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Federal court upholds injunction against Trump admin’s Title X rules in Maryland  

Fri, 09/04/2020 - 19:20

CNA Staff, Sep 4, 2020 / 05:20 pm (CNA).- A federal court of appeals this week ruled against the Trump administration’s requirement that Title X recipients may not perform or refer for abortions.

In an 8-6 ruling Thursday, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an earlier injunction against the enforcement of the federal Protect Life Rule in Maryland.

The Protect Life Rule, created by the Trump administration, prohibits recipients of Title X family planning funds from referring for or performing abortions. It requires Title X fund recipients to be both physically and financially separate from facilities that provide abortions.

“Nondirective counseling” about abortion is still permissible under the new rules, which pro-life advocates have praised as a commonsense way to ensure enforcement of already-existing rules against taxpayer money being used for abortions.

Title X is a federal program created in 1965 that subsidizes family-planning and preventative health services, including contraception, for low-income families. It has been frequently updated and subject to new regulations. Title X does not pay for abortions, but recipients have in the past been able to refer patients for abortion.

The Protect Life Rule does not reduce the amount of available Title X funding, but clarifies eligibility to receiving the funding.

After the new rules were announced, Planned Parenthood said it was exiting the Title X program in order to continue performing abortions.

Planned Parenthood had been receiving about one-fifth of the total amount of Title X funds distributed, and withdrawing from the program means a $60 million cut in federal funding for the organization each year.

Planned Parenthood still receives roughly $500 million annually in Medicaid reimbursement.

In its ruling Thursday, the appeals court said the Protect Life Rule was “arbitrary and capricious, being inadequately justified and objectionably unreasonable.” It said every medical association in the country opposed the rule.

The dissenting opinion argued that the rule is “well within HHS’s established statutory authority.”

“The Supreme Court has already ruled that the regulations fall inside the scope of Title X’s broad mandate,” the dissenting opinion said. “The ‘new’ Rule substantially returns the Title X regulations to the version that HHS adopted in 1988, and which the Supreme Court upheld as a permissible interpretation of Title X in Rust v. Sullivan.”
 
 

 

Princeton legal scholar says Biden pledge to codify Roe is ‘disgraceful’

Fri, 09/04/2020 - 11:30

CNA Staff, Sep 4, 2020 / 09:30 am (CNA).- A pledge by Joe Biden to codify Roe v Wade into federal law is “disgraceful,” a Catholic law professor has said, and argued that the 1973 Supreme Court decision that imposed an abortion “regime” on the country must be reversed.  

Robert P. George, professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University, made the comments during an interview Thursday on EWTN Pro-Life Weekly. 

Asked about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden—a baptized Catholic— pledging support for efforts to codify the maximum application of Roe v. Wade into federal law if he is elected president, George said it would “expose an entire class of human beings to death.”

“It’s disgraceful,” George said. 

“How can anybody who, as a Catholic, is committed to the proposition that every single member of the human family—irrespective certainly of race and sex and ethnicity, but also and equally irrespective of age, size, stage of development or condition of dependency—is the bearer of a profound and inherent and equal dignity, a creature made in the very image and likeness of God, how can someone who professes, as a Catholic to believe that, expose an entire class of human beings to death?”

George also discussed the Trump administration’s recent petition to the Supreme Court to reinstate a rule from the United States Food and Drug Administration requiring patients who take abortion pills to do so in the presence of a physician. A federal judge in Maryland lifted the rule in July, ruling it burdensome amid the coronavirus pandemic.

George said it is hard to predict how the Court will respond because “the record of the current Court is mixed on these sorts of issues.”



George said that the case should be considered in the larger context of the future of Roe v. Wade and the legality of abortion nationwide. 

“Of course, this doesn’t really get us to the $64,000 question, the real question that eventually needs to get before the Court, and that is whether to reverse the decision in Roe v Wade that constitutionalized the question of abortion in the first place and imposed on the entire nation of course the regime of legal abortion, so this is a skirmish in that larger struggle,” George said.

George said that legal protection for unborn children ultimately depended on the Court reversing its decision in Roe.

New Hampshire sued over Catholic schools tuition policy

Fri, 09/04/2020 - 10:40

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 4, 2020 / 08:40 am (CNA).- A New Hampshire family has filed suit against the state after a town tuition program refused to pay for their grandson’s Catholic school education. The suit claims that the terms of the program violate religious discrimination laws and go against a recent Supreme Court ruling.

The lawsuit, Dennis Griffin and Catherine Griffin v. New Hampshire Department of Education, was filed in the Merrimack County, New Hampshire, Superior Court on September 3. 

Dennis and Cathy Griffin are raising their grandson, Clayton in the town of Croydon, New Hampshire. Clayton, an ingoing seventh-grade student, attends a Catholic school in the nearby town of Sunapee. He would be eligible to have his private school tuition paid for by the town of Croydon, except for a New Hampshire law which prohibits town tuitioning programs from paying for “sectarian” schools, which the family argue is illegal under the Supreme Court's recent decision Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, which struck down a similar exclusion on religious schools.

Croydon, a small town of fewer than 1,000 people, does not have its own public middle school or high school. Instead, the town pays the tuition for resident students to attend public or private schools in nearby towns.

There are approximately 50 towns in New Hampshire that do not have public schools for all grades, and many of these towns have a contract with a specific nearby public or private school. Croydon does not have this kind of contract and allows its school-age students to pick where to go to school. In Croydon, students in fifth grade and above are given a set dollar amount for tuition at either a public or private non-sectarian school. 

In order to be eligible for a tuitioning program in New Hampshire, a private school must be “non-sectarian,” comply with various regulations regarding health and fire safety, be incorporated in New Hampshire, and administer an annual academic assessment. 

Mount Royal Academy, where Clayton is a student, is a lay-run and lay-founded Catholic school, where students are educated in the classical model. The school was incorporated in New Hampshire, complies with all health and safety regulations, and administers standardized assessments. However, as Mount Royal Academy is a Catholic school, the Griffins have to pay tuition. 

The school was formally recognized as a Catholic school by the Diocese of Manchester in 2006, which the school’s website describes as “giving our school community the greatest gift we could ever receive, the Eucharistic presence of Jesus Christ on campus.” It was the first lay-founded school in the diocese to receive this recognition. 

The Griffins say that the state prohibition is a violation of their First Amendment rights, and are asking for the New Hampshire courts to allow religious schools to be eligible for town tuitioning programs. 

In June, the Supreme Court ruled in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue that Montana’s income tax credit program unconstitutionally discriminated against religious schools and those who attend or wish to attend them. The Griffins are arguing that the New Hampshire Superior Court should consider the precedent created in Espinoza and change state law. 

Kirby West, an attorney for the Institute for Justice, the law firm representing the Griffins, told CNA that while the case is similar to Espinoza, the situation is different as the prohibition on sectarian school tuition payments is state law. 

“In Espinoza, the Montana Supreme Court struck the scholarship program down under their state Blaine Amendment because the program included religious schools,” West told CNA.  

“Here, although New Hampshire also has a Blaine Amendment, the anti-religious language is also written directly into the tuitioning statute. So the tuitioning program excludes religious schools on its face,” she said. 

In Espinoza, the Supreme Court ruled that as school choice programs are not mandated, religious schools cannot be left out of the program on the basis of religion--something that is happening in New Hampshire. 

“The principle at issue, however, is exactly the same,” West said. “Once it decides to create an educational choice program, a state cannot exclude religious schools solely because they are religious.” 

“The Griffins qualify for New Hampshire’s tuitioning program in all respects except for the fact that they chose a religious school for their grandson. As the Supreme Court made clear in Espinoza, this discrimination violates the First Amendment,” she said.

Catholics thank drug company for switching to ethical polio vaccine

Fri, 09/04/2020 - 02:37

CNA Staff, Sep 4, 2020 / 12:37 am (CNA).- Catholic leaders in the U.S. have welcomed the news that one of the world’s biggest vaccine producers has decided to discontinue a polio vaccine derived from an abortion fetal cell line.

Sanofi-Pasteur will instead use an ethical animal cell line in the production of its polio vaccine. The company, among the three largest vaccine manufacturers globally, has also committed to developing a COVID-19 vaccine that does not use a cell line from an elective abortion.

“We welcome these opportunities where we can illustrate the Church’s eager embrace of scientific advancement when it upholds the dignity of the human person and the precious gift of human life,” said Greg Schleppenbach, associate director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. bishops’ conference.

In a Sept. 2 memo to diocesan pro-life directors and state Catholic conference directors, Schleppenbach noted “that the FDA recently approved Sanofi-Pasteur’s request to switch from using an aborted fetal cell line (MRC-5) to using an ethical animal cell line to produce its polio combination vaccines Pentacel and Quadracel.”

Sanofi-Pasteur has also announced that it will no longer produce a stand-alone polio vaccine, Poliovax, which was created from the same aborted fetal cell line. Instead, it will retain a different stand-alone vaccine, IPOL, which was ethically developed.

“Furthermore, Sanofi-Pasteur’s ongoing effort to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 also does not rely on cell lines linked to elective abortion,” Schleppenbach said.

For years, ethical concerns have been raised about the development of some vaccines with cells lines created from the cells of aborted babies.

A 2005 document from the Pontifical Academy for Life concluded that it is both morally permissible and morally responsible for Catholics to use vaccines prepared in cell lines descended from aborted fetuses, if no alternative is available.

However, the document said Catholics have an obligation to use ethically-sourced vaccines when possible, and when alternatives do not exist, they have an obligation to speak up and request the development of new cell lines that are not derived from aborted fetuses.

 “One important step we can take to ensure the production of ethical vaccines is to recognize and thank drug companies, like Sanofi-Pasteur, when they move away from unethical vaccine production,” said Schleppenbach in his memo.

He asked local pro-life leaders to encourage Catholics to send a note of thanks to Sanofi-Pasteur.

“We can hope that, with some encouragement, other vaccine manufacturers may consider creating other morally acceptable vaccines,” he said.

Schleppenbach also noted that the U.S. bishops’ conference has “an active campaign urging the FDA to ensure that a COVID-19 vaccine is produced free from complicity with abortion.”

“This move from Sanofi-Pasteur is an encouraging indicator that for-profit companies creating vaccines are beginning to recognize there is no need to use cell lines derived from aborted children,” he said.

Dr. Michael Parker, president of the Catholic Medical Association and Dr. Joseph Meaney, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, also applauded the development from Sanofi-Pasteur.

In a joint July 21 letter to Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, who heads the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee, Parker and Meaney said the move means fewer ethical dilemmas for Catholic and pro-life parents.

“Sanofi-Pasteur’s actions demonstrate that it is possible to make safe and effective vaccines without resort to AFCLs [aborted fetal cell lines], and even to remove AFCLs from vaccines currently in use,” they said.

“Sanofi-Pasteur’s approach to a vaccine for COVID-19 shows its commitment to developing future vaccines without resorting to use of AFCLs.”

“[T]oo often people have been told that there is not much that can be done about the use of AFCLs in vaccines, particularly in pediatric vaccines,” Parker and Meaney said.

They noted that the widespread use of these vaccines has also been used to justify further unethical research.

“Sanofi-Pasteur’s actions show that moral and medical progress is possible,” they said. “We should celebrate this and request—even demand—more from the pharmaceutical industry.”

 

Trump says second term will 'fight' for unborn children in letter to pro-lifers

Thu, 09/03/2020 - 18:40

CNA Staff, Sep 3, 2020 / 04:40 pm (CNA).-  

President Donald Trump on Thursday released a letter addressed to “pro-life leaders and activists” indicating his intention to advance legislative and administrative priorities against abortion if he is elected to a second term.

“As I seek re-election this November, I need your help in contrasting my bold pro-life leadership with Joe Biden’s abortion extremism,” Trump’s letter said.

“The Democratic Party unequivocally supports abortion on-demand, up untl the moment of birth, and even infanticide — leaving babies to die after failed abortions. Joe Biden’s embrace of this extreme position is most evidenced by his support for taxpayer funding of abortion on-demand. Forcing taxpayers to pay for abortions is an abhorrent position that must be defeated at the ballot box,” the president added.

The president’s letter came as his campaign continues to court pro-life voters, seen as a voting bloc crucial to Trump’s reelection.

At the Republican National Convention, several speakers emphasized Trump’s opposition to abortion, including Sr. Dede Byrne, a surgeon and retired Army colonel, who called Trump the “most pro-life president” in U.S. history.

Earlier this week, the Trump campaign added bullet points concerning abortion and religious freedom to its list of second-term priorities. A 50-point list of “core priorities” for a second Trump term was originally released by the campaign Aug. 23, and criticized by pro-lifers for omitting mention of abortion and religious liberty from the original list.

In his Sept. 3 letter, Trump wrote that if he wins, “we have another four year to fight in the trenches for unborn children.”

The president said he would “work to” appoint “judges who will respect the Constitution and not legislate an abortion agenda from the bench,” pass into law three pieces of legislation that would restrict or defund abortion, and “fully defund the big abortion industry such as Planned Parenthood of our tax dollars.”

Both the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act failed in the Senate in February. Similar bills had failed to get through Congress in 2015, 2017, and 2018. Republicans controlled both houses of Congress in 2017, but did not have the 60 votes required to get the bill through the Senate without a filibuster. The Senate is expected to be close to an even split after the 2020 election.

Trump’s letter noted that he had appointed several judges believed to oppose abortion protections during his first term, prevented federal funding of foreign abortions, and addressed the March for Life in person, the first time a president had done so.

The president also mentioned that he had begun fulfilling campaign promises to defund Planned Parenthood, through changes to Title X funding that prevent abortion providers from access to some federal funds. With the rule change, the abortion provider remains the recipient of roughly $500 million annually in Medicaid reimbursement.

Last month, pro-life activist Lila Rose called on the president to defund Planned Parenthood immediately.

“President Trump can defund Planned Parenthood by executive order. It’s past time to stop pouring millions of taxpayer dollars into a corporation that slaughters 900 children each day. Defund these atrocities,” Rose tweeted Aug 26.

President Trump can defund Planned Parenthood by executive order. It’s past time to stop pouring millions of taxpayer dollars into a corporation that slaughters 900 children each day. Defund these atrocities!#DefundPlannedParenthood @realDonaldTrump

— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) August 26, 2020 Trump’s Democratic opponent in the presidential race, Joe Biden, has pledged to enshrine abortion protections in federal law, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated this week that Congress will end a decades long moratorium on federal funding for abortion if her party retains control of the House of Representatives.

The Trump campaign said Thursday that Trump’s letter came after Vice President Mike Pence met with pro-life lobbying group Susan B. Anthony List in North Carolina.

San Francisco ministry to share Catholic teaching on end-of-life

Thu, 09/03/2020 - 18:01

Denver Newsroom, Sep 3, 2020 / 04:01 pm (CNA).- The Archdiocese of San Francisco is set to begin training volunteers who will help parishes support Catholics in making end-of-life decisions for themselves and loved ones, informed by Catholic teaching about death.

Deacon Fred Totah, director of pastoral ministry for the archdiocese, told CNA that he fields a lot of questions about end-of-life problems in his parish— more so now than ever, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Catholic end-of-life ministry is a response to California’s 2015 legalization of assisted suicide under the End of Life Option Act, which took effect during June 2016. Under the law, patients may request and physicians may prescribe life-ending medications.

The Catholic Church teaches that assisted suicide and euthanasia— which both involve the intentional taking of life— are never permissible. Withholding “extraordinary means” of medical treatment and allowing death to occur naturally can be morally permissible under Catholic teaching.

The bishops of California, along with healthcare leaders, launched an initiative called Caring for the Whole Person in 2016 to help to educate people about Catholic teaching on dying.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles launched its Whole Person Care ministry during February 2020, and the Diocese of Stockton began doing training for its ministry in March.

Other California dioceses are in the process of building core teams for their ministries, Totah said, and he has reached out to them to offer help building their end-of-life ministries.

'The door is always open for anybody to partner with us," he said.

Totah told Catholic San Francisco that it is his hope that every parish eventually will have an end-of-life ministry. The ministry might also be combined with an existing parish ministry, he said, such as grief and consolation, Legion of Mary, or ministry to the sick and homebound.

A five-week Zoom training for the 25 volunteers will begin Sept. 16, and will run until Oct. 14.

The training will encompass five modules, he said, including an introduction to palliative and hospice care; Catholic teaching on end-of-life problems; planning for end-of-life; and grief and bereavement in the parish setting.

The Catholic Medical Association, along with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Health Association, have long supported an expansion of palliative care— medical care and pain management for the symptoms of those suffering from a serious illness, rather than the premature ending of their life.

The CMA emphasized their position that “the goal of palliative care is to promote effective relief of pain and suffering, not to eliminate the sufferer.”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services prohibit Catholic health care facilities from condoning or participating in euthanasia or assisted suicide.

A report from the California Department of Public Health said 374 persons ended their lives by assisted suicide in 2017 – the first full year that the law had been in effect.

The California Catholic Conference reiterated its opposition to assisted suicide in the beginning of 2018, criticizing the lack of data collected and a lack of transparency in the law’s implementation.

In January 2020, a county Superior Court dismissed a legal challenge against the End of Life Option Act, which a group of doctors had filed upon its passage. The US Supreme Court had the year before declined to review the case.

Oregon, Washington, Maine, New Jersey, Hawaii, Colorado, Vermont and the District of Columbia have all legalized assisted suicide and euthanasia along with California. In Montana the practice is legal by a court ruling.

Countries with legal euthanasia are the Netherlands, Belgium, Colombia, Luxembourg, and Canada. Assisted suicide is legal in the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Germany.

The US House of Representatives in October 2019 sent a bill to the Senate that would expand funding and training for palliative care. The bill is currently in a Senate committee.

AG to be honored at virtual Catholic prayer breakfast

Thu, 09/03/2020 - 17:00

CNA Staff, Sep 3, 2020 / 03:00 pm (CNA).- The 2020 National Catholic Prayer Breakfast (NCPB) will be streamed online on Sept. 23 the organization announced on Wednesday. The event will honor Attorney General William Barr.

Former presidents and vice presidents have made appearances at the gathering—Vice President Mike Pence addressed the annual event in 2017, and former President George W. Bush spoke at the breakfast each year from 2005 to 2008. 

Barr will be the latest high-ranking Trump administration official to appear at the event--Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the NCPB in 2017, and then-acting White House chief-of-staff Mick Mulvaney addressed the gathering in 2019.

The National Catholic Prayer Breakfast has taken place in Washington, D.C. every year since 2004. It was originally scheduled for March 30, before the city curbed public gatherings following the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the NCPB says that the current “uncertainty” as to COVID-related restrictions in D.C. “dictated that we could no longer hold an in-person event of this size.”

Attended by 1,400 people in 2019, the prayer breakfast will now be streamed online with a mix of live and taped segments filling a one-hour schedule. Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, will deliver the keynote address. 

While Archbishop Charles Chaput, archbishop emeritus of Philadelphia, was originally scheduled to speak at the prayer breakfast in March, he no longer appears on the schedule.

“Although we will be unable to gather in Washington, DC for our usual in-person event, we believe it has never been more important to host this prayer event,” the group stated on its website.

Attorney General Barr is still scheduled to speak on Sept. 23 and receive the Christifideles Laici award, named for Pope St. John Paul II’s 1988 exhortation and reserved to honor the laity who promote the New Evangelization and the Church’s mission in their life and work.

Barr, a Catholic, served as attorney general during the George H.W. Bush administration from 1991 to 1993, and was confirmed as attorney general again in 2019.

Barr’s Justice Department (DOJ) has taken an active role during the pandemic in curbing state public health orders that it says treat churches more harshly than similar establishments such as restaurants and shopping malls.

Barr himself has spoken out about threats to religious freedom, in an October, 2019 speech at the University of Notre Dame law school, where he said that education is “ground zero” in the fight for religious freedom. He warned of a secularism that seeks the “organized destruction” of the Judeo-Christian ethic, which he said the U.S. was founded upon.

However, the attorney general has also overseen the resumption of executions of federal prisoners after a nearly-two decade halt; the U.S. bishops’ conference has spoken repeatedly to condemn the executions, as has Archbishop Charles Thompson of Indianapolis, whose diocese includes the federal prison in Terre Haute, where federal executions take place. 

The Vatican in 2018 revised language in the Catechism on the death penalty, calling it “inadmissible.”  

Catholic members of religious orders, pro-life activists, bishops and prelates, and politicians—including non-Catholic officeholders—have previously addressed the prayer breakfast. Past speakers have included the second President Bush, late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Vice President Pence, and Cardinal Robert Sarah.

New York bishops urge Cuomo to remember the poor

Thu, 09/03/2020 - 16:00

CNA Staff, Sep 3, 2020 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- The bishops of New York have spoken out against proposed cuts in the New York State budget, urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo not to add further burdens to the state’s poor and vulnerable in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“As the governor considers the steps needed to restore our state to fiscal stability, the New York State bishops offer prayers for wisdom, as well as a reminder that the state must never balance its budget on the backs of the poor and vulnerable,” said a statement from the New York Catholic Conference released on Thursday, September 3. 

Reports suggest the state is considering cutting 20% of budgets across every department in the state to make up for its budget shortfall. 

While these cuts are “understandable,” and appears on their face to be giving equal treatment to all departments, the bishops stated, “we must keep in mind that for the hundreds of thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers who depend on state-funded not-for-profit human services providers, social equity already eludes them, and always has.”

“We must not turn our back on women fleeing domestic violence, immigrants seeking legal resources, people with physical or developmental disabilities, the frail elderly, struggling single mothers and their young children, families who are homeless, those who have lost their jobs and don’t have enough food to put on the table, people suffering from addiction or mental illness, survivors of sexual abuse, offenders reintegrating into society, or the many other New Yorkers who most need our support,” said the statement. 

While Catholic Charities has been able to care for some of the needy in the state, the bishops said that the challenges are “greater than ever” with increased demand and fewer donations due to an ailing economy and limited parish collections due to coronavirus restrictions. 

The state’s bishops also noted that the New York State Constitution specifies that “the aid, care and support of the needy are public concerns and shall be provided by the state,” and pointed out that, per Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s urging, the state added the phrase “E pluribus unum”--or “Out of many, one” to the state flag this past year. 

Cuomo, they said, faces an “unenviable reality” when it comes to keeping New York residents safe and dealing with the budget shortfall, but should “remember this sentiment of unity that includes our most vulnerable brothers and sisters” when deciding where to address budget shortfalls. 

New York was among the hardest hit areas in the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the pandemic’s peak, over a thousand people per day were succumbing to the disease in New York City alone. 

Cuomo at one point ordered nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients and state figures have been disputed, with some suggesting that the real death tally in nursing homes may have been obscured.

New York parish anti-racism pledge prompts controversy

Thu, 09/03/2020 - 13:26

Denver Newsroom, Sep 3, 2020 / 11:26 am (CNA).-  

A New York priest said his parish added a “pledge for racial justice” to Masses as part of its anti-racism initiatives, and that no one at the parish is required to participate in it. While video of the pledge has been the subject of criticism in the media and from some Catholics, the Archdiocese of New York has not commented on the matter.

“Under the sponsorship of the Pastoral Council, we held a prayer service for the victims of racism and commissioned our Sacred Space ministry to produce a display so that there would be heightened awareness. In that context, someone found a version of the pledge from a Unitarian Church in Texas,” Fr. Kenneth Boller, SJ, pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in New York City, told CNA Sept. 2.

“We invite people to take the pledge after the post communion prayer and before the final blessing-a time when many churches have announcements. People are invited to respond yes to each question. Some choose not to. That's fine,” Boller added.

Liturgical law prohibits the addition of any components to Mass that are not prescribed by Church rubrics.

The General Instruction for the Roman Missal directs that each priest “must remember that he is the servant of the sacred Liturgy and that he himself is not permitted, on his own initiative, to add, to remove, or to change anything in the celebration of Mass.”

Similarly, the Second Vatican Council’s apostolic constitution on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum concilium, says that no person, “even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.”

For his part, Boller told CNA that the pledge is part of a broader effort in the parish to be attentive to racial justice.

“After the death of George Floyd our parish wished to be more pro-actively anti-racist.  There had been a book discussion group on racism  for 18 months and there was a recent history of dialog with an African-American Catholic parish in Harlem,” the priest said.

The pledge asks whether Catholics “support justice, equity, and compassion,” and affirm that “white privilege and the culture of white supremacy must be dismantled wherever it is present.” It also asks whether Catholics commit “to help transform our church culture to one that is actively engaged in seeking racial justice and equity for everyone,” and affirm “the inherent worth and dignity of every person.”

The pledge gained attention earlier this week, when a redacted video of its recitation began circulating online. On Sept. 2, Fox News television host Tucker Carlson erroneously reported that the pledge, which he called “talking points from BLM” had “replaced the Nicene Creed” at the parish. In the same segment, commentator Eric Metaxas said that if the parish “had a swastika on the altar, it would be no different.”

“The people who are using these new terms — systemic racism or white privilege — these are Marxists,” Metaxas added. “If you do not reject this with everything you have, you are bringing about the death of Christian faith in America,” he said.

The U.S. bishops’ conference 2018 pastoral letter on racism, “Open Wide our Hearts” laments “years of systemic racism working in how resources are allocated to communities that remain de facto segregated.”

In June, Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, who is Black, wrote that “Prejudiced and racist attitudes of individuals also infiltrate institutional structures and organizations, thus forming the foundation for systemic racism….The residual effects of these attitudes are still felt by many Catholics of color today.”

The Archdiocese of New York told CNA it had no comment on the pledge and the controversy that surrounded its recitation during Mass.

 

Spend Labor Day in solidarity with the poor, US bishops say

Thu, 09/03/2020 - 12:00

CNA Staff, Sep 3, 2020 / 10:00 am (CNA).- The U.S. bishops’ conference is encouraging solidarity, charity and compassion for low-income and essential workers during the upcoming Labor Day festivities in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

“This Labor Day is a somber one. The COVID-19 pandemic goes on,” said Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City in a statement released by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on Wednesday, Sept. 2.  

Archbishop Coakley is the chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

“The dignity of the human person, made in the image and likeness of God, is not at the center of our society in the way it should be,” said Coakley. “In some workplaces, this has meant an emphasis on profits over safety. That is unjust. Consumerism and individualism fuel pressures on employers and policy makers that lead to these outcomes.”

The archbishop said that the coronavirus’ impact on the economy has brought damage to the country’s financial, mental, and physical health.  

“Economic circumstances for so many families are stressful or even dire,” he said.  “Anxiety is high. Millions are out of work and wondering how they will pay the bills. And for workers deemed ‘essential’ who continue to work outside the home, there is the heightened danger of exposure to the virus.” 

While the situation is dire, said Coakley, Pope Francis’ reflections that the devastation wrought by the pandemic could result in a regeneration of beauty and hope. 

“God never abandons his people, he is always close to them, especially when pain becomes more present,” said Coakley. 

“God knows the challenges we face and the loss and grief we feel. The question to us is this: will we pray and willingly participate in God’s work healing the hurt, loss, and injustice that this pandemic has caused and exposed? Will we offer all we can to the Lord to ‘make all things new?’” 

Coakley lamented that essential workers, including “meat packers, agricultural workers, healthcare providers, janitors, transit workers, emergency responders, and others” have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. 

“As a result, low wage workers, migrant workers, and workers of color, have borne a disproportionate share of the costs of the pandemic,” he said. Even prior to the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, “a significant number of Americans were trapped in low wage jobs, with insecurity around food, housing, and health care, and with little opportunity for savings or advancing in their career,” a situation that has not been made any better.

“It is devastating to say, many have paid with their life,” said Coakley.

Coakley also touched on the growing civil unrest throughout the country, saying that things that “may have been hidden to some” are now being revealed.

“Against this backdrop, the murder of George Floyd was like lighting a match in a gas-filled room,” he said. 

There is, however, cause for optimism even amidst these times, said Coakley. 

“Injustice does not need to have the last word,” he said. “The Lord came to free us from sin, including the sins by which we diminish workers and ourselves.” 

Coakley advised Catholics to be conscious consumers of the goods they purchase, and to consider the origins of the items and how companies treat their employees. 

He also encouraged Congress and the White House to “reach a deal that prioritizes protecting the poor and vulnerable” as the government has played an “indispensable role” in addressing the various crises. 

The archbishop further noted that the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, which turns 50 this year, has done much to alleviate the effects of the pandemic. 

“The CCHD-supported Rural Community Workers Alliance has helped organize workers in rural Missouri, pressuring employers to take these concerns seriously and advancing the dignity of workers,” he said. “These groups, as well as labor unions and other worker associations, make an invaluable contribution to the safety and wellbeing of workers.”

Catholics, said Coakley, “are each called to practice solidarity with those in harm’s way” in order to preserve worker’s rights and their dignity. He encouraged people to donate to local food banks and Catholic Charities agencies. 

“Pope Francis is fond of citing the 1964 dogmatic constitution, Lumen Gentium, which reminded us that ‘no one can save themselves alone,’” said Coakley.  

“This is true in this life and the next. The fruits of individualism are clear in the disparities brought to light by this crisis. Through our work of solidarity, let us be a counter-witness to individualism.”

Kamala Harris quizzed judicial nominees over Christian adoption and faith values

Thu, 09/03/2020 - 11:10

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 3, 2020 / 09:10 am (CNA).- Vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris questioned a judicial nominee over his affiliation with a Christian adoption agency, and another about briefs he wrote for religious liberty lawsuits against the federal contraception mandate. She also questioned another nominee because he had been endorsed by a Texas pro-life organization.

In December 2018, CNA first reported that, as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Harris had criticized a Catholic judicial nominee for his membership of the Knights of Columbus. Those questions now appear to be for Harris part of a pattern of scrutinizing the association of judicial nominees with various faith-based groups and civic organizations, including Christian adoption agencies and women’s pregnancy support centers. 

In one year alone, Harris questioned prospective judges about abortion, contraception, faith based adoption and fostering, transgender rights, and same sex marriage. 

In August 2018,  Harris questioned Jonathan Allen Kobes, nominee to the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, about his membership of the board of Bethany Christian Services, a global non-profit that provides adoption services and crisis pregnancy support.

In 2012, Kobes was on the board of Bethany’s location in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, according to his nominee questionnaire for the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Harris, in her questions for the record, asked Kobes about Bethany’s Philadelphia location. The city of Philadelphia in 2018 had stopped referring foster children to both Bethany and Catholic Social Services of the archdiocese, due to their faith-based policies of not working with same-sex couples on foster children placement.

Bethany eventually changed its policy and began working with same-sex couples by June 2018, while Catholic Social Services maintained its former position, and has had no new foster care placements with Philadelphia. Its legal battle with the city has reached the Supreme Court, which will hear arguments this fall in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia.

After Bethany Christian resumed its foster care placements with the city of Philadelphia, Harris asked Kobes if he was “aware that Bethany Christian Services discriminated against LGBTQ couples who sought to adopt children?”

Kobes replied that he sat on the board of the Sioux Falls chapter of the organization, and was “aware” of Bethany’s policy.

Harris followed up her initial question by asking the nominee if he contributed to the group’s policy through advice, advocacy, or by drafting it, to which he replied in the negative.

In a Dec. 11, 2018 release after Kobes’ confirmation by the Senate, the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) noted his position on the board and called Bethany Christian “a fake women’s health center in South Dakota.”

In 2018, Harris also questioned three different judicial nominees over their membership in the global Catholic organization Knights of Columbus. She said that the pro-life and pro-marriage views of the Knights conflicted with constitutional rights to abortion and same-sex marriage, and questioned the nominees’ suitability for office.

CNA was first to report her questioning of Brian C. Buescher in Dec., 2018. He was nominated for the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska and eventually confirmed. She asked him if he was “aware” that the Knights of Columbus opposed “a woman’s right to choose” and “marriage equality” when he became a member, and if he agreed with Anderson’s statements on abortion.

In her written questions on May 2, 2018, for the nomination of Peter Phipps as a district court judge, Harris noted his membership in the Knights since 2011 and said the group was “limited only to men.”

“The Knights of Columbus state that they ‘[defend] the right to life of every human being, from the moment of conception to natural death,’” Harris noted, before asking Phipps if, as a member, he “carried out” this mission and would do so on the bench.

“Must you swear an oath in order to join this organization? If so, what is that oath?” Harris asked. “When your group’s organizational values conflict with litigants’ constitutional rights, how can litigants in your court expect a fair hearing?”

Later in November 2018, Harris brought up the Knights’ membership of nominee Paul Matey, who was being considered for the federal Third Circuit appeals court.

She noted that the Knights were a “top contributor” to Proposition 8, the 2008 California ballot initiative to define marriage as between one man and one woman. She asked Matey if he was “aware” of the Knights’ stance on marriage and, in reference to same-sex marriage, asked if he believed “the right to marry carries an implicit guarantee that everyone should be able to exercise that right equally?”

Harris also cited Supreme Knight Carl Anderson’s 2016 statements against abortion as “a legal regime that has resulted in more than 40 million deaths” and which is “the killing of the innocent on a massive scale.” She asked Matey if he was “aware” of that stance and if he agreed with Anderson’s statements.

“Do you believe that a fetus is entitled to any protection under the U.S. Constitution?” Harris asked Matey.

After CNA reported Harris’ questions to Buescher, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said that “such attacks on the basis of our Catholic faith are hardly new. The Knights of Columbus was formed amid a period of anti-Catholic bigotry.”

Harris also grilled nominees over their past statements on sexuality and gender identity. In her questions to Kobes, she brought up a 2017 statement in which he said that the redefinition of marriage was still “brand new” in the U.S. and a “huge shock” to conservatives, and that access to bathrooms by persons of a different biological sex was still a “very difficult” issue for many people.

“What was ‘very difficult’ about allowing transgender students to express their gender identities?” Harris asked Kobes.

In another case, Harris brought up previous legal briefs written by current Ninth Circuit Appeals Court Judge Daniel Collins; he had previously authored briefs in support of the Little Sisters of the Poor and Hobby Lobby in their cases against the HHS birth control mandate. Collins wrote on behalf of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Harris asked Collins if he believed “that improving women’s access to contraception advances equality.”

She focused on not only the writings of nominees, but also endorsements of them by other organizations.

In her written questions submitted on May 29, 2019 regarding district court nominee Jason Pilliam, Harris focused on a 2018 endorsement of Pulliam for the Texas Fourth Court of Appeals by the Texas Leadership Institute for Public Advocacy (TLIPA). The group says it rates candidates for office based upon “‘non-negotiable’ intrinsic moral evils” that include abortion and abortion-inducing drugs, euthanasia, non-traditional marriage, human cloning, and destruction of embryos for research.

“Do you believe that reproductive rights, marriage equality, and the other matters mentioned on TLIPA’s website are ‘moral evils that have plunged our nation into deep moral crisis’?” she asked.

Regarding the nomination of Eric Murphy to the Sixth Circuit federal appeals court, Harris said in her Oct. 17, 2018 written questions that he signed friend-of-the-court briefs in support of states’ decisions to defund Planned Parenthood.

“Did you consider the abortion access of poor women before signing these briefs?” Harris asked.

Catholic students offer support after arson at University of Delaware Jewish center

Thu, 09/03/2020 - 06:00

Denver Newsroom, Sep 3, 2020 / 04:00 am (CNA).- The Chabad Center for Jewish Life in Newark, Delaware was damaged by arson in the late evening hours of Aug. 25. The building, which serves Jewish students of the University of Delaware, was unoccupied at the time, and no one was hurt.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office has ruled the blaze to be arson, adding that the motive of the fire remains under investigation. The assistant state fire marshal initially estimated the damage at some $200,000.

Father Tim McIntire, OSFS, pastor of St. Thomas More Oratory and chaplain at the University of Delaware's Catholic Campus Ministry, told CNA that his church, which is located just across campus from the Chabad Center, took up a second collection at Sunday Mass to raise money for their neighbors.

He said the fire greatly upset many of the Catholic university students who attend the Oratory, who are now eager to help the Chabad Center get back on its feet. The center serves between 100-200 Jewish students regularly.

"It just continues this streak of attacks on our Judeo-Christian heritage; Churches being burned, statues being destroyed and vandalized. I find it really sickening," McIntire commented, referring to the spate of attacks against churches and art across the US in recent months. 

The Oratory reached out to the Chabad Center via email and telephone soon after the fire, McIntire said. Although they haven't yet received a response from the rabbi, he said they plan to send over the check for the Center to use as they see fit in their rebuilding efforts.

McIntire also said he had told the rabbi that they are welcome to use space in the Oratory building, if necessary, until their building is usable.

Chabad is a Hasidic movement of Judaism. The Chabad Center in Newark is not university-owned, but the university’s president offered support to the campus’ Jewish community in an Aug. 26 message.

“Respect for others is a key value at the University of Delaware, and we condemn anyone who would seek to harm any part of our Blue Hen family,” President Dennis Assanis and Vice President for Student Life José-Luis Riera said Aug. 26.

“We stand firmly with our friends in the Jewish community at this difficult time.”

According to another Jewish student organization at the university, there are about 2,250 undergraduate Jewish students at UD, making up about 13% of the undergraduate population. UD has three registered student organizations serving Jewish students.

Several online fundraisers, including a GoFundMe set up by the Students of Chabad UD, have to date raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from more than 8,700 donors across the country to rebuild the Center.

Newark officials confirmed this week that they are investigating several intentional fires set in the city over the past few weeks. These include the fire at the Chabad Center, as well as a townhouse under construction that was set alight, and several trash fires.

Another Chabad Center for Jewish Life, located in Portland, Oregon, was damaged in a fire Aug. 19, but authorities have not declared that fire an arson.

Dealing with grief in a time of coronavirus

Wed, 09/02/2020 - 19:03

Denver Newsroom, Sep 2, 2020 / 05:03 pm (CNA).- In normal times - when there is not a global pandemic - Linda Dyson assists Catholics at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta, Georgia with pastoral care ministries, which are for people who are experiencing some kind of spiritual, emotional, or physical need.

“Which means everything's sad,” Dyson said. “All of the sad ministries fall under me.”

This includes everything surrounding death - pre-funeral planning, day-of funeral coordination, and post-funeral services such as grief classes.

Now, when there is a global pandemic, Dyson is still in charge of pastoral care ministries - but many things have changed. In Atlanta, as in most places throughout the country, the coronavirus pandemic has impacted everything surrounding grief, from families not being able to say goodbye to their dying loved ones due to isolation and quarantine, to small funeral sizes due to limits on crowds, to few supports available after the funeral because of fears of spreading the virus.

“After the March announcement about the virus...the tragic thing is that we were in the middle of two relatively large funeral plans for two people who had just died,” Dyson said.

One person was a prominent artist from the area. Another one was a young man from a university.

“So obviously, two different types of funerals, but at the same time, a lot of people that loved both of those individuals,” she said.

Within a matter of days, due to coronavirus precautions, the families at those funerals went from anticipating “400, maybe even 800 people” to not being allowed to gather more than 10 people in a space.

“The family of the young man went ahead and had a funeral, and there were probably about 10 people there,” Dyson said.

The artist’s family decided to postpone, to see if they could wait to hold the funeral until more people were allowed to gather.

“So, that's really been the flavor of the whole (pandemic) period is either getting along without your closest friends and family, and having to limit the funeral to a much smaller size,” she said, or postponing in hopes that restrictions lift to a point where a larger funeral is allowed.

Neither situation - a limited funeral, or a delayed funeral - is ideal, Dyson said. For families who press on, the funeral experience is very stripped down - no sympathizing with anyone other than immediate family, no luncheon after the funeral to swap stories with friends, no lines of hugs and condolences.

“It's really the family, the remains of the person that they love, and the Eucharist, which in some ways is very lovely, and in some ways it's heart wrenching, all at the same time,” she said.

She added that “2020 probably has to be the worst year for grief.”

“When you think about grief, there is that aspect of wanting to be alone and just to process that grief,” she said, “but a big part of that processing is community. And so when we don't have that community, you don't have the people that you would normally expect to come by and even bring a fresh baked loaf of bread, and they're not coming over to hug you, and there's no touching, and there's no warmth - there's an extra layer of loss.”

Even as some coronavirus restrictions have eased, many still remain in place. Nursing homes and hospitals still maintain strict rules on visitors, meaning that some families may miss the opportunity to say goodbye to a sick and dying loved one. Gatherings in Georgia are now limited to 50 people - still a far cry from the hundreds that used to show up at bigger funerals.

Dr. Julie Masters, a professor of gerontology at the University of Nebraska Omaha, said that pandemic-induced limits on the normal death and grieving processes can make it even harder for people to cope with loss, “especially those who have either a close relationship with the deceased or those who may have had a strained relationship.”

Those with strained relationships with the deceased may have lost opportunities to make amends, Masters said, while those in a close relationship with the deceased “might [have] a feeling of letting the person down by not being present, especially at the end.”

“Grief is itself disorienting,” Masters added. Normally, if someone misses the moment of death of a loved one, they might look to ceremonies such as wakes, rosaries and funerals as a way to process those emotions, as those services “all give some amount of structure to saying goodbye.”

Canceled or restricted ceremonies take away those structures.

“As things are now, even the usual sources of support are lacking,” she said.

Kevin Prendergast is a Catholic clinical counselor who has been practicing for 32 years. He has counseled people who have experienced loss directly from coronavirus as well as other kinds of losses. He has also spoken to clergy who have ministered to those experiencing loss at this time.

Pandemic restrictions can disrupt grief in certain ways, Prendergast said. Being unable to attend the funeral of a loved one may mean that the loss takes even longer to process. There might be feelings of “I can’t believe they’re really gone,” he said.

Prendergast said that loss and grief are already very difficult, and that customs in the United States surrounding death typically do not allow people adequate time and space to process their emotions, when compared to other countries.

“We don't have the same way of approaching death or the same foundation or rituals that other people have,” he said.

For example, he said, he has numerous friends from Africa, including a priest from Ghana whose mother died in early spring.

Due to the pandemic, the priest has not yet been able to travel back to Ghana to mourn his mother, but once he does get back, “there's a whole set of rituals that people go through the month after the person dies, and then at different intervals, and then there's the big one at the first anniversary of the death,” Prendergast said.

People will walk for days and come for miles around to be with the bereaved and offer their support, and feelings of grief are expected to last a long time.

But in the United States, the approach to grief seems to be “all about getting closure. And I think people mean by that, ‘Well, why aren't you, or are you over your mother's death now? It's been a month, you're probably getting back to normal,’” Prendergast said.

“And I think what people just don't realize...is grief just takes time,” he said.

“Grief...comes in waves. At the beginning it's really intense, but then it does subside and get back to some normal. But then all of a sudden, out of the blue, because there's the special date on the calendar, or we see a location or we hear a song, we look at a picture, and it all comes back. And so I think we have to ride through those waves,” he said.

But even in the face of pandemic precautions and limitations, there is much that can still be done by friends, family and the community that can support the bereaved, Masters said.

“It becomes necessary for people to find a way to sort things out in their minds. This is where having good friends who are willing to listen to our stories over and over become key,” she said, or pastoral ministers, deacons and priests who can step in and fill the gaps when friends or family are scarce.

Offering condolences or support “in person may not be possible, but perhaps with a phone call,” she said, adding that older people may prefer simple calls to more complicated technology if they are not well-versed in it. Regular check-ins and sending notes or cards are also important, she said.

“This is key for them - and also for us. We are called to be there for each other,” she said.

“Showing up” for the bereaved continues to be important even months after the loss, Prendergast said. If there is a delayed funeral or memorial service that is safer to attend as restrictions are lifted, show up. When the deceased person’s birthday or anniversary comes, send a note or make a call.

Telling stories about the deceased are also a great comfort to the bereaved, he added.

“Any story: ‘I remember this about your dad’, or ‘Did your dad ever tell you this?’ or ‘Maybe I've never mentioned to you how much your loved one helped me, what they meant to me.’ People treasure those stories. A lot of times that'll happen at the funeral service or afterwards, people will say those kinds of things. And we can't replace that,” he said, but phone calls or letters with those stories go a long way.

Masters added that she has been heartened by the many good people and accommodations being made for those experiencing loss during the pandemic.

“There are so many people who are doing great things that we fail to see. Funeral directors who are conducting services with few people or no one present. Priests whose role in life is to provide us the sacraments but are limited in what they can do. Nursing assistants, nurses, doctors, housekeepers, dietary staff, who are serving in a surrogate role as the last people to be present while someone is dying is also impactful. They need our prayers to sustain them,” she said. “They exemplify Bishop Robert Barron’s quote: ‘Your life is not about you.’”

Dyson said at the cathedral, they’ve tried to make as many accommodations as possible. They live-stream funeral services for families and offer DVD copies, in case anyone missed the live version. They’ve arranged phone-calls and visitations - even if limited, outdoor, distanced ones - when possible. They’ve sent out prayer shawls and cards to grieving families, “just to let people know that we care and we haven't forgotten.”

The parish grief classes were transferred online to Zoom, and then partially in-person and partially online as restrictions lifted. Dyson said that the grief class, which started in April and just wrapped up, went “very, very well.”

“I think the pain and the struggle and the challenges that they went through had an unexpected benefit, in the sense that they all have a deep sense of what grief is, and also a sense of purpose,” she said.

Several people from the class that just wrapped up have offered to minister to other people experiencing grief, Dyson said. Usually it takes people much longer to get to a place where they want to minister to other grieving people, she noted, but this class “really feels committed to paying it forward.”

Masters said for those who have lost someone during the pandemic, establishing reminders of their “continuing bond” with that person is important.

“There is never really closure,” she said. “What it is  - is learning to live without the person in a physical way but realizing they are still part of our lives. Grief researchers talk about continuing bonds. Whether it is memories, stories, photographs or other things that serve as reminders of how the people we have lost are still part of us,” she said.

Prendergast said this is where Christians - and particularly Catholics - are at an advantage.

“We believe in the communion of saints. We believe in the resurrection, we believe in eternal life. And so we can talk to our loved one and we can ask their intercession, we can pray for them if they're in purgatory, or wherever they are. That really matters,” he said.

This can be especially powerful for people who weren’t able to be with their loved one at their death or at their funeral, and who need to ask for forgiveness or make amends in some way, he added.

“I think through the communion of saints and our spiritual belief, there's a way that we can make amends and ask for forgiveness, even after someone's gone,” he said.

Prendergast said he has had some clients write down letters of amends or reconciliation, and take them to the cemetery to read out loud at their loved one’s grave.

“As Catholics, we know that that's a powerful reality, that forgiveness, reconciliation can continue even after death,” he said.

The pandemic and the many ways it has impacted death and grief could be a good wake-up call for people to cherish the time that they have with their loved ones, and to seek reconciliation where it is needed, Prendergast added.

“I don't want to waste time, so let me redouble my efforts with the people that are still living, so as not to have those regrets when they're gone,” he said.

Masters also said that this time of pandemic could be the impetus people need to do some serious thinking and planning when it comes to the end of their life - from advanced care planning (making decisions about healthcare in advance), to getting their relational and spiritual lives in order.

“The focus on physical health is key but what about spiritual health – especially for the person whose life has not always gone as planned?” she said.

“We seem to be viewing things in the short-term rather than the implications of isolation (and similar restrictions), in the long-term. This is also important,” she said.

Ultimately, “God is showing us something important with COVID-19,” Masters noted.

“We are not in control, only he is. The more we can prepare ourselves for the end, the better.”

Church officials evaluating priest who told Catholics to ‘disobey’ bishop on mask wearing

Wed, 09/02/2020 - 17:50

Denver, Colo., Sep 2, 2020 / 03:50 pm (CNA).-  

Both the Archdiocese of Denver and the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter are reviewing the situation of a priest who told Catholics to disobey the orders of Church and civic officials regarding masks at Mass and other religious services.

In a video posted on YouTube Tuesday, Fr. Daniel Nolan told Catholics “do not obey the bishop, do not obey the governor. They cannot tell you to wear a mask. This is a lie. They are lying to all of us.”

“If your bishop tells you, don’t do it. And I encourage everybody not to wear a mask. And I am telling you: disobey your bishop, disobey your governor. That’s what I’m telling you,” Nolan added.

His remarks came at the conclusion of a catechetical session offered at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Littleton, Colorado, which posted the video on YouTube Tuesday, and took it down on Wednesday. 

Asked about the importance of obedience, Nolan told parishioners that “we ought to obey God rather than man. And if the bishop tells you to do something that is contrary to your health, contrary to reason, and contrary to the common good, disobey it. And it’s contrary to the common good to continue to go along with an attempted communist takeover of the United States, which is what’s happening.”

Asked in the video about obedience to local Church authorities, Nolan added: “Disobey them all. At this point they have zero authority. These are cooperating in evil. Which is the suppression of the American people. Suppression of your rights, suppression of your liberties, suppression of common sense. The emperor has no clothes. If you are healthy you have a .006% chance of dying from COVID. The flu has a greater chance of killing you, if you’re healthy. So big time lies. This is not politics anymore, this is morality.” 

Archdiocesan spokesman Mark Haas told CNA Sept. 2 the archdiocese is looking into the matter.

Noting that the YouTube video “was taken down before it could be fully reviewed,” Haas said the archdiocese would “begin the process of determining any appropriate next steps.”

The spokesman added that the archdiocese would begin its review of the situation in conversation with the parish pastor.

Canon law establishes that a person who “provokes subjects to disobey” their ordinary “is to be punished by an interdict or other just penalties.”

Guidelines published by the Archdiocese of Denver June 2 say that Catholics who attend public Masses should wear a mask.

The guidelines do not specify whether they are normative mandates, and they instruct pastors to make “prudent decisions for their parishes after reading through the Archdiocesan guidance and understanding state and local regulations.”

But Haas told CNA that “the Archdiocese of Denver’s guidelines for public Masses instruct all parishioners to wear a mask. All parishes are also expected to follow the varying local and state public health orders.”

The state of Colorado requires until Sept. 14 that masks be worn in “public indoor spaces” by most persons over 10 years old. The state executive order includes exceptions for persons with medical conditions, and for religious officials, including priests, officiating at religious services.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a parish administered by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP).

The FSSP is a society of apostolic life which celebrates the extraordinary form of the Roman rite. It was founded in 1988 by 12 priests of the Society of St. Pius X. The founders left the SSPX to establish the FSSP after the society's leader, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, consecrated four bishops without the permission of St. John Paul II.

Philip Condron, a spokesperson for the FSSP, told CNA that the fraternity “will review this matter according to the Code of Canon Law and its own internal policies.”

“The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter does not endorse comments or support actions to disobey their bishops or governmental authorities. The opinion of Fr. Daniel Nolan was his personal opinion and it does not reflect that of the Fraternity of St. Peter,” Condron clarified by email.

“The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter superiors have instructed their priests to adhere to public health guidelines as issued by local, state and federal authorities, including the requirements of their local ordinaries (bishops),” he added.

Nolan, 44, was ordained a priest of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter in 2014. Before entering the FSSP, he attended the United States Naval Academy and served in the Marine Corps, retiring as a captain in 2006.

There are nearly 300 priests and 150 seminarians in the fraternity. It has parishes and chapels in North America, Europe, Oceania, Nigeria, and Colombia, including the personal parish of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, at which Nolan has been a parochial vicar since 2018.

Parishioners have told CNA that Nolan has been well regarded at the parish, hosting men’s nights for the Knights of Columbus and being attentive to spiritual formation.

Nolan has not yet responded to questions from CNA.

During the video, in which the priest referred to the coronavirus outbreak as a “scamdemic,” Nolan told parishioners to “brace yourselves for a new third priest,” adding that “my next sermon is gonna get me, like, transferred so enjoy me while you can.”

 

 

Catholic Florida man sues university over religious freedom

Wed, 09/02/2020 - 14:30

CNA Staff, Sep 2, 2020 / 12:30 pm (CNA).- The Catholic former head of Florida State University’s student senate is suing the school, saying his religious freedom was violated when he was removed from his position.

Jack Denton, a member of Florida State University’s (FSU) Class of 2021, was ousted from his position as head of the FSU student senate in June when comments he made in a private chat forum for Catholic students were made public. He had claimed that policy positions of BlackLivesMatter.com, the ACLU, and Reclaim the Block contradicted the teachings of the Catholic Church, in a conversation about racial justice.

A change.org petition called his comments “transphobic and racist” and the student senate subsequently voted to remove him as chair. He unsuccessfully appealed to the student supreme court and to university administrators for his reinstatement.

Denton’s lawyer, Tyson Langhofer of Alliance Defending Freedom, said on Tuesday that “Florida State should be fostering real diversity of thought, not punishing individuals based on their religious convictions or political beliefs.”

“While FSU students claim they’re creating a ‘safe space,’ they’ve tried to cancel Jack’s freedoms and discriminate against him because they don’t like his beliefs, in direct violation of the school’s SGA Ethics Code, the Student Body Constitution, and—most importantly—the First Amendment,” Langhofer stated.

Denton’s comments were made in a GroupMe text messaging forum for members of the university’s Catholic Student Union, in a conversation about racial justice and which organizations that students should financially support. He noted that the groups “BlackLivesMatter.com, Reclaim the Block, and the ACLU all advocate for things that are explicitly anti-Catholic.”

Denton said that “BlackLivesMatter.com fosters ‘a queer-affirming network’ and defends transgenderism,” while the ACLU “defends laws protecting abortion facilities and sued states that restrict access to abortion.” 

The group Reclaim the Block, he said, “claims less police will make our communities safer and advocates for cutting PD’s budgets.” The claim “is a little less explicit,” he said, “but I think it’s contrary to the Church’s teaching on the common good.”

He later explained his comments to CNA, saying that “as a devout Catholic and a college student, I felt that it was my responsibility to point out this discrepancy, to make sure that my fellow Catholics knew what they were partaking in.”

One of the students in the forum took a screenshot of Denton’s comments and sent them to a member of the student senate. A student senate motion of no-confidence in Denton failed on June 3, but on June 5 the senate held a vote and removed Denton from office.

Denton’s lawsuit alleges that his free speech was constitutionally-protected by the First Amendment, and that the state university unlawfully retaliated against his speech and committed viewpoint discrimination. He names university administrators and members of the student senate as defendants.

Denton had planned to appeal his case to the university’s Supreme Court, but the student senate “intentionally prevented the Court from hearing his complaint,” his lawsuit states, adding that the university’s leadership also failed to take action and reinstate him.

He is seeking reinstatement to his old position, compensation for the time he would have spent working as student senate chair over the summer, and “the expungement of all records” related to his removal.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ religious freedom committee, cited Denton’s case as an example of a “soft despotism” in the U.S. that is hostile to public Catholicism.

Denton’s “defenses of, basically, Catholic moral teachings,” Wenski said, were “a step too far for many of these new Jacobins we see around.”

After Hurricane Laura, priests' support group responds to a 'brother' in need

Wed, 09/02/2020 - 14:00

New Orleans, La., Sep 2, 2020 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- This report was first published by the Clarion Herald, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. It is reprinted with permission. The archdiocese offers a list of ways to help with recovery after Hurricane Laura.

 

Support groups for priests provide ongoing camaraderie and spiritual nourishment, and now that list of benefits can be expanded to include hurricane relief.

Just days after Hurricane Laura devastated the Diocese of Lake Charles in southwest Louisiana and damaged dozens of churches, eight members of a priests’ support group bolted into action to aid their ninth member – Father Jeffrey Starkovich of St. Pius X Church in Ragley, Louisiana.

On Aug. 31, priests from the Archdiocese of New Orleans and the Dioceses of Houma-Thibodaux, Lafayette and Baton Rouge arrived in Ragley, just north of Lake Charles, driving U-hauls packed with donated water, food, soft drinks, paper goods, diapers, canned goods, ice and gasoline.

The relief help also included hundreds of hot meals – mostly jambalaya and red beans and rice – cooked by the parishioners of Annunciation Parish in Bogalusa, where support group member Father Daniel Brouilette is pastor. Those staples of Cajun cuisine were passed out to more than a thousand cars with drive-thru service.

“It's simply the gift of the priesthood – people being generous to one another,” said Father Starkovich, the spokesman for the Lake Charles Diocese who was ordained in 2011.

“In a very real way, I was moved by the gift of the priesthood, because the priests brought the message to the people, and the people responded. It’s just the beauty of the priesthood.”

Father Jonathan Hemelt, pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in New Orleans, and Father Bryan Howard, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Violet, drove their U-Haul trucks 200 miles to Lake Charles, and Father Colin Braud, pastor of Visitation of Our Lady Parish in Marrero, drove his car in the caravan so they could make their way back to New Orleans.

“I’ve never driven any truck like that before,” Father Howard said, laughing. “It got a little hairy at times."

Father Hemelt said what touched him were his memories of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when he was one of thousands of New Orleanians who needed help.

“I thought about it when I saw that line of people waiting to see all the volunteers,” Father Hemelt said. “Fifteen years ago, I was in one of those lines waiting for supplies. The amazing thing is the people volunteering are the same people who also lost their own stuff. They are unloading trucks, and they are probably in the same position as those coming for help.”

After Laura hit on Aug. 26, the support group members reached out to Father Starkovich and contacted their own parishioners about trying to mount a quick collection campaign. In addition to dropping off supplies, Our Lady of the Rosary parishioners donated about $10,000 in direct financial assistance.
 
The other support group members are Father Daniel Green, pastor of St. Maria Goretti Church in New Orleans; Father Garrett McIntyre of the Lafayette Diocese; Father Todd Lloyd of the Baton Rouge Diocese and Father Andre Melancon of the Houma-Thibodaux Diocese.

Father Hemelt said he hoped Our Lady of the Rosary and St. Maria Goretti parishes could work together on a plan for long-term support of St. Pius X in Ragley.

Despite being stationed hundreds of miles apart over five dioceses, the support group members meet monthly for a meal and fellowship – the venue rotates – and they also try to vacation together annually, Father Hemelt said.

Hurricane Laura destroyed the St. Pius X office building and religion education classrooms, badly damaged the church roof and damaged the roof of the parish hall. But Father Starkovich celebrated the 8:30 a.m. Mass in the church on Sunday, and 65 people showed up.

“What really touched me is the people are so filled with hope and happiness,” Father Starkovich said. “Today everyone was joyful. We were short on volunteers, and we sent out a text message, and 50 volunteers came to the church in 10 minutes. They all left their own homes, which they were working on, to give food and water and supplies to everyone else. We had planned for 12 to 2. Well, it’s 9:30 to 5.”

Because there is no water or power at the parish plant, Father Starkovich is living temporarily with nearly two dozen family members at his parents’ home.

In addition to donations from the respective parishes of each support group members, Our Lady of Prompt Succor Parish in Chalmette and St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Slidell also donated supplies.

“Most of our parishes are talking up collections to help with financial assistance,” Father Hemelt said.

“As one my parishioners told me,” said Father Howard, “after Katrina, we were hit so hard, and help was coming from all over the country. Now it’s our turn to return some of that help and support them.”

Father Starkovich said that message is not lost on Lake Charles Catholics.

“Our diocese helped New Orleans during Katrina, and now receiving that gift in return is a beautiful reality,” he said.

Senators urge FDA to label abortion pill 'imminent threat to public health'

Wed, 09/02/2020 - 13:05

CNA Staff, Sep 2, 2020 / 11:05 am (CNA).- Nearly two dozen senators are urging the Trump administration to remove the abortion pill from the market as advocates for the drug push for its wider availability.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) led a group of 20 Republican senators in signing a letter to the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Stephen Hahn, on Tuesday, asking him to classify mifepristone as an “immanent hazard to the public health.” The classification would bar the pill from being sold in U.S. markets.

Citing “the devastating impact this drug has had on American women and children,” the letter noted that more than 3.7 million unborn children have been killed as a result of the abortion pill, along with 24 maternal deaths and 4,195 cases of “adverse maternal reactions.”

Since it allowed the chemical abortion regimen —a two-drug protocol of mifepristone and misoprostol—in the U.S. in 2000, the FDA has placed it on its “Risk Evaluation Mitigation Strategy (REMS)” list reserved for high-risk drugs and procedures.

The REMS protocol includes certain requirements, among them that the drugs be prescribed in-person and that the prescriber be capable of diagnosing an ectopic pregnancy, as well as arrange for an emergency surgery in case of a complication.

However, during the coronavirus pandemic, abortion advocates have cited a reduction in in-person doctor appointments for elective procedures as a reason for the FDA to allow the pill to be prescribed remotely via telemedicine. A federal judge on July 13 ruled that the REMS requirements should be suspended during the pandemic.

In response, nearly two-dozen pro-life leaders wrote Commissioner Hahn asking him to exercise statutory authority and classify mifepristone as an “imminent threat to public health”; such a decision, under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, would remove the pill from the U.S. market.

Sen. Cruz followed up that effort with his letter on Tuesday, asking the FDA to continue to subject the abortion pill to the REMS requirements.

It is an “open question as to whether women receiving the abortion pill via telemedicine” would receive the necessary preventive or responsive care, the letter said, and could result in “a form of ‘DIY’ chemical abortion” shielded from oversight.

The letter stated that “it is by now nakedly obvious that the abortion industry and its allies in the media, billionaire philanthropic circles, and special interest groups, have wanted an unregulated and demedicalized abortion pill since the moment the FDA first approved it in 2000.”

Cruz was joined by 19 senators including Senate Pro-Life Caucus chair Steve Daines (R-Mont.) as well as Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).

According to Cruz, Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) led more than 70 members of the House in another letter to Commissioner Hahn, asking him to remove the abortion pill from the market.

Pro-life Democrat, 'delisted' by party, runs for TN House as independent

Wed, 09/02/2020 - 06:00

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 2, 2020 / 04:00 am (CNA).- A pro-life Tennessee state representative is running as an independent after was ousted from the Democratic Party for his views on life and marriage. He told CNA that he is not giving up what he sees as a ministry.

In April, Rep. John DeBerry—a Tennessee state legislator since 1994 who represents the Memphis-based 90th district—was removed from the Democratic ballot for the 2020 election by the state party’s executive committee. But, he told CNA on Monday, he does not regret his defense of life.

“My work in Nashville as a legislator is nothing more than an extension of my work as a child of God, as a Christian,” DeBerry told CNA.

“And I take to heart Ephesians chapter 6, ‘We wrestle not against flesh and blood’—people are not the enemy,” he said, but “there are those who make laws that are blasphemous of God’s law.”

“I have always made my focus staying in accordance to the laws of God, even when my votes are made,” said DeBerry, who is also a minister in the Church of Christ.

DeBerry said that after his removal from the ticket by the Democratic Party, he gathered the necessary signatures to be placed on the ballot by the deadline, but that party officials waited until after the deadline to remove him, “until I had no recourse.”

“They said I do not represent the values of the Democratic Party,” he told CNA.

DeBerry supported the state’s fetal heartbeat bill, which would ban abortions after detection of a fetal heartbeat, usually when an unborn baby is around six to eight weeks old. He says he opposes the redefinition of marriage, and supports the “right” and responsibility of parents to educate their children and make choices for them.

He told CNA his views on abortion and marriage are no secret, as he campaigned on them decades ago.

“So for them to say that folks don’t know where I stand, they actually said that the people in my district don’t have sense enough to elect their representative,” he said of his removal.

In addition to his pro-life stance, DeBerry also broke with his party in support of school vouchers and voted for a Republican for House Speaker, according to the Tennessean, and has been accused of taking money from political action committees that are seen to align with Republicans. 

In addition to DeBerry's pro-life position, he is also a life-long civil rights activist.

As a child, he attended civil rights marches with his father. In a passionate speech on the Tennessee House Floor in August, during the second extraordinary session of the state’s general assembly, DeBerry contrasted the peaceful nature of the protests he witnessed and participated in as a youth with riots in U.S. cities in the last few months.

“I am one of those individuals who walked in back doors because the law said I had to,” he said in his speech Aug. 12, while recalling the bravery and dignity of the civil rights movement.

“I saw men and women stand with courage and integrity and class, and they changed the world,” he said. “They marched peacefully, and Dr. King stood for that which was peaceful.”

“They didn’t beg for anything. They didn’t beg for citizenship--they demanded it,” he said. “They did it by standing like men and women of integrity.”

In the wake of civil unrest in many U.S. cities, DeBerry condemned what he called defenses of rioting, looting, and violence in the name of anti-racism during his August speech. 

“You’re telling me that somebody has the right to throw feces and urine in the faces of those that we as taxpayers pay to protect us? And that’s okay?” he asked. “What has happened to us?!”

DeBerry says he is running as an independent in the November election. Although the deadline to do so had already passed by when he was removed from the Democratic ticket, fellow legislators passed a measure to allow him to be listed on ballots as a political independent and not have to resort to a write-in campaign.

He was one of more than 100 Democrats at the federal, state, and local levels who recently asked the platform committee of the Democratic National Convention to moderate the abortion language in the party’s platform.

The 2020 draft platform of the party calls for taxpayer-funded abortion and restoring federal funding of Planned Parenthood.

Although Trump promised to defund Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, Congress failed to pass legislation doing so. Planned Parenthood did voluntarily withdraw from the federal Title X family planning program after the Trump administration tightened regulations that barred recipients from referring for abortions or being co-located with abortion clinics.

In their August 14 letter, DeBerry and other Democratic officials said the party’s support for late-term abortion will “push many voters into the arms of the Republican Party.” 

All 2020 Democratic presidential candidates supported taxpayer-funded abortion. Several candidates said that women should be able to choose abortion up until the point of birth, and that there was not room in the party for pro-lifers.

DeBerry said that the leadership in the Democratic Party is excluding pro-lifers to the party’s detriment.

“It’s a shame that they have handed all the moral, spiritual, social, and conservative issues on a silver platter over to the Republicans and said we don’t want to have nothing to do with them,” he told CNA.

“How are you enlarging the tent when you’re throwing people out when they don’t walk the chalk line? When they don’t do exactly as they’re told?” DeBerry told CNA. “And that’s where the Democrats are right now.”

“I think that the candidate at the top of the ticket who said if you don’t vote Democrat, then you’re not Black—I think that goes to the heart of the issue,” he said.

In May, Joe Biden told the radio show The Breakfast Club that “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump then you ain’t black.” Biden later said of his remarks that he “shouldn’t have been such a wise guy.”

Mass return: Wisconsin dioceses lift Sunday dispensation

Tue, 09/01/2020 - 15:30

CNA Staff, Sep 1, 2020 / 01:30 pm (CNA).- From this weekend, Catholics living in Wisconsin will once again be required to go to Mass on Sunday, provided they are healthy and not at risk for coronavirus. 

“With new measures now firmly in place to promote and preserve the safety of those attending public Mass, it is with elation that the bishops of Wisconsin have announced plans to end the dispensation from the Sunday Mass obligation in September 2020,” said a statement from the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, released August 31. 

The Wisconsin Catholic Conference speaks on behalf of the 10 current and retired bishops, auxiliary bishops, and archbishops of the state’s five Catholic dioceses. 

The bishops noted that “in recent months, dioceses and parishes throughout the state have been able to resume public worship by adhering to strict safety standards and by restricting access to services for those who are symptomatic, sick, or at risk of serious illness,” yet there was still no obligation in place to actually go to Mass. 

Despite the restored obligation, not everyone will be required to go to Mass, and who is still exempt from the obligation will be up to the individual dioceses. The dioceses will separately announce when they have lifted the dispensation, said the release, and the dioceses will clarify in these proclamations who is not required to attend Mass. 

“As pastors, the bishops of Wisconsin encourage all who are healthy to seek the healing presence of Christ the Bread of Life through a return to Mass,” said the statement.

The Sunday obligation has been dispensed throughout Wisconsin, as has been in most states, since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March. 

While most areas have resumed some form of public worship in recent months, only the Diocese of Sioux Falls in South Dakota had, so far, lifted the dispensation and is requiring healthy Catholics to attend Mass. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor.” 

Failure to do so, without a “serious reason,” is considered to be a mortal sin.

Trump campaign adds 'unborn life' to second term priorities list

Tue, 09/01/2020 - 13:00

CNA Staff, Sep 1, 2020 / 11:00 am (CNA).-  

The Trump campaign has added bullet points concerning abortion and religious freedom to its list of second-term priorities, along with points regarding the nomination of federal judges and the Second Amendment.

The points, listed under the heading “Defend American Values,” were not originally part of Trump’s 50-point “core priorities” list, which was published by the campaign Aug. 23. They are believed to have been added over the weekend.

 

TRUMP AGENDA: Trump Campaign releases set of core priorities and goals for president’s potential second term.

Campaign says Trump will further discuss these plans during his acceptance speech at RNC Convention on Thursday and over coming weeks while on the campaign trail. pic.twitter.com/aGh4ax05m8

— Mark Cavitt (@MarkCavitt) August 24, 2020  

The priorities added to the list are: “Continue nominating constitutionalist Supreme Court and lower court judges,” “Protect unborn life through every means available,” “Defend the freedoms of religious believers and organizations,” “Support the exercise of Second Amendment rights.”

The president initially faced pushback from some Catholics for omitting mention of abortion and religious liberty from the original list.

Of the original list, pro-life advocate Lila Rose asked on Twitter, “why isn’t a single one the protection of preborn children or stopping the abortion industry from killing 2300 innocent children every day?”

 

Out of @TeamTrump’s 50 “core priorities and goals” why isn’t a single one the protection of preborn children or stopping the abortion industry from killing 2300 innocent children every day? https://t.co/QHxSMjfaec

— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) August 24, 2020  

“President Trump can defund Planned Parenthood by executive order. It’s past time to stop pouring millions of taxpayer dollars into a corporation that slaughters 900 children each day. Defund these atrocities,” Rose added.

 

President Trump can defund Planned Parenthood by executive order. It’s past time to stop pouring millions of taxpayer dollars into a corporation that slaughters 900 children each day. Defund these atrocities!#DefundPlannedParenthood @realDonaldTrump

— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) August 26, 2020  

At the Republican National Convention, several speakers emphasized Trump’s opposition to abortion, including Sr. Dede Byrne, a surgeon and retired Army colonel, who called Trump the “most pro-life president” in U.S. history.

In other contexts, Trump has himself said that he would work to end legal protection for abortion. The president has put a moratorium on federal funding for international aid groups that provide abortions, and pushed back on UN abortion advocacy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump has also called for an end to federal funding for Planned Parenthood, but while the administration has made some moves in that regard, the abortion provider remains the recipient of roughly $500 million annually in Medicaid reimbursement.

Trump’s Democratic opponent in the presidential race, Joe Biden, has pledged to enshrine abortion protections in federal law, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated this week that Congress will end a decades long moratorium on federal funding for abortion if her party retains control of the House of Representatives.

In response to questions from CNA regarding the additional points added to its second term agenda and their original omission, a campaign spokesperson told CNA that Trump “will continue to lay out his second term agenda over the coming weeks, and will be sharing additional details about his plans through policy-focused speeches on the campaign trail.”

 

Ed note: This report has been updated with a response from the Trump campaign.

 

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