tempting to simply write them off.

But the CINO label isn’t helping the problem. In part because it isn’t true. And in part because it lets college administrators off the hook.

In a juridic sense, a Catholic university is Catholic because it is recognized as such by an appropriate ecclesiastical authority, and, as such, it is accountable to the mission and norms for Catholic universities outlined in John Paul II’s Ex corde ecclesiae. Being a mediocre Catholic university, or a dissenting Catholic university, doesn’t change the thing itself: in a juridic sense, a university is Catholic because the Church says it is, even if, by failure to live up to its mission, or to observe those norms, it is a failing Catholic university.    

In a deeper sense, a Catholic university takes its identity from the vision, hope, and faith of the Catholic people who built it.  

The majority of Catholic colleges in the United States, Villanova and Notre Dame among them, were built mostly with the pennies of immigrants, who hoped to found institutions to educate their children without compromising their faith. They were commissioned and supported by bishops who hoped they’d do just that. They were founded, at least many of them, by the pioneering missionary priests and sisters of religious orders.

America has Catholic universities because men and women were willing to fight the elements, fight their poverty, and fight unrelenting anti-Catholicism in order to build them.

Compromising Catholic identity is a betrayal of those sacrifices, and demands accountability.

But telling universities they are “Catholic in Name Only” cedes the premise that they are supposed to act like genuine Catholic institutions. The CINO label is another way of telling colleges that faithful Catholics don’t expect much from them. And, frankly, faithful Catholics have the right to expect faithfulness from Catholic universities. Vocally. And often.

But the CINO attitude is a way of letting ourselves off the hook, too.

It’s easy to carp about Catholic universities, to focus on their failings, to wonder when bishops will act, and to believe they’ll never change. But faithful Catholics are called to something else.

Pope St. John Paul II said, repeatedly, that every Catholic is called to the “new evangelization.” The first step of that project, he said, is to “remake the Christian fabric of the ecclesial community.”

This means, in practice, to preach the Gospel to Catholic institutions that seem to have jettisoned it. Catholic universities come to mind, among others.

We’re responsible, in other words, for the renewal of dissenting Catholic colleges, or lackluster parishes, or morally compromised Catholic hospitals. We’re responsible to call them to conversion. We’re responsible to witness to the faith. We’re responsible to offer them our help.

It’s comforting for us to write off “CINO” institutions, suggesting they aren’t really Catholic, whenever they disappoint us. But they are Catholic. And if our Catholicism is more than just a name we carry, we have to help them live that mission.

Injunction allows abortion for undocumented teens

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 15:37

Washington D.C., Apr 3, 2018 / 01:37 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan issued an injunction on Friday that blocked a Trump administration policy which prevented undocumented teenagers being held in federal custody from undergoing abortions.

The injunction is preliminary and the government can appeal. Chutkan also certified a class action of other pregnant undocumented teens who are seeking abortions.

Last March, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement said that federally funded shelters could not provide or facilitate abortion services without permission from office director Scott Lloyd. The government is being sued over this policy in the case Garza v Hargan.

Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union released the transcript of a December deposition of Lloyd, in which he admitted that he had not approved any abortions during his tenure, nor did he believe that undocumented minors had a Constitutional right to have an abortion. The ACLU has referred to the current policy as “cruel.”

Chutkan ruled in October and again in December that three pregnant undocumented teenagers, all of whom came to the United States illegally at age 17 and were being held in government-funded shelters, should be provided with abortions. The teen from the October decision, identified only as “Jane Doe,” eventually had an abortion after several appeals in various courts.

In the injunction, Chatkan said that the Office of Refugee Resettlement is denying the teenagers in federal custody “the right to make their own reproductive choices.” She also said that the plaintiffs suing the government have a “strong likelihood of success” in their case.

In October, Texas bishops criticized the decision to allow the teen to have an abortion. She was approximately 15 weeks pregnant at the time. Texas prohibits abortions after 20 weeks.

 

Founder of 40 Days for Life enters Catholic Church on Easter

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 15:07

Fredericksburg, Va., Apr 3, 2018 / 01:07 pm (CNA).- David Bereit, the founder of 40 Days for Life, entered the Catholic Church on Easter, giving thanks for the inspiration of influential Catholics, including his wife and children.

“After years of prayer, discernment, and a whole lot of wrestling with God, I was received into full communion with the Catholic Church at last night's Easter Vigil,” wrote Bereit in an April 1 Facebook post.

Bereit celebrated Easter with his family at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church in Fredericksburg, Virginia. His wife Margaret was his sponsor, and his son Patrick was an altar server at the Mass. His daughter Claire and mother-in-law Helen were also in attendance.

Bereit said that he had been attending Sunday Mass with his wife – who is Catholic – every week for the last 28 years, ever since their second date at St. Mary's Catholic Center at Texas A&M in 1990.

But while he and Margaret shared many things in common as Christians, Bereit said he also longed to be more unified in their church affiliation and therefore spent years wrestling with the Catholic Church.

“I struggled with many questions, misconceptions, and hangups along the way. I have endeavored to continually learn and grow through prayer, studying Scripture, theology, and church history, reading, and seeking wise counsel,” he said.

“Throughout my life I have also been surrounded by many amazing Catholic Christians whose faithful, loving witness has continually inspired and attracted me – most notably the beautiful example lived out by my incredible wife and wonderful children.”

Last September, Bereit experienced a profound encounter of faith during Eucharistic adoration. Soon after, he began attending RCIA classes, which he said led to a more fruitful Lent and Easter this year.

“Lent took on far more meaning than usual for me, as I prayed and fasted more intensely than ever with a focused desire to continue growing closer to Christ. Now I am filled with joy, and am at complete peace, about this next step in my life-long journey of faith.”

In 2004, Bereit began 40 Days for Life as a local prolife advocacy group in Bryan-College Station, Texas. The group has grown into an international organization, holding Christian campaigns of prayer and activism to end abortion. Over the course of 40 days, participants hold a 24/7 prayer vigil outside of a single abortion facility in the community. The organization also engages in community outreach, through partnerships with churches and door-to-door petitions.

Bereit stepped down as CEO in 2016, but continues to be actively involved in the pro-life movement.

He said in his Facebook post that his decision to become Catholic may be surprising to some, but it will not change his dedication to serve the entire body of Christ.

“This journey has deepened my appreciation for a wonderful Christian upbringing, my years of experiences within the Presbyterian Church, the time I was involved with Evangelical ministries while in college, and the blessing of getting to work and pray alongside the many different parts of the Body of Christ in my 15+ years of pro-life work.”

 

LA archdiocese issues pastoral guidelines for Native American communities

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 02:38

Los Angeles, Calif., Apr 3, 2018 / 12:38 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles has signed 17 new protocols recognizing the Native Americans of California as the “First People of the Land” and offering guidelines for pastoral service toward their communities.

“Today we commit ourselves to going forward on a path of mutual respect, recognition and dialogue,” said Archbishop Gomez at a signing ceremony at the Museum and Cultural Center at Kuruvungna Springs last week.

“We honor the rich contributions that the ‘first peoples’ of the land have made to the Catholic Church from the beginning – here in Los Angeles and throughout the Americas.”

The new protocols recognize the history of Native American communities in building up missions throughout the archdiocese. They also offer guidelines to welcome Native American communities, incorporate their indigenous perspectives, and respect their traditions.

“These protocols that we are signing today are not a treaty or a legal document. They are a promise. A promise that we will work together so that our future will be more hopeful than our past,” Archbishop Gomez said.

Under the new protocols, liturgies, ceremonies, and celebrations in which Native Americans are formally and publically participating “may include a traditional blessing with sacred herb (sage, tobacco) by a member or members of the Native American tribe or band.”

Liturgies incorporating Native American communities or traditions “may use as chalices and ciboria non-porous ceramic vessels specifically and solely reserved for liturgical use.”

Authenticated Native American Indian burial sites are not to be used as construction sites by Church entities, the protocols state. In addition, when construction by a Church entity begins, “the ground breaking ceremony may include a traditional blessing of the site by a member of the local Native American tribe or band within whose traditional lands the new site is located.”

The new protocols also state that local tribe leaders should be consulted to ensure that parish and school displays about Native Americans are accurate. They allow for Catholics who are direct descendants of Native Americans tribes to request “Catholic sacraments and services, notably baptism, confirmation, marriage and Christian burial, in the mission churches with which they are historically associated without having current membership in the local mission parish.”

The county of Los Angeles has the largest population of urban Native Americans in the United States, with over 150,000 self-identified urban Native Americans from more than 50 tribes.

“I am proud to stand with my brothers and sisters from the four Nations whose sacred homelands lie within the boundaries of what is today the Archdiocese of Los Angeles – the Chumash, the Tataviam, the Tongva, and the Acjachemen,” Archbishop Gomez said.

 

Hundreds of Catholic employers win injunction against contraception mandate

Mon, 04/02/2018 - 18:29

Washington D.C., Apr 2, 2018 / 04:29 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A federal judge ruled in favor of the Catholic Benefits Association last week, issuing a permanent injunction and declaratory relief against the Department of Health and Human Services’ contraception mandate.This means that organizations belonging to the CBA do not have to provide coverage of drugs, the use of which they believe to be immoral, as dictated by the mandate.

The CBA represents more than 1,000 Catholic employers, all of whom seek to provide health insurance for their employees without violating their religious beliefs. In 2014, the CBA filed two federal lawsuits against the HHS mandate which required all insurance plans to cover contraception, sterilization procedures, and emergency contraception. More than 88,000 people work for companies that are part of the CBA.

Companies that are not part of the CBA are still subject to the mandate, which remains in place as-is. The Catholic Church teaches that contraception and direct sterilization are “morally unacceptable” means of regulating birth.

The CBA argued that this mandate, which was not part of the Affordable Care Act, was forcing Catholic employers to violate their deeply-held religious beliefs. U.S. District Court Judge David Russell agreed, and issued the permanent decision. This injunction will prevent the federal government from enforcing the mandate, and Russell also ruled that this mandate had been in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by attempting to force employers to provide contraception and sterilization, in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs.

Failure to comply with the mandate meant that businesses were subject to fines. The companies that make up the CBA had collectively accrued $6.9 billion in fines, which were eliminated with the ruling.

In a statement provided to CNA, CBA CEO Douglas G. Wilson, Jr. said the association was “most grateful” by the decision, and he urged other Catholic employers who are struggling with complying with the mandate to join the CBA. Wilson said that this ruling was a win for religious freedom.

“The ruling directly protects all current and future CBA members,” said Wilson, adding that he was grateful that the CBA is “now in a position to protect even more Catholic ministries and businesses.”

What’s more, said Wilson, is that Russell’s ruling is an “important judicial validation of religious liberty” in the context of the First Amendment and of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Wilson believes that this will pave the way for other religious groups to protect themselves against the mandate.

“His ruling creates a precedent which, we are sure, will be cited by religious faiths across America in their own resistance to these immoral intrusions.”

Since the HHS mandate was announced in 2012, several groups have filed suit against the government in opposition to its demands. The Supreme Court ruled in 2014 in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. that closely-held corporations with religious employers opposed to the mandate cannot be forced to comply with it. Hobby Lobby is a craft store owned by Christians who were opposed to certain drugs included in the mandate.

The Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of Catholic women religious who operate nursing homes for the elderly poor, also filed against the mandate. The Little Sisters of the Poor were granted an exemption from the mandate, but were back in court in November 2017 to argue their case once again.

Bishop Olson: Liturgical fidelity fosters unity, discipleship

Mon, 04/02/2018 - 17:00

Fort Worth, Texas, Apr 2, 2018 / 03:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- At the Chrism Mass celebrated during Holy Week, a Texas bishop offered reflections on the Church’s liturgical life, telling priests the straying from liturgical texts can be detrimental to the unity of Catholicism.

“The importance of Christ-centered and shared repetition in our collaborative mission as the Church requires that we avoid the addition of words or gestures that are alien to the rites and liturgical texts provided us by the Church,” said Bishop Michael Olson of Ft. Worth, Texas.

“Even though such liturgical abuses might at first glance appear to begin as good willed efforts to avoid redundancy and tedium for a people with attention spans made numb by contemporary modes of communication, such efforts remain destructive because they take us away from the repetition that bears fruit in Catholic unity,” he continued.

The bishop’s words came during the Chrism Mass celebrated at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Ft. Worth, TX on March 27.

Olson described the difference between redundancy and repetition, saying “redundancy can enslave us; repetition can liberate us.”

Redundancy, Olson said, is the practice of doing the same thing over and over again with the expectation of a different outcome. On the other hand, he said that repetition fosters the formation of character and “develops our incorporation into the mystery of God.”

“Redundancy has to do with vicious circularity (doing the same thing again and again without making progress or accomplishing anything except narcissistic absorption);” he explained. “Repetition has to do with the spiral: there is always forward growth and momentum in a spiral even as it circles again and again over similar words, patterns, ideas, and themes.”

“The bitter fruits of redundancy are isolation, complacency, and entitlement; the sweet fruits of repetition are gratitude, humility, and joy,” Olson continued.

The practice of faithful repetition in the liturgy is crucial to the integrity of all Masses since it unifies the universal church, Olson said.

The Texas bishop also noted that straying from liturgical norms will produce “a greater sense of isolation and entitlement to our own individual preferences and opinions,” and will lead to the dangers of redundancy, causing “a sense of confusion of Catholic identity.”

“This can destructively differentiate our parish from other parishes to the point of exclusion by maintaining unique and aberrant liturgical practices,” Olson continued.

While fidelity to the liturgy may not always be received with “a favorable response” and may lead to rejection, Olson said that fidelity to the Church’s liturgical texts “grounds us effectively in Christ.”

Olson additionally encouraged growth in pastoral leadership, which he said involves the “protection of the sheep both from the cunning of the wolf and the complacency of the hired hand who complains about the perceived redundancy of his ministry.”

“Redundancy in the spiritual life of a priest leads him to functional minimalism; repetition in the spiritual life of a priest leads him into deeper waters of conversion and configuration with the life of Jesus Christ, Head and Shepherd of the Church,” Olson explained.

“The essential difference in the life of the baptized Catholic between redundancy and repetition is the centrality of Jesus Christ, true God and true man,” he added.

Liturgical repetition, he said, is an antidote to the danger of redundancy.
 
“If we are to remain faithful to the mission of Christ, the mission of redemption entrusted to us through our anointings, we must repeat together the prayers of the liturgy in solidarity with every Catholic liturgical assembly in the Diocese and throughout the world in order to be saved from the slavery of redundancy.”

 

Women's ministry group hosts workshop on infertility, miscarriage

Mon, 04/02/2018 - 14:44

Phoenix, Ariz., Apr 2, 2018 / 12:44 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- An upcoming online workshop hosted by the Catholic women’s ministry Blessed Is She will be discussing the topic of infertility and miscarriage.

The workshop, “Love and Longing: A Conversation on Infertility and Miscarriage,” will be led by Katie Waldow, a wife, youth minister, and blogger, and Molly Walter, a Catholic convert, wife, and mother.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2015, over 12 percent of U.S. women ages 15-44 struggle with infertility and more than 7 million of the same age group have sought infertility services.

Additionally, around 15-20 percent of all pregnancies within the U.S. end in a miscarriage, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

The upcoming class on miscarriage and infertility is free for Blessed Is She members and $15.00 for non-members. It will take place the evening of April 5.

Blessed Is She is a Catholic ministry founded by Jenna Guizar in the Diocese of Phoenix and which has been endorsed by Bishop Thomas Olmsted. The ministry is focused on building community for women while also “deepening a life of prayer starting with daily Scripture devotionals and supportive sisterhood,” according to their mission statement.

Blessed Is She also offers daily devotionals, merchandise, a blog, and various workshops, resources and retreats.

Retreat fosters healing for adult children of divorce

Mon, 04/02/2018 - 05:39

Washington D.C., Apr 2, 2018 / 03:39 am (CNA).- According to the Pew Research Center, only 46 percent of Americans under the age of 18 live in a traditional family with two parents in their first marriage.

For those who are now adults and grew up in a divorced family, the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C. is seeking to help heal wounds that remain after parents divorce.

Many suffer silently from their parents’ divorce, according to Daniel Meola, who leads the ‘Recovering Origins” healing retreats for the shrine.

“Regardless of the amount of individual love our parents give us, what we've lost is the love of our parents together,” Meola explained to CNA, drawing on his own experience of his parents’ divorce. “We have to recognize that we have something to grieve.”

“Children of divorce are not, as a rule, asked how they feel about their parents’ divorce -- not as a child and not in the decades that follow,” Catholic writer, Leila Miller, wrote in her 2017 book, “Primal Loss: The Now-Adult Children of Divorce Speak.”

“Our society says that the kids should be alright. There should be no problem. There's a lot of happy divorce talk … so that can kind of silence us,” explained Meola.

Although many children of divorce learn to silence their feelings, their wounds really begin to show themselves in young adulthood and in the ability to form and maintain relationships, according to Meola.

There can be “this deeper anxiety that many of us have that any good thing can turn bad at the drop of the hat or always expecting the piano to fall,” said Meola, who added that trust issues, anger, and depression are other common struggles.

Many participants in past retreats have expressed fear of repeating their parents’ mistakes. The key to addressing this concern is practicing the Church’s teaching of merciful love, Meola said.

“The form of marriage is merciful love … I think that if we can forgive our parents or even just start to forgive them that we will be starting a really good foundation for our own love and our own marriages,” he commented.

“You can love your parents and still hate the divorce,” explained Meola. “We have this beautiful distinction in the Church, at least I found very comforting, between the person and his acts. I found this very comforting actually for grieving that 'Ok, I can hate this act my parents did, but I can still love this person deeply and profoundly.'”

“I've always found it really beautiful and fascinating that Christ's strongest words on marriage in Matthew 19, saying it is indissoluble, are preceded by his strongest words on forgiveness in Matthew 18 where he tells people to forgive 77 times 7 times,” he continued. “I think that what the Scripture is suggesting there is that the form of indissolubility is merciful love.”

The Church’s teaching on self-giving love in marriage can also seem counterintuitive to adult children of divorce. “I think that one of the temptations when you are wounded is you just want to self-protect rather than give, even though giving is what is key for happiness, especially in love,” explained Meola. “Another sign of self-protecting is leaving at the first sign of problems and not addressing conflicts.”

“Cohabitation can also be a form of self-protecting,” he added.

The goal of the retreats is for the participants to bring these wounds and anxieties to Christ’s healing love. “As John Paul II said in Salvifici Doloris, if we have eyes of faith and we encounter Christ in the wound, then it can awaken love. That is the deepest level of healing that we are looking for.”

At the heart of each retreat is a detailed meditation on the Our Father. Small group discussions focus on more practical aspects of navigating healthy boundaries with one’s parents and in relationships after divorce.

“When your parents divorce, they are in survival mode and so are you, and what often happens is that you feel like you need to be the parent to the parent, rather than the child. And what I mean by that is that they often turn to you as their emotional confidant because they do not have their spouse any longer, so what happens is you don't feel the permission to share your feelings with them because they are dumping so much on you and you feel the need to help them figure out their emotional life. But in a healthy marriage, it is flipped -- the child is supposed to be getting direction about their emotional life from the parent … when you are married, you need to be each other's emotional confidant... We do have to draw a boundary,” explained Meola.

“We tend to think of boundaries as pushing the other person away, but they are actually at the service of reconciliation and having a good relationship. Because what is going to push you away is if you have an unhealthy relationship. You are going to collapse and get really angry. Boundaries are actually at the service of a good relationship with your parents,” he continued.

“Verbal abuse can be very prolific. Because we are a child of both parents, when one parent bashes the other parent, that really hurts us, because we are a fruit of that, we have qualities of that parent that they might be bashing,” continued Meola who said that the retreat can empower young people to speak up when this occurs.

“Each parent is half of who the child is. When the parents reject each other, they are rejecting half of the child. They may tell the child, ‘We still love you; we just don’t love each other.’ The child cannot make sense of this impossible contradiction. In my opinion, this is the underlying reason for the well-documented psychological, physiological, and spiritual risks that children of divorce face,” wrote Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, the founder and president of the Ruth Institute, in the introduction to Miller’s book on adult children of divorce.

The “Recovering Origins” healing retreat was born out of an earlier symposium hosted by the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in 2012 that brought together scholars who have studied the impact divorce has had on children, including Elizabeth Marquardt, whose groundbreaking book, “Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce,” was one of the first studies on the impact of divorce on young people.

Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, saw how fruitful the symposium was, and decided that the Church should offer more opportunities for healing. The Knights of Columbus and the John Paul II Institute developed the retreat, which was first held in 2016.

Each retreat is usually capped at 25 participants to encourage discussion. Speakers at the last retreat at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine on March 23-25 included Fr. Jim McCormick, MIC and Dr. Jill Verschaetse, both of whom are adult children of divorce.

The next retreat is scheduled for September 7-9 in Arlington, Virginia.

 

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