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Trump expands list of potential US Supreme Court nominees

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 19:03

Washington D.C., Sep 9, 2020 / 05:03 pm (CNA).-  

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced more names of candidates he would nominate to the Supreme Court, despite no current vacancy at the court.

In addition to the existing White House list of two dozen potential Supreme Court nominees, Trump added 20 more names Sept. 9, including three sitting U.S. senators.
Among the names on the new list are Stewart Kyle Duncan of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals—the former general counsel for the religious freedom firm Becket—and Peter Phipps of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, whose membership in the Knights of Columbus was the subject of tough questions by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) when he was a district court nominee in 2018.
Amy Coney Barrett of the Seventh Circuit court, a former professor at the University of Notre Dame and a Catholic mother of seven, was on the existing White House list of nominees.

Pro-life leaders hailed Wednesday’s announcement by Trump. Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, said the appointment of pro-life judges to federal courts was “one of President Trump’s greatest accomplishments” of his first term, and that “[w]e anticipate that process will continue in a second term.”

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List and co-chair of the Trump campaign’s pro-life outreach said that his list “is filled with all-stars.”  

Wednesday’s announcement comes eight weeks before the general election, and it is not the first time Trump has advertised potential Supreme Court nominees during an election year.

After he was declared the presumptive GOP presidential nominee in May 2016, Trump released an initial list of 11 potential Supreme Court nominees. Justice Antonin Scalia had died in January, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had refused to confirm President Obama’s nominee for the Court, Merrick Garland, saying that the Senate would wait until after the presidential election to fill Scalia’s seat.

Trump added to that list in September 2016, and again in 2017, expanding the list to two dozen names before his announcement on Wednesday.

At a presidential debate in October 2016, Trump pledged to appoint justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. In 2017, he nominated Neil Gorsuch to be Scalia’s replacement, and in 2018 he nominated Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was retiring. Neither were on Trump’s May 2016 list, although Gorsuch was named as a potential nominee in September 2016.

However, in the first major abortion case before the court during Trump’s presidency, the court struck down Louisiana’s safety regulations of abortion clinics, a blow to pro-life efforts at the state level. While Gorsuch and Kavanaugh ruled in the minority on the decision, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the Court’s four liberal justices against the law.

Trump’s Wednesday announcement placedd three Republican senators on his new list, Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). They join Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) who was on the existing White House nominee list.

Hawley, however, tweeted on Wednesday that he had “no interest in the high court.” He recently said he would implement a “litmus test” for Supreme Court nominees on whether or not they believe the Roe decision was wrongly decided; he criticized the Roe decision as an “act of judicial imperialism” in an interview with EWTN Pro-Life Weekly in August.

Cotton tweeted on Wednesday afternoon, “It’s time for Roe v. Wade to go.” Cruz meanwhile, tweeted that he was “humbling and an immense honor” to be on the list.

Trump warned that judges nominated under a Biden administration would “erase” gun rights, allow for public funding of late-term abortions, “erase national borders,” “cripple police departments,” and declare the death penalty unconstitutional. He did not explain how potential judicial nominees might do so.

Barrett, who was twice honored as “Distinguished Professor of the Year” at Notre Dame and previously clerked for Scalia, has been rumored to be one of the top potential nominees if there is an opening at the Supreme Court.

At her confirmation hearing for the appeals court in 2017, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned the role her faith would play in presiding over cases of abortion and same-sex marriage.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said that “so many of us on this side have this very uncomfortable feeling that dogma and law are two different things,” and told Barrett that her speeches revealed that “the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern.”

Barrett was also questioned about her membership in “People of Praise,” an ecumenical charismatic community.

La Crosse bishop to correct ‘Catholics can’t be Democrats’ priest

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 17:32

CNA Staff, Sep 9, 2020 / 03:32 pm (CNA).- After a Wisconsin priest said in a viral video that no Catholic can be a Democrat, the priest’s bishop said he will attempt fraternal correction before imposing canonical penalties or taking other formal steps in the matter, and acknowledged that the priest had inflicted a “wound” upon the Church.

“I am applying Gospel principles to the correction of Fr. Altman. ‘If your brother does something wrong to you, go to him. Talk alone to him and tell him what he has done. If he listens to you, you have kept your brother as a friend. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two others with you to talk to him.’ (Mt 18:15-16).”

“I have begun this process, not in the bright light of the public arena, but as the Gospel dictates, in private,” Bishop William Callahan of La Crosse said in a Sept. 9 statement.

“Canon law indicates that before penalties are imposed, we need to ensure that fraternal correction, rebuke or other means of pastoral solicitude will not be sufficient to repair the scandal,” the bishop added, in reference to canon 1341 of the Church’s Code of Canon Law.

Fr. James Altmann, a priest of La Crosse, gained attention after an Aug. 30 video was published on YouTube, in which the priest said that “You can not be Catholic and be a Democrat. Period.”

In the ten-minute video, which has been viewed on YouTube more than 400,000 times, the priest said that he had “crunched the numbers,” and “I came up with a pretty close approximation of how many Catholics voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012. Zero.”

“There will be 60 million aborted babies standing at the gates of heaven barring your Democrat entrance," Altman added, while criticizing the Democratic platform’s commitment to legal protection for abortion.

The priest also decried the “climate change hoax,” and lamented "DACA- which means criminal illegal aliens,” he said.

He also criticized Archbishop Wilton Gregory, and praised President Donald Trump as “one of the best pro-life presidents.”

While the Catholic Church condemns support for the legal protection of abortion, it does not prohibit membership in the Democratic Party, and in recent months, some bishops have recognized the voices of pro-life Democrats advocating for changes to their party’s platform on the issue of abortion.

The priest’s video gained even more attention after Tyler, Texas Bishop Joseph Strickland “endorsed” it over the weekend.

“As the Bishop of Tyler I endorse Fr Altman’s statement in this video. My shame is that it has taken me so long.  Thank you Fr Altman for your COURAGE. If you love Jesus & His Church & this nation...pleases HEED THIS MESSAGE,” Strickland tweeted Sept. 5.


As the Bishop of Tyler I endorse Fr Altman’s statement in this video. My shame is that it has taken me so long. Thank you Fr Altman for your COURAGE. If you love Jesus & His Church & this nation...pleases HEED THIS MESSAGE

— Bishop J. Strickland (@Bishopoftyler) September 5, 2020  

Strickland has not yet responded to a request for comment from CNA.

For his part, Callahan noted that Altman has become a symbolic figure in a fractured conversation about Catholicism and partisanship in America.

Callahan emphasized that he understands “the undeniable truth that motivates his message. When we approach issues that are contradictory to the Faith and teachings of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church, particularly on abortion and other life issues, we should invite dialogue and heart-felt conversion to the truth. Our approach must never seek to divide, isolate and condemn.”

“That being said it is not only the underlying truth that needs to be evaluated but also the manner of delivery and the tone of his message. Unfortunately, the tone Fr. Altman offers comes off as angry and judgmental, lacking any charity and in a way that causes scandal both in the Church and in society. His generalization and condemnation of entire groups of people is completely inappropriate and not in keeping with our values or the life of virtue,” the bishop insisted.

Altman is the pastor of St. James the Less Parish in La Crosse. He was ordained a priest in 2008, and had worked as an attorney before entering seminary. At a previous parish, St. Peter and Paul, the priest was criticized after a cemetery care fund was reportedly drained, and upkeep at the cemetery declined. The La Crosse diocese did not respond to questions from CNA about the cemetery fund.

Callahan's statement recognized that many Catholics are looking to him for clarity.

“The amount of calls and emails we are receiving at the Diocesan offices show how divisive he is. I am being pressured by both sides for a comment; one side holds him up as a hero or a prophet, the other side condemns him and vilifies him and demands I silence him,” the bishop wrote.

“Most people expect a decisive move from me, one way or another. Many suggest immediate penalties that will utterly silence him; others call for complete and unwavering support of his views. Canonical penalties are not far away if my attempts at fraternal correction do not work.”

“I pray that Fr. Altman’s heart and eyes might be open to the error of his ways and that he might take steps to correct his behavior and heal the wound he has inflicted on the Body of Christ.”


Newark archdiocese bought second beach house for use by McCarrick

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 13:30

CNA Staff, Sep 9, 2020 / 11:30 am (CNA).- Months before officials in the Archdiocese of Newark sold a beach house used by former cardinal Theodore McCarrick for sexual abuse and coercion, the archdiocese bought a second beach house on the Jersey Shore, at which McCarrick reportedly hosted friends and courted donors.

The second beach house, according to an investigative report from, was purchased in 1997 by the Newark archdiocese from the neighboring Diocese of Metuchen. The house was located in Brick, New Jersey, on Barnegat Bay.

The archdiocese bought thar home four months before it sold the Sea Girt, New Jersey beach house which McCarrick was alleged to have used for sexual abuse and coercion since the 1980s.

Both homes were owned by the Diocese of Metuchen, which McCarrick led as a bishop from 1981 to 1986, before they were purchased by the Archdiocese of Newark, which McCarrick led from 1986 to 2000.

The Sea Girt house was purchased by the Metuchen diocese in 1985, and sold to the Newark archdiocese in 1988.

The Brick house was purchased in 1987 by a Metuchen priest, Msgr. Francis Crine, and Walter Uzenski, principal of the school at Crine’s parish. Crine died in 1989, and Uzenski gave the house to St. James Parish in Woodbridge, NJ, to settle an unspecified debt of McCarrick’s. In 1994, the parish transferred the property to the diocese, reported.

It is not clear what debt Crine owed to the parish.

Crine was a Metuchen chancery official during McCarrick’s tenure in Newark. He was also pastor of St. James Parish during a period in which at least three priests were assigned to the parish who eventually faced allegations of sexual abuse, misconduct, and theft.

McCarrick was first accused of misconduct toward seminarians, and of compelling them to visit the Sea Girt house, in the late 1980s. He was accused in 1994 of abusing a seminarian there. According to, the apostolic nuncio to the U.S. ordered the Sea Girt home be sold in the late 1990s.

In April 1997, four months before the Sea Girt home was sold, the Archdiocese of Newark purchased the Brick house. In 2002, after McCarrick had become Archbishop of Washington, the archdiocese sold the home.

According to, there are no allegations of sexual abuse or coercion at the beach house in Brick.

News that the Archdiocese of Newark purchased a second beach house at which McCarrick entertained guests comes as Catholics await the results of internal investigations on McCarrick conducted by the Vatican, and by the archdioceses of Newark and Washington.

Little information regarding McCarrick’s misconduct has been released by those dioceses or the Holy See since news emerged in June 2018 that McCarrick was credibly accused of sexually abusing minors.

The former cardinal has since been laicized, and is accused of serially sexually abusing and coercing minors, seminarians, and young priests.

The Archdiocese of Washington has declined repeatedly to release files on slush funds controlled by McCarrick in Newark and Washington, in which several hundred thousand dollars reportedly was under the archbishop's direct control, with no auditing or oversight. McCarrick is believed to have used the funds to lavish cash gifts on other Church leaders.

The Vatican investigation is expected to report whether other senior Church leaders enabled, abetted, or ignored allegations against McCarrick. A report was initially expected to be released in late 2019, but there is not yet any indication of when it will be released. Several sources in the Vatican tell CNA the report has been completed, and can be released at any date selected by Pope Francis.


Catholic Mass will continue at San Diego Navy bases

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 12:20

Washington D.C., Sep 9, 2020 / 10:20 am (CNA).- Mass has returned to three Naval bases in the San Diego area after the U.S. Navy reversed a decision to end contracts with civilian priests as a cost-saving measure.

“Contrary to previous discussions, this year we will continue contracted religious ministry programs and services similar to what we’ve had in place previously,” said Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar, the commander of Navy Region Southwest, in a statement published the evening of Sept. 8 in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

“We will also continue to assess how best to meet the needs of our Sailors and their families throughout the region,” said Bolivar.

Previously, three Navy bases were left without a priest after the Navy announced that contracts with civilian priests would not be renewed.

The three bases are served by civilian Catholic priests as there are not enough Catholic chaplains in the Navy to handle the spiritual needs of Catholics assigned to them.

Catholics make up nearly 20% of the U.S. military, but a much smaller percentage of the military’s chaplain corps. U.S. military recruiters and the Archdiocese for the Military Services have made efforts to recruit priests to serve as active duty or reserve chaplains in U.S. military branches. Chaplains are commissioned military officers classified as non-combatants.

Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, was pleased with the decision to continue Masses at San Diego Navy bases.

“Catholics in the Navy and everywhere in this Country rejoice in the decision by the US Navy to reconsider closing the thriving Catholic programs at naval stations in California,” he told CNA Wednesday morning.

Broglio had been working with the Navy to keep the contracts in place, and previously told CNA that the savings amounted from the canceled contracts would only amount to $250,000.

“I am deeply grateful to everyone who lent their support and encouragement to maintaining these programs. In a particular way, I am grateful to the Navy Chief of Chaplains and his staff, as well as, Navy Southwest for their consideration and effort,” Broglio said.


A drowning man prayed for help. God sent a floating tiki bar filled with priests.

Tue, 09/08/2020 - 20:07

CNA Staff, Sep 8, 2020 / 06:07 pm (CNA).- When Jimmy Macdonald found himself floundering in the waters of Lake George in New York next to his tipped kayak, he thought he might die.

He had been enjoying a relaxing August day on the lake with his family, meditating and snapping pictures. He kept his lifejacket in the boat - he didn’t think he would need it, he told Glens Falls Living.

But his kayak ended up drifting, and suddenly he found himself far from shore and from his wife and stepchildren. Despite the rough waters, he still thought he could make it back to shore, and so he waved on several boats that had stopped to offer help.

But when his kayak tipped and his hastily-donned lifejacket came up to his ears, Macdonald knew he was in real trouble.

“I thought I was going to die. I was absolutely powerless and wished I had asked for help earlier. I was waving my hand and asked God to please help me,” he said.

God answered his prayers - but not in the form of Jesus walking on water.

“And then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the tiki boat.”

Aboard the floating bar boat were seminarians and priests of the Paulist Fathers from St. Joseph's Seminary in Washington, D.C. The Catholic religious community had been on retreat nearby and were taking a break on a boat rented from Tiki Tours.

A handful of the seminarians and priests helped the Tiki Tours staff hoist Macdonald to safety.

Noah Ismael, one of the seminarians aboard the boat, told NBC Washington that it was “a movement of the Holy Spirit” that they happened upon Macdonald at the right time.

Chris Malano, another seminarian, told WNYT that as Paulist seminarians, they are missionaries, and “that day, that was our mission, to be present and to help someone in need.”

Macdonald told WNYT that he took the rescue as a “sign from God” that his life still has a purpose on earth.

He also added that he found the rescue funny, in an ironic sense. Macdonald is an addict in recovery who counsels others through addiction recovery.

“How funny is it that I've been sober for seven years and I get saved by a tiki bar?” he said.


Supreme Court could rule soon on abortion pill regulations

Tue, 09/08/2020 - 19:00

CNA Staff, Sep 8, 2020 / 05:00 pm (CNA).- The Supreme Court could soon rule on a major abortion case, after the Trump administration appealed to maintain safety regulations of the abortion pill.

The Justice Department (DOJ) filed an Aug. 26 emergency motion at the Supreme Court to halt a federal district court’s decision from going into effect that would nullify federal regulations of the abortion pill during the new coronavirus pandemic.
In July, federal judge Theodore Chuang of Maryland ruled that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) listing of the abortion pill regimen alongside higr-risk procedures and drugs posed an undue burden on women seeking abortions during the pandemic, because it required them to travel to a medical facility to obtain the abortion pills. Chuang, and a federal circuit court which upheld his ruling in August, said that women should be able to take abortion pills without a visit to a doctor’s office.

Since 2000, the FDA has placed the chemical abortion protocol of mifepristone and misoprostol—allowed in the U.S. for abortions up to 10 weeks in a pregnancy—under its Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) list, requiring it to be prescribed in-person in a hospital, clinic, or medical office. The patient must sign a form acknowledging that she has been adequately informed of the risks.

Pro-abortion groups, however, have pushed for the pill to be dispensed remotely via telemedicine during the coronavirus pandemic, due to apparent difficulties women could face traveling to a clinic in-person.

On July 13, Judge Chuang ruled that the REMS requirement of an in-person clinic visit doesn’t have to be applied during the pandemic, allowing for the abortion pill regimen to be prescribed remotely.

In its August emergency appeal to the Supreme Court, the DOJ said that “as a result of the injunction, the FDA cannot enforce longstanding safety requirements that have been judged necessary to mitigate serious risks to patients who use Mifeprex to effectuate an abortion.”

After Judge Chuang’s decision, pro-life leaders and senators asked the FDA to remove the abortion pill from the market altogether by classifying it as a public health hazard. Nearly two dozen pro-life leaders said that pro-abortion groups were “using the coronavirus pandemic as a ruse” in their efforts to deregulate the pill.

In its brief, the DOJ argued that in-person requirements do not pose an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions.

The DOJ said that “a regulatory requirement imposed on one abortion method is not unconstitutional when another safe abortion method remains readily available.”

The pro-abortion groups which brought the case to federal court responded to the DOJ’s motion on Tuesday.

They said that the FDA’s in-person dispensing requirement presented an “unnecessary COVID-19 risk” to women and that the FDA had already allowed for other drugs to be prescribed via telemedicine during the pandemic.

“Defendants have not, and cannot, offer any legitimate explanation why only clinicians prescribing a medication used for abortion care—not clinicians prescribing any other, far less safe drug—should be subject to this singular restriction that prevents them from exercising their medical judgment to provide care to their patients in the safest possible manner during the pandemic,” their brief stated.


Who is Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre?

Tue, 09/08/2020 - 18:30

CNA Staff, Sep 8, 2020 / 04:30 pm (CNA).- September 8 marks the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. For the faithful in Cuba  - and other Hispanic countries - Mary is also venerated on this day under the title Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre.

Images of Our Lady of Charity depict Mary standing on the moon and surrounded by angels, while holding the Child Jesus, who holds a globe in one hand and raises the other hand in a gesture of blessing.

Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary under this title stretches back more than four centuries, to when the original statue of Our Lady of Charity was discovered off the coast of Cuba, near the village of El Cobre.

Found by two indigenous laborers and a slave boy around the year 1600, the small wooden statue of the Virgin Mary appeared after a storm that hit while the three were out at sea in an old boat looking for salt. The men prayed for the protection of Mary from the storm.

They then spotted what first appeared to be a bird floating on the water but turned out to be an image of the Virgin Mary carrying the Child Jesus on her right arm, while holding a gold cross in her left hand.

The statue had been fastened to a board with the inscription: “I am the Virgin of Charity,” and, despite being found in the water after a storm, the white material the statue was clothed in was completely dry.

Devotion to Our Lady of Charity spread throughout the country. In 1916, she was officially named Patroness of Cuba by Benedict XV, at the request of war veterans.

In 2008, a statue of Our Lady of Charity was brought to the Holy See and blessed by Pope Benedict XVI. The statue was enthroned at the Vatican Gardens in 2014.

Pope Benedict XVI visited Cuba in 2012, as the Church in the country celebrated the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the statue of Our Lady of Charity. The pope entrusted the future of Cuba to the Blessed Virgin.

During Mass in Cuba in 2015, Pope Francis praised the rich devotion to Our Lady of Charity seeded in the hearts of Cubans, and urged them to imitate her in sowing “seeds of charity.”

“Generation after generation, day after day, we are asked to renew our faith. We are asked to live the revolution of tenderness as Mary, our Mother of Charity, did,” the pope said.

“Our revolution comes about through tenderness, through the joy which always becomes closeness and compassion, and leads us to get involved in, and to serve, the life of others.”

Devotion to the Virgin of Charity has expanded to other countries, including Spain, the Philippines, and parts of the United States.

In the Archdiocese of Miami, which has a large Cuban population, thousands gather each year to celebrate Our Lady of Charity on September 8. Archbishop Thomas Wenski will celebrate a Mass on Tuesday evening, which will be livestreamed due to restrictions in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.

An image of the Virgin of Charity will be available for the faithful in Miami to venerate from their cars in front of St. Michael the Archangel church on Tuesday evening.

US military archbishop laments Navy decision to end Masses at San Diego bases

Tue, 09/08/2020 - 17:10

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 8, 2020 / 03:10 pm (CNA).- The Archdiocese of the Military Services, USA is hoping the U.S. Navy will reconsider its decision to terminate its contracts with Catholic priests in the San Diego area as a cost-saving measure.

“For some time now, Archbishop Timothy Broglio has been engaged with the Navy Chief of Chaplains and has been trying to meet with those responsible for the decision,” a spokesperson for the archdiocese told CNA Sept. 8.

“The savings from cancelling these contracts amounts to $250,000,” said the spokesperson, which is “approximately 0.000156% of the Navy budget.”

With the move not to renew contracts with non-military Catholic priests, Catholics living at Naval Base Coronado, NSA Monterey, and Naval Base Ventura County will be left with no priest to celebrate Mass on-base. The priests were notified in mid-August that they would not have their contracts renewed.

Priests assigned to overseas bases and ships will keep their roles, and priests under contract at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake and Marine Corps Recruit Depot will continue to celebrate Mass on-base as there is no off-base option for Mass.

The Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, questioned the move to end the contracts given the number of Catholic serving in the Navy.

“It is difficult to fathom how the First Amendment rights of the largest faith group in the Navy can be compromised for such an insignificant sum. The Archbishop hopes that the Navy will reconsider the decision,” said the statement.

The three bases are served by civilian Catholic priests as there are not enough Catholic chaplains in the Navy to handle the spiritual needs of Catholics on those bases. Protestant services, which are done by military chaplains on active duty, will not be affected by this change.

Brian O'Rourke, a Navy Region Southwest spokesman, told the San Diego Union-Tribune that military chaplains would help people find new congregations off-base.

"We know change can be difficult for our existing on-base congregations, but ask for understanding, patience and support from those faithful civilians and retirees who, in their heart of hearts, want what is best for our uniformed service members and their families," O'Rourke said to the Union-Tribune.

"The Navy's religious ministries priority is reaching and ministering to our largest demographic — active duty Sailors and Marines in the 18-25 year-old range," said O'Rourke. "To meet that mission, the Navy has had to make the difficult decision to discontinue most contracted ministry services."

Rochester bishop calls for solidarity after Daniel Prude's death

Tue, 09/08/2020 - 17:01

CNA Staff, Sep 8, 2020 / 03:01 pm (CNA).-  

The Bishop of Rochester said Thursday that news of the death of Daniel Prude, who died after being arrested in the upstate New York city in March, is a source of sorrow, and a reminder of the Christian call to solidarity and justice.

“The recent news of the tragic death of Mr. Daniel Prude and the visible pain of his family cause a deep sorrow in the hearts of all. We pray for the repose of his soul and the consolation of his family and friends,” Bishop Salvatore Matano said in a Sept. 3 statement.

“At the same time, we cannot cease yearning for peace, justice and truth in our land, where with the help of those dedicated to preserving our freedom and protecting us from all harm, we will achieve true and lasting peace,” he added.

Daniel Prude died March 30, a week after he was arrested by Rochester police. Body camera footage of the arrest was released to the public last week.

In March, Daniel Prude, 41, visited his brother in Rochester from his home in Chicago. The father of five children, Prude suffered from mental health problems. On the night of March 23, as snow fell on the streets in Rochester, police responded to a 911 call. Prude was reportedly under the influence of PCP, and in the midst of a psychotic episode; he had spent hours in a local hospital struggling with suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, and, reportedly, drug induced delirium.

When police found Prude near downtown Rochester, he was naked, and had apparently broken a store window with a brick. A police officer ordered him to the ground, and he complied. Prude sat handcuffed on the ground for three minutes. At one point he said he had coronavirus. At another point, agitated, he asked an officer for his gun. After he spat on the ground several times police put a white hood on his head. Prude grew agitated, and tried to stand, while telling police officers to give him a gun.

Eventually a police officer held Prude facedown on the ground until he vomited and became unresponsive. Shortly thereafter, medics began CPR.

Prude, who was Black, died in the hospital a week later. While an internal investigation initially cleared officers of wrongdoing, seven officers have now been suspended amid a new investigation.

Protesters have taken to the streets in Rochester since body camera footage was released last week, demanding justice. Protests have called for police accountability, mentioning the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.

In his statement, Bishop Matano cited a call from Pope Francis for solidarity.

“Authentic, Christian solidarity is not an emotion or fleeting compassion at the terrible misfortunes of another, rather it is a ‘firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good, that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all,’” the bishop wrote, quoting Pope St. John Paul II.

“Committed to this reality, we continue to pray and work together for a more just society, where tensions are able to be reduced, where conflicts can be settled, where peace prevails, where life is sacred and reverenced, and where the virtues of the Gospel reconcile us to one another and to the Father.”

“May God bless our efforts so all may know the peace and unity of Jesus Christ,” Matano added.


Some Illinois dioceses permit reception of Communion on tongue

Tue, 09/08/2020 - 16:01

CNA Staff, Sep 8, 2020 / 02:01 pm (CNA).- The Bishop of Peoria last week permitted priests in his diocese to distribute Communion on the tongue, as the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois have been doing.

“While...I still encourage the faithful to receive Holy Communion in the hand, out of respect for those who prefer to receive on the tongue, and in accord with what is now being allowed in other dioceses in Illinois, I am now permitting the practice of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue to resume,” Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria wrote in a Sept. 3 memo to priests of the diocese.

He added that “inasmuch as a number of you have legitimate health concerns, the practice of distributing Holy Communion on the tongue is at your discretion.”

Bishop Jenky noted that in July he had “insisted that Holy Communion only be received in the hand.”

His decision to permit reception on the tongue is linked to fact that the coronavirus situation “continues to evolve.”

The bishop did give guidelines for distribution on the tongue: either the station is to be separate from those where Communion is distributed on the hand, or those who receive on the tongue should do so after others, and the person distributing Communion is to hands after each communicant.

“It is important that you wait for your hands to dry (at least twenty seconds),” Bishop Jenky wrote, calling it “an important safety precaution.”

He asked the priests to recall “that the very fact that we are resuming the practice of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue will be unsettling to some parishioners because of their fears regarding safety,” and to “be sensitive to this.”

“It is important that both the appearance and reality of the way we do things show that we are responding to the demands of the present situation with all due seriousness,” he concluded.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois has been acknowledging the right of the faithful to receive Communion on the tongue.

The Springfield diocese’s guidelines for the restoration of public Masses state that “Given the Church’s existing guidance on this point (see Redemptionis Sacramentum, no. 92), and recognizing the differing judgments and sensibilities of the experts involved, we believe that, with the additional precautions listed here, it is possible to distribute on the tongue without unreasonable risk.”’

The precautions recommended at this time by the Springfield diocese are those that Bishop Jenky adopted: a separate station for distribution on the tongue or distribution on the tongue following in the hand, and that the minister sanitize his hands after each communicant.

The Springfield diocese said its guidelines reflect the recommendations of the Thomistic Institute, the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and state and local policies.

In a May 13 letter, Bishop Paprocki said the diocese would be following the standards of the Thomistic Institute; portions of the Springfield guidelines, including those on the distribution of Communion on the tongue, are copied from the institute’s guidelines.

Among its reopening documents, the Archdiocese of Chicago notes that pastors are “urged to encourage the faithful to receive in the hand,” but that “out of respect for those who insist on receiving on the tongue and with the hope of avoiding conflicts at this most sacred time of the Holy Mass, an exception may be made in a given parish at the full discretion of the pastor.”

In such cases, there is to be a “dedicated station” for those receiving on the tongue; ministers are to wear a mask or face shield; communicants are to sanitize their hands; and the minister is to sanitize his hands after each communicant.

Guidelines for the Diocese of Joliet dated May 18 state that Communion is to be distributed “only in the hand.”

Redemptionis sacramentum, the Congregation for Divine Worship’s 2004 instruction on certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist, notes that “each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, at his choice.”

In July 2009, during the swine flu pandemic, the Congregation for Divine Worship responded to an inquiry regarding the right to receive Communion on the tongue, recalling that Redemptionis sacramentum “clearly stipulates” that each of the faithful always has the right to receive on the tongue, and that it is illicit to deny Communion to any of the faithful who are not impeded by law.

US bishops: 'Imperative' for Congress to act on COVID relief

Tue, 09/08/2020 - 14:30

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 8, 2020 / 12:30 pm (CNA).- As the Senate is expected to consider a pared-down coronavirus relief package this week, the U.S. bishops’ conference is calling for immediate and substantial aid.

The head of the U.S. bishops’ domestic justice committee, Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, called on Congress to pass a bill “that meets the urgent needs of the nation.”

“It is imperative to act soon,” Archbishop Coakley said in a statement Tuesday. “May God grant all those participating in negotiations a heart that eagerly responds to the cry of the poor.”

Congress has passed several relief packages during the coronavirus epidemic, providing loans to small businesses and nonprofits to keep employees on payroll and expanding unemployment benefits, among other actions.

Coakley, however, warned that those measures “are running out” as families are threatened by hunger, private schools are facing closure, virus cases are rising in prisons, and local governments are seeing funding shortfalls.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on Tuesday that Republicans would bring up a “targeted” COVID relief bill, “focused on some of the very most urgent healthcare, education, and economic issues.”

In response, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the proposal “doesn’t come close to addressing the problems and is headed nowhere,” and “is laden with poison pills Republicans know Democrats would never support.”

In the spring, Congress had approved $3 trillion in relief for schools, churches, and businesses, and the House approved another $3 trillion in relief under the HEROES Act in May; that bill stalled in the Senate.

In a series of letters from April through August, the U.S. bishops’ conference has outlined policy priorities for COVID relief.

The bishops have asked that private schools receive 10% of the relief funding that public schools get in order to stay open, and that parents have tax incentives for education savings. For charities struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic, they asked that the new $300 charitable tax deduction be increased.

The bishops have warned of “racial inequalities” in health care access that have been exacerbated during the pandemic. They have also asked for an expansion of Medicaid and funding for community health centers, and that insurance coverage for abortions not be included in any relief policy.

In July, some conservative intellectuals advocated for the expansion of the Child Tax Credit and the Earned-Income Tax Credit as a means of helping families during the COVID-induced economic downturn.


Video series echoes Bishop Olmsted's call 'into the breach'

Tue, 09/08/2020 - 12:00

CNA Staff, Sep 8, 2020 / 10:00 am (CNA).- A video series encouraging men to spiritual and moral leadership of their families will be broadcast this week, based upon a call to men from Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix.

The series, “Into the Breach,” is based on a 2015 pastoral letter from Olmsted. The videos feature commentary from Olmsted, theologian Scott Hahn, evangelist Curtis Martin, and other Catholic figures.

The series is produced by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization of men.

Regarding the series, Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said last week that, “Catholic men and fathers shoulder a great responsibility. Our role in evangelization is indispensable, especially within our homes as we build our domestic churches.”

“Our families and our parishes need our faithful witness more than ever. As Catholic men and as Knights of Columbus, it is our duty to ‘step into the breach’ and play our part in the renewal of our families and the Church,” Anderson added.

Olmsted’s exhortation aims to be “an encouragement, a challenge, and a calling forth to mission” for men, pointing to the saints and the life of Christ to suggest a model of Christian identity.

“Our identity is caught up in the identity of the eternal Son of God,” Olmsted wrote.

“Looking to what the secular world holds up as ‘manly’ is in fact to look at shadows – or even at outright counterfeits – of masculinity. No athlete, no matter how many awards; no political leader, no matter the power he wields; no performer, business man, or celebrity, no matter how much adored; no physical attribute or muscle mass; no intelligence or talent; no prizes or achievements can bestow masculinity on a man. The idolatry of celebrities at this time is a particular temptation, but to build one’s masculine identity on such fleeting models is to build an identity on sand.”

The videos will be broadcast Sept. 8-11 at 5:30 p.m. ET on the EWTN television network. Catholic News Agency is a service of EWTN News.


Mundelein seminary accepts nominations for 'hero priests' of the pandemic

Mon, 09/07/2020 - 08:01

Denver Newsroom, Sep 7, 2020 / 06:01 am (CNA).- In a photo from this spring, Fr. Bobby Krueger dons a black beanie, thick grey gloves, and a jacket with a hood over his clerics.

In his gloved hands, he carries a small gold and glass monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament - which he carried on foot to every block in St. Leonard’s parish on two occasions during the coronavirus lockdowns in Berwyn, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.

Anyone who has experienced spring in Chicago, or merely sees the photo of Fr. Krueger, knows that those could not have been balmy walks.

“When we couldn’t get to Mass, He brought Jesus to us - even in the snow and rain,” Kathy Rokosz, a St. Leonard’s parishioner, wrote in her nomination of Krueger as a “hero priest” of the pandemic.

Through Sept. 14, Mundelien Seminary is accepting nominations of “hero priests” throughout the United States who went above and beyond during the weeks when public Masses and other normal parish activities were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

These priests will be honored collectively as part of Mundelein’s 2020 In Service of One Another Catholic Humanitarian Award. “As COVID-19 has changed so much about the way we live in 2020, the Church has remained an essential source of hope, inspiration and support. Heroic priests across the country have answered the chaos of the pandemic with extraordinary creativity and resolve to continue serving as a bridge between Christ and his people,” the seminary states on their website, where nominations may be submitted. Fr. John Kartje, the rector of Mundelein, told CNA that the idea for the recognition of these priests came from a desire to focus on the good that has come from these unprecedented times.
“It just came from the realization that in the midst of the pandemic and frankly also with everything that's been going on over the last several months, all the social unrest, we've certainly seen that here in Chicago... that there have been a lot of people stepping up in amazing ways,” including many priests, Kartje said. Indeed, as public Masses and gatherings closed throughout the country for weeks on end starting in mid-March, priests started getting creative. Drive-through and walk-up confessionals, parking lot Masses, livestream retreats, and teams of priests specially trained to enter ICU wards and administer the sacraments to coronavirus patients became the norm in many dioceses throughout the U.S.
Fr. Kartje said they want to recognize the extraordinary efforts of priests during these times - no matter how flashy or not their efforts seem. “Even aside from those kinds of things that often get headlines, it's just the ways that they've been trying to minister to their people, however that's possible,” he said, “whether that's an increased number of home visits, or obviously the ways social media has made the sacraments available and accessible to people.” Kartje said one of his favorite submissions so far has been of an elderly priest who spent time visiting people outside of their windows at nursing homes, which experienced some of the strictest measures of lockdown and isolation.
“He could not only pray for them and offer their blessing from the outside, but then he could be with their families who are right outside the window beside him,” Kartje said. “You know, these are just heartbreaking cases of grown children and grandchildren, their hearts aching to go inside and be with their loved ones. And here's an elderly priest who can provide real ministry and solace to the family, as well as providing prayer and blessing for a person who's inside the nursing home and not able to receive visitors.” Another submission of a hero priest is Father Christopher DiTomo, who served in Elburn, Illinois during the pandemic. Besides hearing confessions outside in the elements and live-streaming Masses and prayer services, DiTomo also drove the Blessed Sacrament around his parish and held a Palm Sunday procession. “He brought Jesus to the streets of Elburn for over four hours on foot to people who were unable to attend Mass due to restrictions, and to a people who were starving for the Lord, both physically and spiritually,” Theresa Carter wrote of DiTomo in her nomination. “He brought people a glimpse of hope and peace at a very scary, uncertain time. He was all in at all times to help ensure his flock were spiritually nourished during this proverbial wandering in the desert,” she added. Kartje said that while there have been several submissions of priests in the area of Chicago, the campaign is open to submissions of priests throughout the country. Parishioners who would like to honor their priests may fill out a questionnaire located on the seminary website through Sept. 14. On Sept. 17, a small ceremony will be held at the Rector’s Classic Golf Outing in Mundelein, with a few local priests who will accept the honor on behalf of all of the nominated priests.

“The extraordinary times we're living in obviously put a spotlight on the work these priests are doing, but as I'm sure many of your readers know, even outside of such extraordinary times, there are just thousands and thousands of good priests doing the work of the Lord,” Kartje said.  “We certainly appreciate them, and it's humbling and an honor for us to be able to hold up some of these men's stories in gratitude.”

Why organized labor is (still) a Catholic cause

Mon, 09/07/2020 - 06:49

Washington D.C., Sep 7, 2020 / 04:49 am (CNA).- At a time when labor unions are weak, Catholics still have a place in the labor movement, said a priest who emphasized the Church’s historic efforts to teach the rights of labor and train workers to organize.

“On the local and state level, Catholics are a major part of the labor movement. They took to heart our Catholic social teaching, and tried to implement it in their workplace,” Father Sinclair Oubre, the spiritual moderator of the Catholic Labor Network, told CNA.

However, he said, there is sometimes a disconnect between Catholics and support for organized labor.

“Like in so many areas of our faith, the heresy of radical individualism, a lack of knowledge about why unions were formed, and a general ignorance of what options workers have, have led to many Catholics to either not realize that the Church has favored workers’ associations, or that the Church even has a teaching that has to do with the workplace.”

Union membership peaked at 28% of the American workforce in 1954. According to 2017 figures, about 34% of public sector employees are unionized, but under 7% of private-sector employees are, CBS Moneywatch reports.

Unions continue to enjoy strong approval in the U.S., with 62% of respondents telling a recent Gallup survey they support organized labor.

But union support among some Catholics has waned, in part due to labor unions’ political support for legal abortion and pro-abortion rights political candidates, among other issues.

For Fr. Oubre, this shows the need for more faithful Catholics to join a union, not withdraw.

“The fact that many of the cultural war issues have been embraced by labor unions is a concern to me,” he said. “However, the Church and Labor have been here before.”

“From the 1930s to the 1950s, there was a real effort by communists to take over the U.S. unions, and in some cases, they were successful. Instead of saying, ‘Catholics can’t join unions because they are communists,’ which was not accurate because many were not, the Church instead set up labor schools by the hundreds in parish basements.”

“The Church taught workers their rights under the law and Robert’s Rules of Order. It encouraged Catholic workers to run for union office, and bring their Catholic social teachings to bear,” the priest said. “This was very successful, and led to the purging of many communists from the union ranks.”

Catholics have historically played a major role in the U.S. labor movement, as evidenced by several prominent Catholics who have headed the AFL-CIO, the largest union federation in the U.S.

Oubre said unions are a place for Christian evangelization and contribution.

“We cannot write off whole groups of people because part of their agenda is not in line with Catholic teaching,” he said. “Rather, we are called to engage these groups, be active in the organizations, and like in the past, direct these organizations in ways that respect God’s truth.”

The record of Catholic social teaching also backs labor and the right of workers to organize, Oubre said.

In the 19th century, Pope Leo XIII recognized that economic changes introduced new relationships between those who had wealth and those who did not.

“As cities grew, and manufacturing and industry developed, the relationship of responsibility that has existed in the past between the landowner and the peasant no longer existed,” Oubre explained.

“Pope Leo XIII recognized the natural right of people to associate with each other, whether these were religious associations or work guilds, he endorsed the importance of collective bargaining to promote the common good, and recognized the unequal contractual relationship between the worker and the employer.”

The labor market meant that workers were negotiating not only with an employer, but competing against all the other workers seeking the same job. Leo XIII said these pressures to accept employment at ever-lowering wages could lead workers “to agree to employment terms that did not supply the basic needs for a dignified family life.”

The labor-focused traditions of Catholic social teaching have continued especially through the work of Popes Pius XI, John XXIII, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis.

The Second Vatican Council’s apostolic constitution Gaudium et Spes names the right to found unions for working people as “among the basic rights of the human person.” These unions “should be able truly to represent them and to contribute to the organizing of economic life in the right way.” These rights include the freedom to take part in union activity “without risk of reprisal.”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ 1986 pastoral letter “Economic Justice for All” also addresses the place of labor in Catholic thought and action.

In 2018 the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Janus v. AFSCME struck down a 1997 Illinois law that required non-union public employees to pay fees to public sector unions for collective bargaining.

A U.S. bishops’ conference spokesperson said the decision threatened to mandate a “Right-to-Work” environment in government employment in a way that undermines the ability of workers to organize.

Oubre said Catholic union backers object to such a legal principle “because it works against the principle of solidarity and the right of association.”

“‘Right to Work’ laws have their primary intention of weakening the organizing power of unions, and allow people to receive the benefit the union, without taking on the responsibility of being part of the union,” he said.

In Oubre’s view, a union-friendly legal environment is critical.

“One can pass laws that promote workers ability to organize together, or to discourage it,” he said.

He noted the proposals for a “card check” unionization effort, in which an employer must recognize a union if a majority of workers express a desire for a union using signed cards.

Obure said this effort now faces legal obstacles and simply “begins a long process where union avoidance experts are brought in, one-on-one meetings take place with workers, sometimes the leaders are fired, and every effort is made to dishearten the workers.”

“When the election comes around, the will of the workers has been crushed,” he said.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issues annual Labor Day statements which continue “the long tradition of support for workers’ right to organize and join unions,” Oubre said.

In 2018, the statement stressed the importance of just wages for workers, especially for those who have difficulty securing basic needs. It also discussed problems of income inequality between the wealthy and the poor, as well as between ethnic groups and between the sexes.

“This Labor Day, let us all commit ourselves to personal conversion of heart and mind and stand in solidarity with workers by advocating for just wages, and in so doing, ‘bring glad tidings to the poor’,” the bishops’ message concluded.


This article was originally run on CNA Sept. 3, 2018.

His own father murdered, Catholic archbishop speaks against death penalty

Sun, 09/06/2020 - 06:00

CNA Staff, Sep 6, 2020 / 04:00 am (CNA).-  

In 1948, Fred Naumann was the assistant manager of a St. Louis liquor store. One night, a week before Christmas, Naumann told an employee to help unload a delivery truck. When the employee refused, Naumann fired him. They argued, and then the man turned around with a pocketknife, and slashed Naumann’s throat. He died before he reached the hospital.

Fred Naumann was 31 when he was murdered. He had been a minor league baseball player, a catcher in the St. Louis Cardinals system. He served in the Pacific during World War II. When he died, he had a young son, and his wife was expecting a baby. Born six months later, that baby was named Joseph Fred Naumann.

Fred Naumann’s son, Joseph, is now the Archbishop of Kansas City. And he is calling for an end to the death penalty.

“The suffering and the circumstances of each family who has lost a loved one by a violent crime are unique. I do not presume to be able to speak for all victims of murder,” Archbishop Naumann said in a video published online this week by the Catholic Mobilizing Network.

“Yet, I did witness how my mother struggled to provide for our family without the benefit of my father, and the pain that she suffered as a result of losing the love of her life. I also know what it is like for children to grow up without a father.”

“In advocating for the abolition of the death penalty and pleading for the federal government not to continue with the resumption of capital punishment, it is not my intention to minimize the pain and loss of individuals and families who have suffered the death of a loved one as a result of a violent crime,” the archbishop said.

“My own father was murdered. At the time, my brother was not yet two, and my mother was pregnant with me.”

The archbishop’s video came as U.S. bishops criticize the federal government’s resumption of executions, after a 17 year moratorium. Until this summer, there had been no federal executions since 2003.

In July 2019, Attorney General William Barr announced that the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Prisons would resume federal executions for the first time in nearly 20 years.

The federal government executed five people in July and August, and is scheduled to two people in September.

Naumann, chair of the U.S. bishops’ conference pro-life committee, said in an Aug. 27 statement that “the Church’s opposition to the death penalty is clear, and we have made many requests that the federal government should not resume these executions. Yet, not only has the government done so, they have scheduled even more executions.”

In his video, Naumann said that “Murder is an unspeakable evil. Those who perpetrate such a crime have inflicted a grave injustice, not only upon the person who was murdered but also upon all their loved ones.”

“The criminal justice system has a responsibility to protect the innocent from victimization and to deter the commission of violent crimes. However. in the United States in 2020, we have the ability to protect society from violent criminals without resorting to the death penalty.”

Naumann lamented the possibility of executing an innocent person, the revictimization of families amid lengthy appeals processes, the cost of maintaining those appeals processes, and the “economic injustice in the application of the death penalty.”

“Those with the financial means to employ the most skilled attorneys in their defense are much less likely to be executed than the poor,” he said.

The archbishop offered prayers for those who are on death row, for the victims of murder and their families, and “for our nation that we may protect the innocent, assist better the families of victims, work for justice, and not respond to the murder of the innocent by continuing a cycle of violence with state sanctioned killing.”

In New York, Catholic school teachers file labor complaint over COVID reopening plans

Sat, 09/05/2020 - 18:12

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 5, 2020 / 04:12 pm (CNA).- Teachers from schools in the Archdiocese of New York have filed a labor complaint, saying they were not properly involved in negotiations regarding reopening, and were not kept informed about procedures.

The complaints were filed with the New York Public Employment Relations Board.

“These teachers need to feel safe,” said Joanne Parotta, the head of the Federation of Catholic Teachers Local 153, the union for the archdiocese’s teachers. “And right now, they really don’t. We don’t feel safe. It’s too quick.”

Parotta was quoted in the New York Daily News on September 3 saying that 23 of 109 schools in the archdiocese have not been given reopening information, despite the fact that they are set to open within the next week. Teachers, she said, were only told about the plans on Wednesday.

“I don’t think one week is enough time to put the teachers back in the classroom,” said Parotta. There are 2,500 teachers in the Archdiocese of New York’s school system.

Principals of schools were given a reopening plan in June, but teachers were not involved in these negotiations and decisions, she said.

“The plans need to be reviewed. A determination needs to be made as to whether or not the classrooms and buildings meet the requirements for social distancing, ventilation, signage, closing protocols, testing,” Parotta said.

T.J. McCormack, the director of communications and public relations for Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of New York, told CNA that the school district had been working with the teachers’ union and schools are planning on opening on schedule.

“We have been and will continue to work with our union in the appropriate manner in the proper forum,” said McCormack in a statement provided to CNA.

“Our Catholic schools students and their families are looking forward to seeing their beloved teachers next week on the first day of school.”

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic hit the Archdiocese of New York particularly hard, both in terms of physical and economical effects. New York has had the highest number of coronavirus deaths in the country, but health experts say the state is poised to reopen safely. Positivity rates have remained below 1% for the last month, and daily deaths statewide have been below 10 for several weeks.

In July, the Archdiocese of New York announced that 20 schools would not be re-opening in the fall due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that an additional three schools would be merging.


Trump campaign calls letter a 'recommitment' to the pro-life movement

Sat, 09/05/2020 - 08:01

Washington D.C., Sep 5, 2020 / 06:01 am (CNA).- President Donald Trump released a letter Thursday touting pro-life accomplishments in his first term and commitments for a second term—but some of these commitments linger from 2016.

In the letter, released through the Pro-Life Voices for Trump coalition, Trump said he has “proudly governed as the most pro-life president in our nation’s history,” pointing to the confirmations of Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh as well as over 200 lower court judges, and actions including policies to prevent the use of taxpayer dollars for abortions overseas and stripping Planned Parenthood of Title X funds, and becoming the first sitting president to address the March for Life in person.  

The president pledged to continue to work towards “our transformation of the federal judiciary,” signing pro-life bills—the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, and the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act—into law, and “fully defund the big abortion industry such as Planned Parenthood of our tax dollars.”

However, during his 2016 campaign, in a similar letter to the pro-life movement, Trump made four key pro-life commitments: nominating “pro-life justices” to the Supreme Court, signing into law the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, defunding Planned Parenthood, and making the Hyde amendment permanent law.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, co-chair of the Pro-Life Voices for Trump coalition, said in an interview the campaign “re-upped” the letter “because when they did it initially it was in the context of grave doubts over whether he would be the pro-life president that he said that he would.”

“And so this recommitment is within a totally different context, he’s followed through—to the greatest extent possible—in every one of these areas,” Dannenfelser said. “And it’s just to show he’s unwavering, he’s unchanging.”

Asked about the lingering commitments from 2016, Dannenfelser said, “There are some things that are in the legislative branch that have to be overcome without question.”

“But he just wants to communicate his unwavering commitment to those principles and that not only has nothing changed, but things are so much better and we’re so much closer than we were four years ago,” she said. “So three things have to happen: We have to return the Senate, it has to be at least as pro-life as it is, and there has to be some crumbling in that grip that the most liberal wing has, so that we can get a few more votes for passage.”
Dannenfelser highlighted the president adding the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act to the list of commitments.

“One of the reasons so many people are coming off the sidelines and getting engaged as they have not before is that issue that was raised so publicly first by Governor [Ralph] Northam and then second by the president,” she said. “So it has become a priority of his.” 
Ahead of the Republican National Convention, the Trump campaign released a list of bullet points outlining the president’s second-term priorities. The issue of abortion was absent from that initial document, but a pledge to protect unborn life was later added.

“I’ll just tell you I’m glad they got it right,” Dannenfelser said when asked about the initial omission. “I have no idea how that slipped, but they did the right thing and fixed it.”

Asked if the president would consider defunding Planned Parenthood through executive action if Congress is unwilling, Dannenfelser said, “there’s a great openness to anything that is constitutional.”

“I’m a hundred percent sure that anything that has a good shot, he’s open to doing,” she said. “It’s just a tough one you know and I think there may need to be some more creative ways to make it happen.”

Dannenfelser argued “the judges piece” is the priority of the pro-life movement because “everything after that in the list assumes that we’ve got a Court that isn’t going to stop every single thing that we do in our pro-life activism.”

Tom McClusky, president of March for Life Action, said in an interview that the new letter “a verification of a lot of conversations that were had with the administration.”

“The first letter that he did, it was kind of a contract between two unknown quantities,” McClusky said. “I don’t know if he fully understood the pro-life movement, and the pro-life movement was wary of him as a candidate. But this letter, it’s more of a contract between friends. He’s done so much for the pro-life movement and we’re happy to see he wants to continue that.”

It is “unfortunate,” McClusky said, that some of the initial commitments remain, because “even when Republicans controlled all three cogs of the legislative machine, there still just weren’t enough votes in the Senate for Pain-Capable.”

McClusky said he hopes the administration will pursue avenues like exclusion or debarment to defund Planned Parenthood through executive action.

“If HHS were to do that, that would mean that Planned Parenthood would no longer be a partner to get Medicaid reimbursements,” he said.

He added he would also like to see the president commit to banning human embryonic stem cell experimentation and change the IRS code, “which currently allows that abortion is health care, and what we’d like to see is the IRS change that designation.”


‘Somebody has to make a big move’: Catholic priest who walked Belfast gauntlet on reconciliation

Sat, 09/05/2020 - 06:00

CNA Staff, Sep 5, 2020 / 04:00 am (CNA).-  

On Sept. 3, 2001, Fr. Aidan Troy set off with a group of children in the Ardoyne district of north Belfast walking to their Catholic school. To reach it, they had to pass through a Protestant area.

Troy, a Passionist priest from Dublin, had recently arrived in Northern Ireland from Rome. He was about to undergo a baptism of fire.

“We set off on Sept. 3 and they asked me to walk with them. And it was horrendous,” he recalled.

Protesters attempted to block the road leading to the school, forcing girls as young as four to run a terrifying gauntlet, with the help of the police, backed by the British Army. The children and their parents were showered with jeers and sectarian abuse, as well as stones and bottles.

The incident caught the attention of the global media and shocked observers because it occurred after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which many thought had ended the Troubles that had raged since the late 1960s.

“Looking back now, I think that the community living near the school -- we’ll call them the unionist community -- had reached a desperation point, where they felt that nobody really cared, and that there was nobody to defend their rights against their fears,” Troy told CNA.

“Their fears were very, very real: they were afraid that their houses would be attacked and taken over. There was a big shortage of housing. They had very little leadership.”

“Therefore when they ran out of options, they said, ‘The only way we can do this is that the perceived enemy is the nationalist community in Ardoyne, and they are bringing their children up and down to school. If we can disrupt that then we’re going to at least get some attention, and we may be able to do something about it.’ So they blocked the road.”

As the new local pastor, Troy had been appointed chair of the board of governors of Holy Cross Girls’ School. Tensions had flared around the school in June, before his arrival. As pupils prepared to return after the summer vacation, the priest had asked parents what they wanted to do. They told him they wished to bring their children to school via the front gate, and he agreed to lead them.  

On the second day, there were more ugly scenes. On the third, protesters threw a blast bomb -- an improvised explosive device -- towards the children and their parents. The children scattered in all directions while Troy held up his arms, urging parents not to panic.

Troy recalled that he was prepared to die rather than abandon the children.

“When I went back to Dublin, people used to say to me: ‘You’re mad. What in the name of God are you doing going up and down that road with those children?’ And they were throwing urine, this and that, and all sorts of terrible things. But you believed that those children were going to grow up and they were either going to know that they were as good as the next or they weren’t,” he said.

He added: “The bishop gave me a terrible tough time. He wanted me to tell the parents to bring them in through the back gate. And I said, ‘Well, if you’re telling me to do that, I’m taking the train back to Dublin tomorrow.’”

Troy feared most that if he backed down, then paramilitary groups would step in.

He said: “No one will ever know, thank God, but some of the paramilitaries might have taken it over and then it would have ended in bloodshed. And that’s what kept me walking, because I said: ‘This can be solved.’”

With the situation deteriorating, Troy realized that the two communities needed to find a communication channel. But reaching out might be regarded as an act of betrayal and, besides, it wasn’t clear who to talk to among the protesters.

Nevertheless, the priest began speaking to unionist leaders.

“And then some of the protesters were invited in, and they were terrible meetings. They were so bad, because the animosity, particularly against me as a Catholic priest, was horrendous,” he said.

“We stuck at it, and eventually, I remember handing over my mobile number to them and saying: ‘This is ridiculous. We keep meeting every two weeks. The children are suffering. You’re suffering.’”

The two sides met separately with politicians at Stormont, the Parliament Buildings in Northern Ireland. Slowly, a plan was formulated that would end the protests.

“On Nov. 23, 2001, the local community in Glenbryn had a meeting and by a very narrow majority, I believe, they agreed to suspend the action of blockade,” he said.

It would take two years to iron out the protocols enabling the girls to walk the route to school.

“Bit by bit by bit, it died down,” Troy recalled. “There was the occasional flare-up. Maybe at the beginning of the school year in September there would be a pipe bomb at the school gate. I know it sounds blasé, but that was minor in comparison to what we’d come through.”

Troy aimed throughout to ensure that no one felt that they were either a victor or a loser.

Speaking of the protesters, he said: “I had actually got to know one or two of them sort of by sight, and occasionally, just to nod to them and say hello. And one of them, his sister died very suddenly. Through the clergy I found his phone number and I called him and expressed my sympathy. Well, he didn’t know what to say and he didn’t know what to do.”

“That’s what I mean by saying, never rub salt in the wound and say: ‘This is a battle to the death till one side or the other wins.’”

“Now, I'm a football supporter. In sport, a draw’s no use. You have to win. But in reconciliation, you have to find a higher level, and that is where both sides can go on living, even though one side is right and one side is wrong.”

Only a minority of those involved in the conflict -- both Catholics and Protestants -- were weekly church-goers, Troy said, but nevertheless they were all shaped by Christianity.

“There was a sort of allegiance -- even if it was only like a folk memory -- to a higher value, which was the kingdom of God in some sense, of a church, a spiritual thing, and I could use that quite significantly,” he noted.

“When I was talking to them in the school hall, I could actually appeal to them morally. And that, I think, is a very powerful thing. It won’t always be a Christian thing. It won’t always be a very religious thing. But I do think you need to be able to lift the argument beyond where the argument started, or else it can never end.”

He added: “I found that Christianity was the platform that I used. I wore my habit every day. I never denied who I was. If they were going to kill me, they knew who they were killing.”

Today, almost 20 years on, Troy is pastor of St. Joseph’s, an English-speaking Catholic parish in Paris. He told CNA that he had been following the unrest in the United States after the killing of George Floyd in May. He was struck by both the similarities and differences to what he experienced in Belfast.

The 74-year-old priest said that between law enforcement and the government, on one side, and protesters, on the other, there needed to be a third group.

“You need within that somewhere -- I don’t know who they would be, they might be religious people -- somebody doing a little bit of what we were doing: talking across the divide,” he explained.

He continued: “The biggest thing of all in those situations is to keep listening and watching. And if you see a glimmer of light -- it might be the most insignificant-looking thing -- maybe that’s the breakthrough.”

“I don’t know enough to speak with any sort of certainty. But it breaks my heart to see what’s happening because it’s the exact same as Holy Cross in that sense: there are no winners in this.”

“Most of all, you need somebody with a prophetic voice. And oftentimes within any community there are prophets. And if we could find that, it’s extraordinary,” he observed.

Troy, who lived in the U.S. for two years in the 1980s while studying at the University of San Francisco, said that the deep historical roots of the unrest made reconciliation difficult. But he was hopeful because there was an “underlying spiritual awareness” in America.

“This is such a long-standing and such a deep issue that it is going to take a huge amount. But something has to be done to defuse the level it’s at the moment. It’s just terrible, night after night,” he said.

He recalled that peace only came to Northern Ireland after politicians dared to do “the unthinkable.” He gave the example of John Hume, the former SDLP leader who died Aug. 3, deciding to hold talks with Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams.

“That would be like asking the leaders of the protesters to talk to Donald Trump personally,” he said. “Somebody has to make a big move.”

He added: “If there’s any lesson out of Northern Ireland, it was that if everybody had stayed where they were then we would still be pouring blood down our streets, bombs would still be going off, and people would still be living in absolute misery at what was going on.”



‘Catholics for Biden’ claims Democratic candidate shares pope’s priorities

Fri, 09/04/2020 - 20:35

Washington D.C., Sep 4, 2020 / 06:35 pm (CNA).- The Catholic voter outreach of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign has launched its 2020 efforts, telling Catholics that Biden’s priorities align with those of Pope Francis, despite the nominee’s support for federal funding of abortions.

On Thursday night, “Catholics for Biden” held its official online launch. Speakers at the event included Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sister Simone Campbell, and the former head of the politics department at The Catholic University of America, Dr. Stephen Schneck, who said in 2012 that concerns of the U.S. bishops about the HHS birth control mandate were “overblown.”

Durbin, a U.S. Senator since 1997, was in 2004 prohibited from receiving Holy Communion in his home Diocese of Springfield in Illinois; in 2018, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield said that prohibition remains in effect.

Speakers urged Catholics not to be single-issue voters on abortion, and challenged President Trump’s pro-life record while in office.

Biden has pledged to support taxpayer-funded abortion and codify legal abortion in law. His “public option” health care plan would also cover elective abortions. The National Abortion Rights Action League has endorsed his candidacy, and Planned Parenthood Action Fund said they were “thrilled” at his selection of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as his running mate.

After the call, organizers promoted an online quiz, “Are you a Pope Francis Voter?” that tells voters “Donald Trump rejects the vast majority of Catholic Social Teaching,” while claiming that Biden shares the “Catholic priorities” of “Pope Francis.”

The quiz tells voters that  Biden’s policies will protect people in poverty, the elderly, and migrants and reject racism, and that “you must prioritize these sacred issues in the voting booth this November.”

The U.S. bishops’ document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” describes abortion as a “preeminent” threat to human life. The document acknowledges many attacks against human dignity, while also warning against a false “moral equivalence that makes no ethical distinctions between different kinds of issues involving human life and dignity.”

However, voting material promoted by Catholics for Biden urges voters to regard other issues as equal in priority to abortion. It discusses the idea of a “Pope Francis Voter” as someone who considers racism, poverty, migration and healthcare as “sacred issues” to be prioritized in the voting booth.

In his 2018 apostolic exhortation Gaudete et exsultate, Pope Francis said that all human life, born and unborn, is sacred.

The pope said that “defence of the innocent unborn” must be “clear, firm and passionate,” adding that “[e]qually sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection.”

Citing the words “equally sacred”—where Pope Francis refers to human life itself— a 2020 election scorecard promoted by Catholics for Biden outlines “Equally Sacred Priorities” that equate abortion with a number of other issues in importance.

“In his writing and speaking, Pope Francis makes it clear: abortion is not the only issue that matters,” the scorecard states, adding that it would compare the stances of Trump and Biden on “areas Pope Francis names as ‘equally sacred’ to the defense of the unborn.”

The scorecard was produced by Network, the social justice lobby led by Sister Simone Campbell, who led a prayer at the 2020 Democratic National Convention and endorsed Biden at Thursday night’s event.

In a recent interview with CNA, Campbell was asked if her organization opposes legal abortion. “That is not our issue. That is not it. It is above my pay grade,” she responded.

The scorecard notes that Trump, and not Biden, is seeking to overturn Roe v. Wade, but adds that Biden, and not Trump, would increase support for pregnant women and fight maternal mortality.

It then covers other issues, claiming that Biden “[s]upports families in the tax code;” opposes racism and xenophobia, the death penalty, and “discrimination against LGBTQ+ people and disabled people;” and would protect housing assistance, health care benefits, the right to organize, and humane treatment of immigrants.

Religious freedom is not mentioned in the voter materials. Biden has said that he would repeal new religious exemptions to the contraceptive mandate, which had granted relief to Catholic organizations including the Little Sisters of the Poor. If the exemptions are repealed, the sisters could once again have to appear in court.

Biden has also supported the Equality Act, which would create broad anti-discrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity that the U.S. bishops’ conference has warned would threaten religious freedom.

Pope Francis has made forceful denunciations of abortion. He has likened it to “hiring a hitman,” and has condemned selective abortion of the disabled as “the same as the Nazis to maintain the purity of the race, but with white gloves.”

In his 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium, Pope Francis wrote that “this defence of unborn life is closely linked to the defence of each and every other human right.”

Patrick Carolan, Catholic outreach director of Vote Common Good, a group campaigning for Biden, told CNA that Thursday's event was meant to galvanize Biden’s Catholic support and to reach undecided voters.

Carolan told CNA that “there’s probably about 20% of the Catholic vote that’s still in play,” especially in several key states that Trump narrowly won in 2016.

“I think there’s a lot of, really, dissatisfaction, a lot of buyers’ remorse among Catholics,” he said of Trump voters, especially white Catholics, he added.

“A lot of it is with white Catholic women, and a lot of that is over the feeling of disgust over the separation of children and seeing pictures of children in cages,” he said. “And if you’re a mother, you can’t see that and think that that’s okay. And I know a lot of white Catholic women who saw those pictures and saw what was happening there and it just disgusted them, and they couldn’t vote for somebody who supported that.”

On Thursday, before the “Catholics for Biden” launch, the group “Catholics for Trump” attacked Biden’s record on abortion and religious freedom.

The Trump campaign’s Catholic voter outreach began with its online launch in April, which emphasized Trump’s efforts to appoint federal judges who were not “activist,” his administration’s pro-life policies and measures to protect religious freedom, and his record on the economy and on the coronavirus pandemic—which has killed more than 180,000 Americans.

Trump targeted pro-life voters this week, sending a letter to pro-life leaders outlining his policy priorities for his second term. The letter contained some of the same promises he made to pro-life voters in 2016.

Trump’s 2020 letter promises to build upon “our transformation of the federal judiciary” with judges who will “not legislate an abortion agenda from the bench.”

He also promised to “overcome Democratic filibusters in Congress to pass and finally sign into law” a 20-week abortion ban. He pledged to sign legislation protecting infant abortion survivors and blocking all taxpayer funding of abortion providers, and promised to “fully defund the abortion industry” of taxpayer dollars.



SF archbishop: City’s worship restrictions show ‘callous unconcern’ for spiritual needs

Fri, 09/04/2020 - 20:00

Denver Newsroom, Sep 4, 2020 / 06:00 pm (CNA).-  

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco said Friday that the city’s current restrictions on public worship— which prohibit indoor services of any kind, as opposed to other entities such as retail which have been allowed to reopen indoor operations— show “callous unconcern” for people’s spiritual needs.

“Let alone the fact that the city is judging religious services as less important, and treating them more harshly than other activities— the city has no authority at all over the Church’s right to worship,” Archbishop Cordileone told CNA Sept. 4.

“It is not the job of the state to decide what religious services are essential or inessential: that is the Church’s job.”

The San Francisco County Department of Health is currently limiting outdoor worship services to 12 people, with indoor worship services prohibited. The archdiocese covers the city and county of San Francisco— where the cathedral is located— as well as San Mateo and Marin counties.

The state’s legitimate concern for health and safety does have some bearing on how the Church operates, he said— for example, there are good reasons why church buildings must be built with respect to code.

“But the state does not tell the Church how to arrange the liturgical space—that pertains to the internal life of the Church, over which the state has no authority. The same principle applies to worship services: the state has no right whatsoever to tell the Church it cannot worship, but it has every right and responsibility to tell the Church which practices it must observe to keep people safe during worship,” Cordileone continued.

“Those practices, though, cannot be so restrictive as to effectively ban public worship, such as only outdoors with no more than 12 people.”

Cordileone said priests at many parishes around the archdiocese, including the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, are celebrating multiple Masses every Sunday— outside, and spaced out— in order to adapt to the restrictions.

“The Body and Blood of Christ is the source and summit of our Faith. People are hungry for the Eucharist, and many priests are responding to the call as best they can,” he said.

The City of San Francisco has been closely monitoring Catholic churches in the city and has repeatedly issued warnings to the archdiocese for apparent health order violations.

Cordileone said he himself has noted “very few” violations of the city’s health orders by parishes in the archdiocese, although the few that have occurred have garnered heavy criticism in the secular press.

Even while protesting the city’s apparent unequal application of health restrictions, the archbishop has encouraged his priests to lead their parishes in following the city’s guidelines.

“Wearing a face covering is one of the simplest and most effective things you can do.  And if that is not enough, then wear one simply for the sake of good manners,” he appealed. 

“Do not show a lack of compassion for people who are afraid of catching a disease that is quite deadly to many people with comorbidities and the elderly, which we Catholics should particularly respect and protect.”

While Cordileone said city officials have been “cordial and respectful” in their dialogue with the archdiocese, Cordileone said the city still has not responded to the archdiocese’ safety plan— outlining how churches could be safely opened for indoor services— which they submitted in May.

“Whereas retail stores sent in safety plans, had them approved by the City, and then resumed indoor retail at 50% capacity.  And yet, churches can be safer environments than stores,’ Cordileone noted.

In a letter to San Francisco's Mayor London Breed and other city officials, Cordileone last week called on the city’s secular authorities to, “at a minimum, remove the excessive limits on outdoor public worship.”

“Particularly for us as Catholics, attending the Mass and receiving the Body and Blood of Christ in person is the source and the summit of our faith, and we have shown we can celebrate the Mass safely,” Cordileone wrote Aug. 31.

He cited a recent article on Mass attendance and COVID-19, authored Aug. 19 by doctors Thomas McGovern, Deacon Timothy Flanigan, and Paul Cieslak for Real Clear Science.

Over the last 14 weeks, the doctors said, approximately 17,000 parishes have held three or more Masses each weekend, as well as daily services, combining to equal more than 1 million public Masses celebrated across the United States since shelter-in-place orders were lifted.

By following public health guidelines, these Masses have largely avoided viral spread. The doctors said in their article that there is no evidence that church services are higher risk than similar activities when guidelines are followed, and no coronavirus outbreaks have yet been linked to the celebration of the Mass.

“Catholics have developed responsible safety protocols to conduct the Mass safely. The evidence shows these protocols are working,” Cordileone told CNA.

“San Francisco’s excessive limits on the Mass are not only a violation of Americans’ First Amendment rights, they show a kind of callous unconcern for our parishioners’ emotional and spiritual needs.”

In a July 30 memo, Cordileone exhorted his priests to be as diligent as possible in bringing the sacraments to their people, including celebrating outdoor Masses each Sunday, and providing Confession in a safe manner as often as possible.

“Please regularly remind people to follow the safety practices necessary to curb the spread of the virus. This is real, it is dangerous, and it has to be taken seriously,” he added.

“The resurgence is due in no small part to people becoming lax once the shelter-in-place rules began to be lifted. Please urge these practices upon them; absolutely do not give them the impression that the coronavirus is not a serious threat to the physical health of our community.”

The Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship, which provides liturgical resources in the archdiocese, shared a petition Aug. 31 in support of Cordileone’s statement calling for the lifting of restrictions on the Mass. To date more than 1,400 people have signed.