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ACI Prensa's latest initiative is the Catholic News Agency (CNA), aimed at serving the English-speaking Catholic audience. ACI Prensa (www.aciprensa.com) is currently the largest provider of Catholic news in Spanish and Portuguese.
Updated: 1 hour 22 min ago

What to expect when the USCCB heads to a Florida beach this week

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 21:00

Denver, Colo., Jun 11, 2018 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- The bishops of the United States will meet in Fort Lauderdale, Fla, this week, less than one mile from A1A-Beachfront Avenue, the Florida road made famous by a 1974 Jimmy Buffett album, and the peerless 1990 Vanilla Ice single “Ice, Ice Baby.”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops conducts two meeting annually- the fall meeting is held in Baltimore, while the spring meeting rotates through conference centers and hotels across the country.

The spring meeting’s agenda is typically light; in fact the meeting is replaced by a retreat every three years.

There are exceptions to the light spring load - last year’s meeting, for example, featured a fiercely-debated vote on the bishops’ religious liberty advocacy. Most famously, the spring meeting of 2002 served as the launching-point for the US bishops’ response to the Church’s burgeoning sexual abuse crisis.

While most of the expected agenda in Fort Lauderdale is a mix of updates, housekeeping items, or votes unlikely to be contentious, two items up for discussion are worth your careful attention.

First, the housekeeping and updates: the bishops will discuss a forthcoming document regarding the pastoral care of Pacific Islander and Asian Catholics, along with the progress of the V National Encuentro, a process of parish, diocesan, and regional meetings for Hispanic Catholics, which will culminate in September with a national meeting held in Texas, and the upcoming Vatican synod on young people, faith, and vocational discernment. The bishops will also vote on new translations of certain sections of the Liturgy of the Hours, the prayer book prayed daily by priests, deacons, and religious brothers and sisters.

According to several sources, the bishops will vote on the publication of short letters, prayers and videos to accompany Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship- the bishops’ 2007 guide to voting and political life.

Faithful Citizenship has been the subject of criticism in recent years, and some have called for a significant reworking of the text, even though it was last revised only three years ago, in 2015. New revisions would likely involve a working group of bishops and USCCB staff members, consultation with experts from academia and political life, and a process of nearly two years. More important, further revisions would likely require the bishops to engage directly in serious debate about political subjects on which they are divided.

The contentious 2016 debate over the bishops’ religious liberty committee pointed to sharp disagreement over the political issues the USCCB has prioritized, and over an approach to political engagement that some see as excessively partisan. Revising Faithful Citizenship would open a direct, public debate about those issues, which could end in gridlock. Sources close to the USCCB have told CNA that many bishops hope to avoid that debate.

It seems more likely the bishops will approve the publication of short statements and videos on political life, using Faithful Citizenship as a kind-of base text from which to work, at least for the foreseeable future.
 
There are two issues likely to spark some debate in Fort Lauderdale- new installments in long-standing discussions about sexual abuse and Catholic healthcare. The USCCB has announced that the bishops will debate proposed revisions to two documents: the Charter for the Protection of Children andYoung People, the Church’s guiding document on sexual abuse, and the Ethical and Religious Directives, which govern Catholic hospitals and healthcare providers.

The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, first issued in 2002, was revised in 2005 and again in 2011. A new revision process began in 2013. Over the past five years, bishops, consultants, the independent National Review Board, and other interested parties have offered suggestions for the document. Though major edits are not expected, debate over the revised text will be the first time the bishops publicly discuss clerical sexual abuse since controversy erupted over Pope Francis’ handling of a sexual abuse crisis in Chile, and since the #MeToo movement burst into international consciousness.

It should be mentioned that the USCCB’s 2017 report on Charter compliance notes that allegations of clerical sexual abuse “decreased significantly” last year, and that the National Review Board said that “the commitment and efforts of the bishops stands out as a model to be emulated by other institutions” working to address the problem of sexual abuse.

Still, some bishops have told CNA they’re concerned about “audit creep”- a name some use to describe the concern that annual Charter compliance audits have become increasingly invasive in recent years, attempting to expand the scope of audits beyond their original purpose. Others have asked whether the document calls for enough screening and formation of seminarians and diaconal candidates before they are ordained, especially with regard to chaste sexuality.

Discussion about the document, if it raises those issues, could be interesting. Child protection is not an issue of ideological division among the bishops- but each of them has the experience of meeting with victims, overseeing background checks and prevention training, engaging with priests accused of malfeasance, and working with the independent compliance auditors who evaluate diocesan practices. Their perspectives about what’s working- and what’s not- will certainly be worth watching.

On the healthcare front, the bishops are expected to debate revisions to the Ethical and Religious Directives that pertain to institutional collaboration between Catholic and non-Catholic hospitals. One-in-six acute care hospital beds in the United States is in a Catholic hospital. Catholic healthcare systems, through mergers, have become among the largest healthcare providers in the nation, and though they're overseen by a Vatican congregation and local bishops, they straddle the fence between more typical Catholic apostolates and billion-dollar corporations.

Catholic healthcare is big business in the United States, and overseeing hospitals can be a challenge for bishops, who usually have less money and personnel than the hospitals in their dioceses. Some critics have said that understanding Catholic healthcare systems in the United States, and trying to govern them, has been an even bigger challenge for the Vatican.

As Catholic hospital systems merge with, or acquire, non-Catholic hospitals, ethical questions have become increasingly complicated. New sections of the Ethical and Religious Directives are expected to address those collaborative relationships.

Sources close to the process have told CNA that the document’s revisions aim to clarify the role of bishops and the Vatican in evaluating healthcare partnerships, and to clarify the limitations on partnering with institutions that perform abortions, sterilizations, gender reassignment surgery, etc. At issue will be whether those clarifications offer enough to gain support from bishops concerned about the influence of the “contraceptive mentality” and “gender ideology” in Catholic healthcare, and from those who want to ensure that bishops are empowered to exercise real oversight of the hospitals in their territory.

The past few months have seen the US bishops addressing controversies at the Vatican, vigorous advocacy on immigration and religious liberty issues, and a tenuous and unpredictable relationship with the Trump Administration. Their meeting in Fort Lauderdale will not be without some excitement, but the agenda might also provide them a chance to breathe, take in the sun, and visit the famous- or, if Vanilla Ice is to be believed, infamous- Beachfront Avenue.

Cardinal Dolan: Let's not capitulate to the abortion culture

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 17:23

New York City, N.Y., Jun 11, 2018 / 03:23 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Responding to Fr. Thomas J. Reese's recent suggestion that the pro-life movement abandon efforts to make abortion illegal and focus instead on reducing the number of abortions, Cardinal Timothy Dolan voiced grave concern with the proposal.

“As chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities, I want to indicate my serious reservations about Reese’s strategy, considering it a capitulation to the abortion culture, and a grave weakening of the powerful pro-life witness,” the Archbishop of New York wrote in a June 8 opinion piece at RNS.

“Catholic tradition and basic human rights teach us that every human being has an inalienable right to life that must be recognized and protected in law. While the law is not the only means of protecting life, it plays a key and decisive role in affecting both human behavior and thinking. We cannot give up!” Dolan continued.

RNS had published an opinion piece by Reese May 27 asserting that the recent vote for the legalization of abortion in Ireland was a sign the pro-life movement “needs a new strategy.”

Noting that most pro-choice laws are victorious when taken to the ballots, Reese believes the pro-life movement should stop fighting the “impossible goal” of criminalizing abortion and shift their efforts to a reduction in the number of abortions and supporting “programs that give women a real choice.”

“In short, the pro-life movement must support any program that lessens the burden on mothers and their children,” said Reese.

Reese, a Jesuit priest, also highlighted the role of the Church in his proposed strategy, saying it should treat an unwed pregnant woman as a “hero, not a whore,” while schools should design programs and affordable housing to meet the needs of mothers and their children.

He stated that the pro-life movement “has to support birth control as a means of avoiding unwanted pregnancies.”

“Planned pregnancies do not get aborted; many unplanned pregnancies do,” he asserted.

“Those who consider artificial contraception to be wrong must also recognize that abortion is a greater evil. When forced to choose, one must choose the lesser of two evils.”

Cardinal Dolan wrote that this is “one of Reese's most troubling assertions.”

“In addition to rejecting the church’s teaching that contraception is itself morally flawed, and the fact that it can be medically harmful to women, his reasoning is questionable,” Dolan pointed outed. In fact, only a good is a licit object of the will; an evil, however lesser, can never be chosen.

Dolan noted that contraception cannot be effectively chosen as a way to avoid choosing abortion: “In reality, more than half of women seeking abortion were actually using contraception during the month they became pregnant, and studies have shown that once contraception is more widely available, abortion rates may actually rise!”

Reese also wrote that “closing [Planned Parenthood] clinics that provide health care and birth control to women before replacements are up and running is irresponsible and counterproductive.”

“Working together, we could reasonably get abortions down to under 100,000 per year [in the U.S.] – far too many, but an achievable goal and better than where we are today,” Reese said.

While Dolan noted support for some of Reese’s suggestions, such as offering much-needed support to pregnant mothers, the New York cardinal said Reese’s strategy ultimately reminds him of “those in the mid-19th century who proposed amelioration as a way to reduce slavery in our country.”

“Thank God, those who believed that slavery was a moral horror, a cancer on our country, and contrary to the higher values of a lawful republic, could never accept this capitulation.”

Reese's assertion that the pro-life movement should give up efforts to give legal protection to unborn humans and instead work only to reduce the number of abortions “is an unnecessary dichotomy,” Cardinal Dolan wrote.  

Reese pointed to some polls which indicated decreased support for restricting abortion laws, but Dolan highlighted other research which noted an increase of Americans wanting more limits on abortion, adding moreover that polls should not control which issues to fight for.

“Reese would be rightly disappointed, as would I, if pro-immigration reformers were to give up because polls discourage them,” Dolan said.

While the end to abortion may seem an impossible goal, Dolan said that through God, all things are possible.

“Abortion is a grave injustice. We must do everything in our power to legally protect babies and to provide for the needs of mothers,” the New York cardinal said.

“May we never give in to the culture of death or lose faith in our efforts to build a culture of life in our world.”

New Baltimore policy permits outdoor Catholic weddings

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 15:07

Baltimore, Md., Jun 11, 2018 / 01:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archdiocese of Baltimore has announced a policy to allow weddings to be held outside of parish churches, including at outdoor venues.

“The archbishop has been emphatic about reaching out to young people,” Diane Barr, chancellor of the Baltimore archdiocese, told the Catholic Review in an article published June 6. “There is more openness to considering other options.”

The revised policy was promulgated Feb. 14, and is the fruit of conversations with people who want to be married in the Church, but also want to have the wedding at a location special to them.

Since the policy was promulgated, more than 20 requests have been made under its provisions; all have been approved.

The policy states that weddings “ordinarily shall take place in a parish church … While always encouraging the faithful to celebrate their wedding in a place of worship, another venue may be deemed a suitable place by the Archbishop or his delegate.”

The preference is that weddings occur in the parish church of the bride or groom, though they may take place in another parish or a school, university, hospital, or other Catholic chapel.

In addition, the new policy allows for wedding to take place at indoor or outdoor wedding venues which are not Catholic chapels.

School chapels are among the most common requests, the Catholic Review reported.

The request for a wedding outside a parish church is to be made by the preparing cleric to the chancellor's office at least six months in advance of the wedding date.

Non-Catholic wedding venues “should be reasonable and in keeping with a religious celebration. The place of the ceremony should establish a prayerful, sacred feeling for the couple and their guests,” the norms state.

A list giving examples of places unsuitable for weddings mentions boats, and places where alcohol is served as a matter of course, including casinos, bars, and nightclubs.

To be permitted, outdoor venues must also have an indoor venue available in case of inclement weather.

The application for a wedding outside the parish church directs that common sense be applied, providing the guidelines that the venue should be in keeping with the sacredness of the character of Catholic marriage; it should be a physically meaningful place for the couple and provide the couple and their guests with the feeling of sacredness for the occasion; and it may not be a bar, restaurant, boat, or on the water. If the location is not a public venue, the application asks that photos be provided which fully describe the venue.

The application requires that canonical reasons be given for requesting the permission, which might include the spiritual good of the couple; the probability of conversion of a non-Catholic; the validation of a previously invalid marriage, among others. It also asks the cleric to describe the reasons the couple is seeking the permission.

The chancellor will review the petition and reply within 30 days. If the request is declined, the reasons for refusal will be included in the letter, and the decision of the archbishop is final.

“People take getting married very seriously,” Barr reflected. She told the Catholic Review that wanting to get married “in their grandmother’s field, behind the family home” is an important reason.

The norms note that “In a ceremony outside the parish or approved Catholic chapel location, a Liturgy of the Word ceremony with Exchange of Consent and blessings is permitted,” and that “all liturgical norms for weddings continue to apply.”

This norm also permits a priest to celebrate a wedding Mass at a location outside a parish or Catholic chapel; but “given the varied venues the policy did not want to oblige that a Mass be celebrated,” Sean Caine, vice-chancellor of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, told CNA.

The Baltimore archdiocese noted that requests for venues outside the archdiocese would require the permission of the local bishop and cannot be guaranteed, though the chancery “will work with other dioceses to try to secure the requisite permissions.”

The Catholic Review suggested that popular venues outside the Archdiocese of Baltimore could include the Eastern Shore or Chesapeake Bay, much of which is in the Diocese of Wilmington.

Caine said that there have been requests for venues outside the Baltimore archdiocese, and that nearby dioceses have indicated a willingness to accommodate these requests, “on a case by case basis as long as it involved a cleric from the Archdiocese of Baltimore.”

The permission to use other locations is a one-year experiment. It will be reviewed after a year, and the archdiocese is “keeping detailed records to be able to determine the efficacy of the process as well as its impact on our community,” Caine indicated.

While their processes are distinct, the Diocese of Helena and the Diocese of Harrisburg both have similar policies for permitting weddings outside of parishes.

 

This man spent a week on the street with his homeless son

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 14:36

Denver, Colo., Jun 11, 2018 / 12:36 pm (CNA).- As the parents of a homeless son struggling with a drug addiction, Frank and his wife Deloris have done everything they could think of to get their grown son into rehab. But it didn’t work.

So Frank took it a step further – he spent a week on the streets with his son, Tommy.  

“You hear for years that with addictions there are three roads: rehab, jail, and death,” said Frank. “The jails won’t keep him. He doesn’t want to help himself. That doesn’t leave many roads…So what do I do?”

“I decided I’m just going to be with him and love him. I’m not going to try and talk him into rehab. I don’t even want to say that word. I’ve decided. I’m going to go be with my son.”

Frank recounted his story in an essay that was read by Jerry Herships, a pastor for the homeless ministry AfterHours, June 5 at Denver’s Civic Center Park. The park is a major setting for the story, and a hub for the city’s homeless population.  

Tommy, 28, struggles with bipolar disorder, is addicted to heroin, and has frequently been in and out of jail. Frank requested their family’s last name not be used, but he wanted to share his encounter with homelessness and human dignity.

The story begins when Frank is tending to his garden in San Diego, California, when he gets the idea to spend time with his son, no matter the circumstances.

“One day, I’m outside doing yard work…I go inside, and I tell Deloris I have an idea. I’m going to Denver… and be homeless. She looks at me like I’m nuts. Maybe I am. But I love my son and to be honest, I think his days are numbered.”

Frank flew to Denver with only a 50-pound backpack, which included a water bottle, small tent, first-aid kit, flashlight, 4X6 sheet of plastic, and some clothes. Arriving to Denver late, he slept in the airport and took a train downtown early the next morning.

When he arrived at Civic Center Park, Frank inquired about Tommy and was directed by the some of his son’s acquaintances toward the needle exchange. Already high, his son was waiting in line to receive clean needles to shoot up drugs, but his father embraced him anyway.

“I can see he can't stand up without the support of the building. He would appear drunk to most people… I know from past experiences, sadly, he is on heroin,” said Frank.

“I get up to him and he starts to turn his back on me. I don't even care, I just grab him and squeeze him as hard as I can. I'm telling him over and over how much I love him. I tell him how much his family loves him.”

In the essay, Frank gives details about the processes of finding campsites and food, interactions with other people who are homeless, and the struggles with Tommy’s drug addiction.

The experience was extremely difficult, Frank said, recalling times when watching his son’s pain and crippling addiction brought him to tears. He could the see dominating force of addiction – the constant use of people and the single-minded focus on the drug.

Because of a previous charge for bike theft, Tommy had to appear in court that week, pass a drug test, and provide evidence of attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings, or he would automatically get 30 days in jail.

But before the court case, he went into a grocery store, where he spent so long that Frank stated: “I'm sure it was to shoot up and fill his rear end with drugs. If they send him to jail he can be high and have a backup supply in jail. That’s what they do. This is all so sick. Most people couldn't even imagine this world. I lived it. It is real.”

In the end, Tommy was able to make a deal with the District Attorney’s office, delaying the court appearance and drug test for an additional week.

Frustrated and exhausted by the end of the trip, Frank complained about his son’s lack of appreciation and rude behavior. However, his wife reminded him that the mental illness and drug addictions were influencing Tommy’s behavior.

Frank’s week-long visit with his son did not solve the problems of Tommy’s addiction or homelessness. But it gave Frank a chance to connect with his son in his suffering and to express his love.

“This experience has changed me for life,” wrote Frank, noting the insight he has gained into the public’s reaction to homelessness and the hold of addictions.

While taking public transportation or waiting in line to make a purchase, he said he was treated like a second-class citizen, both ignored and harassed because he appeared to be homeless.

“What would God say? How many of these folks go to church every week?” he said. “Maybe they too, like myself, should change and respect our fellow man.”

While Frank said that he does not give money to homeless people, he now makes a greater effort to talk to them and show them love and respect.

“I treat them like I would treat somebody else. They deserve that. God made us all equal. We are still humans, show some respect.”
 

 

Money, power and Humanae Vitae: the forgotten story

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 06:00

Washington D.C., Jun 11, 2018 / 04:00 am (CNA).- The controversy over Humanae Vitae, the papal encyclical that reaffirmed Catholic teaching on contraception 50 years ago, cannot be understood apart from the context of a well-funded advocacy network for population control after the Second World War.
 
The network includes big names in grantmaking like the Ford Foundation and John D. Rockefeller III. One scholar has been writing about this network for decades.
 
“The campaign to persuade Catholics, leaders and the lay public, that traditional views of sexuality, abortion, and marriage were antiquated was extensive and conducted on many fronts,” Arizona State University history professor Donald Critchlow told CNA.

“Groups such as Catholics for Choice were encouraged through philanthropic grants, but the more general campaign was conducted around sexual education.”
 
Critchlow is the author of the 1999 Oxford University Press book “Intended Consequences: Birth Control, Abortion, and the Federal Government in Modern America.”

Together with his talk at the Catholic University of America’s April 2018 conference “The Legacy of Dissent from Humanae Vitae,” his work helps place Humanae Vitae in the political and policy context of its time.
 
“In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, leaders in philanthropic foundations, politics, and business joined together to undertake a campaign to control the rates of population growth. They concluded that future wars, famine, and other social ills could be prevented through a reduction in the rate of population growth.” Critchlow told CNA. “This neo-Malthusian agenda was joined by activists seeking reproductive rights for women and environmentalists seeking environmental justice.”
 
This took part in an environment of sexual revolution, even before the invention of the birth control pill.
 
“American sexual mores were already changing in the 1960s,” Critchlow continued. “Changes in sexual mores and sexual behavior cannot be attributed to one single cause. There should be little doubt, however, that elite opinion encouraged changes in sexual mores and behavior in the name of ‘progress,’ reproductive justice, and population control.”
 
The history professor classified the postwar era as “one of most massive efforts of social engineering in human history.”
 
“Many actors were found in this neo-Malthusian campaign, but it is important to emphasize that it was not a conspiracy as such,” he said. “Those involved in the population control movement and calls for publicly funded contraception, abortion, sterilization and sex education shared a general perspective on the need to control population growth and to educate the public. They saw themselves as the enlightened bringing progress to the masses, who were backward in their social, political, and religious views. “
 
When Humanae Vitae, issued by Pope Paul VI on July 25, 1968, reaffirmed Catholic teaching that contraception was immoral, these advocates responded strongly.
 
Humanae Vitae was attacked openly and publicly,” Critchlow said.
 
This advocacy network had Catholic allies. The National Catholic Reporter had received a leaked report backed by the majority of Paul VI’s birth control commission, which argued that contraception was compatible with the Catholic faith.
 
Theologian Fr. Charles Curran became the center of controversy, after the Catholic University of American overturned his tenure recommendation because he rejected Catholic teaching on birth control. The decision prompted waves of protest and controversy, and was later reversed.
 
Hugh Moore, a non-Catholic businessman and population control activist who had helped found the Dixie Cup Corporation, took out full page ads in the New York Times and other newspapers, circulating anti-Humanae Vitae material to the bishops and translating it into Spanish and French.
 
“He organized petitions from dissenting priests that were highly publicized. The Vatican, Roman Catholicism, and traditional bishops in the United States were portrayed as reactionary and out of step with modernity,” Critchlow added.
 
Moore had played a key role in establishing the International Planned Parenthood Federation and served as its vice-president in the mid-1960s. He helped co-found the Population Crisis Committee and was a leading advocate of voluntary sterilization.
 
According to Critchlow, the overall campaign against a feared “population explosion” was “conducted on many fronts, often uncoordinated, with sharp differences over strategy and tactics, but based on the assumption that population control was necessary to save humanity.”
 
After the Second World War, philanthropic foundations worked to establish family planning clinics outside the U.S. These foundations’ lobbyists then worked to get a U.S. commitment to domestic family planning. Under President Lyndon Johnson, anti-poverty programs saw family planning as an instrument, especially in inner city neighborhoods, black minorities, and Native American reservations. This was extended under the Nixon Administration.
 
Books like Paul Erhlich’s “The Population Bomb,” popular magazine articles, science fiction novels and movies raised fears of a dystopian future that would be inevitable unless population growth were controlled.
 
Another major name in the movement was John D. Rockefeller III, who funded many population control groups and founded the Population Council in 1952. Its charter’s first draft, which was later modified, spoke of creating conditions in which parents who are “often above average in intelligence, quality of personality” produce “larger than average families.”

Critchlow saw this as “eugenic language.”
 
The Ford Foundation similarly put millions of dollars into population control programs. Some donors, like Cordelia Scaife May, an heiress of the Mellon family fortune, would be drawn to more radical groups like Zero Population Growth.
 
In the 1960s, the Catholic bishops faced paralysis. Efforts to block the federal government’s moves to fund family planning were stalled by disagreement among the bishops and uncertainty about what Pope Paul VI would finally say about the birth control pill, among other problems, such as Catholic agencies’ and hospitals’ dependence upon federal funds.
 
“Catholic religious leaders, including educators, confronted a critical dilemma with deep roots in the Roman Catholic experience in America: How to be accepted in a country with a tradition of anti-Catholicism, while maintaining core Catholic principles,” said Critchlow. “Inevitably compromises were reached to ensure accommodation with a culture that was becoming increasingly secularized”
 
With the involvement of University of Notre Dame president Father Theodore Hesburgh’s personal assistant George Shuster, a series of meetings on human population growth were held at Notre Dame from 1963 to 1967 under the sponsorship of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation. They brought together selected Catholic leaders to meet with leaders of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Population Council, as well as with leaders of the Ford and Rockefeller foundations.
 
Critchlow, in his book “Intended Consequences” said John D. Rockefeller III and others within the foundation community were “astutely aware of the importance of changing the Catholic Church’s position on birth control” and saw the meetings as an opportunity to ally with Catholic leaders who could “help change opinion within the hierarchy.”
 
According to Critchlow, Fr. Hesburgh arranged for a 1965 meeting between Rockefeller and Pope Paul VI to discuss population control issues. The same year, 37 scholars who attended a conference at Notre Dame signed a confidential statement to the papal commission examining the morality of new forms of artificial birth control. Their statement lobbied for a change in the Catholic Church’s view of contraception.
 
Rockefeller appointed Fr. Hesburgh to the Rockefeller Foundation’s executive committee in 1966, with the understanding that he would abstain from voting on issues involving contraception, sterilization and abortion. Fr. Hesburgh served as the foundation’s chairman from 1977 to 1982.
 
“In the end, the bishops were forced to accommodate to dissent within the church. The Catholic Church was placed on the defensive until the rise of the abortion issue in which public opinion was much more divided on than oral contraception,” said Critchlow.
 
The population control programs led to several scandals involving U.S. and U.N.-sponsored family planning programs. In India, forced sterilization was widespread and drew outrage when reported. In the U.S., there were instances of federally funded forced sterilization in anti-poverty programs.
 
This resulted in strong attacks on population control, especially from feminists, and the movement changed strategies. It promoted delayed marriage through women’s economic and educational development.
 
“These goals of promoting economic independence and higher education for women in developing countries should be applauded, even if such programs are supported by feminist activists and population control advocates,” Critchlow said.
 
While the population control debate has shifted, the controversy over Humanae Vitae continues to this day.

Study finds Catholic school correlates with student's self-control

Sun, 06/10/2018 - 18:01

Washington D.C., Jun 10, 2018 / 04:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholic elementary school students, regardless of race, sex, or socioeconomic status, have more self-control and self-discipline than their peers enrolled in either public schools or non-Catholic private schools, a recent study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute found.

The study examined two surveys of the behavior of thousands of elementary school students enrolled in public, Catholic, and non-Catholic private schools.

According to the teachers in the surveys, students at Catholic schools engaged in fewer “externalizing behaviors,” meaning they did not fight, get angry, act impulsively, or disturb ongoing activities as frequently as students at other schools.

What’s more, Catholic school students are “more likely to control their temper, respect others’ property, accept their fellow students ideas, and to handle peer pressure.” This is true across demographic lines.

Acording to its website, the Fordham Institute promotes educational excellence for every child in America via quality research, analysis, and commentary. It is often described as a conservative think-tank.

While the study is encouraging, CATO Institute expert Corey A. DeAngelis warns that it is not causal, (as there was no real way to create a control group), and there could be other factors for a child’s good behavior than the type of school he or she attends.

Still, DeAngelis says there are reasons to believe that Catholic schools in particular could provide an environment to develop a sense of self-discipline.

“Religious schools may have a competitive advantage at shaping character skills because students are not just held accountable to teachers – they are also held accountable to God,” DeAnglis told CNA.

DeAngelis also speculates that the close-knit nature of many Catholic schools could foster an environment which would further benefit its students.

“Children are more likely to feel engaged and interested in a school with a strong school culture,” he explained.

One Catholic school system with a strong culture is the Cristo Rey Network. Cristo Rey schools exclusively serve underprivileged students, and the majority of its students are students of color. Its unique Corporate Work Study Program puts Cristo Rey students to work in an office environment to pay their tuition. The average Cristo Rey student is about two grade levels behind their peers, but despite this, about 90 percent of graduates will enroll in college.

Cristo Rey Network CEO Elizabeth Goettl credits the high standards set by Catholic educators for this result.

“Catholic school students may exhibit more self-discipline and self-control than their peers in other schools because of the consistent and high expectations set for such behaviors by all of the adults in the school,” Goettl. These behaviors are then modeled by older students as well as teachers, which Goettl believes has a trickle-down effect on other students.

The Fordham Institute’s study is positive news for those in favor of school choice programs.

Sr. Dale McDonald, PBVM, Ph.D., the director of public policy and educational research at the National Catholic Educational Association, told CNA that she supports these programs, as “the child should not be punished for the parents’ inability to pay.”

DeAngelis, the CATO expert, had similar thoughts.

“We already allow well-to-do families to send their children to religious schools. We shouldn’t prevent disadvantaged groups from sending their kids to religious schools just because they do not have the financial means,” he told CNA.

“Poor families should be able to freely exercise their religions even if they need a voucher to do so.”

Priests and scientists talk neuroscience, cosmology, and philosophy - with pie

Sun, 06/10/2018 - 07:00

Washington D.C., Jun 10, 2018 / 05:00 am (CNA).- A Thomistic philosopher, an evolutionary biologist, and a Harvard astronomy professor walk into a bar. Well, not a bar.

But they did walk into a Washington, D.C. symposium this week, at which graduate students, professors, religious sisters, and other curious Catholics discussed highly technical scientific questions over bourbon and pecan pie, late into the night.

The three-day conference, co-sponsored by the Thomistic Institute and the Society of Catholic Scientists, brought together nearly 70 professors and graduate students from Princeton, Harvard, Yale, MIT, the University of Chicago, and other universities across the country to examine the intersection of faith and science.

“The typical contemporary view assumes that there is going to be some deep tension between faith and science. From our perspective that's an illusion. There is not really a conflict there, but it does require you to work carefully through some of these issues,” said Fr. Dominic Legge, OP, the Thomistic Institute’s director.

The idea behind the conference was to bring high-level scientists together with some very good philosophers and theologians to talk through questions about integrating specialized scientific research with a broadly grounded philosophical perspective, Legge told CNA.

Scholars presented lectures on neuroscience, physics, cosmology, biology, and philosophy. The Thomistic Institute plans to post lectures from the symposium on iTunes.

Dr. Karin Öberg teaches astrophysics at Harvard University, where she researches the interstellar medium and star formation. Öberg seeks to discover “how chemistry and physics interact during star and planet formation to shape the bulk and organic compositions of nascent planets.” She is also one of the founders of the Society of Catholic Scientists.

At the Thomistic symposium, Öberg lectured about exoplanets and the possibility of extraterrestrials.

“The big scientific development that has happened in the past 10-20 years is that we have found out that planets are very common around other stars. Basically, every star that you see in the sky is its own solar system, so that's a change in the cosmology that we live in. This obviously for most people begs the question, 'Are they also living systems like our earth?'”

Öberg told CNA that it would be “super cool” to discover even non-rational life because “it would teach us something about how you go from inanimate to animate matter, which is currently very poorly understood.”

“But I think from a spiritual point of view what people are excited about is the possibility of other intelligent beings that could potentially inhabit some of these worlds,” Öberg continued.

“That's where you get into some of the most controversial and exciting meeting points of the scientific pursuit of what may or may not exist, intelligent extraterrestrial life, and what we can deduce from Scripture or Church teachings on the likelihood of their existence. What kind of aliens would be compatible with the interpretation of Scripture?”

Neurology professor Dr. Stephen Meredith from the University of Chicago; Dr. William Carroll, a research fellow at Oxford; and Dr. Daniel de Haan, a divinity professor at Cambridge, also presented lectures.

Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, OP, presented on evolutionary theory.

“My question is how do you explain the appearance of novel traits in the biological realm from a biological perspective that appeals to four causes, one of which is efficient?” said Austriaco, who received his Ph.D., in biology from MIT.

“To invoke a first cause would make no sense to many of my colleagues at MIT who are doing science, but the attempt there is to try within a particular conceptual framework to make intelligible sense of what is actually happening,” he continued in a discussion among all of the lecturers.

On the theory of evolution, Legge explained that God's creative activity is not in competition with explanations for the origins of being that are framed with the created universe.

“Creation means not just a first moment in time, but a relation of radical ontological dependence on God as creator. And, at the same time he endows creatures with the power to cause, and that means that creatures really can cause things to change in the world,” said Legge.

“We can investigate what's happening with creaturely causes, including a theory of evolution about how you have the diversification of species over time and the emergence of more complex forms of life. That doesn't threaten in any way the fact that God creates the world or that God has a providential plan,” he continued.

Dr. Jonathan Lunine, vice-president of the Society of Catholic Scientists and a professor of astronomy at Cornell University, elaborated on that point.

"Science provides us with a way of understanding the natural universe, the processes that occur, how that universe has evolved through time, but it doesn't give us the metaphysical question of why are we here and what is behind it all," he told CNA.
 
Unlike most scientific conferences, this symposium included an option for daily Mass and a holy hour, giving it a distinctly Dominican flavor.

Catholic speaker Matt Fradd, who has a graduate degree in philosophy, told CNA that the meeting “has been like drinking water from a fire hydrant with people who are about 17,000 times smarter than me giving talks on neuroscience and evolutionary theory, so it has been great."

Legge told CNA that the symposium aimed to help participants grow in love for God through scientific understanding.

“To learn to love the Lord with your mind means to devote everything, all of the resources of your mind, to understanding what God has created and, ultimately, trying to understand as much as it is possible for us -- God himself,” Legge told CNA.

“I think that is an important thing for every Catholic who is engaged in the life of the mind,” he said.

Satanist loses legal challenge to strip 'In God We Trust' from currency

Sat, 06/09/2018 - 18:28

Chicago, Ill., Jun 9, 2018 / 04:28 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A U.S. appellate court has ruled against a self-described Satanist from Chicago who had filed a lawsuit seeking to remove the motto “In God We Trust” from U.S. currency.

The ruling, released May 31, found that “a reasonable observer would not perceive the motto on currency as a religious endorsement.”

Kenneth Mayle, who describes himself as a non-theistic Satanist, filed the original lawsuit in May 2017. A lower court had dismissed the suit, and Mayle appealed.

The 36-year-old told the Chicago Tribune that carrying and using money with the motto “In God We Trust” makes him feel compelled to take part in a “submissive ritual” by spreading a religious message with which he disagrees.

He does not like to use credit or debit cards due to late and overdraft fees, as well as the potential for security breaches, and says that he would ideally prefer to use cryptocurrency for all transactions.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the currency motto “is similar to other ways in which secular symbols give a nod to the nation’s religious heritage,” such as the line “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.  

A similar suit received a ruling on May 29 from the 6th Circuit Court of U.S. Appeals.

In that suit, a group of atheists and humanists argued that the motto on the currency required them to “bear, affirm, and proselytize an objectionable message in a way that…violates their core religious beliefs.”

One Jewish plaintiff also argued that “participation in any activity that ultimately leads to the superfluous printing of G-d’s name on secular documents or to the destruction of G-d’s printed name is sinful.”

A lower court had dismissed the case, saying that cash-only transactions did not compel proselytization.

The court of appeals agreed with the lower court’s ruling. It said that plaintiffs had failed to “show a specific governmental intent to infringe upon, restrict, or suppress other religious beliefs” through the motto on U.S. currency.

Although the plaintiffs said they preferred to use cash over credit or debit cards, the court said that the existence of these alternatives meant that the plaintiffs were not forced “to choose between violating their religious beliefs or suffering a serious consequence” and therefore could not demonstrate a substantial burden on their free exercise of religion.

The phrase “In God We Trust” is the official motto of the United States. It first appeared on certain U.S. coins as early as 1864. A 1956 law required all U.S. currency to bear the printed phrase.

The motto has faced several lawsuits since 1970, which have been repeatedly rejected by courts.

Civil court rules Fulton Sheen’s remains can go to Peoria

Sat, 06/09/2018 - 14:33

New York City, N.Y., Jun 9, 2018 / 12:33 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Superior Court of New York ruled Friday in favor of Joan Sheen Cunningham, who had petitioned to move the body of her uncle, Venerable Fulton Sheen, to the Cathedral of St. Mary in Peoria. The body of the late archbishop is currently in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

The Diocese of Peoria welcomed the decision.

“This is the second time that the Superior Court of New York has ruled in favor of Joan Sheen Cunningham’s petition,” read a June 8 statement from the Peoria diocese.

The judge, Arlene Bluth, ruled that “the location of Archbishop Sheen's final resting place would not have been his primary concern” and that “it makes no sense, given his lifelong devotion to the Catholic Church, that he would choose a location over the chance to become a saint.”

The Peoria diocese opened the cause for Sheen’s canonization in 2002 after Archdiocese of New York said it would not explore the case. In 2012, Benedict XVI recognized the heroic virtues of the archbishop.
 
However, Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria suspended the beatification cause in September 2014 on the grounds that the Holy See expected Sheen’s remains to be in the Peoria diocese.
 
The Archdiocese of New York, however, has said that Vatican officials have said the Peoria diocese can pursue Sheen’s canonization regardless of whether his body is at rest there.

Sheen was born in Illinois in 1895, and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Peoria at the age of 24. He was appointed auxiliary bishop of New York in 1951, and he remained there until his appointment as Bishop of Rochester in 1966. He retired in 1969 and moved back to New York City until his death in 1979.

Sheen’s will had declared his wish to be buried in the Archdiocese of New York Calvary Cemetery. Soon after Sheen died, Cardinal Terence Cooke of New York asked Cunningham, Sheen’s closest living relative, if his remains could be placed in the New York cathedral’s crypt, and she consented.

Cunningham has said that Sheen would have wanted to have been interred in Peoria if he knew that he would be considered for sainthood. In 2016, she filed a legal complaint seeking to have her uncle’s remains moved to Peoria.

An initial court ruling had sided with Cunningham, but a state appeals court overturned that ruling, saying it had failed to give sufficient attention to a sworn statement from a colleague of Archbishop Sheen, Monsignor Hilary C. Franco, a witness for the New York archdiocese.
 
Msgr. Franco had said that Sheen told him he wanted to be buried in New York and that Cardinal Cooke had offered him a space in the crypt of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The appeals court ordered “a full exploration” of the archbishop’s desires.

The Diocese of Peoria said that the New York superior court ruled this week that Msgr. Franco “testified completely in line with the testimony of Joan Sheen Cunningham. Therefore, both supported their understanding that above all else Archbishop Sheen would not have objected to his remains being transferred to Peoria.”

“Furthermore, the Archdiocese of New York could not supply any further testimony against Joan Sheen Cunningham’s petition. The court ruled that their testimony was fundamentally the same,” the Peoria diocese said.

Bluth ruled that “Mrs. Cunningham has offered a sound reason and a laudable purpose for her petition” and that Sheen “would care much less about the location of his earthly remains than his ability … to continue to serve man and God on a grand scale after his earthly demise.”

The Peoria diocese expressed their hope that the Archdiocese of New York “will cease their legal resistance and respect the ruling of the Superior Court. Bishop Jenky hopes that the New York Archdiocese will cooperate with … the practical matters as to moving the remains of Venerable Archbishop Sheen to Peoria, Illinois. It is the hope that this process will begin immediately.”

The Diocese of Peoria said that moving Sheen’s body to Peoria will be the next step towards bringing his beatification to completion.

“Bishop Jenky encourages everyone to pray for a renewed spirit of cooperation in the effort to beatify Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen.”

Sheen served as host of the “Catholic Hour” radio show and the television show “Life is Worth Living”.
 
In addition to his pioneering radio and television shows, Archbishop Sheen authored many books, with proceeds supporting foreign missions. He headed the Society for the Propagation of the Faith at one point in his life, and continued to be a leading figure in U.S. Catholicism until his death.
 
Archbishop Sheen’s intercession is credited with the miraculous recovery of a pronounced stillborn American baby from the Peoria area.
 
In June 2014, a panel of theologians that advises the Congregation for the Causes of Saints ruled that the baby’s recovery was miraculous.
 
The baby, later named James Fulton Engstrom, was born in September 2010 showing no signs of life. As medical professionals tried to revive him, his parents prayed for his recovery through the intercession of Fulton Sheen.
 
Although the baby showed no pulse for an hour after his birth, his heart started beating again and he escaped serious medical problems.

Denver celebrates Mass on 100th anniversary of Julia Greeley's death

Fri, 06/08/2018 - 18:27

Denver, Colo., Jun 8, 2018 / 04:27 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archdiocese of Denver hosted a special Mass on Thursday in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the death of Julia Greeley, who is the first person from Colorado to be proposed for sainthood.

Archbishop Samuel Aquila said Greeley was a holy woman who suffered as a former slave and was riddled with arthritis, but still embraced the love of Christ and lived it out.

“How difficult her early life must have been in terms of experiencing slavery, watching her own mother being beaten, losing her own eye,” Archbishop Aquila told CNA.

“And then, her encounter with Jesus Christ...She knew the love of Christ for her, she knew that she was truly a daughter of the Father, and she lived that out.”

The Mass in Greeley’s honor took place at Denver’s Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on the evening of June 7. Archbishop Aquila celebrated the Mass and, among others, was joined by Capuchin Friar Father Blaine Burkey, who wrote a biography of Greeley.

Numerous organizations were represented at the Mass, including the Julia Greeley Guild, a group raising awareness of her canonization cause; the Secular Franciscans, a lay Catholic community with whom she had been involved; and Denver’s fire department, which provided special honor guards to recognize her service to the community’s firefighters.

A letter from Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado was also read declaring this week, June 3-9, 2018, to be “Julia Greeley Week.”

Born a slave in Hannibal, Missouri sometime between 1833 and 1848, Greeley endured horrific treatment – once, a whip caught her right eye and destroyed it as a slave master beat her mother.

One of many slaves freed by Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, Greeley’s work with the family of William Gilpin, Colorado’s first territorial governor, brought her to Denver in 1878. Influenced by Gilpin’s wife, who was a devout Catholic, Greeley converted to Catholicism in 1880.

She was an enthusiastic parishioner, a daily communicant, and became an active member of the Secular Franciscan Order starting in 1901. The Jesuit priests at her parish recognized her as the most fervent promoter of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

During her four decades in Colorado, Greely became known as the “Angel of Charity.” After leaving the Gilpins' service, Greeley found odd jobs around the city. She would beg for goods and then offer them to the poor.

Pulling a red wagon behind her, she would hand out clothes, foods, and medicine to the impoverished, acting at night so as not to embarrass those she helped.

Mary Leisring, president of the Julia Greeley Guild, told CNA that “at one point, someone said they saw her walking down the street with a mattress on her back because she knew that someone needed a mattress.”

Having a strong devotion to the Sacred Heart, Greeley would also deliver Sacred Heart pamphlets to the local firefighters to provide spiritual nourishment. She would travel on foot every month to the fire departments around Denver.

Archbishop Aquila said Greeley was an inspiration because, despite her pains and difficulties, she embraced the love of Christ.

“[She] became extremely generous in the outpouring of her own life, even in the midst of her physical condition, was not shy at all about proclaiming Christ and the good news of the Gospel, and especially with her generosity with the poor,” he said.

Her cause for canonization was officially opened in December 2016, and, on the 99th anniversary of her death, her remains were interred in the cathedral. The local investigation into Greeley’s canonization will likely be closed by this August. A few alleged miracles, credited to her intercession, have been reported and are being reviewed.

 

Why some Catholics are skeptical of Pride Month

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 19:08

Washington D.C., Jun 7, 2018 / 05:08 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- While the month of June is marked by LGBT pride events, some Catholic critics have voiced wariness and concern that the events draw people away from God’s plan for humankind.

“Pride Month fills me with sadness, for gay pride parades are events that ultimately show how much man has forgotten God and how much he loves us, as a loving Father who created us in his image, solely as male and female,” Daniel Mattson, author of the book “Why I Don't Call Myself Gay,” told CNA.

“Gay Pride Parades are masquerades that obscure man’s dignity, rather than honor it,” he said.

Mattson voiced gratitude for the opening words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s section on Life in Christ, a passage from a sermon of St. Leo the Great, which says “Christian, recognize your dignity.” Mattson also voiced gratitude that the Church “points the path away from pride in what are ultimately socially constructed identities to the truth of our nature.”

Mattson suggested that parade marchers will find true happiness only through “humility before God, their creator, recognizing the inherent dignity he gave them, as his sons and daughters, created male and female.”

LGBT pride parades and other observances are held in June to commemorate the June 1969 riots and protests against a police raid at the Stonewall Inn bar in New York City. This month’s events range from low-key events, marches and advocacy, major corporate-backed events, and events that include public nudity and immorality.

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island has also commented on the observances.

“Catholics should be very wary of events in the June LGBTQ month. It’s not a fun-filled, family-friendly celebration of respect,” Tobin said in a June 1 Twitter post. “It promotes a lifestyle and agenda that, in the extreme, is morally offensive.”

Mattson said he was grateful for Bishop Tobin’s “clarity and warning” about attending the events.

“I pray that many will heed his words of caution,” he said.

Pride events also drew comment from Father James Martin, S.J., editor-at-large of America Magazine. In several June 2 Twitter posts that seemed to counter Bishop Tobin’s remarks, Father Martin said: “Catholics need not be wary of June’s Pride Month. It’s a way for LGBT people to be proud that they are beloved children of God, they have families who love them as they are, and they have a right to be treated with ‘respect, compassion and sensitivity’ after years of persecution.”

Father Martin received an award from the dissenting Catholic group New Ways Ministry and his speech to the group became the basis for his 2017 book “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity.” The book drew praise from Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, as well as Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark.

However, the Guinean-born Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, criticized the book in a September 2017 editorial in the Wall Street Journal, saying that Catholic outreach to LGBT individuals must always include the truth about Catholic teaching and chastity.

“As a mother, the Church seeks to protect her children from the harm of sin, as an expression of her pastoral charity,” the cardinal said.
 
Mattson, who did not comment on Martin’s tweets specifically, suggested that the Church’s message for those who self-identify as LGBT should be “Recognize your dignity and reject the limiting reductionist sexual labels of the world.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that those who experience same-sex attraction “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,” while explaining that LGBT individuals, like all Catholics, are called to the virtue of chastity with regard to the sexual expression.

“You were called into being by God the Father who knit you in the womb, made male and female, in His likeness. Claim your true nature, in humility, recognizing that you are a creature, made by God,” Mattson said. “Humility, not pride, is the only path to peace and true human freedom.”

He suggested another appropriate response to pride parades is “sorrow, bowed heads, and prayers for all those who march around the world.” These prayers should be “guided by the confident hope that through the grace of God, they might one day come to know the Father’s love for them, and in his tender gaze, finally understand who they truly are.”

“Such has been the gift the Church has given to me,” Mattson told CNA.

 

UN Human Rights Office condemns US border separation of families

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 17:42

Washington D.C., Jun 7, 2018 / 03:42 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Maria had been a victim of sex trafficking and abuse by a local gang when she fled Guatemala. Taking her 3-year-old son, Jose, she made the trek to the U.S. border, seeking asylum in the United States.

But when she arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border in December 2017, she was apprehended by Customs and Border Protection. Agents separated her from her son, who was grouped together with “unaccompanied minors” by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, while Maria was transferred to adult detention.

Maria’s story, as related by the Migration and Refugees Services of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is not unique.

At least 700 migrant children have been separated from adults claiming to be their parents since October 2017, according to data from the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which takes custody of the children. More than 100 of these children were under the age of 4.

Katie Kuennen is the associate director of children’s services for the U.S. bishops’ migration and refugee services, which operates a shelter for unaccompanied children in Texas.

“The vast majority of the kids coming into our residential programs are experiencing the trauma of family separation,” said Kuennen, who has observed increasing numbers of family separations at the border in recent months.

“We know from our work here in child welfare and social work that the impact of such a separation … can be extremely devastating both developmentally and psychologically on the child,” Kuennen explained in an online webinar on family separation on May 30.

On June 5, the United Nations human rights office condemned the U.S. practice of separating migrant children from their parents at the border as “a serious violation of the rights of the child.”

“The practice of separating families amounts to arbitrary and unlawful interference in family life,” said UN spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani, who called on the U.S. to “ immediately halt this practice of separating families.”

Prior to the UN condemnation, the U.S. bishops released a statement on June 1, urging the U.S. government to keep migrant families together.

“My brother bishops and I understand the need for the security of our borders and country, but separating arriving families at the U.S./Mexico border does not allay security concerns,” wrote Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin.

“Rupturing the bond between parent and child causes scientifically-proven trauma that often leads to irreparable emotional scarring,” continued Bishop Vasquez, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ committee on migration.

“Children are not instruments of deterrence but a blessing from God,” said the bishop.

On May 4, the Department of Homeland Security began referring all people crossing the border illegally to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution.

This “zero-tolerance policy” was implemented in response to a report that there had been a 203 percent increase in unauthorized border crossings in the past year. The majority of people arriving at the U.S. border had fled Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, according to the UN.

The goal of the policy is prosecuting 100 percent of the people who cross the border illegally, said Melissa Hastings, a policy advisor for the U.S. bishops’ migration and refugee services.

While adults over the age of 18 await prosecution in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service, any children who had been traveling with them will be designated as “unaccompanied” and transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The policy “does not have any exceptions for families who are coming in and willingly turning themselves over to border patrol seeking protection” by applying for legal asylum, said Hastings.

“In the majority of these cases it is noted that CBP had never asked the parent if they could verify the relationship at the time of apprehension,” added Kuennen, who said that parents are not being asked for documentation or evidence of their kinship before separation.

Once a child is separated and their parent detained, Kuennen has found it to be very challenging to facilitate communication between family members because the shelters caring for the children have to identify where the separated parent has been detained and establish contact.

“We recently had a 5-year-old girl from El Salvador who was separated from her biological mother. In this particular case, it took over 30 days to establish initial contact with the mother,” said Kuennen, noting that the child had been extremely traumatized by the initial separation.

“We've heard also some cases of extremely young children, infants, nursing babies who have been separated from their parents and caregivers,” said Kuennen.

For young children, this traumatic separation can lead to long-term physical and mental health consequences, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which released a statement condemning family separation in May.

“[H]ighly stressful experiences, like family separation, can cause irreparable harm, disrupting a child's brain architecture and affecting his or her short- and long-term health. This type of prolonged exposure to serious stress - known as toxic stress - can carry lifelong consequences for children,” the academy warned.

There is also an issue of judicial efficiency, added Ashley Feasley, director of policy for the U.S. bishops’ migration and refugee services.

Previously, a mother could claim her children as derivatives on one asylum application and court claim. The family separation policy forces each individual to have their own claim, multiplying the number of court cases at a time when “our judicial immigration system is already overrun,” Feasley said.

She encouraged Catholics to help by contacting Congress, volunteering with immigrants through their local Catholic Charities, or even volunteering to foster a separated or unaccompanied child.

“Right now, in this initial phase, given the strong statements by DHS and the fact that Congress does have a small, but important oversight role, we are really pushing Congress to push back on this issue at this time,” she said. “We think it is crucial.”

Congressmen call for investigation into Planned Parenthood abuse cover-ups

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 16:04

Washington D.C., Jun 7, 2018 / 02:04 pm (CNA).- Several members of Congress have asked the federal government to investigate allegations that Planned Parenthood has covered-up acts of sexual abuse.

At a press conference held Thursday outside the Capitol Building, the members of Congress, along with pro-life group Live Action, asked the Department of Health and Human Services to investigate Planned Parenthood and other Title X fund recipients to determine if there is a widespread practice of covering up sexual abuse.

Planned Parenthood is the largest recipient of Title X family planning funds, and is required by law to report any suspected abuse.

Last week, Live Action released the first videos of its ongoing docuseries “Aiding Abusers: Planned Parenthood’s Cover-Up of Child Sexual Abuse,” as well as a report containing decades worth of examples of Planned Parenthood acting negligently in failing to report sexual abuse. Many of the stories detailed in the report were re-told on Thursday by members of Congress.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) was blunt in his criticism of Planned Parenthood, saying that he thinks the organization has shown “gross negligence” in not only failing to report abuse, but in many cases returning the abuse victim to their abuser. Smith, who authored a bill in 2000 to protect victims of human trafficking, said that he finds the purported complicity with abuse to be “appalling.”  

Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the United States, and performs about 900 abortions each day. It receives over half a billion dollars in taxpayer funding, about 10 percent of which are Title X funds.

The Trump Administration announced a new rule in late May that would prohibit Title X funds from going to organizations that perform abortion. In order for Planned Parenthood to remain eligible for Title X funds, it would need to discontinue offering abortions, or create a stand-alone, financially segregated organization exclusively providing abortion.

“This is something we have been working on and I applaud the administration for taking that step,” said Rep. Diane Black (R-TN).

“The integrity of our tax dollars should never be in question, especially those intended for actual family planning and women’s healthcare.”

Lila Rose, founder of Live Action, shared stories of her own undercover visits to two Planned Parenthood locations in the Los Angeles area, posing as an abuse victim. In neither case was her abuse reported to law enforcement authorities, and instead, she was encouraged to lie about her age. Rose believes that Planned Parenthood uses abortion as a tool to destroy physical evidence.
“Abortion is something that is then used to enable the abuse of young girls and cover up their abuse,” said Rose.

In one case cited in the report, a young teen girl who said she was being raped by her father received two abortions at Planned Parenthood. She was also given an IUD after the second abortion to prevent additional pregnancies. In neither case was her abuse reported to the authorities, despite being far below the age of consent.

“Planned Parenthood’s failure to report these heinous crimes does not empower women or our children. It empowers their abusers,” said Black.

“These stories are sickening, and we're calling on HHS to investigate Planned Parenthood and every Title X funding recipient to determine how widespread this reporting failure is."

 

After major immigration raid, Ohio bishop decries 'broken system'

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 15:24

Cleveland, Ohio, Jun 7, 2018 / 01:24 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The U.S. immigration system is broken and in need of reform, said the Bishop of Cleveland after more than 100 immigrants were arrested by authorities on Tuesday.

“This latest event in Erie County again makes clear that our current immigration system contributes to the human suffering of migrants and the separation of families,” said Bishop Nelson Perez of Cleveland.

“The bishops of the Catholic Church have a duty to point out the moral consequences of a broken system.”

On June 5, about 200 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents held a sting operation at two locations of Corso’s Flower & Garden Center. Authorities arrested 114 undocumented immigrants.

Those arrested are likely to receive criminal charges for tax evasion and identity theft. No charges have been brought against the company, but a large number of business documents were confiscated and an investigation is under way, according to the Associated Press.

While recognizing “the role of our government in enforcing current immigration law,” Bishop Perez also voiced “great sadness for the families whose lives have been disrupted following the large-scale immigration action.”

Corso’s is a gardening company with locations in seven states. The family-owned business offers landscaping services and grows annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, and other types of plants.

A red flag was raised last October when a woman was arrested by U.S. Border Patrol for giving stolen identity documents to job applicants, leading authorities to Corso’s. The records of 313 employees were then examined and 123 people were marked for suspicious behavior. Some Social Security numbers were found to be taken from dead people.

Bishop Perez expressed concern for the families who may be separated as a result of the immigration raid. These sufferings point to a broken system, he said.

“The Church is advocating for comprehensive and compassionate reform of our immigration system so that persons are able to obtain legal status in our country and enter the United States legally to work and support their families. Since this is a responsibility of our Congress, I would encourage you to speak with your legislators advocating for reform of our present system.”

The bishop encouraged his audience to pray that these families may stay together and concluded his statement recalling the words of Christ in the Gospel of Matthew.

“We do this remembering the words of Jesus as he calls upon us to ‘welcome the stranger,’ for ‘what you do to the least of my brethren, you do unto me’,” he said.

What’s the secret sauce in Wichita’s vocations boom?

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 07:00

Wichita, Kan., Jun 7, 2018 / 05:00 am (CNA).- Father Chad Arnold, vocations director in the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas, is hesitant to dole out advice about how a diocese can increase its priestly vocations.

He recognizes that he’s been blessed.

At a time when bishops and vocations directors across the universal Church are wringing their hands about a dire shortage of priests, Wichita has ordained 10 men to the priesthood for the second year in a row, upping their priestly population by about 20 percent.

“I wish there were an easy, A-B-C sort of answer, but in reality it’s so many things we are blessed with that I believe aid our vocations,” Arnold told CNA.  

One of those things is a commitment to perpetual adoration chapels in diocesan parishes.

“We have a high number of perpetual adoration chapels throughout our diocese, so we have a lot of young men spending time before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament,” he said. “That moment of silence is so critical to hear the Lord speaking to them, so that availability is there.”

The diocese has also been blessed with priests “who work hard and live their faith and take joy in their priesthood and provide tremendous examples and models for the young men in the parishes,” Arnold added, as well as good and faithful bishops who have directed the diocese well.

Six men who were ordained as priests of Wichita have since become bishops, including Bishop Shawn McKnight, who was installed in February as Bishop of Jefferson City, Mo.

The diocese, which sits in the southeast corner of the state, covers 20,021 square miles over 25 counties, and is home to 114,195 Catholics in 90 parishes. While most of these parishes are covered by one priest, the recent bumper crops of priestly ordinations means that some larger parishes with hundreds of families are able to have two or even three priests.

“It’s extra camaraderie, working as a team to get together and assess certain situations and try to come up with a positive, spirit-filled response rather than just one person himself mulling over a task or a challenge,” Father Jerome Spexarth, who just gained a new priest at his parish, told The Wichita Eagle.

“It’s been a great aspect of teamwork. Jesus does send out the Apostles two by two,” he added.

The diocesan Catholic school system, which includes 35 grade schools and 4 high schools, also helps to foster vocations, Arnold noted.

“I think people teaching the faith in those schools who take their faith seriously and earnestly and have a joyful, loving faith with our Lord and are able to pass it on,” he said.

The culture of the Midwestern plains state is also one of those “intangibles” that nonetheless is an important contributing factor that encourages vocations, Arnold noted.

The diocese is mostly made up of small, rural towns where churches are often the center of social life, big families aren’t an anomaly, and the idea of stewardship is embedded in the culture.

“It’s deeply embedded in the spirituality of this diocese that the gifts that we have - whether those are material or personal or what have you - come from God and we have an obligation to return them to God in some fashion,” he said.

Wichita also offers catechetical programs and initiatives through which young people get to interact with priests and seminarians. Among the offerings is Totus Tuus, a summer program founded in the Wichita diocese in which teams of college students and seminarians teach religious education at parishes. Similarly, Prayer and Action sends high school students and seminarians throughout the diocese to perform works of corporal and spiritual mercy.

“Totus Tuus...allows the men an opportunity to live their faith in a profound way,” Arnold said. “It gets the seminarians out in front of the kids and shows them that they’re enjoyable and normal people.”

Arnold said there are also several retreats and events throughout the year that are specifically aimed at young men who may be interested in considering the priesthood. He said he also makes regular visits to the Catholic schools and major colleges in the area to talk about vocations and to answer any questions that young people may have.

“I am fond of telling people I don’t do a lot of recruitment, I just facilitate,” he said, noting that his job is simply to provide opportunities for young people to encounter priests and seminarians who are already joyfully living their vocations.

“Sometimes I worry in vocations work that we can get gimmicky, and I don’t think that serves what we need,” he said. “I think again it just comes back to living the faith as well as we can...it comes from an authentic renewal of our own priesthood, living the faith sincerely and in line with the teachings of the Church, seeking the Lord’s assistance and taking joy in the gift that he has given us in our own priesthood.”

When he meets young men who are considering the priesthood but are hesitant, Arnold says he encourages them by telling them that “the Lord is never outdone in generosity.”

“The most common words of our Lord in the Gospels that he says over and over again are ‘Be not afraid.’ So if we can take that courage and say yes to the Lord...whatever we give to the Lord, no matter how big of a sacrifice we think we’re making, it’s nothing in comparison to what he wants to give to us.”

NY bill no help for victims of sex abuse at public institutions - legal analyst

Wed, 06/06/2018 - 19:02

Albany, N.Y., Jun 6, 2018 / 05:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Backers of a New York bill to open a lawsuit window for civil action from victims of past sexual abuse are wrong to say it would apply to public institutions, a former judge has said.

In a May 21 legal analysis of the proposed Child Victims Act, Judge Susan Phillips Read, former associate judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, said that if it becomes law, “a 34-year old man whose high school wrestling coach sexually abused him 20 years ago would not be time-barred from recovering damages from his high school if the man attended a private school and sued within the one-year window, but he would be precluded from recovering damages if he attended a public school instead of a private school.”

Read wrote the analysis at the request of Richard Barnes, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference, which opposes the bill in its current form.

“While the sponsors have professed that their bill does not shield public schools from exposure, Judge Read’s comprehensive analysis clearly shows otherwise,” Barnes said June 5, charging that the bill has a double standard which would “create a pernicious further injustice.”

The bill has been proposed in previous legislative sessions. In the current session, it passed the New York Assembly with strong bipartisan support but stalled in committee in the Republican-controlled Senate. The bill could pass the Senate next year if Democrats reclaim a majority in that body, the New York Daily News reports.

The bill would allow childhood victims to file civil actions before the age of 50.

Under the law’s current provisions, plaintiffs seeking to file claims against public entities must file a “notice of claim” of their intention to sue within 90 days of the incident, or forever lose the right to their claim.

The proposed bill will remove this limitation in the section of the bill regarding future abuse cases, but it makes no mention of it in a section that lifts the statute of limitations on lawsuits for a temporary, one-year window.

In Read’s view, it is unlikely that a court would regard the omission as “anything other than intentional.”

Attempts to enact the bill as drafted would mean that survivors of abuse in public institutions would see their legal claims rejected in court. They “will end up without a remedy as happened in California,” Read said.

While California legislators in 2002 claimed their retroactive bill was all-inclusive, the California Supreme Court ruled that a school district could not be sued because the victim did not file a timely notice of claim as required by law.

The California legislature passed a similar bill in 2013 and 2014, but Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed them on the grounds that the extension of the statute of limitations was “simply too open-ended and unfair” because legislators chose not to apply the extension to public institutions.

Barnes stated, “Sexual abuse is a crime that is not confined to private institutions. We as a society have a moral obligation to prevent it and to punish abusers. Doing so requires a comprehensive approach that treats all victims and survivors equally and holds public and private institutions equally accountable. The New York State Legislature must not pass and Governor Cuomo must not sign any bill that would create two classes of victims.”

In March, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York met in private with Gov. Andrew Cuomo to discuss the bill. He contended that the temporary window lifting the statute of limitations would be “toxic” and “very strangling.” Such a window means “the only organization targeted is the Catholic Church,” he said, according to the Buffalo NPR news station WBFO.

The cardinal backed a version of the bill that did not include the window lifting the statute of limitations.

The bill also faces opposition from Orthodox Jewish community leaders, the Boy Scouts of America, and insurance companies, who fear financial hardship from the lawsuits.

As of December 2017, nearly 200 sex abuse victims of clergy in the New York archdiocese had received more than $40 million in compensation through its Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program.

In other states that have created temporary windows allowing past sex abuse cases, dioceses and other organizations have faced hundreds of millions of dollars in legal decisions or settlements, with some cases involving decades-old incidents.

Some Republican legislators in New York have proposed an alternative bill to compensate victims with public money instead of from perpetrators or institutions where the crimes may have happened. The money would come from a $300 million asset forfeiture fund under the control of the Manhattan district attorney’s office. The compensation would be available only to those who have not been previously compensated for abuse or who qualify for traditional legal recourse, the Albany Times-Union reports.

Cuomo, who supports the Child Victims Act, was critical of the proposal, saying the fund would likely not have enough funds to compensate victims justly.

Similar legislation is the subject of public debate in Wisconsin, where gubernatorial candidate Matt Flynn has come under criticism from his Democratic primary competitors. Flynn represented the Archdiocese of Milwaukee against victims of sex abuse by its clergy during his work as an attorney, the Wisconsin newspaper the Capital Times reports.

As wildfires burn in southwest US, Catholics offer prayer, support

Wed, 06/06/2018 - 18:05

Denver, Colo., Jun 6, 2018 / 04:05 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- As ongoing wildfires rage through the southwest region of the United States, local dioceses are offering their prayers and support for victims.

“I pray for all those in harm’s way and for all first responders and volunteers fighting the fire,” said Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe in a June 1 statement.

“The Archdiocese of Santa Fe joins all in prayer and stands ready to support those who are affected by this emergency,” he continued.

In New Mexico, the Ute Park Fire has forced thousands into evacuation in and around the town of Cimarron, near the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. The fire, which was filtering into the town from nearby Ute Park, has burned 36,000 acres since it began on May 31.

Mandatory evacuations were set in place on Sunday, and one local priest, Rev. Dom Mayeul Thu, was among those evacuated. Archbishop Wester offer particular prayers for “those who have been evacuated, that they are able to seek shelter during this time.”

On Monday, some relief was offered to locals as the fire became 25 percent contained and the mandatory evacuation orders were lifted. Concerns remain, however, regarding the smoke, air quality, and hot weather in the forecast.

A 1,400-acre fire is also raging in Agua Dulce, California, just northeast of Los Angeles. Multiple homes have been under mandatory evacuation, and more than 350 firefighters are trying to contain the blaze. As of Wednesday afternoon, the fire is 30 percent contained.

Colorado is also experiencing a 2,400-acre wildfire near Durango, dubbed the 416 Fire, where nearly 825 homes have been under evacuation since the start of the blaze on Friday. As of Wednesday afternoon, the fire remains approximately 10 percent contained.

The Diocese of Pueblo has seen a tremendous outpouring of prayer and support for the victims of the blaze, according to Michelle Hill, the director of development for the diocese.

Hill told CNA they have heard many “stories of those who immediately step up to help when fires threaten.”

“A non-parishioner who came to our food bank at St. Columba Parish in Durango offered to give her bag of food to someone who is being impacted by the fire,” Hill said.

“Some of our parishioners in the Bayfield area have offered space in their homes to house anyone without a place to stay. The spirit of charity is always alive in Southern Colorado,” she continued.

While local communities are lending a helping hand during the wildfire, Hill said the diocese has also been praying for those affected by the fires and remains grateful that no lives have been lost.

“We continue to pray for an end to the drought conditions that cause such extreme concern and necessitate burn bans,” Hill said.

“We are thankful as well that the recent fires in northern Pueblo County and Baca County were contained and that all those in the area are safe.”
 
 

 

Maryland town met with support, prayer in aftermath of devastating flood

Wed, 06/06/2018 - 16:27

Baltimore, Md., Jun 6, 2018 / 02:27 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Perched on a hill overlooking the rivers and railroad tracks in Ellicott City, Maryland, stands St. Paul’s Catholic Church – a place where many Catholics in the Archdiocese of Baltimore go to pray.

Since a devastating flood hit the city over Memorial Day weekend, the church has also been used as a safe haven for victims of the deluge and a hub of service for those in need.

“Fr. Warren was here when the flooding happened,” said Deacon George Krause of St. Paul’s, who told CNA that when the flooding started May 27, the church was “the first place that people headed,” because of its high location on the hill.

“Fr. Warren was able to open up the buildings here and the church to let people in from the rain and gave them the opportunity to make phone calls and make arrangements with loved ones and things like that,” Krause said.  

Fr. Warren Tanghe is the pastor of St. Paul Catholic Church, which became a center of service to Ellicott City during the recent flooding.

According to Krause, St. Paul’s was “the first hub of the Catholic faith to reach out and pray for everyone that was impacted” during the flood. He also noted the Knights of Columbus members of St. Paul’s were providing meals to the first responders and police officers in the days following the flood.

On May 27, the Baltimore area was hit with severe thunderstorms which soon turned into flood warnings. Ellicott City, just 13 miles west of downtown Baltimore, was hit the worst, as the water in the streets began to rise throughout the course of the day, reaching its peak near 6:00 in the evening. At this time, water was rushing down main street, destroying cars and stores along its path.

One man, National Guard Sgt. Eddison Hermond, was killed by the flood’s raging waters as he tried to help a local pet store owner.  A similar flood had hit Ellicott City in 2016, and many of the city’s residents are still recovering from the first deluge, which killed two people.

Ellicott City is a historic cultural center located in Howard’s County between Baltimore and Washington, most of which sits alongside creeks and below towering hills. While some blame the rising river as a contributor to the flooding, the most recent floods were caused by water rushing in from above.

As many residents are beginning to re-start their lives in the aftermath of the flood, Krause said St. Paul’s continues to serve those impacted by the storm in their community. He noted the parish is currently collecting cleaning supplies for shop owners, as well as money donations to help with damages.

In addition, the church offered their parking lot to Baltimore Gas and Electric crews as a command center in the weeks following the flood, which was used to address gas leaks and power outages throughout the city. The church’s parking lot is also currently being used by shop owners who park their cars on the hill and are escorted by police down to their stores.  

“We are just here to help and provide,” Krause said.

Fr. Warren additionally told the Baltimore Catholic Review the weeks following the flood would be primarily focused on accompanying victims with their grief and sense of loss.

On the eve of the feast of Corpus Christi, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore visited St. Paul’s in an effort to offer the community prayers and support as they deal with the damages of the flood.  

“I came today just to be with you, to pray with you, to offer you a word of love and encouragement, and in this difficult time, to remind you of the abiding presence of the Lord in our midst,” said Archbishop Lori in his June 2 homily.

“A principal message of today’s feast might be summed up in this way: as Jesus is present to us in the Eucharist, so we need to be present to those in need,” Lori continued.

In an effort to comfort those impacted by the storm, the Baltimore archbishop encouraged those gathered to lean on each other during tragic times and to sacrifice themselves for others. He particularly pointed to the presence of Christ in the Eucharist as a way to gain strength and grace during difficult times.

“That is the key to rebuilding not merely our town, but indeed our very lives,” Lori said.

“So let the Lord’s Eucharistic presence make us more present to one another and may his sacrificial love – his body and his blood given out of love for us – enable us, even in the most trying of times, to give of ourselves to others.”

When Robert F. Kennedy's mourners found refuge in the rosary

Wed, 06/06/2018 - 05:01

Washington D.C., Jun 6, 2018 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- When presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy was shot in a California hotel on June 5, 1968, his supporters prayed.

“After Kennedy was shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, many supporters got down on their knees and prayed the rosary. A famous picture from the time shows a busboy, Juan Romero, pressing rosary beads into Kennedy’s hands in the kitchen of the hotel. Imagine Catholics doing that today,” Mark Stricherz, political reporter and author of the 2007 book Why the Democrats are Blue, told CNA.

Kennedy’s own life had similar devotion. He was born the seventh of nine children to Joseph and Rosemary Kennedy in Brookline, Mass. After serving in the Navy during the Second World War, he married Ethel Skakel, with whom he would have eleven children – the last of whom was yet unborn at the time of his death.

Kennedy was often considered one of the more devout Kennedy brothers, with his house full of devotionals, bibles, and crucifixes, and regular prayer with his wife and children. He served as an altar boy as a young man and even at points during his career of public service, biographer Larry Tye said in his 2017 book Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon.

Kennedy’s life also included some clashes with clerics, including an argument as a student with controversial Harvard Catholic chaplain Father Leonard Feeney.

In 1952 he served as manager for his brother John F. Kennedy’s U.S. Senate run. He was a Senate subcommittee staffer under U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy and would later write a report critical of his approach to anti-communism, according to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

After managing his brother’s successful 1960 presidential campaign, he was named U.S. Attorney General. Following his brother’s 1963 assassination, he left the presidential cabinet and went on to run successfully for U.S. Senator from New York.

Kennedy entered the 1968 presidential race following Johnson’s announcement he would not seek re-election. Facing a primary foe in U.S. Sen. Eugene McCarthy, his campaign featured labor outreach to leaders such as Cesar Chavez and to African-American leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., despite his previous tensions the Kennedy family.

For Stricherz, Kennedy’s 1968 electoral coalition was unique. He focused on working-class whites and blacks, which the senator called a “black-blue” or “have-not” coalition.

With the possible exception of Jimmy Carter’s 1976 victory, Stricherz told CNA, “no politician has pulled off that cross-racial, populist alliance of supporters.”

“To be sure, Bobby benefited politically from the death of his brother John, whom the country was still mourning. 1968 was a crazy year and many voters wanted a return to the stability of the early 1960s.”

Much like his president brother, Kennedy’s death with his life seemingly unfulfilled made him an object for the hopes of many who wanted a different path through the late 1960s and 1970s on war, race relations, and poverty.

It is possible the assassination changed the course of the country on abortion, Stricherz suggested.
“Kennedy’s stand on the sexual revolution is unknowable,” he said.

“Social conservatives have said a 1964 meeting he attended would have made him a supporter of abortion rights. But his sister Eunice was an unquestioned pro-life supporter who participated in the last great push to move the Democratic Party away from its abortion-rights stance in 1992. And Kennedy was the father of 11 children.”

Stricherz also doubted some depictions of Kennedy as a pioneer on racial justice.

“One reason President Johnson despised Bobby was he was ‘all hat no cattle’ on racial issues,” he said. “While Johnson passed more legislation to help blacks than any president, Kennedy made speeches. That said, no political candidate, not even President Obama, has attracted the adulation from black crowds that Kennedy did in 1968. But Kennedy sought to balance the interests of blacks and his white constituents. In a debate before the California primary in June 1968, Kennedy and McCarthy differed on the extent to which the federal government should support racial integration in housing.”

However, Kennedy’s April 4, 1968 remarks in Indianapolis upon the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. are sometimes credited with redirecting tension and anger over the killing. Indianapolis was among the few major cities to be spared riots in the wake of the killing.

“Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice for his fellow human beings, and he died because of that effort,” Kennedy said in an African-American neighborhood that night.

“For those of you who are black – considering the evidence there evidently is that there were white people responsible – you can be filled with bitterness, with hatred, and a desire for revenge. We can move in that direction as a country, in great polarization, black people amongst black, white people amongst white, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and to replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love.”

“For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I can only say that I feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling,” Kennedy said. “I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.”

Just months later Kennedy too would be fatally shot. His assailant, Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian Arab from a Christian background, was angered over Kennedy’s support for Israel.

Juan Romero, a 17-year-old Mexican busboy in the Ambassador Hotel, was shaking hands with the senator as he was shot. Romero cradled the wounded Kennedy in his arms on the floor of a hotel kitchen. He put his own rosary into Kennedy’s hands.

Kennedy lingered for about a day. He died early the morning of June 6, 2018 in the presence of his wife Ethel, two of his sisters, and a brother-in-law. He was 42.

CUA board approves much-debated academic renewal plan

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 19:07

Washington D.C., Jun 5, 2018 / 05:07 pm (CNA).- A hotly-debated renewal plan for the Catholic University of America, which included the elimination of 35 faculty positions, the reorganization of some departments and a recommitment to the arts, was approved by the school’s board of trustees Tuesday.

The Academic Renewal proposal has undergone deliberation and study since September, and was first approved in May by a 35-8 vote of the Academic Senate, a group of administrators, deans, and elected faculty members and student representatives. After passing the Academic Senate, the proposal was sent to the Board for final approval.

The plan includes, among other things, the opening of a new school of music, drama, and art in fall 2018, the establishment of a new Center for Teaching Excellence, plans to add new programs and faculty in areas of growth, and renovations to several facilities on campus.

“I am grateful to the Board of Trustees for its support for Academic Renewal, and especially to Provost Abela, the Academic Senate, and all of the faculty and students whose participation in the process, ideas, and recommendations were invaluable to the development of the final plan,” Catholic University President John Garvey said in a press release following the board’s decision. He added that the plan will now “immediately move forward.”

Whether debate surrounding the plan will be assuaged in the following days and months remains to be seen.

The crux of the debate surrounding the plan was whether the elimination of 35 faculty positions would mean the termination of tenured faculty.

In the week leading up to the board’s vote, an unofficial ad-hoc group called the “Faculty Assembly” released the results of an anonymous electronic poll it conducted, which purported to show that numerous faculty members had “no confidence” in Provost Andrew Abela or President John Garvey regarding the renewal plan or the future of the university.

The group sent the poll to 448 people, including ordinary professors, associate professors, faculty emeriti and contract faculty. The 15 faculty who report directly to the provost were not included in the poll.

CUA representative Susan Gibbs told CNA that the university has 391 full-time faculty members, and because some faculty members were not polled by the group, only 376 of those who received the poll could have been full-time faculty members.

38 percent of those who received the survey, 171 people, said they had “no confidence” in Provost Andrew Abela. 176 people, 39 percent of those surveyed, said the same for President John Garvey. Roughly half of those surveyed, 225 people in total, responded to the poll, The Washington Post reported.

A lack of confidence “stems from concerns from faculty across campus regarding the strategic vision and direction of the university, lack of shared governance, and financial stewardship and management of the university’s resources,” Binh Tran, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at CUA and another leader of the assembly, told The Washington Post.

In a statement following the release of the poll, Catholic University said it was “difficult to respond to an anonymous opinion poll” and that it would instead rely on the votes of the elected officials of the Academic Senate and on faculty and student feedback received throughout the proposal process.

“The proposal was developed in consultation with committees of the Academic Senate, which also oversaw a campus-wide consultation widely attended by faculty and students,” CUA said in the statement. “Input from this consultation resulted in additional initiatives and revisions that were incorporated into the final document.”  

Gibbs told CNA that while the school’s administration and Academic Senate understands that job elimination is a sensitive issue, nearly all of the eliminations of the faculty positions have been made through voluntary terminations and buyouts, and that the involuntary termination of tenured faculty had thus far been avoided.

“They’re wrapping up a few loose ends and finalizing a few things,” Gibbs said, but “it’s virtually done” and has all happened through voluntary means.

Dr. John Grabowski, associate professor of moral theology and ethics and a member of the Academic Senate at CUA, told CNA that while he understood the Faculty Assembly’s initial concerns over tenured positions, he believed those concerns should be allayed by the revised final edition of the proposal.

“I feel like I can see both sides,” he said, since he is a faculty member that was part of the Academic Senate involved in deliberation over the plan.

“But I can also see the concern generated among the faculty, because as it was initially described, it seemed like it was going to willy-nilly terminate faculty in certain units, whether they were adjunct, contract or tenured faculty, so that in many people’s minds set off alarm bells that the university is arbitrarily firing tenured faculty,” he said.

“I don’t think that was the intention” of the administration, he added, and after hearing the concerns of faculty, students and the broader CUA community regarding tenured positions, “a lot of the ambiguities of that language was cleared up.”

“By the time the Academic Senate approved the proposal, we were told that the provost was eliminating 35 faculty positions, and he had gotten to about 31 or 32 through voluntary retirement or severance. People were not being willy-nilly terminated, and he was confident that he could get the number he needed to make it work financially without having to involuntarily terminate any tenured faculty,” he said. “So in other words, we don’t even need to go there.”

Dr. Chad Pecknold, associate professor of systematic theology at CUA, told CNA that while he received the electronic poll from the Faculty Assembly, he chose not to participate in it since they are not an officially recognized group.

He added that he “strongly supported” the Academic Renewal proposal, especially after he felt that his concerns about tenure were heard.

“I serve on the Committee for Faculty Economic Welfare, and helped draft my only concern which was to safeguard tenure,” he said. “Once the Provost clarified that tenure would not be harmed, the proposal passed the Academic Senate by a wide margin.”

Grabowski said that he responded to the electronic poll that he had confidence in the provost and the president, though he said he experience technical difficulties with the link and is unsure if his vote was cast.

Furthermore, he said he was not sure if the faculty assembly was “sufficiently cognizant” of numerous efforts made by administration and the Academic Senate to consult faculty across the campus throughout the creation of the Academic Renewal proposal, during which may students and faculty did weight in to express their concerns.

“I think their concerns were heard and registered and the proposal that was put forward was heavily amended, and I think we ended up with a position that brought the two sides a lot closer together than when they started out,” he said.

The Faculty Assembly told CNA in an email that even if the plan were to be approved and proceed without the firing of tenured faculty, the proposal process “highlighted multiple serious deficiencies in the leadership of the Provost and the President” and that their concerns “extend well beyond this proposal to issues broadly and deeply related to leadership and direction of the university.”

They said they planned to hold a meeting with the board and the Executive Committee of the Faculty Assembly in order to relay their concerns “related to the future of shared governance, financial management, executive performance and compensation, and still other serious issues.”

Gibbs told CNA the group declined an opportunity to meet with the Board of Trustees on June 4, one day before the board’s vote on the proposal.

A related group of concerned faculty, students and alumni called “Save The Catholic University of America” (or Save Catholic) recently started a website to express their lack of confidence in CUA leadership and to call for change.

“We believe change is urgently needed; indeed, we embrace change. But we also believe that the changes we make must be the right ones,” the group said in their statement. “The actions taken under President Garvey have significantly weakened the financial situation of the university and damaged our ability to recruit students. We have no confidence that the Provost Abela’s Academic Renewal Proposal will make the university’s situation better. Indeed, we are quite certain that it will deepen and compound our challenges.”

Grabowski said that the reports of CUA’s imminent demise suggested by some articles and the language of Save Catholic have been “greatly exaggerated.”

“I don’t think this is the end of the world, I think this is an adjustment in terms of the University’s resources,” he said. “In a big picture sense it makes sense, every business goes through this.”

In light of the electronic poll and the complaints of the Faculty Assembly and Save Catholic, the Board of Trustees also issued a statement of confidence in CUA leadership on June 5, noting improvements in outside contributions, recruitment, renovations and other improvements.

Michael P. Warsaw, EWTN Chairman and CEO, is a member of the university’s Board of Trustees. Catholic News Agency is a service of EWTN.

According to CUA numbers, undergraduate enrollment increased in fall 2017 and is on track to grow again for fall 2018, and student retention is at its highest level in more than 20 years.

Joseph L. Carlini, Chairman of the Board of Trustees said in the statement that the Board has full confidence in President John Garvey, and “looks forward to our continued collaboration with President Garvey. Academic Renewal is about growth and investing in our future.”

Pecknold told CNA that despite efforts to politicize CUA and the Academic Renewal plan, the University is first and foremost committed to following Christ.

“We are neither right nor left, but we’re a university born out of the heart of the Church, and centered in Christ.”

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