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Black leaders blast 'systemic racism' of abortion in letter to Planned Parenthood

Tue, 09/01/2020 - 12:15

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 1, 2020 / 10:15 am (CNA).- A coalition of Black leaders is calling out Planned Parenthood for “targeting” Black communities for abortions while professing to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

In a letter to Planned Parenthood’s acting president Alexis McGill-Johnson on Tuesday, more than 100 Black elected officials, pastors, and attorneys demanded that she “confront the systemic racism of America’s abortion practices” and renounce the organization’s founder Margaret Sanger for racist writings.

“This effort demonstrates the outrage among the Black community that we have been strategically and consistently targeted by the abortion industry ever since the practice was legalized almost 50 years ago,” said Human Coalition Action executive director Rev. Dean Nelson, whose organization coordinated the letter.

The letter noted that 36% of abortions in the U.S. are performed on Black women, who represent only 13% of the country’s female population.

“Black women are five times more likely than white women to receive an abortion,” the letter stated. “In some cities, like New York, more Black children are aborted every year than are born alive.”

“This is no accident,” the letter stated, noting that “79 percent of Planned Parenthood’s surgical abortion facilities are located in or near communities of color.”

Several Black state legislators signed the letter, including Louisiana State Sen. Katrina Jackson (D), Texas State Rep. James White (R), and Georgia State Rep. Mack Jackson (D); Indiana’s attorney general Curtis Hill (R) also signed.

Pro-life activists Benjamin Watson and Alveda King signed the letter, along with political strategist Justin Giboney.

Sanger’s legacy has resurfaced amid national protests against racism, and debates over the racial beliefs of American historical figures.

Employees at Planned Parenthood’s New York affiliate in June demanded the removal of CEO Laura McQuade for allegedly ignoring complaints of “systemic racism” within the state organization. McDade eventually left her position.

“Planned Parenthood was founded by a racist, white woman,” the “Save PPGNY” petition for McQuade’s removal stated.

In July, Planned Parenthood of Greater New York announced that its Manhattan facility would no longer bear Sanger’s name, due to her documented support for eugenics. The affiliate’s chair of the board said the act was meant to “acknowledge Planned Parenthood’s contributions to historical reproductive harm within communities of color.”

Sanger did address certain racist organizations, including the Ku Klux Klan, while she promoted birth control.

She also once said that “before eugenicists and others who are laboring for racial betterment can succeed, they must first clear the way for birth control.” She added that eugenicists and birth control advocates are “seeking to assist the race toward the elimination of the unfit.”

Buzzfeed also recently interviewed more than two dozen employees of Planned Parenthood affiliates and the National Abortion Rights Action League. According to the report, employees of color often felt stuck in lower-level positions and claimed they were boxed out of leadership positions at the organizations.

On Tuesday, the Black leaders wrote to Johnson that “[w]hile Planned Parenthood of Greater New York has disavowed Sanger’s eugenic views, Planned Parenthood National has remained silent.”

“Margaret Sanger wanted to use abortion and contraception to cull minority populations,” the letter stated. “Ms. Johnson, your words about Black Lives Matter ring hollow while your organization perpetuates this racist legacy.”

Biden cites JPII in speech, despite continued abortion support

Tue, 09/01/2020 - 12:00

CNA Staff, Sep 1, 2020 / 10:00 am (CNA).- Former vice president Joe Biden invoked Pope St. John Paul II during a campaign speech on Monday. The Democratic nominee cited the former pope in an address in Pittsburgh, in which he urged voters to embrace hope in the face of civil unrest, but drew criticism from some Catholics for his continued support for expanded abortion access.

“The campaign for the presidency has come down to fear,” said Biden during an appearance in Pittsburgh on Monday, August 31. “But I believe Americans are stronger than that. I believe we’ll be guided by the words of Pope John Paul II, words drawn from the scriptures: ‘Be not afraid. Be not afraid.'” 

“Fear never builds the future,” said Biden. “Hope does. And building the future is what America does.” 

Biden, who has met with successive popes during his political career, has made his Catholic faith a frequent feature during his campaign for the presidency. During the Democratic National Convention, speakers repeatedly praised Biden for his deep devotion to his religious beliefs, and the former vice president offered anecdotes about being educated by nuns as a child. 

Despite this, Biden is running on a platform that would legalize the taxpayer funding of abortions up until birth, has pedged to codify a right to abortion in federal law, and also committed to revoking conscience and religious liberty protections for religous orders concerning the HHS contraceptive mandate.

His choice Monday to reference St. John Paul II came despite the pope’s vocal opposition to pro-choice politicians during his reign. 

In the encyclical Evangelium Vitae, the late pope wrote “Laws which legitimize the direct killing of innocent human beings through abortion or euthanasia are in complete opposition to the inviolable right to life proper to every individual; they thus deny the equality of everyone before the law,” and “In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to 'take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law or vote for it.’” 

Under St. John Paul II,  then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger issued a letter in 2004 to then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of the Archdiocese of Washington, specifically outlining the policy positions that would render a Catholic politician ineligible for Communion. 

“Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist,” wrote the future Pope Benedict XVI.

 If the politician remains in “obstinate persistence” in attempting to receive communion despite abortion advocacy, they are to be denied communion, said Ratzinger. 

Biden’s website currently states that “ Biden will work to codify Roe v. Wade, and his  Justice Department will do everything in its power to stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate Roe v. Wade.” 

Biden’s Pittsburgh speech drew criticism from some Catholics, who noted his stated policy positions which contradict both Church teaching and the writing of St. John Paul II.

National Review’s Kathryn Jean Lopez urged Biden to “spare us” the references to the pope until he was willing to accept the “Gospel of life” in a column published on Monday. 

“I grieve when I hear Joe Biden talk this way because he should know better,” said Lopez. “Don’t use the Catholic faith to push the abortion agenda that is rotten to the core and part of the reason we are where we are today, so miserable and violent and often making no natural sense,” she said. 

“Abortion is the opposite of health care, the opposite of love, the opposite of life.” 

Marjorie Dannfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, chair of Pro-Life Voices for Trump and a member of Catholics for Trump, said in a statement on Monday 

“Joe Biden may try to appeal to religious Americans, especially Catholics, by quoting scripture and St. John Paul II,” she said.  “But this does nothing to change the fact that his extreme pro-abortion policy positions are deeply offensive to Americans of faith and conscience.” 

“Claiming to be a devout Catholic while supporting radical, deeply unpopular policies is disingenuous. Pro-life Americans of all faiths will not be fooled.”

Podcasts, new LGBT ministry win big at Catholic entrepreneurship competition 

Tue, 09/01/2020 - 05:00

Denver Newsroom, Sep 1, 2020 / 03:00 am (CNA).-  

Several Catholic entrepreneurs this week were awarded $100,000 each as investment in project ideas “that will make a profound impact on the Church and the world.”

The OSV Institute’s annual Demo Day, whereby Catholic entrepreneurs pitch ideas for a chance to earn a significant investment, was held virtually last weekend with some 400 attendees.

Over the past year, some 350 Catholic entrepreneurs submitted their ideas for consideration. By May, the judges had narrowed it down to 12 finalists, who presented their pitches to judges Aug. 29 via Zoom.

The three winning ideas— each of which earned a $100,000 investment— include a Spanish-language podcast network; an initiative to help parents teach the Catholic faith at home; and an organization designed to reach and minister to young adults experiencing same-sex attraction. 

CNA spoke with the winners to ask about the genesis of their ideas, and how they expect the prize money will impact their initiatives.

Eden Invitation

Eden Invitation is a relatively new ministry in the Catholic Church that seeks to provide community, accompaniment and resources for people who experience same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria and who want to unashamedly follow Christ and Catholic Church teaching.

Shannon Ochoa, co-founder of Eden Invitation, told CNA that the ecumenical movement currently has chapters, called “hubs,” in three cities in the Midwest. The hubs lead retreats and online small groups to help build community, she said.

With the help of the OSV grant, they hope to expand to at least seven additional cities soon.

The idea that they pitched to OSV is called "Hearth and Porch," Ochoa said.

The "Hearth" portion involves forming the city-based hubs for young adults to join, where they can pray together and support each other.

The "Porch" portion consists of a testimonial campaign from Catholics who experience same-sex attraction— ideally to be released during June, aka "Pride Month," 2021.

Both Ochoa and Anna Carter, Eden Invitation’s other co-founder, experience same-sex attraction and credit their strong faith backgrounds with providing them the framework and the love for God necessary to stay and thrive in the Catholic Church.

Ochoa said one thing that makes Eden Invitation new and different is the attention they pay to the secular LGBT community, seeking to imitate that movement's sense of radical community and joyful witness— but in service of the Church's teaching, rather than LGBT ideology.

"It's a fresh take in the Church," she said.

Often times when the conversation comes up in the Church, people with same-sex attraction may feel "on the receiving end of ministry" rather than a part of a community, she said.

Ochoa said their ministry wants to encourage Catholics and Christians to be unashamed to talk about their experience of same-sex attraction, and also to be unafraid to proclaim Christ and the Church's teaching related to same-sex attraction.

Ochoa said the outpouring of excitement and support after their project won the OSV prize was very encouraging for them.

"The whole community was really moved. It's really more than $100,'s people's lives changed, it's hearts knowing that they have a space in the Church, and recognition that we're loved in God's eyes," she said.

Juan Diego Network

José Manuel De Urquidi, founder and CEO of JDN, told CNA the project's goal is to "evangelize, inform, and entertain Latinos"— both in Latin America and in the USA— with high-quality, engaging podcast content.

In the Latino world, De Urquidi said, people tend to be culturally Catholic, but not well-formed in the faith.

In addition, he said, Latinos are consuming more and more podcasts, and the quality of Latino Catholic podcasts is generally not very high.

"It seems that the New Evangelization has not been reaching Latinos. So that's the idea," De Urquidi told CNA.

De Urquidi said he strayed briefly from the faith intellectually as a teen, and later went to law school, worked in the financial world for a time, and even started a craft brewery. He later earned a Master's degree in Mass Communications, and started a podcast, which grew into the Juan Diego Network.

De Urquidi has been growing JDN for the last year. He said one of the goals is to help Latino Catholic speakers, authors, and influencers start and maintain their own podcasts, at no cost to them.

With the grant he won at the competition, De Urquidi hopes to expand JDN's podcast offerings with new, highly produced podcasts and through more partnerships with Latino leaders. They also plan to host virtual summits to foster community among Latino Catholics, he said.

"The New Evangelization will get to Latino millennials and Gen Z, we are sure of it, and we are just a small part of it," he said.

Catholic Sprouts

Bill and Nancy Bandzuch's two-year old company began with a daily podcast for kids, Catholic Sprouts, which features story-based lessons designed to teach the Catholic faith.

The niche that their project fills, Nancy said, is a need for a systematic program for parents on how to be the primary faith formators for children.

Nancy launched Catholic Sprouts as a side project a few years ago, while working as a stay-at-home mom to their five children.

Today, they have a "small army" of contractors helping with the project, and Nancy says the prize money will certainly help with being able to hire more help for the project.

Bill and Nancy entered the OSV challenge with the hopes of getting support for the podcast and the written materials they are already producing. Now that they've won the OSV grant, Nancy said their goals are to create an app where their podcast will be available, as well as discussion questions for families after they listen together.

They are also hoping that the grant will help to accelerate Bill's transition from his current job to working on Catholic Sprouts full-time.

Nancy said parents have contacted them saying that listening to the Catholic Sprouts podcast with their kids was actually filling in gaps in their own Catholic formation, and was fostering deep and engaging discussions about the faith around their dinner tables.

The content is meant to spark conversation, which Bill says is an important factor in ensuring children remain within the Catholic faith as they grow up.

"If you're going to have a ministry for kids, in reality you're going to have a ministry for parents," Nancy Bandzuch told CNA.


USCCB November meeting will be virtual, bishops announce

Mon, 08/31/2020 - 22:00

CNA Staff, Aug 31, 2020 / 08:00 pm (CNA).- The U.S. bishops’ conference will conduct its November general assembly virtually, the bishops announced Friday, in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The bishops’ conference had cancelled entirely its June meeting in light of the pandemic.

“In a vote of 219 to 5 (1 abstaining), the bishops decided to meet in a virtual format rather than the usual in person meeting. The agenda will be finalized by the Administrative Committee of the USCCB, set to meet in mid-September,” the conference said in an Aug. 28 press release.

The bishops’ conference consulted with the Holy See before putting the idea of a virtual meeting to a vote. The ballot told bishops that the administrative committee of the conference had decided to cancel the upcoming in-person meeting, and asked bishops whether they approved holding a virtual meeting in its place. The bishops were also asked how long they would like the meeting to last, bishops overwhelmingly chose an abbreviated session taking place over two days.

At the virtual session, bishops are expected to vote on a successor to outgoing general secretary of the conference, Msgr. Brian Bransfield, and to elect several committee chairmen. The bishops will also vote on a final version of their 2021-2024 strategic plan, and vote on a 2021-2022 budget proposal.

Philosophy professor details Fr Rosica's plagiarism while ghostwriting for cardinal

Mon, 08/31/2020 - 20:01

CNA Staff, Aug 31, 2020 / 06:01 pm (CNA).- One chapter of a recently published book on academic plagiarism discusses at length the plagiarism committed by Fr. Thomas Rosica, including in pieces he ghostwrote for Cardinal Marc Ouellet.

Fr. Rosica resigned as CEO of the Salt and Light Media Foundation in June 2019, four months after reports emerged that he had plagiarized sections of texts in lectures, op-eds, scholarly articles, and other writings.

In a chapter of Disguised Academic Plagiarism, published in July, Dr. M. V. Dougherty argued that Fr. Rosica (identified as R. in the text) was the ghostwriter for several plagiaristic texts of Cardinal Ouellet, the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, while he was Archbishop of Quebec.

“The apparent devotion to same very narrow subset of source texts in the plagiarizing works of R. and Ouellet’s ghostwriter is only because R. publishes some of his compilations under his own name and offers some of his other compilations to prelates,” Dougherty, who holds the Sr. Ruth Caspar Chair in Philosophy at Ohio Dominican University, wrote in the “Magisterial Plagiarism” chapter of his recent book.

“Considering the evidence known thus far, it is [simple] to assume that the ghostwriter for Cardinal Ouellet is none other than R.,” he concluded.

In an Aug. 27 article, the National Post reported that Fr. Rosica acknowledged via email “that he prepared the texts for three examples of Cardinal Ouellet’s published writing that a new academic investigation shows to be largely plagiarized from many sources.”

Dougherty treated plagiarism in magisterial texts because, he wrote, “these plagiarizing magisterial texts negatively influence the practice of Catholic theology.” He also discussed the plagiaristic use of magisterial texts in theological works, for when “readers of those plagiarizing theological texts encounter magisterial documents stripped of their magisterial endorsement, and this privation impedes a proper assessment of their quality.”

He began by demonstrating the plagiarism in a homily delivered by Cardinal William Levada, then-prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in 2007.

Dougherty found that in preparing that homily, the unidentified ghostwriter for Cardinal Levada “incorporate[d] lengthy sections” of a theological article by Fr. Jeremy Driscoll first published in 2000.

The homily delivered by Cardinal Levada uses text from Fr. Driscoll, but predicating of ‘sound theology’ what was predicated of ‘good preaching’ in the source text.

“Since the key terms preaching and theology do not have coextensive meanings in the discipline of theology, one must ask whether the ghostwriter’s plagiarizing construction is still intelligible,” Dougherty reflected. “If one answers in the affirmative, one renders oneself vulnerable to the ex hypothesi objection that theology must lack the rigor found in other disciplines if a coherent contribution can be made by taking an article and simply substituting one discrete technical term from the discipline for another. Both the source article and the plagiarizing article contain systematic, biblical, and historical claims, and it is difficult to conceive how these claims could remain reliable when migrating to different contexts.”

Dougherty then turned to Cardinal Ouellet’s ghostwriter, who turns out to have been Fr. Rosica.

The philosophy professor demonstrated that in preparing a speech delivered by Cardinal Ouellet in April 2007, Fr. Rosica “misappropriated passages without attribution from a wide range of works to produce a fraudulent amalgam for the cardinal’s address.”

Chief among these was the plagiazired text delivered by Cardinal Levada, Dougherty noted, so that “one finds herein the remarkably complex phenomenon of a plagiarist plagiarizing a plagiarizing text produced by a different plagiarist.”

Again, the same texts are predicated of differing subjects, which Dougherty said calls “into question the intelligibility of the texts manufactured by the two plagiarizing ghostwriters. Have they each produced coherent works of Catholic teaching, or are the plagiarizing documents simply theological word-salads?”

The professor also noted that sources plagiarized by Fr. Rosica in preparing Ouellet’s April 2007 speech include a 2005 conference paper by Igor Kowalewski and an English translation of a book by Fr. Edward Schillebeeckx, some of whose writings were investigated, though not condemned, by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Dougherty noted that “it is notable that some of [Schillebeeckx’] words here are acquiring a magisterial quality via their promulgation by Cardinal Ouellet. Readers of Ouellet 2007 are certainly unlikely to suspect that they are encountering the work of Schillebeeckx.”

The professor also discussed a 2007 speech, and a 2008 homily, both delivered by Cardinal Ouellet and plagiaristically ghostwritten by Fr. Rosica.

He then turned to the theological writings of Fr. Rosica, many of which “were revealed to be plagiarizing compilations of the works of others.”

The priest’s plagiarism was first reported by LifeSiteNews in February 2019.

Dougherty noted that Origins, a documentary periodical published by Catholic News Service, “published eight of the plagiarizing articles by R. in the period of 2009–2017” and also “issued the three plagiarizing articles by Cardinals Levada and Ouellet”.

“In light of these 11 defective articles published under the names of ‘R.,’ ‘Levada,’ and ‘Ouellet,’ one is tempted to conclude that Origins has been established as significant gateway for the proliferation of plagiarizing content in the discipline of Catholic theology in recent years,” Dougherty wrote.

Fr. Rosica has apologized for his plagiaristic acts.

He is reported to have misrepresented his academic credentials, claiming falsely in his official biography to have earned an advanced degree from École Biblique et Archéologique Française de Jérusalem.

Fr. Rosica now serves as a chaplain to a home for retired religious.

Previously he had served as a Vatican press aide and a university president, and he was a central figure in the planning of World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto.

Catholic Charities supports victims of Hurricane Laura

Mon, 08/31/2020 - 19:34

Denver Newsroom, Aug 31, 2020 / 05:34 pm (CNA).- After Hurricane Laura struck states along the Gulf of Mexico last week, Catholic Charities and other groups have provided aid to victims, some of whom have been displaced or are still without utilities.

With winds of 150 mph, the category 4 hurricane made landfall near Cameron, Louisiana, on the early morning of Aug. 27. As measured by maximum sustained winds, it is one of the strongest hurricanes to hit Louisiana in recorded history.

In the United States alone, the storm has killed 22 people: 14 in Louisiana, one in Florida, and seven in Texas. A large portion of deaths was attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning due to unsafe generators, CBS News reported.

As of Aug. 30, 900,000 people were still without power and 220,000 were without running water. Karen Clark & Company’s industry estimated that the hurricane’s damages have caused $8.7 billion of insured losses in the U.S.

Hurricane Laura has also caused severe damages to parishes and church buildings in the Diocese of Lake Charles. According to the diocese, nearly one-third of priests in active ministry have been displaced and all the homes for the Daughters Mary Mother of Mercy are uninhabitable. Additionally, only one of the six Catholic schools can open next week, and the chancery is closed because of extensive roof damage.

“The city is a disaster,” said Bishop Glen Provost of Lake Charles. “No house, no business is left untouched. The Chancery will be unusable in the foreseeable future. We have 39 (church) parishes and seven missions. All suffered some damage.”

“St. Louis Catholic High School is severely damaged,” the bishop added. “Father (Nathan) Long, rector of the school, reported that the roof on the administration building is, for the most part, blown off. Windows in various classrooms are blown in, and there is roof damage at the gym.”

Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana opened shortly after the hurricane struck and has been receiving donations and supplies to provide to the victims. Sister Miriam Maclean, director of Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana, has encouraged donations to be sent to the dioceses of New Orleans and Lafayette because of the Catholic Charities’ small storage space.

“We are here, we are open and we are trying to meet the needs of the community,” said Sister Miriam.

“The Lord preserved Catholic Charities from any major damage for sure so that we can be up and operational,” she continued. “We have a little bit of leakage in the roof, and a couple of roll-up doors got a little damage, but we are blessed. We have a generator, and the Religious Sisters of Mercy are running the office.”

Sister Marjorie Hebert, president of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans, told CNA that other dioceses across the state would also be providing services including her own. She said that as the hurricane struck on the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, she has been able to share her experience with other dioceses.

“Part of what my staff and I have been about is being in contact with the other Catholic Charities in the rest of the state and the other dioceses of Louisiana ... We have been in contact with some of those directors and are doing assessment [to] see how we might further assist them.”

“My counterpart in the Lake Charles diocese, I know exactly what she's dealing with the darkness of no electricity, no potable water, all of those. So at least I’ve been there, and I can say, ‘I know what you're going through,’” she added.

“Just [a] short 15 years ago, we New Orleanians we're on the receiving end, and now it's our time to give back and to further assist.”

As New Orleans has received thousands of evacuees, she said their community has also provided help by offering basic necessities and counseling services to help comfort those who have been displaced. She said some of the people were able to evacuate with some supplies while others were rescued and brought over with almost nothing.

“Our immediate efforts are to reach out. As a Catholic Charities agency in New Orleans, we are working very closely with the city to coordinate efforts of responding to the needs of the evacuees in the community.”

“We have been in contact with our churches and parishes and civil authorities just to see if there are some basic needs of some areas near the coastline that they may have gotten some floodwaters. We are working with the calls that are coming into our agency as well as referrals coming to us from the city and state officials locally.”

Among other Catholic initiatives in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, several parishes and charity groups have launched donation drives to bring in water, nonperishable food items, cleaning supplies, hygiene products, and baby supplies.

Bishop Provost expressed his gratitude for all the contributions and prayers.

“We appreciate everyone’s prayers,” he said. “Bishops in other dioceses have sent word of assistance to us, so we appreciate the fellowship of the other Catholic dioceses throughout the nation. I have heard from bishops on the East and West coasts, and especially in Texas and Louisiana.”

San Francisco archbishop calls on mayor to end 'excessive limits' on outdoor Mass

Mon, 08/31/2020 - 17:30

CNA Staff, Aug 31, 2020 / 03:30 pm (CNA).-  

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

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

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

Cordileone called the city’s restrictions on outdoor Masses “a serious deprivation of our rights as Americans under the First Amendment and our spiritual needs as people of faith.”

“San Francisco is the only government in the entire Bay Area that restricts public gatherings to 12 people out of doors. Ours and others’ faith is being treated as less important than a trip to the
hardware store, or a nice dinner out on the patio,” Cordileone stated.

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

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

By following public health guidelines, these Masses have largely avoided viral spread. The doctors said in their article that there is no evidence that church services are higher risk than similar activities when guidelines are followed.

“One million public Masses without any [COVID-19] outbreaks demonstrates that it is just as safe in San Francisco as in other parts of the state, such as San Mateo County, to permit large gatherings for outdoor public worship with reasonable safety precautions,” Cordileone commented.

Some parishes in San Francisco, including the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, have been holding simultaneous outdoor Masses in order to adapt to the 12-person limit.

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

The archdiocese told CNA in July that it had made a good-faith effort to comply with the city’s public health guidelines, despite some occasional confusion and last-minute changes to the city’s public health orders.

“Our intention has always been to conform to what we understand to be the City orders and timelines,” the archdiocese said July 2, noting that the city’s orders have been changing throughout the pandemic, sometimes on short notice.

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

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

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

Cordileone has pointed out that the city has allowed retail stores to operate at 50% capacity during the same time period that Christians are prohibited from gathering in their churches, even with masks and social distancing in place.

San Francisco has seen numerous street protests in recent months, including one in late June that resulted in the destruction of a statue of St. Junípero Serra by a crowd of about 100 people.

“With regard to outdoor services, you are all well aware that pre-planned and scheduled street protests have been allowed to continue unhindered, while the limit of no more than 12 people still applies to everyone else, including us,” he continued.

“Yet here again, an outdoor worship service is a much safer event than a protest, since the people are stationary, social distance is respected, and the participants are wearing masks.”

The Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship, which provides liturgical resources in the archdiocese, shared a petition Aug. 31 in support of Cordileone’s statement calling for the lifting of restrictions on the Mass.


In letter to UN, US 'categorically rejects' right to abortion

Mon, 08/31/2020 - 15:00

CNA Staff, Aug 31, 2020 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- The United States sent a strongly-worded letter to several UN committees in early August rejecting any implication that there is a right to abortion as “bizarre.” 

The letter was sent on August 11, 2020, to several United Nations offices including: the Working Group on Discrimination Against Women and Girls; the Special Rapporteur on the Right of Everyone to the Enjoyment of the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health; and the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Its Causes and Consequences. It was published online on Aug. 25. 

The letter was issued by the United States Mission to the United Nations in Geneva. Andrew Bremberg is the U.S. Ambassador to the Office of the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva.

“We received your bizarre and inexplicable letter of May 22, 2020, regarding alleged undue ‘restrictions taken in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic impeding access to abortion services’ in the United States,” said Bremberg, referring to criticism the United States received after some states moved to restrict non-essential medical procedures to stop the spread of the coronavirus. 

“As United Nations human rights mandate holders, you are undoubtedly aware that international human rights law does not recognize any ‘right to abortion,’” he wrote. 

“The United States is disappointed by and categorically rejects this transparent attempt to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to assert the existence of such a right. This is a perversion of the human rights system and the founding principles of the United Nations,” said the ambassador. 

The letter noted that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated in a June 1 letter to the United States Agency for International Development that “the United Nations does not intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State. Thus, health care is provided with full respect to national laws. It does not promote, much less impose, abortion on anyone, nor is it intended to do so.”

The United States is “particularly disappointed that you have chosen to waste the limited time and resources of your mandates on such spurious allegations, rather than focusing your energies on areas where your attention is most appropriate and warranted,” said Bremberg in the August letter. 

The letter cited the “actual human rights abuses” occurring in the Chinese province of Xinjiang as something that would be more appropriate for the committee to concern themselves with compared to U.S. abortion policies.

The Chinese government is currently holding more than 1 million Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in concentration camps, with human rights groups consistently reporting instances of torture, anti-religious indoctrination, forced labor, forced abortions and sterilizations.

“Yet the United Nations system — including the Secretary-General, the Human Rights Council, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights — has been notably quiet on this topic, even as they find ample opportunity to opine on matters of American domestic political concern,” he wrote.

According to the letter, the United States and other states “increasingly see the UN’s human rights system as utterly broken,” due to its status as “self-appointed guardians to label certain policy preferences as ‘rights.’” 

“At the same time, we see violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms on a massive scale that generate little or no comment by these same guardians,” said Bremberg.

On Monday, during a virtual townhall with women’s civil society organizations, Guterres was asked about what can be done to ensure that “critical rights”--referring to reproductive health care--would be protected during the pandemic.

“It is clear that we are witnessing a very strong attack,” on the terms of the Beijing Declaration said Guterres, in apparent reference to objections from the U.S. and other countries. The Beijing Declaration and Platform to Action is a 1995 document that “flagged 12 key areas where urgent action was needed to ensure greater equality and opportunities for women and men, girls and boys,” including reproductive health. 

Guterres said the UN was working to ensure “Governments do not take profit of the COVID-19 to undermine the rights of sexual and reproductive health,” and that such services will still be available.

Pelosi says ban on federal abortion funding will be dropped next year

Mon, 08/31/2020 - 13:00

CNA Staff, Aug 31, 2020 / 11:00 am (CNA).- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has signaled that a prohibition on federal funding for abortion will be excluded from spending bills next year if Democrats retain a majority in the House of Representatives, setting the state for the end of a 44-year-old bipartisan agreement on abortion funding.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Friday that Speaker Pelosi (D-Calif.) recently told some House Democrats that funding bills next year would not include the Hyde Amendment.

The Hyde Amendment, a policy barring taxpayer funding of elective abortions, has been law since 1976. It is named former congressman Henry Hyde, a 16-term Republican congressman from Illinois who introduced the amendment.

The policy, passed with bipartisan support as an attachment to spending bills, bars Medicaid reimbursements for elective abortion services, but it contains exceptions for abortions in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at stake.

According to a study published by the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute and recently updated, the policy is estimated to result in around 60,000 fewer abortions each year, or around one in nine pregnancies of women with Medicaid benefits. The institute claims that the policy has thus saved more than 2.4 million lives since it was instituted in 1976.

However, the 2016 Democratic Party platform called for the repeal of Hyde, and all of the party’s presidential candidates in 2020 supported the repeal of the policy. 

Nominee Joe Biden reversed his support for the Hyde Amendment last year, after he faced criticism from abortion supporters—including his future vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris—for supporting the policy.

President Trump has supported the Hyde Amendment, but a bill to codify it--the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act--failed to receive the necessary 60 votes in the Senate, in 2019.

Some House Democrats including Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), have tried to repeal the policy in 2019 and again in 2020, either through introducing legislation to do so or by attempting to remove the amendment from a spending bill at the last minute.

The amendment was ultimately included in spending packages so they would receive the support of the Republican-led Senate and White House.

Now, however, Speaker Pelosi has reportedly promised to undo the policy.

The head of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, told CNA last year that “there historically was broad consensus” in support of the policy from members of both major political parties.

“So it’s very disappointing to see the extremism now that’s attacking what most Americans would consider a very important principle,” he said. “When you’re destroying a human life, this isn’t health care.”

After Hurricane Laura, Knights of Columbus pledge aid to Louisiana diocese

Mon, 08/31/2020 - 12:30

CNA Staff, Aug 31, 2020 / 10:30 am (CNA).- The Knights of Columbus have pledged to donate $150,000 to a Louisiana diocese badly hit by Hurricane Laura.

On Friday, the Catholic fraternal organization announced they would send assistance to the Diocese of Lake Charles, Louisiana, which suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Laura last week. The Category 4 hurricane made landfall in western Louisiana on early Wednesday morning, resulting in ten deaths and up to $12 billion in damage in Louisiana and Texas.

“This donation is only the first step in our efforts to help with recovery,” Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, stated on Friday.

Bishop Glen John Provost of Lake Charles stated his gratitude for the Knights’ assistance, noting that the devastation wrought by the storm was “enormous.”

“The task ahead for us is most challenging, but we know, as in the past, the Knights have always been there for us. God bless them!” he said.

The Diocese of Lake Charles reported last week that nearly one-third of priests in active ministry were displaced by the storm, with at least six churches destroyed and at least a dozen suffering serious damage. All of the diocese’s 39 parishes and 7 mission churches suffered damage to some extent.

Bishop Provost said on Saturday that the city of Lake Charles is a “disaster,” while the diocesan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception sustained roof damage and the chancery is currently uninhabitable.

“No house, no business is left untouched,” he said in a statement posted on the diocesan Facebook page. Downed electric lines are everywhere. We have no internet or website access.”

In addition, several religious community residences were ruled uninhabitable and only one in six schools will open on time for the fall semester. The local Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana has reported a current need for food, water, tarps, and hotel vouchers.

"Our prayers are with the people of the Diocese of Lake Charles and with everyone impacted by this destructive storm,” Anderson said on Friday.

Members of the Knights in the state have already begun their recovery efforts, while the Supreme Council is sending food, water, and cleaning and repair supplies to the affected areas. 

Bishop Barron defends Junipero Serra: Evangelization is not ‘cultural aggression’

Sun, 08/30/2020 - 06:00

CNA Staff, Aug 30, 2020 / 04:00 am (CNA).-  

Bishop Robert Barron this week delivered a homily in support of St. Junipero Serra, an 18th century Franciscan missionary whose legacy has drawn renewed scrutiny in recent months from some who consider him a symbol of an oppressive colonial system.

“We are gathered here today in defense of the statue,” Barron said in an  Aug. 22 homily at Mission Santa Inés.

“The Church understands the very legitimate concerns of some of the protestors. Yes we are concerned about racism, oppression, righting social wrongs,” the bishop said, as well as amplifying voices that might otherwise go unheard.

“What I don’t understand is besmirching the reputation and memory of this great saint, represented by this statue,” he added, to applause from the congregation, which included Franciscan friars, members of the religious order to which Serra belonged.

"People are laying at the feet of Junipero Serra everything that bugs them about 18th-century Spanish colonialism. And let's be honest— there was plenty wrong with 18th-century Spanish colonialism," Barron said.

"But I refuse to accept the characterization of evangelization as a kind of cultural aggression."

Barron’s homily, which he delivered while celebrating Mass outdoors at the mission, came against a backdrop of opposing groups of protestors.

A group of 20 or so people turned out to express opposition to Serra, and to call for the removal of the saint’s statue from the mission grounds. Catholic counter-protestors, including Knights of Columbus members, also were present that day to defend Serra, block protestors from disrupting the Mass, and to pray the rosary. 

During the eighteenth century, Father Serra, a Spaniard, founded nine Catholic missions, from San Diego to San Francisco, in the area that would later become California. Serra helped to convert thousands of native Californians to Christianity, and taught them new agricultural technologies.

Santa Inés mission is located in Solvang, CA, about an hour northwest of Santa Barbara. Though that mission was not founded by Serra himself, it owes its existence to Serra's legacy.

While some activists today associate Serra with the many abuses that the Native Americans suffered after contact with Europeans, biographies and historical records suggest that Serra actually advocated on behalf of the Natives against the Spanish military and against encroaching European settlement.

Widespread comparisons by some activists of Serra to Adolph Hitler, or assertions that Serra himself was "genocidal," are simply false, he said. 

Barron pointed out that Serra himself viewed the sharing of his Catholic faith as the sharing of "a precious gift"— a gift that he dedicated his life, selflessly, to giving to others.

A California archeologist, who has studied the missions for over 25 years, told CNA earlier this year that it is clear from Serra’s own writings that he was motivated by a missionary zeal to bring salvation to the Native people through the Catholic faith, rather than by genocidal, racist, or opportunistic motivations. 

“Serra writes excitedly about how he had finally found his life’s calling, and that he would give his life to these people and their salvation,” Dr. Ruben Mendoza, an archeologist and professor at California State University-Monterey Bay, told CNA.

Serra often found himself at odds with Spanish authorities over treatment of native people. In a famous episode in 1773, Serra— despite suffering from a painful infected leg— walked from Carmel in what is now California to Mexico City, in order to propose to the Spanish viceroy a 33-point "bill of rights" for the Natives.

Ever since the Spaniards’ arrival in North America, it was the Catholic missionaries who resisted the worst elements of the Spanish occupation, Barron said.

"Junipero Serra stood in that tradition. Before we formulated a Bill of Rights on the East Coast of our continent, Serra was fighting for a bill of rights for native people in this part of the world," Barron said.

Barron encouraged Californians to “look more to the present and the future” than the past, calling on the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, as Serra often did.

"May we too unleash the power of the Gospel, which is precisely the power of compassionate love," he concluded.

Pope Francis canonized Serra in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 23, 2015, saying that “Junípero sought to defend the dignity of the native community, to protect it from those who had mistreated and abused it.”

Amid the renewed controversy over Serra, at least three prominent statues of the saint have been forcibly torn down by protestors in California in recent months, including one in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, on June 19 by a crowd of about 100 people, the same day a statue of the saint was torn down in Los Angeles.

Rioters pulled down and defaced a statue of Serra in Sacramento on July 4, inspiring a local Catholic to set up a makeshift shrine to Serra on the statue's empty plinth July 5, and lead other Catholics in cleaning graffiti from the site.

A massive fire on July 11 devastated the mission church of San Gabriel, which Serra founded, in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The cause of the fire has not yet been announced, but it is being investigated as arson.

Other California missions such as San Luis Obispo and San Gabriel had in June moved their statues “out of public view” amid fears rioters may tear them down.

Several online petitions, calling for Serra’s image and name to be removed from various California communities and institutions, have garnered multiple thousands of signatures.

Professor Mendoza said the worst abuses against the Native Americans in California took place after the age of the missions ended, when the Spanish government ceased sending funding to the 21 mission sites, and to the Spanish military.

The Spanish soldiers, without the support of their faraway benefactors, began to prey on the missionaries and the Natives. Many more Natives died during this time than had in the 60 years that the missions were operational.

While the Native peoples of California did suffer instances of horrific abuse, Mendoza said many people conflate the abuses the Natives suffered long after Serra’s 1784 death with the period when Serra was alive and building the missions.

For example, the California gold rush in the 1840s— long after the end of the Spanish colonial era— saw hundreds of thousands of European settlers come to the area, with little to no protections afforded to the Natives.


Court halts Education Department’s rule for pandemic relief money to private schools

Sat, 08/29/2020 - 17:56

CNA Staff, Aug 29, 2020 / 03:56 pm (CNA).- A federal judge has blocked a rule by the Department of Education for allocating pandemic relief money to private schools.

U.S. District Judge James Donato in San Francisco issued a preliminary injunction against the rule Thursday. He said the Education Department had exceeded its authority in issuing guidelines for funding distribution beyond what Congress had authorized.

The money, part of the CARES Act approved by Congress to help ease the economic impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, was set aside to be distributed to local educational agencies.

The Education Department issued an interim final rule directing local educational agencies to allot money equitably for students in private schools.

In July, several states filed a lawsuit against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, saying funding for private schools should be based only on the number of low-income students, not total students, in accordance with Title I restrictions.

DeVos has said that CARES Act programs are not Title I programs and thus not subject to the limitation on use only for low-income students.

“The CARES Act is a special, pandemic-related appropriation to benefit all American students, teachers, and families impacted by coronavirus,” she said.

“There is no reasonable explanation for debating the use of federal funding to serve both public and private K-12 students when federal funding, including CARES Act funding, flows to both public and private higher education institutions,” DeVos said.

Furthermore, the department’s rule “discourages the limited number of financially secure private schools from seeking equitable services,” the agency said in its press release.

The interim final rule provides two options for local authorities. The first option requires that if a local education agency uses CARES Act funds for students in all its public schools, it must also allocate funds for all students enrolled in private schools in the district.

Under the second option, if the local agency chooses to use funds only for students in Title I schools, it must calculate funds for equitable services based on either the total number of low-income students in Title I and participating private schools or based on the local agency’s Title I share from the 2019-2020 school year.

However, Judge Donato ruled Thursday that by issuing these guidelines, the agency had created its own allocation rules beyond what Congress directed.

The ruling will halt DeVos’ guidelines from being implemented in California, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Washington, D.C., as well as school districts in Chicago, Cleveland, New York City, and San Francisco. The injunction is applicable while the full case is being heard in court.

A federal judge reached a similar conclusion in a lawsuit filed by the state of Washington earlier this month.

Paul Long, president and CEO of the Michigan Catholic Conference, said Thursday’s ruling “while disappointing, is not unexpected.”

“Clearly the Attorney General went out to California to find a favorable ruling that discriminates against nonpublic schools,” he said in August 27 statement.

“Congress included nonpublic schools in the CARES Act to ensure all students are treated equally, without prejudice due to the school they attend,” Long said, stressing that low and middle-income families in private schools are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic just as those in public schools are.

Technology sheds new light on life of St. John Henry Newman

Sat, 08/29/2020 - 06:00

CNA Staff, Aug 29, 2020 / 04:00 am (CNA).- A team spread across three continents is using cutting-edge technology to shed new light on the figure of St. John Henry Newman.

The project, overseen by the National Institute for Newman Studies (NINS) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is aiming to offer crystal-clear digital reproductions of more than a million pages of documents relating to the 19th-century English theologian.

Newman was declared a saint Oct. 13, 2019, at the last canonization ceremony to take place at the Vatican before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, prompting renewed interest in his life and work.

Unlike other online Newman resources, the NINS Digital Collections is not limited to the saint’s writings. It also includes letters from thousands of people who corresponded with him.

Daniel T. Michaels, chief technology officer at the NINS, told CNA: “We’ve cataloged 1,840 different people so far who were writing to Newman or to whom Newman was writing. And we’re only up to 17,980 documents.”

“We’re up to box 75 of over 200. So we’re not even halfway through.”

For the past two years, Michaels has worked with colleagues in the United States, England, and India to create a free online archive of more than 250,000 manuscript images, over 4,000 published books and articles by Newman and his contemporaries, and library records, as well as photographs, maps, and musical scores.

He said: “We spent a solid year building the initial platform. We had scanned the images years ago, going back as far as the mid-2000s. A lot of Newman’s published works, such as ‘A Grammar of Assent’ or ‘The Idea of a University,’ were scanned and uploaded initially to And so in some ways we’re reclaiming those documents, but they will remain available in both places.” 

“Newman’s handwritten manuscripts, on the other hand, are available on NINS Digital Collections for the first time ever. Many of them have never been seen before.”

He continued: “We’ve had the images for quite some time -- both the published works and scanned manuscripts -- and we’re finally at the point where we can publish them on our own platform, which we’re quite pleased with.”

Michaels said that his team was standing “on the shoulders of giants” because the website of the NINS Digital Collections (pictured below) renders images “using lots of custom code alongside several open source technologies, including the International Image Interoperability Framework, or ‘triple-I-F,’ which is a programming interface that provides an unprecedented level of uniform and rich access to image-based resources.”

Michaels, who speaks passionately about the new technology, said that the best way to understand it is to think of a multi-tiered wedding cake. The bottom layer of the cake is the full high-resolution image. The next layer is half the resolution, and the next half of that, and so on, with the top layer as small as a fingertip.

He said: “We cut each layer into digital slices. A printed version of the actual image might be the size of an entire wall and it might contain hundreds of megabytes. But only a fraction of it fits on your computer, so we deliver slices -- bytes instead of megabytes -- as they are needed to improve speed.” 

IIIF servers render “slices” of the document selected by the user from the most appropriate resolution layer of the “cake”, taking a piece from the high-resolution bottom layer when the user zooms in, or grabbing a slice from a lower resolution layer near the top of the “cake” when the user zooms out.

“So when you zoom in and out you’re actually only loading the data that pertains to whatever it is you’re looking at, sort of like Google Maps or Google Earth,” Michaels explained.

He emphasized that the process is “non-destructive” -- that is, the original images are preserved intact. 

To illustrate the technology’s power, he summoned up a scan of the original handwritten score of Edward Elgar’s 1900 composition “The Dream of Gerontius,” inspired by Newman’s 1865 poem.

Next to it, he called up the published score. Finally, on the right of his screen, he placed a scan of the manuscript created by a technique known as backlighting, which reveals corrections that Elgar made to the score.

“You can see there’s paper glued over top,” he said, pointing with his cursor to where the composer had covered up a section of the music. “Scholars can see beneath things in a way that is not possible with the physical manuscript and naked eye alone: what did he change? What is he covering up, or how did the score change? It’s really incredible for musicology. We can do the same thing with the handwritten manuscripts as well.”

Asked if Newman’s spidery handwriting presented a challenge to his team, Michaels said: “We’re in the process of building another OCR [optical character recognition] engine using Transkribus, a German platform. It’s specifically made for 19th-century handwriting. We can train it to understand Newman’s handwriting. Then the accuracy is astounding.”

Michaels is especially proud of a feature on the website allowing scholars to search Newman’s borrowing record at Oriel College’s Senior Library in Oxford.

“We can compare what Newman was writing at a specific time with what he was reading. How often do you get a chance to do that?” he asked.

He recalled that a researcher was recently able to discover what works of St. Thomas Aquinas Newman was reading at a particular time. This helped the academic to see whether Aquinas influenced Newman’s views on a specific topic.

“It’s really valuable to Newman scholars, so that they can understand what was behind what he was writing. There’s not always a smoking gun, but it sure helps,” Michaels commented.

The Digital Collections do, of course, contain Newman’s own published works, including such monuments as his autobiographical “Apologia Pro Vita Sua” and his “Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine.”

Michaels contrasts the crisply rendered books on NINS Digital Collections with those on the popular Newman Reader website (also owned by NINS).

He said: “The Newman Reader is old school. It looks like it was done in 1995, even if it served a great need. It’s an HMTL version of Newman’s works and there are a lot of mistakes in it. NINS Digital Collections, on the other hand, shows the original published works. So instead of reading static HTML documents, you can read, search, and zoom inside the real thing.”

A search window on the NINS Digital Collections website lets scholars examine books for particular words or phrases.

“This was a significant thing for us to add -- and you don’t see this often with IIIF collections. That is, we can do full text searches across our entire inventory. It searches millions of words,” said Michaels.

“It’s way easier than the old Newman Reader. In fact, I cringe whenever anyone says: ‘Can you give me a link to the Newman Reader?’”

The coronavirus crisis has not paralyzed the team’s work. Indeed, Michaels said it had helped him to increase productivity because staff who normally worked in a physical library were able to join the virtual project.

“Our team is in California, Birmingham [England], and India. So we don’t ever not work remotely. If anything, this has given us more flexibility,” he noted.

“If you can imagine, between California, England and India, we’re basically running all the time. And so my schedule’s crazy. In the early morning hours, I might be meeting with the team in India before they go to bed, and Birmingham all the way up to noon. In the afternoon, I’ve got California. And in the evening, I’ve got California, and India as they arrive at work a day ahead of me.”

Michaels, who has a doctorate in medieval Franciscan theology and is the architect of a website containing the foundational works of the Franciscan tradition, said he had discovered a different dimension to Newman while working on the project.

“What was unique to me was seeing his pastoral side. The Newman that most people get is very heavy. He’s obviously very academic,” he said, pointing out that the saint served as a parish priest and that his letters were often concerned with practical matters such as building schools and caring for orphans.

While the team is still busy perfecting the platform, Michaels hopes that NINS might one day be able to share its pioneering model inexpensively with other institutions.

“It cost us a lot of money to do and fortunately we had very generous benefactors. But for a very low cost, we could make this possible for other people to share,” he said.

Asked why the Newman project was valuable, Michaels replied: “We’re basically preserving the past to serve the future. If we don’t understand where we’ve been, it’s going to be hard to understand who we are and where we should go without recreating more mistakes.”

Secular pro-life group to talk abortion, police violence, and more at annual conference

Fri, 08/28/2020 - 18:50

Denver Newsroom, Aug 28, 2020 / 04:50 pm (CNA).- Rehumanize International, a secular pro-life organization, is set to hold its annual conference Saturday virtually, with an eye to life topics such as abortion, assisted suicide, and the death penalty, as well as police violence and torture.

Aimee Murphy, founder and executive director of Rehumanize International, told CNA that the overarching theme of the Aug. 29 conference is that every human value has worth, and an inherent dignity. She said they plan to emphasize this common dignity and discuss ways people can work together regardless of their differences.

"That inherent dignity that we all share is not something that can be taken away, it's not a matter of circumstance," she said.

"Regardless of how old or young you are, how guilty or innocent you are, how small or big you are, how disabled or non-disabled you are, we all share this same inherent human dignity. And that transcends all the various topics we're going to be talking about at our conference tomorrow."

Rehumanize International describes itself as a non-sectarian, non-partisan organization “dedicated to creating a culture of peace and life” by opposing violence in all forms, including abortion, the death penalty, euthanasia, and assisted suicide.

Herb Geraghty, director of communications for Rehumanize International, told CNA that although the conference is set to feature a wide range of viewpoints and religions, the biggest unifier among the presenters is a commitment to nonviolence. 

Rehumanize’s “consistent life ethic” is not merely a checklist of topics to support or oppose, and can welcome a wide range of viewpoints with the hopes that people will learn something to bring back to their individual organizations, Geraghty said.

Co-sponsors of the event this year include the American Solidarity Party— which was founded based largely on Catholic social teaching, and is running a candidate for president in this year’s election— as well as Americans United for Life.

In addition to several Christian pro-life speakers— such as Mikhayla Stover, who works with Catholic Univeristy’s school of law— the conference is set to feature such presenters as Robert Saleem Holbrook, a formerly incarcerated person who was sentenced to life without parole as a teenager before a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling overturned his conviction.

John Kelly, a disability self-advocate, is set to join to talk about disability discrimination in the context of assisted suicide and euthanasia.

"I think that's a really important topic because often it's not a hot-button issue...and I think that's really unfortunate, because I think that the creeping threat of euthanasia and assisted suicide is growing on the other side," Geraghty said.

"Being part of the movement to stem that side and show the voices of people with disabilities, who are going to be the people threatened the most by this type of legislation, is really important. So I'm excited for the attendees to get to hear that."

Geraghty said the conference had already been set to have policing and criminal justice as one of its focal points well in advance— before the widespread protests against police violence, which began in May, thrust the issue back into the national spotlight.

"Police violence is another [topic] that comes in waves of media attention, because there are always high-profile cases of unjust police violence against civilians,” Geraghty said. 

Geraghty said they had planned on having a panel about the criminal justice system in general, focusing mainly on the death penalty, "the most obvious form of oppressive violence perpetrated by the justice system," but also wanted to talk about some of the ways that the state can better respect life through better policing practices. 

That panel is set to include another formerly incarcerated person, as well as the director of Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty.

"We can just oppose the death penalty, or we can look at how to disrupt the systems of oppression that lead to people thinking that there needs to be a death penalty, or harsh sentencing laws," Geraghty said.

Geraghty said one of Rehumanize International's goals is to recognize and promote the many people and groups who organize around a single issue, such as abortion, the death penalty, or euthanasia.

This approach is more helpful than, for example, asking a person passionately advocating for an end to abortion why they are focusing on that, and not the death penalty, Geraghty said.

Each life issue is an important enough issue that "I am glad that [that person] is working on that individual issue," even if it means they can't always devote their time to a range of issues, Geraghty said.

On ‘March on Washington’ anniversary, DC archbishop calls for beatitudes

Fri, 08/28/2020 - 17:48

Washington D.C., Aug 28, 2020 / 03:48 pm (CNA).-  

The Beatitudes provide a way forward in a time of suffering, the Archbishop of Washington, D.C. said at a Mass on Friday on the anniversary of the 1963 civil rights March on Washington.

“Matthew’s Beatitudes are a spiritual compendium for transforming society, and most importantly, for converting the human heart,” said Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C., in his homily at Friday’s Mass for Peace and Justice at St. Matthew’s Cathedral.

The Beatitudes, the archbishop said, “highlight the virtues and the spiritual vision that are necessary for society’s renewal.”

Gregory offered the Mass on the 57th anniversary of the 1963 civil rights March on Washington. At the march, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” address.

Hearkening back to the 1963 march, the archbishop said on Friday that the Beatitudes point to a “society of harmony and justice, which were the desired end of that march, 57 years ago.” Dr. King, he said, “no doubt had reflected often on these Beatitudes.”

Archbishop Gregory offered the Mass after a week of unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and a turbulent summer of protests and riots against racism in cities across the U.S.

“We are at a pivotal juncture in our country’s struggle for racial justice and national harmony,” he said.

This past week, protests and riots erupted in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after police officers shot a 29 year-old Black man in the back on Sunday; the man, Jacob Blake, is paralyzed from the waist down, his family told reporters this week.

Kenosha is the latest hotspot for protests and riots in the U.S. as a response to the killings of African-Americans by police and citizens, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.

In response, on Thursday Bishop Shelton Fabre, head of the U.S. bishops’ anti-racism task force, called for Catholics to fast and pray in reparation for sins of racism; he asked Catholics to attend Mass or pray either on Friday to commemorate the 1963 march, or on September 9, the feast of St. Peter Claver.

A rally for racial justice took place in Washington, D.C. on Friday, the 2020 Get Your Knee off Our Necks march. It was attended by tens of thousands.

Archbishop Gregory is the first African-American archbishop of Washington, and the former head of a special task force set up by the U.S. bishops in 2016 to promote peace and address racial tensions and policing.

At the beginning of Mass, the archbishop called attention to the 1963 March on Washington. “May our faith, hope, and love of Christ compel us to work for a more just future,” he prayed.

He noted the current “suffering” in the U.S., citing “needless violence in our cities,” “numerous deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police,” “hate crimes and discrimination against immigrants and people of various religious traditions,” and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“We place these concerns into Our Father’s hands,” he said in his opening prayer for peace and justice.

He also emphasized the religious nature of the 1963 march, recounting how, on the day of the march, then-Archbishop O’Boyle of Washington, D.C. invited participants to pray at the cathedral beforehand.

“Washington is a city accustomed to parades, marches, and demonstrations,” he said. “What took place in Washington, D.C. 57 years ago does not fit conveniently in any of those prior categories. It was a moral and religious event that confronted our nation in ways that defied simple categorizations.”

“The vast majority of the oratory of the day highlighted social and civic concerns, but always with an undeniable touch of religious faith, he said.

At the end of Mass, Gregory accepted a decree from diocesan representatives, where he announced a new initiative of the archdiocese “Made in God’s Image: Pray and Work to End the Sin of Racism.”

He said it would include prayer, listening sessions, faith formation, and social justice work.

Gregory has been outspoken about racial tensions in recent months. On June 5, he took part in an online panel discussion on racism hosted by Georgetown University, amid widespread protests and riots following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

He also issued a sharply-worded statement just before President Trump’s June 2 visit to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine. On the previous evening, Trump had held up a bible in front of St. John’s Episcopal church in D.C. in an apparent photo-op, during protests against racism; participants in the protests were cleared away from the church by the National Guard shortly before Trump’s arrival.

Gregory said the next morning of Trump’s visit to the shrine that it was “baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles.”

Questions surround possibility of mandatory coronavirus vaccinations

Fri, 08/28/2020 - 16:01

Washington D.C., Aug 28, 2020 / 02:01 pm (CNA).- With more than 1,000 deaths a day still being registered in the United States, coronavirus vaccines are being developed, and tested at speed. Ahead of an effective vaccine being found, some government officials have broached the possibility of mandatory vaccinations—prompting ethical and legal questions.

Governments, as a general principle, have the authority to mandate vaccinations when the public health requires it, one ethicist said.

“In principle, when there’s a public health emergency, and there’s reason to believe that a vaccine is crucial to overcoming that emergency, the government does have the authority to mandate vaccination,” said Dr. Melissa Moschella, a philosophy and ethics professor at The Catholic University of America.
“That’s been done in the past, and at times that can be a reasonable and legitimate thing to do,” she told CNA.
Last Friday, Virginia’s health commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver told News 8 that he would require all citizens in the state to receive a COVID vaccine if one is reliably produced.
“We would not launch a campaign around mass vaccination with anything that hasn’t proven to be safe,” Oliver told News 8 last week.
However, a spokesperson for the state’s governor Ralph Northam told News 8 on Monday that the administration has not yet decided to mandate a vaccine, instead relying on citizens of the state to receive one voluntarily.
A state vaccine mandate during a public health emergency would actually be constitutional, provided that it is applied evenly and that the situation is grave enough to require it, said Richard Garnett, a constitutional law professor at the University of Notre Dame.
“State governments have much broader powers over their states than the federal government does under the federal constitution,” Garnett said of state “police” power.
“It’s difficult to say much that’s true across-the-board, except to say that, as a general matter, state governments have the power to regulate in the interest of the public health, and that does include requiring vaccines,” he said.
However, a government mandate should be avoided if a less-coercive means of ensuring public health are available, Moschella said.
“If coercion would be the only way to enable society to kind of move forward, rather than being severely limited by concerns about the spread of COVID-19 as we have been,” she said, “then there could be a justification for that.”
However, she said, “the non-coercive route is clearly the preferable one.”
Furthermore, exemptions should be granted that “respect other fundamental rights of individuals,” she said, such as exemptions for people with high medical risks, and religious or conscientious objections to receiving a vaccine.
However, religious exemptions to a vaccine mandate would not be automatic under the U.S. constitution. 
“There is not a federal constitutional right to opt out of a vaccine requirement,” Garnett said.
Rather, the possibility of receiving a religious exemption to a vaccine mandate might depend on where one lives. States vary as to the extent of their religious freedom protections, and many states have more narrow religious free exercise protections in their constitutions than those granted in the first amendment of the federal constitution, Garnett said.
In Virginia, for instance, only a medical exemption is granted by law to a vaccine mandate during a public health emergency. Two bills to allow for religious exemptions were defeated in the state legislature this week.
Catholics may have “reasonable concerns” against receiving a COVID vaccine once one is produced and distributed, Moschella said, such as concerns about rushed production or lack of testing.
President Trump said in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention this week that a coronavirus vaccine would be ready by the end of the year or sooner, while public health officials have cautioned that one may not be ready until several months into 2021.
In July, the president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, Joseph Meaney, warned against rushing the development of a coronavirus vaccine. Potential recipients must be well-informed about the risks of the vaccine, and these risks or potential side effects might not be fully known if a vaccine is rushed to market.
“One can also think hypothetically about how coercive measures requiring persons to take a vaccine that has not had the time to be tested thoroughly would be ethically unacceptable,” Meaney said.
Legitimate concerns about receiving a rushed vaccine should be weighed against the possibility that the vaccine could help stop the transmission of the virus, Moschella said.
Another question raised about vaccine production is who would get one first, once a coronavirus vaccine is developed.
Pope Francis said Aug. 19 that developed countries should not hoard a coronavirus vaccine at the expense of the developing world, emphasizing that poor people must have access to one if it is distributed.
Moschella stated that “The vaccine is an extremely-important public good. In a way, it’s kind of analogous to things like water, clean air, or basic goods to meet peoples’ basic needs.”
“Without the vaccine, countries can be completely crippled economically, can face devastating death rates, particularly in places where they don’t have advanced medical systems or the kinds of resources that we have here, or in Europe,” she said, noting that it would be a “terrible injustice” if poorer countries did not have access to a vaccine.

In May, Bishop James Wainaina of Muranga warned against the exploitation of the poor in coronavirus vaccine trials.

He said that testing potential coronavirus vaccines on Kenyans could disrespect human dignity, and amount to a breach of the country’s constitution, especially if Kenyans are not fully informed of the risks involved in testing new drugs. His statement came after Kenyan media reports that drugs and vaccines in development to treat COVID-19 could be tested in the country.

Another concern Catholics have raised about a potential coronavirus vaccine is whether or not it is produced by using cell lines derived from aborted babies.
Commonly-used vaccines—such as those used to fight measles, mumps, and rubella—have used HEK-293 cell lines, derived from babies aborted in the 1960s.
The Vatican has previously said that researchers have a duty to avoid using these cell lines in vaccine production, but that parents can, for serious reasons, use these vaccines for their children if already produced, in the interest of public health, while publicly advocating for an ethical alternative.
In 2017, the Pontifical Academy for Life issued a statement on commonly-used vaccines in Italy, saying that “the cell lines currently used are very distant from the original abortions and no longer imply that bond of moral cooperation indispensable for an ethically negative evaluation of their use.”
Furthermore, the academy said, “the moral obligation to guarantee the vaccination coverage necessary for the safety of others is no less urgent, especially the safety of more vulnerable subjects such as pregnant women and those affected by immunodeficiency who cannot be vaccinated against these diseases.”
Some Catholic leaders, including leading U.S. bishops and the Archbishop of Sydney have advocated for governments to fund an ethical coronavirus vaccine that does not use cell lines derived from aborted babies.
Archbishop Anthony Fisher, OP, of Sydney, said that a COVID vaccine “will be ‘as near to mandatory as possible’” in Australia once it is ready, and outlined the ethical concerns of Catholics about the AstraZeneca/University of Oxford vaccine candidate that uses the HEK-293 cell lines.
He asked the government to fund another vaccine that is not derived from cell lines from aborted babies.
Issues of cooperation with evil are complex, especially the further one gets from the act of evil itself, Moschella said.
“We benefit from knowledge that was gained through unjust experimentation during the Nazi regime,” she said. “We’ve benefitted from unjust human experimentation in our own country, in many places, prior to the development of better informed-consent guidelines.”
In many cases today, she said, it is almost impossible to avoid benefitting from knowledge, products, or goods derived from unjust acts.
While Catholics should advocate for justice and for pro-life causes—including the development of more ethical vaccines and innovations—“when the connection to the injustice is so tenuous and so far in the past, I believe there’s no reason to avoid using, in this case, the vaccine.”

Gun brandishing incident at Delaware abortion clinic won’t deter pro-life outreach

Fri, 08/28/2020 - 15:00

Denver Newsroom, Aug 28, 2020 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- After the arrest of a man who allegedly threatened pro-life demonstrators with a gun, pro-life advocates say the incident is not typical and will not change their determination to engage in positive outreach.

“Other than the occasional slurs and negativity offered by some people who drive past, we have a positive support from the community and we’ve never really had any bad incidents,” Donna Latteri, a local volunteer pro-life coordinator, told CNA. “We work very well with our police department and try not to give them a reason to come to the clinic.”

On Aug. 21 police arrested Jerome Aniska, a 31-year-old Wilmington man who allegedly pulled a gun and threatened pro-life demonstrators outside a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Dover, Delaware.

Protesters were on a public sidewalk when an argument took place between Aniska and the demonstrators, and a demonstrator called police when Aniska allegedly made a threat. Aniska was arrested on $26,000 bond, charged with aggressive menacing, terroristic threatening, and possession of a firearm during a felony.

According to Latteri, a group from a nearby church tried to speak with the man and the young woman “he brought for an abortion.”

“They always offer the Word of God and let them know they want to help,” she said. “Apparently Mr. Aniska did not appreciate it and showed them a gun he was carrying and made a threatening gesture and comment to the small group.”

The group’s organizer, the pastor of a non-Catholic church, “felt it necessary to seek protection from the police especially because they were minor children with them,” Latteri added.

“Given the atmosphere in America lately where life is not respected and tempers are short, we must carefully discern what is a real threat and take appropriate action to protect ourselves,” she said,voicing prayers for healing and peace for Aniska and the woman with him.

Moira Sheridan, president of Delaware Right to Life, also reacted to the incident.

“This is in no way a deterrent to the faithful pro-lifers who have sacrificed so much to be on the sidewalk to help mothers choose life for their babies and are offering help. They are here to pray with them and to offer life,” she told CNA.

Despite the man allegedly brandishing the gun and making threats, she said, pro-life advocates “responded with grace.” Sheridan, who spoke with a pro-life advocate involved in the incident, recounted his words: “We are not deterred, I am coming back.”

“That’s the nature of the people you’re dealing with out there on the sidewalk,” said Sheridan. “I call it ’holy boldness.’ Their main concern is the women and their babies.”

Delaware Right to Life’s first concern is the safety of those who do sidewalk counseling, she said. Her organization has been taking part in sidewalk advocacy “almost as long as we’ve been in existence, which is 47 years.”

Latteri hoped the incident would not keep pro-life advocates away, adding “we feel that is the goal of the evil one.” She said pro-life advocates “have been able to save babies and reach out to the broken hearts who just want someone to listen.”

“At times it has been an emotional ride but always an  opportunity to be the face of Jesus to a lost soul,” she said.

Latteri said pro-life advocates have a year-round presence at the Planned Parenthood clinic in peaceful demonstrations and advocacy for abortion alternatives.

“This is a group of individual sidewalk advocates who come on their own accord because they feel every child is a unique child of God and is wanted by somebody. We are from various churches and many have unique stories of how we have personally been impacted by abortion,” she said.

“We are out there because we are passionate about the pain abortion causes, not only to the child but also to the parents and the family members who will later find out,” Latteri told CNA.

The gun brandishing incident is not the first major crime this year at a Delaware Planned Parenthood.

In January, an 18-year-old was arrested on federal charges after throwing an incendiary device at a Planned Parenthood facility near the University of Delaware campus in Newark, Delaware, about 45 miles south of Dover. The device exploded but the fire died after about a minute. The man allegedly spray painted a Latin phrase meaning “God wills it.” He spray-painted the words “Deus Vult,” a Chi Rho, and a Marian symbol on the outside of the Planned Parenthood. The facility does not perform abortions, but refers for them.

Republican National Convention concludes with focus on faith, law and order

Fri, 08/28/2020 - 14:31

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Aug 28, 2020 / 12:31 pm (CNA).- The final night of the Republican National Convention focused heavily on the importance of law and order, and ended with an operatic rendition of Ave Maria and patriotic hymns on the South Lawn of the White House.

President Donald Trump accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for the presidency in a 70-minute speech that touched on the majority of his achievements during his first term, and criticized former Vice President Joe Biden for being on the “wrong side of history” throughout his political career.

“In the left’s backward view, they do not see America as the most free, just, and exceptional nation on earth,” said Trump, speaking to a crowd on the White House lawn.

“Instead they see a wicked nation that must be punished for its sins. Our opponents say that redemption for you can only come from giving power to them. This is a tired anthem spoken by every repressive movement throughout history,” he added.

In the United States, said the president, “we don’t look to career politicians for salvation. In America, we don’t turn to government to restore our souls. We put our faith in almighty God.”

“Joe Biden is not a savior of America’s soul, he is the destroyer of America’s jobs, and if given the chance, he will be the destroyer of American greatness,” said Trump.

Repeatedly highlighted throughout both Trump’s speech and the night overall was the growing violence and civil unrest throughout America, particularly in “Democrat-run cities like Kenosha, Minneapolis, Portland, Chicago, and New York, and many others.”

The parents of Kayla Mueller, an American humanitarian aid worker who was murdered by ISIS in February 2015, addressed the convention. They spoke of their daughter’s deep religious faith, and the compassion and empathy they received from the Trump administration.

Kayla was held captive for 18 months, and was repeatedly raped and tortured by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Her parents, Carl and Marcia, said that they did not think enough was done to rescue their daughter.

“The military prepared a rescue mission, but the White House delayed it. By the time it went forward Kayla had been moved to another location. After 18 months of brutal torture, we learned from ISIS that Kayla had been killed,” said Carl.

“We put all our faith in the government, but the government let us down. President Obama refused to meet with us until ISIS had already beheaded other Americans,” said Carl. “To this day we never heard from Joe Biden.”

The team that killed al-Baghdadi in 2019 was named after Kayla’s birthday, and the mission itself was called “Operation Kayla Mueller.”

Also speaking at the event was Alice Marie Johnson, a former felon convicted in 1996 for involvement in cocaine trafficking, who was granted clemency by Trump. She praised Trump for his work in criminal justice reform, and for “granting me a second chance” after being sentenced to life in prison.

“The nearly 22 years I spent in prison were not wasted,” said Johnson, who became an ordained minister and certified hospice worker while behind bars.

“God had a purpose and a plan for my life. I was not delayed or denied. I was destined for such a time as this. I pray that you will not just hear this message, but that you will be inspired by my story, and your compassion will lead you to take action for those who are forgotten,” she said.

“This is what our President Donald Trump did for me, and for that, I will be forever grateful.”

After Trump finished his speech accepting the nomination, the mood once again shifted towards religion. Following a fireworks show, an opera singer performed several songs, including God Bless America, Hallelujah, and Ave Maria.


In Sr. Deirdre Byrne RNC speech, CNN translates ‘pro-life’ as ‘anti-abortion’

Fri, 08/28/2020 - 13:30

CNA Staff, Aug 28, 2020 / 11:30 am (CNA).-  

The Spanish-language broadcast of a Catholic sister’s speech at the Republican National Convention this week replaced the words “pro-life,” with “anti-abortion,” a move that raises questions about the integrity of the broadcast.

In an Aug. 26 speech at the Republican National Convention, Sister Deirde Byrne used the phrase “pro-life” three times: once in reference to herself, once in reference to President Donald Trump, and once in reference to “America’s pro-life community.”

In all three cases, news network CNN en Español translated the phrase as “anti-aborto,” or “anti-abortion,” during its broadcast of the speech.

Byrne also used the phrase “pro-eternal life” in reference to herself. CNN en Español translated that phrase as “en favor de la vida eterna.”

“Pro-vida” is a commonly used Spanish-language idiom, used analogously to the English-language idiom “pro-life.” Proponents of the phrase say it is evocative of a broad commitment to the dignity of human life, and that “anti-abortion” is a comparatively reductive rendering which does not convey the same meaning.

The style guide of the Associated Press, widely used by journalists in the U.S., instructs journalists to “use ‘anti-abortion’ instead of ‘pro-life’ and ‘abortion rights’ instead of ‘pro-abortion’ or ‘pro-choice.’” The style guides of the Washington Post and New York Times have similar instructions. CNA’s style guide permits the use of the terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice.”

The AP style guide’s exception, however, is for quotations, which journalistic ethics require to be reported with complete accuracy.

The Reuters Handbook of Journalism explains that “quotes are sacrosanct. They must never be altered other than to delete a redundant word or clause, and then only if the deletion does not alter the sense of the quote in any way.”

Regarding the translation of quotes, Reuters says that “when translating quotes from one language into another, we should do so in an idiomatic way rather than with pedantic literalness. Care must be taken to ensure that the tone of the translation is equivalent to the tone of the original.”

The use of “anti-aborto” rather than “pro-vida” to translate Byrne’s phrase, “pro-life,” has been met with frustration from some Hispanic pro-life advocates.

“Sister Deirdre Byrne's speech during the Republican National Convention pointed out the importance of taking a clear pro life stance from the perspective of science, faith and simple common humanity,” Marcial Padilla, director of the Mexican pro-life organization Concience and Participación, told CNA.

“CNN en Español decided to embarrass itself, and did not have the minimum decency of translating Sister Deirdre's words correctly. I hope CNN's contempt is noted by the voters, who should know that they are not an objective source of information. Unfortunately  major media outlets in the world are becoming less objective transmitters of the facts and more political operators against the right to life," Padilla added.

Mexican physician María Denisse Santos of the Coalición de Líderes Provida told CNA that ”to say that we are ‘pro life’ is to tell the truth, because we are indeed defending the right to live of the little ones. To try to hide that truth by calling us ‘anti-abortion,’ as CNN en Español did with Sister Byrne's speech, is in fact to recognize that they are afraid to acknowledge that being ‘pro-choice’ is to be in favor of someone's death.”

“But the truth will shine at the end, that we are pro-life and pro-eternal life,” Santos said.

One professional translator, who requested anonymity because of her position, told CNA that “it is very hard to believe that the interpreter chose to change ‘pro-life’ to ‘anti-aborto’ on her own. In our trade, we have some room to choose specific words in order to better clarify a concept, but we can't make any kind of subjective interpretation. So much so that our interpretations are trademarked. The only reason why an interpreter would do something like that is if she or he is under a very specific protocol from the customer (client), like someone who works, say, for the UN, and needs to avoid some words for political or diplomatic reasons."

The code of ethics for the American Translators Association explains that “linguistic integrity is at the core of what translators and interpreters do.”

Translators faced with an idiomatic expression should use “an idiom that conveys the same meaning, register, and impact” as the one being translated, the association explains. It emphasizes that “Impartial translation and interpreting requires the translator or interpreter to adopt a mantle of neutrality,” and calls it “inappropriate to “clean up” objectionable language in the target language.”

The “Translator’s Charter” of the International Federation of Translators requires that “every faithful and render exactly the idea and form of the original.” CNN en Español has not responded to requests for comment from CNA.

Polling shows that while Latino voters favor Biden over Trump, the president has the support of a larger share of Latino Catholic voters than he did in 2016. The Trump reelection campaign has emphasized its view that Trump is the “most pro-life president in history” in outreach to religious voters.


Aci Prensa, CNA's Spanish-language sister agency, contributed to this report.

Boston Catholic priest apologizes for ‘pro-choice’ statements

Fri, 08/28/2020 - 12:30

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Aug 28, 2020 / 10:30 am (CNA).- A Boston priest has apologized for a social media post in which he described himself as “pro-choice” and endorsed former vice president Joe Biden. The post, made Sunday, received widespread media attention and prompted a statement from Cardinal Sean O’Malley. 

“Please accept my apology for the confusion and upset caused by the Facebook post concerning the presidential election and expectant women carrying their children to birth,” wrote Monsignor Paul Garrity, pastor of the Lexington Catholic Community parish, on Facebook the evening of August 27. 

In his original Aug. 23 Facebook post titled “I AM PRO-LIFE AND SUPPORT JOE BIDEN,” Msgr. Garrity wrote: “I am pro-life and I believe in a woman’s right to choose. I will vote for Joe Biden for President because I believe that Joe Biden is pro-life like me.”

Garrity added that he believes “any woman who becomes pregnant should have the right to choose to give birth to her baby.” 

“I am pro-life and I believe that every woman who becomes pregnant deserves to have the freedom to choose life. This is what I believe Joe Biden believes and is one of the many reasons that I will vote for him in November,” said Garrity Sunday. The priest urged “Catholics and others” of similar viewpoints to vote for Biden as well. 

In a subsequent statement to CNA on Tuesday, Garrity said that that he has considered himself “Pro-Life” since he was ordained a priest in 1973, despite his support for legal protection for abortion. 

“I believe that it is a tragedy when a woman of any age decides to end her pregnancy prematurely,” said Garrity in an email to CNA Aug. 25. The priest added that in his view, Catholics “are also told that we should not be ‘single issue’ voters” and that the Church is “neutral” on the issue of voting. 

On Thursday, Garrity clarified that he is “totally against legalized abortion.”

“I am committed to upholding Church teaching regarding the sanctity of life from the moment of conception until natural death,” he said in his most recent Facebook post. Garrity added that he was “not prepared for the uncharitable responses” to his earlier post, and that “the last thing that I would ever want to do is hurt anyone with my words.” 

Garrity’s original statements sparked a series of responses from archdiocesan officials, both publicly and privately. 

On Thursday, Cardinal O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, issued a statement saying that Catholics have “the right to expect the priests of the Archdiocese and those entrusted with handing on the faith to be clear and unequivocal on the Church’s teaching concerning respect and protection for life from the first moment of conception to natural death.”

“This teaching is of the highest priority for the Church,” he added.

That public statement followed an Aug. 25 letter from Francis J. O’Connor, general counsel of the Archdiocese of Boston, to priests and archdiocesan employees warning them against politically-charged social media posts. 

The memo focused on the tax implications of political endorsements. O’Connor encouraged clergy to “refrain from expressing those opinions which will draw negative attention regardless of ideology as well as possible unwelcome attention from the IRS,” adding that  “the tax exemption issue is an increasing priority with the IRS.”

Federal law provides that 501(c)(3) organizations cannot “participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”

“One’s presence on Social Media, even beyond an organization’s page or website, can be associated with the organization,” wrote O’Connor. 

“Blurring the lines between an individual’s personal thoughts and opinions and the appearance of a connection to the Church or a Church related entity to which those personal thoughts or opinions can be attributed to presents unacceptable risk and jeopardy to the Church’s tax-exempt status.”